There is something I think I've been needing to address on this blog for a while now, even since before we found out about pregnancy #7. A comment from a friend on my last post reminded me that now may be the best time. (Thank you, Kathryn, for your comment and for your honesty.)
Here is the part of Kathryn's comment that I want to address:
I think you will understand, too, when i say i'm excited & hopeful for you. With every cell in me i deeply desire that this child continues to grow & bless your family. But i'm also struggling with the sadness that my husband & i will never have this. You know i love you & deeply hope & pray for your blessing, but i may be silent.
To Kathryn and to everyone else who may feel this way -- I get it. I really do. I know that it's a risk when you form relationships through blogging with other women who wish to have children. I know what it's like to feel that you are the last one standing, waiting for something that you fear will never come. It is hard, even though you care deeply for your friends and want to see them happy. Even though you've prayed your heart out for them to have their dream fulfilled, it still stings a bit when they move forward with that dream and you don't.
At this point in my life, having been married since I was 21 and now at the age of 33, my husband and I have seen all of our friends have children while we waited and hoped. We love our friends' kids, and we have shared in their joy over the years with each new baby. But still we were sad as each year our own babies didn't make it. Each time we thought it would be our turn and each time we were sorely disappointed. One of my fears when I started blogging (being totally honest here) was that again we'd meet a whole new crop of friends and have to stand on the sidelines while everyone else welcomed their miracles. And to tell you the truth, in the long run, it hasn't been as hard as I expected. That's because I've found that when I really let myself get invested, when I truly open my heart to care for other women who are hurting and struggling with infertility and loss, I can truly rejoice with them when they do succeed! After all of the hurt and loss that I've experienced, I find that I share in the excitement and the anxiety each time someone has a positive pregnancy test. I pull for those precious babies to make it, against all odds and statistics. My desire to see a baby live and grow is stronger than whatever sadness I may feel for myself. I finally learned that when someone else has a baby it doesn't lessen my own chances, and it's not a race to see who can get there first. I now see the value of not comparing my life to the lives of others. (Please note that these are things that I have learned for me personally, and not things that I'm suggesting that any of you should learn!)
And I know, sometimes you have days where it seems that everywhere you turn someone else is pregnant. I know that's not easy, especially if you've had to face the possibility of a future with no children. Sometimes it's hard when an infertility blog becomes strictly a pregnancy blog and, try as you might, you simply can't relate to anything anymore. You feel that your "Congratulations!" and "I'm so happy for you!" may begin to fall flat after a while, because even though you are being 100% genuine, it's really all you know to say. And it feels strange because you consider that person your friend, and of course you still do, but you simply don't feel like you fit in with the new Mommy Blog format and comments. I have been there before, and in most cases I've decided that the friendship is important enough to me to continue to follow and look for opportunities to show support when I can. New mothers definitely need support and prayers, too! Before long I notice that it's not that hard anymore, and I find myself learning about something I hope to do myself someday.
With that being said, I firmly believe that the attitude and demeanor of the blog writer is key. I look for and cling to those who are still going to be sensitive to bloggers like me. I appreciate those who refuse to forget what it felt like when they were where I am. Those bloggers make it easy to continue to follow them well into motherhood! The same is true for me in real life. There is nothing more off-putting than having a friend in real life who has been through infertility and loss, who stood beside you and walked through the valley with you, and then they forget all about you and your sad circumstances after they have children. You never hear from them and they avoid talking about "your problem" like the plague. It hurts. I can never understand how they can seem to forget what it was like, yet sometimes I realize that it must be pretty freeing to escape the jaws of infertility. Maybe they choose not to look back, and they just no longer see us trapped in this quicksand. But oh how I cherish my friends who won't let pregnancy and motherhood affect the bond that we have with one another. Sure, their lives are different and I do want to be involved with that new aspect, but they are still the same person with all the same things I loved about them in the first place. I love friends like that.
It seems that I had way more to say about this subject than I thought! Thanks for hanging in there for this long. I'm just now getting to it, but here is my main point: I feel with absolute certainty that I have a duty, a responsibility, and a ministry to people who have been through loss. My experience has changed my perspective and my outlook forever. After giving a decade of my life (involuntarily) to infertility and miscarriage, how could I simply forget where I've been and what I've lost?
What I truly want is to encourage others who have been hurt the way I've been hurt. Whether I beat this thing or not, whether this current pregnancy actually works for us or not, I'm not abandoning that ministry. I finally feel like I have a purpose in all of this: I don't want to miss an opportunity to tell someone that I understand the pain of miscarriage that they are feeling, that they are not alone, and that it's not their fault. I know what waiting feels like, and I know what being left behind feels like. I understand how you can at the same time be ecstatic for your pregnant friend and yet feel devastated for yourself.
I never want this blog to make anyone feel hopeless about their own situation. I hope that, if I beat infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, it might encourage others who didn't think they had a chance after six losses. I never started this blog to record every pregnancy symptom or month-by-month photos of a growing belly. I'm not criticizing those who do that, but I just know that this blog isn't the place for those things. I never want to cause extra pain to my sweet friends who are still waiting, and especially those for whom having a baby is no longer an option. That's why I don't share ultrasound photos, and that's why I won't post pictures of a pregnant belly or even a positive pregnancy test.
But what I will do is let you know our news, and I'll let you know whether I'm feeling hopeful, excited, uncertain, or terrified. And I'll keep praying for you and asking for your prayers as well. Please know that I understand if reading about a pregnancy is too much for you right now. I'd be sad to lose your comments and insights, but I completely understand if you can't find the words to say and don't wish to comment. Please know, though, that your comments are always welcome here, and I will make every effort to be sensitive to what you're going through.
And I'll make you this promise: I will never forget what it was like and where I've been. And I will never, ever stop praying for you.