Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas and infertility...

Marcus and I are among the success after infertility crowd, but I haven't forgotten the deep pain of infertility, especially around the holidays.

In fact Christmas is something that I will always associate with our infertility, because we were home for Christmas when we received the phone call with our diagnosis. The news that having a biological child  was not an option, the news that having a child would require medical intervention.

We've made great strides since then, we've become parents x 2, but I haven't forgotten.

I continue to be surprised by those around me who also experience infertility. Particularly, when the pain and the language surrounding the loss of infertility is so similar to my own. I've been reading a book by Miro.slav V.olf (I don't want him to google his name and find my blog haha), called F.ree of C.harge. He's incredibly well known in the field and was my theology professor in graduate school.

We have absolutely nothing in common. He's a 55 year old man from Croatia. He's brilliant, a giant in the field, author of countless books. Our paths crossed briefly in the Fall of 2008 when he was my systematic theology professor, but I'm sure he wouldn't even remember my presence in that class.

Yet, as I was reading his book I discovered that he and his wife suffered through infertility, 9 years they tried to have a child, 100 months of trying. And in his book he expressed, in words almost identical to my own, what it's like at Christmas and in Advent to experience infertility, he writes;
"The season of Advent was the worst. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given," I would hear, read, or [sing] in hundreds of different versions. But for me a child was withheld. The miracle of Mary's conception, the rejoicing of the heavens at her newborn child, the exultation of Elizabeth, all became signs of God's painful absence, not God's advent,... at Christmas, I felt like a child in a large family, the only one to whom parents had forgotten to give gifts. Others' joy increased my sadness. "And his name shall be called, 'wonderful, a mighty God..." No, not wonderful; at best puzzling. No, not a mighty God; at best, a sympathetic but disappointing divine observer. (page 31).

These words, these emotions, are the things I felt, are things I expressed, it's the pain I bore. It's the pain that so many are still bearing as they mourn the absence of a desperately desired child. I am remembering them right now as we approach Christmas. The pain of what seems to be God's absence, in the midst of celebrating miracles of conception.

I imagine that there are some who wonder if I'll ever "get over" the infertility. After all we have children, the end goal of all of this, and in some ways I have. In the book V.olf refers to infertility like a poison, and after he and his wife adopted their two sons he wrote, "Since [infertility] gave me what I now can't imagine living without, [that] poison was transmuted into a gift, God's strange gift. The pain of it remains, of course. But the poison is gone" (32).

That's exactly how I feel. The poison of infertility is gone, and infertility is a poison; it brings out some ugly, crazy, painful emotions, thoughts, and feelings, which once consumed me and made baby showers, birth announcements, pictures, pregnancies etc., a painful and ugly reminder of what we couldn't have. That poison is gone, and I'm so grateful for that, but the pain is something that will always remain.

And so with just a few days before Christmas I remember and offer a prayer of hope and strength for those still in the midst of both the poison and the pain.


Creole Wisdom said...

I love what you wrote here Sadie.

I never understood why the holidays were hard for people until this year when Thanksgiving almost broke me.

When we want something good so badly (like marriage for me, or a baby for you and Marcus) especially for those of Christian faith it can seem insurmountable during the holidays.

I found peace through utilizing Christ's sacrifice for me and putting to use God's promises, but it's still a wirey road.

Two days ago I was invited to a Christmas Eve day brunch celebration for a family friend who got engaged. I debated all morning if I could even say yes to the invite and did, committing to going and committing to celebrating with her.

Life is often about having joy for other's blessings when those same blessings are the ones we don't have.

Merry Christmas and thanks for writing such a lovely blog post.

Carlita said...

This is a wonderful post. Sadly, there are too many people who know this pain.

~Jess said...

Beautiful post Sadie! Said with absolute perfection and truth to the pain of infertility. Especially at Christmas.

dspence said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Silya said...

Great post. I recently finished reading "Hope Deferred" (which sadly seems to be out of print, though you can still find used copies) and the intro is written by MV. It's been one of the best things I've read on the subject from a solid theological perspective.