I know I have been away for a couple of years, but thanks to an influx of wonderful people in my life looking for strength in anonymous corners of Modern Orthodoxy I am beginning to realize how important it is to be out and proud of being a traveler on the road of infertility.
So I am back, hopefully with more posts to come, but this one is a long time coming.
A couple of years ago my mother was sitting in shul on a regular shabbos. The Rabbi got up to announce the mazal tovs when something happened.
“Mazal tov to the Stern family on the birth of twin grandchildren, a boy and a girl, to their children who live in California.”
A woman sitting down the row from my mother whispered to her neighbor “Well, that’s suspicious!” My mother, involved in every step of my fertility journey, and not shy to involve herself in situations she thinks are wrong, leaned over to this woman and said “I’m not sure what you mean?” The woman replied “Well, it is their second set of twins, maybe they had… HELP.” My mother said “and… G-d gave doctors the knowledge to circumvent the issue of infertility with many types of Assisted Reproductive Technologies. When we were having kids, if you couldn’t have them naturally you were forced to adopt or give up on motherhood. What a bracha that families are growing by such methods. It is not suspicious, it is a miracle.”
That’s my mom!
Lately people have been telling me about how insensitive people are to their suffering of infertility. It is true that no one has any idea what each individual goes through, most of the time the reason for the insensitivity is ignorance.
- People may not know that you are suffering when they say hello to you and immediately look to see if you have a growing belly underneath your shirt.
- People may not realize that there is more to it that “just relax and it will happen.”
- People may not know that today is the due date of the baby you miscarried.
- People may not know how long you cried in the prep room at the mikveh last night.
There are organizations that are starting to be created to help people, Rabbis, Rebetzins know how to TALK to people going through infertility. But unless you have been in the throws of it, you can’t blame people for their ignorance, you need to educate them. Think about how in the dark you were when you began this process. If you are sensitive to people just not realizing, they will learn in a nice way how not to alienate you in the future and perhaps become your greatest champions.
This is a great list of things for others to know about in talking with people going through infertility: