Monday, February 3, 2014

What I Learned Through Infertility

What I Learned Through InfertilityHow has infertility changed me? I know that not everyone’s struggle with infertility looks like mine; I acknowledge that this is still part of our story, that the fight isn’t over, that the anxiety isn’t gone, but for now we find peace.  Everyone’s struggle with infertility is different and everyone processes it differently; however, a loss is a loss, grief is grief and it doesn’t matter where you are in your journey, it always hurts.  From my personal experiences this is what I’ve learned and this is how I have changed:
  • Upon the diagnosis of infertility, you started to wonder why infertility has happened to you, and you feel like less of a woman. You get mad at those who undesirably get pregnant (usually those under the age of 18 or on drugs), and wonder why a loving couple like yourself can’t create the miracle of life. You get jealous, crabby, bitter, and you just change.
  • You dread baby showers, and sometimes avoid people who have children because seeing them hurts too much. If it is going to add stress to you, and cause a lot of emotional pain, I say politely decline the invitation to baby showers.  If you still want to send a gift, you don’t have to go to Babies R Us, just order something online and have it sent to her house.  You never have to hold the gift or see it in person; this is how I have handled baby showers for the past few years unless I was hosting, of course, and then I just spent A LOT of time praying for my heart to be softened.
  • Just because someone has had a hard road with infertility doesn’t make them any more entitled to sad feelings than you. When you’re doing everything right, I don’t care how many cycles you’ve gone through or how many miscarriages you have had, or how many children you have had born sleeping, infertility is hard. No one has more “rights” to sadness or grief.  Grief is grief. Period!
  • You aren’t crazy; every single woman you know really IS pregnant.  Every friend on Facebook is going to start posting pictures of sticks they have peed on with that magical second line or the glorious word pregnant across the screen.  A few months later all the ultrasound pictures will pop up followed by beautiful birth stories.  You will undoubtedly torture yourself over every announcement and every picture.  I wish I could tell you to stop but you won’t (at least I never could).  Instead, let yourself mourn each time you read or hear the news of a new pregnancy.  One of them will be your sister or your best friend, so get ready for that one.  Cry, scream, yell, whatever it takes, do it.  But then you have to move on.   They are experiencing a joyous occasion in their lives and it’s important not to shut your friends or family out; you need their support.  I wish I had learned this one sooner (in fact I wish I had started counseling much sooner so that I wouldn’t have missed out on sharing the joys of others while I was lost and drowning in my own depression).
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable and raw with your emotions.  It’s okay to acknowledge that some days are bad days.  Sharing my story with others that have experienced loss has been so healing for me.  It has helped me to feel comfortable in my misery.  It has brought peace to my heart, and brought beautiful women into my life that will forever be my best friends and sisters because we share a path of struggle together.  Pain and suffering are what makes us grow as people. Through pain, we learn to empathize better. Through suffering, we realize that others too might be suffering and we can relate and share about the difficulties of traversing the day with the weight of pain, failure, and loss bearing down on us. The stronger we become, the more we can stand with others in pain, allowing them to suffer but not to suffer alone.
  • Pain changes a person and although the cause of the pain is often a terrible tragedy, the change a person experiences is not necessarily a bad thing.  I think back to the person I was before I suffered from infertility and failure after painful failure. As I reflect on the person I was before I had to watch everyone around me get what I wanted while my body continued to fail me over and over again, I realize that I am a better person now because of my struggles.
  • Before infertility, it never occurred to me that people may be smiling on the outside but dealing with a painful, soul-crushing loss on the inside until I was one of those people. I am now hyper aware of other’s feelings and forgiving of people’s shortcomings because I realize that they may be fighting a silent battle too.  Just like I was putting on that fake smile, many others do that as well, offer them grace and mercy.
  • I never thought about how hurtful certain statements could be: this was meant to happen, this was all in God’s plan, it will happen someday, why don’t you just adopt? I think before I speak now. I don’t try to change or justify the pain because this doesn’t help anyone.  It actually takes power away from them.  I listen more because this is what I learned that I needed during many of my hardest days.
  • In the past, I always wanted to stop and fix pain, rather than hug people and to tell them it was ok that they were hurting. Now, when people experience pain I tell them that they hurt because what happened mattered. Having experienced pain that seemed so meaningless and feeling “dumb” for being sad for what could have been but never was, I can understand that sometimes pain just needs to sit because it represents what was important to us but is now gone.
  • I feel that I have always been a kind person. I have always cared deeply about others and I have never meant to intentionally hurt anyone. The person I’ve become is a deeper, more sensitive version of this person.  I feel more, I cry more, and I love deeper. I’ve maneuvered my own grief, which has opened up my heart to other’s grief. I’m stronger and realize that soul-crushing pain, while it takes my breath away, will not crush me.  Suffering breeds experience and something beautiful can come from the darkest experience.
Through infertility I have been changed; I’m not who I was before and I’m glad that I will never be that person again.  I’m not thrilled that I have walked so many years through infertility, but I’m happy with the outcome.  I’m glad that I depended on the Father to carry me through this storm, and I’m blessed to have had a husband who constantly pointed me back to Jesus.  I’m glad to be taking a break with this struggle and while I know that life is so very short and precious, I will try my best to embrace everyday that the Lord gives us with this baby.  If you are struggling with infertility, loss, or grief, I hope you know that I pray for you on a daily basis that God would fulfill the desires of your heart and fill you with peace and joy while you wait.  You are a very special population that I am proud to be a member of to love on and pray for.
xoxo Darby


Anne said...

Every single woman i know IS pregnant while i go down the 2nd road of fertility challenges. But im grateful for women like you who are keeping fertility challenges "real" for both sides. Keep it up girl!! :)

Jennifer Leible said...

Well, I really think I'm the perfect person to hang out with if anyone is going through this...I don't talk about babies and I am good with being depressed. Tubs of ice cream and sappy movies are my specialty! :) All kidding aside, this is great insight. I can't imagine going through all of that and no one knowing or understanding it.

Jessica K said...

Thank you. I needed this today. What's been bothering me lately is, "Well you should be happy you have one." It is such a silent battle. I have definitely learned not to question, or say anything. Hugs can go a long way for someone. I can't thank you enough for sharing your story, and your heart!

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

An amazing share. I know this will help some people who really need it.

Unknown said...

I feel like I never know what to comment on your posts like this, but I finally came up with something.

Thank you. Thank you for being open and real and raw and honest. The world is a better place because of your gifts. I know the lord is using your story to encourage/wreck/inspire/being hope to so many people.

I am so privileged and blessed to call you a friend. I cant wait to see what calling your little peep has in this world because what ever it is it will be just as much of a blessing as his arrival... no matter how long it took.

I love you friend.

Breanna said...

Darby, I sit here with tears in my eyes as I read this, which led me to spending about an hour on your blog catching up with everything...our stories, while I know are very different, have many similarities. I can relate with everything you said as I was there.

Infertility is so taboo to many people, and it doesn't have to be. Thank you for being willing to share your story! <3 I know you've touched the lives of all who have read these words <3

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