an open letter

To the expectant mothers in my life (with love):

I know this is a very special time for you – a time filled with excitement, anticipation and unbounding love for your baby soon to enter the world. This time is for you — a chance to celebrate, to contemplate, to prepare. This is your moment to delight in the joy of expectancy, to embrace the promise of parenthood, to exude radiance. To rejoice in feeling life grow inside with every fluttering heartbeat, every kick.

Soon you will enter the sacred sisterhood of women who become mothers, forever transforming their lives. Soon your arms will hold new life, as you bask in the warm glow of your child’s beaming eyes.  Soon your heart will fill when you hear his/her laughter, the tight grasp around your finger.  You will marvel at the wondrous little being you created out of love, in an act more natural than any in the world.

And yet. As you enter perhaps the most magnificent time in your life, we are finding our way through crisis, trying to navigate a life-altering journey with persistence and grace. We don’t know where it will lead us, how it will end. Our future is uncertain. I don’t expect many people to understand what we are going through. But I would hope that you would try to appreciate that it is real. It is crushing. It underlies and permeates every aspect of our lives, everything we do. As impossible as it is to imagine, as hard as it is to see, and as challenging as it is to live, it is our life and our story. Every day.  And it is staggering. Such a primal urge, a natural instinct; such deep desire — unmet, unfilled, unlived.  Beyond reach.

The truth is, unless you’ve experienced the sorrow of repeated failures or a devastating loss in your quest for a child, I don’t think you can know what I feel. Unless your dreams for a family have been shattered time after time, no matter how hard you pray or will them to come true, you can’t know the tremendous hole that lies deep my heart. Unless you’ve been defeated by the consistent betrayal of your own body, unless you’ve felt broken to the core, you can’t know the ache of my empty womb as time moves on…

But as my friend and loved one, I would hope that you can open your heart and mind to try to appreciate where I’m coming from, where I am. I hope that you can understand I may need time and space to heal, to deal. That you will not take it personally or take offense when I can not join your celebration. That with love and compassion you might try to understand that this is not about you. (I know, I said before it’s all about you, but this part is about me.)  I sincerely hope you can accept that my actions and emotions reflect my own affliction, and not my feelings about you or your child.

I will wholly embrace your baby into this world with blessings and an open heart.  But just as my joy for you is not diminished by my own suffering, my pain is not diminished by sharing your joy. My heart still aches, my arms long to be filled, and my womb lies empty, still…

Perhaps we’re both incapable of seeing beyond our own experience at this moment in time. Understandable. But tell me, if I can find joy in my heart for you in my time of crisis, why is it so hard for you have compassion in your heart for me in your time of joy?

~ by luna on December 14, 2007.

53 Responses to “an open letter”

  1. This is so powerful. I know exactly how you feel. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently. You’ve done us all a great service with this post.

  2. I found you through a link at Coming2terms. This is the letter that I hope is tucked into many cards this holiday season. It is very well stated and so truthful. I am past this stage in my life but I wish you had written this when I was going through the 8 years of hell trying to start our family. It says all that I was thinking. Beautifully done.

  3. I am speechless. This is so well written and conveys so much. I am sure I will be rereading this in the future.

  4. I wanted to leave a comment with a user name you can actually track back to my blog (if you feel like it). As a warning – I am newly pg using donor eggs. It has been nearly 6 years, one early infant death, two miscarriages and lots of failed cycles. Now might not be the time for us to “meet” because of my current status, but I will be following your blog.

  5. I also found you through Pamela Jeanne. This is going into my “favourites” folder! Thank you!

  6. Wow. This is just a beautifully written “letter”. Just beautiful.

  7. What a beautiful post.

  8. […] An Open Letter highlighting the emotions felt by an infertile woman hearing about the pregnancies of others. […]

  9. What a wonderful sentiment..”But just as my joy for you is not diminished by my own suffering, my pain is not diminished by sharing your joy. My heart still aches, my arms long to be filled…”

    I absolutely love the way that cuts to the heart of it all.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  10. Your letter was so powerful, so moving, so hearwrenching. I just came back from seeing a friend’s new baby, I held him in my arms and smelled the top of his head. And I was so happy for them, they will be wonderful parents. I listened as the other mothers in the room shared their stories. I was silent. Except for the running monologue in my head that just said, you will never know what they are talking about. You will never feel the way they do. When will this pain go away?

  11. Thank you so much for saying what we want to say but can’t get the words out. Your letter was needed today. Thank you Thank you.

  12. Great letter! You said it so much better than I could have!

  13. Your post really touched me. Thank you for expressing so perfectly things that I, that we, all share.

  14. Thanks, I really appreciate this, it sums up my feelings exactly.

  15. A beautiful and thoughtful post. Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel.

  16. This is an absolutely beautiful letter.

  17. Thank you for saying what I know many of us have wanted to say but just couldn’t find the words with which to do it- I am always, or at least try to be, so happy for my friends and loved ones when they succeed, especially those that have been on this long journey of heartbreak and hell- but sometimes I have needed this letter, but I just couldn’t find the right words without feeling guilty, now I know I don’t have to-

  18. This is such a beautiful letter that I wished I had been able to copy and send to my ex-friend in 2002. She already had a baby and told me about her pregnancy of her second baby right after I just got done telling her we were told by our IF doctor that it would be a miracle that we would have a baby. I was crying at the time and she told me of her pregnancy right after this. I said all the right nice stuff to her, though I guess in between my tears I did not “act happy enough” for her. She wouldn’t take any of my calls, even when my husband was having all the surgeries to see if he even had any sperm in his testicle. After 8 or so phone calls, she screamed at me that I apparently could not be happy for her and that was not a good friend.

    You said in your letter exactly what occured….I could not be estatic in the moment due to my own just stated suffering, though it did not mean that I was not pleased for her, just sad for me (which I told her many times but was not heard). Your letter is so beautiful and true. If people could only have the compassion for other people who are hurting, and why is it expected the infertiles have the only obligation to be compassionate towards the pregnant person’s situation?

    Thank you.

  19. Beautifully written and eloquently expressed. It shows an incredible generosity of spirit as well. I have to admit that, unlike you, my joy for others *is* diminished by my pain. I hope that eventually I will be able to reach the point where it no longer is.

  20. I found this on Creme de la creme and I’m blown away by it. Thank you.

    I have 10 people in my life right now who are pregnant and only 1 who even approaches any kind of understanding, but you’re right, only if they’ve been through it do they truly understand.

    If this journey has taught me nothing else, it is compassion for things I have not experienced myself.

  21. That was beautiful. Thank your for sharing it.

  22. What a beautiful post. I just blogged about some of the same feelings a few days ago. Feeling like at times I am always alone in this, my pregnant friends wanting me to be so invested in them, but not reciprocating back or wanting to understand what I am going through… Thank you for sharing.

  23. Absolutely phenomenal. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for sharing that letter….


  24. That was really beautiful. It is amazing to me how people think that we as IFers are insensitve if we don’t want to attend baby showers or if we cry when someone else announces their pregnancy. But it’s ok for no one else to really take the time to grieve our losses, or understand our crisises.

    Really great post.

  25. I found this via the Creme de la Creme list – what a powerful letter you have written! This expresses so many of our IF feelings in such an eloquent manner. Thank you for being so utterly open and honest. XXX

  26. Just learned, after spending over $25000. that my eggs are abnormal and will never be pregnant with my own genetic child. The search for, health risks, and cost of egg donation, is something we are considering but all login points to adoption because that is a guarantee for another $20k or so…which is what the egg donation would cost us. No one gets it. No one seems to get that having an adopted child WILL fill my need to be a parent….no doubt i would love that child like it were my own…but…nothing in this world can replace the loss of never being able to experience the miracle of a life growing inside you, feeding off you, moving inside you… they just don’t get it. Even for the chance to be pregnant, even for a little while would feel better than never being able to experience it all. Thank you – for this posting. From the bottom of my empty womb.

  27. I came via the creme. That post is beautiful. It so eloquently describes the gut wrenching hurt that we go through. It describes how you feel and how you will accept a baby with open arms even though it is difficult. Thank you so much for posting this and including it in the creme list. (I received a baby shower invite recently, so this post hits me extra hard. I want to be happy yet I hurt too.) Thank you for understanding and writing about it in such a meaningful way.

  28. Your open letter says so many things that would have comforted me in the past. Writing it down, being able to read it, is a blessing and may you have peace with your words. Wonderful!
    I am at peace as our hearts said over 5 years ago to adopt. I “adopted” my step-children in my heart so have learned how much love is the same for any child.
    Alyson LID 01/27/06

  29. […] few days later, I wrote the post that had been swirling in my head for months — the things I wished I could say to the […]

  30. WOW – this one line hit me so hard.

    “But just as my joy for you is not diminished by my own suffering, my pain is not diminished by sharing your joy.”

    For years I have struggled to convey this precise thing to everyone around me – and you captured it in one brilliant sentence.

  31. What an amazing piece. You managed to pull the words and feelings that are all jumbled in my brain and make them make sense.

    Beautiful and heartbreaking.

    Much love.

  32. What a bridge this post is!

  33. Wow. This is beautiful and so encapsulates what I’d like to say to so many.

  34. Amen sister! I love it just as much as when I read it the first time.

  35. So very well said. This is the quintessential post for “bridging” us together. Well done.

  36. [from Bridges]
    m de p said…

    Wow. This is a beautiful post. It’s honest, gentle, true, and clearly heart-felt. Thank you for sharing it.

    August 7, 2008 9:29 AM

  37. [from Bridges]

    chicklet said…

    The start (I have to go to your site to read the end) totally grabbed me, cuz it is soooo how I’m feeling right now. It’s hard with so many around me becoming pregnant, and me, still not. Not ever maybe.

    Whoa, I’m depressing…

    August 7, 2008 1:16 PM

  38. [from Bridges]

    julia said…

    This is beautiful. Dare I hope it got through to those you needed to understand?

    August 7, 2008 1:27 PM

  39. [from Bridges]

    pamela jeanne said…

    You are such a gift to those of us who are walking the same path. You capture the raw, oh so raw emotion and the challenges that come with living the polar opposite of a pregnant woman who conceives with nary a thought to the state of her uterus or hormone levels. Thank you for sharing your story so openly and so honestly. It means more than you know…

    August 7, 2008 9:47 PM

  40. [from Bridges]

    luna said…

    I’m so glad we used this as my introductory post. it seems to have resonated, with infertiles at least. I still hope that someone else reading it might begin to understand (or at least appreciate) what we struggle with. every probably has a friend, sister, cousin, or daughter who is misunderstood as a result of infertility’s wrath.

    to answer julia’s question — no, I never had the opportunity to share the letter with the intended audience. those babies have all been born by now, and there’s still one I haven’t even met (but will this weekend)…

    yet I realized as I was writing the letter that it wasn’t only about the five pregnant close friends and family in my life at the time. it was really what I had wanted to say to so many people through our years of trying (and failing) to bring home a baby. it was very cathartic to just write it. and then the comments started coming in, and it was so wonderful and affirming to hear that others felt the same…

    August 8, 2008 12:09 PM

  41. Luna,

    I love you. You should just follow me around everywhere, so that every time someone says soemthing absolutely barbaric and stupid i can just look at you and say: “handle it”.

    you go girl. seriously.

  42. incoming links:

  43. [from Bridges]

    anymommy said…
    It’s an incredible post.

    You are getting through to me, Luna. I haven’t experienced infertility, but I have tried to be a friend to someone grieving and living experiences like yours. I have learned so much from reading your story and other’s as well. I know I’ve made mistakes (wince) supporting my friend – I hope I’ve gotten better at understanding.

    I have experienced adoption and I am so excited to share your journey with you.

    August 8, 2008 1:29 PM

  44. [from Bridges]

    kristin said…
    Wow…that is so powerful. It truly explains how I felt when we were experiencing loss after loss.

    August 8, 2008 3:25 PM

  45. [from Bridges]

    luna said…
    anymommy — the fact that you are trying to be a supportive friend and understand your friend’s struggle is nothing to wince at. that is more than most people do. it’s hard to know what to say, what not to say, etc. but a little compassion goes a long way. thanks for trying to understand.

    kristin — I’m glad you liked the post, and I’m so sorry for your losses.

    August 13, 2008 2:17 PM

  46. This is an amazing post. Thank you so much…I’ve actually shared it with a few folks.

  47. incoming links:

  48. Oh, Luna, your last two paragraphs are just… *perfect*. Even after making it to the other side, I still feel the sting, the pain of infertility. I still feel the crushing blows of the losses we suffered, and the dreams we chased. And no one who hasn’t been there ever understands that. I might just point them to your post next time.

  49. incoming links:

  50. […] a few good old posts (like this one) still get new hits and appear among the top posts of 2010 (even though they’re from […]

  51. […] ago, on your birthday, to write like I had never written before, and to keep on writing, getting posts like this one out, which had been harboring inside for years. I love you, my amazing M. And happy birthday once […]

  52. Thank you for linking to this in your newest post. It is perfect.

  53. […] the first six months I wrote 101 posts (including an all-time favorite from five years ago this week). By one year I had another 100 posts (201 total). Coincidentally, my first blogoversary […]

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