Yesterday I did a post about hearing pregnancy announcements from non-IF friends (meaning people I know in real life who have not struggled with infertility). It was based upon many years of experiences that my husband and I have been through, after hearing dozens and dozens of announcements. There have been positive and negative experiences and I hope the post reflected both. If you haven't read part one and would like to, you can find it here.
I have to tell you that even when the situation is handled very well, it is almost always difficult to hear pregnancy news. I really don't know if that sounds incredibly selfish - it's the only point of view I have to work with. I'm never angry about the idea that a baby will be born, of course! There is just a sadness inside - a disappointment and a reminder of my own situation and my own deepest longings. It's a reminder that even though a successful pregnancy at times seems like the most impossible thing that could ever happen, it happens in this world every day. I know that you understand this if you've lived with infertility. If you have not, I appreciate the fact that you even read this blog! It touches my heart that you'd care enough about myself and others to try to learn more about this topic and how you can be a friend to someone in your life who may be hurting.
Today I'd like to continue the topic with a little twist. Ever since I first started this blog, and especially since becoming part of an infertility blogging community, I realized that I was opening myself up in entirely new ways. Sure, it's very different to suddenly share every thought and emotion you have about something so deeply personal with anybody who might be reading. That was a stretch for me at first but I have not regretted doing it. The next big hurdle was that I was going to have to move a lot of pain and hurt back up to the surface that I'd worked hard to bury. I was going to have to face those feelings and write about them and risk having people think that I need serious counseling - or whatever they'd choose to think. It's a pretty vulnerable feeling. I was also afraid that I would start spending too much time thinking about this issue. I was afraid that I'd be overwhelmed by the amount of suffering that exists beyond my own. I wasn't sure that I would ever find the right words to say to others even though I'd been through such dark times myself.
Those were all fears that I had when I started this blog, but there was one more. I was terrified that I would gain a new group of friends who were seeking pregnancy, and one by one they would all succeed and I would again be the last one - just like in real life. This may be the most painfully honest thing I've ever confessed on the blog. Do I want you all to succeed? Absolutely! I pray constantly for those of you who are in this valley with me. I ache when you hurt and I mourn when you experience loss. I identify with your feelings and insecurities about infertility and miscarriage. But I have this secret fear of being the one left behind. It has happened to me before. I remember a friend once pointing out that out of our original young married Sunday school class, I was the only one who had not had a baby yet (as if I hadn't noticed). She talked of it like I was the last item on a to-do list that had not been checked off. And believe me, I'd noticed. In 8 years I've had dozens of friends get pregnant, have babies, and have second, third, and fourth babies. Most of those "babies" are in school now! I've shopped for countless baby gifts, gone to tons of baby showers, made umpteen hospital visits, and taken meals to the families of the newborns. Trust me, I know. I'm the only one left. Put your pencil down, honey, because it may be a long time yet before you can check my name off of the list!
I want to be perfectly clear that I love my friends' children. I have their framed photos in my house, their birthdays on my calendar, and many of their names on my Christmas list. They have brought me much joy over the years and I wouldn't change that one bit. My point is simply that I long to be a part of that crowd in a different way - not just their mommy's friend from school or church, or a really fun aunt. I want to be somebody's mommy too.
Ok, I've gotten off base for a minute. What I want to say to my IF/blogger friends is this: I am grateful for you every day! I have made some friendships that I know will be around for years to come, even though we haven't met in person. I pray for you! I pray that the Lord will hear your prayers and open your wombs and heal your pain. I am very, very happy when your battle with infertility comes to an end. It is particularly sweet because I know you've struggled and waited and picked yourself up time and time again. I will always wish you the best as you seek to become parents and your dreams are fulfilled.
When I started blogging I felt like I had been given a purpose. I'd been handed something to do with all of this stuff that's been such a huge part of my life for so long! I felt like God had given me a ministry as well. He opened the door for me to meet others who are like me and who understand. Because of my experiences with miscarriage, I felt that I could particularly connect with women who had also experienced loss, although I've been more than happy to meet people from different situations as well. I will be perfectly straightforward and tell you that I sometimes don't know how to continue to show my support when an IF blog becomes a pregnancy blog. I certainly don't lose interest or delete it from my feedreader! I want to know how things progress and I'm rooting for you. But suddenly the audience changes. The comments section is filled with other tales of pregnancy. The topics become ones that I know nothing about, or that I have only painful memories about. Pretty soon I find that I have nothing to say besides "congratulations" or "I wish you the best." Those are sincere responses but sometimes all I have to offer. I certainly don't want to change the mood of the happy post by talking about the few weeks that I experienced the same symptoms before my pregnancy was cut short, or how elated I was to see my baby's heartbeat too before his or her life was over. I don't want to scare you with my horror stories, which are really all I have left of my pregnancies unless something drastic happens. I hope you can see how it becomes difficult. For me, seeing two lines on a pregnancy test has never been the finish line.
I still care and I'll still follow the story of your pregnancy and your life. I won't pretend you don't exist. I also keep up with many of you by e-mail, which helps me to stay in touch when I don't know how to comment on a particular blog post. I consider you my friends, and just as I ask this of my real-life friends, I won't let pregnancy change that. I'm asking you to hang in there with me and with all of us who haven't reached our goals yet and may still be grieving our losses. Maybe our comments have become less frequent but we do still care. We need time and it's impossible to know how long it might take before we're ready. I want to hear from you, too. I still want to know what's new in your life and how the pregnancy is going. I'm still here.
Thanks for indulging me for another very long post and a lot of words that I needed to say. I'm committed to this ministry, this community, and these friendships, and I'm committed to praying for you at every stage of your journey! I would value your feedback here in the comments or in an e-mail if you'd rather.