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Mar 4 2014

How Can I Comfort My Friend Struggling with Infertility?

By at 3:37 pm

not-pregnant

It isn’t fair.

I’m old enough to know that life can be unjust, but naïve enough to still be surprised when it happens. A friend of mine is dealing with infertility, and she’s starting treatments now. She had no symptoms. She’s young and healthy and in a solid marriage. She’d be a wonderful mother. It isn’t fair. She’s going to have months of pills, shots, sonograms, doctor visits, spending huge amounts of money, while everyone around us gets pregnant after overindulging in wine.

Once, she once told me that she wanted five children. Now she’s fighting to have one. Of course it could be worse. It could always be worse. But that’s no way to comfort a woman with an empty house. My children are the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given, and my friend just might get stiffed.

Judith Rosenbaum found herself contemplating Hannah’s story during her infertility journey; I wonder about Hannah’s friends. Did they brush her off he yearnings with, “At least you get a full night’s sleep!” Did they encourage her to be content with her husband’s love, and beg her to stop dreaming for more? Or did they quietly help her pack for her trip to Shiloh, holding her hand when she cried? What did her friends do? I need to know.

Since I had my babies in rapid succession, she’s stepped away from me. I’m not taking it personally. The “Hot Dog Dance” playing in the background of our phone calls must be too much to handle right now. She needs to figure out how to swing at this curveball life has just thrown. She needs space to be sad, and she should have it. I will give her however much she needs. But I think about her every day.

Can a mother ever understand an infertile woman’s struggles? I’m not sure. If I can’t, it won’t be for lack of trying. And I wanted to do something for her. I wanted to let her know I’ll be here, waiting to listen when she’s ready to talk to me. I made her a piece of jewelry. I wanted all the luck in the world to accompany her on her journey. On a bracelet, she has it: seven charms from around the world, all symbols of good fortune. Blessings never go out of style.

I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the short form of infertility is “IF.” What if? Those two words encourage us to question. What if her journey ends with a baby? Or maybe even two? The IF reminds her not to lose hope. Her dreams can still happen. She’ll have to gather her strength, her patience, and a huge pile of faith. But if her treatments work, she’ll be a mother soon. Like Hannah, and Judith, all that’s left for my friend to do is pray.

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