Infertility…Insights from a Mother
I think that being the mother of a daughter or son who is (with their spouse) dealing with infertility would be extremely difficult. Can you imagine the questions whirling around in a mother’s mind? What do I say? What do I NOT say? How do I respond? How do I comfort? How do I help my other children understand their sibling’s challenge? What is IVF, IUI, PCOS, (and so forth) and how do they fall into my framework of what is known…fertility?
It is easy to get wrapped up in our own grief and confusion about infertility that we simply expect our mothers or mothers-in-law to be perfect at comforting and nurturing us during this particular challenge. They are immortal to us so, obviously, they should respond perfectly, say the perfect things, and simply know what we are experiencing, right? Wrong. While we are trying to redefine our lives and understand how infertility is going to change us, so are our mothers learning to change and redefine. No one gave them the handbook of how to talk to their sons about low sperm count, or to their daughters about seeking the help of a Reproductive Endocrinologist, or to their children about welcoming an adopted child into the extended family.
Your experience might be a little different…it could be that you feel that your mother could not possibly understand what you are feeling. “As I prepared to share my feelings about infertility with my own mother, I remember wondering exactly how she would be able to relate. After all, my mom and dad began their family with my older sister who came nine months after they were married and had seven children in 13 years. I knew that she could not empathize, but I also knew that she sincerely wanted to understand. I realized that I could choose to be angry that her ease of having children did not qualify her to adequately comfort me. Or, I could choose to play a pivotal role in teaching her about this sorrow that was unknown to her,” (Infertility: Help, Hope, and Healing, Daynes).
I think it would serve our relationships well if we step back every once in a while to consider our mothers (and mothers-in-law). Ask yourself questions such as…What is this experience like from their perspective? How am I helping her to understand and reach out to me and my spouse? How am I hindering?
I met Susan at one of my forums. The forum was about “Supporting Those You Love Who are Dealing With Infertility”. It was a great night…moms, daughters, and even a father and a son-in-law. Ooooh, it was great! We had a wonderful discussion!!
Susan is the mother of a woman dealing with infertility. I loved Susan’s insights and comments. Every time she opened her mouth, she had something amazing to say. I could tell she loves her daughter and that her heart is truly broken about the sadness her daughter and son-in-law have endured. So, I asked her to share some of her thoughts about her daughter’s infertility and what it has caused her to think about. Her response is amazing…
Why? What? How? When? Some of Life’s biggest questions…
Have you ever prayed for God to help you with something that you wanted with all your heart and soul? It was a righteous desire and completely in accordance with His commandments, and perhaps you fasted and prayed for it to come to pass for months or even years? Did you begin to doubt that your faith was strong enough to bring this miracle to pass? Did you have fears that you weren’t worthy of this blessing? Did you wonder what God was planning by not allowing you to have it at this time or even possibly until your life on earth was through? The “why me?” and “what should I do?” or “how can I do that?” and “when will this ever happen or change?” are some of life’s biggest questions.
I continue to ask these types of questions and recently more so, as I was dealing with my daughter and her challenge with infertility. I felt helplessness, sorrow, and pain when I saw her heartache and pain, and cried with her over this much prayed for miracle. It was 4 years ago that she began searching for answers to questions regarding her infertility. I admit that in this challenge, as well as in many others, there were times when I meant well in my attempts to bring comfort and give hope, yet due to my lack of knowledge or personal experience, I only seemed to cause more pain. Well-meaning comments like “you shouldn’t be worried about it at such a young age”, or “be patient, don’t worry so much, it will come”, or “many other women have faced this challenge for a much longer time”, or “other couples have been successful by …” brought her more pain.
In her search, my daughter found medical answers regarding her infertility, and while having these answers brought a small measure of peace as to what could now be done to further their desire to have children, the waiting and trying still brought pain and a sense of loss each passing month. She did find great comfort from other women who were experiencing this same challenge and were open with her in their struggles and shared her pain. It was one of these caring women, who introduced her to Kerstin’s book and this LDS support group.
My daughter invited me to join her and her husband at one of the meetings to learn more. I was so impressed by the diversity of women, and the faith based discussions that supported our beliefs. I learned so much from that session, not only how I could become a better support for my daughter, but my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel Plan of Happiness was strengthened.
Kerstin asked me to share a bit of my experience and my struggles as a Mom trying to be supportive of my daughter in her challenge of infertility. Here are 2 of the insights (or as I like to call them “Small Moments of Truth”) that I gained from the support group and in talking to others as I worked to become a more supportive mother. These “moments of truth” help me with the big questions and have given me hope and direction in how to deal with this challenge. Hopefully in them, you too will find an increased measure of strength and peace as you face challenges.
First Moment of Truth: Challenges–the great common denominator. It is part of the plan that we must experience pain and sorrow that we may know and value the good. Sometimes I get bogged down in the why’s and how’s of life, and forget that we are created that we may have joy (see 2 Nephi 2:25). At times I struggle in my faith wondering if God will answer my prayers. I think that in order to be happy they must be answered, and preferably, right now. I forget that He wants me to be happy and have joy, even with the trials and challenges I face. I can increase my faith in the fact that He knows us, loves us, and knows what is best. He is a loving and perfect Father, and I get to trust that, even with our challenges, He has designed it so that we will have joy. And it’s not just joy in the hereafter, but it’s also here in this life. I can trust in the plan, as this life is designed to be a time to try our faith and test us to see if we will be faithful. There will be pain and sorrow, yet there can be peace, happiness, and joy. I can be grateful for the good things in life and find joy in them now. Elder Richard G. Scott gives great insight and hope in a number of his talks and books. I particularly found his book “Finding Peace, Happiness & Joy” helpful with this challenge.
Second Moment of Truth: I can become a better support, but I can’t take away her pain. I can learn and find better ways to support and share her burden, hoping to ease it and comfort her. I learned that some of my well- meaning words didn’t help. I learned that to simply say “I love you and I’m sorry that you have such pain with this challenge in your life” can bring comfort and ease some of the pain. I still have much to learn on how to be more sensitive, not only as a Mom, but as a neighbor and friend. And, when I remember how I’ve been comforted, or would want to be comforted, it has helped me be more sensitive and share others’ burdens in a better way. I also learned that in our church classes or when we are discussing family and raising children, it is important to include and be sensitive to those whose do not have children.
As I thought about this opportunity to share with you my experience with infertility, in hopes of assisting and easing others burdens, I was reminded that only our Savior, who has atoned for us, truly knows our pain and can heal us and take away our pain. We can be His hands here on earth as we work to ease the burdens of others, but to truly have all the pain taken away, will come only through His atonement.
I’m thankful to Kerstin for this opportunity to share and reflect on what I’ve learned so far, and for the other group members, and friends that have been so open and willing to talk and offer assistance as we dealt with this heart wrenching challenge. To all of you who contribute and share with others through this website, support group, or simply listening and caring; may you find peace, happiness, and joy along the way, as you deal with life’s challenges, especially with personal infertility or the infertility of loved ones.