It almost always happens.
Eighty percent of the time, someone comes up to me after I speak on the topic of barrenness and says, “I have a niece/daughter-in-law/cousin/granddaughter just like you. She and her husband tried for years and years to get pregnant, but– ”
And then I get a pointed look in the eye, almost a gauntlet in a glance thrown down at my feet.
“– they have triplets, now.”
There is an awkward silence. I know the woman before me wants me to ask how such a miracle is possible, how her loved one could possibly have three children when I have none, but I don’t.
She continues, raising her eyebrows in delight as she reveals the secret ingredient in her recipe, “Their doctor worked a miracle for them through IV-something-or-other.”
My answer shocks her. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Because I am. All I can think about is whether or not these triplets have any siblings frozen in liquid nitrogen, whether or not their embryonic lives will be as coveted, respected, protected, cared for, and celebrated as the triplets currently sleeping in cribs in a green-and-yellow nursery lovingly decorated with hand-painted trees and animals on the walls.
I get sick to my stomach that we never acknowledge all of the children in such conversations, that our talk about children in general seems fueled by an underlying current of trying to get what we want rather than taking care of our littlest neighbors. When will we start publicly acknowledging that there are more children created through the process of IVF than the ones we see? When will we admit that there are more lives created, discarded, and frozen than the ones we actually want?
So many children…
Please, if you know of anyone who currently has children stored in liquid nitrogen, speak to them. Remind them of their children and their God-given call to parent them. Lovingly urge them to rescue their children from the freezer and attempt implantation. If the cost of such a feat is too high for them to afford, help them with the cost in whatever way you can. If the number of their children is too many for them to parent, help them find an agency who can facilitate adoptions after their children are born.
These children and their parents need our help.
Lord, have mercy on us all.