when people try to fix our problem

I’ve noticed that people like fixing other people’s problems, and the problem of infertility is no exception. In conversations with people about your infertility, have you ever heard anything similar to the following?

  • A friend of your friend was struggling to get pregnant. Then she and her husband fostered some children, and because she wasn’t so focused on getting pregnant anymore, she finally did. (In other words, your anxiety is the reason you’re not pregnant.) 
  • A friend of your friend was trying to get pregnant, but then she adopted some children and now she is perfectly content as their mother. (In other words, you don’t have to parent biological children to be happy.)
  • A friend of your friend’s was having trouble getting pregnant. Then she adopted and realized God was truly the one in charge of her family. And now she’s pregnant with twins. (In other words, you also must not have given over everything to God yet. Otherwise, you would be pregnant too. Okay, that’s the pretty cynical interpretation. Maybe they are trying to say that God’s timing is not your timing.)

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that double war for our souls

There can be a lot of shame around being infertile, even in America, and especially in other countries where the patriarchal systems remain in full force. Willem Ombelet of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology said, “If you are infertile in some cultures, you are less than a dog.” In the U.S. we can feel shame around infertility because of the stigma or the feeling of “strangeness” that comes with being peripheral to societal norms. Read More

the stigma and the scars

I hate to admit it, but there’s still a stigma attached to infertility in our society. Merriam Webster defines stigma as “a scar; a mark of shame; an identifying characteristic, specifically a diagnostic sign of disease.” The best definition I found for it was a “spoiled identity” (Goffman, 1963). There is often a stigma attached to infertility for us because that which should be a mark of femaleness – the ability to give birth to babies – is “scarred” or “spoiled” in barren women. Read More

when your brain tries to write its own narratives

“Sometimes life is hard, for no reason at all.” Carole Boone, Remember the Titans

When I first found out I was infertile, I told myself there had to be a reason. Surely there was something God knew that I didn’t. There I was, like someone crawling around in the dark, arms extended, desperately grasping for answers. Because that is what the brain does what it doesn’t know the full story. It tries to fill in the blanks so that you can stay sane, so that you can keep living your life without everything spinning out of control.   Read More

when you’re the strange one

It’s strange walking around being married for 11 years and having no kids. Yes, I’ll own that. My parents raised me not to care about what people think, so I’ve always been a little strange. Case in point: I had this stuffed clown that I slept with every night until I was 22. I’m not sure which is more strange: not having kids after all these years of marriage, or not getting rid of that clown. (For those of you who hate clowns, don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about it anymore. Also, I’m not a psycho. My grandma gave it to me when I was a kid.) 

Anyway, my lack of children has arrived at the “strange” stage. After all, having kids is the natural way of things. You get married. You do things married people do, and eventually, that leads to kids. We see it happen all around us all the time.

Except, sometimes it doesn’t. Read More

fearfully and wonderfully barren

For a long time, I didn’t believe God loved all of me. I knew He loved me because He had sent Jesus to die for me, but I thought He couldn’t love the part of me that was still broken, the part of me that was marred by sin. I pictured Him looking down from heaven, watching me go about my day, and every once in awhile, a disappointed look would cross His face. He would turn away, thinking, I wish Anna could have kids. Read More

one in a million: part 2

I gained some confidence after starting my cycle. I began caring more about my appearance and started dating.  I could finally put the worries of my pseudo-womanhood behind me. Or at least, I could shove the fears and anxieties of my teenage years to the back of my mind and act like they weren’t there, which is exactly what I did.  Read More

one in a million: part 1

Note: Let me start by saying my story is not your story. I am keenly aware of this. You may have just found out you were infertile and are trying to figure out what to do next. You may already have biological children, but getting pregnant again is looking more and more unlikely. You might be single and eager to have children with a spouse, but you’re not even dating anyone.  All of our stories and sorrows are different, and there is really no point in comparing our suffering. As Jerry Sittser says, “The right question to ask is not, ‘Whose is worse?’ It is to ask, ‘What meaning can be gained from suffering?’” (A Grace Disguised) For this reason, everyone’s story is important. And now, I’ll go ahead and share mine. Read More

the way of meekness

Years ago I realized if I was ever going to make it in this Christian life, I needed a better understanding of meekness. Meekness is that spirit the Bible says is so pleasing to God (1 Peter 3:4), but which we often misunderstand to be making oneself a doormat. I had been operating as a pretty good doormat for a while, but I was growing weary, bitter, and angry about it. My sinful heart was taking over. I could no longer resist temptation. My self-righteousness was growing. I was unwilling to confront my fears. I knew deep down that this wasn’t what God wanted from me. But what was the better way? Read More