Secondary Infertility

So Much Death

My heart can barely hold the grief.

It leaks out of my eyes as I bow my head in church. I’ve learned to pray with my eyes open, so that the tears drop straight to the floor and not onto my cheeks and clothes in tell-tale streaks.

It shudders from my lungs in seismic waves as Pastor reads the Gospel lesson. I’ve learned to hold my breath until my chest burns, camel-clutching my wayward diaphragm into submission.

It squeezes out of my larynx in pathetic whimpers as I sing, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I’ve learned not to program “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for the Sunday school children lest they witness more sorrow in Advent than their parents want to explain on the drive home.

But my eyes, my lungs, my larynx – all rebels, every one. They get the better of me every Advent, because I know of more children dead than born.

So much death! How can I bear it?

And, as happens every year, I look to the image of my Lord as a tiny baby in the manger, and I remember, “So much life!”

I cannot bear it, so Jesus bears it for me. He is born to conquer death for my sake and for yours. He gives us life everlasting, and He gives it abundantly.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

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Big Sister

MP900341507My young pen pal recently became a big sister through adoption last year – twice!

Here’s how she described her new life as a big sister in her most recent letter to me:

We are super busy. Sometimes I lock myself in my bedroom, lie on my bed, and try to imagine life BEFORE munchkins 2 and 3. It is IMPOSSIBLE. I can’t even think of our living room 2 years ago. 🙂 Right now, Little Brother is hanging onto my chair watching Little Sister ride her tricycle around the kitchen/dining room while holding her baby doll. She stops every time she goes by Little Brother to smile at him.

Isn’t that delightful?

Have you and your husband considered adoption?

Secondary Infertility

I met Tender Heart last weekend.

Her flaxen curls billowed around her pixie face in the September sun. Her tears were tiny, shiny glass balls dangling off the cliffs of her cheeks.

“Everyone else at school has brothers and sisters,” she cried. “I’m the only one who doesn’t. All I want is to be a big sister.”

Eight years young, and Tender Heart already knows the sting of barrenness.

My eyes moved to Mother. Silently, patiently she bore with her daughter’s grief, snuggling Tender Heart deep into the safety of her blanket arms. The only trace of her own deep sadness was the quiet network of shiny rivers streaming down her own cheek cliffs.

And I wept in shame.

For I weep for myself in my barrenness, but Mother weeps for her suffering child.

The mother of one bears a double cross.

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The Great Temptation

The great temptation of barrenness is to believe that God’s blessed favor will only come to you in the form of a child of your own.

Well, it doesn’t, though it does come in the form of a child – the child Jesus, born to die for your sins.

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; Break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!” (Isaiah 54:1 and Galatians 4:27 [ESV])

God’s blessed favor is for you.

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“To the barren ladies I know and the ones I don’t”

bleeding-heart-flower copySomeone loves you and prays for you and bears with you, dear sisters. Read this and rest today while a sister in Christ shoulders your cross.

I’m the one with more children than you have fingers on your right hand. I feel ostentatious and gaudy around you. I feel like having my babies with me is in poor taste, like I am flaunting my riches. I cringe to imagine that you might feel the same way, you who have suffered so much in your own mind and who are now subjected in real time, in public, to stare in the face the dream that hasn’t come true for you. I am so sorry it hasn’t. I am so sorry to think that I might be causing you more pain. I ache for the love you show my silly little people. I don’t know if I could.

I sin your sins. When I see all the world’s human trash with its ill-bred and empirically worthless children, I seethe to think of the pearls cast before them while your clean neck and open ears and graceful wrists and industrious fingers are bare. When another moron teenager turns up pregnant, I want to rage at God for what I can only see as unimaginable injustice and just plain poor planning. I want to make it right. I want to distribute the world’s children sensibly by my own self-righteous fiat. I want YOU, you wonderful, smart, talented, responsible, faithful Christian person, to be a mother of nations. NOT THEM.

I see it. I didn’t want to, but I loved you so much I finally looked and really saw it, or saw it as well as one such as myself is able to. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. It looks like utter desolation, like horror. I can’t look long. I can’t believe it’s the view out your window every hour of every day. Oh, you. You have lost what you never had.

But I know also that we are nearsighted. I am so nearsighted outside of this metaphor that, without my glasses, I can look into a dark bedroom where I know there is a digital clock and still see no light whatsoever. This is how we see into eternity also. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. So I know that, despite its appearance to myopics like us, the desolation is not utter. I know you know too, and we walk by faith together because our sight is untrustworthy.

I cannot tell you how much I respect and admire you for not trying to take by force what God has not given. You are like the man on a lifeboat, crazy with thirst, who still knows better than to drink seawater even though his companions fall to the temptation. It must be so hard to watch them–to watch them sicken, to watch them die, to watch them live. You are the one who clings to a true hope and has the best chance of healthy survival. You trust the Lord, though he slay you.

I thank you for the witness that you are to the sacred blessing of marriage no matter what the quantifiable yield of that marriage. I thank you for the witness you are to the inherent value of femininity no matter what the quantifiable yield of that femininity.

I don’t say these things to you because I feel I don’t know you well enough, or I don’t know how you are doing with all this right now, or I know you feel as sick of this being the relentless topic of your life as I am of the relentless topics of my life. But I want you to know that I am always thinking all these things even as you are, and I pray for you always. I’m sorry if my not saying something makes it seem like I don’t care or I don’t really get it. I know I don’t really get it, but I try to, and I care so much.

I know you feel empty, but you bear the heaviest burden, and bearing is never without gain. God bless you, strong one.

The Control Factor

MP900321091There is comfort in control.

It is common for victims of assault to comfort themselves with illusions of control. For example, women who have been beaten or raped often find blame in themselves for the crime that was committed against them, because, as long as they are somehow at fault – as long as they are not truly victims of some terrible atrocity outside of their own control – then there is something they can do to keep it from happening again.

We comfort ourselves with illusions of control, as well. As long as there is something we can do to get pregnant – some dietary change or surgical procedure or herbal cocktail or adoption agency we can utilize to give ourselves the gift of a child – then we are not really barren. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for all of the healthy foods, vitamin supplements, doctors, procedures, and foster care training I have utilized over the years, for they have offered me physical relief and instructed me in how to better care for my neighbor; however, none of these things have given me control over my parental status.

If we could really control our barrenness, don’t you think all of us would be parents, already?

Seeking control of our fertility is a chasing after the wind. Children, birthed or adopted, are a heritage from the LORD, a gift from Him to receive. Turn back to your Father in heaven and ask Him to give you all good things according to His will. Then, rejoice, for He is wise in His giving.