I often find myself looking back to my youth and thinking of what my ideal vision of my future looked like. College, a great job, wife, kids and that nice house with a picket fence. Visions of kids playing in the yard, soccer games and those glorious cookouts with neighbors and friends. Grandma and Grandpa playing with the children on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, you read right. I said children. Plural. Many of us have this dream of having those 2.5 kids that we were conditioned to believe is the ideal family.
Society places a plethora of standards on us as married couples. These standards bring many stresses, fights, unforeseen crisis and sometimes conditional love. One of the main standards that affect couples is when we are supposed to have kids. Those who marry young have a couple of years to wait and then there are those of us who wait until later in life to get married, like late twenties. Laughing out loud here. Like this is late in life. I pray to live to be in my nineties. My soul, in the bible people were having babies in their nineties. Boy, have times changed…Well, back to those of us who married later in life. We have to get started right away because most of our friends have children already so we keep getting that nagging question, “So when are you guys going to have kids?” I believe we all have been there at one time or another- young or old.
A man has to deal with his friends saying, “So what’s going on man? You guys need to get moving and have a few kids!” Being the macho man (that most men are) the general reply is, “We are working on it!” or “Just taking our time.” Don’t get me wrong, I know trying is fun, but then 6 months go by–and then a year–with no luck. You find yourself scratching your head and wondering… Is it me? Is it her? Is it both of us? Are we doing something wrong? You revisit the birds and bees to make sure you are doing everything right. You pull out your calendar, look at charts, and find stuff online. You have the conversations while in line at Target as women tend to feel free to share the old wives tales of what you can do. You hear everything from turkey basters to standing on your head. Then after all the odd male and female conversations that each of you have dealt with, you are left with that awkward conversation with each other…what do we do now? I guess looking back, that was probably the easiest part of the process. But, don’t forget that there are some who just keep everything private and deal with it alone.
One thing we all can attest to is that infertility has no boundaries, it does not discriminate based on sex, race, creed or religion. It affects all of us in some way. Many of us have to live with it, some of us have to live through it and then there are those who haveÂ lived along side it. Some are lucky enough to know the cause, while some never know why.
One thing that we are unprepared for is that period of crisis after discovering that the journey of infertility is upon us–starting the awkward process of fertility treatments…the questions, decisions, money, loans, second mortgages, and how long can you hide it from your friends and family. Do we really want to do this? Should we adopt first? There are so many thoughts and conversations that others have no clue about. The spiritual questions may arise– God says to be fruitful and multiply. Most women have that God given urge to have children and then in a flash it could be no more.
Then there is that first real office visit. I can remember my first visit in the office (for “my” testing). Sitting in the waiting room looking around and knowing what would be expected of me in a few short minutes. Picking up the magazine so I don’t have to make eye contact with others. Suddenly it is my turn to go back. The nurse takes me to “that” door, gives me the layout of the room, and directs me to “the drawer” and identifies the visual aids. Now I am really embarrassed. So, being a cowboy who farms, I politely look at her with a smile and say “Thank you, but do you have any tractor magazines?” We both ended with a laugh. I guess as I have looked back over the years at the whole process–the defense mechanisms we put up can be endless. Some couples or spouses are very open and share with others and some are very private and prefer not to make their struggles public knowledge.
For many who have an outgoing personality or need to seek the advice of outsiders, it is hard (but imperative) to respect the wishes of their spouse…which leads me to the grieving process of infertility. Most couples who are struggling with infertility often grieve alone. This can be made even more difficult if it is combined with the spiritual crisis that infertility may bring. In my years of pastoral counseling and research one of the most common questions I get is “What have I done for God to do this to me?” Being one who has built an academic career based on the journey of my own infertility, miscarriage experiences, and later only to live the horror of pre and post adoption care (or should I say lack of), I have had my fare share of spiritual crisis and confusion. As a result of all of this, I find myself buried, years deep in the research of identifying grieving processes for a plethora of crisis, traumas, losses leading to secondary losses. All of which stems from my own journey of infertility, miscarriage, and pre-post adoption care…
My heart is to let you know that I understand. I have been there and I live with infertility and there is HOPE! Many of us have the desire to move forward despite of our circumstances. Moving forward takes work, understanding, and requires the help of others. We cannot do this alone. As for me, my faith and hope lies in Christ. He is there as our stories are being told. He has come along side us throughout the journey and He will carry us no matter what. He loves me despite all my imperfections and He loves us enough to carry that burden for us. It is my spiritual crisis that, most of all, intrigues me. But I will leave that for next time. In the end I have always been amazed at how God always pulls the plan together. I am just thankful I didn’t get in the way too much!