I was both honored and scared when a close friend of mine (the amazing Becky Kiser) asked me to write a guest post for her (personal & ministry) blog. She was asking for an open letter to moms-to-be and mothers from the side of the friend struggling with infertility (me). Needless to say, I didn't want to do it but knew I needed to, especially now desiring to be obedient and have a "let Him Use us" mentality. I said yes, even though my gifts are all wrong for what she was asking. But doesn't God always use the unequipped? There's something about us getting out of the way and Him truly speaking.
Dear Mommy-to-be Friend,
I love you so much! And I am truly over the moon for you and your husband’s news! What a miracle and blessing a pregnancy and baby are! I screamed, cried and jumped right along with you in your pure bliss. I am looking forward to watching your belly and that precious baby grow.
Yet if I am honest with you, after hearing your news, I sobbed.
I feel so double sided.
On one very pure, real side I am ecstatic and joyful for your news. Yet at the very same time it brings up my own personal hurt, longing, sadness and disappointment about my own empty womb and arms.
My sadness is not entirely because I am jealous, although that does creep up on me. But mainly because I so desperately and deeply want to be where you are, and going through this alongside you. We did start "trying" about the same time (or maybe I was ahead of you), yet my womb and arms are still empty. It is a very strange place I'm not use to, but God is working in me at this time. Please bare with me, I am working on not comparing myself to "what God has given you."
I would never want our current situations to change, hurt or divide our friendship. Because you mean the world to me! Sweet friend it is not your fault that God’s plan or timing is different than my own.
I’ve attempted to hide my fear that we won’t be able to relate as our “life phases” change, even though I know our friendship is stronger, deeper and more honest than that. Therefore, I may have to on occasion during this journey approach you with my hard yet vulnerable feelings. I pray you can listen and understand, and I will do the same for you. I only want our friendship to grow through our honesty, as we freely share in both laughter and tears without explaining or defending ourselves.
Please be patient with me as I personally battle between handling things with God’s grace and being a stubborn child. I am begging for you to please love me during this time. I know you have your own distractions with preparing for or taking care of a baby, which I promise to do my best to share in. That way our friendship is balanced and healthy. You may wonder during this time, what does it look like to love me? Ask me. Ask me questions, not necessarily or all the time about my treatments or where I am in the fertility process, although I like to share and it helps. Just don’t forget to ask to know my heart. For example: ask how i am feeling, how is my marriage, my hurts, struggles, frustrations, fears and joys (and if you ask please prepare yourself for real answers.) Most of the time I need a caring, listening ear or simply to know that people (besides my loving husband who gets sick of hearing about our infertility) are walking beside me, praying for us and supporting us. I need you on my team too.
I apologize now for how sensitive, irrational, hormonal, needy and an utter mess I may be right now or during this long journey. I don’t mean to be difficult. It can sometimes just be too much especially since everything seems heightened and affected right now - physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Can I be blunt with you dear friend? I am not writing this to be mean or hurtful, please see my Heart! But I would like to give you a little warning of what will instantly be “too much for me.” Even if I don’t show it at the time, I will feel the painful sting of it later. I know your intentions are pure and that you mean well. We know I sometimes (or often) say things I don’t mean or realize are bad, we all do. Which is why I want to prepare you.
Please don’t tell me you “completely understand what I am going through” unless you have actually been through it yourself. I feel like a guinea-pig most days or weeks; giving blood every other day, taking medicines, being probed, stuck with needles, self-inflicted nightly shots, cut open for surgical procedures, etc... Honestly unless you’ve been in my shoes of heartache and longing for a child you can’t seem to conceive, lost or will never have, you just can’t even begin to imagine the depth of all the emotions. Such a statement unintentionally belittles my pain.
Close friend, if you are in the process of attempting to conceive, I would be grateful if you asked me how I would like to receive your news once you become pregnant. If you’re already expecting please kindly and privately tell me before your joyful news becomes public. Otherwise it only hurts worse and/or forces me to cope in a very public situation.
Please let me know of resources that might help me like support groups, books, other godly women, or couples who may share this journey or would tenderly care and listen. But steer away from strong, unsolicited advice. Please don’t push your suggestions or opinions upon me but pray that God would prepare me for His timing.
I could never picture you saying these things, but I would be naive to not accept that they are said to infertile families every day from within the church. You need to just “trust God”, you must not have “enough faith.” Although there will be times I need your encouragement especially to keep my faith, we (families going through this) have enough blame and guilt without outside opinions. I’ve experienced this as we began seeking “specialized treatment for infertility.” It already feels like the un-natural way, especially since all my friends so easily got pregnant without help. Oh boy do I hate that word “natural” or the phrase “the natural way.” What is natural to you may not be what is natural for me. Obviously, my body isn’t functioning like yours which is hard enough for me to come to terms with.
If a miscarriage ever occurs, please refrain from the words “it was probably for the best.” I know you mean that the embryo was not developing properly and it is God’s way of creating the body to handle it. But mostly, I just need someone to hurt with me and validate my grief.
Also, I would encourage you if meeting someone new to try starting the conversation with open ended questions like “tell me a little about yourself.” Because the longer I wait in infertility the more tired I become of answering the question, “so, do you have kids (yet)?” You know I am an honest person but who wants to open that can of worms when first meeting. Oh how I wish that I could sometimes just freak them out by instantly initiating full blown tears.
P.S. I loved when you... thoughtfully sent me a special note with your baby shower invitation, letting me know that this might bring me pain and giving me the option to freely choose to come or not. You loved me so well, healing scars with such a simple gesture.
Or when you remembered and acknowledged that my baby died. I was taken back by your huge love when you gave me a present to my un-born child, even though I miscarried so early on. WOW!
I pray you see my torn heart in my love for you my dear sister. I do love you. I love your unborn child. I love your children. And I love that we are strong enough women to walk through some tough ground with God’s direction, and that together we will be better on the “other side.”
All My Love,
**I am thankful to be able to write this due to the grace and love my Lord has shown me during my current infertility journey. And by the unending blessing of having amazing godly friends (most of which are pregnant or with small children) that gently, lovingly and earnestly walk beside me providing encouragement in my hard place. My thanks will never be enough, you know who you are. -Kel (And I pray this same blessing for all who read this and are walking a similar hilly journey.)
For further resources (and where a good bit of my topics came from) visit www.hannah.org/ resources/friends.htm