Forgiveness

I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy holding grudges against insensitive people. Many people who learn of our infertility (which we’ve started opening up about a little more lately) ask at least one or two questions that frankly hurt a lot. If they’re not asking hurtful questions, they’re probably substituting with a really dismissive, unempathetic comment or two.  

In the previous week’s and months I’ve answered these (insensitive) questions calmly, but made a mental note that the person is not kind, empathetic, or someone I feel like talking to about infertility. “Yes, I’m familiar with the concept of adoption, and we have thought about it. However, we are not ready for that step yet, and still have other treatment options available to us before we decide to go down that road.”

Or, I’ve listened to their comments, while politely rebutting their claims, and gently trying to correct their views. “It’s wonderful that your sister’s husband’s cousin who was struggling with infertility became pregnant on her own without IVF. I understand the doctors told her it was impossible for that to happen, and you think perhaps this applies to our situation, too. Unfortunately, with my husband’s condition, the ‘good, old-fashioned way’ isn’t ever going to get us there.”

  

This morning, I faced my fears and met up with a pregnant friend I’ve been adamantly    avoiding. When she asked how I was doing, instead of glossing over it, I decided to be transparent. I told her this has been the hardest year of my life. I would’ve loved a little empathy, but instead this prompted the adoption question. I felt myself hiding my anger as I gave her canned adoption response listed above. Side note: I feel like people offer up adoption without realizing it is not a solution for infertility, but a solution for being childless. This frustrates me to no end, but I digress…

This interaction with my friend led me to realize, I can’t be upset with people for being insensitive if I’m not going to TELL them their prodding is inappropriate. So, I’m setting a goal for myself. From now on, I intend to tell people when they’ve crossed the line. I’ll do this as politely as possible, but make it clear that the subject is not up for open discussion or input.

I also realized I’ve wasted a lot of energy being upset with people for saying the wrong things. I want to work on this because I know holding grudges isn’t good for me, or those I love. Most people don’t know how to be truly empathic. People love offering advice. Infertile people need empathy, not advice. I’ve been really let down by expecting too much from others. Going forward, I plan to have lower expectations, draw clearer boundaries, and have greater patience. 

24 thoughts on “Forgiveness

  1. valleyally says:

    I wish you luck at drawing attention to the inappropriate questions. There are too many! I also agree with your statement that we just need empathy. You hit the nail on the head.

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  2. Babyscienceproject says:

    Absolutely agree….if I hear one more ‘just relax and it will happen’ story I’ll scream. People really do need to understand how unfair, irrelevant and unhelpful those stories are! Ditto adoption questions.

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    • heatherhopeful says:

      Oh, the “relax and it will happen” advice always makes me cringe. I’ve been pretty good about telling these people that’s a nice sentiment, but unfortunately untrue in our case. If people could meet us with empathy instead of the need to give advice I feel like everything would be so much easier!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nara says:

    So with you on this. I don’t think my canned responses are good enough so I may have to borrow yours! 😉

    Can I ask how you dealt with your pregnant friend? I have just avoided pregnant friends and those with babies right now. I don’t feel up to it.

    I think you’re right about not holding grudges. I always try not to and generally don’t… I still feel hurt though!

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    • heatherhopeful says:

      Borrow away, Nara! That’s what we’re all here for–to support each other in anyway.

      Nara, I’ll be honest, the part of this story of seeing my pregnant friend that I left out was the hysterical sobbing I had for an hour prior to leaving my house. In my head, seeing her was far worse than it actually was. Although there were a couple of times I found myself choking back tears while I talked to her. I almost cancelled, but my mother-in-law told me if she’s a true friend, she’ll understand, and if I lost it, I was simply being genuine. I had a hard time with that, but u knew she was right.

      Good for you for not holding grudges! It is definitely a work in progress for me.

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      • Nara says:

        Aw, I’m sorry to hear you were so upset but I’m glad that it wasn’t as bad as you’d anticipated. I’m not really a crier tbh, and it’s very rare that I’d cry in front of a friend, so I’m not worried about burst into tears. But I’m feeling really avoidant about people who are pregnant or have children and I also feel that some of them are taking offence. I find it hard to force myself to do things I don’t want to do!

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        • heatherhopeful says:

          I only feel avoidant with some pregnant people, fortunately. Most of my friends and family who are pregnant have the ability to be really cool about it. This friend in particular I knew was not capable of being as cool, so I was much more worried to see her.

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  4. My Perfect Breakdown says:

    So, we are adopting and I still hate the “just adopt” comment from people who have never done it! There is nothing easy about adopting, and I hate this idea that it’s still the 1960s and adoption is simple and affordable. It’s neither simple or affordable and it’s emotionally exhausting too. So, now when people say insensitive things about adoption I tell them that. Heck, I’ve started telling people just how much adoption is costing us because people need to know that their “helpful” suggestions are not based in modern day realities. (Sorry, now I’m ranting).
    Honestly, I love your approach of lower expectations, clearer boundaries and greater patience – if you can do all three of these you are going to be my hero. 🙂

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    • heatherhopeful says:

      That’s AWESOME! I love that you’re being transparent and telling people how it is to adopt. It helps to raise awareness for infertility, and allows people to realize that adoption is very expensive, although amazing option. I’m really excited for you guys!

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  5. Tikeetha T says:

    I can feel your frustration and pain. Please chalk it up to ignorance. They don’t realize that their comments are more discouraging than helpful. Sometimes all you need to do is hug someone and not suggest anything. No adoption and no so and so got pregnant when they were told that it wasn’t possible. Just smile and say, “Let me know if you need anything.” Good luck and keep motivating everyone around you with your positive attitude.

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  6. The EcoFeminist says:

    Very much agreed. It’s hard to drum up the energy to call people on their ignorance, but if we don’t hold people accountable we’re not being fair to ourselves either – giving someone the opportunity to rectify things can be big, and ultimately show us how good (or not good) of a friend they are. Some step up, some don’t, and I know in my own struggle I’ve found surprises in who’s been the most tactful, supportive, and just overall THERE for me. And it’s not who I thought – the 9 mos pregnant one has been the best by far, and the one who struggled with it like me has pretty much disappeared from my life. It’s a strange thing.

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    • heatherhopeful says:

      You’re right–it is hard to call people out. I completely agree! And I also agree that it’s interesting/strange who seems to be more supportive, and which of my pregnant friends are totally clueless. At the end of the day I try not to take it personally, but I also know hanging out with certain people is going to make me feel a lot more loved and supported than hanging out with others. Hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. lgandlg says:

    Very true! I know how you feel. I wrote a while back how my sister offered to be surrogate for me… But um, I don’t need nor want a surrogate! It’s the assumptions people make, and the dismissiveness, like they can automatically some your problems simply because they want to have an answer for you. Maybe we don’t want answers from you… that’s what our doctors are for. Maybe we just want some empathy, like you said. One would think it’s the easiest thing to do, but apparently it’s not. Ugh!

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    • heatherhopeful says:

      Yes, interestingly enough this very person I’m writing about offered to be a surrogate for me a while back even after I explained to her that our issues are completely male factor! I swear, people don’t listen! They just want us to be “fixed.” Hahaha, but I’m not going to hold grudges anymore (it’s a work in progress). 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. True Hugbo says:

    I got all sorts of strange comments too. The adoption one always bothered me, not because I am against it (in fact we have great and positive experiences with adoption in my extended family so it is seen as a really wonderful thing) but because people seem to think that you can just decide to adopt and the next day go to a baby store and pick up your perfect newborn. Hello?? It is a LONG, expensive and very heartbreaking process, not something to treat like going to a farmer’s market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • heatherhopeful says:

      Amen to that! Chris and I are also open to the idea of adoption. The thing that bothers me about people suggesting it is a) it seems they aren’t truly holding our feelings about the pain of infertility b) it’s a very personal decision, and if/when we decide that’s our path, it won’t be due to someone else’s suggestion and c) as you said, it’s not a quick or easy fix. Your farmer’s market comment had me laughing out loud!

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  9. expecting to be expecting says:

    Excellent post. I relate to every single sentence and I just came to a similar conclusion about being more direct and polite but mostly direct when a line is crossed. I am sensitive about this and I’m no longer going to apologize for having strong feelings – if some one can’t offer empathy then I can’t go out of my way to shield them from realizing how inappropriate they may be behaving.

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