Author's Note: I've struggled with whether or not I should chronicle our journey with infertility and adoption. After many years of dealing with this in solitary confinement, I've decided to blog about it. It's good therapy for me, but it's also insight for others on the real-life infertility battle.
This morning we went to church with my sister in-law and her family here in Lincoln. We walked into the huge sanctuary and my eyes immediately focused on the baptismal fonts that had been pulled out a bit--signifying that baptisms were going to be performed at this particular service. When we took our seats in the very front row of the church (there were none left anywhere else), I pulled open the bulletin to see that there were four baptisms scheduled for the service we were attending. Immediately my heart started racing, my hands became clammy, and a lump the size of a ping-pong ball formed in my throat. I turned to my husband and said with a hint of panic, "There are baptisms today." At once we both began scanning the sanctuary for the nearest exit.
Right before the baptisms began, Nate and I made a break for it. As we stood and hurriedly walked out of the church, I felt like the entire congregation was staring at us. My face burned with embarrassment. Not only are we infertile, we can't even sit through a baptism. We found the restrooms, and as soon as I locked myself in the stall I expected the water works to begin. But they didn't. I took a few minutes and many deep breaths (so many I felt like I could pass out) and we headed back to the sanctuary just as the baptisms concluded.
Our struggle with infertility has been nearly a three year process, and it is getting easier to stomach sudden birth announcements and read Facebook posts about the feeling of that first kick or every other monumental step in a friend's pregnancy or child-rearing experience. But---I still feel like it's appropriate to remove myself from these vulnerable positions. It's not that I want to be a kill-joy but because I don't know when the grief of infertility will punch me in the gut and send tears to my eyes that may ruin the, what should be, joyous moment for everyone else.
Avoiding these moments isn't always possible. Plus---not all people understand exactly why we avoid them. I feel like many think we are just feeling sorry for ourselves again, that we are overly dramatic emotional wrecks that just need to cowboy up and get over it. Unfortunately, we who are infertile are the minority. And minority groups often stick out like a poinsettia plant among a field of sunflowers. So if someone backs out of a baptism, baby shower, or doesn't rush over to meet your new bundle of joy, and suddenly seems distant at the same time you announce the exciting news of your recent pregnancy or child's birth---please don't take it personally. This exciting news may remind that particular person of what he/she is struggling to do or quite possibly can't have. Your joy may represent a loss. You may never understand, nor does the person expect you to. But please be sensitive, for you never know what a person is going through.
On a closing note--if you're struggling with infertility, miscarriage, or adoption or simply want to learn more about these issues--check out the following resources that we've really found helpful:
- Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother--A brutally honest, humorous, and insightful look into the thoughts of a woman struggling with infertility who later adopts a child of a different race.
- Hannah's Hope--This book is written by a woman who struggled with infertility, miscarriages, and failed adoptions. The book is saturated with Bible verses and contains a section at the end of each chapter called "Burden Bearers" that offers advice to friends, family, and acquaintences of those struggling with child loss (which does include infertility by the way).
- 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need To Succeed--A guidebook for parenting adopted children.