A Secret of Infertility
Infertility isn’t like a fever or the flu where your body heats unnaturally and your head pounds like it is being used as a kick drum in a rock band. It’s not a physical illness obvious to others like the red bumps of chickenpox or the dry, rashy skin of eczema.
The effects are more subtle, hidden, intertwined with deep emotional and mental battles. But similar to a fever or the flu, infertility may hole you up in your home, driving you to stress-eat or lie on the couch for hours without moving.
Infertility requires a grieving process.
The secret about infertility is that it makes you forget your deepest desires, hopes, and dreams. The ones you have had since you were a child.
For me, infertility made me forget that I even wanted to become a mom.
I understand that it doesn’t make sense. You may wonder how I could possibly forget something so crucial to who I believe God made me to be. I don’t blame you; it confuses me too. But let me explain how I felt robbed of the yearning for children.
Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, infertility whispers lies. It sneaks up behind me and grips my shoulders, hissing deceit into my ears.
“You can’t get pregnant, so why dream of a family? You can’t waste your time thinking about being a mom when you are so obviously not. Give it up.”
“You don’t have kids, so you should dream and plan to do things that actually could come true if you try hard enough. Work for what’s right in front of you, don’t be dumb and pine for the impossible.”
Over the past four years and up to now, these voices shark me, biting chunks out of my heart and flesh until I am too weak to fight. The lies can be so loud, the whispers so intense that I struggle for the strength to stand up for myself.
So, to protect my heart, I built armor around me. It was too painful to recognize my empty womb so, I chose to be numb, to pretend that I haven’t dreamt of motherhood since I was 12 years old babysitting every kid in the neighborhood. The armor of self-protection helped me swear off any baby naming, wishful thinking, room decorating, and specific baby-begging prayers.
I let infertility convince me I might never have children and that maybe I didn’t even want them. Adoption and foster care options felt so strangely far away and mysterious like white plumes of clouds in the distance that never come my way.
So what happens when the armor slowly chips away as Kevin and I pursue adoption? When I discover grants and scholarships available to adoptive parents? When I learn of a potential birthmother’s first name? When through my tears I pray Proverbs 3:5-6 and begin to trust God for a baby? Suddenly, I see a crib in our guest room and I envision a wriggly baby breathing hot breaths on my neck. My eyes are opened to the very real possibility of welcoming an infant into our home and I have to decide to accept this dream as a pending reality.
I have to deconstruct the armor that has been protecting me from real pain and open up my heart in vulnerability. The tidal wave of emotions that have been building and building over the years is suddenly crashing down on me.
And in the tender brokenness of my dream to become a mom very soon, infertility loses its power. I replace the numbing and armor with something else, something beautiful.
And that hope is ballooning in my chest, sending the anguish of childlessness running away.
The days are here where I can’t stop crying. Where I am reconciling the pain of nine years of marriage and no kids, with the beautiful bright future of raising children with my best friend and will-be amazing dad, Kevin. The tension of letting go of the stronghold infertility has had on me and trusting God with my dreams is terrifying.
But through the grace of God, I am learning to hope. To ignore the ugly voices of guilt, shame, and despair, and cling to the belief that Kevin and I will one day parent precious souls together.
I choose to believe.
I choose to hope.
I will never give up.