Although infertility has always been a problem, as seen in the Biblical stories of Hannah and Elizabeth, it has never been as widespread as it is now. A couple is medically defined as being infertile if they have not used any form of contraception and have not conceived over a period of 12 months or more. The path of infertility is a difficult one with much pain and suffering. It’s a path not well understood by those who haven’t traveled it. And, although both the man and woman suffer, the woman feels the pain in a piercing way unique to her gender. She is the one to experience pregnancy, feeling the child grow in her womb and so will feel the emptiness more deeply.
Children are the fruit of spouses’ love for each other. The couple becomes participants in God’s act of creation.This results in a child that reflects one or both of the parents. Infertility denies the couple this joy. There is hope and disappointment every month. This is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness and a sense of one’s limitations. With this suffering one is often
tempted to feel sorry for oneself or feel like a victim. It is important to remember all of the good things that God has given us and not be tempted to think that we wouldn’t be good mothers or that God is punishing us.
The pain of infertility cannot be escaped. To find peace the Cross must be embraced and a time of mourning must be allowed. A woman will also have to face her infertility at different stages of her life– reaching menopause or having a hysterectomy or reaching the time in life when she should be becoming a grandmother.
As Marie Meaney says in Embracing the Cross of Infertility- “If we feel crushed by the experience and have the impression that we are therefore responding inadequately to it, this does not mean that we are doing the wrong thing: we can often be under the false impression that being abandoned to God’s will means that in Herculean fashion we will sail through these trials, be a witness to the world through our inner and outer strength, and that we therefore won’t experience so much pain. But being nailed to the Cross means experiencing great anguish. Even Christ did,and He is the Son of God. The only thing we can do is depend on Him, hold up this pain to Him and ask Him to help. This alone will give inner peace.”
This author, in more painful moments, tries to remember to offer a prayer for a mom who is thinking about aborting her baby.