I completely understand how annoying it is when you are in the midst of hell and someone pipes up that you should focus on the
positives and look for the blessings. Makes you want to reach out and strangle someone, doesn’t it. But, is it possible that there is an underlying blessing in infertility? Listen to these words from someone who’s been there.
“I remember the hollow ache and cutting sorrow of infertility for over four years. I would never wish that pain on anyone, and yet I learned so much about myself and others in the process. It was an extraordinarily painful time for me, and I bristled at every reminder that I was infertile, that I was barren. The only people I trusted with my anguish were those who had walked the same journey with me. At least they understood.
Looking back at the 18 years since we adopted, it’s clear to me that infertility shaped me and prepared me to be a very good/intentional (possibly overprotective) mother. When our daughter finally came to us, I felt like there was no other parent in the entire world happier than we were. And because of our struggles, I felt greatly blessed and humbled to have been chosen by a precious young couple to be parents of their daughter.
Infertility pruned me hard, and I didn’t think I would ever recover from its pain. But I did, and though it sounds trite to say– I count infertility as a blessing.
I am forever changed by IF. I am nowhere near perfect, but infertility taught me I can’t do everything I set my heart to do. Some things are out of my control. Only God can make a baby. I could and did and still do love our children as much as we would have loved our bio kids if they came. I also learned that everyone goes thru something (or several something’s) hard and devastating, and compassion and love, empathy, patience, kindness, and gentleness go a long way. I pray you are encouraged and feel supported and understood in this place. Thank you for sharing your painful night here with us. You are among friends.” ~reprinted with permission from the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group
Have you found any blessing in infertility?
Image credit: gmayster01 on & off …
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I have found no blessing in 21 years of infertility, neither visible nor hidden. Why would I? The bible says that children are a blessing, and fruit of the womb a reward.
Having children was our greatest desire, and God has chosen to not help or intervene. Where’s the blessing in that?
I’m so sorry – I cannot imagine having that desire unfulfilled for so long, feeling as if there were no answers or help for me. I hope you have been able to find other blessings to your life along the way, even if you cannot find a blessing in infertility.
It’s been another year and no other blessings here, no help or consolation from God either. He is “faithfully absent” and I no longer see any point in clinging to my rapidly dwindling faith.
Hi from ICLW!
It’s not infertility but loss that I guess could be seen as a blessing in the author’s eyes. Though, I wouldn’t personally consider it a blessing, I get what they’re saying.
I don’t wish miscarriage and what I’ve gone through during the last two years on anyone, but I do think it’s helped me know what to say to others experiencing something similar to what I have.
I really believe that my infertility has been a blessing, despite all of the pain it caused me. I don’t think I was meant to have a biological child and that I was meant to be an adoptive mama. Ever since I stopped trying to force my body to do something it clearly doesn’t want to do (maybe for good reason) and began the adoption process, I have felt healthier, happier and more centered than ever before. Infertility is so painfully horrific but now that I’ve been through the grieving process and have accepted it, I can see it for what it was: a blessing in disguise.
Allie, I’m glad you’ve reached this point of acceptance.
Hello from ICLW! I definitely can relate to being blessed, in a weird way, by my fertility struggle. It made me a different person, a different mom. I am so eternally grateful for my children and not a day goes by where I don’t try to show them that. I think infertility had something to do with that for me. Struggle can definitely change a person, and change their perspective. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but it’s made me who I am. Great post!
I can see the writer’s point and am pleased for her that she has come to that view, but infertility for us is neither a blessing nor a curse. It’s a disease. It sucks, is difficult to come to terms with, and at least in my case, is irreparable and untreatable. It did change our perspective on life but so have many experiences, including the adoption process, going through grad school, getting in a car accident, losing and gaining friends over the years…a far greater influence on our parenting has been the research and conversations we’ve had with people about adoption and transracial adoption and caring for a preemie. It’s led us to be more mindful about how and when to advocate for our daughter, how to make sure she is safe and has room to grow and become independent, how to Be There when she needs us. Our infertility struggles were about our desire to become parents, our medical issues, our frustration, and our pain. (I know there are other people who experienced this differently, but I think that describes our path reasonably well) When we started down the adoption path, we could turn to what it means to be a parent – in part because the path itself was pretty well laid out – and away from our internal struggles. I think we’re (hopefully) better parents than we would have been because we had time to prepare, read, learn, network. That was a hard and valuable process.
Anyway, infertility is only one part of our story and of all the things that make up who we are and how we face the world. We can’t walk away from it, so we do our best to accept it – and most days succeed.
[the whole discussion reminds me of this story: http://scottteitsworth.tripod.com/id41.html%5D
Anon AP–I loved the parable that you linked to. Words of wisdom for sure.
I agree with sue. If I hear “everything happens for a reason” again, I will scream. So my first son died so I could adopt my oldest? And we lost another child so we could adopt our youngest? So I see Michelle’s point here too. While I try to focus on the positive, it doesn’t change that the negative is there. I’m still bitter.
Yes, yes, yes, infertility has been the biggest blessing in my lifetime, and it will forever be. For nearly 10 years I struggled with the procedures, the drugs, the baby showers too numerous to count that just kept passing me by. And then came adoption…blessed with our first two beautiful children entering our world in unexpected ways and teaching us how to truly love. Even though our first adoption failed after three months and we had to endure continued pain, it still brought me to my son. God does bring you the children he intends you to have. Own what your body is telling you, but don’t try to own the outcome – it is out of our control (this spoken from a truly type-A control freak labeler and list maker:)
Addie, beautifully said. There are so many ways life teaches us that we don’t really have control over the outcome. Infertility is sure one of them.
Infertility is so difficult to go through, really at any point in the process. And people just can’t “get it” unless they’ve been there in some respect. The last four years have been the most difficult of my life. That said, my son who was adopted from Russia, was born the very month I would have given birth had I gotten pregnant right away. If I had gotten pregnant right away, I never would have been blessed with him. I’ve had three miscarriages in the last 12 months and gone through 4 IVF cycles. I’m not going to say this last year of losses was easy, or that I feel like I somehow needed to go through them, or even that God had a plan…but I will say this, they made me stronger and they made my marriage stronger. Infertility has shaped who I am. It has made me harder in some ways, but I think I needed to be. Infertility has also opened my eyes to the struggles of others; you NEVER know what someone is going through without walking in their shoes, and that’s simply impossible. I am thankful for my son, I am thankful for my baby coming this spring, I am thankful that i have the ability to be grateful for what some take for granted, but most of all, I am thankful for the way my views of life, blessings and the world has drastically changed over the last four years. So I guess in a way, I am thankful for infertility.
If I had to look for a blessing in IF, it would have to be this-I have learned more about this disease and disability than I would have if I were fertile. It has made me want to fight hard for the “right” of infertile people to overcome their disability in a way they can live with, and to get the rest of the world to understand its many causes and to offer real support to those of us who struggle with it and who still wish to be parents. It has taught me how much we can take for granted in terms of our fertility-we assume we are fertile and that we have control over it until we are forced to learn otherwise. It has made me more cautious when dealing with people who do not have children-I no longer assume that their childless state is always by choice-not that I did before, but I am much more sensitive to it now, and I cringe inside when I hear others make comments to these people that assume that their childless state is purely by choice. It might be, but it might not be, and I am always aware of that now in a way I wasn’t before. I have learned that even though pregnancy and giving birth are important ways to become parents, becoming a “real” parent requires much much more than that.
Leilani, I loved this-[Infertility has also opened my eyes to the struggles of others; you NEVER know what someone is going through without walking in their shoes, and that’s simply impossible.] So true.
Mary, like so many “lessons” of life, they are not always things we would have chosen to learn, even though we can be thankful for the lesson after the fact.
As someone who is still childless, I am not able to call infertility itself a blessing. But, I can acknowledge a number of positives that have come from our infertility. The experience has brought my husband and I closer together and created a bond that only we can understand. It has forced us to closely examine our priorities and discuss why we want children and what else we want from our lives. Infertility has also shown be how many wonderful people I have in my life. Friends and family have provided emotional and financial support for which I am grateful.
I would have to say infertility itself was not a blessing whatsoever. Am I blessed to have my adopted son? Of course. That’s separate from the condition of infertility. Some things are just super hard and sad, and it’s ok to say no goodness came out of them. It happened, and that is part of existing.
Infertility is still part of my identity and I’d prefer if I’d never experienced it. Some of the old pain and difficulty still affects my marriage.
Leilani Writer and Dawn Davenport, thank you for your posts and the blog that kicked off this thread. I am an adult adoptee and I value hearing what it might have been like for my adoptive mom (she passed away fourteen years ago this month and I’m still learning more about her)!
” I felt greatly blessed and humbled to have been chosen by a precious young couple to be parents of their daughter.”
Here! Here! I feel this way all of the time !
besides hopefully becoming more compassionate to others, i have met the most amazing women. those were the friends there for me, across the globe, when the you know what hit the fan.
My blessing would be that I had an amazing doctor. I would have never met him if it hadn’t been for infertility.
After trying to conceive for 6 years, I can say that I am a better person because of my infertility. I decided to “birth” a business after several years of trying to conceive without success. My business touches many people in a very positive way. I started a Fertility support group 3 years in and made some wonderful friends and have seen many of the women become moms through birth and adoption. Most of all, I have had lots and lots of time to think/dream about the kind of parent I hope to be one day soon. We are waiting to be matched now…I will be a different mom now than I was 6 years ago…and I do believe I will be a better one.
“I would have to say infertility itself was not a blessing whatsoever. Am I blessed to have my adopted son? Of course. That’s separate from the condition of infertility. Some things are just super hard and sad, and it’s ok to say no goodness came out of them. It happened, and that is part of existing.
Infertility is still part of my identity and I’d prefer if I’d never experienced it. Some of the old pain and difficulty still affects my marriage.”
You know, in a way I appreciate your viewpoint because you have acknowledged that you are allowed to separate your feelings about your IF from your feelings about being a parent – certainly no-one should ever expect you to consider IF a blessing. That viewpoint (i.e that one’s feelings re IF are separate to feelings re adoption) can also help many APs to understand their child’s view in that they can then acknowledge that whatever feelings their child has about their adoptive parents and family is separate from how they might feel about certain aspect re their adoption, eg even the basic fact of being born into one family and raised in another. I think that being able to separate feelings helps an AP to relax and move forward in parenting their child.
There is no blessing for me when it comes to infertility. Even if my wife and I become parents down the road, I would trade anything in my life that doesn’t involve my family to have not been dealt the hand we have. Sure I’ve learned a lot about infertility, donor conception and adoption but I would rather be ignorant on those topics if it meant being able it have a biological child. My infertility will always be with me and nothing will ever change that. For me it hasn’t and I don’t think will ever be a blessing but that’s just me.
I often think it must be nice to be a believer. As one who is not statements like these “Only God can make a baby” creates a total disconnect for me with others, adding insult to injury I run into people who think that my lack of belief in God somehow plays a role in infertility and that line of thinking is a whole can of worms.
I wouldn’t say infertility is a blessing for me per se as adoption was always part of my plan. Admittedly my plan was to have two biological children and then adopt an older child likely through foster care. International adoption certain provides one a humbling education on what is happening around the world and forever changed my perspective and the direction of my professional work, interestingly brining me back to what I always dreamed of doing but never dared.
My favorite realization of late having had our daughter home with us for 11 months now is that with many things in life including having children it is the idea of something that can hold me back. Hindsight is 20/20, had I known before fertility treatment that I wouldn’t in fact care if our child looked like or was like us I’d have gone straight for adoption. It’s silly really because I know plenty of people who have had a biological child who was nothing like the parents. Yet somehow the idea that this child would look like us, that we’d have this new perfect little baby to mold as we saw fit is a powerful idea. Adoption forces you to let go of all the things you can’t control pretty quickly. I suppose infertility helps with that too.
Having been told my infertility was likely related to environmental toxins I worry about how we are poisoning ourselves and our world and have concerns about infertility problems increasing for future generations. Even if I did believe in God, I’d have a difficult time understanding God’s role in that.
While I believe there are positive things to be learned from all experiences I certainly would not call infertility a blessing. Perspectives vary.
A lot of women above (including the Facebook group’s writer in the original blogpost) have written some beautiful and moving testimonies as to how they appreciate the experiences they’ve been through WRT infertility and how it’s made them a better person, but I guess I’m not quite there yet! :p
Although I am very thankful for our two sons whom we adopted four years ago, I share more of Pat’s experiences. As she wrote, “Some things are just super hard and sad, and it’s ok to say no goodness came out of them. It happened, and that is part of existing.”
Thus, I guess you could say that I’m in that in-between stage of being depressed and bitterly accepting the permanent reality of infertility, albeit happy that we’ve built a family with two great kids. Hopefully someday–who knows when–I’ll be able to grow from this experience and look back on it and be thankful for the infertility itself, but I’m just not there yet.
Michelle, no cover blown nor needed. 🙂
To add to my comment above, I would not feel comfortable calling infertility a “blessing” because blessing has such a strong positive connotation. I see it as more of a “test”-IF tests the strength of your marriage/relationship/partnership, it tests your endurance of how much pain you can take in your life, it tests your desires and motives for wanting to be a parent, it tests what you take for granted in life (that fertility is there waiting to be drawn upon when you are ready and that you are in control of it), it tests your preconceived notions of what makes a family and what kind of family you can see yourself being a part of, it tests your sense of trust in a benevolent “God” and really makes you think about what kind of God you believe in-in that I don’t believe that IF is part of a loving God’s “plan” for anyone who wants to be a parent and who has what it takes to do so and to do it well. It can test your friendships and relationships-you REALLY find out who your friends are when you are IF. IF is a test moreso than a blessing, and like many tests that we are dealt in this life, it is not a fair one, but it can and will show you what you are truly made of.
Wow–just now read Laura Jean’s post above; it, too, must have been pending mod approval when I originally wrote mine, because I don’t remember seeing it earlier. Especially the first portion of what she’d written hit home with me in that Laura Jean had the courage to disclose her non-believer status where I did not. Probably because I come from a particularly religious family, and most of my friends and people I know ARE indeed religious, I am often too timid to speak up and discuss my atheism/agnosticism (yes, you can be both). 🙂
Generally, it’s one of those “never talk about religion or politics at the dinner table or at work” societal mores that I try observing in life, and sometimes much to my peril. It’s a huge reason why I’ve often felt so lonely in dealing with my infertility, because I too have experienced the “let go and let God”/”God will never give you more than you can handle”/”God had a bigger plan for you” talk that well-meaning friends and family have tried to dispense, where it helps me none whatsoever. While trying to be sensitive to and respectful of my friends’/family’s worldviews and what helps them feel spiritually fulfilled, I find that all I can do when my attempts at religious/nonreligious coexistence are not reciprocated is to simply keep my mouth shut. :-/
FWIW, the whole “blessing” terminology doesn’t really sit well with me. It did prompt a very interesting discussion though awhile back with a fellow IF about what being “blessed” means to people and the connotation for those who don’t get the children they desire. I agree with Pat that I don’t view IF as a blessing – it is just an awful thing. If good comes later – it doesn’t necessarily come out of the awful thing – they are separate events – and they can coexist without one diminishing the other.
I’m not sure I’ll ever see IF as a blessing. It sucked the entire time we were TTC. I do agree however that I have learned a lot about myself and my relationship with my husband while we were TTC. And I do feel quite lucky to have finally had a little boy, but IF is definitely not something I would ever wish on anyone nor want to go through again (although, we will most likely have to if we want to try for a second).