I am so very excited to share the following essay with you and beyond grateful to Jessica for opening up about her ongoing struggles with infertility. Most people who are willing to talk about infertility wait until they have become parents to share their story. In the following essay, Jessica Burdge speaks honestly about her grief and shares some of the tools that are helping her work through it. I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about Jessica and her beautiful photography to visit her website.
Infertility. It's a subject that makes people feel awkward and is just so personal that we don't talk about it much. A few years into waiting for a baby I started searching the internet for other women who struggled with the same thing. Most of the stories I found were woman who talked about it after they had children. I desperately wanted to hear from someone who was in the struggle now, to help me understand my feelings and show me how to work through it.
I'm still in the middle of waiting and sorting through it all but I wanted to share a few things that have helped me understand infertility in hopes of letting some woman out there know she isn't alone in the journey.
1. Grieve. I think this is one reason infertility is so hard to know how to relate or react to because there isn't anything tangible to see that you lost. But it is a loss just the same. And just like any other grief you will have days that you are totally ok and think you have mastered it and the very next day the helpless feelings wash over you. Just recently I was having a particularly great day when out of the blue 3 friends all texted me (within the same hour) that they were expecting. It was all I could do not to crumble in a heap on our bed. Like I said, good days|bad day. It's ok.
2. Give. I have found the best way of overcoming the tempting feelings to pity myself is to give. I'll be honest, when a friend tells me how exhausted she is with all her littles running around the desire to pity myself and compare is so tough!! Try to find a way to give. It takes the focus off of yourself and gives you passion and purpose. What are some talents or things you are good at? You could even offer to babysit for your friend. I know that sounds like the exact opposite of what you may be feeling but it would be an incredible blessing to your friend and even more to yourself. Try it sometime!
3. Gratitude. Make a list of two things a day you are grateful for. You will be amazed at what it does to your attitude. Once again, getting your focus off of yourself. If you haven't read 100 gifts, you defiantly should. Such beautiful words and message!
4. Grace. People will reach out but still say hurtful and offensive things. Take the positive and leave the hurt. I know I have said the wrong things in the past with the most genuine intentions. It takes a lot of braveness to reach out. It can be really scary...be graceful and forgive. I know I would prefer someone caring (maybe with not all the right words) to not saying anything at all.
5. Go on. This is when I wish I could be talking with you face to face. Then you could see and hear that I care so deeply and not just see words on a screen. This is probably the hardest part of infertility for me. Life moves on and so will others. Most of Daniel's and my friends have little families now. While we can still stay up late and go out to eat last minute; they are juggling sick babies and early nap times. This can make you feel like you are in different worlds and become distant. Keep up with those friends. Some of our closest friends have kiddos (we even go on vacation with them) that we get to love on and we wouldn't trade it for the world. We may be in the same place one day; but even for today...those friendships are invaluable!
Hopefully this has helped you understand your friend or possibly yourself a bit better. I'm thinking about sharing a few things and words that have helped a lot from friends to encourage me over the past few years. If you are interested in hearing them, let me know. I may write about it.
Take joy Friends,
Thank you for visiting the Starting Over blog. Stop by anytime for a dose of inspiration, tools to help you achieve your goals, and a community of fellow travelers. I hope to see you often!