Wrestling with Infertility, Part 2

Good afternoon, everyone. We’re back with part two of our first interview with Sandra Crawford Williamson. If you haven’t yet, we recommend that you read part one. Otherwise, read on!

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4word: What kind of support system did you have going through this?

Sandra: That's an interesting question because I found that going through fertility issues can be very lonely. It comes with such shame that women don't want to talk about it with one another.

In fact, as driven, corporate women who have been successful in lots of areas, it’s hard to now find ourselves in a situation we cannot control, that no amount of research, work or money can fix. Only God can, which is very hard on our independence. As a result, we don't open about it to other women because goodness forbid we be seen by others as weak, especially by our coworkers and business partners.

And then husbands don't know what to say, so they say nothing. My precious husband was there by my side, but when you're all jacked up on hormones, feeling like a failure because you cannot conceive or carry a healthy baby to term, you aren't the nicest, most open person.

In fact, as I experienced my four miscarriages, it was very hard for me to remember that he was going through the losses too. Some days, I know I made it all about me, and God would always pull me back to me that it was something we were going through together.

I also found that my parents’ generation was not really equipped to deal with their children going through infertility. I actually hid my struggles from my parents.  Later, after I finally opened up, they were crushed. Honestly, I was glad that I didn't share it with them at the time because I don't think I could have handled my parents' emotions too.

4word: So were you able to talk to anyone: friends, family, other women at your church?

Sandra: There were two women to whom I could talk. One was my sister, Sharon, who had sailed through three pregnancies and had three beautiful children.  Another was a fabulous lady from church, Janet, who had been a mentor to me.

I found that when I did try to connect with other women who shared my struggle, because their own experiences were so unique and personal, it was hard for us to relate in great detail. They were very kind and understanding but my sister and Janet were the two with whom I could be angry at God, pray, wallow, feel sorry for myself, etc.

The key is that the person in whom you are confiding has absolute acceptance for any feeling or thought of yours and complete surrender to God's will so that she can only come from the perspective of "this is God's will for your life so now let's learn to accept it and cope.”  Those two qualities make all the difference.

4word: For our readers who have loved ones going through the same thing, how can they support them?

Sandra: Don't stop calling! Even if she does not answer or is snippy with you and says things like, "You’ll never understand.” Send cards with supportive scripture.  Take a meal or even just a Starbucks drink that lets her know you are thinking of her.

One of my miscarriages was far enough along that we knew it was a girl. We had named her Kathleen. I would have liked for someone to acknowledge her as a real little girl. One sweet friend from work gave me a Willow Tree figurine of a mommy holding a little baby with an encouraging scripture written on the bottom. That meant a lot to me, and I treasure it to this day.

My sister's husband, Tony, actually got on the phone with me and shared specific scripture that let me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Baby Kathleen was in heaven, that she would be waiting for me when I got there and that she would know who I am.  That meant the most to me at the time and to this day.

I do think it's tricky for co-workers to support each other like this because, in business, we want to move on professionally and not appear broken or weak.  However, private moments, emails, encouragement and gifts meant the world to me. I could still put on my brave face to the business world and not be the "victim" of infertility, but I knew that I was surrounded by support, kindness and patience. And I know they were there for me when I had a weak moment or just wanted to talk about it.