I CANNOT WALK THIS ROAD ALONE!
I cannot say this one enough. I couldn't have gotten through this with any inkling of sanity had I not had other women to walk with. I am a true believer of community and family living life together... sharing celebrations, sharing resources, sharing pain, walking together... what my church calls the "one-anothering" of life.
When all this fertility stuff started for me, I knew of a couple of women who had endometriosis. So, I called them. Immediately. I was scared and freaked out. Their words, unlike any others, were rest and comfort for my little heart. As time went on, I met more and more women walking this same road for one reason or another. Oddly, I have 3 friends from college who were all going through fertility treatments at the same time that I was. We began meeting for lunch once a month or so just to connect and pray for each other. Just being in their presence was deeply comforting... just knowing that other people felt that longing as deeply as I did.
Early on, I loved hearing stories of people's fertility struggle as long as it ended with a pregnancy and baby! Then, as time went on and my heart grew in understanding of what was happening in my story, I began seeking out stories from women who adopted. In late 2009, I met a woman, who after years of battling infertility adopted 2 girls. As she shared her story with me, I saw on her face that she felt satisfied in the Lord. She still carried her scar. But she felt peace and joy. And she gave thanks and was not bitter. She hugged me and held on. She cried and told me that she knows my pain. I felt God touch me. I have several stories like this with other women... but this one always stands out in my mind as a moment where real truth seeped into my heart and set it a little more free.
In all honesty, for a long time I had a really difficult time being around women in groups... women's retreats, showers of any kind, etc. When women are together they talk about their families... and sometimes not so kindly. It was sooo hard to hear a woman complain about the difficulties of motherhood or pregnancy. I mean, I get it, it's hard. But not one of those complaining women would trade places with a "barren" woman. And I would have given my left arm to have those 4 kids she's complaining about.
At times, it was also difficult to connect with my really close friends who had kids. Ironically, during my struggle with infertility, one of my closest friends had three Unexpected, Unplanned babies! If our friendship was to survive (due to my own heartache and envy), she and I had to have some really honest conversations about how we both felt. When she got pregnant with her third, we cried together (both of us wishing it had been me!) As we talked, I realized that her heart was going through a very similar thing that mine was. This had not been her plan. Having a baby means completely laying down your life for a while. She had other things she wanted to do, dreams to live out. And God had another plan for her. She had to surrender. And it was painful for her. She also had the capability to simply let it be painful for me. She understood and was not put off by my pain. I appreciate her more than she knows! Tear.
All that to say... I needed old friends and new friends to go through this without losing hope and possibly ending up a mere shell of who I'm called to be. Those same women who grieved with me, also celebrated the homecoming of my son! My house was decorated when we got home, I had meals for several weeks, a baby shower and lots of mom shoulders to lean on. To all my lovely friends out there, I say Thank you. You are a gift to me!
These really great pics, I stole from facebook. They are of some friends of mine from high school. Most of these girls have been friends with each other from at least junior high and they are still all "besties!" They travel together every year... a very intentional way to pursue friendship! It's inspiring. Love to all you girls from afar! I hope it's okay that I borrowed your pics ;)