Sometimes I feel like the perceived image of a Pastor’s Wife is one of perfection. She’s pretty (but not too pretty), she’s smart (but doesn’t overshadow her husband), she’s always hospitable, completely selfless, has wisdom for every situation, and the words she uses always sound like they’ve been lifted straight from a Hallmark card.
That’s the perceived image. Then there’s me. And, I would argue, 99% of the woman who share my title of Pastor’s Wives that want to scream from the mountain tops that we’re just normal, everyday people called by God to marry men who’ve been called to serve Him with their lives in vocational ministry.
We’re not perfect. We’re not flawless. We have problems. We have struggles. We have fears. We hurt. We cry. Sometimes we even scream. Okay, sometimes I scream. I’ve been known to struggle with my temper from time to time. I blame my dad!
Sometimes I feel like the world wants me not to shatter the ‘image’ of being a so-called perfect Pastor’s Wife. I’ve always been the kind of girl who likes to break the mold, however. I am utterly convinced that if anyone holds me to any sort of standard of perfection, I will fail them. Every. Single. Time.
I enjoy talking and writing about things that most people don’t want to talk or write about. Messy things. Personal things. Controversial things. Real life things.
Like infertility. Yes, you read that right.
I struggle with infertility. Or should I say, I struggled with infertility in the past and I’m currently struggling with what is known as secondary infertility.
It makes me sad. It hurts. It makes me angry. Sometimes, if I’m quite honest with myself, I even question why God’s doing (or not doing) what He’s doing in that area of my life. I mean, don’t get me wrong—in my head I know that His timing and His will are perfect. I trust that God will build my family in His perfect time.
But in my heart, I feel broken. I feel like my body isn’t ‘working’. The very nature of a woman’s body is to conceive, carry, birth and nurture children. We are wired to care for our young. It doesn’t matter that my body’s designed for it though. It’s not doing what it’s ‘supposed’ to do to allow me to conceive a child. It doesn’t matter that my heart has been open to and preparing for a new child in our family for quite some time. It doesn’t matter how badly I want it or how much I pray for it. There’s nothing I can do. Well, don’t get me wrong, there are things I can do to increase my chances, but I can’t make it happen.
I feel so powerless. Clearly, I have the ability to conceive. My son is proof of that. I feel bad complaining when so many other woman have never had a biological child. Shouldn’t I be grateful for the one I have? (Not by any means do I intend for that statement to say anything negative about adoption—we are beyond grateful for our daughter who is adopted—surrogacy, fostering, or any other means of parenting a non-biological child. That simply isn’t the purpose of my post).
The truth is, Titus was conceived after a year and a half of futile attempts. Just about the time that I thought I was going to go crazy over the ordeal, I found out I was pregnant. I was blessed to be able to carry him to term and to give birth to a healthy child. I know in my head that I wouldn’t change the timing of his birth. If I had gotten pregnant when I wanted to I’m not sure it would have been an option for us to pursue the adoption of our precious daughter. And even if we would have been able to, our kids would have been just over a year apart. But most importantly, Titus wouldn’t be Titus. He would be someone else. Strange to think about isn’t it?
I have always imagined that I’d finally have the guts to write about infertility once I was past the, well, infertility stage. It’s just so—personal. But, I’ve come to realize that it’s part of my story. Those who know me well know that it’s something that I dream about, pray about, and struggle with regularly. Yet, I feel like I need to ‘hide’ it from the general public. As if it’s a shameful, disgraceful thing. As if I’m broken, and I’m trying not to let the world see my brokenness (in both the physical and emotional sense).
But the reality is, I’m not alone. One in three couples are in the same boat. Take a look around, there’s a very good chance that you know someone who wants more than anything to hold a baby in their arms. You probably know a couple that aches regularly from the pain of being unable to conceive, or carry a child. You know a woman whose heart breaks when a young teenager or unwed woman finds herself solemnly looking at 2 pink lines. You likely know women whose hearts bleed that nearly 4,000 women in the United States choose to kill their unwanted child—EVERY SINGLE DAY. You probably even know a woman who rejoices with those around her that announce a pregnancy (of which there seem to be millions!), who tries in vain to hide the green-eyed monster called jealously that can’t help but rear its ugly head every time the joyous news is announced.
Well, if you didn’t know one of these women before, you do now. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not looking for stories about how you heard once that your cousin’s aunt on her father’s side tried this one thing (or that other thing) and got pregnant the next day. I’m not even looking for words of encouragement. I’m simply looking to be an encouragement to someone else that might be in the same boat, who feels like they’re broken. And worse, that feel like they have to hide those feelings.
Infertility isn’t a communicable disease. It’s not a shameful, disgraceful state of being. It’s simply reality. And it affects a lot of us. For those of you in the same boat—I’m not sure I have a lick of advice to offer. I know I can’t say, or do anything that will make your situation better, so I’m not even going to try. But, it sure is nice to know you’re not alone, isn’t it? Keepin’ it real…
*On a side note, Rob and I do believe strongly in the God who answers prayer. If you feel burdened to pray for us regarding the future of our family, we won’t turn those away. We trust God and his plan for family explicitly, but some days it’s easier than others to wait on Him.