Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Seeing Life Through IF-colored Glasses

The last week or so has been incredibly busy - a conference in Minneapolis that was great (but I didn't really get a weekend), diving back into work (and all the stress that goes with it), a true weekend with fun stuff with Kris Kringle, and a very sad, troubling conflict with my sister. I finally made it over to my blogroll yesterday and caught up on the blogs I like to follow. I read a post at Making God Laugh yesterday, and my mind was blown, seriously.

So polkadot's blog post was about IF in the movies, and she focused on Up and  Julie & Julia. I really liked both of those movies. She shared images and scenes from the movies, and these two were what really brought me to a new understanding of IF and how I really need to be compassionate when people who haven't experienced IF say something that hurts me.

As I mentioned, I've seen both of these movies and really liked them. However, I haven't seen either movie since we started experiencing IF 18 months ago. I didn't remember either of these scenes until reading the blog post yesterday. It is almost like, at the time of viewing the movies, I was fertile. Meaning, I hadn't experienced IF yet and watched the movies through the lens that children would come easily to us. Both cases of suffering related to the inability to have children were such a footnote in the plot for me that I don't even remember their significance in the story lines.

We haven't experienced the moment that the couple in Up are experiencing. We haven't suffered a miscarriage or been told we won't be able to have children on our own. My heart dropped when polkadot's blog post caused me to remember the Julie & Julia scene when Julia gets a letter that her sister is pregnant and weeps while telling her husband that's she happy. That exact scene played out for KK and me last fall when we learned that KK's brother and sister-in-law were expecting (it was a phone call, a letter would be very old-timey, no?). Only yesterday did I draw this parallel. If I saw these movies for the first time in the last 18 months, the significance of these scenes would not be lost on me, I'd probably cry along with the characters because I get it now. Holy moly, do I get it now. Mind blown.

What I'm Taking Away From This
I've joined a few Facebook groups recently for Catholics dealing with IF and Catholics practicing NFP (and successfully achieving or avoiding pregnancy). The IF group is a safe place for people to (among other things) express their grief over their IF. This often includes reactions to comments, baby announcements, etc., and the comments/announcements often come from the NFP group where pregnancy seems to happen so easily all the time (I know that's a generalization). I've even shared a few of my recent experiences, including one where a lady at a party asked me three questions in the first minute of meeting her: 1) do we have kids, 2) how long have we been married, and 3) are we going to have kids ever. Plus, the images of a positive pregnancy test from the NFP group are new to my Facebook feed, and I find myself getting irritated instantly. I'm grateful for the groups and believe there is value in having a safe space to vent about the struggles and grief of IF (hence the blog of course), but since following these groups, I feel like I am getting more sensitive to comments from people who, like me watching Up and Julie & Julia before I actually began to actively experience IF, simply don't have the same perspective of me as someone in the throes of IF, and they can't be forced to look at the world through IF-colored glasses.

I've come a long way since weeping with sadness about the news of my future niece/nephew. When we received the news that our newest family member had arrived just two weeks ago, we were excited, happy, and grateful that mama and baby were healthy. KK and I saw the first picture of the baby and genuinely smiled together, eyes shiny not because of jealousy or grief, but because God is good and gave us all this gift of this little life. I can't wait to meet him in two weeks.

So, starting now, I'm going to continue to allow myself to feel that twinge of pain in reaction to something said or something I've seen on Facebook. When I feel like it, I'll share that twinge with my Catholic IF connections on Facebook, but I won't blame that other person for their inability to see the world through IF-colored glasses. Instead, I'll say a prayer in thanksgiving for their good news or a prayer that next time such a comment, though not intended to hurt, is softened or rephrased to not be so bad. I'll also pray for the strength to let comments and situations roll off of me more often than they stick to me. And I'll be there for others who are forced to wear IF-colored glasses and comfort them when they are hurting. I doubt I will be perfect practicing this, but I'll try my very human best.

God, thank You for this mind-blowing revelation that has helped me see that those who don't suffer from IF aren't out to hurt me with their good news and comments. Help me to remember this from now on when I encounter remarks that seem insensitive and are hurtful. Help me to remember other crosses that others bear that I don't understand, and help me to chose words so that I don't communicate in ways that hurt others unintentionally and unnecessarily. For anyone experiencing the heartbreak of IF, please help them feel Your presence and find strength in You. Thank You for helping me get from weeping over the news of a new baby to rejoicing in his birth. I couldn't have done that without You. If You allow me to experience the world through parent-colored glasses someday, please don't let me forget what it's like to wear the IF-colored ones.


  1. Good post. I saw Julie and Julia in the theaters when it first came out, and didn't even remember the aforementioned scene until someone mentioned it in the Facebook group. Although I am happy to wear IF-colored glasses (for the greater glory of God), I wish others could look through them without the pain of wearing them.

  2. Lovely post, and how amazing that God is working in your heart in such powerful ways :) it's so inspiring!

  3. What a lovely perspective, I love how you wrote this.

    Unfortunately, I feel like every book and movie in the past decade I've experienced through the lens of IF... my "innocence" or "naivete" or whatever you want to call it seems so far removed, and I really don't like that.

    Gives me an idea for a new post, though.

  4. Really enjoyed this post. I remember both scenes in those movies so well...

  5. What you realized here I think will help all of us be a little more patient with comments from those who haven't experienced infertility. That is really great how your heart and perspective changed from the time of your SIL's pregnancy announcement to now. Wow. :)

  6. So incredibly true. Pre-IF I was such a different person! I could see objectively that being childless would be really hard when you want to be a mom, but it didn't really touch my heart. Kind of a window into suffering in general, I think - unless you go through something yourself, you can never really "get it." But on the other hand, empathy goes a long way! I love that my friends who are definitely not IF try their hardest to enter my world, even when it's depressing and sorrowful.

  7. "I won't blame that other person for their inability to see the world through IF-colored glasses." Such a good idea, so hard to do! Thanks for the inspiration to assume the best in others, even though it's hard when they don't understand life through the IF perspective.

  8. Hi Chella, it's so nice to "meet" you! I've been perusing your blog and just wanted to say that I really appreciate your honesty and all of your awesome insight. This post, in particular, jumped out to me...before IF these movie scenes really didn't have any impact on me and now re-viewing them hit me like a ton of bricks! Pre IF I was no different from the people around me who occasionally make hurtful comments...never intending to hurt anyone but just not being any the wiser. Such a great insight and something I need to remember when those situations arise. God bless you on your journey, know I will be praying for you and your husband!