A simple statement with an overwhelming sense of meaning and emotion. One that could result in extreme or extreme fear. It could cause complete and utter thankfulness after a period of waiting or an unexpected change in plans. It could bring joy and sorrow, hope and despair, the start of a new chapter or the closure of another. Countless thoughts, feelings, and responses hang on these simple words.
Each time I uttered these words with my first pregnancy, I was beyond excited and thankful. It seemed as if I could not refrain from sharing the news. To be honest, I was oblivious to all the fears, anxieties, and possible raw emotions of those around me. The thoughts of miscarriages or struggles with fertility were not something I fully grasped or understood at the time. A couple years later, we welcomed our second healthy child, who was huge blessing, and the reality of the long, painful, heartbreaking pregnancy roads around me began to sink in. My eyes were now opened to the hardships of those both near and far from me; friends, family members, friends of friends all who faced troubling paths either to pregnancy or the aftermath of miscarriages or failed pregnancy attempts.
I began to struggle with how to be a friend who was understanding and could empathize with those who were hurting around me. I truly believe God has a plan for every woman who desires to be a mom whether it is through natural pregnancy, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), other fertility treatments, or adoption. I know His plan is perfect, yet as the friend who maybe did not walk some of these roads or is unable to relate to the feelings of struggling with fertility, it still hurts to see these dear friends of mine yearn for their future children. With the growing fertility issues, I knew I wanted to care for my friends in the best way possible focusing on their needs.
Just before I got pregnant with our third baby, a dear friend of mine was sharing with me her and her husband’s fourth attempt at IUI was unsuccessful. “Once again, I am not pregnant,” she told me. She shared how she felt surrounded by pregnant women from friends, to strangers on social media, and even as she walked the aisles of the grocery store, pregnant women were everywhere. My heart broke, and I wanted to jump through the phone to hug her. All I could tell her was how sorry I was to hear her hurting. Meanwhile, another close friend informed me she would be undergoing fertility treatments. Sadly, her first round was also unsuccessful.
Within days of these conversations, I found out I was pregnant. This time I was excited and thankful, yet an overwhelming sense of fear, sadness, and guilt seemed to negate the excitement.
Deep down, I knew these feelings were not right nor were they what God wanted me to experience. Furthermore, these friends of mine mentioned above would not want me to feel these emotions either. I happened to talk to a close high school friend during those first couple of weeks of pregnancy who had walked through miscarriages. I shared with her the stories of the struggling friends around me, and I greatly wanted to protect their hearts. She was an amazing encouragement, and simply said, “Try writing them a letter sharing your heart as well as your news”.
Writing these letters gave me a sense of peace, as I knew it would allow my friends to process my pregnancy news. They could sort through every emotion and thought. They could take as much time necessary because I made sure to share with them I would be available to talk whenever they were ready. I would strive to protect them to the best of my ability because I was not walking their journey, and I was unable to fully relate to them. My letter showed them my heart and desire to be a friend to these friends even though I was pregnant. I could encourage them to trust God’s perfect plan, and remind them perfection does not always mean easy. I wanted to walk this journey with them with a newfound perspective of their struggles and the struggles of others around me.
Speaking with both of these women after some time, they acknowledged their appreciation for allowing them time to process, cry, remove bitterness, and attempt to reach a point of happiness and excitement for me. One friend shared her circumstances have caused God to open the eyes and heart of her husband to the idea of adoption while the other friend shared successfulness of her second fertility treatment, and she was in the very early weeks of pregnancy. What a blessing to hear a changed heart and a new pregnancy!
Maybe you are someone who has walked these difficult roads full of bumps and turns ending in devastation. I pray you are encouraged to seek friends who love you and will walk with you. Friends you can share your hurts and even moments of happiness with.
Maybe you are like me, the pregnant friend watching your friends struggle, and like me, you are unable to relate to these friends. I encourage you to free yourself from any fear or guilt and meet your hurting friend where she is at in her journey. Pray for her. Write her a letter. Take her to dinner. Care for her. Let her know you are there even if it means sharing tears or moments of frustrations.
Be a friend while you are pregnant.