Over the past five years, I have become more sensitive to certain topics. One of the things that really bothers me is for people to complain about things that others dream about. While I have never suffered from infertility, I have been through such a bad late pregnancy experience that it made me terrified to even try to have another child biologically. I can tell you from my experience (and from what I’ve read or learned about from women who suffered with infertility) that just seeing pregnant women is difficult enough.
For a while, I felt guilty. If I saw a woman have a completely uncomplicated pregnancy, I would think “why couldn’t I?” If I saw a woman having her second or third child (and again, uncomplicated), I would think “why can they have as many children as they want without any issues but I can’t?” If a teenager or young woman got pregnant accidentally, it was “seriously?” And then, I’d feel guilty about feeling that way. I didn’t want to feel that way and I sure didn’t want to question God. I should be happy for those people – they are growing their families. I knew (or at least thought I knew) that the way I was feeling was very wrong. For a while, I didn’t want anyone to know about those emotions because, as I said, I felt guilty.
When I talked to a friend who was, at the time struggling with fertility issues, I found out she was having the same thoughts and struggles. It gave me a little bit of reassurance that I was not alone and not completely crazy.
I think the moment that I realized that those feelings were OK came while reading a book. Jody Cantrell Dyer wrote “The Eye of Adoption” about her own struggles with infertility after the birth of her first son and her adoption process. In addition to her book, I’ve read enough posts from Jody (even one on my last blog post) to know that her goal was that other adoptive parents (or prospective adoptive parents) could find a friend in her. She definitely succeeded in that. She was very open about her feelings and emotions through her journey. While reading her book, I began to understand that there was nothing wrong with the way I was feeling – it was actually normal. It was so refreshing to read page after page and begin to understand that you are not alone in your emotional struggles and that those struggles are “normal.” (For the record, I HIGHLY recommend that anyone going through the adoption process, or who knows someone going through the process – hint, hint – read “The Eye of Adoption.” It will give prospective adoptive parents reassurance and hope and it will allow others to better understand the emotional journey that their friend is going through.)
We can’t help the way we feel but somehow, we still seem to make ourselves feel like having those emotions means that we are a weaker person. We make ourselves feel like we’re not good enough or have failed as a person, or as a Christian, because of these emotions. If you’re going through this process now or are having these emotions – please stop feeling guilty over them. You can’t help how you feel and feeling guilty over emotions that you can’t control is not going to make it any better.
I won’t say that I never have that feeling of “why not me?” anymore. I can tell you, though, that realizing I’m not alone and that there is no reason to feel guilty over those feelings has made those things not bother me quite as much. The guilt added so much more emotion to those feelings.
Another reason that I believe those things are not bothering me as much is that I have become completely OK with the fact that our second child will be adopted. It no longer feels like a “second choice.” The more I read, research, and just think about the process, the more I fall in love with it. It’s OK that our family will be different. I’m OK with one child being biological and one being adopted – mostly because I know and truly believe that blood isn’t what makes a true family. A family is a bond that isn’t created by blood, but rather by love.
To my friends who are expecting or will be in the future: please remember when you’re complaining about your pregnancy side effects that there is likely someone out there reading your post or hearing you complain who wishes they were in your shoes.
To my friends who have struggled with the emotions surrounding infertility or complicated pregnancies: please know that you’re not alone. One thing that I have learned with this process is how great it is to have support. Find a support group – a friend who is there with you completely, an online support group/forum, or even a book that lets you know you’re not alone. And most of all, please don’t feel guilty for the thoughts and emotions that come along with this process. Guilt, especially guilt that stems from something you have no control over, only makes it worse.
Still waiting, hoping and praying…