Friday, May 22, 2015

Infertility and Big Families

In the struggle with infertility, we, the infertile/subfertile are not across a divide from our sisters with large families or abundant fertility.  The line is a mental and emotional construct, and it can be deconstructed if only we stop, identify it, and pray for the grace to let any negative thoughts or feelings go.

Here's the real truth, we share more with each other when we are united in faith and open hearts than we could through life circumstance. 

It is my life circumstance that I have a small (to me; society thinks I'm perfecto) family and the education and means to have a comfortable life that includes extras many moms of many have to do without. 

All the trappings might look different, our crosses look different, but at the heart of it, we're walking in the same direction.  All of us, all of us faithful women trying to live out God's will in our lives are heading towards heaven to the best of our ability.  Whether we're walking that walk with 0, 2, or 10 kids, it's the same goal. 

I don't know why my sanctification includes the loss of a child in utero, the loss of a toddler, and secondary infertility.  I don't know.  Any more than you know why your sanctification includes any of the crosses you're carrying....and one of those crosses might be the sheer weight of caring for all the children with whom God has entrusted you.  

 Here we are, all sisters in Christ.  When struggling with infertility, it can be so tempting to step away from our sisters with large families and abundant fertility.  Because they have what we want and we just can't grasp how to bridge that divide or reconcile our aching hearts with our love for them. 

Here's how; walk next to them.  Get to know their heart.  My two biggest supports, my two best cheerleaders in my struggle with infertility have 7 and 10 children. 

They have lost children in miscarriage, they have suffered other crosses, they carry heavy burdens in the care of their family. 

One of those moms was the only person to bring me a meal after we lost Mara in an ectopic rupture.  She didn't even know me at the time really, we just belonged to the same homeschool group.  But, she had lost babies, and she reached out.

Those big family mamas, with their eyes fixed on Jesus have much more in common with the infertile mother struggling to remain open to God's will in her life than the childless woman closed to the gift of life.  Our outsides might look more the same, but our interior life is where the richness of friendship and support comes from.

Infertility is such an isolating cross.  If we're not speaking about it openly, there are many assumptions about how we must be living in ways counter to our faith.  If we are speaking about it openly, it can be difficult for our friends and family to know how to love us and share their happy news.

But all of this, the difficulty in relationship between the fertile and the infertile, this difficulty is from the devil.  Satan is attacking life from every angle he can.  Don't think he's not trying to harden your heart in your infertility.  He is.  He's after you, because you're already vulnerable and exposed.  He's trying to kick you when you're down.

This separation of fertile and infertile women is not of God.  God doesn't share in teaching or tradition that we are to be separate in our communities and lives; the fertile on one island, the infertile on another.

It can be painful on both sides, to see friends struggling with large families when we'd take on that burden without blinking.  But it's also hard for them to see us struggle while they yearn for a fraction of the down time we might have.

We are not called to be comfortable in our relationship with each other on this path to heaven.  We are called to embrace each other, lift each other back up, and encourage each other.

And there is blessing in doing it.  Those friendships are precious, and it has nothing to do with the numbers in our vehicles, and everything to do with the love in our hearts, for God and each other.

Our most recent playdate with those big families was blissfully exhausting :)


  1. Such a beautiful post!! How blessed I am to know you, walk with you, and pray with you along both our journeys with fertility/infertility. God knows us all and gives us the right people and support to help carry our crosses.

  2. I love this so much! So beautifully said (as usual!) :)

  3. Amen. My sister-in-law has ten children. We are close friends and help to carry each other's crosses as best we can.

    1. It's such a blessing to know and walk with other women of faith :)

  4. This is so perfect for me right now. I really do struggle with knowing my place as an infertile, small family Catholic woman among so many fertile, big family Catholics. This post really helped me a lot. Thank you so much! -Jess
    Sweet Little Ones

    1. So glad it spoke to you. Prayers for you and your small-but-mighty army :)

  5. Anne - This is such a beautiful post! I agree wholeheartedly that if we walk together and support one another in our different/yet similar crosses we can deepen our own faith and also our love for one another. God bless you and your friends!

  6. This year will be the 12th year we go on vacation with a family we've known since we parents were all in high school. We have 6 kids; they have one adopted son, as they have never been able to get pregnant. It isn't always easy. For a week each year, each family truly sees the crosses the other family carries. But we encourage and support each other. You couldn't be more right. We are all working towards the same goal. The paths we are given are different, but they don't have to be separate.

  7. Wow, this post was perfect! I am praying for you on your journey :)

  8. This is a beautiful post! Such a good point that the divisions and factions that separate us are not of God but are from the evil one and can be deconstructed! Thank you for writing this.


I welcome positive, supportive sharing in this community. God bless!