I love the Journey song "Don't Stop Believing" for obvious reasons now but I always loved this song and I am proud to say both my kids love it too! The opening lyrics to this song goes a little something like this "just a small town girl living in a lonely world". I cannot imagine living a small town AND being lonely. Though at times living in a small town can equal too many people knowing your business I have learned after 31 years in Skiatook, Oklahoma to just embrace it. Thanks to Facebook 75% percent of my friends are in my "Skiatook Peeps" group. Some of them I have known since Kindergarten, some are parents of my kids' friends, some are parents of my friends, some are church family, some are just friends of friends or acquaintances. So there are many many people who know about my struggle with infertility everywhere I go. I am thankful for the hugs, prayers, text message, phone calls, cards, well wishes and sympathy. At first it just made me cry but now that I am not so emotional I am even more thankful than I was for all the support.
It's no secret that in the midwest patriarchal society many women are mothers by the age of 25. Most of my high school friends are parents of several children and some even divorced and remarried (like myself) before the age of 30. If you are 30 and you do not have kids yet people are constantly asking you why you either aren't married yet or why you do not have kids yet. Thankfully, I have a 8 and 10 year to detour the "why don't you have kids yet?" comment but sadly my Hubby does not have kids so as a married couple we still get the kids question. Most people by now are aware of our infertility and our failed IVF cycle and Lord have mercy on the person's soul who does not and unknowingly asks us the kid question. For a couple to be married more than two years and NOT have kids yet is taboo in our small town society.
I think about the couples who fit into the "no kids" criteria and I wonder if they are struggling with infertility and just not discussing it. I am sure if they lived anywhere else than Small Town America it would seem quite normal for them to be in their late 20s or early 30s and not have children. One would assume they are working on their careers, busy traveling, etc. and just are "waiting to have children". I honestly have never heard ANYONE say that aloud in my entire life. I cannot imagine the pressure infertile couples must feel living in Patriarchal society. Though I feel the pressure is alleviated by about half because of my two children, there is still pressure, expectations and well meaning nosy people who want to know about our having or not having children of our own.
Since the Holidays are upon us I felt this post was appropriate. The Sher Institute posted a video on their Facebook page today (which I am sharing here) focusing on the holidays and how infertile couples cope during the holidays. I have also been reading through many other infertile's blogs and realized how torturous the holidays are for them. I know that we had to deal with Thanksgiving during my Two Week Wait and while my kids were gone to their dads- and wow I nearly had a nervous breakdown. One infertile's blog post even made it to the front page of AOL where she rants about not wanting to receive Christmas Cards with ONLY the pictures of the couples' children on it. That made me highly aware of photos I use for our Christmas Cards this year. I would hate to think I unknowingly hurt someone's feelings or was insensitive to anyone's situation. There is also a high sensitivity when it comes to dealing with pregnant friends or family members and couples with babies or small children.
Being from a small town I know LOTS and LOTS of friends and some family who either are pregnant or have small babies. It's just unavoidable. I don't struggle as much with those situations because I am a mom and as a Christian I refuse to look on anyone with envy or jealousy. But for those women out there who have been struggling for years and years to conceive I can totally understand why they feel the way they feel. Infertility takes A LOT away from your self esteem and mental well being. It is so easy to fall into the bitter, envious category and become wracked with hurt and sadness. My best advice is to keep your eye on the prize not the prize of others. God's timing is not always the same as ours. He knows your heart and He knows what you need and when you need it. If the holidays are too hard on you, take a vacation to a sunny beach and forego the crying baby, children packed holiday get together. That's absolutely what I would be doing if I was childless and struggling with infertility right now. Because putting yourself in a situation that will create anxiety or stress is no good for anyone. Give yourself a break and focus on the blessing you do have- your loving, supportive spouse. We all know men who stick by their wives through infertility treatments are angels without wings. Be thankful for what you have now and always keep the hope for what you want to have in the future.
Sending love and hugs to my fellow IFers during the holidays....