Infertility is awkward. From the appointments and procedures to the plethora of recommended "fixes," the awkwardness abounds. We are mostly past those types, but there is no end in sight to the relational awkwardness.
This Christmas, we will be spending time with family, and it's going to be awkward. There's just no way around it. Since our struggle began four year ago, two younger sisters have gotten married. One had a baby last fall and one is currently pregnant. We love them and are happy for them. At the same time, infertility makes everyone feel awkward. I love our new niece, AND seeing her might make me burst into tears. That's awkward. I love my sister and am excited for her, AND seeing her baby bump might make me burst into tears. Does that mean I won't hold my niece or hang out with my pregnant sister? NO! But it does mean that it will be awkward.
Is it because I am envious? I don't think so. Honestly, I have lost the desire to be pregnant. I truly feel that adoption is a much better road to parenthood for me (not being fond of pain, procedures, doctors, and so on). So what is it?
My theory is that the tears come from new layers of realization. From childhood, I expected to someday get married and eventually be pregnant and have babies. For a few years, I expected pregnancy to be right around the corner. The pregnancy expectation was slowly and painfully ripped away, and now I am okay with that. However, there are aspects of never being a biological mother that I just haven't processed. When they hit me by surprise, the tears just might flow. For example, when I was holding our new niece a few months ago, family members started naming which of her features looked like each parent. In that moment, I realized that we will likely never do that. Our adopted children will be awesome (I'm calling it), but they will not be a genetic combination of us. That's actually exciting. But in that moment, with a fresh little amalgamation of family features in my arms, the tears just flowed. Awkward, right? For me, the blubbering mess in the corner, and for everyone else.
My younger sister is pregnant. Pregnancy fascinates me. God created the human body to do amazing things, like grow another human body. I love my nieces and nephew, and will love the new little kiddo that's arriving in March. At the same time, I just cannot celebrate my sister's pregnancy like I would have without infertility. The experience is not just exciting for me; it's painful, too. And awkward for everyone.
The awkwardness doesn't end there. It extends to a wider group:
- The infertility buddy who is shockingly pregnant.
- The friend or family member who is pregnant exactly according to plan.
- The friends who receive word that they have been chosen by a birth mom and will be parents soon.
- The grandparent/aunt/uncle who is SO excited about the new little one but doesn't know how to act around you.
What should they say to us? How should they act? Should they be transparent with their excitement or act like it's not a big deal? Should they bring up their news or wait for us to mention something after we hear it secondhand?
I don't know. It's awkward either way. But, we press on and push through it. Maybe, someday the awkwardness will go away.
What do you think?
// This post is linked up with the Tuesday Infertility Link Up at Amateur Nester //