Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Do Pregnancy Complaints Rip Your Heart Out?

I have written at length in the past about the unspoken pain many women carry due to infertility. I lived there for five years. Women who are in the grips of such pain rarely speak out about it, except perhaps to others they know who have experienced the same pain and therefore can understand. It can be an all-consuming pain, and all-consuming pains are very difficult to speak about at all, let alone objectively, to try to explain it to someone to whom it is foreign.

But the other day I startled myself a little by finding myself in a 180° situation while being party to a conversation about a certain pregnancy. In that moment I pictured right where I had been, in the Children's department of the library, with my toddler foster son. It was some "bring your kids to play and learn" gathering, and it was the two of us with two other women and their children. One of the women was pregnant. And she was complaining.

At the time I had never experienced pregnancy, and I wanted to with all my heart. Anyone who complained about giving life was branded in my book as an ungrateful, selfish lout.

So a decade later, seeing the scene in my mind, I was startled to realize I've learned a few things since then. I thought I should write a blog post to the misery-gripped infertile woman I was back then. And, to anyone else it might help.

You hear her say: "I've already gained so much weight."
What it hurts her too much to say: I've always felt so ugly. God, I hate myself.

You hear her say: "I'm gonna make my husband pay for doing this to me!"
What it hurts her too much to say: The last time I was pregnant he started going to a prostitute. He doesn't know I know, and I'm too devastated to bring it up.

You hear her say: "What am I gonna do with another baby?"
What it hurts her too much to say: Why should a horrible woman like me, that no one could really love, bring an innocent child into this world? I'll miss her up too badly.

You hear her say: "Ugh! All those doctor appointments."
What it hurts her too much to say: My last child miscarried/was stillborn/had a serious birth defect/was sick and I'm terrified it will happen again.

You hear her say: "I can't stand feeling sick!"
What it hurts her too much to say: I'm getting pressure to abort this baby, too.

My dear infertile sister, the next time you cringe or rage at the complaints of a woman about her pregnancy, consider that she, too, might just know pain that is too profound for her to face and to put into honest words. Yes, her words hurt and wound you. Just remember the maxim that hurting people hurt people. When you hear it, open your heart, even silently, and offer her your love. Ask God to offer His love to her through you. And guess what? When you do that, you do the maternal thing.

You exercise spiritual maternity.


Britta Kreps said...

This is great, Marie. Thank you so much for sharing. Being fertile carries its burdens, too, and women feel dumb for even considering bringing those feelings up.

Donna said...

Beautiful post! Being on the IF side of things some of those complaints always seemed petty. But, as you pointed out, there's often much more meaning behind the words being spoken. I think that in our society today people allow themselves to be too easily offended and take things much too personally. Perhaps, as you suggested, by praying for the other person, we can get past our own pain and something fruitful can come out of it all.

Marie said...

Donna, I'm sure many complaints are nothing but pettiness. Pettiness comes from a small heart that has wasted its sufferings. In those cases perhaps it is good to pray for both of us to learn how to suffer well. Fruitfully, as you say.

Donna said...


I reread what I posted and decided that I really shouldn't write when I'm under the influence of pain meds (long story).

I think what I really meant to say is that as an IFer being offended is pretty petty. The complaints are usually just venting, but as you said, there is often more meaning behind the words being spoken.

Christian LeBlanc said...

My wife was never more beautiful than when she was waddling around with a child inside her.