A hard lump formed in my throat and tears burned inside my eyes as I focused my vision on the opening scenes. “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” took me by surprise. What I thought would be a fun outing for the children had become a walk down memory lane for me.
After being told there was nothing left to do, the infertile couple drove home in silent reflection of the last few months. I have driven down that road. My mind lingered in remembrance of tests, promises, phone calls and finally, the answer.
Strong emotion stirred within me as the woman in the movie locked herself in an empty nursery and mourned for what might have been. I recalled holding back my tears until a night away gave opportunity for release. And when she walked out of the nursery to declare, “It’s finished.” I remembered my own resolve to move on; “Not my will, but yours.”
The movie captured my attention and gave pause for thought in many areas of life, but the issue of infertility rang most true. Unlike the couple in the movie, our journey came as a surprise since my womb had already held one child.
They call it secondary infertility, but I called it prison. Counting days, taking pills, and tracking bodily functions, became a ritual of pursuing a goal beyond my reach. Waiting in the OB’s office with pregnant women, succumbing to invasive procedures and listening to empty promises felt more like torture than help. We laid the boundaries and when they were reached, we knew it was over.
As we silently drove home, a weight lifted from my shoulders and I remembered to trust God. Our first baby was a miracle and so would any others be. This fertility issue was out of my hands and I was free!
Do you know someone with secondary infertility?
Have you stopped to consider what they might be going through?
Infertility comes as a shock after previous success. Even though we had waited three years for our first positive pregnancy test, we figured we had this conception gig down. We guessed the rest would be easy. Almost four years later, we were told otherwise. That was eight years ago and my womb remains empty.
The social stigma can be just as difficult as the ache for a baby. According to Resolve (The National Infertility Association),
“Sadly, couples with secondary infertility tend to receive less social support from others than couples who have primary infertility because the infertility is unacknowledged, the pain associated with infertility is invisible as the couple has a child, and there is no concrete loss in the family. In addition, couples experiencing secondary infertility may be recipients of criticism by others who think they should be grateful for one child and that it is foolish to go to extremes to increase family size.”
In addition, people assumed we did not want more children, which was a painful misconception to correct.
Have you found a way to just be there?
I felt misunderstood when people advised me to relax or have faith. When we announced that the pursuit was over, people assured us we would finally conceive. They did it again when we announced plans to adopt. People were trying to help, but all we needed was acceptance where we were at and for others to support our choices. We did not need any more predictions or promises.
People accused me of giving up when I gave away maternity clothes along with bins of baby clothes. They did not see the joy I experienced by blessing someone else. Seeing the clothes used again warmed my heart, and I knew it was God’s will. He would be faithful to provide in the future. I was not giving up hope, but setting dreams free by placing them on the altar.
There is always hope when we trust God for his plan.
Now that our family is complete, the empty womb is completely forgotten . . . by others. I will never forget, but give thanks for secondary infertility. Had it not been for my first son, I would not have known what I was missing and then wanted more. Had it not been for an empty womb, I may not have opened arms to my second son and daughter.
God is the one who brought our family together. He used special people and circumstances to make it happen. Every child in our home is a miracle.
Just as my story is different from Timothy Green’s, your friend’s story will be different from mine. Sorrow and joy are common in every story, as well as the need for friendship. Are you willing to be a constant and supportive friend?