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
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
I’ve come to accept that infertility isn’t really something people want to talk about. After all, people like to talk about happy things, things they feel educated about, or things we all have in common, like current events. But people avoid talking about the sad things, especially the sad things they can’t relate to. Even though about 1 in 6 couples struggle with some form of infertility, you would never know it, because people typically don’t talk about it when they’re actually going through it. Read More
“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 were a little girl, you probably had dreams of what you wanted to be when you grew up. I had dreams that I would be a teacher. (First, I wanted to be a waitress, a grocery clerk, and later on, a flight attendant. Apparently, my goal in life was to help people.) I also dreamed I would marry an intelligent and kind man, and one day, we’d have kids. Why would it be any other way? This is what happened for my parents and my grandparents. This is what happened for most of my friends’ parents. This is what normal life was like in America.
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
I am here, pure and simple, because of this man named Jesus. I kept hearing about Jesus at school and church, so one day, when I was five years old, I asked my dad who He was. My dad explained Jesus was the Savior of the whole world and could be Lord of life if I wanted to follow Him. I figured if my dad, who was a pretty awesome guy, called Jesus his Lord, then I should too. Everything inside me leaped with joy when I said, “Yes, I want to follow Jesus!” Everything in my life since then has been marked by my belonging to Him. Read More
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
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
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