It’s National Infertility Awareness Awareness Week.
I have often struggled to own or claim the word “infertility.” I am honest enough to tell you it comes back to pride, at least for me. I can get pregnant. I’ve been pregnant six times, and for about three months time each. Add all that up and I have more pregnancy experience than some moms! Yet, my inability to stay pregnant, means I am infertile. There, I said it. I own it. My hesitancy and avoidance to own the word (I still prefer to say I have RPL - recurrent pregnancy loss - rather than infertility) is a testament to the stigma that still exists around infertility. It demonstrates just how damaging of a disease it is. It cripples your sense of womanhood (or manhood, in the case of male factor infertility) and it leaves you with a hole, a gaping wound in your heart and identity.
I could write quite a lot on the pain and hurt of infertility.
Of medicines that make you sick, insane, and broke.
Of painful, expensive, fruitless procedures and surgeries.
Of sadness on holidays or special occasions.
Of being left out of conversations about birth and pregnancy experiences.
Of not seeing a mini version of yourself or your spouse.
Of not continuing the family name.
Of feeling like a failure, like you’re being punished, ignored, or forgotten by God.
The list could go on.
The heartache of infertility hard to imagine and comprehend if you’ve never walked that road. It can’t be comforted with platitudes about God’s timing or plans, and it can’t be lightened with comments or suggestions.
But for just a second, instead, let me share with you some of the joys that I personally have seen come out of infertility. Romans 8:28 tells us that God can and will use all things (even horrible things like disease and tragedy - not that He necessarily preordained such things, but that He foreknew them) for the good of His children and for His glory… and I’ve seen Him use infertility. I don't believe God would ever cause infertility for such purposes, but I do know that He is sovereign and sees so much more than we do.
I have seen Him use it…
To draw struggling couples into deeper relationships with Himself and with one another.
To strengthen our character and faith.
To teach us to become more sensitive to one another.
To teach us resilience.
To direct couples down the road of adoption. (This isn’t to say that adoption is right for all couples who battle infertility. In fact, it’s never okay to suggest adoption to an infertile couple, especially using the phrase “just adopt.” To just adopt isn’t possible because there’s no such thing as just adopting. There are many couples for whom adoption is not the right path, and it is never so easy. Suggesting adoption isn’t your job to do this - it’s a job of the Holy Spirit. Couples who are unable to resolve their infertility with medical treatment don't always want to adopt, nor should they, but I do fully believe that infertility can be used for God's glory through adoption.)
In working with Bethany for our own adoption (www.wilsonadoption.com), we’ve met several couples who came to adoption after infertility. For them, and us, adoption does not replace/fix/undo/negate infertility. Adoption does not cure the loss of the pregnancy and birth experience. It does not replace the desire to conceive a child in love who looks and acts like you and carries on your physical traits and characteristics. But, infertility can be used by God to steer people who otherwise might not have considered it into welcoming children into their homes. Infertility can be the vehicle to get people to a place where they can minister to birthparents and show them Christ.
Infertility can be used to bring Him glory. It can lead to joy. For us, there will always be an ache because of infertility. I can't say when or if we will ever try again to conceive, but I do know, that through this trial, and through this pain, He has brought immeasurable joy.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.