In Defense of Infertility (And Other Hard Things)

When I started this, I never thought I’d be blogging about infertility, but I’ve decided, in the words of Frances McDormand when she gave her Oscar speech: “I’ve got some things to say.”

Infertility gets a real bad rap.

I know. I know. I get it. Of course, it does. You have this thing that steals away your womanhood (or manhood as the case may be) and rides off with it into the sunset. This thing that hovers about you like a biting insect on a summer’s night, buzzing ceaselessly around your brain. This thing that feels like it has wrapped its chain around your dreams and is holding them hostage until you pay it all the money (and even then… it might not let those dreams go).

I know. I’ve walked this road with you. I’ve felt that heartache. I’ve submerged myself in those feelings and slipped slowly into that lonely place on more than one occasion.

Recently though, I was challenged by a devotional I read. Now, please do not mistake me. I’m not one of those Christians that reads their Bible and does their devotional every morning at 4:00am. God didn’t make me that way. But I feel like He knows when He needs to reach me, and He often uses my (irregular) devotional time to do it.

The challenge was this: “Instead of approaching the day as a blank page you need to fill up, be on the lookout for all I am doing.”

It got me thinking… what is God doing through this journey that I haven’t been on the lookout for?

I share my list with you today, friend, not because I have figured it all out and completely understand the reasons for the struggle. Quite the opposite actually. I’m realizing more and more that I have no freaking clue what God is up to 99% of the time and that other 1% is probably just wishful thinking anyway. No, I share the list with you because these are things I hold on to. These are things that keep me from the lonely place, the sad place, the angry place, the jealous place… at least most of the time.

What infertility has done for my marriage

Golly. I won’t share everything I’ve learned in this category because I do believe that some things in marriage are meant to be just preciously held between two people, but I can say a few things with certainty.

Before this journey, there were walls of vulnerability that I didn’t even know existed in my marriage. And why would I? We’d never explored the whole “stabbing your wife with a needle” bit before. What I learned is that I had to be vulnerable and I had to trust. There was no option to not do so. As a natural control freak, this is/was tough for me, but the hormone medications left my vulnerable emotions all out there naked on the table every single day. What’s more is that I had to trust that Benny could ready the injections when I was just too tired to do it.

benny

Treating my husband to some incredible French toast because he’s basically a saint for putting up with me most days. 

AND HE DID GREAT. We even hit a blood vessel one time, and when blood spurted like a puncture pipe, Benny calmly applied pressure. He even felt bad about it. (We had a good laugh about it later because if having targets drawn on your body so your husband can basically throw darts at it and then leave you covered in your own blood isn’t funny, then really… what is?) That’s a good one, ladies. A good one, indeed.

But it wasn’t just the physical stuff we had to get vulnerable and trusting about. We also had to peel away the layers of our marriage that had protected us from the “what if this never happens” question and tease out what we feared if God’s answer is no. We had to daily deconstruct our idea of what our future family looks like and surrender it to a plan not our own. And guess what? That’s what we have to keep doing every single day, and every day, we’re just trying to figure out the next faithful step.

Isn’t that just beautiful though? What if I could do that with all the pieces of my life? Daily surrender my vision of “perfect” and just allow God to rearrange, add, and remove everything to His liking? It’d be hard as hell and I’ve failed more often than I’ve succeeded, but it sure would be glorious.

What infertility has done for my heart

Ugh. Feelings. I used to be a real hard ass… or at least I played the part in public. Infertility, however, has left me crying in the grocery store and raging out at the movie theatre. It’s left me sobbing over happy endings and fuming at the sad ones (in case you haven’t noticed, I have about three primary emotions: happiness, sadness, and maddening rage).

What’s crazy though is that I’ve ended up in so many conversations over the last 21 months about hard things. Infertility, of course, but other stuff too. Moms who can’t take care of themselves, parents who have passed away unexpectedly, messy divorces, job searches that seem endless, unexpected pregnancies, mental health struggles, and the list goes on. In each of these cases, I ended up in conversations with people who I thought had it all together, and yet the whole time, these people were fighting wars and putting out fires I knew nothing about.

This is the human condition, yes? We want everyone to think we have it together, but inside, we are dying a thousand little deaths and crying out for connection. Infertility has taught me that while we don’t often wear these wounds on our bodies, they are etched into our hearts. It has taught me that grace is needed by the cheery checkout clerk and the guy in front of you in line screaming at that cheery checkout clerk. It’s needed by those whose lives are coming apart on the outside and the ones whose tumult swirls inside. At any given moment, grace is needed by you and it’s needed by me… and we should be giving a lot more of it to each other.

So, that’s it y’all. That’s my (current) list in defense of infertility. Sure, the brokenness of it is real. No one can pretend it isn’t, but be on the lookout. There’s some things being beautifully built from the brokenness too. These things won’t fix everything, I know, but they can change a lot.

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