Waiting for Baby Bird

An Open Letter to My Fertile Family

An open letter to my fertile family

As we all gathered together around a cozy campfire to devour our roasted hot dogs, bowls of chili, and mounds of pasta salad, I could hear to the left talk of a nursery and the upcoming baby shower. Directly behind, I overheard someone discuss the struggles and joys of going from one child to two. To the right were your precious three and four-year old’s giggling together while you tried to bribe them into eating something other than their mouth-watering sugar cookie. And as I sat there, slowly eating my hotdog and listening to everyone’s conversations, I found myself going in and out of a trance as I watched my beautiful sister-in-law unknowingly rub her adorable baby bump.

With all that was going on around me, I could not help but take notice that each one of you is–well, very much fertile. Therefore, as I continued to scan the yard and listen to your conversations, a part of me wanted to be green with jealousy as conceiving seems to come easy and natural to all of you. Another part wanted to run and hide as I felt shame. Even embarrassment. Because my mind kept going towards the thought that maybe I have done something wrong to deserve this. Or that I am not deemed worthy or good enough to be a mother. Because why else am I so different from the rest of you? Why else am I having so much trouble?

It is usually in these moments when I feel jealousy, bitterness, anger, and shame that I want to retreat and feel sorry for myself. I want to crawl under the covers and bury my face into the pillows. Or be alone as I take a long hot shower and let the tears pour down my face. And on that particular day, it was no different. I wanted to leave. The empty field behind me and the woods before me looked inviting. And as difficult as this is to admit, I shamefully remember at one particular moment, where I wanted to jump up and scream before running off, “Would you please stop having babies!”

Goodness, I felt so guilty. It’s easy to get upset and not feel the slightest bit of guilt when you see a pregnant woman who doesn’t value their pregnancy. But to have anger? And jealousy? And bitterness (even for a second) overflow to you–my family memberswho I know have as much right to a child and who will cherish each one was disturbing for me. After all, you are the people I love the most. You are my brother, my sister-in-law, my cousins, aunts, and uncles. You are my flesh and blood.

And believe it or not, most days, walking through infertility or being around others who are experiencing the joys of parenting isn’t this hard.  It’s not always on my mind. Or a thought in my head. Honestly, it’s not.  And when it is?  It is usually just a hope-filled thought of “not yet” or “someday it will be my turn.” But then there are days like that one at the cookout. Days and events when I am surrounded by hundreds of moments, reminding me of what I am not.  And I feel alone. I feel different. I feel insecure. And I believe the lie that I am an outcast. A leper that no one, and I mean no one, understands or that anyone seems to truly care about the struggles my husband and I are going through.

But deep down, I know that’s not the case. It’s simply not true.

Because each of you knows about my struggle to conceive, you are compassionate towards our situation. In fact, I couldn’t ask for a better family that is as loving and supportive as you are to me. Not every family will send cards and text messages offering encouragement. But you do. And so I know without a shadow of a doubt that none of you would do or say anything to cause me more pain intentionally. Therefore please forgive me for those moments when I forget that your conversations about children and pregnancies are natural and normal. And please extend to me grace when I lose myself for a moment and become jealous of this season of life you are in. I don’t mean to. Honest, I don’t.

But sometimes, some days are just harder than others. 

The grief I experience over my circumstances can best be described as the rain. On some days, it’s like a light mist or sometimes a sprinkle. While other days, the grief comes pouring down on me like a quick, unexpected afternoon rainstorm. And when this happens, my emotions take over, and I get swept away.

I didn’t expect the grief to come and sweep me away that day. As I said, infertility was something I thought I had come to peace with. You know, a mist. Or, at best, a light sprinkle. But the shame, the embarrassment, the insecurity, and the awareness that I am different all surfaced, much like that unexpected afternoon storm. None of you noticed, though, right? Or at least I hope you didn’t. Because after four years of this war against infertility, I have learned to come prepared for these storms that rage within myself. I have learned to carry around an umbrella as I find refuge in the hope that this isn’t the end of my story. The curtain hasn’t closed. And God has a purpose and a plan for my long path to parenthood. I have learned to lean on Him during these moments rather than pull back or run to the woods. I’ve learned to whisper His name instead of words of envy. And most of all, I have learned that when the rain comes, to dance in it.

So, to my family members who continue to grow effortlessly and I continue to struggle, I want you to know that while there will always be conversations that cause a “sting,” I still want to hear you talk about them. I still want to watch you rub your belly, discuss your nursery plans, or talk about the struggles of parenting. This is your life right now. This is the beautiful season you are in, and I wouldn’t want myself or anyone else to miss out on a single second of it. So please, don’t worry about me. I’m okay. No, really, I am. I’ve got my umbrella and, hopefully, some awesome dance moves.

With all my love,

Kennedy's partyElisha

If you are struggling with infertility, I encourage you to write your own letter to your family members. Let them in on the struggles you face—the feelings you have and the pain you feel. Just make sure you do it in love and with grace.

I would love to connect with you personally, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then come find Waiting for Baby Bird on the public Facebook page or join me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you!

If you are looking for a faith-based infertility community of other women who “get it,” then head over to the *PRIVATE* Waiting for Baby Bird Support group for hope + encouragement. There you will find opportunities to ask for prayer, watch *LIVE* encouragement videos from me, author of “Waiting for Baby Bird,” enter into exclusive giveaways, as well as be able to share your heart with others on the same path, and so much more! So what are you waiting for? Find us here!

141 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Fertile Family”

  1. Thank you for putting my feelings into words. The waves of emotion that accompany the infertility struggle can be so volatile and unexpected at times. Thank you for your openness!

    1. Hey there! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I am so glad I was able to put your feelings into words! Please know that you are not alone and I am here for you! xo

    1. Hey girl! You are by far not alone! And I wanted to let you know (and had planned on commenting on your blog) but I loved your post about the rain! Sooo good! Love you sugars! xo

  2. This is such honest, open writing — every single one of us that has walked this path knows exactly what you’re feeling. It sounds like you have a wonderful and supportive family. Please grant yourself a little of that grace when you’re having a stormy day. The feelings are natural, the storms pass, and your family knows that you love them!

  3. For some women like me, Christmas time is the most joyous and wonderful time of the year. We love the carols, the lights, the smells, smiles, and to be reminded of our salvation through the miracle of the immaculate birth. We enjoy Christmas right along with the rest of the natural world, but for some women, our joy is fractured. Our smiles are incomplete. We are fighting a strange and foreign feeling of simultaneous happiness and torment.
    But we don’t talk about it. Christmas is a time for happy things and people. We would never want to bring anyone down during the Holidays, so we smile. We are GREAT at smiling.
    We are amazing, talented, wonderful women with literally MOUNTAINS of love to give – and we are childless.
    Christmas time is very merry, and we can get though much of it with a genuine smile. But even if we are not thinking about our childlessness at Christmas, it seems like everyone else is. Then there’s the onslaught of comments:
    “When are you guys going to have kids already?”
    “Why don’t you guys just adopt? Oh you are trying to adopt? What’s taking so long?”
    “Why don’t you just call my Aunt? She adopted 15 years ago and had no troubles at all!”
    “Well I have too many children; do you want to borrow one of mine?”
    We know you mean well. And the truth is that we like telling our story and even our struggles to people who take the time to care. But these comments seem to only come in passing and in awkward conversations that only have about a two-minute lifespan.
    “Hey, whatever happened to your adoption?” is not a good question to ask as you bump into someone on the street or by the break room.
    What people should realize about adoption is that it’s messy and often times horrible. It’s misleading and confusing. It’s expensive and often fails. It places bizarre strains on your marriage that were never there before.
    Yes; sometimes a family will luck-out and have absolutely zero problems adopting. That is not the norm. Trust me, you only hear about those stories because the folks who are having trouble don’t want the world to know about it.
    You won’t see an Instagram about the little girl they were supposed to adopt, but that adoption fell through because the child had undiagnosed brain damage and the hope of finally becoming a family was savagely ripped away.
    You won’t hear about the birth family that promised a child to a couple and then “changed their minds,” as is their legal right to do.
    You won’t hear about couples who spend thousands of dollars and months of time on an International adoption, only to be wait-listed for YEARS, or presented with children with serious mental handicaps as their only option to adopt.
    So….no. Childlessness is not a fun holiday topic. Unfortunately for childless women, it hits hard during the holidays; and I mean HARD.
    Having a “Christmas Morning” with your family is sort of like a National Geographic’s story. You’ve read about it, you know it exists, you can hear it taking place in your neighborhood. Maybe you even go to a home to observe someone else’s family Christmas. But you can’t experience it. It’s not yours; it only belongs to other people.
    And then there’s the rage that occurs every time you hear someone COMPLAIN about their kids at Christmas! GRRRRRRR:
    “My kid is so spoiled.”
    “Uh, I can’t wait for them to go back to school.”
    We understand that there are bad moments in parenting, and all parents have a right to vent. But my goodness isn’t that the kind of conversation society should discourage at Christmas? Why is it taboo for childless women to talk about the gigantic holes in their hearts at Christmas, but it’s totally en-vogue to complain about your kids to anyone who will listen?
    Finally, there’s the internal struggle and the tendency to look up at the sky, shake your fist, and say, “why God, why?”
    But here’s where I think some real healing takes place, and here’s what I want to share with women who are childless during the holidays.
    I have a friend – a really great friend – who takes the time to be truly interested and invested in my adoption story. When she asks about my adoption, she knows the answer is going to take a long time. She knows the answer may involve tears, and she always allots time to pray and truly support me. I confided in this friend that I was confused as to why God would allow these things to happen to me, or even worse, cause these things to happen to me.
    Why, God? Why are we infertile? Why do our adoptions keep falling through? Why do you build us up, just to let us down? Why do you put potential adoption matches in our path, just to take them away? Why shouldn’t two good people have kids, when so many bad people do?
    Her answer astounded me.
    She said, “Asking God these questions can be equated to asking God why there is suffering in the world. There are children in America going hungry each day. There are children oversees dying for every malady imaginable. Mothers are stricken with disease and die. Fathers are killed in war. This is a world of suffering, and YOU LIVE IN THE WORLD. Your suffering is a part of a global fallen world that suffers. Childlessness may be your cross to bear, but everyone else in the world bears his or her own cross and suffers in his or her own way. God chooses to keep the answer to that question a mystery. We don’t know why there is suffering and why you are suffering. We only know that your numerous blessings are real, evident, and can be counted.”

  4. This was beautiful and amazing. I know all of your family has to just live you. I know you have to be that favorite Aunt. Remember God’s time is always perfect as well as his plan.

  5. This was me last weekend. Thank you so much for posting this and putting it into words. Trying to dance in the rain, but some days are hard

  6. Thanks Elisha for this beautifully outspoken post. It’s exactly what my heart silently cry out loud while in my family circle… God bless you for being such a great comfort to a lot of woman walking through the path of Hannah…

  7. I found your blog today (have spent the last hour devouring it) and am weeping as I have heard God’s gentle voice through your posts. God has blessed you with such strength, awareness, and ability to humbly speak love and peace through your words. Thank you for your encouragement. You are a blessing.

    1. awe! Thank you so much, Diana, for this sweet comment. It has encouraged my heart to keep writing and sharing His love. Because as you can imagine, the enemy tries to shut me up every.single.day with whispers of doubt and discouragement. So thank you! And I’m always just an email away if you need me 🙂

  8. I really needed to hear this today. I had a baby shower yesterday and two pregnancy announcements this week which was a little more than I can handle. It’s nice to know that others are feeling the same way I do. So thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Holy cow!
    I completely sympathize with all you said! This is what I’ve felt for years. I just attended a baby shower for my supervisor today and it was rough, and I really wanted to run out of their screaming and crying but I made it through the whole thing and moved on.
    I’ve been thinking about writing a letter to my family both immediate and in laws. Most thoughts I’ve had about it have me being not so nice. But your letter really puts into perspective and has provocted me to look at how my attitude is towards both families and friends. It’s hard to explain but I usually have no problem with my family but it’s with friends that the jealousy and bitterness are so apparent?! Like to the point where I don’t want to speak to them anymore because I feel they offended me by getting pregnant, which is totally irrational I know.
    I really do appreciate your honesty because I am now going to do some soul searching on some of the things you talked about, because I want to honestly say those same things.
    Thank you!
    God bless!

  10. Reblogged this on Unexpected Realities and commented:
    If I could change the title of this to “An Open Letter to My Fertile Church Family,” I would.

    I love our church. I love the teaching, the music, the people, and the support. But I won’t pretend that there isn’t a Sunday that goes by that I don’t feel the “sting.” I teach your children during Sunday School. I watch them run energetically down to the front of the auditorium to be prayed for before Children’s Church. I watch their baptisms. I (used to) help plan church-wide baby showers. These things squeeze my heart. Our church is extremely blessed to be able to easily grow their families. And I know it hasn’t been that way for everyone, but for the most part we are a very fertile church family.

    But that “something extra” in the communion juice that people joke about? I must not be drinking it. Am I picking the wrong cup? Or that elder that people have pray for them and then they are pregnant a couple of months later? We must getting prayed for by the wrong person.

    I say these things in jest. But this feeling of “being different” that she describes, is very much real. I have been standing at a church picnic and been completely overwhelmed by the feeling of shame and embarrassment, watching everyone else’s kids running around and having fun.

    But I love your children. And I love you. I know you would change our circumstances if you could. And we know you are praying for us.

    Because each of you know my struggle to conceive and all of you are compassionate towards our situation. In fact, I couldn’t ask for a better family that is as loving and supportive as you are to me. Not every family will send cards and text messages offering encouragement. But you do. And so I know without a shadow of a doubt that none of you would do or say anything to intentionally cause me more pain. So please forgive me for those moments when I forget that your conversations about children and pregnancies are natural and normal. And please extend to me grace when I lose myself for a moment and become jealous of this season of life you are in. I don’t mean to. Honest, I don’t.

    But sometimes, there are days that are just harder than others.”

  11. Thank you for this post. I am the mother of a beautiful little boy. We tried three long years before receiving our little blessing. And he is truly a wild, unruly, loveable little blessing! My dream was always to have children close in age so that they could be friends early on, but now I’m going through secondary infertility, and let me tell you, it is just as painful and devastating if not more so than the first time. I am not taking my motherhood status for granted or ignoring the fact that I do already have a child, but the children that I want to have is what I am mourning for right now. I am deeply discouraged right now, and trying to find that “umbrella” you spoke of. Thank for speaking out.

  12. Being alive in this world with fertile women in close proximity is the hardest societal norm I’ve ever had to endure. And not many women get it. Thanks for getting it and for sharing your pain so poignantly. I straddle that line of shame, envy and hope often. All I can do is pray.

  13. I sat at work, tears falling on my desk, as I read this letter. Because it is my story, to the letter. We just had a big family dinner this weekend. My husband and I sat there and watched all the littles play, and held the newest babies. (It’s a large family, there are babies EVERYWHERE). Another cousin made the exciting announcement that they are expecting. And while I’m happy for all of them, it’s a stinging reminder of what has not happened for us in the last 4 years. No one understands the roller coaster of emotions unless you’ve been there. And I’m there… *someday*

  14. Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggle and how you can be jealous and angry at your family. This letter is so close to my story and it is comforting to know others are going through these roller coaster of emotions as well. My brother-in-law got his girlfriend pregnant and she already had 3 kids, and my other brother-in-law got his girlfriend (now wife) pregnant and they have 5 kids. The girlfriend complained one time to the family about how she hated her body after the last baby was born and can’t seem to lose the baby weight. I wanted to yell at her and scream that sorry you have that problem but guess what, be grateful you can have children and they are all healthy, happy kids. I’m the only daughter-in-law that doesn’t have kids and my mother-in-law doesn’t let me forget that. They don’t know we’re struggling and how much I blame myself and my body for not being able to get pregnant as easy as my sister-in-law and future sister-in-law. I pray that one day it will happen for us (and you and all the others as well), but until then I hope my in-laws can understand why sometimes I don’t want to celebrate or hear about some of the things about the kids because it is a constant reminder that we don’t have any.

    1. Oh, hun! I am so sorry for all that you are going through. I know it’s so hard to hear of others receiving blessings while we still wait…so hard. I also know how hard it is to hear of other’s complain when we wish we had that very thing to complain about. What has helped me in these moments is to remember myself that if I wasn’t in this situation would I potentially complain about the very same things? Possibly. And if not, I remind myself that I probably complain about A LOT of things others wish they had. These thoughts help me change my perspective and not hold onto anything that might hurt a relationship or even my own heart. Also, I want to encourage you to talk to your inlaws about what you are going through. You mentioned that you hope one day they will understand why you are feeling or thinking the things that you do but until they know what it is you are going through they can’t step into your shoes and see how it feels, ya know? So let them in on your thoughts and how you are struggling to grow your family. They might be sensitive to your needs or they might not…but until they know and have the opportunity we can’t expect people to give us what we need unless they know we need it. I am praying for you right now. I am asking that the burden you are carrying around be lifted…your heart feels lighter…your womb is filled…and the people around you come to understand the weight of it all. xoxo

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