Mother’s Day and Struggling with Infertility
I laid on the bed in the doctor’s office and watched as the results came across the screen.
Tears silently fell from my eyes as the room became silent. The doctor softly said we would follow up tomorrow. I watched as the nurses exchanged a knowing look and offered me a bottle of water.
We all knew what the test had shown and what I had started to suspect.
I will likely not be able to become pregnant without advanced fertility treatments. In other words…
I am experiencing infertility.
I am both a wife and pastor, but I know I am called to be more. I am called by God to be a mother. It’s knit into the very soul of who I am. It is a desire of mine I’ve had from a young age. I never expected to be in my 30’s and to be childless. I never anticipated that having children would be so challenging for me.
National Infertility Awareness Week
This week is Infertility Awareness Week for the United States. One in eight couples experiences infertility or difficulty in conceiving a child.
Infertility is often very private as you experience masked pain others do not know about. For some women, being childless is a choice, but for others it is a journey placed on them due to infertility, singleness, financial stresses, or a host of other possible reasons.
I have friends who have been on this infertility journey for years and others like me who are newer to the diagnosis.
Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks. This Mother’s Day will be my first one knowing my struggles with infertility. It brings a range of emotions. It’s a feeling of unmet expectations and dreams because it is no longer within my control. It’s feelings of failure, deep sadness, and longing of what will not be. The journey of infertility has been a slow cycle of disappointment and hope held in the same breath.
Mother’s Day is a challenge for some childless women because it is a reminder of a title we do not wear.
Infertility is not new to the 21st century. Many people in the Bible experienced infertility. Within the book of Genesis, we see three generations of women experience different journeys of trying to conceive children: Abraham and Sara (Genesis 15-21); Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:21); Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29-30).
In each story we see the desire for children, and God’s timing and answer being different for each person. This continues to be true today, as some families who experience infertility eventually have children, while others wait for years trying but never have biological children.
If you are on the journey of infertility, here are a few ways to process:
First, bring your desires before God.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God is a good father who desires to bless us with good things. For those of us desiring to have children, we should be in steadfast prayer before God. Prayer is a difficult thing as God is not a vending machine but still tells us to ask of Him our desires.
This may be a hard piece of advice to follow. Maybe you have already spent many hours praying to God for healing, but have seen no results. You may be wondering, why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
Author Timothy Keller has a quote that was very formative for me as I learned to pray through difficult seasons of life:
“The basic purpose of prayer is not to bend God’s will to mine, but to mold my will into His.”
As I have prayed through this season of desiring to become pregnant, I have realized through prayer the root of my desire is to be a mother.
While that desire is not happening in my timeline or through the process I had hoped, it has opened my eyes to seeing the possibilities that God has given us with a different timeline and process. My husband and I now dream of what fertility treatments we could try, or what steps we could take towards adoption.
I continue to ask and pray to be a mother someday, but I am also asking God to provide discernment about which avenues to pursue.
In this season of waiting and longing, I celebrate the childless adventures my husband and I can have, like backpacking through Europe, and sleeping in until noon on the weekends. While the longing for children in my future never leaves me, I keep my thoughts focused on the present and the ways God is calling me to be faithful to Him each day. I ask for God to mold my will to His will. And I continue to pray, believing God can and will do all things in His time.
Second, allow yourself to mourn.
It seemed silly to me the first time I cried because I was not able to get pregnant.
I was frustrated that I was doing everything “right” and it still wasn’t happening.
I was confused and mad at God and couldn’t understand why it seemed like so many other people around me were getting pregnant without even trying. It felt like this was something God should bless me with after years of faithfulness to Him.
But infertility is not fair.
We live in a fallen world where unthinkable brokenness occurs.
I do not know why God gives us each different challenges or trials.
Amid the valleys, I do not always know or see God’s purpose.
I believe someday God will answer my prayer of being a mother; I simply have no idea of how or when that will happen.
But here’s what I don’t want to do: too often we can take an unhappy situation and promise that God is using it for good.
I do not want to make that promise.
It may be years before you understand why you are on this journey of infertility. That is why our faith never rests on what we can do or see. Our faith must be built on a God who is greater than ourselves. A God who has not and will not abandon us in the difficult seasons of life.
After receiving our diagnosis of infertility, I experienced the loss of someone who never lived but I dreamed of loving someday.
It is the grief of a child who will never be. It is the loss of dreams, hopes, and expectations of our future. It is a reminder every time I look in a mirror that I am unable to carry a child. It is okay to mourn the loss of something you desire.
Take time to mourn the loss of unmet dreams if that is helpful for you today. Find someone to process and talk through these emotions, knowing you are not alone.
It is normal during the infertility journey to experience moments of depression and anxiety. Please make sure to reach out to someone today if you need more support. Unprocessed emotions can lead to mental health challenges.
If you are experiencing infertility this upcoming Mother’s Day, we, as a church, see you. God sees you too. And God sees the pain and hurt and suffering you have been through. He sees your unmet expectations and dreams. He weeps alongside you just as much as He celebrates the birth of every child.
Infertility is the loneliest experience I have ever been through. It is challenging to share the pain with others because it’s a difficult subject to discuss. It is so highly personal. It is easy to want to isolate myself from those not struggling with infertility because of my fear of rejection, my jealousy, or their lack of understanding. I am thankful for our church community that recognizes the value all women bring to the body of Christ and that is not dependent upon our status as a parent.
If you would like some tips on how to be present with your friend who is struggling with infertility, I’ve written a blog for that as well.
If you are struggling with infertility like me, I want you to know that you are just as an important part of our church body as every other woman we celebrate this upcoming Mother’s Day. You bring value and purpose to the kingdom of God, and we are thankful to be on this journey with you.
Click here if you would like to pray with someone.