Apparently, this is National Infertility Awareness Week. Who knew? Right? I certainly didn’t until I stumbled upon a few blogs about it. I kinda find it funny that there is just one week to be aware of infertility. Those of us who have experienced it, are experiencing it, or, like in my case, lived a life of it, are always keenly aware of the presence of not being able to have a biological child.
I so wish that there would have been attention given to infertility when I was a girl. Instead, it was a hushed topic. Some of the reasons why I never had deep discussions about it with anyone while growing up was because of my age. I mean, what in the world do you say to an eleven-year-old who had a hysterectomy?
Most of the time people would say things like “God must have a plan for you.” My thoughts after hearing these words often went something like this, “Why yes, I’m sure He does and it obviously doesn’t include biological children.” Or, I was given the advice of “You can always adopt!” Again, the thoughts behind my smile went like this, “Oh wow, thanks. I had not thought of that before.”
Now, I know that sounds a little sarcastic. Looking back now on my life experience and the pain of growing up infertile, I know that I kept these thoughts to myself. I could not control what happened, but by golly, I could control how I responded to it. I know God had a plan for my life, I just didn’t know what it was or if it included children. Throughout the majority of my life after the surgery, I did not want other people’s advice. This was my battle to win, my life experience to navigate, and my journey to seek the answers.
One thing that I find ironic about infertility is that it creates a sense of isolation and loneliness, but it also creates an unspoken bond with others going through it. There have been moments where I felt I could almost read someone’s thoughts by their expressions when speaking about infertility. I just find that to be interestingly ironic.
Just a few weeks ago, I was speaking to another adoptive parent. She and her husband spent many years trying to get pregnant. Although she expressed great joy and love over her little boy, she also agreed that infertility really is a life-long process to deal with. Missing out on having a biological child does not go away. However, the incredible and genuinely loving experience of adoption does not go away either.
I feel like an old veteran of a battle waged many years ago whose wounds have healed and are now a source of strength to carry on. I feel the need to encourage others, motivate others, and testify about how the Lord does work it all out. For those of you who are just now experiencing a life different than you expected, hear me when I say this:
- There will be times when you feel like crawling into a hole where no one can find you.
- There will be those moments when the words of other’s will sit on you like a heavy weight.
- God is NOT punishing you.
- You ARE still able to be a parent; it may just take you a little longer to become one.
- It is okay to avoid the baby departments at stores (stop beating yourself up over it.)
- It is normal to be a little envious of your friends who are having babies…ALL at the same time (again, stop beating yourself up over it. This is a process of healing and does not reflect on how much you love your friends.)
- Baby showers are the worst when you can’t have one, and going into an ob/gyn’s office is miserable when you are the only non-prego chic in the room.
- There are others who feel the same way you do. Find them. Seek support from them.
- Most people really don’t know how you are feeling. This is just a fact that you need to accept.
- Whether you become a parent through birth or adoption, all of these hard times you are going through will seem like a blip on the radar screen compared to the lifetime of love you will be able to give and receive through parenting.
Infertility is more than about pregnancy. It is a sojourn into the pits and valleys of despair. It is a path where each step taken leads to healing. Like the quote on our family photo above, we were not separated from our children when they were born. We had all embarked on a journey that led to each other. Our journey together really did not end at our adoption. We began a new one with new stories to be written, lessons to be learned, hopes to be fulfilled, and new revelations of the Lord’s presence throughout it all.