This post is several weeks in the writing but several years in the making. It’s full of things I have learned through our years of infertility as well as recently loosing Oliver. I have learned so much about myself and the words that come out of my mouth. I have vowed I would never say certain things ever again because I know what it felt like when they were said to me. Most of the time it was just through strangers making small talk but other times it was from people who were close to me who just didn’t realize the weight of their words or actions. It is such a weird place to live. I wanted people to care about my feelings but I also didn’t want to be singled out and treated differently. I don’t want people to feel like they can’t bring their children around me or boast about the cute things their children do or say. I love children. I love their wonderment and sense of adventure. Their innocence and the way they love. I don’t want to be kept from their lives just because I don’t have a child of my own. But there are some things and certain words that are more sensitive than others. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
The question. It would be amazing the random strangers that would ask me “so do you have children” and it would be completely out of the blue. Like checking out at a store and I obviously was not buying diapers. The waitress while Nick and I were out to eat. The lady at the post office. A gentleman on the beaches of Jamaica. At times it would be laughable how satan would use so many random people to ask me that question. The best of days would come to a screeching hault. Of course there were times I wanted to scream, “NO, ACTUALLY WE DON’T!”. But every time I politely said “no” and changed the subject, my hope faded. Ever since, I have vowed never EVER to ask someone that question. There are so many other subjects of conversation and ways to show interest in someone else’s life. Sometimes having children isn’t easy. It’s not just the next step after someone gets married. A baby in a baby carriage is not always the obvious result of two people k-i-s-s-i-n-g in a tree. God made each one of us unique with our our own interests and talents and we all have a lot to share if we would ask the right questions.
Holidays. These are some of my worst days. Watching others opening Christmas presents with their children, taking cute Easter bunny pictures, or celebrating first, second and third birthdays. It’s not that I am jealous, although satan does like to throw those thoughts into my mind. It is the hardest because it is a reminder of the years that have gone by and the empty womb I am carrying. Each holiday, I think, by next Christmas I could be celebrating baby’s first Christmas. Until next Christmas comes along and I’m not even pregnant. Holidays become a reminder of what hasn’t happened for us. The real bummer is that I absolutely LOVE holidays and getting together with family and friends. So it’s a constant battle of the mind, to keep my focus on what I do have and not dwell on the one thing I don’t. God has given me so much to be grateful for.
Elephant in the room. One week, one year. It doesn’t matter the length of time after someone looses a child. It’s been almost two months after my miscarriage. Yes, the pain does subside… but it’s still there. And probably always will be. It won’t always be this raw but I will never forget the child God created for us to carry for 12 weeks. For me, I would much rather have my close friends and family ask me how I’m doing than dance around the subject. Yes, it’s probably an uncomfortable conversation but it is nice to know that other people care. That you are still in their “thoughts and prayers” like they said you would be. This doesn’t mean that it is the only thing you have to talk about but to know that a child is not forgotten is one of the best feelings in the world. I truly believe I will see Oliver again someday so, for me, he is and was very very real.
Joking Aside. Here’s the scene. Your children are screaming their heads off, your frantically trying to calm them down and catch your breath. Never, ever, ask someone dealing with infertility “are you SURE you want kids?!” “You can have mine”. This is not funny nor a joke. Because in all honestly, yes, I would love to take your screaming child off your hands for you. All the terrible two, snotty noses in the world couldn’t change my mind. Please remember that words can hurt, even if unintentional. I cringe at the thought of how many people I have unintentionally hurt with the words I’ve said. I know that now, and try to honestly filter the words I say to people. Do I really mean what I am saying? How is this going to help them? Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
At Least: Along with the last point, I have learned not to try to make someone feel better or smooth it over by saying the words “at least”. At least you know you CAN get pregnant. At least you can try again. At least you have a child. At least. I’m convinced that some of the most comforting things that were said to me were “I’m here for you”. I even had a friend tell me that if she wasn’t there for me like I needed her to be to just tell her, and she would try her hardest to be. That meant THE WORLD to me. Pure, unconditional love. No one knows the suffering someone else is going through. I’m going to try my hardest never to compare my heartaches to that of someone else’s. We all will deal with our own trials in this life. Everyone has some sort of hurt. But no matter what we are going through we all have this in common; He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
I’m sure my list of things I’ve learned could go on and on but this is it for now. I know that throwing my personal feelings out on the world wide web is risky and very public but I do hope that maybe we all would think a few seconds more before blurting out the first thought in our head. To take time to actually process through someone else’s hurt before trying to fix it. To just give a hug instead of our advice. To love like He loves.