My Pain

Yesterday was April 1. April Fools' Day. I'm an extremely gullible human being so I generally hate April Fools' Day. (As proof of how much I hate the day: if we'd had to work yesterday, I would have used a vacation day to avoid it.) And when I saw the first "April Fools' Pregnancy" on Facebook, I knew I needed to steer clear for the rest of the day. And so I did. Except to like a friend's picture stating that a fake pregnancy announcement isn't funny.

Today however, I ready Ashley Sue's post on the topic: Looking for Sensitivity on a Day for Fools and I left a comment with this as part of it:

I realize that it's more about my pain, as you said that it hurts, because it hurts, not so much because someone made a joke of it, but because it hurts, all on its own.

And as I wrote that, and then continued dialoging with Ashley Sue, I realized that this goes much further than April 1 on Facebook.

It includes the pregnancy announcements; the complaints from pregnant women; the questions from strangers; the comments from family and friends; the baby at Mass that is the same age as ours would be if we'd conceived after surgery; all. of. it. All of those things that can cause tears or anger or embarrassment without warning, without notice. All. of. them.

They have nothing to do with the announcement, the complaint, the question, etc and EVERYTHING to do with my pain. They become a crutch, an excuse, a place to put blame. A way to hide what they are really about. The pain. I so often feel like I need an excuse for the pain, a reason for it (most often unconsciously . But, honestly, the pain is enough all by itself. Certainly things can trigger it, or make it worse, but those things are not causing the pain. That same pregnancy announcement or question, if I have the family I dream of, don't hurt. They are not the source of the pain, only a reminder of it.

A while back, while venting over a friend's pregnancy announcement, specifically that she didn't tell me individually (she knows of our struggles and had some of her own), I asked the question, what do I expect? I came to the conclusion that I had no right to expect anything from her, as it was her announcement to make. It is only today that I am finally understanding why I came to that conclusion. Regardless of how she made her announcement, my pain is still there. And is about me, not her.

Will knowing this, realizing this, make the pain less when those reminders happen? Probably not. But I know that when I stumbled across a left-over FB announcement from yesterday this afternoon, it didn't feel like a slap in the face. Yes, it hurt, and yet, it was different. While I will still steer clear of places and situations that I know to be strong reminders of the pain, those times that I know it will come to the surface, when they happen (as they will, I'm not crazy), I hope and pray I  remember this, and I respond  with grace to the person, rather than from my own pain.

*I am not speaking of those situations where people, who know exactly what they are doing, choose to inflict additional pain. I'm speaking specifically of those instances that come from a place of ignorance, circumstance, or anything else that the intent is not to cause pain.


  1. Sounds like you have lots of grace from your Lenten fast!

  2. I think this is the hardest to separate: what is about you and what's not...in all things but REALLY with infertility. And youre right, it hurts on its own, its just so hard to remember that when people hand you such a convenient place to out it! Sometimes it just oozed out looking for a place to land, so take that grace and run with it! And geez, more fake pregnancy announcements? Aye aye aye.

  3. I was having a conversation with my mother in law yesterday about the pain of infertility. She was trying to relate so hard by comparing it to something she can relate to and we came to the conclusion that there is no way to relate if you have never gone through it, the pain is just my pain my experience. I do realize more and more that most people have no clue what this is like and are not saying or doing anything to intentionally hurt me.

    1. My MIL tried to relate the pain of my IF to her being adopted.
      It is nice others are trying to relate to you, but you are right ... it just isn't the same.

  4. I so feel this post!

    On Holy Thursday my formerly IF colleague brought her newborn into school to show him off. I could not bring myself to even get close to the baby. I love children, but as a longtime infertile, I can't handle being around little babies. I know she wasn't trying to be hurtful, but it was a tough day.

    It also didn't help that this morning when I checked my email there was a photo of the little guy during his visit. Honestly, give this barren girl a freaking BREAK!!!!

    Continued prayers for you!

  5. This is a beautiful (but hard) post. Thanks for writing it. I've been struggling with how to emotionally process family pregnancies - current ones and future ones. I feel guilty for having such mixed reactions to these conversations. Your reflections here are really helpful to read.

  6. So true, in so many ways.

  7. I relate to this post now, like I wouldn't a month ago. (((HUGS))) and continued prayers for you.

  8. Big hugs. I too saw a lot of fake pregnancy announcements on 4/1. Why do people think that is funny??!! One came from a girl who has a sister with IF. Grrrrrrr.

  9. I agree! "Reminders of the pain" vs. "the pain itself" is a helpful distinction. I would just add one thing - I don't think it's too much to ask that other people grow in sensitivity about IF, just like I don't think it's too much to ask that I grow in sensitivity about things my friends and family are going through, so I can love them better. (Like my single friends - I don't go on and on about my dh with them or make a big deal about every little gift dh gets me.) So I think you're right that you didn't have anything to expect from your friend re: pg announcement (strictly speaking) but at the same time, how much it would have blessed your friendship if she did tell you in a more thoughtful way! I recently had a situation where a friend chose not to announce her pg to me in a group setting, but rather communicated it via email, knowing my sensitivity, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated that! Her thoughtfulness has brought us closer as friends. Anyway, thanks as always for your insights!! Blessings and prayers =)

  10. I absolutely can't imagine what you're going through, so I'm not going to pretend. You're in my thoughts & prayers; I pray that God gives you & the Man the peace that you so deserve.

  11. Yup, I get this. As much as I wanted to be angry at the people who were just ignorant (and believe me, angry I was!!) the fact is that we ALL have a certain degree of ignorance over things we haven't experienced ourselves, and I'm no different. It doesn't excuse a lack of sensitivity, but it does sometimes explain it. And then there are the people who should just. plain. know. better.

    I hear you on this. It completely resonates with IF Hebrews who is never far from my consciousness.

  12. One of my current pet peeves is that it seems like our culture is trying to substitute "awareness" for compassion. (I promise this gets to the point in a moment!) I'm not saying that all x, y, or z awareness days or events are useless, rather that there are too many forms of human pain to know and be fully aware of all of them. Some of them, the more common ones, certainly, but not all. More and more I've been trying to see clueless or hurtful comments as the result of ignorance and trying to take the time and energy to educate people. But unfortunately there are some people who don't want to see or acknowledge other's pain. Lately I've just been wishing and praying for people to treat one another with more sensitivity, compassion, and gentleness.

  13. Well written! This concept has been on my mind lately and I think you nailed it on the head.

  14. I wonder who in their right mind would "april fools" a PG announcement. ??? Really? That is not something to joke about!!!
    Thank you for the BEAUTIFUL picture of St. Joseph you sent for Luke!!! Oh, how I LOVE IT !!!!!!! This will be framed & go in his room (or the living room, I can't decide yet) as a reminder to be thankful to St. Joseph's intercession & also to pray for his intercession for others (you!) who need his help. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!! You are TOO SWEET! I will just have to pray, pray, pray in thanksgiving for your gift. :-D It truly made my day!
    Also - ironic and TRULY God-planned ... every morning I go to work & turn onto St. Joseph Avenue. It runs right into the place where I work. VERY providential! :-)
    St. Joseph, pray for Rebecca & make this year ahead a wonderful year for her. Amen.

  15. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. I'm glad you emailed me this post bc I've been so bad about reading lately.

    This resonates so deeply within me right now. Since becoming a Mom, I've heard everything with critical ears. I'm realizing, with Chris's help, that people aren't always necessarily being critical(some are) they're just making conversation. It's more my issue in how I'm hearing them, not what they're saying.

    Thanks for this.