This is hard. I was one. I was once one of those walking bundles of pain and anguish who wants to hold a child so badly that it colors everything.
I have friends who say that “the infertile woman inside your head never goes away, even once you have children” … I disagree. I am deliriously happy with my one little girl. She came to us through the difficult process of adoption and I simply don’t know if I could love any child more than I love her. We have a wonderful relationship with her birth parents and our whole extended family embraced adoption as a perfectly understandable way of having a child join our home. (And yes, I’m simplifying. I can’t tell the whole adoption story here. If you want to know more, read the archives. Jan 2008 through now)
We are lucky. Very lucky. God Healed a lot of things before the adoption. Not the least of which was my heart.
But back when I was going through the whole IVF process, after the second try failed, a dear friend pointed me to a post by this woman named Missy. It was a Christmas post about how Mary hadn’t expected to give birth in a stable. It was powerful.
I liked her writing style. So I read more. Then I took a deep breath and contacted her. Even though you would think that someone with four kids under four wouldn’t really appeal to a woman who was aching to have a child. But we connected. What did she say that made me feel better? that made her my friend and not the enemy?
- She didn’t act like there was anything wrong with me as a person.
- She reminded me CONSTANTLY that God loved me and He had a plan and that it was Good.
- She listened EVERY time I needed to whine or cry.
- She CRIED WITH ME
- she didn’t claim to have answers to the physical struggles, but she applied the balm of scripture to my heart. Reminding me that God ALONE was my rock.
- And if we had lived in the same state she would have let me hold her kids. This one is big. Women who are infertile sometimes have a HUGE sense of restraint when it comes to holding children. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I was terrified of holding my arms out to a child. What if they laughed and ran away? I KNOW that toddlers do this all the time. But for a woman who already is feeling like maybe God is saying “you are unfit to be a mother” having a child run away from you can very nearly feel like a physical blow. So mostly I didn’t have the courage to hold my arms out. I would wait for someone to place their child in my arms. It was much safer. Much less chance of rejection.
So moms of many kids – show confidence in your infertile friends as people. Love them for who they are apart from the issue of childbearing.
Directors of worship – find ways to celebrate mothers day without making it about biological motherhood. Try celebrating the act of mothering, rather than the miracle of conception.
oh, and whatever you do, don’t earnestly assure them that if they just relax it will happen. Look. That has nothing to do with it. Conception and birth is a miracle that ONLY God controls.
And do yourself a huge favor. Read this blog post from a friend of mine. It address some theological and cultural hurdles that infertile women face in the church. It may help you see some of the hurt in a different light.
Thanks Missy for doing this post.
oh and there is nothing wrong with encouraging folks to consider adoption. We did. And I would not have missed out on my Ginny for all the “biologically mine” children in the universe.