The Trail of Tears: Infertility

Mama and #2

Mama and #2

The hubby and I are currently in a phase of life that’s left us with some serious contemplation time. While we can’t share any of it now, I thought I’d share some of our thoughts.

While we ourselves have never experienced infertility, we’ve had quite a few people around us who have. My parents struggled for I’m not sure how long before they decided to do IVF. (In-Vitro Fertilization, for those of you not sure what that is. Essentially, petri dishes rock my socks off and all…) Thankfully, I cleared the way for my sister and brother. Another close couple spent multiple cycles trying other fertility treatments, only to finally toss in the towel. Amazingly, the very next month, they found out they were pregnant.

For lots of people, though, this isn’t the case. I watched the movie “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” the other day, and Jennifer Lopez’s character really hit home for me. At one point, she says, “It’s all my fault. I’m the one with the bad eggs. I’m the one who can’t do the one thing that a woman is designed to do. It’s all my fault.” My heart broke.

You see, while we haven’t struggled with infertility, we have had two miscarriages. They were very, very early, and the doctors were surprised I even knew I was pregnant. They happened within two months of each other, and to soothe my crushed heart, I’ve convinced myself that my 20 minute long soaks in a hot tub after work (as a swim instructor, which is darn cold work in the winter) is primarily to blame. Still, I had a little voice in the back of my mind tell me over and over again that I was a failure. I had failed as a woman. Here, I’d made this beautiful baby boy out of wedlock, at a young age, and with a guy I’d just met, and two years later I couldn’t do anything. Looking back, I’ve settled my demons about it, but the pain and the doubt and the self-abuse remain. Even if they’re just memories now, they remain.

The moment I found out that I was pregnant with #2, my heart exploded. All of my fears were magnified, but my joy was so much larger. I was creating life again. I was carrying the most precious person close to my heart. The timing financially and lineally may not have been ideal for those around us, but hubbie and I were thrilled. I can remember sobbing to myself at church during worship, utterly terrified and completely amazed and in love with #2. I was 6 weeks pregnant. The feeling never went away.

And yet some people can’t experience that. Whether it’s because of a disease or a physical abnormality or just some unknown reason, she can’t hold that life within her. She won’t experience the feeling of her heart bursting every time she touches her stomach. She won’t know the way that midnight ninja kicks to the bladder can be so uncomfortable and yet so exciting at the same time. She might one day hold a baby in her arms, and her love for that child will be just as strong as the love for her own flesh and blood child, but she will miss the experience of pregnancy.

I’m not trying to berate the mothers out there who have adopted, or the aunts or sisters who have taken a child into their hearts as if it were their own. They have a special place that is perhaps even above those of us who can have children, because it takes a special person to have such an open heart. I honor and respect those women (and men, because I know there are so many fathers and brothers and uncles out there who do just the same and feel a similar amount of pain and joy).

What I am trying to say is that I would do anything in my power to help those women who cannot have a child of their own.

If it’s something so simple as letting them cuddle my baby, I’ll let them cuddle him all day long. I have him forever. I can share.

If it’s praying with them as they go through more fertility treatments, go through surgeries, or go through the long process of adoption, I’ll do that, too.

If it’s being a shoulder to cry on, a friend to cry with, I will gladly grab the kleenex and come over. I would have given anything during and just after my miscarriages to have a friend come sit silently with me and just cry. To know that someone out there is mourning what will never be, too, is the greatest comfort, I find.

But what if the option that presents itself is not conventionally thought of or accepted? What if it’s something strange and foreign, only possible with our advanced sciences? Would I still do it? Surrogacy. Egg donation. Would I willingly give up my body or give up my DNA, my child? Would I be willing to lay it all on the line?

My husband said something profound last night while we were talking and it stayed with me. He said, “Giving up a piece of you, like surrogacy or donation, that’s got to be the most Christian thing someone could do. Not everyone’s gonna do it, but you can’t get more selfless than that.” It made me sit back and think. After all, Christ gave his life for us. Would I be willing to give life to someone else, knowing that whatever child arose would be tied to me and yet would never know me? Would I be willing to love so strongly that I could love invisibly a person who I would never met, a child I could never see?

What do you think?

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