First, I’d like to thank Shaz and Loribeth for their shout outs and the Sisterhood Award. In turn, I’d like recognize those who take the time to participate in a meaningful conversation here on Coming2Terms. The comments on the last post are a great example of sisterhood at its finest.
Infertile women living in a fertile world know well the meaning of “death by a thousand cuts.” That’s because repro-challenged women are too often blindsided, stung or sucker-punched by careless comments, gestures or oversights. So when I hear from mothers who genuinely want to be better friends to my peeps I’m happy to recognize them with my own Act of Kindness commendation. One day I hope such kind behaviors are so freakin’ commonplace they no longer need to be called out.
(Now there’s some irony in that the same day I received an email from a kind mom, a mean mom flamed me. Guess my last two posts struck a little too close to home. Seems some mommies can dish it out but they can’t take it. Flamer girl clearly would have sucked at dealing with infertility and the barrage of weird stuff we have to tolerate. If a momzilla reference torqued her, can you imagine how she’d have managed if the tables were turned?
Fortunately, kind mom “C,” made mean mom look even more puny). “C” writes:
I try to be mindful in conversations how incredibly painful and vacant infertility must be.
I wish so desperately I could help in some way. I am not sure what route I would have taken. You just want joy for those you care about and each person’s joy meter pegs to different scenarios. It is frustrating as “the friend” not being able to spring into action with a plan. Many times we offer space as it seems required or desired not due to lack of caring. We have no cues or clues as to the best response at times so perhaps we disappoint with our quiet mode. We also want to weave the fabric of our lives into the correspondence but are sensitive to the fact that our joy may be coming at the exact moment your old friend sadness decides to move back in.
A dear friend of mine who lost a child at a young age bristled when people called on the holidays or her daughter’s birthday to check in because this day must be particularly painful. She quietly told me, with that catch in her voice, that “every day is exactly the same. It never leaves.” That really stuck with me. I now look at everyone’s grief differently after that comment thundered over my head.
I bet a lot of your pals are not sure what to say or do so they do absolutely nothing. Keep leading us and communicating. I know it will vary day to day, week to week, even one hour to the next but if you need a listening ear, a tarot card goofy night, a singing greeting card, a surprise coffee mid-day….sometimes you need to ask. If you know them really well? Demand.
What a kind heart. I told “C” in an email exchange that I wish we could clone her. Speaking of lovely people who give back, let’s show some love to Kelly who is walking for some great causes this weekend. Kelly hasn’t forgotten what’s like to try to conceive against the odds so she’s taking part in the RESOLVE Walk of Hope in Scottsdale, AZ, April 19. You can also join me in supporting Kelly’s March of Dimes fundraising efforts April 18.
We barren gals have our moments but we know how to return kindness with kindness. Got any kindness or enlightenment you’d like to spread around?
April 17, 2009 11:07 am
I think being Barren is what has made me beautiful on the inside, its given me a level of sensitivity and compassion that I never had before. So yes, we barren girls definitely value kindness and know how to return it.
April 17, 2009 12:56 pm
Because of posts like this, you’re racking up the Sisterhood Awards, PJ! There’s another for you at my blog.
April 17, 2009 1:20 pm
What C wrote rings absolutely true.
I confess, I’m a “fixer” at heart. When someone I care about is sad, I just want to offer plans or ideas to make it all better. I realize, in most cases, that I really can’t do anything, that nothing I can say or offer will fix anything. So, I try to just listen and to be attentive to the other person’s cues and I’m sure that sometimes (often) I say or do exactly the wrong thing.
Personally, I generally don’t like people offering me support unless I specifically ask for it. If someone were to call on an anniversary date or holiday, I would try to be very polite, because I know they meant well. But inside I would be furious. Yeah, I suck.
April 17, 2009 1:34 pm
I’m kind of filled with kindness for everyone right now.
I do love my friends and my friend Mel in particular has been really wonderful and thoughtful about infertility. She makes such an effort to make sure I know that I am loved. My infertility affects her too – I mean, she has to put up with cranky me and sad me and bitchy me and me who doesn’t want to be around her kids sometimes me…
April 17, 2009 3:20 pm
What a wonderful sentiment from Nice Mom. The issue is — as she said — there are little if any cues and clues out there — because non-Moms for whatever reason, are pretty invisible in today’s “official” picture.
The fact is, we all do experience our situations differently — we’re all individuals. The more we’re all allowed to get our stories out there — the more clues and cues the mainstream Nice Moms will have to work with. And eventually the Mean Moms will get the message, too. They judge from a position of ignorance — hey, I think we’ve all benefited from some pro-active official education about other marginalized minority groups.
April 17, 2009 3:26 pm
I am glad to see a kind mom recognized here. Some posts and their attendant comments, especially the one contrasting mom vs. non-mom recently, have made me wonder if ALL moms are seen as enemies. Believe it or not, most of us ‘fertiles’ have no desire to cause anyone pain, and as kind mom “C” says, we would do more to help if we only knew what needed doing.
April 17, 2009 4:40 pm
I’ve had my share of friends and family fade away not knowing what to do say or do. The problem is I don’t know what to tell them to say or do. There is no right way to handle this, that’s the really sad part. It’s not enough to feel this disconnect from not being able to have a baby but to lose friends and family as well because no one knows how to handle you makes it extra hard.
For me I can only say the only thing that works now is not to talk about it, let me be more than my infertility. But then it’s the white elephant in the room and at some point I’ll think, what’s wrong with people to never ask me about it, so that’s what I mean by not knowing myself what people should do. I don’t like to be given advice. I don’t like when people get sad or say things like I was so excited I thought it would be this month for sure because then I feel like I’m letting more people down, I don’t like people saying “it’s going to be okay or it’ll happen” because it might not happen. I like to vent about it, have someone to complain and get upset about it. They won’t get it but let me be upset. Then for god’s sake don’t follow my rant with something like, “have you thought about adoption?” It makes me feel like my feelings aren’t validated, like because there’s a seemingly simple solution from someone who doesn’t have a clue what I’m going through that my being upset can be fixed.
It can’t be fixed, until I get pregnant, it cannot. Even then how do I deal with all this wasted time, years lost in this effort, all the while watching others easily build their families. The unfairness is heartbreaking to me. Even then, being able to be upset with people, I don’t like to be upset all the time, always complaining, always feeling jilted. I don’t want people to think okay I have to call her again and listen to her be upset, oh joy. I wish I knew what could be done. I miss my friends, I miss my family. I’m trying to build a family, not lose what I have.
April 17, 2009 9:30 pm
That damn elephant in the room has gotten me more often than I can count. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing what is so hard to convey and understand …
April 17, 2009 4:51 pm
I think it needs to be said – many insensitive comments made by some moms are made out of ignorance. I am one of them! I have secondary infertility, and it has made me more aware, more sensitive, and more compassionate. I cringe when I think of some of the things I have said in the past – to friends and coworkers – never thinking that they could possibly be dealing with infertility. The thought never crossed my mind! (This was 15+ years ago.) Now that I have been immersed in this rather lonely world for the last 2 years – I still don’t know what kind of response I should give to fellow infertiles, because I really don’t know how I want people to react to my situation. So I keep it inside. Smile at all the pregnancies, and the new babies – because my biggest fear is that I don’t want ANYONE feeling sorry for me. To me – that would be the worst. So the few friends I have opened up to I tell them I’m dealing with it, and leave it at that.
April 18, 2009 2:15 am
Thank you, Nice Mom. It’s great to know there are people like you out there, supporting your friends.
It must be difficult to try to help someone who doesn’t exactly know themselves on how to make things better.
Sometimes just letting someone know you’re there for them is the best comfort of all.
April 18, 2009 3:35 am
Dear Pamela Jeanne,
THANK YOU so very much for posting about the RESOLVE walk and encouraging your readers to donate to the March of Dimes. I read your every post, but don’t always comment because I don’t know what to say at times. I don’t want to ever be considered one of those “mean” moms.
A woman I’ve known for years recently invited me to coffee. She mentioned that she wanted to spend more time with me and create a friendship and in the same sentence mentioned how I’m one of her only friends that has children. She’s doesn’t want kids, but is going to be joining me for the RESOLVE walk to support our cause. We can all come together, one friendship at a time.
April 20, 2009 2:56 am
It’s definitely hard to be a friend to an infertile person, and the one thing I can say for certain is you WILL get it wrong. True colours come out in the reaction, though – whether you blame the infertile person for being hard to live with, or whether you put the blame where it really lies – on the infertility itself. Kind mum got that perfectly right.
April 27, 2009 2:52 pm
You totally deserve the Sisterhood Award. : )
The kind comments (especially from understanding moms) make the flames worthwhile.
June 5, 2009 7:19 am
I think i generally don’t like people offering me support unless I specifically ask for it. If someone were to call on an anniversary date or holiday, I would try to be very polite, because I know they meant well.