This is a post I’ve been wrestling with for a while now. Whether or not to talk about it. Whether or not to link to the site I am going to be talking about. How to address the topic and say what I want to say in the most compassionate way. I don’t know if I’ll do it well or not. Before I post this, I’m going to ask Jessica and Rick to read it and they can say whether or not I can use their names or even post it all. (They said ok by the way.)
Jessica and Rick are struggling with infertility. It’s a pretty harsh reality and I have trouble with it on several levels.
One, of course, is the unfairness of it all. Here are two people who would love a child and rear it with great thoughtfulness and care. They have a strong bond with one another and have good ties to their families and their community. They know what they are getting into with having kids (well, as much as any of us do before we actually have them) and are ready and willing to take on the responsibility. Am I lobbying for them to get to have kids? Yeah, in a way I guess I am. If there’s an organization that I could submit an application to, I would.
Number two, is the indignities they are dealing with in an effort to have kids. I’m not sure that, if I were to face the same rounds of doctor visits, blood work, invasive medical procedures and tortuous waiting of tries and retries, Stephen and I would have managed to reproduce. There’s also just something spectacularly crappy about everyone else being that involved with your sex life. Before I was pregnant myself, I was sort of mystified and a bit horrified that everyone seemed so happy for a pregnant couple. “Congratulations on successful sex!” was the response that I always felt someone would say. How much more agonizing to know that everyone else knows that something in that department isn’t working quite the way it should.
Another problem I have is the amount of loss they have already suffered. Yes, it’s a fairly well established statistic that between 30 and 40% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I’ve had one, my mother-in-law had one, my aunt had one, several girlfriends have had them. Chances are good that, if you’ve been pregnant, you’ve also had a miscarriage. It took me a long time to deal with my miscarriage. It challenged Stephen’s and my relationship in a way that is hard to describe, so to repeat the process multiple times seems nearly unendurable in my mind. And to keep repeating the process without becoming numb to it seems nearly impossible.
This next one is a bit more personal for me because it has to do with my own issues. I’m a bit embarrassed by how easy it is for me to get pregnant. I feel as if in some way I should apologize for being effortlessly fertile. If there were some way that I could share this trait, I would scrape it off and pass it over without a moment’s hesitation. Especially since once this baby comes, Stephen and I are finished reproducing. So sometimes I wonder if in some way I’ve wasted all this easy fertility. If I were Jessica, I would have a hard time not resenting people like me. Lucky for me, she’s a bigger person than that.
All of that brings me around to the brighter side of things. They are dealing with this process in an amazing way. I’m usually not given to words like inspirational, but that’s the only word that I can think of that applies. Are they depressed about it sometimes? Sure they are. Are they mad at the injustice of it all? I’m sure that comes up for them as well. But overall, they are dealing with their situation in a miraculous way. They are positive in the face of repeated defeat. Not positive that they will achieve the results that they want, but that they will be able to face the outcome and deal with it no matter what that outcome may be. They seem realistic in their ability to deal with some of the monetary hurdles that infertility sets up. They seem to have set some limits as to what they are willing to do in order to achieve their goal. And lastly, and I think most importantly, they are truly seeking what God would have them do in this situation and they seem open to something different if that’s what He offers up.
I have been deeply affected by watching what they are dealing with. I feel closer to Jessica now than I did before she started talking about her difficulties. She’s been very candid and open about the medical procedures she’s dealt with and the emotional struggle she’s been through. She’s set up a website to chronicle her quest and while this is probably personally helpful to her, I can tell by reading what she writes that other women are eased by her words as well. I’ve been buoyed by their perseverance and their faith.
So even amidst this struggle there are bright spots. Maybe they know the example they set; maybe they don’t. Maybe they don’t think what they are doing is that big of a deal. Sometimes you can’t see the example that you are setting during the struggle. Maybe my words here will remind them of that.