Intended to be a day of celebration. Most people are sensitive to those who’ve lost their mother, understanding how difficult a day it can be for them. But not much is said about those who have yet to become mothers. You go to church, and hear everybody wishing every mom a happy mothers day. You wish with every fiber of your being that you could ignore this “special day” and just treat it like a normal Sunday, pushing aside the pain of your lonely womb. But you know if you do, that would be rude. So when little Johnny’s mom comes up to greet you, it’s expected that you wish her a happy mother’s day. It is her day, after all. So, you paint on a smile, try to camouflage your feelings as best you can, and say those three words that kill you.
Happy Mothers Day.
But to you, it’s not a happy day at all. It’s a day to be constantly reminded that you are not a mom. No child is going to come running into your room to wake you up with kisses. There will be no hand-written cards made of folded construction paper with little hearts drawn all over them. And nobody will acknowledge how hard this day is for you.
Of course they won’t. Because they think you’re fine. Everytime they ask you, “So, when are you two gonna start contributing to the nursery?” with a teasing smile, you say the easy thing. The safe thing. “All in God’s Timing.”… “When we’re ready”… What they don’t know is that you’ve been ready for three years and have begged God for a baby each and every day since then. They don’t know that you watching their children run to them after Sunday School to show them the craft they made, makes you want to break down and cry. They don’t know.
Infertility is a lonely road. Most share very little about it with anyone. And rightfully so. It’s enough just trying to process what the doctor just told you. You don’t need other people’s opinions or suggestions muddling the very private decision that belongs to you and your husband alone.
If you do risk sharing your struggle with another, they will likely give you a look of sympathy and say the only thing they know to say for the situation. “Just trust God,” or “It’s all in God’s timing.” This “advice” doesn’t help. They are trying to be helpful, so you shouldn’t hold it against them. But what you want is someone who gets it. Someone whose been there.
I remember sometimes feeling the loneliest after hanging up the phone with my mom. Now, my mom is amazing. I really could not ask for a more supportive, loving mother than the beautiful one that I have. Since I’ve become a “grown-up,” our relationship has changed. We’ve always been close, but I can remember one stressful teenage evening when I was crying on my bed, hysterical over something that happened with some boy, and my mom not understanding (or so I thought) how I was feeling, and basically telling me to get over it. I retorted in some un-elegant fashion, “Why can’t we be like the Gilmore girls? Her mom understands everything!” My mom’s reply? “Because I didn’t have you at 16! I am your mother, not your friend.” Looking back on that now, how grateful I am to have a mom with that attitude. She knew I had enough friends, and what I really needed from her, despite my feelings at the time, was a mother who could wisely look out for my best interest in spite of my current emotional meltdown.
But somewhere between going to college, getting married and moving away, our relationship changed. We became friends. We know we can count on each other for encouragement and prayer, or even just an ear to vent to. She has never failed me.
But then infertility came along. And, my mother who has three biological grown children, didn’t understand what I was going through. I really wanted her to, so I would pour my heart out with hopeful expectation. But every time I did, I’d feel worse than I felt before our conversation. Why? I’d ask myself. She didn’t say anything discouraging. She talked to me with sympathy and love. But I didn’t feel any better. One day it clicked…it all boiled down to one thing… she didn’t understand. She couldn’t. She’d never traveled that road herself, and had never been given a reason to place herself in an infertile woman’s shoes emotionally. It wasn’t her fault.
Infertility can drive wedges between friendships due to the lack of openness and honesty that deep, quality friendships require. I’m sure many of my friends during my struggling years probably thought our friendships were just fine. But to me, I felt like I didn’t have a true friend who “got” me.
Except for one.
Perhaps one of the unforeseen blessings of infertility is that it has the amazing ability to draw a husband and wife closer than ever. When I’d see a happy young couple, her belly full and round, walk by us at the mall, my husband would squeeze my hand. He’d notice how quickly the joy in my face would fade, and he understood the wealthy mess of thoughts that would be running through my mind at that moment. When we’d get out to the car, he’d hug me, knowing that I was likely still bothered by such a simple encounter.
I do have a best friend who gets me, and my struggle, completely. Because it’s his struggle, too. Though he may not talk about it as often as I do, or put his emotions into words as easily, he still very much felt the weight of our childlessness. But we had each other to lean on. And rather than dwell on the friends who didn’t “get” it, I turned to him, allowing this blessed infertility to draw us closer together.