Do not think of a painful experience as a dark time in your life. You emerge out of everything learning something or becoming a better person. You realize who your real friends are and how much your loved ones mean to you. ~Colleen Ho
This quote really resonated with me and I'm guessing it might with many of you as well. I liked it so much that I asked to borrow it for my own status message. I'm still thinking about it today, so I thought I'd share it with you here on the blog. The thing is, it's not that I've never realized this before. It's not necessarily a brand new idea for me or anything; I just like the way that it's stated. It's simple, yet so true.
I have many times thought of my experience with recurrent pregnancy loss as a dark time in my life. The darkest, actually. I am, however, able to see how much I've learned and how it has changed me, in many ways for the better. But oh, that last sentence is the one that really hits home.
"You realize who your real friends are and how much your loved ones mean to you."
Yes, yes, YES! Absolutely nothing on earth has made me realize this until I lived through this trial. My loved ones were very precious to me before, but I really do believe that this is a life lesson I've truly been able to experience in the past decade of my life -- the one affected by infertility and loss.
Here is something true about me: I'm not interested in fair-weather friends. I can totally appreciate that some friends are meant to be more casual and we may not fully connect and become really close. That's completely fine. But what I mean is that I'm not into the kinds of friends who only want to be around when life is peachy. Then, when troubles come, they are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, I've experienced a few friends like these.
Going through infertility sure does help you find out who your friends are, especially when your experience is a very long one. Some haven't hung in there and have eventually fallen away. Some were really supportive at the beginning, but slacked off when there wasn't a quick resolution to our problem. No, it's not always due to what I'm going through. Sometimes distance and time and other factors can come between friends. But sometimes it's true that friends have no longer been willing to figure out how to relate to us or provide encouragement, or simply be there when we've needed it most. I also recognize that it's not always the other person's fault. I'll accept some of the blame. Sometimes I've let the fact that I don't fit in well at play dates or birthday parties or baby showers get in the way of relationships with my friends who are parents. I admit that.
But then there are times when I've truly made an effort and the effort is not returned. It's not something I'm bitter about, but I do know this: my true friends didn't go away when I started having miscarriages. They didn't totally forget that we existed when they had their own children. They know that sometimes I need to talk about all of this, and sometimes I need to talk about anything but this. They know that I'm hurting inside even when things look okay on the outside. They haven't put a time limit on my grief. They encourage us to keep going, and they don't offer all kinds of unwanted advice to try to fix our problem. They pray for us and they tell us that they do. Many times they even have their children praying for us, which always touches my heart.
I have a feeling that, if this pregnancy continues to progress and as the word continues to get out, some of those fair-weather friends are going to come out of the woodwork. They'll want to pick up right where we left off three, five, ten years ago, and they'll want me to suddenly be normal again so we can go on pretending that life is always happy and perfect. I'm just not sure I'll be ready to do that. It is so much sweeter to celebrate victories with those who were with you in the times of defeat! They are the ones who will truly rejoice with you because they've helped you carry the burden.
I hope this post doesn't come off as harsh. It is actually coming from a very positive place, a place where I'm thankful for who my friends are and not who they aren't. This past week I was able to have lunch with a dear friend who moved out of state more than a year ago. We sat together at my new favorite burger joint while her adorable toddler wiggled in her seat and ate more mustard than hot dog. My friend had a miscarriage several months ago, after her daughter. I hurt so badly for her when that happened and I hated that we were miles apart. But that shared experience is not why we are able to have great heart-to-heart conversations over cheeseburgers with tears in our eyes. I believe we can do that because we have the bond of friendship and the common denominator of a shared faith, and because we haven't allowed parenthood or loss or time or distance to change that.
Inevitably, after I write a post like this, some sweet friends will send me messages or call and say that they feel they haven't done enough or fear this post was in some way about them. Definitely NOT! If you are a real-life friend and you read this blog, that tells me two things: 1. I trust you enough to invite you to follow along with us on this journey of ups and downs, and to read my most personal thoughts about a very personal issue; 2. You care enough to take the time to read it. Trust me when I tell you, that is enough! Those things alone mean so much to me, and those of you who do read it are so faithful to leave comments and send messages and notes of encouragement along the way. I hope you know how much I treasure you!
To my fellow bloggers, you guys are so special to us. Never could I have imagined having so much love and support from people who started out as total strangers. You bless me in ways I could never describe. Thank you for becoming true friends to us and choosing to walk with us. You are often in our prayers and our conversations with one another. My husband knows you all by name, or at the very least, blog title!
And to our family, who love us unconditionally whether we ever have a baby or not and in all of our imperfections, you mean the world to us! There is no way we could have gotten this far without your love and prayers.
I have found who my true friends are, and I know now more than ever how much my loved ones mean to me. It's a beautiful thing.
Still doing well and hanging in there! I'm now 10 weeks, 2 days. Just 3 more sleeps until our next ultrasound. Prayers are appreciated, as always!