Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is empathy enough?

There's something that's been on my mind and I didn't know how else to express it. I hope somebody can understand.

Life isn't fair.

And at this stage I find life isn't fair for a lot of people. Especially those who are trying with all they have to start a family.

Some of my readers already know that this was not a problem for Ryan and I. William was our "out of the blue" blessing and Alanna, though planned, first showed up months sooner than we expected.

My pregnancies were the dream, text book pregnancies. No morning sickness. No complications. Measuring where I should, when I should. No incredibly excessive weight gain (I actually lost weight in my 2nd pregnancy). During my pregnancy with Alanna there was some concern for a few weeks about a hematoma found on the ultrasound and placenta prevera (sp?) but both cleared up within those weeks so there was no more fear. Even my deliveries went well... pretty much... you know... Will coming out blue and all because of the cord wrapped around his neck.

The more people I meet and come in contact with, the more I realize our story of getting pregnant and having safe pregnancies and deliveries is not necessarily the norm.

I hear of infertility. I hear of complications. I hear of babies dying before they are born. Others dying soon after. Years and years of trying. Medications. Testing. Procedures.

And I'm sad for them.

I want to hug them and tell them I know how they feel... but I really don't. Is empathy enough? I really, truly, do feel for these women but I don't fully understand because I've never walked in their shoes. My heart breaks over and over with each new story I hear or read.

I've never waited month after month with shattered hope each time with the realization it didn't happen... again.

I haven't suffered from the loss of a miscarriage.

I didn't have that dread hanging over my head that there was a good possibility my child would not make it or would have serious health or developmental problems once he/she was born.

I've never even seen a real NICU.

I may not have personally experienced these situations but for some reason I "feel" for the women going through them. I hold out hope for them that everything will work out. The end of their story is untold, but I pray that the right people, doctors, friends, etc. surround and hold them up through their times of trial, disappointment, hurt, and loss. I pray for success. I pray that, somehow, these women can have the children they desire.

I feel inadequate trying to provide comfort, but I want express that my empathy is STRONG, so very strong! I try and hope people can sense how genuine I am.

For those of you in the same position as me... or those who relate more to those I feel empathy for... what have you found to be the best way to be supportive?



  1. When someone experiences the loss of a child (born or unborn), sometimes all you can do is say "I am so so sorry", and hold them (if possible). Sometimes empathy is enough, sometimes it isn't. I do know, from personal experience, that when you tell someone that you're praying for them, it means so incredibly much.

    I so appreciate all your prayers during my pregnancy with Daphne - more than you know. *hugs*

  2. As someone who has struggled with infertility, I am happy that you haven't. I'm happy that your pregnancies were great. You've had to deal with stuff, like Will's apraxia. That's stressful and worrying for you as his mom. I think that just being there, praying and giving hugs when you can is great. Just keep being you. Your empathy comes through:)

  3. I felt the same way, I still do. I had some complications and NICU stays, but I have 3 healthy kids, 2 of whom came all on their own plan. I even felt guilty for a while. The Annoyed Army Wife did a guest post for me on my blog about what we *could* do to support someone struggling with infirtility, it helped me understand how I could express my empathy without sounding condescending. http://kimberleymills.blogspot.com/2011/08/guest-post-by-annoyed-army-wife-what-i.html