No, not yet…
Dot. dot. dot.
There’s a lot that hangs on those three little dots. An ellipsis, I looked it up to refresh my grammar. I once carried so much anxiety about being asked if I had kids, wanted kids, or was trying to have kids. It is hard to explain why such questions are painful, but they just are. My answer used to be, “No, not yet…” Those three little dots omitted something I was leaving out. A part of me that fell short. It created a slightly awkward pause between myself and the person asking. Which usually led to them filling that space with, “Oh so you are trying,” or something to that effect. Creating the exact situation I was anxious about. I realized that the best way to avoid these conversations, which I wanted to desperately avoid, was to answer with a simple and short, “No.” A no, followed by a period, put a full stop on the conversation. Period. The End. NO. (and in my head, please leave me alone about it)
One night leaving a basketball game with my in-laws, an old friend that was in town ran into them. As they were catching up, the question of kids came up. I went to my go-to, faithful, conversation stopper, “No.” And then my mother-in-law quickly and eagerly added, “not yet.” Hearing the hope that lingered on those two little words she spoke broke my heart. Hope for a grandchild that we couldn’t give her. I needed to remove myself from this. I tugged Will’s arm a little and we physically took a step down the bleachers away from the conversation. The lady responded with some comment along the lines of us not being able to catch up to them because they had so many grandchildren and we were already in our 30’s. I thought, “Done. We’re done.” We said our goodbyes. I don’t think I’ve ever left a place, dragging Will with me, any faster in my life. So fast that we exited the complete opposite side of the assembly center we entered and had parked. As we walked all the way around back to the car, Will got an earful about how upset that lady just made me and how sad I was for his mom.
I will never forget what he said:
“Babe, people are going to ask us if we have kids. People are going to make comments. People are going to get pregnant. They don’t know. It’s not on purpose. You’re going to have to get over it.”
Now, this man had just been dragged out of there. He had been on the receiving end of my crazy mood swings from all of the hormones in my body. I literally got so mad at him one day for using the word “supper” instead of “dinner” I wanted to punch him because it annoyed me so much. I’m not lying to you when I say I envisioned the punch. So maybe his delivery was a little harsh on this night, but he was right. And I needed to stop running away from it. I needed to stop avoiding it and trust that God’s got me. I needed to start giving people the benefit of the doubt. All of the hurtful comments were not intentionally said to hurt me. All of the suggestions and the “If you just___.” “At least___.” “I know someone who___.” were people trying to take my pain away for a second. I need to give grace, the same grace that I am covered in daily. To extend forgiveness, just like it is extended to me.
A friend called me. She wanted to meet for lunch earlier in the week, but we missed each other. Instead, she settled for a phone call to tell me she was pregnant.
I was angry. I was hurt. I cried when the phone call ended. I hid these emotions during the call because I didn’t want to take away from her joy. But I was so mad about having to do that.
How could she? How could she have thought telling me face-to-face was a good idea? By giving her the benefit of the doubt though, that question is transformed. That question becomes, how could she have known? She didn’t. She didn’t know it hurt that I just sat on the phone for a good ten minutes talking about my not so perfect behind the scenes before she hit me with her highlight reel. She didn’t know it hurt to know I wouldn’t be the one to get pregnant first. She didn’t know it hurt me to hear that it happened quicker than they thought. The answer is, she did not know. I am not proud of these feelings. They are real though, in all of their ugliness. I am being gut-openly honest with you. In that moment of anger and sadness, I received an email from an infertility friend checking up on me. Melissa texted me to say hi. That particular friend didn’t understand the pain she caused, but these friends did. God placed me in their thoughts at a time when I needed to confide in someone who got it. Someone who could respond and cover me with kindness for these bitter feelings. In that moment, God reminded me that one day he will redeem all of my tears. Friends, there is no good way to tell an infertile person that you are expecting, but tell them because finding out through a second hand source is just as hurtful. As impersonal as it sounds, the best way, in my experience, is through text.
I now answer the kid question with a confident, “No.” And know that if the conversation leads to more questions I am strong enough to answer them. Sometimes when I answer openly and honestly I am met with an unknowing hurtful comment. And this is when I am reminded of grace, of kindness, of forgiveness. A lot easier said than done, I know. There are days where I am not perfect, or don’t really feel like extending forgiveness but some days I get it right. Many times when I am open, a shared story of infertility is revealed, and I am connected to another heart that understands. One gift that I will never forget is a day when a grandmother at Gymboree asked if she could pray for me after I shared with her our infertility struggle. She took both of my hands and prayed the most beautiful prayer over me as I sat at my desk, with the kid music playing in the background, just the two of us. It had been one of those days and she blessed my life in the exact way I needed it. God’s got me, just as He has you friend. Those three little dots will one day become connected to form the bigger picture that He is currently painting in my heart…
I give grace because I so desperately need it- Lysa TerKeurst