A “rainbow baby” is a baby that a couple has after the loss of a baby. I feel like I hear more about rainbow babies and infertility than I do about only infertility alone.
Who wants to talk about their struggle unless there is a happy ending? It isn’t the norm to share the ugly, painful stuff without having a somewhat happy ending.
I’ve had several people I know that don’t want to share their story of infertility until they are pregnant or have their miracle baby. We have to stop doing this. What if the happy ending never comes? Then what? You are never vulnerable? You never share your struggle? I understand that not everyone wants to share the details. But, please consider being honest if people ask if you have or want children. Don’t lie and say you don’t want any or that you haven’t tried.
Brené Brown discuses in her book Daring Greatly, about being perfect and bulletproof. We can’t wait until we are perfect and bulletproof to share who we are or what we are going through because it doesn’t exist. She explains how vulnerability is not weakness and being vulnerable is actually at the core of connection. We have to be vulnerable if we want to connect with people.
Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
I’ve had people tell me often how brave they think I am for sharing my story so publically. In the beginning, it did feel brave because I was terrified! Now, it’s just me talking to you, talking to someone who knows someone that hurts, talking to those who have hurt, and talking to those who are hurting. I want to help and I do that by being vulnerable. I share the stuff that not many will talk about. The things many of you keep tucked away. I have decided to share it. With each passing blog, it gets easier and easier. It’s therapeutic. It’s helped me grow and build some seriously strong connections.
With all the new relationships I’ve formed with individuals who truly get infertility because they’ve been here, other relationships have suffered. Not as a result of new friendships but just because this is a hard area to navigate.
One of my friends told me at one point that she felt I was being selfish at times. That struck a chord with me because I don’t think of myself as selfish because I often put others before myself. This friend said it’s natural to put yourself before others and everyone does it.
I disagree because I don’t do that. That isn’t natural for me. Putting myself first is something I have to work at. I often make choices based on my loved ones wants and needs instead of my own. This can leave me feeling drained. I have to work hard at putting myself first and making sure I’m communicating clearly what I need to those who love me.
In Justine Brooks Froelker’s book Ever Upward, she uses the metaphor of an empty well. The water can represent whatever that person isn’t capable of doing for you. It may be they aren’t great at making you feel loved. That’s the water. But they can make you laugh and feel safe. That’s the flowers and grass. If you go to the well everyday looking for water, knowing ahead of time there hasn’t been water in it for a long time, you will be disappointed. You can’t go to the well expecting there to be water. You can go to the well and enjoy the grass and the flowers but don’t expect water to be there. Go to that friend expecting to laugh and feel safe but don’t expect them to make you feel loved.
Expectations often get us in trouble. I try to expect very little from people. It helps me to not be disappointed. An individual I was close with said to a current friend that I expected too much from her. I’m not sure what she thinks I expected from her. The only thing I expected from her were cards because she said that she would send them. She didn’t end up sending any and I have to accept that she was unable to do that for me. I think it’s okay to expect people to do what they say they will. If they don’t, then you can’t trust their word until they regain your trust. Following through is important in any relationship.
Going to a friend expecting something they can’t give, that’s on me. I have to accept that. In accepting that, that means I have to set some boundaries. This is something that I’ve recently started to implement. There are people in my life who can meet my needs and are truly engaged in our friendship and there are people in my life who cannot meet my needs and are not as engaged as I need. Going to the people that cannot meet my needs is a recipe for disappointment. I have to accept what those friends are capable of and what they aren’t capable of. I may have to love them from a distance for my own well being. I’m learning that boundaries are healthy for me. It does not come naturally to me. If you can’t tell, I’m a share-everything-with-everyone-that-will-listen type of person. So boundaries are weird. But I’m finding that boundaries are a way to shield myself from things I know will hurt me. This is one way I can take care of myself.
I’m not selfish.
I put others before myself.
But from now on, I think I’ll go first.