I was talking with a friend last week who recently found out that she and her husband can’t have children of their own. Knowing my history she asked, “What have you done to deal with your infertility?”
These are things I wish I could tell the Lynsie of 1998, when I was in the acute stages of infertility. If I could go back in time, I would have to be disguised as someone else because the me of then would freak out about how long I have endured childlessness. And hopefully the 1998 me would listen, but who knows. We all learn the way we need to. Just as I already did.
Before the list, a precursor. People will tell you to offer service. This is awesome, amazing, works wonders, BUT sometimes we forget one of the most important things in life: you need to take care of yourself while you’re serving OR even before you can step foot out your door to serve.
1. Learn about the Principle of Compensation. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a wonderful talk on this subject entitled Come What May, and Love It. He stated, “That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way.”
Though you would gladly trade these luxuries for being a mom, don’t feel guilty for what you can do at this moment! For instance, at this moment in 2012 you are able to take a bath for as long as you want; drive the Sister Missionaries in the Twingo at a moment’s notice; have a block of uninterrupted hours to study; never have to worry about stretch marks on your belly, losing baby weight, or any other discomforts from pregnancy; you don’t have to get a baby sitter. The list could go on and on.
2. Prayer and the Temple. When you feel like no one could possibly understand, that’s a lie. That’s when you know to go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. If that’s not enough, go to the temple or go more often. Literally get out of this world and into the Lord’s holy house. Stay there until you feel strong and loved.
3. Strengthen Your Marriage. Do whatever it takes. Go on a vacation, a cruise, somewhere, anywhere and DON’T avoid the subject. Work through it together. If you feel like your efforts are not working, get therapy. Don’t wait for your husband to be ready for therapy. Do it for yourself! I cannot stress this enough.
4. Uncover Your Hidden Talents. I heard a quote recently that goes something like this (and I don’t remember who said it) “The greatest gift we can give Heavenly Father is to nourish and strengthen our talents and then share them with him and the world”. Put your energy into something you’ve been putting off because you might get pregnant. Like going to school and finishing your degree. Don’t doubt. Just do it.
5. Avoid Negativity Like the Plague. It’s okay to feel angry at times, but do your best not to dwell there. If negativity is in the room, walk out. Even if someone is sharing their negative or discouraging words about the simplest of things. Especially right now, you don’t have space in your life for that. Even bloggers and those who might commiserate along side you can pull you down. Be careful where you go to find understanding and peace. Remember #2 if negativity creeps in.
6. Stand Up For the Infertile. A lot more people are discussing infertility openly now than they did in 1998. There are those who don’t have a clue and will say inappropriate and stupid things. Allow them to learn from you that infertility is awful, it hurts, that it’s torture to be around women who are genuinely ungrateful for their children, but also (and most importantly) that God compensates. Gently and boldly help them see that one size doesn’t fit all, that you and many others like you are valuable and can be happy people.
7. When Someone Says, “There’s Always Adoption” they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s common for this to be someone’s first response to your news that you can’t have babies. It’s okay to tell them, “Thanks for the encouragement.” It’s also okay to zing certain people a little with a, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about that.” This could go along with #6. Adoption has its own facets. The process is grueling. Be careful not to jump into adoption before you and your husband are both ready.
8. Get a Massage. At least once a month, if you can, until you’re stronger. This is especially recommended if you’ve gone through fertility treatments. There is amazing healing from massage, both physically and emotionally. I wish I had not been blinded by the negative perception of massage during my infertility yuck. If you’re afraid, start with a foot massage or a type of massage where you’ll be fully dressed, like Shiatsu or Seated Massage. Tell your therapist that you’re dealing with infertility. Nothing more needs to be said if you don’t want, but that will help them know you need comfort and peace overall.
9. Ask to Babysit a Friend’s Infant. It sounds crazy when this is what you want and can’t have, but babies are the purest of us all on this earth. Holding them can trigger your pain, but it’s important to deal with that pain. Recognize it. Recognize that it’s okay to cry and be angry that you can’t have babies. Don’t suppress it. Recognize the simple healing power of holding a newborn baby. When you give the baby back to its mother, let the pain and anger go and focus on your blessings.
10. Get a Dog. Name him Woody. He’ll be an outlet for the mothering instincts you were born with,and fostered while taking care of your friends’ kids, your nephews and nieces, the broods you babysat throughout high school, the niece who lived with you for a year and a half. Those instincts and feelings will come naturally and will be so fulfilling. He’ll be a pain in the butt, be forever be in the toddler stage, he’ll shed, he’ll eat grosser than gross things before you can stop him, he’ll drive your extended family crazy because he’s “just a dog”, but he’s more than worth it. He will bring you so very much joy that you can’t imagine life without him.
I know you don’t believe me. Get a dog. Seriously. Get a dog.
And, above all other things, don’t forget this part of Elder Wirthlin’s message:
“While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”