Something I have been fairly open about on here is my trial with infertility. For me it is known as secondary infertility since my husband and I have one biological son. 1 in 8 couples experience difficulty in conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy according to a recent study from the National Survey of Family Growth*. It isn’t talked about so these couples grieve in silence. Something that caught my attention a few months ago was that this problem is not something dealt with just in the United States. I wrote a piece on secondary infertility and it was the most widely read post, reaching to places like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa. The frustration and isolation is felt worldwide.
This is why we need each other. You and I are not alone in this. Our valley of infertility may not look the same, but the giants that threaten to slay us there sure seem similar: doubt, fear, anger, and self-pity. Sometimes it is hard to know who is going through this invisible pain. I catch myself wondering why the woman with a seven year old doesn’t have any more children. It is certainly none of my business, but could it be that instead of rushing to a conclusion (or judgment) I could have compassion instead? What if she would love nothing more than to have the pitter-patter of little feet all around her? What if she doesn’t? In any case, my response could make all the difference to her heart. In my own struggle with infertility I am trying to remember to give grace to other women with similar heartache.
That is why I am proud to partner with the Scarlet & Gold Shop in their ‘Give Grace’ campaign. It is a way for women struggling with infertility to come together and show grace to one another in the burdens they carry. Those battle scars can’t ever heal by keeping them buried. After awhile the Band-Aids become stale and just hang there serving no purpose but to hide a wound.
I think men and women process their infertile reality in different ways, but perhaps women feel it more deeply. In 1 Samuel, even Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, didn’t quite understand her sadness because she couldn’t have children. Wasn’t he enough, he asked? Yes and no. The desire for children is God given and there is no shame in that. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, knew how much Hannah suffered because of infertility. Instead of deciding to be a friend and comfort her, Peninnah heaped onto Hannah’s heartache by provoking her barren womb.
One of the names of God that gives me great comfort is ‘Immanuel’, which means, “God with us”. As a Christian His very Presence is always with me. That means that I am not left to myself to fight the giants. He holds out His Hand to lead through all the twists and turns. As God becomes my strength He gives me eyes to see others around me in the valley. We begin to form a grace chain holding hands with each other as we hold onto Immanuel.
Giving grace to another might look like sharing your story first. Help someone to know they are not alone. If you are not part of this “Club” that no one wants to be in, maybe pray for us? Some may be more sensitive than others when it comes to your words, baby announcements, and baby showers, but it doesn’t mean we don’t need you to encourage us. And even when we have a hard time of it, we still love that you have children and that you are pregnant again, because we love you – and life is beautiful, always.
It is a funny thing learning to be content in the present circumstances while still longing for a baby. There can be streams of joy down in the valley when you realize that you aren’t alone. You do not have to walk this journey alone.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3 ESV)
You and I have Immanuel, God with us, and we never have to fear what the future holds when He holds the future.
Grace upon grace,
* 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth CDC; http://www.resolve.org