I love to collect stories and highlight them on allamericanmom.net of how we can be a friend to others in affliction. Meet my friend Leighann. She hasn’t ever experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, but she did walk alongside as her best friend- Kathryn walked that walk and fought that opponent. I think this is an important perspective for us to read. This story shows us that friends feel shame when they can easily get pregnant and you can’t & that our friends truly grieve for us when we are down on our knees in the mud-pit of life. Our friends are also our biggest cheerleaders. Thanks girls for sharing your story with us and showing us how to support, pray, cheer, and accept that sometimes you’ve got to wait. And thanks also Leighann for filling my mouth full of cookies when I went through my miscarriages.
Being the Cheerleader While Your Best Friend Fights Infertility
My best friend and I met 10 years ago at my sister’s basketball game. I asked if I could braid her beautiful blonde hair and the rest was history.
In the 10 years of knowing her, we fettuccine alfredoed a guy’s car, scourged bathroom wallpaper, survived bad relationships, ate unfortunate mounds of raw cookie dough, danced until we thought our toes would fall off, lived together in two cities, ran countless miles, almost got kicked out of intramural basketball games in college, survived a would-be human trafficking taxi ride, prank ordered every fast food chain drive-thru within a 30 mile radius, went on several road trips, and much much more.
We experienced life together – college, careers, engagements, new homes, and marriages.
You know what they say – first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes so and so with the baby carriage. I was the first to start pushing the baby carriage. When a positive pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions, she was the first person I called. She, in a panic, told her boss an elaborate story that landed me in a proverbial car wreck, and came straight over to be my person (for Grey’s Anatomy fans, I was Yang and she was Meredith).
Fast forward a little.
I had a one year old, and I was exhausted. My world centered around this little blonde headed, brown eyed boy, who kept my OCD on cartwheel mode. She and her husband were trying to get pregnant on their own without success, and I said “encouraging” things like, “Are you sure you want to have kids this soon? “ and “You should enjoy being married for a few more years” and “Go travel and take lots of pictures for me.”
More time elapsed.
I was reliving childhood memories at the zoo and aquarium and trick or treating and birthday parties with my two year old.
She was taking pills and getting shots from her husband.
One night I convinced her to go to a basketball game with me, but due to her strict hormone schedule, I had to agree to give her a shot. I sat in the middle of a girl’s locker room, watched her pull out enough drugs and needles to land us in jail, and mentally prepared myself for sticking a long needle in my best friend’s butt.
That situation, so common place to her after months of it on end, changed me.
It’s one thing to know what your friend is going through and pray for her and love her, it’s another thing to stick a needle in her.
More time passed.
My son turned three and a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. We weren’t trying to have another child. In fact, I was trying to figure out how to avoid pregnancy without being on birth control. I paced and prayed and prayed and paced, and then I called my best friend. I knew how much it would hurt her, but I also knew that she loved me and would put on a brave and happy face for me.
She wore that face well for 9 months.
She helped me tell my sister that I had a bun in my oven by placing a hot dog bun in her own oven. (You can imagine my sister’s confusion.)
She threw me an elaborate baby shower and bought me my first pandora bracelet with charms representing my children. She was there at the hospital when my daughter was born and again at home, binge watching my favorite shows right beside me while I breastfed.
Meanwhile, she was going through IUI procedures that were failing. I watched my friend start to crumble a little, in small amounts, every day.
And then I waged war. I had to fight for her when she couldn’t fight on her own. I became her cheerleader, the annoyingly cheerful and loud kind. I threw God’s word at her left and right, I sent encouraging messages, I quoted the prayers my son was praying for her, and I got my church behind her praying. I made God weird promises like “I’ll sing solos in church if you’ll give her a baby” and I frequently told the devil where to go and how to get there.
Another year passed.
My son was in Pre-K. He was learning to read and creating art projects that I proudly hung on my fridge. My daughter was a year old and making mischief at every turn.
My best friend, however, was going through IVF procedures. The first IVF round produced twin embryos.
She arranged for my husband to video my reaction as my son told me to call in at work because she was in a car accident. I called her immediately, and we squealed and cried and cried and squealed. I asked her politely to name her twins after me.
The next day, I photographed their special news. I made signs that said “future mommy/daddy” and “due in November.” She requested a picture with my son, her prayer warrior. She hung those pictures on a string in their would-be nursery and invited their families over to announce the big news.
A few days later the doctor called and said it was an unsuccessful chemical pregnancy. She took those pictures and a letter I had written to my future twin nephews/nieces and buried it in her yard.
I baked cookies and grabbed my pom poms again. This would not break her, I wouldn’t allow it.
She painstakingly went through two more IVF procedures unsuccessfully. After the third failed try, something changed. I found myself really angry with God. I gave him an earful and he listened, and then he started talking to me through her.
Somehow, this woman who had lived in an emotional desert for years upon years, renewed my hope again and strengthened my faith.
In her tattered uniform and pitiful pom poms, she had become my cheerleader.
Fast forward to present day. My best friend is now a mother to a beautiful, brown headed, brown eyed adopted daughter, and despite her choosing to forgo naming her after me, she looks just like me.
This is the first year my best friend won’t sit at home on Mother’s Day, avoiding church – the first year I won’t be sending her a message saying “I know God’s plan is for you to be a mother, just keep waiting and wishing and hoping.”
This year, my best friend gets to celebrate, and guess who will be there on the sidelines waving pom poms like a banshee? Her annoying cheerleader.
God has a beautiful way of reminding us that his timing is never our own. I knew all along his plan was to give my best friend a child, but I didn’t realize that his plan for her life also included me.
He wanted me to learn about faithfully waiting; there is a time for barrenness and a time for babies, but regardless, he still needs me to cheer.
Leighann Giles is a wife, full time mommy, and part time photographer. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, writing, gardening, and working with her youth group at church
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