Next week my life will change. I will be crossing over the infertility finish line and embark on a new journey. I will not lose my status as an infertile, I will just be adding the title of mother along with it. A fertile infertile if you will. As I think on these changes I am reflecting on the past and how infertility has affected me. There are many, many good qualities and lessons that I learned through it all. But, sadly, there are many things that I wish that I had done differently. What caused all of this reflection is something that has happened, or not happened, over the past few weeks. I have been on bed rest for about 4 weeks and only one person from my church has called me to check on me. My first reaction is to be hurt and angry. Then the more I thought about it I realized that this is my fault. It is my fault because I have allowed infertility to dictate my life.
Some background: My hubby and I were diagnosed 11 years ago with infertility. The first year I was sad, but optimistic. By year 2 it began to dictate who I was, where I went, who I spoke to, etc. During the beginning of our infertility journey we attended my home church where I grew up. Because I had been there for years I already had ties and friends there and even though it hurt to watch people move on and have children, I did not quit being their friend. I was also involved in children's ministries and continued working there even though it was not always easy. Then six years ago things drastically changed. It is a long and painful story but basically we were very hurt there and left that church to attend a different one nearby. This really was a great move for us, but I was devastated! The new church is quite different (in a good way) and many other families had moved here from my previous church so they members and staff knew that I needed time to heal before getting involved and allowed me to grow at my own pace. The problem was that I was not only hurt, I was infertile. I kept to myself. It took over 5 years before I got involved with a ministry. Previously I had been involved in several ministries and now none. I sat in the pew feeling sorry for myself for so long. Five years ago I finally forced myself to quit sucking my thumb and begin working in junior church and began to feel like I belonged in this church. But I still had not developed many friendships. Now I am paying for this.
I know that the people are praying for me and they ask my hubby about me often, but none feel close enough to call me personally. No one has offered to provide a meal or offer to help me with anything. My first reaction is to cry, but that is not fair. In the six years that I have been there I have never called anyone to check on them or offered to help someone in need. How dare I ask them to treat me any differently than I have treated them? I did this to myself. All I was trying to do was insulate myself from hurt but instead I isolated myself from everything and everyone. All because of infertility.
Now as I look back I realize how I allowed infertility to dictate everything about me! I now wonder how many positive experiences I have missed out on because of it. How many friends have I sacrificed? This saddens me to no end! I am shocked at just how much infertility has overtaken my life! If I had it to do over again there are somethings that I would definitely do differently.
*I would not assume that all infertiles would hurt me. Yes, seeing families would be painful, but not intentionally. I would have allowed myself to build friendships with those that had children, though I would still exclude those that were hurtful.
*I would have gotten involved in a children's ministry years earlier. Maybe not the nursery or toddlers, but junior church or preteens.
*Though I may not have been able to attend baby showers I would have taken the time to purchase a gift for each baby. It is not the baby or the mother's fault that I am infertile and they deserved to recognized even if it was painful for me.
*I would have shown myself friendly instead of sitting in my pew sulking. Shaking some one's hand or asking how they were doing is not too much to ask. I wore such a shield of protection around me I was not approachable.
*When someone was hurting I would have sent a card of sympathy. If they were ill I would have provided a meal. I would have taken the time to show people that I care.
I know that in the days and weeks to come there will be other areas that I will see the need for growth, but for now these are the ones that I hope to change. Some will be easier than others because I will now have a child and will feel like I belong, but others will still be difficult. I am still an infertile at heart and these characteristics are ingrained in me. But i can change. And I will.
Have you allowed infertility to change you? Is it holding you back? Are there areas in your life that need growth?