When You're The One With A Baby


Recently my heart has been broken a lot. Over and over again it breaks, my tears only a small, visible representation of the pain I feel. Not for me, but for others. I have several friends suffering through infertility and miscarriages and I'm struggling to know how to respond. It's been well documented that when I became pregnant for the first time, it was unplanned. It wasn't yet asked or hoped for and in someways wasn't quite welcome yet. I didn't have to try - I didn't try. I have absolutely no idea what it's like to wait for a baby. To want a child in the deepest parts of me and be told "no" over and over again. Whether for two months or three years, I cannot relate.

And even more so, I can't relate to someone who loses their child mid-pregnancy. I don't know what it's like to get the high of a "yes," and begin planning and hoping and wishing only to find out that those dreams for that child will remain only dreams forever.

I don't know if I will ever experience these things and I may, certainly, but thus far I can't relate to my friend's pains. I've read many an article on how to respond and while they are helpful, I'm not sure it's possible to go well when telling someone in these situations that you're pregnant - even when using all 10 tips. It's hard when you can't truly relate to someone - when you have what they so desperately want, and you got it easily, without even wanting it.

When I became pregnant, I had to tell a handful of friends who were struggling through infertility and miscarriages that I was pregnant. Me, the girl who wasn't planning on having kids for a few years. The "safe" friend. The one that didn't have the baby on my hip that's a constant reminder of what they can't have. I didn't do it right with any of them. I thought it through of course, knowing I wanted to be delicate and careful with their hearts, but blundering and fumbling through it all, stepping on pieces of their broken heart without meaning to, wishing I could take back each step and take a different path, but it's not easy to mend a trail one has already blazed.

I've known too many women affected by infertility and miscarriage, and my heart is heavy with much I wish I could say. But it's hard in the moment because hearts with infertility and miscarriages in them are already so delicate and fragile that often I'm fearful my words would only damage them further - and again, I don't know exactly what is appropriate to say, because I've never been there.

But thankfully, most women who go through these trials have offered me more grace than I deserve for my oversights and mistakes. Many of them have handled my gaffes with dignity and poise and I have been amazed with how understanding they are of me, when I'm the one who should be understanding of them. But I also find that there is a misunderstanding for women on the other side, the women with babies who haven't had to wait for them - we can often be seen as insensitive or unloving to the situation because of things we say or even don't say. But that couldn't be further from the truth.

As I mentioned above, there are countless articles written for how to understand someone who's gone through infertility issues or miscarriages, and they are welcomed and needed, and I gobble them up, willing myself to learn best how to serve my friends in their suffering. But if I may, I would like to try to pull back the curtain on the topic from a woman's heart who has a baby - because they deserve to be understood too. Here is what I wish I could say.

I am so sorry. Sometimes I wish I could hide my baby from you so seeing him didn't hurt you. You will tell me that you are happy for me, and I know you are, but I also know that happiness comes with a greater pain. And I don't want to be any cause of that. I don't know what to say and I cannot relate to the way your heart has been shattered into a million pieces.  I don't know if you know this, but I feel guilty that I'm the one with a child. I don't know why it's you and not me. I wonder that all the time, just like you. And I don't think it's fair that I have a baby and you don't.  I have cried for you, when you told me another treatment didn't work or when you told me you lost your baby. I cried when I found out and I cry when I remember. I genuinely hurt for you. 

I know sometimes you want to just be "normal" with me and other times it's hard to be normal and you don't want to talk about anything related to children. I get it, but sometimes it's difficult to discern which one it is at the time. I will try to talk with you, but I know you are sensitive right now and I'm nervous to say the wrong thing, to unwittingly hurt you and so I stammer and stutter and sometimes say nothing at all out of fear. I know that I should say something, anything, but can you see why I hesitate? I am truly sorry when baby stuff slips out, especially when we're in a group. It's hard because that's what my life is right now, but I know it causes pain for you, so I am sorry when I make a mistake. I'm just dense and slow and yes, sometimes so self-centered that I forget your pain for a moment. But know that I eventually remember, I always remember. I later kick myself for the things I said or the things I didn't say. I worry over semantics and interpretation and I wish that I could explain away anything I've ever said that may have hurt you. Forgive me for the things I unknowingly say that cause pain for you.

I know this experience is changing you. No one goes through a fire like this without being burned. You're different and I know that probably makes our relationship different, but I hope you'll still give our friendship a chance. Please let me be there for you. But if you need a break from me for a while, I'll completely understand. It will be hard for me but as long as I know I'll get you back someday, I can deal. Just tell me what you need, don't just distance yourself and not say anything. I know it's probably hard to say to me, but I would rather know than wonder if I did something to drive you away. 

I've said it already and I'll say it again. I am so sorry. Your pain matters to me, and I want to do right by you. I am here for you. I won't always say the right things or know exactly how to help, but I'd like to try. Please grant me grace as I will probably fail you on more levels than one, but I won't fail you where it counts. I promise I'll be here each and every time you need me - trying to support you, encourage you, hold you and love you, mistakes and all. 

8 comments:

  1. Very well said, my dear. I just love your heart and your heart for friends like me who are hurting and waiting and healing, too. You're right, there is no good way to navigate these waters on either end, is there? The other day I told Joe, "I don't want them (my sister in laws) to feel like they have to tip toe around me, but I also don't want them to ignore what I'm going through." Truthfully, there is no right response because I just don't want to be in this situation and have to deal with these issues. I just wish it wasn't this way, and I'm sure my friends with kids or babies on the way wish that, too. Thankfully, God's given me SO much peace amid the pain and sadness, which has also in the last few days turned into hope and true joy again. You're right, this is changing me, but in the most wonderful of ways. And now I just wrote a novel. :) Love you!

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  2. This is great! The one thing I would say is to respond with the Gospel. If your friend is a believer they need to come to a place where they rest in the Sovereignty of God. Ultimately He creates life and He does things in ways we can never imagine for ourselves. And this is coming from someone who has had two miscarriages and went through years of infertility before having our daughter. Just point them to Jesus, He's the only one who can truly understand.

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  3. Thanks Madison - you're definitely one of the most gracious women I've ever met - particularly as I've watched you navigate this topic! It's kind of refreshing to hear you say that there's no right response, because honestly that how it can feel to me - so while that's a bummer, it also takes some of the pressure off, you know? I'm so, so glad to hear God has given you so much peace lately in the midst of this trial. I continue to pray for you daily and I love you so!

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  4. Completely agree. God is the true healer - not just with infertility and miscarriages, but in all wounds of life. It can be so hard to remember in the moment, but I'm always amazed at how he works in the most marvelous of ways when I'm hurting the most.

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  5. Great thoughts, Laura. As someone who spent years on the storm cloud side of things and is now teetering (or more literally, toppling like a giant bus) over the line into the third trimester with a darling girl, I think I'm really seeing how much fear there is on all sides. And maybe honest friendship means making a space to say, "Hey, I'm totally afraid I'm screwing this up, but I do love you and wish I could make things better." Because I've felt that way right back at ya (not you specifically, but others in your shoes...). I mean, I'm afraid of screwing things up by going/not-going to a baby shower, family event, or baptism/dedication. I'm afraid I'm screwing up my friendships because I can't feel happy about someone else's pregnancy or don't feel remotely sympathetic for their birth/nursing/sleeping/parenting issues. ("You had a c-section and couldn't breastfeed ? I had a miscarriage.") I worry now that I'm screwing up because even though I am head-over-heels for my girl, I cry whenever I think about my baby showers and I can only think about how hard it was to see everyone else's baby bumps when friends pester me for bump shots, and I don't even feel safe thinking about her name in relation to future sibling names because wouldn't that be like winning the lottery twice!? I'm afraid I'm giving her a screwed up mama, and I'm afraid it freaks people out that I don't always feel like they expect I should. So I think admitting the helplessness and neediness is always a good thing, and maybe that's what opens up the dialogue we all need. Loved your letter here!

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  6. I feel like miscarriage and infertility are two things you never hear about let alone talk about until you are either trying to get pregnant or have friends who are in the process. Then you realize how prevalent it is! I am blessed with a baby boy and one on the way, but have several friends who are in various stages of miscarriages and infertility and your words ring true. It's hard to know what to say or do. One thing I have been reminded of is that sometimes you don't have to say anything. Just being there for them is enough. Also, sometimes what they really need is a fun distraction, which may be a crazy afternoon with you and your kiddo or a girl's/couple's night.

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  7. So true Andrea. It's one of those things that can feel kinda awkward in the moment, (just sitting there silently) but does way more than we can ever know. And that that's true in most situations where people are grieving, not just this particular situation. And fun nights are always a good option - leaving the door open for them to say yes or no, no questions asked.

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  8. Totally agree that honesty goes so far in this situation. I tend to be an over-sharer, so just saying how I feel comes pretty easily for me (too easily at times!) But I know it's really difficult for most people to talk about their true feelings, especially when they seem countercultural. But I truly believe getting the courage to say, "Here's why I can't do that right now." Or on the other side, "I'm sorry, that was insensitive, I didn't mean it like that." goes such a long way in a friendship. Feelings are not wrong and I'll never forget when someone told me, "Feelings are FACT. They matter and are real." I think often we hear that you need to suppress them, and we can't trust them. But our feelings are not sinful, it's what we do with those feelings and how we let them control us, act, or judge others. Just being open to talk about things, and to receiving other's feelings is huge, not only when talking about miscarriages/infertility, but about all difficult and hard situations that people go through. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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