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Dear Emuna: Infertility Struggles

March 17, 2011 | by Emuna Braverman

Everywhere I turn there are young couples with babies. I just want it to be our turn.

Dear Emuna,

My husband and I have been married for a few years and have been struggling to have children. The community we live in is full of young couples and each already has a few children. I always try to remain happy and positive but it's getting to the point where I just want it to be our turn. Do you have any practical advice for us?

Sad and Without Kids

Dear Sad,

Although you ask for practical advice, I assume you are not requesting that I recommend infertility specialists and clinics. I also assume that you know that we believe that, while the Almighty controls the outcome, we need to make our efforts and that you are availing yourselves of all the current technological and medical breakthroughs.

I have a friend who got married later in life and was struggling to have a family. She described entering the waiting room of the specialist in the field and seeing it full of pregnant women. “Didn’t that depress you?” asked another friend. “On the contrary,” she responded. “It gave me hope. If all these women could overcome their infertility issues, then so could I.”

She did in fact give birth and her daughter is now a teenager. But I remember the story because it showed me the attitude we should strive to adopt towards life’s challenges.

It's a gift to see in other people’s joy an opportunity to share their joy and an opportunity for personal hope. Even if it isn’t our instinctive reaction, it’s an attitude we can cultivate.

We need to remind ourselves over and over and over again that 1) The Almighty runs the world, 2) The good fortune of someone else does not take away from us, 3) The good fortune of someone else is actually a cause for rejoicing and 4)Because the Almighty runs the world, He can do anything!

We need to try to make the most of this moment now and not focus on what we’d like to have in the future. The future is unknowable and possibly unattainable. All we have are the choices we make today, right now.

I don’t know if this is practical advice. I don’t know if it’s advice you can follow. I don’t know if it’s advice I can follow. But I do know it’s the right perspective. May we all strive to live with this awareness.

– Emuna

Related Article: Infertility and a Crisis of Faith

Dear Emuna,

You recently dealt with a married woman who doesn’t like to cook. I am the mother of a large family and I just hate going to the park. It’s stressful and strenuous, chasing them all over and trying to keep an eye on everyone. And I find pushing them on the swings just plain boring. But I’m afraid to admit this to anyone and I feel like a bad mother if we don’t go. Do you have any advice?

Closet Parkophobe

Dear Indoor Mom,

I certainly believe that you will all have a better time if you focus on activities that everyone can enjoy – reading books, doing projects, cooking together, even perhaps running errands…On the other hand, kids enjoy outdoor activities and it’s certainly helpful to everyone if they can run off some of their boundless energy!

A few practical suggestions:

1) If possible, install some playground equipment (it doesn’t have to be fancy, just sturdy and safe) in your backyard. That’s much easier than schlepping to the park, and, if your yard is fenced in, at some point you won’t have to provide constant supervision.

2) Invite other families to the park with you. If it doesn’t become quite the adult social experience you imagined, perhaps you can at least divide up the age groups so every mother isn’t torn in a million directions.

3) Find the small parks hidden away in little neighborhoods. They are frequently less crowded which makes it much easier to watch your children and gives them better and more frequent access to the equipment.

It doesn’t have to be an everyday activity but it is important to be realistic and accept that every job has a little drudgery in it. This is yours.

– Emuna

Dear Emuna,

I understand that schools have an interest in their students eating healthy lunches. It helps keep them more alert and focused on learning. I understand the sensitivities behind the no-peanut rule and I support removing the soda machine from the campus. But recently teachers at my daughter’s school have gotten more intrusive. They seem to inspect the lunches and then send home notes insisting on sandwiches, carrot sticks, fruit slices…I think they are overstepping their bounds. Should I speak up?

Independent Mom

Dear Independent Mom,

I completely empathize with you and I don’t think the teachers should be so invasive or impose their food philosophies on you. If your child is having a particular problem i.e. trouble concentrating or acting out and the teacher wants to explore if there is a connection to her diet, she should call you directly to discuss the issue. But if your child is well-behaved and focused, then I think you should – politely and respectfully of course – tell the teacher that you have already supervised (perhaps even prepared) and signed off on your daughter’s lunch and that while you appreciate her concern, you would prefer no more notes.

– Emuna

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