Strange for a Mommy blog. Even stranger for a Mommy who writes about having two kids in three years of marriage.
Eleven years ago, I sat in a doctor’s office and listened as he told me that I would probably never have children, or if I did, that they would be hard-won through fertility treatments.Ten months ago, after two children conceived through those drugs, the same doctor told me that while I could, potentially, conceive again, my uterus was badly damaged and another baby would result in a high risk pregnancy and preterm c-section. No fertility doctor in their right mind would ever again accept me as a patient and prescribe the drugs I needed to conceive.
In other words, I was once again a member of an elite group…women who want children and can’t have them.
Secondary infertility is a funny thing. We feel that we can’t call ourselves infertile, since we’ve proven that we can, after all, have babies. We are stuck between the women who are suffering from primary infertility and women who seem to be able to get pregnant whenever they feel like it. We love our children dearly, but yet wonder what the next one would have looked like. Would she have had blond hair like her brother, brown eyes like her sister? Whenever we dare to mention it, someone, inevitably, tells us that we should feel blessed–after all, we were able to have one or two or three children when so many women can have none.
(And if we, too, suffered primary infertility, that particular sentence levels a heavy blow, because it brings back all the sleepless, painful nights when we wondered through tears if it would ever be our turn for a baby)
And I am blessed.
And it is still okay to grieve what won’t be.
To feel a pang of sadness when those around you seem to get pregnant by just thinking about it, when you are surrounded by babies who aren’t yours.
It’s still okay to blink back tears when your son asks you for a baby brother, and you whisper to him, “You will have to talk to God about that.”
It’s okay to wonder if your next child would have had your son’s blue eyes, your daughter’s brown hair.
It’s okay to ask someone else to come box up the baby clothes you will never use again.
The truth is, we’re in pretty good company, we-who-can’t-have-babies. The Bible is filled with women who were barren and then, miraculously, had a child–and then, at least for some, could not have any more. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Samson’s mother, Elizabeth. Women who begged God for a child, women who desperately wanted to feel that baby stir in them. Women who hurt over infertility.
And yet they were women who were part of a plan, women who had faith, even when God appeared to be saying no, even when they did not understand the purpose of their heartbreak.
If the Bible is to be believed, then God has a habit of using infertile women to do and to bear great things. Perhaps it is miraculous conception of many children, perhaps it is the birth of only one or two, maybe it is–in the cases of Deborah, Priscilla, and Dorcas, whom scholars believe to have had no children–to serve God in ways other than motherhood.
None of this, of course, helps when you want to see two lines on a pregnancy test and don’t. The knowledge that God has great things for you doesn’t lessen the pain when desires are dashed. You can know God and trust God, and still hurt.
Hannah begged God for a child so desperately the priest thought she was drunk or crazy or both. And, when other Christians find out that you are struggling with infertility, they will tell you this story, and tell you the words of Eli the priest to Hannah–may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.
And yet we forget the first words Eli spoke to Hannah after he finally understood her request.
Go in peace.
Even when it hurts.
Go in peace.
When you don’t understand why.
Go in peace.
When you wonder if God hears your request.
Go in peace.
And here is what I love–Hannah got up, and left. She ate.
And then she worshiped.
Not knowing whether or not her request would be granted, Hannah knew that God had heard her prayer–and that was enough. Hannah was at peace, and she worshiped.
Hannah worshiped God.
I would love one more baby. Or two, or three, or four.
But that won’t happen. They tell me one more baby would be safe, but that the fertility treatments and hormones associated with them wouldn’t be. Unless we have a miracle, there are no more babies here.
And even when I wonder, and even when it hurts, there is peace.
And, like Hannah, still I worship.