Tom and I have been through a lot of ups and downs in our marriage but probably nothing has challenged our relationship with each other, with our families, and with God more than our struggle with infertility and miscarriages. So, I wanted to share our story with others who may be facing this same struggle. I am posting a chapter each Wednesday during Lent and will post the conclusion on Good Friday. Maybe it can give someone a little hope. If you missed Chapters 1 through 4, you can read them here, here, here and here..
Unfortunately, even though Tom and I felt a renewed sense of hope, we still didn’t get pregnant. Two more years had passed since the loss of Francis. There were frequent tears and I withdrew even further. We prayed fervently for a baby, but the prayers were just not being answered, at least not in the way we wanted. We said countless novenas, spent hours in adoration, but still, nothing. I began to again question if being a mother to a child on earth was really the vocation God had been calling me to. “Why would he put such a strong desire in my heart to be a mother if it wasn't His will for me?” I asked myself over and over again. I was almost 40 and I was devastated. I was supposed to have 3 or 4 kids by then and yet, I still had none. Nobody starts a family after age 40, I told myself. I’ll never get pregnant in my forties, I told myself. I’m too old to be a mother now, I told myself. It felt like my dream was over and I was haunted by pessimism.
One weekend, feeling particularly depressed, I went to speak to a priest. In the confessional, I poured out all the anger, jealousy and pain that I’d been carrying for years and ended with “I’m tired of people telling me this is all part of God’s plan!” He calmly and patiently listened and then simply said “it’s not God’s plan; it’s just biology.”
“It’s just biology.”
Those words hit me like a ton of bricks. They were so simple, yet they said so much. It wasn’t “God’s will for me”, it wasn’t “what’s meant to be”, it wasn’t “because I wasn’t meant to be a mother.” It was “just biology.”
The words from this priest helped me find the perspective that I had lost during what was then almost 6 years of trying to have a baby. Infertility is just one of many serious diseases that can afflict the human body. By keeping it in the context of it being a serious disease, and not a judgment (or plan) from God, I was able to find some peace again. Why I had been afflicted with this disease was a biological question, not a spiritual one. How I dealt with it was the spiritual part. And when I put it in this context, in a strange way, I felt grateful that, of all the serious and grave diseases that I could be facing, I was given infertility. Infertility was ugly and emotionally painful but it didn’t keep me from ever being able to climb a mountain or run a marathon or swim in the ocean like some diseases could. The emotional symptoms of infertility were at times, debilitating, but I thanked God that at least those weren’t coupled with debilitating physical symptoms as well. And although my prognosis wasn’t exactly encouraging, I did at least have a chance at being healed and it certainly wasn’t going to take my life. I really had a lot to be thankful for and those few words from that priest reminded me of that.
This is not to say that I didn’t still carry a ton of emotional baggage created by month after month of disappointment, but I did at least start feeling like I no longer needed to be angry at God. I realized that God and his angels were suffering with me on those hard days when I longed to be a mother. I still had to battle all the anger, jealousy, resentment, and disappointment that came with infertility, but I could stop battling and questioning God. Now I understood that He was in the fight with me. God only has one plan. His plan is to offer us the grace we need to get through our sufferings in this life, no matter what the cause of that suffering may be. I needed to stop questioning so much and instead, start asking God for His grace to lead me in the direction that He wanted me to go.