Finally, Tara asked...
What advice would you offer to someone, like myself, who is experiencing infertility?
Except she didn't. Because we didn't get to it. And this was, by far, the most difficult question to answer. So I'm going to go ahead and address it here, in depth. In way more depth, in fact, than I would have shared in an interview. And then I'll move on to some silly thing my kid said. Or a story about a really gross diaper. Or something.
I imagine that infertility is radically different for a born again Christian than it is for someone who doesn't believe that Jesus Christ is her Lord and Savior. I think the feelings of loss, pain, grief, and anger are probably pretty similar but how we cope with those feelings should be different.
Without Christ, I would have felt completely hopeless.
As a Christian, I always have hope in Christ.
Infertility is horrible. It affects people from all walks of life, men and women of all ages, and it is no respecter of race or position. It hurts. It hurts because God has made us to crave motherhood. Animals have the basic instinct to reproduce. So then, do we. Except for us, hormones aren't the only things that come into play. For us, we have to also balance raw, bleeding emotion.
I will never forget the night, six years ago, when I cried so hard that I eventually found myself in the bathroom with my head in the toilet. Someone else was pregnant. Again. I wasn't expected to pretend to be happy. I was expected to be happy. And I wasn't. I was jealous and angry and I was devastated that I was jealous and angry. I was bitter and sinful and I was horrified that I responded with bitterness and a sinful attitude. It wasn't that I thought she didn't have the right to be pregnant, to have a child, to not worry about why I would be upset. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to be happy for her. But I was, simply, craving empathy. Because infertility felt so lonely. Even as a Christian. Even with the Lord, I felt lonely. So I cannot begin to fathom how isolating it must be for someone without faith.
Infertility spans centuries. It's heavily covered in the Bible. And make no mistake, the emotions of infertility make people--even people of faith--do crazy things. I considered chucking a block of cheese out of my kitchen window. Hannah cried so hard--in public, no less--that the priest thought she was drunk. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Elizabeth, Michal, and others all suffered through the pain of being unable to have children. Sarah gave Abraham her Egyptian handmaid so that he could have a child with her. Clearly, that didn't turn out too well. Rachel yelled at Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!" (A sentiment I've felt more than once.) Eventually, after years of suffering through infertility, the Lord opened the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Elizabeth. But Michal, David's wife, never had children.
So my advice is this: God is in control. Not you. Not your fertility specialist. And not, goodness knows, your emotions. It's going to hurt. People are going to say stupid things. They will tell you to relax, to chart your temperature, to stop stressing. They will tell you to, "Just adopt. Then you'll get pregnant." Adoption is an amazing experience and a fantastic choice but not if used as a stepping stone to having a biological child. That is entirely the wrong motivation.
But God. Is. In. Control. In Mark chapter 4, Jesus told the disciples to get in the boat. "Let us go to the other side," He said. A storm came up and the disciples panicked, thinking they'd all drown in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. You know the rest of the story. Jesus rebuked the storm and then asked the disciples why they still had no faith. Because, you see, He'd told them that they were going to the other side. The ship isn't going to go down with the Son of God on board. Your ship is not going to go down with the Son of God on board. You'll make it to the other side. It's just that the other side might not look like you imagined it would.
We tried and tried to have a baby using all kinds of medical intervention. Finally, with no medical intervention whatsoever, I got pregnant. Then we tried and tried to have another biological child and it just never happened. God is in control. He wants your dreams and your hopes. He wants total surrender.
He may never bless you with a child. He just might not. That might not be His plan. You absolutely have to reach a place where that's okay. It won't be easy. It will still hurt. But you are privileged to be in relationship with the God of the universe. And He asks us to give Him our pain. If He's the Lord of your life, you have to let Him be the Lord of your family and your future. You have to surrender your plans.
If He blesses you with a biological child, praise Him! If he doesn't, praise Him! Seek Him and ask Him if he has another plan and if He will reveal it to you. Maybe, just maybe, He has a different plan for your life. Always, always, He has your best in mind.
Remember the women from the Bible that I mentioned? With the exception of Michal, those women had the privilege of being mothers to Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, and John the Baptist. Men that God used in mighty ways. So I can't help but think that, in the end, their infertility was an incredible blessing. I can't help but wonder what God has in store for my own sons.
If you happen to be reading this and you aren't a Christian, my advice to you is different. What I have to say is this: I'm sorry. Infertility hurts in places I didn't know existed. But it's made incredibly easier when you have someone to give that pain to. If you don't know my Savior as your own, please ask me about Him. I have a Jesus I want to share with you. I have a Jesus who has changed my life.