Monday, July 21, 2008

The emotional side of infertility

Early on in my marriage, I had a strong desire to have a baby that would look like Kirk and I.  It never crossed my mind that I would be one of “those people” who couldn’t have children. Even many years into our marriage, I thought that eventually I would get pregnant. Some of my journey I can attribute to just plain youth and inexperience. I had a small life perspective.

For the first five years we were quiet about our plans or lack of ability to have children. Innocent friends and family would joke about when we were going to have children.  It hurt so much. I just wanted to share my fears of what I was experiencing. Now I look back and wonder why I wasn’t more open.

The church we were attending at the time overdid mothers’ day. The insensitive services made motherhood a right of passage. Good Christians had children and really faithful Christians had many children.  Two families in our church were working on the dozen mark for children. I’m not hitting on their decision but setting the case for the atmosphere at the church.

I remember  one Sunday in particular. A mother in the church had a premature baby and had an emotional experience with her daughter in the hospital. On mother’s day, they had her stand up and gave her a standing ovation. I was so hurt. What kind of hero was she? She was overdramatic about her experience and I was having to keep up a front every week over my infertility. The bitterness and anger had definitely settled in.

Bitterness was a natural stage of coming to terms with what was going on. It seemed like a long stage. I think some couples never get past the overwhelming desire to have children and the “unfairness” of it all. If I had been able to have children before the 10 year mark, I would not have gotten past that. I am so glad that I was able to complete that journey. I am better for it.

The things you never say to an infertile couple is:

 “I know this couple that couldn’t have children. They prayed every day, and 10 years later they had a child”

“Your still young, there is still a lot of time”

“Don’t rush it, kids are a handful”

“Just trust in God, and he will reward your faithfulness”

Don’t complain about how hard it is to have children. I am not talking about labor pains, but the every day dealing with children.

Best advice I can give is listen.

I started to get past the bitterness after about  7 years, but it still came back in spades on occasion. It was a gradual process until I finally came to terms with God’s will for my life.

As I began experiencing the other hardships of life my perspective of suffering changed. I started to see just how narrow our human perspective can be. It is not safe to assume God’s will,  it just breeds discontent. Why is it that we can assume that the prayer, “Lord please give me children” has to be answered in some particular way? Why does the answer always have to be yes? God is more creative than that.

I remember getting a phone call from a well-meaning church member one time. She had been praying and felt that God had impressed on her to tell me that I needed to make a declaration in front of the church that God was answering my prayer. He was giving me the child I wanted if I openly declared my faith in his promise. Fortunately, I was at a time in life where I could kindly listen, hang up, and not think much of it.  Believe it or not, this happened twice.

I realized that I was a complete person as God made me. I could be completely happy and content in the plan He had for me. I didn’t need to understand it. I didn’t need to control it.  I was at peace with God being in control. 


Bonnie said...

This makes me cry, I'm sorry you had to go through this. You've dealt with a lot over the years. I couldn't be prouder to have you as my sister.