Being the Fertile Friend
Infertility has long been a heartache of human history. The Bible itself is full of women begging God for babies--proof that He knew this would not only be an ancient epidemic, but a modern one as well. He knew that in the year 2015, even with the miracle of medicine and adoption, there would still be countless women with arms too empty and hearts too sad- and we would need these stories. The three of us in Mercy River make up a mini microcosm of the modern fertility spectrum. We mirror the women of the world. For example, Brooke has spent almost half of her married years praying for a baby. And then there's me-- the one who can get pregnant right away. Ten years ago, when she was trying for her first baby, I already had two. Then there was the struggle to get her second- and I was pregnant with my fourth. For the past 27 months, she has again pleaded with the Lord to bless them with a baby, and I just gave birth to my sixth.
I am The Fertile Friend.
Being the Fertile Friend comes with a wide range of emotions. I was always excited about an upcoming planned pregnancy, but would literally (literally) pray that Brooke-- and a handful of other family/friends-- would get pregnant first. I always felt butterflies upon seeing those two little lines on a pregnancy test, but got a pit in my stomach when I thought about telling each of them.
Because I'll tell you a secret. Sometimes we Fertile Ones feel shame and guilt because we CAN get pregnant when so many others can't. But then we feel shame and guilt that we feel shame and guilt. Because who should feel shame and guilt over pregnancy?? We understand that being able to bear children is a miraculous gift and we unapologetically love each one without measure. So perhaps what it really is is a sort of survivor's syndrome--we've somehow evaded the plague of infertility, while those we love are still in the trenches. There's nothing we can do to pull them out and we feel helpless.
I'm not at all suggesting that the unsettling emotions we feel on the other side can be compared to the desperate heartbreak of infertility. I'm purely giving voice to a different kind of ache. Infertility affects all of us, because we are all women who love deeply. It affects our sisters, our friends, our daughters, and our coworkers. It's devastating to those who can't bear children. But it also hurts those of us in the wings, who watch our loved ones suffer. It's not fun for anyone.
One day I sat on my friend's couch, listening to her share their struggles to get a baby. She admitted it was hard to live next door to me, because my yard (which was constantly full of noise and toys) was a reminder of what she didn't have. I didn't say a word...because there was nothing to say. I just cried with her.
I often don't know what to do or say and so many times do and say the wrong things. But please know this. For those you who want babies, either because you are not married, or because you are married and childless, or because you have kids but long for more-- I am very aware of you. I watch you. I am in awe to see real joy in your eyes when I tell you I'm pregnant. I find you delivering meals and presents and celebrating at baby showers and hugging my kids. I hear you declare your faith in God's timing and grow closer to Him instead of turning away. I have a deep respect for how you handle this challenge that is so very public. You are amazing.
Now, I'm not going to give you the "we are all mothers" speech. Because we both know that mentoring a struggling reader isn't the same as having a teeny voice cry out for only you, or having a little pair of arms wrap around your neck in the middle of the night. But what I can tell you is that I ache for you. I love you. And I pray for you BY NAME. None of that makes it easier, I realize. But I still want you to know it.
God knows you. He is aware of you. He remembers you.
And so do I.
NOTE: We LOVE to hear your comments, opinions, and stories. Because of the sensitive and personal nature of this post, we invite you email us your thoughts and experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org.