I wasn't quite sure how to end this week's series. Thanks to A. for giving me the push I needed to finish up this post that I've been working on for a few weeks. I think it is a fitting way to end the week. And, like so often when I write here, where I thought it was going, isn't where He led me at all. This post is for you my beautiful "infertile sisters," it is to you that I hope to bring awareness today. I love you and I thank-you for walking this walk with me.
So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.
These words, spoken by Elizabeth just before going into seclusion for 5 months upon finding out that she who was called barren (and was advanced in age) had conceived, they touch on an aspect of infertility that isn't often talked about. Not even on the "IF blogs." It is the shame associated with infertility.
I've tiptoed around it this week, touching on how our openness to life is different from that of a couple with many children or in talking about the feeling of brokenness.
For me, this shame most appears when I am meeting new people and I am asked "Do you have children?" or worse, "How many children do you have?" The answers, "no," and "none," are small words, but some of the hardest words I ever have to say. Yes, they are just casual conversation starters and getting-to-know-you questions, but there is always an awkward silence after the answer. A pause in which the other person waits to see if I offer more and I pray that the sidewalk will swallow me up.
It's hard to explain where this shame comes from. There is not objective need for it, and yet it is still there. For me, I think, it comes from the fact that it is my body that is broken and that I am so deeply saddened by the fact that The Man is not yet a Daddy. My shame is for me, but also for him. This is the shame and guilt that accompanies CD1, that once again, my body has failed to do that for which it was created. That first sight of blood, no matter how many signs led up to it, is confirmation that I have failed once again.
There is also the shame in all the ways I react and respond wrongly. When I am short or cranky or selfish or any number of other ways that I allow infertility to affect my interactions with those around me. The shame associated with all that The Man puts up with, from mood swings to a messy house and more, all because I'm letting infertility get the best of me. I know I should get up off the couch and clean, but on CD1, it's too much and I just stay put. So many ways every day that I fail, so many failures that can be traced back to infertility.
The first time I heard the scripture above, I was devastated. It was clear that it was telling me that the only way this shame would be removed would be with motherhood. And then, I either read or heard (and if you wrote about this, please give yourself credit in a comment, because what follows is not from me) that the importance of this scripture is not the disgrace that Elizabeth felt, but rather that it was before others. She was not disgraced before God. She does not say anything about God being ashamed of her, or a need to feel shame before God. It was a reminder, that this shame that accompanies infertility is not from Him, but rather from the father of lies. God only sees His perfect children, and He is sad right along with us.
While it doesn't remove the shame completely, and I fail to remember it regularly, infertility is not something to be ashamed of. It makes me (and you!) no less a woman and no less a wife. It doesn't change who we are before God one bit. We are his beautiful, cherished daughters and sons.
So, this final post is for all of you, my dear infertile-sisters. To bring awareness to you, to remind you that you are a beautiful, cherished daughter of God. With you, He is well pleased and you are very good. I pass on to you one of the most difficult penances I was ever given, after a Confession full of sobs of guilt and shame and doubt: place yourself in the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the Tabernacle and ask Him to show you how much He loves you; how beautiful and perfect you are. I promise you, it won't be easy, but if you let Him, He will show you. Take your tissues, and allow Him to take away your disgrace before others by reminding you that you have no disgrace before Him.
Infertility Awareness Week 2014 - Today!