Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Infertile Couples Want People With Children to Know

My husband and I have struggled with infertility our entire marriage. We love to be around children and teenagers and always thought we would have a house full. But after years of trying, multiple miscarriages, and worsening chronic health issues, we realized it may never happen for us. I would have never guessed that not having children could be socially isolating. But it is. Here's what I want people with children to know:

1. We don't dislike children. Once you've been married a certain number of years and still don't have children, people often assume it's because you've chosen not to have them....most likely because you dislike them. (What does that mean? How do you dislike children as a general category? They are individual people. You would never say, "I really like adults." But I digress...) Not having children does not equal disliking them or disapproving of their being in close proximity to you. 

2. Please don't apologize for your children. When my husband and I are participating in an activity with another couple whose children are present, they constantly apologize if their child acts like - well, a child. If little Timmy asks an abrupt question or is wiggly at a restaurant, it's not going to bother us. Refer to number 1. And let them be kids, for goodness' sake!

3. We would still like to be friends and hang out with couples that do have children. I'm not sure if it's because of numbers 1 and 2, or if it's because they want to have playmates for their children, but couples with children rarely invite those without children to participate in family-oriented activities. At a certain point, EVERY activity is family-oriented because everyone else does have children. It's not fun to be left out or forgotten, and we enjoy being around families too. We especially enjoy having the chance to spend time with your children!

4. Please don't tell us how much time we still have to get pregnant. After my first couple of miscarriages, people would say this type of thing to comfort me. Incidentally, it didn't make me feel good at 22. And now that I'm 35, it's sounding a bit hollow. Unless you know someone well and are familiar with their circumstances, you could be opening an old wound by making assumptions about their situation. 

5. We are probably not the best people to complain to about how awful parenthood is. I'm sure being a parent can be overwhelming at times, and I truly understand the need to vent. But telling someone who has longed for but never been able to have children how much you hate your life as a parent and wish you had waited, used contraceptives, or could walk away from it all, is really painful to hear. Maybe offer to drop your kids off at our house for the evening so you can have a break or a date night. We volunteer!

There are all kinds of family types in today's culture. Couples without children are one type. Single parents are another. What about empty-nesters whose grown children live far away? Single adults. Widows. There are even whole families of children without parents! The point is, we all need each other. Many of us don't have a support system of extended family around us to celebrate holidays, share in the joys of life, or help out in a tough situation.

*Question: What are some practical ways we can all look outside our circles and include others in our lives?

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. "
-Philippians 2:3-5


Stacey said...

Gosh, I am so sorry to hear of your mold-battle! Just reading about it is exhausting. :(

My daughter was diagnosed with narcolepsy about 18 months ago, she just turned 11. It has been a long road to get to this point, and she is now in the "acceptance" phase of dealing with such a condition. I have encouraged her to begin a blog about her experiences, as she loves to write. I was wondering if you would maybe put something on your site to get some visitors to hers? I think if she had an audience, it would encourage her to continue. Would you be willing to do that?


Her site is:

bluecottonmemory said...

We struggled with secondary infertility for 5 years - I think I struggled with surrendering my dreams to God's plans - and that is the hard part - putting the dream aside for a different kind of fulfillment. The imprint my friends who do or do not have children have left on my children's lives is immeasurable - I so want my sons to have spiritual mothers and fathers in their lives besides us - to reach maybe where we cannot. You sound like you are probably a great spiritual mother to a great many in your life!

Miss Diagnosis said...

That was a very insightful and very encouraging statement. Thank you! I do wish more parents felt that way and would open their hearts and homes to those of us who don't have children.

It is very difficult to surrender our hopes and dreams. I lost many years battling depression and bitterness because I could not let go. Even though my life has been nothing like I planned, I have so much more joy accepting His will day by day.

Sarah said...

What a beautiful real way to share your story. Delighted to meet you. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing place to dip into some serious goodness.


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