Author’s Note: In updating this site, I found several posts that needed to be rewritten. This is one of them. (first posted in 2011) If someone you know is struggling with infertility, please share this post with them. And you might want to read it yourself. Maybe I can say what they can’t – what you need to know. And sometimes the best thing you can do is listen. And pray. Because infertility really hurts – you can’t fix us, but you can be there.
You are not alone. My story may not be identical to yours, but if you long for children and your womb remains empty, we have some things in common.
When Jon and I got married, we were 19 years old. Almost immediately we decided it was time for us to begin our family. We longed to fill our arms and home with red-headed and blond children. I had a secret dream of 13 children and at least as many animals. We’d live in a huge restored home, or barn, or a mill house. We’d need a big yard, an orchard, lots of bedrooms, a huge kitchen, and a big table with lots of chairs. This from a woman who would rather NOT cook!
It wasn’t long before our infertility became evident. On a monthly basis, the cramps and flow came like clock work, and it felt like my body betrayed me. I was angry, sad, and afraid I was lacking in an area that should have been right and natural. I was a failure.
Months became years. We begged God for babies, and He said no. His voice was quiet, firm, and love-filled. We had to trust Him because rebelling only made the pain worse.
Accepting His will for us meant facing the death of our dream.
As if that wasn’t enough, we endured cruel comments. These weren’t the ignorant kind spoken in an attempt to comfort us. They were mean and cut us deep. We didn’t know how to fight back and didn’t have the energy.
For years I carried those words on my heart as if they’d been branded there.
I was recently saddened to learn that people are still saying the same things these days. The truth is, we know better – there have been interviews, books published, and reality TV shows on the topic. People know infertility hurts. Why they want to add to it is beyond me.
Maybe you’ve done this. I used to pray the subject wouldn’t come up and if it did no one would offer me empty, at times lame, suggestions for getting pregnant. We were going to doctors on a monthly basis and taking their advice. Finally they quit advising us, and I wished the others would too.
If I sound a little angry, well, I guess I am. More than that, I feel protective of you. I know your sorrow. I have a vivid imagination and picture myself as your shield – held over your heart and to keep the arrows from piercing you. I wish I could do that for you. Your heart is hurting and it’s precious to me.
On my off days, I didn’t want to hear about it, I was often reprimanded. For my rebellion, sin, and selfishness. And I was told these were the reasons God could not bless me with children. Their words fell on me like a curse. I wasn’t good enough. Pure enough. Saved enough. I sinned too much and believed too little. I was bad and God couldn’t bless bad.
If anyone says things like this to you. . .please resist their comments. Do NOT let their words cause you harm. Because they are lies.
And it is wrong for anyone to offer unkindness or condemnation for our empty wombs.
Instead you can choose to live in the freedom of these truths. . .
- If only sinless women conceived children the world would have ended in the garden under that tree.
- Read John 9:1-3 (NIV) now and take it with you wherever you go. . .(italics added by me)
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
We are infertile so that the works of God can be displayed in us to the world around us!
At your age, that wasn’t the answer I wanted, and I told God I wished He would pick someone else to display His works through. But He didn’t.
But, these truths transformed the curses of others into a calling.
I found these verses after an especially unkind encounter with a woman from church – a woman I loved and still do. After hearing her words, instead of taking them in, I took them to God. I asked Him if this was really how He operated. I did my best to remember every sin I could and re-confessed. All the way back to the day when I was four and sassed my dad. It was a really long prayer, over and over I begged Him to remove the guilt and shame from me. Even as I prayed I knew I was asking Him to forgive things He already had. But I had to be sure.
My eyes ached from crying, my throat hurt from talking so much for so long, and I was tired. But still, I wanted answers, so I turned to His Word. This wasn’t a random reading, it was part of my daily reading plan. And after reading those verses in John 9, God wasn’t finished speaking to me, because there was this. . .
Proverbs 15. Verses 15b-16 say. . .
“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
he grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
It was then I had a moment of worship and rejoicing that involved more tears and a joy I hadn’t felt since the day I believed. My arms went up (a rare thing for me) and I felt like singing. Instead I almost shouted, “Father! You understand my emptiness!”
Dear One, He understands yours too. You are not alone. He walks with you in this valley – ever faithful. Ever loving. Ever understanding.
For reasons you and I cannot fathom this side of heaven, infertility is part of God’s plan for us. For many of you, He will say yes and children will be born from your bodies. He will lead some of you to parent a child or children He birthed through another woman or other women. For a few of us, His will is clear: we’re to love the children in our lives already – nieces, nephews, and the kids of our friends. With God as your guide, you get to decide.
And I have to tell you this. . .every time I held a child born to someone else, my heart filled up with a love so astonishing, it took my breath away. You know this feeling.
Still, you may be tired of baby showers, pregnancy/birth war stories, and although you love your friends dearly, their complaints about being moms scratch at your soul. And when they announce pregnancies, you’re happy for them, but their news stabs. Not because you’re jealous, you don’t want their babies – you want yours, and it’s not happening. You’re also exhausted when every month your hope is destroyed. And afraid of more disappointment when you pick your heart back up and in spite of the pain, you start hoping for next month. Your grief is deep and constant and most of the time solitary.
In all of these things and more. . .you are normal. And God understands.
I wish I could look each of you in the eyes, maybe hold you in my arms and whisper this to your heart. Because it’s essential.
We are not failures with empty wombs. Like all women who love Jesus, we are strong, beautiful vessels, full of His love – to the brim and over-flowing.
Living with an empty womb is not easy, but what we often consider a terrible flaw is really the place in our lives where God can reveal Himself to us and to the others in our lives.
Please don’t believe that I’m “over” my infertility. Nah. . .in fact, it’s the circumstance that keeps nagging at my soul even now. Because we were led by God to love the kids already in our lives, and those still to come, we are not parents and we are not grandparents. I celebrate each grand baby announcement, let it sting, and take more children born to others into my arms, and fall in love again. . .and again. . .and again.
Because that is part of His plan for me too. And He understands. And that is more than enough. If we let it be.
That reminds me of something else – an illustration of sorts. When I was little I played hard and did my best to run fast. The combination meant more than a few bumps, bruises, scraps, and from time to time a deep wound (that left scar) on an elbow, knee, or thigh. Those big ones had annoying scabs on them that for some reason I always picked at. Then, they’d bleed again making a mess and sometimes causing the injury to worsen. Mama would say to me, “Honey, you have to let it be. It won’t heal otherwise. Or worse yet, I’d re-hurt the same injury. ” Her voice was gentle and her care for my sore was tender even when she was digging gravel out of me. She’d hum while she fixed me up, kiss my tear-stained cheek, and send me on my way. Because I had living to do that day. Lots of it. And I still do. So do you.
That doesn’t mean you don’t pursue all of your options. You do as you can. And it means, that even in the midst of infertility, we can live focused on today’s opportunities to bless and blessed – to love and be loved, and explore where God wants you to go with Him in this thing we call infertility. Even when we cry. And pray. And seek answers in His Word. . .and take Him at His Word. These things are big and take God-given courage.
Wherever He takes you, hold on to His love, His understanding, and remember you are not alone.
Until Next Time,
P. S. About those meanies and their unkind words – I think our sorrow scares them and they don’t know what to do with it. I’d like to stay angry at them, but that’s not God’s way for us and it will only hurt us more. Giving them grace doesn’t guarantee we’ll get grace back from them, but God will be pleased and what matters more than that?