I have been fighting this unexpected foe of infertility knowingly and unknowingly, for over 11 years now. And it is not an easy battle. But primarily because of the shock.
You never expect to hear that you are infertile or to not have children. No, I was not one of those women who sit and think and think and think about having children, how my wedding will be planned, the perfect home…but I did subconsciously assume my life would be #1 Go to College #2 Get Married #3 Run Professionally #4 Live in a Mega Home #5 Have Children #6 Live Happily After.
At first it was not even a shocker that I was not getting pregnant, I was so consumed in my profession- ministry- that I did not think much about it, and I was happy to enjoy the free time of being childless.
But as time went on and on and on, it would be soon that I realized my great desire to mother, after having helped many young women with their birth journey. I was even helping deliver babies.
It got harder and harder to not have a “family” of my own.
And then the truth sank in, doctor visits began, reports came back, multiple surgeries came, and I was at a loss for words. My heart was in shock and shattered to pieces, not because I didn’t have faith but because infertility is a grieving process.
I particularly had a major lack of education on reproductive health and the chances being 1.5 times higher for people of my skin complexion to have children. Yes, yet another startling statistic regarding the African American community. Sometimes the question echos through my head, “When will it ever end?” regarding the black plight.
My image of a infertile woman, was a rich, white, maybe celebrity woman walking into a clinic to get an IVF treatment or have a surrogate child.
This is all I had ever seen. It never even crossed my mind that black women struggled with this issue which is apparently a very strong myth not isolate to my own perspective.
Why do black women face this at a higher rate?
According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, “Many of the factors leading to this higher incidence is our hesitance to visit the doctor, as well as higher rates of conditions such as fibroids. One way to squash this myth is to start talking. By opening an honest and guilt-free dialogue,w e can step towards removing the stigmas that holds so many of us hostage.”
This is why sharing our stories is so important as we find the grace to do so, and why I so openly am sharing my own faith journey through this sometimes grueling process.
This battle is occurring not only on a first time basis, but secondary infertility grips the wombs of many women unexpectedly.
This simply means a woman has already experienced a full term birth, yet cannot seem to get pregnant sometimes for years after having a child.
This can be as hard or even harder for women because of how shocking it is to go through this difficulty, according to Marlo Schalesky, author of Empty Womb, Aching Heart.
Here are a few facts about infertility that will help you cope with this very painful reality for every 1 in 8 women:
- Do not allow guilt to become your guide or friend. When facing this sickness, it is easy, especially in a Christian context to believe you have received the judgment of Michal. Maybe GOD is punishing me! Then the thoughts begin to go on to all the wrongs, the sexual immorality of your past, a man of GOD you may have offended. Resist this urge knowing that GOD loves you unconditionally and although there are consequences for our actions, the finish work of the cross redeems our sins. He forgives, loves and the majority of infertile women are not being condemned due to sin.
- Self blame or the blame of your spouse is not healthy nor valid. When we face a situation that is beyond our control it is really hard not to search for the object of blame. Starting with GOD, we want to know WHY? And, WHY ME? Why do I have to go through this? Why are all these other women getting pregnant and I can’t seem to get pregnant? Why isn’t my body cooperating? What is wrong with ME? Why does GOD not love me? Why is my spouse’s body broke? As this storm of questions rage in a woman’s mind, it is important to remind yourself of the love HE has for you even in a plan that is nowhere near what you expected. At the end of the story, in the midst of the conflict, we will find peace and a plan beyond what we could see. Instead of blaming our spouse, let’s work together to find the healing we need.
- Finding the joy of the LORD is an active and sometimes daily pursuit needed in this walk. We have to press into His joy when we want to give up, wallow in the very real situation of hours of medical situations, hospital bills and challenges. I came to a point where I had to let it all go, forget about it and get Determined to Enjoy the moments of life I had; I would not allow infertility to steal my life away. Focus on the blessings in front of you to find a joy beyond your situation.
- Find a support group. This may start with your husband, a doctor, even just one friend or an infertility group in your area. This is going to be needed in a journey that seems to be inconsistent day by day. We all have our good days and then the really dire ones where we need an understanding, listening ear.
- Don’t feel guilty to say No. If you can’t seem to get through baby showers, Mother’s Day, or women’s church groups full of expecting young mothers, it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take a leave of absence and do something that will get your mind off of what you do not have because of something beyond your control.
- Know when to let go of the battle if it gets too much. One of the most freeing moments in the fight has been letting go but not after a lot of wrestling. One day I simply decided that I had to give this over to the LORD. I had to trust Him because ultimately He is the Only One who can cause my womb to be filled. And I refocused on what He had for me to give to others right now.
- If needed, get counseling. From what I have read and heard, most couples facing infertility will fight depression. Sometimes this gets overwhelming to a point of needed professional help in knowing how to continue living your life in a world full of new parents, baby aisles (Target, the grocery store) and daily reminders of how your life should be…if not for this frustrating issue. Many couples benefit from a season of having a listening ear that knows what to say in such a sensitive area (most people do not know what to say at all and say all the wrong things).
There are many more tips I could give you in fighting through this battle but all in all, I am praying for you, standing with you and willing to listen to you. You are not alone.
If you know someone struggling with infertility or may be going through this yourself, please share this message with them; maybe it will be just the hope they need to press on through One More Day of Faith.