When I was in High School, I was taught a lesson that I often think about in my journey with infertility.
In my class, the teacher held a small bag of chips. He didn’t allow us to touch it, he just wanted us to look at it. He asked if the bag was full. From looking at it, it looked like a typical filled bag of unopened chips, so the whole class agreed it was full. He questioned us again, “are you sure, how can you tell by just looking at it?”
This follow up question led to a discussion comparing the bag of chips to us personally or individuals around us. From a simple glance, most people look happy, content, confident, they may even look like they have the perfect life. But most times, there is something going on you can’t see from the surface. Sometimes people feel empty inside, even though from the outside they look completely fine.
Now I’m not saying everyone is going through terrible trials, but quite often we don’t see the back story of different challenges someone is going through, it may not take up there whole life, but everyone goes through different levels of trials in life.
Growing up, I never thought of infertility as a reason why couples weren’t having kids. I just figured they were waiting for the “right time.” It wasn’t something that seemed hard for my Mother and Dad, as they were able to start having kids right away. My brother and his wife never really struggled, and my sister and her husband were just fine in starting their family. But then again, I never really saw or heard the back story, perhaps they did struggle to have kids, I just never knew it.
There were times I remember asking my married co-workers if they were going to start having kids soon. They had been married for sometime, why wouldn’t they start a family?
I wish I had known then what I fully understand and know now.
One of my struggles with PCOS and infertility is sometimes having the “symptoms” of being pregnant, without actually being pregnant. I’ve put on weight in my lower abdomen, making me look pregnant when wearing a fitted shirt, I regularly feel nauseated in the morning, and I haven’t had a regular cycle in years.
I’ve had multiple times when sweet older ladies in my church will come up and ask when my baby is due. Or they’ll say, you’ve put on some weight, are you expecting? Each time feeling like a knife is stabbing my heart.
It’s hard for me to be angry in situations like this, because I know they are doing it with the kindest of hearts, but that doesn’t keep the painful ache and strongest desire to want to say yes, I am expecting! Or my baby is due in (fill in the blank) months. But right now, I can’t.
That simple lesson of a bag of chips has taught me, 10 years later, not to judge or assume I know what someone is going through, because most likely I have no idea.
I’ve learned to approach them with the attitude that will help them feel like I’m not judging and making assumptions about what they are going through. I’ve had many surprising experiences talking to people, realizing that they share similar trials, but are going through a different journey than I am in their trials.
I know that people I’ve known my whole life, who have seen that I’ve put on weight and haven’t had kids yet make their silent assumptions about me, but most don’t know fully what I struggle with, and that’s okay. The people closest to me know, understand, love and support me through it all.
But I also know that individuals who may not struggle with infertility have their own set of trials they are challenged with and they may look at me thinking I live such a great happy life (which I most definitely do) but they don’t see where I’m challenged as well.
Rather than figure the grass is always greener on the other side, get the watering pot and start taking care of your side and make it just as green, and don’t always assume their bag of chips is full!
Thanks for reading, go eat a bag of chips (like Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar, best chips ever!) and have a great weekend! 🙂
love, hannah jane