Hushed tones accompany the topic. The one with the secret feels broken, and insecure, and hesitant to share in case the one listening will feel awkward.
We’re trying to get pregnant.
It’s a topic rarely spoken about publicly, similar to miscarriages. Understandably. And it’s easy to feel alone because of this reality.
I experience the tension between wanting to be vulnerable, but not wanting to share something so personal with someone who might not know me as well yet.
Or someone who might not want to go that deeply into my life.
Or someone who might then feel awkward around me or sorry for me.
Or even someone who might try to give me advice that is more hurtful than helpful.
Why do those of us with this story feel this way?
Well, it implies we are having sex regularly at intentional times each month. (EESH that’s personal.)
It implies we want something really badly, and at least I personally fear people will judge me, assuming I have made an idol out of this desire.
It means the possibility that something below the surface could be wrong – which no one wants to think could be then be true for them.
And it’s a reminder that it’s not easy – and maybe scary for those who aren’t at that place yet. It’s not something you can necessarily know ahead of time, but the more people you know with that issue, the more of a fear it can become.
But I have found such freedom in talking about it. Talking and writing helps me process and opens me up to the Lord speaking to me without me even realizing it until I read back over the words on the page or until I speak them out loud. It helps minimize the shame I feel at times in my grief. It reminds me that people love me and care about me and want to come around me in my sadness.
And one of the sweetest things in talking about a sensitive subject is that it opens my story up for others to see and relate to.
Before we started “trying” to get pregnant, I was praying that the Lord would bring women into my life whom I could walk through pregnancy with. All of the women in my community group were new moms, with babies born within the previous nine months, so I assumed that my pregnancy would come before they started trying for their second.
Then we didn’t get pregnant. I had all sorts of friends getting pregnant, so I kept thinking those friends were the answers to my prayers, and I would just be a couple of months behind them.
Then those friends had their babies. And I looked down at my flat stomach and empty arms and wondered what God was doing, how He was planning to answer my prayer for women to relate to and walk with.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, I hesitated to share openly on my blog or with people I maybe didn’t know super well. But once I started sharing how I was seeing God work through this situation, I was encouraged to find people who were walking through a totally different type of waiting, yet still related to how God was at work in me.
Some of the most encouraging words in the human language, in my opinion, are “Me, too!” and I have gotten to hear that so often – whether the person responding is also walking through infertility or whether they are simply experiencing the same questions as they figure out where God is in their own personal struggle. It’s affirming that you’re normal and that, if God is at work in that person and their uphill struggle, then He can be at work as you walk uphill, too.
Then I had friends and acquaintances start reaching out to me as a result of what I shared. Women I hadn’t really talked to in several years told me that they, too, were walking through infertility, whether only a few months of trying or multiple years of heartache. I made a list of women to pray for who were specifically in the waiting for a baby, and I was overwhelmed with how many names were on the list.
God answered my prayer for women to walk through this season with, even if they aren’t people I see every day. I have friends I can message or call who will understand the overwhelming grief that rolls in one morning, only to be gone by the afternoon. I have friends who understand the heartbreak of starting a new monthly cycle, the disappointment and dreams and plans that come crashing to a halt.
All because of God’s hand at work in the midst of a painful season – and the strength He has given me to be vulnerable.
When it comes to vulnerability, though, the struggle is not just limited to infertility. Anxiety, depression, singleness, unhappiness at work, marital tension, fear of the future, the daily struggles of a young mom… the list goes on and on. We try to hide the areas in our lives where we feel we don’t “measure up” or have it all together. We each think for some reason that we should be able to handle life on our own, whatever it throws our way, so unhappiness or pain means there is weakness in us. Instead of letting others know that we need help or encouragement, we hide our struggle behind a smile and a vague comment referencing “life is hard but I am making it.”
There’s discretion in who we share our pain with, and I am by no means suggesting that the more public level of vulnerability God has challenged me to is the best way for everyone, but I have seen power in choosing to allow others in. It reminds me that I am not alone. That we are all fighting to see God in this broken but beautiful world. And it allows others to respond as tangible expressions of God’s love for me.
Last week, the South was hit with buckets of rain. Each day I left the house, I brought along a rain jacket and an umbrella and water-friendly shoes to prepare for the day’s dampness. But in the midst of the fast-moving clouds one morning before the downpour started, I caught glimpse of a faint rainbow. God’s promise to never flood the earth again – a promise that He has kept. Which reminds me that He will continue to keep all of His promises. He is a trustworthy God, and vulnerability for me has started with first being real with Him, opening myself to hear His voice even when I may not see His hand.
Just to note: I am starting a section in my blog to share more of the specifics in my story so far relating to infertility. I probably won’t be posting these on Facebook the way I do my regular posts, and I don’t want my blog to become only about infertility, but I would love for you to follow along or share my blog as a resource for any friends who are also walking through this type of wait. You can access it through the menu and by clicking “infertility” or through the link samanthacbarnes.com/infertility.