I don’t really think of myself as much of a game person, but I love the game Taboo! My normally introverted self can barely wait for my turn to be the “speaker” in the game, trying to get my teammates to guess the word on my card. When my husband and I are on a team together, we are nearly unstoppable because we can easily pull from our life together to elicit certain words or phrases that would seem to have no connection to the word that is to be guessed.
After an experience we had with a friend recently, we found ourselves in conversation about a different kind of Taboo. Although our culture has come a long way over the years (both good and bad), the topics of infertility and miscarriage are still taboo to many people. It can be hard to navigate our relationships to determine which people should be let in on our true desires for parenthood and the wild ride of fertility testing.
We were recently at an event where two of our good friends were present. We were happily conversing in a small group when suddenly Katie got a serious look on her face and asked if she could talk to us for a minute. As we walked to a quiet corner of the room, we were both wondering what in the world this was about. “Please don’t be mad at me,” she started out. Then she explained that she and her husband pray for us each night during family prayer time. Her husband’s parents are often present and have heard their prayers for us. One day, Katie’s mother-in-law asked if they were praying for us because we were trying to have a baby. She admitted the truth and her mil asked if she could enroll us in the St. Gerard Society. Katie apologized for having revealed this part of our lives to her in-laws (who we do know through various family events over the years). We quickly reassured her that we were not mad, but happy about this news. It means we have another couple who is praying for us and we have had a devotion to St. Gerard ever since we first started TTC.
It is hard to know how people will respond when we share with them the very personal news of IF. We have been lucky to not have any real horror stories about people’s responses, as I know many couples do. But we do see many different reactions from the people we tell. Some people show a genuine interest and concern, being sure to ask how we are doing, inquiring about our testing/treatment process, and reminding us that they are praying for us. Others have kept quiet, acting as though we never told them a thing. It is likely they are just unsure about what is appropriate to discuss and they want to let us “make the first move” in furthering our conversation.
So, how much do you tell people about your TTC experience and who do you tell? I’ve heard of couples who have gone through years of fertility testing and treatment without telling their own families and others who tell everyone they know. Most of us probably have at least a few fairly good friends that we haven’t let in on our secret, while we have found ourselves telling perfect strangers (who ask offhandedly if we have any children) that we are hoping to start a family soon or that we have a baby in heaven. Keeping up with who knows what can be exhausting!
It takes a lot of faith and trust to talk about these taboo things in life. But it can also provide a lot of benefits to us and others. Perhaps we can share the burden with someone who is also struggling or learn from those who have had similar experiences. The graces we receive from the prayers of others help us more than we may ever realize.
“The trustworthy man will be richly blessed.” -Proverbs 28:20a
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." -Romans 12:15
“Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of
Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
1. Have I come to a consensus with my husband about what is permissible to speak about with others and who should /should not be informed about this personal part of our life?
2. Do I inform my husband when I tell someone new about our struggles with infertility?
3. What have I learned (positive and negative) from sharing my IF journey with others?
4. Have I received any support or prayers from others that have helped me along this journey? Have I expressed my thanks for those gifts?
Lord, give me right judgment when I speak with other about my struggles. Help me to respect my husband’s wishes when discussing personal matters. Give me a heart of patience and humility when others respond in ways I do not understand. Most of all, help me to be a good friend to others who are burdened, not expecting more from them than I am willing to give.