(I’m doing a series on “loving your friend through infertility” – - click here for the introduction.)
If you find out that your friend is struggling to get pregnant, don’t be afraid to “go there.” Infertility is often confusing to people who don’t have experience with it. People get the thought of “not being able to get pregnant” but the reason it’s hard seems foreign.
It’s not a death, which people have experience with. It’s not a struggle in relationships, another common issue. It’s not even always a sickness. It’s more like a void, a notable absence. It’s an unmet desire that can bring you to your knees. You feel completely out of control, frustrated and disappointed your life’s dreams are not happening the way you always hoped they would. There are many emotions that are experienced – some happening all at once.
The more understanding you have, the more you can be there for your friend. Obviously you can’t understand exactly what she’s been through unless you’ve been there yourself! However, pain and suffering is universal. And the more you know, the better you can love and support her. Step into her world. Ask her what is going on. Do research. If she’s taking her basal body temperature, try to figure out what she’s talking about!
If she’s going to see a reproductive endocrinologist, find out what she may be going through. Ask your friend lots of questions and do additional research too. There is a TON of information online that can help answer many of those questions.
Listen to your friend. How is this experience for her? Is she feeling betrayed by her body? Is she frustrated and angry that she has no control? Is she bitter that “all” of her friends got pregnant right away? Is she sad over the loss of what is supposed to be a magical time? Is she feeling isolated and abnormal? Ask good questions and really listen to what she is trying to say.
There are a million things that can be floating through someone’s mind as they are struggling with getting pregnant. “What is wrong with me?” is usually one of the first. However, the top fears can often reveal the idols in our heart.
Here are some typical idols that can be revealed in certain lies. Often we believe multiple lies, so there can be multiple idols we are worshipping. These are some examples.
- “Everyone else gets pregnant without even trying and we can’t.” – Idol of approval or normalcy
- “I feel utterly worthless because I can’t have a baby.” – Ascribing ultimate worth to parenthood
- “There are people who get pregnant time and time again who are awful parents. They don’t deserve to have a baby.” - Thinking babies are “deserved” and not a gift; believing works based theology
See what is at the core of your friend’s suffering. Don’t misunderstand me. There is VERY legitimate pain in infertility. There is sadness at the death of a dream. There is disappointment in failed cycle after failed cycle. There is pain in missing out or delaying the joy of conceiving, carrying, birthing and parenting a biological child. There is a lack of privacy when tests, cycles and personal issues become round table discussion for doctors, nurses and family. (If someone told me that what would be “normal conversation” these days, I would never have believed them. The previous me would have been MORTIFIED at some of the things that are close-to-public knowledge.)
However, often our legitimate pain takes a downward spiral. This can come out in depression, anxiety, bitterness or a plethora of other sin. Friends, we need to understand infertility well to be able to see where our friends are coming from. But even more than that, we need to understand the GOSPEL well. We need to see our friend’s struggle so we can preach the gospel to her always, but especially in those times.
To be continued…
-Photo Credit: Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post