Sunday, March 22, 2015

A letter to myself on the eve of infertility

I am reprinting this article. Not many things I read on infertility make me cry. While infertility is my passion and my ministry, I am very removed from it and the emotion is well behind me. But this piece brought tears to my eyes because I felt like yelling, "YES! Someone gets it! Someone understands what these years did to me!"

If you are living with infertility, I hope this piece reminds you that you are far from alone.

And if you are reading this because you love someone going through infertility, I pray this piece helps you understand what this terrible journey feels like. 

Dear Amanda,

Tomorrow your life will change forever.  I wish I could protect you from everything you are about to experience, but in the strangest way, this will be the best thing that has ever happened to you. 
First thing’s first. 
Everything you think you know about getting pregnant? False. 
Your science classes, great aunts and MTV’sTeen Mom have failed you.  Lies…all lies.  I can’t tell you yet what DOES work, but I can give you a  few things that don’t. 
Take them off your list:
-“Just relax.”
-“Take a vacation!! “
-“Stop trying.  Everyone gets pregnant when they stop trying.”
-“Lose weight/gain weight.”
-“Give up.  This is a sign that you aren’t meant to have children.” (heads up- the ones who say this one are nuts! Walk away.)

The people around you do not mean to be idiots.  
Truly.  You will hear some of the worstadvice imaginable in these next few years… but it’s only because no one knows what to do with you. You will hear the story of Abraham and Sarah on the regular.  You will yell and say terrible things about that particular story in the Bible.  Chances are, you won’t be 147 when you get pregnant, so try and let that one go.   Although you can’t see it now, your friends and family are hurting with you. Learn how to be gracious early on and save yourself one million tears.  And also- stop asking people what you should do.  Their ideas are terrible. Ask your doctor, talk to Matt… but step away from the masses.

The amount of weight and gray hair that comes with this process is a shock.  So, learn that you are beautiful.  It's important.

You don’t actually have a needle phobia.
The nurses don’t like wimps, so fake it til you make it. Before long they’ll know your name, and your best vein.  Your days of whining and passing out over a blood draw are long gone. In time, you’ll be giving yourself shots in the stomach and losing half of your blood supply at every appointment without thinking twice.

Oh! You will lose your mind, yell at a nurse on the phone and file a complaint about her to “HR”.  You aren’t going to win her back over, so let that one go.  But don’t be “that girl” for long.

The nurses are YOUR PEOPLE!  Treat them well.  If they ever seem cold or unfriendly, it’s not about you.  They have an unbelievably stressful job.  Women are crazy to begin with. Women pumped full of hormones trying to get pregnant? Psychotic.  These ladies see incredible pregnancy miracles, but they also walk families through inconceivable loss.  Just be sincere.  You’ve got a long road ahead, and some of these women will become friends for years to come.

Something about marriage
Sooner than you think, you and Matt will begin to feel like a science experiment gone wrong.  You will fight and cry and question every single thing…you will say terrible things and doubt each other and think this is one big mistake…you almost won’t make it through…but hold on to each other.  This thing can break you if you let it.  (but it doesn’t. trust me.)

Don’t hide.
Soon, most of your friends will become pregnant.  The majority of them started trying long after you.  You will watch them have their first, second and even third children as you wait.  Wait well.  Answer your phone, agree to a pedicure, or just let them come sit with you.  Infertility sucks.   Trying to do it by yourself is impossible. You have incredible people in your life. They can TAKE THIS! Learn to let them love you through the ugly. 

You are going to mess up.
Drop perfectionism quickly because you cannot IMAGINE the ways you’ll act.  You will be rude, insensitive, and distant.  You’ll miss important baby showers and christenings and birthday parties and do all the things you said you’d never do. It’s okay.  Grief is a monster and in time you’ll learn to separate your own sorrow from others’ joy. Forgive yourself, ask forgiveness and do better next time.

Hear me say this.  You did NOT do anything wrong.  You are not being punished. God has not forgotten you.  Don’t compare your story to those around you, because you do have a story.  It reads like sci-fi horror right now, but it won’t always. 

Never give up, Amanda. Never.  You will announce that you don’t want kids after all, you will stop “trying”, but always hold a space in your heart for hope.

Pain is devastating and beautiful. And it makes people terribly uncomfortable. This thingyou have is holy ground. Treat it that way.  Don’t let anyone in unless you are certain they can be trusted with your grief.  But soon you’ll see others stumbling around with your very same wound.  Take them in, share what you know… it eases the heartache.

I wish I could close this letter with, AND THEN YOU GET PREGNANT.  But you don’t. 
I don’t know what happens at the end of our story, but I know you are stronger than you’ve ever imagined.  I know that your story will help so many other women.  And I know that this is all worth it.


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