A couple of weeks ago our residency program had its annual end-of-the-year barbecue and skit night. It's a fun time for visiting with families, celebrating the graduates, and getting a good laugh as all the classes perform skits to roast the other classes. It's a good time.
Except when it isn't. I remember so vividly two years ago the overwhelming feeling of sorrow as I walked up to the party. Honestly, I nearly told Jeff to turn around and just take me home. These parties, you see, are filled with babies and small children and big pregnant bellies because nearly everyone who is involved in our program either has a big family or is working on it.
When I think back to the very beginning of our struggle to get pregnant, part of what was so hard was that I felt alone. Of course, if I had let others in to our struggles sooner, I would have quickly discovered that I was not. But maybe part of why it was so hard to open up was that I didn't hear lots of other women openly talking about their struggles. I have often felt that being infertile gets you admittance to a club, but unfortunately sometimes it's a top-secret, private club with an ultra-secret handshake that everyone is ashamed to be in and no one wants to talk about. Why is it that only once you can "come clean" about your infertility do you suddenly find yourself meeting lots of other women who have been there?
After I got my plate of food the other week, Judah and I sat down on a blanket with two friends: one of my residency classmates with whom I now work, Christy, and the wife of a graduating resident, Sara. As we were eating, I was struck because both of these women also struggle with infertility. Christy also used IUI to conceive her son, and Sara has attempted IUI several times unsuccessfully. It's almost like we had planned an actual meeting of the infertile club right there on that plaid fleece blanket, in a sea of the uber-fertile. As we ate and chatted, Sara's Grandfather-in-law came over and made a comment to Sara, gesturing at Judah and Christy's son, Cayden, pointing out how many kids were around and how she should have a child. In that moment my heart just hurt for her. And for me. And for Christy and all those women who have this struggle. Sara, without a trace of bitterness, assured him that she "was working on it." Christy squeezed Sara's knee. I talked about how I used to hate these parties. I was glad we were there together.
I thought about all this again when I went to a wedding last weekend and ran into my middle school history teacher (small world, huh?). As we were catching up, she talked about how thankful she was that God called her into teaching. "I was never able to have kids," she told me, "but as a teacher God made me feel like I did." She just openly volunteered that information. We were basically just making small talk and even though I can imagine the months and years of pain contained in that single sentence, she just freely told me. I was able to tell her a little of our struggles and even in that brief interaction, I was encouraged. I am not alone in this. Even if we never have any more children, God is still good.
That kind of openness is what we need more of in the church. Women who can bring up the pain that God has redeemed in their lives freely and easily and in such a way that those who are entering the same hard path will have a light to follow.
I hope I get there one day.