4.26.2014

Infertility Awareness Week 2014 - #7


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.

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So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.
~Luke 1:25

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!

9 comments:

  1. Had a nice, long comment and blogger ate it :(

    Anyway, the gist was that I think the disgrace and shame are really the pinnacle of the unique-ness of this cross, *particularly* for the childless. Unlike any other awareness week, campaign, march, etc., those who are infertile and childless don't usually proclaim and spread the word about this awareness in public, because it is associated with so much personal shame. For those with children now, and even for those who have miscarried, there is more of a camaraderie and less judgement in such announcements, and a LOT less awkwardness, but if any of us childless IFers were to publicly request prayers and request an awareness for what we are going through, it is not met with the same support and compassion.

    A person raising awareness for autism, cancer, premature birth, etc. will simply receive monetary support, sponsorship and fellowship for a walk/march, and heartfelt "I'm sorry"s, where the childless infertile would need to be prepared for misunderstanding, unsolicited advice, the dreaded adoption segues, and more.

    While I'm not secretive about my infertility, I also know that the support is just not out there amongst people who haven't experienced it. And while I'd love to be strong enough to go publicly crusade for infertility awareness(not just on my blog, but "IRL,") I know this task is just easier for those who have crossed over to motherhood.

    The heaviest part of the cross, for me, has always been the childless part. Underneath that, I am so often crushed by disgrace and shame, even amongst friends. In that way, I think we who share that part of the cross have gained a small glimpse into Christ's Passion.

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  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. It reminds me that above all I am a daughter of God and I am loved by Him. I can relate to so much of this post. I feel shame when I don't get stuff done around the house, don't cook dinner, etc.. I feel like since I don't have children I should,d be able to do more at home, yet I don't. This post reminds me that above all I am loved and that yes I might not get things done but I bear a different cross than most.

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  3. Yes, the shame is so real! This is precisely why I am having a counselor who is an expert in dealing with shame come and speak at the retreat. I think this is one of the most important parts about the grieving and healing from infertility. For me there was so much shame associated with IF and after the miscarriage it got worse because the enemy started to use that against me. That is why when I sometimes want to quit doing this IF ministry because I am getting no response, I remember what it was like to feel so much alone and I think if I can help one woman/couple in our insanely large archdiocese to not feel completely alone then I will keep doing this.

    I agree with Amy that we who have walked or are walking this path have had a unique insight into Christ's Passion. He was not shamed before God but He was shamed before man as they yelled "crucify him" and other things as he hung on the cross.

    Thank you for writing this! Your bravery inspires me :)

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  4. I guess that I am ... we'll go with "unusual" because I tend to feel more guilt than shame over our IF. But I am also very public about our IF; I know that God has given me the gifts of being able to write and speak well, so I have committed myself to using those gifts to inform and educate others. Some days I'm more successful than others, but I figure that if I have helped even one person, than it was worth it. Just knowing that you are not alone makes such a difference on this journey that I am willing to be vulnerable and expose myself in the chance that someone who needs to know that will hear. I think in some ways I wear "infertile" as a badge of honor or shield, almost like some groups have adopted and turned about epithets.

    The guilt... well, that's mostly about not being able to give my husband children or my parents grandchildren. Knowing how much my husband wants children is what keeps my going through treatment after treatment; if it was entirely up to me, I would probably have given up by now. Even as supportive as they are, it is hard not to feel like it is my "fault," as the medical problems are solely mine. But it's not them causing that guilt; it is my own insecurities, nurtured and fed by the Father of Lies.

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    1. Stephanie, I don't think you are that unusual :). Shame and guilt often go hand in hand, at least for me. It's definitely an experience of where the line between the two of them is blurred more than it is clear.

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  5. Having just started a new job, and being asked a lot more often "Do you have kids", etc, I am becoming even more aware of the akward silence that follows. I. hate. it. I hope and pray God does take away our "disgrace before others" but I guess that's not what really matters. What really matters is remembering and knowing in the corners of our hearts that we are beloved daughters of God. Thank you for this post and for all your efforts this week. I know God has used you so so so so much this week, and I'm so grateful for all you've done.

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  6. Thank you! Such a beautiful reminder -- a call to love ourselves even when it's really hard. We ARE deserving of love, even in this hyper fertile world, because God loved us first. Amen.

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  7. Your points confirm what is so easily forgotten when TTC. The shame. The devastation each cycle. The futility (so it seems) to keep trying again and again.
    Thank you for writing the Infertility Article you did - so many of us shared it and so many new members attest this message has lifted so many women and men up just when they needed it. Sharing our cross of infertility publicly and/or via blog does help others, whether we can see it or not. God is using you to touch so many people's lives! It is AMAZING!! :-)

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  8. Great post, and as all of the women have so eloquently stated, it rings so true in our lives. The shame is ever-present, although it is not from God. But alongside that shame is God's overwhelming love for us--THAT'S what we need to focus on. Thank you sincerely for this great reminder!!!

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