By now you are, probably, well aware of my ineptitude of playing the waiting game. I know I’m supposed to post every Sunday, which I still plan on doing, but in support of my sanity, I think I’ll also try to do a few in between posts (bonus postings!!) because I have been asked A LOT of questions and a lot of them are quite similar! One subject that bears repeating is my short list of “Do Not’s” followed by a list of “Do Instead’s” when having conversations with couples (or singles) you know going through any type of fertility treatment. The following list is drawn from my own experience. These items may not apply to everyone you know or to you, but they all apply to me and how some things I hear make me feel, think or react and how I wished those thoughts or words had been reframed. My purpose for composing this list is mainly because I KNOW that most of these do not’s come from a loving place from our well wishers. This has, at many times, been a very difficult road for Tim and me and we are in the business of positive thinking only and surrounding ourselves with those that wish to support us. So, if this doesn’t describe you, read no further. If it does, continue and know that I don’t harbor any ill-will if you have said any of these things to me, just some food for thought!
1. Allude to your belief that “it” will happen when “it” is “meant” to.
This can come in many forms but often looks like this: “Oh, you’re only 28, you’re so young!”, “Just quit trying so hard, it’ll happen when you least expect it”, “My sisters, best friends cousin adopted a child and then got pregnant!”, “God has this, Katie, He will bless you with a child when HE is ready”, or “Just be patient”.
While we KNOW all of these things to be true, it is so frustrating to HEAR. Consider that you may or may not know how long we have been on this journey or our medical history or prognosis. Consider that you definitely DO NOT know our inner most personal struggles even if you read my blog religiously. Know that a lot of this process IS under our control and with that comes some peace of mind that we can effectively work hard to bring us very, very close to our desired outcome even if the very end result, a viable pregnancy to a live birth, is so far out of our control it’s not even funny. For me personally, not being able to just work very hard for something I want is a tough pill for me to swallow. It is how I have lived my whole life and accomplished so many of my dreams to this point. To be powerless about this one big huge thing… Y’all, it’s HARD! And I know it’s true. While it may bring total encompassing peace to you to put it in the hands of God or to anecdotally remember someone distantly connected to you achieving their dreams as soon as they gave up or to just quit thinking about the thing that you have been turning your life upside down for a long time – it does not bring me peace. It brings my life chaos and uncertainty and upset when I can’t place all of my emotions and thoughts into my neat internal compartments where they stay until I am ready to unpack them. So…
-Let us know you are praying for us, if you plan to! It IS comforting to us to receive your prayers, your thoughts, your positive vibes and your spiritual wishes. We KNOW the outcome is in the hands of our Maker and we believe that what is meant to happen will and we believe in the power of prayer!
-Tell us YOUR IVF story! It is really hard to take IVF advice from happy lil families of easily conceived kiddos. I know this sounds harsh and rude, and it’s true. I am not invalidating your sweet family or how it came about because it is real and it is perfect, for you! What encourages us are stories from people that have walked down this same road. To have someone who truly knows to lament with and to hear their stories of found happiness if it didn’t go as they originally planned or if it did!
2. Vent to us about kids/pregnancy/childbirth/etc
Y’all, this one is hard. Consider my favorite thing to do: photograph children. Then consider how stressful it can be sometimes to get your husband/partner/kids ready for said photoshoot. I know this can really bring out the worst in your feelings towards your family. I know that sometimes I’m going to encounter pregnant moms that weren’t expecting to expect and aren’t thrilled about it. I DO NOT think that my fertility should make you change the way you feel about your fertility. I am not a monster. I know these are two totally mutually exclusive things. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes a pregnancy announcement will bring me to my knees. It will feel like my soul is on fire and that I will never achieve that. It will make me come face-to-face with a reality that is so far out of my own reach it hurts. Sometimes, with a little grace and a small amount of compassion, a pregnancy announcement will make me elated! On the whole, I always want to be excited for those things, to celebrate with you and be happy for you! Every now and then, I have to be sad for me AT THE SAME TIME. It’s crazy conflicting.
On the flipside of this, I will not lament with you about children in general or how a pregnancy is the worst thing that could happen to someone. I will be the FIRST to butt in and remind you that no life is a burden or anything less than a miracle and a blessing. Maybe it wasn’t a good time for you, maybe the circumstances weren’t favorable or you physically/mentally/emotionally/financially cannot care for a child. I have witnessed the miracle of parenthood through adoption, the life changing nature of parenthood and the amazing personal growth learning you are going to be a parent can illicit.
I had a conversation the other day with a group of people hell bent on convincing me that kids are terrible and was I “really sure about wanting kids” and “why?! you can have mine…”. Like, seriously. Trying to convince ME I am making a terrible decision CHOOSING to pursue parenthood and “OMG HOW MUCH ARE YOU PAYING?! I would never have done that!!” Y’all. Stop it. I am not the girl. Tim is not the guy. It is so demeaning to our journey to assume that it’s as easy as giving us your child (it’s not) or that letting us “borrow” your child will convince us that we don’t actually want this. Not to mention, it really hurts my heart if you say this in front of your child. Consider that putting us that position just makes us feel the same things I imagine someone in a soup kitchen line may feel. Demoralized, lack of dignity, and depressed that you have all these things we want and feel like we need but can’t obtain and you are waving it in our faces in a very demeaning way.
Am I saying you should’t have any of the above feelings? Of course not. That’s ludicrous. I am not in control of your thoughts and feelings. If you have the latter of these feelings, we are just not philosophically aligned and I doubt we are close friends. All I am pointing out is that we are not the people to complain to about how miserable having kids can be. I once told my sister if I had to birth a child through my mouth at this point, I would still pay all the money and do all the hard things we are having to do now to make it happen.
…just don’t talk to us about this. Seek out friends that can commiserate with you who are in the same season of life as you are. Your struggle is real, we just can’t relate.
3. Continually question our decision to pursue IVF during deployment
This one is very, very specific to us and our situation but, MAN! If I had a dollar for every time I have dealt with this one, we would have enough money to make up the difference in price of IVF between our clinic in Memphis and the MTF’s (Military Treatment Facility) very discounted rate. “Oh wow, that must be so hard to do without your husband!”, “How could you not want Tim there for the creation of your child”, “Your husband needs to be there for your pregnancy!”, “Why not wait til he gets back?”. I promise you that I feel all the Catholic Mother guilt that could ever be laid upon me all by myself without getting it from family, friends or strangers. This one is the most exhausting of all and has brought me closer to a snappy, “Either be totally supportive or totally silent” response than any other IVF conversation faux pas. I would also love to reside in a perfect world, guys. But, hey – I don’t. And neither do you. This is the best possible situation for Tim and me and I’m tired of apologizing for it. I’m serious, the next person that admonishes me for pursing IVF while Tim is gone is going to get a $15,000 bill from me – you know, the difference in price between doing this while Tim is home and while he is deployed. Not to mention, this is not some decision I made spur of the moment and forced Tim to comply with. I realize I am more vocal about it so it may appear that way but WE made this decision TOGETHER.
Obviously (I hope) I am DESPERATE for Tim to be holding my hand through these big steps towards our future. He is my rock, my steady hand, my cool head, my calming force. And you know what, he is still all of those things (x 10 over) even while he is halfway across the world. I am SO THANKFUL that, 1 – we have this opportunity at all and 2 – that I have been on the receiving end of Tim’s dedication. While I’m not a huge fan of the distance, it has done nothing but draw Tim and me closer and showed me exactly the kind of marriage I want and how Tim is committed to those same goals.
Form a community around us. So many people have asked me how they can help me while Tim is gone! It has been beautiful and overwhelming and lovely. Sometimes I do need a shoulder to cry on or for someone to get me out of the house so I don’t go insane. No one can ever truly stand in for Tim, but having a community of our family and our friends makes me feel more connected to him. This goes for all spouses of deployed military. Lift up those people/spouses/kids/mothers/fathers our service members left behind to hold down the home front. I have the sweetest friend that is always checking on me, leaving care packages at my door and dropping sweet surprises when I least expect them. Y’all… Look at this last lil sweet she left me:
I cried my eyes out. It was so thoughtful. I spend a lot of time worrying about Tim and worrying about work and my clients. Self care is very low on my list during this time and it is so welcomed, knowing someone else is worried about me, too.
4. Ask me if you aren’t actually interested
So, this is a strange one. I am totally cool if you aren’t interested at all. I actually completely understand that position. What is stressful is when, for instance, someone needs something from me or hasn’t spoken to me in a while and wants to reconnect and out of some perceived obligation, they ask me a seemingly simple question about how IVF is going that leads into a long conversation they didn’t actually want. IVF is really complicated all by itself. The route we have taken is a bit more complicated because our clinic has scheduled homogenized cycles. While this is a large part of my life right now, it’s not my whole life and I don’t expect everyone to care about it like my mama does (because she SUPER does). Fielding questions like “So, have they implanted you yet?” from a casual acquaintance is usually more frustrating than helpful. Not only is that not at all how it works anyway, my attention to detail is going to cause me to walk through the whole process up to the transfer, which is a long explanation and what you were probably actually asking about, anyway. Typically these people will go weeks or months without catching up or reading these posts (which is fine!!) and then asking me the literal same wrong question as before because they weren’t really interested in the first place but feel obligated to ask. Y’all are seriously not obligated to ask!
…talk to me about what you’re actually interested in! Chances are, I am also interested in that thing and I can have that conversation completely independently of our reproductive stuff! I have lots of interests! Crazy hair colors, baking, make up, photos, dogs, cats, gardening, small appliance repair, craft beer… I’m your girl for all those things and more. On a side note, I’m not totally sure, but I think Tim gets exempted from this one because I have a finite grasp of all of the concepts anyway and I have literally taken notes at all my appointments so I feel like he doesn’t get specific questions like I do! I’m pretty jealous of him for that!! BUT! If you are seriously interested in the subject, I am HAPPY to tell you allllll of the details as long as you can retain them and not ask me from square one every time!
I’ll reiterate now, please don’t be personally offended if you think one of these points is a fence you’ve crossed. I didn’t write any of these about a specific person, each one of these instance has happened WAY more than once. Just always remember to THINK before you speak, not just to me but in general and also that you never really know what someone is going through so if it isn’t KIND, it’s probably not worth it.
You should totally share this if you can relate or know someone who is in a similar season of life and could use a laugh or to be reminded they are the only ones!
Til Sunday 🙂