The phone rang; I didn't recognize the name or number on the caller ID, so I handed the phone to Husbandido. (I intensely dislike talking to strangers on the phone. I have no problem happily chattering away to friends and family on the phone or talking to strangers in person. Just one of my many quirks, I guess.) I went back to doing whatever it was that I had been doing; washing and putting away dishes, I think. He seemed to be on the phone a while, though, so I quietly asked him who it was. It was that older couple from church; they had seen us at Mass the previous Sunday but hadn't had a chance to come over and see how we were doing, so they called. It could have seemed nosy (or nebby, as Pittsburghers would say), but it didn't. Their compassion and willingness to support us and suffer with us leaves us feeling more like we have a third set of parents. They are truly living out a spirit of adoption, which is a tremendous gift to us. Especially knowing how many others suffer from a lack of support, we acknowledged how fortunate we are to have generally supportive family and friends.
It got me thinking about some of the other gifts we have been given by family and friends. A while ago I was chatting online with an old friend. We've known each other since high school; there have been times that we were very close and times we haven't been as close, but we have managed to maintain our friendship despite very different directions our lives have taken. I was telling her about our IF struggles and some of the side effects I've been going through. In the middle of our discussion, she volunteered to serve as a surrogate for us (I think her words were "As far as I know, I have a perfectly good womb that I'm not using."). My response was a simple "thank you." While we wouldn't use a surrogate, what she was really saying is "You're my friend; you're hurting, and I want to help however I can." To her, this was something she could do to help. My friend isn't Catholic, and it wasn't the right time to get into the reasons why we wouldn't use a surrogate. It was the right time to acknowledge and appreciate the gift she was offering.
It's the same type of gift we receive whenever someone offers to pray for us. Regardless of whether they're Catholic, or even Christian, their offers of prayers are a gift; they are trying to intercede on our behalf with the divine, however they see it. Months ago, when talking to an old friend (and former fiancé, but that's an entirely different story), we were comparing notes on our fertility problems. He and his wife have tried twice, gotten positive pregnancy tests twice, and twice had the pregnancy be a anembreyonic (a blighted ovum). He would like children, but his wife is reluctant to try again. It got to the point where they were living more like roommates than spouses, to the point where he considered divorce. They managed to improve their relationship, and he concluded that he wouldn't find someone else who suited him as well as his wife and that a disparity in their desire for children wasn't reason for divorce. Though he was obviously hurting from their situation, he listened and offered compassion for what we have been willing to do in our attempts to have children. He asked if I was okay with him praying to his deity for us (he is now pagan, was formerly Catholic). It wasn't the time or place for a theological discussion, especially not one of whether Catholicism considers pagan gods demons. Prayer was one of the few things he felt he could offer. (That doesn't mean I can't hope and pray that he will someday return to Christ, which is, again, an entirely separate issue.) Saying "Can I pray for you?" is really a way of saying "I care and want to help."
We finally received the results of the re-test of my thyroid. Back in September my anti-thyroid antibodies were 288.8, where normal is 9.0 or less. Because of those levels, consistent with Hashimoto's thyroiditis (a diagnosis I had been given previously), our doctor recommended I go gluten-free, which he expected would bring that value down. Upon re-test, after 9 months of being gluten-free, my anti-thyroid antibodies were 287.6, which isn't an appreciable difference. To say that I had mixed emotions at that result would be an understatement. I hadn't felt any different after going gluten-free; while I had lost a few pounds, the results had generally been underwhelming, compared to the results others have had. After some debate, we decided that I should go back to consuming gluten, since removing it had not had much effect. In some ways being gluten-free worsened my eating habits, as it became the focus of what I could and couldn't eat. I had expected being gluten-free to help, but I am trying to see the lack of effects from it as a gift. I am now much more focused on portion control and generally eating better than I was before. I could be upset about the lack of results - I wasn't the biggest fan of going gluten-free; instead I am choosing to take it as a gift, of again being able to eat food that I missed.