Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pain, Infertility, and The Church

There is a problem in the Church that needs to be addressed. It's a problem with the way the Church handles pain and the people who are going through it.

This post can apply to any type of suffering or pain, but because I am going through infertility, that is the example I'm going to use. 

Like I've said before, I usually don't like to get into my faith much on this blog, but I really think this is something that needs to be addressed.

We are supposed to bring all of our burdens to Christ (Psalms 55:22). Shouldn't we be able to bring them to the Body of Christ, the Church, as well? We should, but unfortunately, many church members just don't want to deal with someone who is going through hardship.  Churches are handling infertility the same way that the world does. They want to sweep it under the rug, not talk about it, and ignore it. As Christians, aren't we called to be different?

After my husband and I had been diagnosed with infertility and were going through all the various tests that come along with that diagnosis we turned to our fellow believers for support. I was quite vocal about my feelings about what we were going through. I thought it was a safe place to do so. It wasn't.

I encountered an attitude of, "Just pray about it and then get yourself together." I was told that voicing my unhappiness with my situation was sinful and that I was bitter. Many people told me that my infertility (a medical condition) was all part of God's plan. I've never had anyone tell me that me being diagnosed with Crohn's disease was part of God's plan, so why do people think it's okay to say that about infertility?

I felt very much shut out and unwanted because I wasn't pretending that my life was just great. When did the idea that you have to be happy all the time to be a Christian come along? Read the book of Job, Lamentations, or the Psalms. Those guys were struggling and they were VERY open with their feelings.

The sense of, "you don't belong here, just go away," that I got from my brothers and sisters in Christ  during that time period has made me very hesitant to go to church. I feel the need to protect and insulate myself. Infertility has already made me feel like an outsider. I didn't need that to be reinforced by other believers.

I know that I am not alone in these feelings. I've heard them echoed by SO many women who are Christian and are infertile. They are told that they need to be patient, trust God, and just pray. The end. Not many people want to hear about what they are really feeling or how hard what they are going through is. 

It's true, I have changed. Pain has changed me. If you can believe this, I used to be one of those bubbly people who was an eternal optimist and loved being around people almost all the time. That has obviously changed. The parts of myself that were so hopeful had to be deadened to protect myself. Imagine what hope followed by horrible disappointment every month would do to the mind of an optimist. I also don't like being around large groups of people anymore. It's hard for me because I'm just not myself anymore. I hope that I get those parts of myself back someday, but they just aren't here right now.

There is a quote I pinned on Pinterest. It says, "Love me until I'm me again." That is what I need from those around me. That is how the Church needs to approach people who are suffering. Understand that when someone has been going through something awful long enough it changes them. Love them until they are themselves again.

Jesus called the suffering to come to Him. Shouldn't we, the Church, be doing the same? There is an astounding lack of compassion in a faith whose greatest commandment is Love. Let's bring some of that back.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good News, Renewed Hope

I met with the new reproductive endocrinologist yesterday. From now on he shall be referred to as Dr. Wonderful.

He looked me in the eye and said, "You ARE going to have a baby." I almost cried right there.

His clinic is much smaller than some of the others that I've been to, and I like that. It feels more personal and less...well...clinical. Dr. Wonderful has the best bedside manner of any RE I've met. The nurses there are great too. But I'll get to the point.


My husband and I are so happy and excited that we now have a chance at being parents. This just feels so right. We know that this is where God has led us. We don't really understand why we're going through all of this, but if there is a child for us at the end of the tunnel we don't care what journey we had to take to get to them.

We have hope now. For someone with infertility, hope is priceless.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We All Build Walls

I've recently noticed just how much I have isolated myself from the rest of the world. This has probably been apparent to everyone around me for quite some time, but it is news to me.

I've built walls. Walls of ice. Walls meant to keep others who might hurt me out. To a certain degree these walls are necessary. But they have also caused me to shut out some people and some situations that would probably be a source of comfort. But I don't know who or what will and won't hurt me deeply.

I've experienced pain at the hands of people that should have been supportive. I guess that my pain was just too big of a burden for them, or maybe they just didn't want to think about anything outside of their pleasant bubble. Everyone builds walls. We have all experienced pain. Maybe those who have hurt me with their carelessness are simply showing me their walls. 

So I built walls. Tall and strong walls. I'm not so sure that I want them there anymore. I'm lonely and I'm tired of feeling isolated. I'm not sure how to melt these walls I've put around my heart and my life. I'm also afraid that if I let my walls of ice melt I will be hurt beyond repair.

When something has changed you at the very core of your being how do you repair the damage that the pain it's caused has done? I'm at a loss on this one.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'm twenty-five today. Of course, I'm pretending that I'm twenty-two. Twenty-five just seems Twenty-five really is the end of childhood. I can rent a car now. I'm REALLY an adult. I have been trying desperately to clutch to youth as I have approached this birthday and I think I've figured out why. 

I am twenty-five, but I feel fifty. In the past year of my life I have had to do a whole lot of growing up in a small amount of time. This year I've had to come to terms with the fact that life isn't always what I thought it would or should be. I have experienced the bitter pain of monthly disappointments. That is a pain that no one should ever have to experience. I've had to change my plans over and over again in the pursuit of motherhood. I'm exhausted. I am sure that my fellow fertility fighters know this feeling.

I have also learned who I am this year. I have learned that I am more than my ability to produce a child. I am talented. I've become a web developer! That's a big difference from what I went to college for (paralegal studies). I've learned to love and hurt with others who are experiencing pain, even if I've never met them. I've found my inner advocate. I have been very vocal about the struggle that my husband and I are going through and often times I am sure that it has been to the annoyance of others. I've learned that I don't care if my choices or my opinions don't meet the approval of others. There are only three people that I need the approval of: God, my husband, and myself.

The thing is, I am Rachel. I am not just a childless woman. I am a woman with many layers. I am talented, loving, creative, caring, funny, and unique. Most of all, I am strong. I have more strength than I ever thought possible. If you had told me one year ago that my husband and I would be where we are now I would have told you that it was impossible, that I couldn't do it. Guess what? I've done it and I'm still standing tall. 

I have my frequent moments of intense sadness and sorrow, but for those of you who don't know me well that is a huge showing of strength too. Until recently I have always pushed my feelings down and tried to never let them show. That was my way of trying to controlling life. I'm showing those emotions now and I know that life cannot be controlled. I am experiencing pain, but I am getting through it.

Thinking back over all that I have learned through this painful year has shown me something. I am going to be a much better mother than I would've been had it come easy. If it had come easily I would have child and my entire identity would be wrapped up in that child. I wouldn't know who Rachel really is. My child will benefit from having a mother who is strong in her sense of self and doesn't rely on the expectations of society to define her worth. More importantly, I am benefiting from that knowledge. 

Yes, I'm exhausted. Yes, infertility sucks. But wow, what a year.