Chances are you’ve seen this post rolling around Facebook.
It’s called So… When you gonna have kids?
I shared it on my personal Facebook timeline and gave it an amen. But, what I really wanted to say was too long for his comment section and too heartfelt for the likes of Facebook. And so this post was born.
It is the story of an LDS couple who struggled with infertility for years before having children in their home.
I recommend it. Oh, I recommend it so much. But why???
First, because it touches on male infertility and some of the emotions involved.
It’s a topic that is close to my heart as we also suffer from male factor infertility. I could so relate. It’s an important read because this is coming from the husband’s point of view–POV we do not hear near enough of in the infertility world. Bravo to him. Seriously, a standing ovation because he nailed it.
Secondly, I feel like we can all be more sensitive to each other.
Being sensitive to others is not something that comes naturally to me. (“Suck it up, Buttercup!”) I think it is one of the reasons I’ve been through struggles of my own so that I can learn to sympathize. And forgive. (But, that’s another post.) I’m not perfect, but I am trying to be. (I type and then delete something snarky and mean-spirited at least 3 times a day. That’s progress.) I am teaching myself to be more sensitive, empathetic, sympathetic.
The root of the word “sympathize” is “to suffer”. So, when you sympathize with someone you are saying, “I suffer with you”. We suffer when others suffer, we mourn with those who mourn because it is what the Savior did. We want to be like Him. We want to love as He did.
Our goal is to lift another’s burden that it may be light, again as the Savior showed us with His perfect example. When we ask family planning questions, we can (and I would even venture to say WE ARE) adding to their burden. All defensiveness and rationalization aside, we don’t want to do that to our brothers and sisters. We want to lift and encourage. We want to follow the example of Christ.
Some will brush these words aside and flash their over-used get-out-of-rudeness-jail-free card that says “they are choosing to be offended”. But if we are aware of something that we are saying is offensive, we are accountable for that knowledge.
I don’t always, but I did read the comments of this post. I was prepared for a majority of the comments to have a “get over it” and/or “you’re being too sensitive” vibe. Not the case. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few of those, bless their hearts (“the guilty take the truth to be hard”), but for the most part, this post was met with people sharing their own struggle. It kind of proves how common and hard this topic is.
Not everyone is vocal about their struggle in the jungle of infertility. When we were diagnosed with sterility, we certainly didn’t announce it. I didn’t start writing about it until after we had adopted our oldest child. “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.” We have a chance here to not add to the heaviness of the burden our beloved neighbors and friends and brothers and sisters are carrying. I know you want to help them out as much as I do.
From my husband.
Mr. R worked from home this morning which means we had lunch together. Standing around in the kitchen with our turkey sammies in hand, I brought up this article and my response. I asked him to share some of his thoughts from our lunchtime chat:
I think it’s okay, in some situations, to ask someone about their family planning. Probably ONLY if you are REALLY close to them. You CAN bring it up in a respectful and supportive way, though. Asking in a way that expresses love and care for the person and recognition that they may be having some struggles and/or they don’t want to talk about it with you.
It’s okay to “screw-up” and offend someone by asking about this topic. ONCE! Once you have learned that people may be sensitive to this line of questioning, you cease to be able to use the “they are the ones that choose to be offended” excuse.
^^^ I like him.
A story. To lighten the mood.
I probably should have asked my parents before sharing this (sorry, Dad!), but my parents waited 6 years after they were married to have me, their oldest. It was their choice. No infertility issues. They were asked repeatedly when they were going to have children. (They were living in DC at the time.) My mom was growing rather tired of that response to their childlessness and came up with her own zinger to toss around as nonchalantly as the Kids Question was. She’d look the person in the eye and say, “My husband’s sterile.” (He wasn’t.) And then the conversation would move on.
Mr. R and I had no desire to have children when we were newlyweds. Each couple is different, but we wanted to wait a few years and knew that we would know when the time was right. A year into our marriage, we thought it may be time. I made an appointment to get a physical just to make sure I was in good health, etc., etc.
A few days before the appointment Mr. R and I both confessed that it didn’t feel right. I called and cancelled my appointment. The receptionist said, “When would you like to reschedule?”
“I don’t want to. I decided I don’t want to get pregnant right now.” (Knowing what we know now, the phrase “I decided” makes me snort with uncontrollable laughter. So young and foolish.)
It wasn’t our time. But, that didn’t mean that we weren’t asked questions about our family planning on the regular. I started using my mom’s response, “My husband’s sterile.” With my husband’s approval, of course. We have a very similar sense of humor.
BUT GUESS WHAT?! Turns out, he IS sterile. And somehow that makes me laugh and feel bad and clairvoyant and stupid all at the same time. But mostly laugh. Like a lot.
The right time.
The author talked about not forcing OUR timeline on others.
A handful of years later we knew the time was right but nothing was happening after 2 years of trying. We were tested, got the sterility results, mourned, experienced the mighty hand of God who gave us peace within such a short amount of time, got our adoption papers in, were chosen by a beautiful and intelligent expectant mom after being approved to adopt for only a few short weeks and had baby Tyson in our arms 6 weeks later. From the time we were diagnosed to Tyson in our home was less than 9 months. We’d been married for 5 years. That was our timetable. Our unique timetable.
The Lord in his omniscience put our timetable together and brought together a family that was hoping for a child and an expectant mother that was hoping for a family like ours for her son. It was, as they say, PERFECT TIMING.
Let yourself be compassionate. Teach yourself to be sensitive if it doesn’t come naturally. Know that everyone’s timetable is different. Remember that people will come to you if they have bedroom and family planning questions. You don’t need to ask. There are literally billions of other topics to talk about.
And if you haven’t done so already, please read So… When you gonna have kids because it is brilliant.