Let Me Share a Friend With You #2
I love my friend Katie. I’ve been with her a handful of times (okay…maybe just 2 times), but I have emailed with her several times. She is one of those people that I feel like I have known forever. And, I think it is true. I have a great respect for her and her wonderful husband who deal with some very difficult challenges. They are amazing people who deserve the richest blessings that life has to offer. I “interviewed” her a while ago and asked for Katie to help me with a couple of guest posts. Here is the interview and tomorrow, I will share some of her feelings about being a part of an organized infertility support group. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have…
Katie and Bri F.
How long have you been dealing with infertility?
Just over a year, so not very long. I’m still really new to all of this and trying to make sense of it all. It’s by far the hardest challenge I’ve been given.
What has been the most hurtful thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
We get this a lot, “Why don’t you just adopt?” and then it’s followed up by a story of adoption. I get mad inside and then I feel sorry for the person who just made the suggestion because they are so clueless! I bite my tongue and try to smile.
What has been the most valuable thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
A friend told me, “the real miracle is not in giving birth to the child but raising a child up unto the Lord.” Getting them back home is far more important than how they get here. I take some small comfort in this realization and have reflected on it again and again as we consider other options for bringing children into our family.
Where have you found strength? How do you cope?
I go to the temple often. The feelings of peace and the teachings found in the temple give me hope in a bright future. I also get a lot of support from talking with other women who are dealing with infertility. It’s helpful knowing I’m not alone. Some days are definitely better than others so I just take them one at a time.
Of course the experience of infertility is filled with troubles, what has been the most challenging part of your journey?
Just when I think I’ve got a handle on my emotions, something triggers me and I’m down again. Working through the grief and sorrow has no time table and it’s been hard to accept that this is where I am right now. It’s a struggle to be patient with the situation, with myself, and recognize I can’t control the outcome—only my attitude.
The teachings of the Gospel are centered on families, how have you made sense of infertility within this framework? How have you found a place of belonging when it is easy to feel isolated and so different?
I firmly believe that my husband and I constitute a “family”. Infertility does not make sense to me. What does make sense to me is that Heavenly Father knows me and has a plan for me. I try to remind myself that life isn’t about “me” but about serving others. I feel I belong when I am serving—either in the church, in my family, in my neighborhood or community. I can give something and make a contribution even if I don’t have children.
What advice would you give to other couples dealing with infertility?
Learn to communicate your emotions and how you want your spouse to help you. When faced with difficult situations (i.e. family dinners, holidays, ward activities), have a plan that you both agree on to help you make it through.
What is something you have learned that you would have not learned otherwise?
I’m learning about grief and sorrow and how it feels to have a broken heart. I’ve become a more compassionate person to others who are suffering. I’m learning about faith—what it is and what it’s not. I’ve learned I have great worth as a daughter of God even if I don’t give birth to a baby in this life. I’ve grown closer to my Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m learning how to take care of myself emotionally, to not be concerned with how others judge me and to set boundaries in relationships.
Infertility is just one realm of life. What is another realm where you have found joy and great fulfillment?
I wish I could say I’ve ran a marathon or raised a million dollars for a charity but I haven’t. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out this area of my life. I know it is possible to find joy and fulfillment so I’ll keep searching. I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I try to be the “favorite aunt” to them by supporting their accomplishments and making them feel special. And I love creating and beautifying the areas around me—inside and outside my home. That’s a start.
Is there a scripture or Conference Talk that has been particularly helpful and comforting to you? Which one? Why?
My all time favorite conference address is “But if Not” by Elder Dennis E. Simmons of the Seventy in the April 2004 General Conference. I’ve read this talk several times in my life when challenges arise, and, infertility is no exception. My spirit swells inside as I read of the accounts of people who trust in God with all of their hearts and will not turn away from Him no matter what! “How Firm a Foundation,” Hymn no. 85, has recently become my favorite hymn. At times when I want to shake my fist at God and turn away from Him, I am reminded that if I put my trust in Him and exercise faith in Christ that everything will be okay eventually. This hymn helps me get there. Blessings may be delayed for a time but they will not be denied.
Is there a quote that has been inspiring to you?
This one is a little long but I love that it reminds me of my divine worth and how it is independent of everything and everyone.
“Because it is an eternal absolute, the importance or worth of each individual cannot be affected by people. Worth cannot be increased or decreased; it cannot be annihilated or destroyed. Worthlessness is not an option. Feeling worthless is quite common but it is a feeling based on a false premise. It is erroneous thinking; nothing can make these feelings correct since no person is without eternal worth.
“Worth is not of this life and therefore cannot be earned or affected by this life. The worth of each individual is a divine given. It is an inherent aspect of each life. Worth is constant and unchanging. Recognizing our great worth in the sight of God is humbling and, in fact, is just the opposite of pride. According to Elder Maxwell, ‘Humility is not the disavowal of our worth; rather, it is the sober realization of how much we are valued by God.’ Sorting out these truths cognitively is only the first step. We must pray for a testimony, by the Spirit, of our eternal worth—that we are of such great value to Christ that He died for us personally (D&C 18:10-13). By way of the Holy Ghost, we can know for certain that our worth, which is great in the sight of God, is absolute and can never be changed—no matter what we or anyone else thinks, believes, feels, or does.” – Strengthening Our Families (221)
How has this adversity changed your marriage? What have you done to strengthen your marriage?
Since we’ve been dealing with this from the start of our marriage it’s been a pretty normal subject and way of married life for us. My favorite times are getting away and taking a break from the normal, mundane routine of work and living (and we don’t talk about infertility). My husband has a great sense of humor and we like to laugh a lot. I see how this trial has made us a stronger couple—more compassionate and understanding of our emotions and weaknesses. I know my husband loves me for me—not just what I can give to him.
For tomorrow: Katie’s experience with support groups!!