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Full disclosure here, friends: I am fortunate enough that I did not struggle with infertility. I can’t tell you why the stars aligned that it should be easy for me and not for others, but they did. But in saying that, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have friends that have gone through it, are going through it, still think about it. And as Infertility Awareness Week draws to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about why infertility is so hard… especially when you’re supposed to be thankful.
Why is infertility so hard?
My friend, Cait, is a fellow Texan, and she recently blogged about her experiences with miscarriage and infertility. She and I have talked a little bit about it, and she was so kind and reassuring when I told her that I was a horrible friend to my friends when I found out they miscarried. I told her that I often clammed up because I didn’t know what to say so I said nothing. And true to Texan form, she pointed out that the isolation from friends who did exactly that hurt (bless my heart). Why is infertility so hard? you might ask. Because not only has a woman lost a child but she’s maybe lost a friend, too.
Can we add something else into the mix?
Let’s add in that you’ve miscarried after you’ve had a child. So you have your one child, you’ve tried for another one, and this baby didn’t stick around.
Cait experienced just that:
A few years ago, I posted a Facebook status that said “Really struggling with not having a sibling on the way (or here) for Matthew today… Time to stop reading Facebook for the day. Ugh.” Most of the comments were sweet, and all were meant with the right heart behind them. One, though, was like a knife to the gut. It said something like “Be thankful you have one. Some people aren’t lucky enough to even have that.”
Friend, let me be real honest here: I have struggled with how to respond to this. My initial reaction is to feel so angry and incredulous that here is a kind, caring woman who is baring her soul for one second… and someone responded – likely to help her shift her focus to one of gratitude – with something that felt callous and malicious.Why is infertility so hard and you’re supposed to be thankful? I’m not sure I would’ve been able to log back in to anything for the next day or so.
But Cait continued:
Beyond that, how am I to be purely thankful, and not grieve in the least, that I have one living child when I have 5 waiting for me in Heaven? As much as I know that I’ll see them one day, I grieve for the lives that I didn’t get to share with them. I want to know if they had blonde hair like me (we all know they didn’t) or if they would have had my hands like Matthew does. I wish I could see Matthew bringing them toys and snacks the way he does his puppies. I want to be planning their birthdays and coordinating toys with Matthew’s for Christmas. Instead, I have 5 birthdays that bring tears and heartache every year. It’s a strange mix of joy and sorrow every day of my life, and to expect me to choose joy over sorrow every second is not only unfair, but unreasonable. Secondary infertility means I feel torn all the time.
This is why infertility is so hard especially secondary infertility. There’s this overwhelming desire and pressure (both self-imposed and external) to be thankful and joyful all the damn time, and you’re not expected to take the time to mourn who could have been.
I cannot do her story any more justice here, and to read more, I invite you to visit her blog, especially for the other pieces she’s written on miscarried and infertility.
Caitlin Gavina is a mama of two little boys here on Earth, six in Heaven, and wife to a pilot. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas as a proud eighth generation Texan, after moving all over the country with her now-prior-Air Force husband. Cait writes at soTEXANblog about all things accidentally crunchy, essential oils, kiddos, and cooking.