Acknowledging the Struggle



I am sharing an article that was posted on Upworthy recently that caught my attention. The article is titled, Magic words to say when everything’s going wrong. (Not ‘everything happens for a reason.’) There are parts I agree with and others where I disagree. However, I completely agree with the last part of the writing. The article stated that one should say, “I acknowledge your pain. I am here.”  To just acknowledge that someone’s pain is more meaningful than any other words that can be given.

One of my best friends recently told me how much she commends me for this journey.  She said she’s never seen anything quite like it and that it has to be difficult. That simple acknowledgement has meant so much to me. I never  told her that, so she can know it now.  I spend many days thinking I am crazy, overreacting, too stressed to comprehend anything, or even wondering what in the world I am doing. To have someone just acknowledge that I am going through a lot brought me down to a level where I could function for even a few minutes. I did not feel like the weirdo who obsesses every minute of everyday about what is happening. I felt like Lauren who is just handling a lot, but somehow handling it.

One of the most difficult things during this infertility journey is I feel like I have lost myself in a sense.  I do not react to things the same way I used to (the joy of hormones).  My body does not feel the same; while I haven’t gained pounds, I still feel like an exploded can of biscuits.  For some reason, when someone just acknowledges your world is upside down, you can then realize it too.  You recognize that this is not a life sentence.  You are still the same person who went into this journey.

During this process I have been given a ton of advice and supportive words.  I appreciate them all!  I tend to believe that most people come from a good place when they are trying to give advice or support.   I know most people don’t mean to actually hurt me with their words.  But sometimes  words can cause some very unintentional pain.  I do not in a million years believe that the people who say them mean anything bad.  I think people are just at a loss for words, so they say whatever they think sounds positive and sweet.  I have relatively thick skin, but sometimes I did/do struggle with a couple of things that people tend to say in regards to infertility.  I’ll list them below and explain why they may hurt someone in this journey.  I am only sharing so that if you find yourself in this situation you may reconsider what you say.  I, for one, would always recommend just acknowledging their struggle and leave the door open for the person to share how they are feeling.

  • DO NOT bring up adoption.  We know this is an option, trust me, anyone going through infertility has looked into, considered, or just decided it was not for them.  This is a very personal discussion.  The loss of ability to experience pregnancy is something that so many women cannot even imagine losing.  It is something that would most certainly be grieved.  Adoption is not a cure for infertility. 
  • DO NOT ask how long we plan to receive treatment.  That is a personal decision.  Unfortunately, our ability to have a family is completely correlated to how much money we have, not even including what the average person should plan to have to raise a child.  When we are asked how long we plan to get treatment, it makes us feel unsupported in a sense, especially when the cost is brought up.  We know it costs a lot, our wallets see it.  However, the end result is invaluable.  We’ve made plans for ourselves to make sure we can afford it.  Many of those in these situations do. 
  • Saying, “everything happens for a reason”, just makes us obsess about the reason.  What did I do to make this happen?  Is it karma for something I did many years ago?  Why do other people, in less than favorable situations have no issue, but I do?  I have watched many things line up perfectly in my life, however it was not without extreme heart break.  Do I believe I am stronger now?  Absolutely!  However, it has changed me in good and bad ways.  I have chosen to focus and highlight the good changes. 
  • “It’s in God’s hands”, was by far the most difficult things for me to hear.  I believe in God and I know he is there for us.  However, this statement just makes me think, why is God not letting me be a Mom?  What did I do?  Is he mad at me?  Why am I not worth but so many others are, others who have abandoned their children?  I know I should trust in God through this process and I do; I  believe he is by my side.  However, that particular statement makes me think God is just saying “no” and I have no idea why.  Therefore, the obsession continues.  It also does not make the process any easier.  Your body goes through some very extensive changes physically, chemically, and emotionally, you cannot be in control of it all of the time.  A lot of how we feel during this process is between us and God.  Our spiritual stance is not something that would be useful to bring up that this time. 

All of the statements listed above have always been meant as kind supportive statements.  They’ve been said by family, friends and acquaintances and even as comments on this blog.  I disagree with the article because in no way do I think you should “kick” these people out of your life for saying ‘everything happens for  a reason”.  I feel like when you go through a difficult situation, you have to be prepared that people will not always have the right words for you and that is okay.  No one is really trying to hurt you (if they are purposely trying to hurt you, then by all means kick them out).  Most are only trying to offer support in the best way they think they can.  I feel like it is up to those in difficult situations to just be honest about their struggles so that others can be helpful.  It’s easier said than done; I know!  Unless you’ve stood in the exact same shoes as someone, it is difficult to come up with the words to show support in any situation.  You cannot blame people for not having the right words for your situation.  You can love them for trying and help them understand how you feel, if that is what you want to do. I am extremely fortunate to have the most supportive tribe of people in my life.  I’ve faced nothing but support and love during this journey from those who know me.  Since our story has been in the news, I have faced scrutiny from those who do not know us.   This has made my skin thicker in a way, but has also broken my heart several times.  Most of the hurtful things have came from people who have read our news stories.  I am thankful for all the love we have received; it far surpasses the not so loving remarks.

“I am here for you” has always been one of the most meaningful things to hear.  I know sometimes saying it sounds and feels empty.  However,  if you say it and show the person you mean it, they’ll never forget.  Living through infertility is a particular form of torture.  We make people uncomfortable when we talk about our struggles because it is not something that is considered “normal”.  This is not like talking about your pregnancy where everyone (maybe not your boss), wants to hear your story such as your birth experience.   It is easier to talk about pregnancy because it is all around us and it is such an exciting time.  When I am asked about my lack of children, I simply respond that now is not the time for us.  What I want to say is, we are doing IVF to have children.  One cycle has failed and it was heart breaking, but we are continuing to try and I have become quite the expert in giving shots.  I want to talk about IVF.  It is amazing and for a lack of better terms, just blows my mind! I think one of the kindest things someone could do for someone in this situation is to let the person talk about it.  Don’t let your eyes glaze over in boredom or feel uncomfortable; if the person appears comfortable, ask questions.  Chances are the person you are talking to has researched IVF more than the FBI would when doing a background check.  A lot of us are dying to share this amazing journey.  This journey is not all sadness and heartbreak.  We get to watch life from the very beginning of time; that in itself is amazing.

This article really made me think about what it has been like to go through a difficult journey and what has been helpful along the way.  I think the phrase “I acknowledge your pain, I am here”, can be used in any difficult situation and continue to be helpful.  To simply know we are not alone, whether you can relate or not, means the absolute world.  It lets us know we are the same person who started on this journey and that it will not last forever.  I related this article to infertility because it is my life.  However, I know the terms shared could be used in almost any struggle in life.  I am thankful for something that sounds to be more meaningful when talking to those I love who are facing difficult times.  I always want to show my support and love but sometimes I have no words.  Maybe the less said, the better.  I’m here for you.

Shaking Ground

“Keep on climbing, though the ground might shake.”  Maddie & Tae “Fly”

I have been listening to this song for awhile now.  I found it during our last two week wait.  I was thankful for the words in the song during and after the two week wait.  The ground is still shaking.  My heart is still broken.  Maybe it always will be, but somehow, I need to find some peace from my grief.   Peace would feel so much better than the emotions I have been running through.  When I was taking Psychology classes, I learned that the stages of grief do not follow steps.  You can visit each stage in any order, at any time. I think I started in these stages when we found out that we would not be able to have children on our own.  That is a fact to grieve in itself.  There’s a lot of feeling of loss with not being able to conceive on your own.  After going through the two week wait and finding out our embryo did not survive was the beginning of a whole new grief cycle.

I tried to keep the mindset that this will happen when the time is right.  However, that is becoming more of a struggle for me, a constant struggle.  I believe Kevin and I are the definition of “all things happen for a reason.”  There is a reason Kevin survived what he did; there is a reason we found each other again.  I truly believe that.  However, I struggle with why we also have to experience this pain.  This pain is more than I would have ever imagined.  It really is a roller coaster of emotions.  You have no idea if you are going to be able to emotionally keep it together minute by minute. I can rarely verbalize how I feel because it often comes out as angry or tears. Neither emotion is something I feel like feeling.  However, writing about it gives me the release I need, while keeping it together.

One of the hardest things for me is that I cannot participate in the pregnancy world.  When someone brings up something about pregnancy, I cannot relate.  I have no idea what it feels like to have your child move inside of you.  I have no idea what it is like to see two pink lines. I have not the slightest idea of any of it. I feel like the outcast.  I feel like the 16 year old, who has no right to get pregnant.  When in all reality, I am 27 years old, successful, married and dying to be a Mother.   I get to be asked, “do you have children” frequently. I know those people mean absolutely no harm when asking.  It doesn’t really hurt me to be asked either.  However, I wish I could always tell our story.  I always just respond with a simple “no”.  But what I really want to say is, “no, but this is what we are going through to try and have our family”.  It is a part of our story and right now it is my life.  However, my journey makes a lot of people uncomfortable so it is better to just stick with “no”.

I am a Christian.  I believe that God exists and that he is watching over us.  However, I struggle when I think that it is in God’s hands and that He might be saying I am not to be a mother.  It is even harder when I watch others have babies over and over in less than favorable situations than I find myself in.  I struggle believing that God would say it is a “good” time for 16 year old or a drug addict to have a baby but not for a 27 year old, financially stable, happily married woman.  It really is a struggle… a struggle to accept, at times, God’s plan for us.  However, the why me” road is not one I want to go down..  “Why me,” is not beneficial to anyone.  I would never wish this one anyone else.  I know that saying, “why me,” is like saying “why not someone else.”  I would rather this be me than to ever watch someone I love go through it.  I will never know why Kevin and I have to face this, but we do.  I have to figure out, somehow, how to survive it.

I am a statistics person.  It was one of my favorite classes in college. I find comfort in facts, reason, and logic.  I like to control and understand why things happen.  I am comfortable in those situations.   I like to know my odds and then I can take what comes next.  I am most comfortable when I am prepared.  I had what we would say to everyone already prepared before we received our news from the beta testing.  Our positive post was waiting in my phone, along with the negative that I, unfortunately, had to use.  While it was difficult to have to use that, I was glad I was prepared.   I researched the odds of IVF working and it is no where near 100%, 90% or even 70% of a chance.  There is no guarantee that I will walk away from this journey with a baby in my arms.  However, IVF, when compared to our less than 1% chance of it happening on our own, is a much higher chance of success and worth pursuing.  I don’t understand God’s plan for us right now. But I am so thankful to God for bringing Kevin and I together. I know he has something amazing in store for us.  And I am thankful that He has made it possible for us to meet and work with these amazing professionals who have the intelligence and interest to help us on our path to parenthood.

My ground is shaking.  I am not steady on my feet as I try to figure out my place in all of this.  I am trying to trust and have faith.  I am constantly battling my heart and my head.  God sent me the most amazing man to get through this journey with and I am so incredibly thankful for him.  We are partners in this process and that in itself has made this journey easier on us both.  We find strength in each other and help ourselves through the rough patches; always loving, always supportive. While God has always been a part of my life, I am working on finding more ways to invite him to all of my life.  Here’s to a stronger, more faithful us, during one of the most difficult journeys of our lives.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately.

This cartoon has been stuck in my head lately. “Why me” does not help anything. Figuring out how to survive, become stronger, and build your faith is a much better focus.

Listen to “Fly” by Maddie & Tae here!