"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

10 December 2010

Status Update Overload...Losing Perspective

The other day, my husband asked me, “Did you see Newly Pregnant Friend’s Facebook status this morning?” I usually check Facebook via my mobile phone before I even think about getting out of bed (I have somewhat of an addiction, both to my mobile phone and to Facebook).  By God’s grace, this morning I had not even thought about Facebook.   

“You will want to block her so you don’t read it,” was his next statement.  

My husband and I had been considering “hiding” this particular friend ever since her Facebook status heralded to the world that she was 10 weeks pregnant.  We don’t “hide” every pregnant friend, but this particular friend gets pretty wrapped up in whatever big thing is going on in her life, almost to the point of obsession.  We had predicted (and rightly so) that her continued status updates would become difficult for us to bear after a while.  I’d been able to handle her updates thus far by reminding myself that part of the joy of being pregnant is sharing that joy with others.

I asked my husband a couple of questions to get him to spill the beans on what was written, but all I could get out of him was that it had something to do with her complaining about being pregnant.  And I finally got him to assert that part of it was to do with morning sickness.

Now, my husband and I have had a pet peeve for a while on this journey.  We cannot stand to hear moms-and-dads-to-be complain about any aspect of the pregnancy.  And by “complain”, I mean “whine” or “bemoan” in a “woe is me” kind of way.  

Initially, when we couldn’t get pregnant, it never occurred to us that we would swear off complaining if we were blessed with pregnancy.  In our minds, it was only a matter of time before we got to ride the same ride as everyone else and react the same way all our friends reacted.  We still perceived ourselves, and our circumstances, as normal, and we fully expected to get to behave “normally” eventually.  

But after a few years it became CRUSHING to hear people complain about all the things there are to complain about in regard to being pregnant.  All we can think when someone complains about the fact that they’re not wanting a/another child is “We’ll take your baby!”  All I can think when I hear a woman complain about the pains and angst of pregnancy is, “I hope to be where you are one day, and I hope when I am that I rejoice at every wave of nausea.”  And that’s a big deal for me because I HATE to vomit. 

I realize that this is a rather one-sided point of view.  I mean, how can I possibly know how difficult it will be to not complain?  How can I possibly know what it's like to be pregnant?  And my response (at the moment) to that is that the other point of view is one-sided as well.  

And that’s my point. 

It’s expected, when a couple makes a surprise announcement to their Sunday morning bible class or their small group at-home bible study that they are expecting a baby, that everyone in the room will be happy and joyful and share in their joy.  It’s a given in the social world.  

Yet in the last three small group bible studies, and in the last three Sunday morning classes (in three different places of residence) that we’ve been a part of, there has been at the very least one other couple besides my husband and myself that is struggling with infertility.  The last two places there has been more than one other couple.  Our current one is split 50/50 on couples dealing with infertility and couples who are having kids.  

And yet it’s expected that a “surprise” announcement, even in those scenarios, is an appropriate course of action.  

Those of us who are infertile, the ones grieving each and every month, the ones reminded by surprise announcements that they’re not “normal”, are expected to be as joyful and happy as every other person in the room for that couple.  When honestly, although we may be very happy for them, we are trying to regain our composure and deal with the deep hurt that comes from not being understood.  Because if they had truly understood, they would have had the thoughtfulness to pull us aside before the announcement and share their news softly with us, making us aware that they’re about to announce it, so we can be prepared for the announcement.

And those of us who are infertile are not off the hook here.  We can’t go around with a chip on our shoulders expecting everyone to cater to our needs.  The scenario I’m describing is one of a close-knit group of friends joining together in fellowship, accustomed to bearing one another’s burdens.

I don’t want you to think that there’s no room in my heart to hear my friends complain, that I never expect that they will not need to vent their discomfort.  I don’t want you to think that I never want my friends to share their joy.  I DO!  I am elated when they come to me personally to tell me they’re expecting!  It blesses my heart.  It also blesses me when I realize that they thought about me, that they remembered my pain and were loving enough to tell me personally instead of in the midst of a group.  

As for the complaining...here’s how I put it several months ago when I was in the heat of a moment:  (the ... are pauses, not a deletion of text here)

“By the way, pregnant moms...I know that I have no way of knowing how horrible morning sickness and/or exhaustion is while growing a baby inside of me...and I despise puking so much that I have rendered myself incapable of vomiting when it would actually make me feel better...but I am certain that I will rejoice in my circumstances of puking if ever I am so blessed with the privilege of growing a baby in my womb...so PLEASE, don’t complain to me about your vomit, your weariness, your woe over your plight.  Feel free to tell me about it, and I will pray for you to endure and that your pain and discomfort will be eased, but when you’re tempted to complain and wallow in self pity in my presence, consider the fact that I would trade shoes with you, vomit and all, in a heartbeat.”

It’s the “woe is me” and wallowing in self pity part that really gets to me.  If I’m uncomfortable, I talk about it.  It’s part of what brings validity to how I feel.  The same with love, joy, enthusiasm, and fear...expressing it brings out the fullness of it.  It’s part of life.  I understand the need to complain.  But there’s a difference in mentioning pain and discomfort and the struggle with dealing with that, and whining incessantly like a child.  

As for this friend’s post, I have no idea what it said.  I trust my husband.  He knows me extremely well and he had good reason in keeping me from seeing it. 

Just as it is my hope that talking about this journey with my friends will help them be more aware of, and more sensitive to, those dealing with infertility, it is also my hope that I will be aware of and sensitive to my pregnant friends and friends who are parents.  Just as it bothers me to hear a mom-to-be moan and groan and whine like a toddler not getting her way, it bothers me to think that I might be as blinded and one-sided in my own circumstances as they are.  

Yes, I am infertile.  But that’s not who I am.  

I do not want to be defined by my infertility, so I need to make sure that I take ample time to focus on, and talk about, other aspects of my life.  Do I believe it’s important, even healing, to talk about infertility with others?  Absolutely!  But there are times and places, and even certain people that it’s appropriate for, and others that it’s not.

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