Wednesday, April 25, 2012

...the family i choose...

janel has been my friend for many years and has dealt first hand with my infertility crazy.  before our little boog came to our family, she lovingly shared her kiddos and we felt as if they were ours.  she and her husband have been there through every loss, every surgery, every trial.  she has always been so sensitive to our situation, so loving, kind, and compassionate.  even when i know it was hard for her, she always took great care of my emotions.  we love them dearly and i'm thrilled she agreed to write a post depicting what it's like to be the fertile friend to an infertile friend.

Kenna has asked me to share my thoughts on being a friend to someone who struggles with infertility. Infertility is not something I struggle with. I didn't fight tooth and nail to have a family, it came very easily for us. As a result of that I didn't know much of infertility till I met Kenna. 

Kenna and I met 4 years ago when she moved from one apartment in our ward to one in the building next to us. We lived on a very energetic little circle, everyone hung out outside and we'd often do little neighborhood bbqs, desert nights, and just sitting outside chatting late into the evening. Through these interactions I came to know Kenna and I learned of her trials. Before this time I don't think that I ever even gave thought to infertility. It just wasn't something that inflicted the group of friends that I had so it wasn't something I thought much of. 

Kenna and I became fast friends, partly because my then two year old son LOVED her and Josh. Many times I'd lose him outside, I couldn't find him anywhere. Josh had come home from school (he could hear his truck coming down the street and would yell "JOSH!") to eat lunch before going to work and he'd be there with him. Carter would take Josh by the hand and walk to wherever the garbage man happened to be, they'd walk up and down the circle and behind buildings to watch that garbage truck. Josh was so patient with him, assuring me over and over that Carter wasn't bothering him at all. And then the party started all over again when Kenna got home from work. Juice boxes and cheese sticks were plenty there (as well as a bowl of chocolate of the table) he always knew there would be someone to talk with and yummy treats to eat. 

Through each of Kenna's miscarriages my heart hurt. I wished I could make it better for her. Give her encouraging words, that it would all be okay. I couldn't tell her that I understood what she was going though, cuz I didn't know. I've never experienced a pregnancy loss. So I did what I could. I tried to be a friend. Tell her it sucked. Bring her chocolate. I ached for her! I wanted her to have the desires of her heart. 

I found out I was pregnant with our third baby right after they lost Kate (who was then born on the day they lost Addalyn). I died inside just a little bit. This pregnancy wasn't exactly a planned one, but I was beyond happy to be pregnant. I wanted to be sensitive to my friend, I didn't want her to find out I was pregnant from anyone but myself. I debated for weeks on how to tell her, she was the first person we told. We went to dinner with Josh and Kenna one night, I gathered the courage and told her I wanted to show her something. With tears in my eyes I handed her my phone with a picture of the pregnancy test on it. I didn't want to hurt her, but I knew she was already hurting. I had been around enough to know that pregnancy announcements can be done in a way that is so hurtful to her. Not intentionally I don't think, but still hurtful. I didn't want to be a cause of pain. I can only hope that I wasn't. 

 My own fertility has been the hardest part of being a friend to someone who faces infertility. However, I've never once felt that she judged me because of it, or loved me any less for it. I'm just a crazy woman who feels guilty because I have what she doesn't, but that she really wants. But lets be honest here; just because I have the ability to have children doesn't make me a better mother than one who adopts. And just because you've adopted that doesn't make you any less of a mother. A uterus doesn't equal mother! Kenna was a mother figure in my kids life before her miracle arrived. 

 I sometimes feel like I am exposed to two very different cultures so to say; the 'everything is normal in life', and the infertility side. We live in such a bubble here. Everywhere you go there are tiny babies and 50 pregnant woman. I've am so grateful that I've been exposed to the infertility culture. I've learned not to ask the "when are you going to have kids" question. I look at things differently. People who make jokes out of being pregnant; you know, for April fools jokes, just aren't funny to me. I could name 10 different woman who's dreams would come true to make that announcement and you take it so lightly, it's a joke, really?! At times I even stop myself when I complain about my own kids. This last baby we had has been such a challenge, crying, screaming, ALL day long. When I just can't take anymore, I remember how blessed I am. For there are thousands of women who would trade me places. Take a screaming baby 24/7 over none at all. I hope that doesn't sound like I think I'm better than someone else, because that is so far from how I feel. 

So, what is it like to be a friend with infertility. Well, in my eyes, it's just like being a friend to anyone. Each of us have different challenges, some are much larger than others, and each of us need friends to help us through those challenges. How thankful I am to Kenna for sharing her challenges with me and allowing me to grow because of it. Kenna is so much more than a friend to me, she is the family I choose! 





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2 comments:

Traci said...

Janel- you are such a good friend! Thanks for sharing your kiddos with them.

Shauna Holt said...

Awesome. "a uterus doesn't equal mother". Great post!

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