Fertility is one of those awkward things. Unfortunately in our society, it seems to be either a “got it” or “don’t” scenario. Three out of six of my closest girlfriends have dealt with fertility issues. One finally conceived after a long time of confusion and pain, one may never conceive (and has adopted), another is still in the thick of it after 6+ years of struggles. I know of one miscarriage.
I have a daughter. I still remember taking the pregnancy test and feeling both joy and sadness when I realized we had conceived quickly and without assistance. I don’t regret Eleanor, of course, but my heart hurts for friends who saw how easy it was for us and aren’t walking that same path.
We had been married 8 years when Eleanor came along, so we had seen the eager anticipation from family and friends about our timing for children… and then somewhere around years 3-5 of marriage people just stopped asking. Many probably wondered if we’d been trying and hadn’t gotten pregnant yet. Occasionally someone would ask, but usually the subject was quiet. We simply weren’t ready (note: you’re never ready) to have children earlier in our marriage, though I’m sure many assumed otherwise.
I’ve hurt some friends with careless questions over the years. I’ve also hurt friends with careless questions when I knew full well they were struggling and I continued to ask over and over how they were doing. …as if they weren’t consumed with it. And if they weren’t, I just brought it to the forefront again. I was reminded of this recently and realized how callous I have been.
Having kids and not… It can be a wedge between good friends. As Eleanor gets bigger and consumes more of my mind and heart, I’m more aware that there’s less other stuff to talk about in my life! I feel a gap forming between me and girlfriends I was close to… before. It’s a hard thing when the issues on my heart are breastfeeding, natural labor, and car seat safety.
I’d like to think some of my concern over hurting their feelings is my own over-estimation. Maybe I imagine it’s harder on those friends than it really is. I hope that’s true.
My prayer for my friends:
“He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 113:9