Confession, we are deep into the college football season and, well, we love football around here so I’m gonna beg your forgiveness for the photos with shakers and team analogies and too much Aubie. Pinky promise, I did not start off this post about the Do’s and Don’t of Being Infertile with football in mind but out of the mouth, the heart speaks, and thus, football.
So Let’s Play Ball!
For the first 11 years of our marriage, we were members of newlywed/young married Sunday School classes. And yes, they were actual Sunday School classes that met every Sunday morning before the traditional choir robe wearing worship service. Contemporary churches were not our thing but occasionally, our traditional churches let the choir sing, Mighty to Save as the special and people thought that made us “blended.”
Anyway, we were not newlyweds any longer and hadn’t been in a while but we didn’t have kids. Thus, newlyweds. Some of the other couples in the class did have kids and as the years went by, most of them had kids eventually. We got together as a group often because back in the day, in 2004, Sunday School classes did these things called “socials” where the class would plan an activity outside of the normal learning about Jesus time on Sunday morning. Now we do it all together during small group or community group but IN YE OLE DAYS fellowshipping was a whole separate thing.
Team Mom sat at kitchen tables chatting about toddler tantrums and breastfeeding and sharing birth stories, Team Dad’s around a TV yelling for touchdowns and false starts and personal fouls, and team Mascots, the kids, running around destroying things.
And then there was me. Team Infertile.
Infertility affects every area of your life. There’s no way around that. During most of those long years, I felt like I belonged nowhere. Not with the women and not with the men.
But then, we were finally pregnant, and like someone switched on light, I suddenly found myself “normal” with a seat of my own on the mom bench. Only, I felt incredibly out of place. Like I had been the weird, infertile one for so long and this almost immediate move to normal, soon-to-be-mom felt like I was playing on the wrong team. Like I’d gotten traded mid-season to the team across town.
And friends, it took me years to begin to feel like I was allowed to be on Team Mom and hang out with regular moms in regular mom ways.
I believe that’s because I didn’t know and didn’t understand and didn’t anticipate how to be infertile. Friends, I believed being infertile excluded me from participating and so I sat the bench, took myself out of the game and, ultimately, paid the price in loneliness and isolation.
Sometimes, we take ourselves out because we are not sure we belong.
Sister, today, I want us to challenge that belief. Challenge the idea that we don’t belong because maybe we will never mother. The lie that we will never be a necessary, loved, much prayed for part of a child’s life.
Today, we get up, we rise up, we take back our lives and we say, We WILL mother. Somehow, someway, someday.
And instead of removing ourselves from anything and everything, and bench our lives, like I did for so many years, let’s decide to do this entire infertility thing differently. Let’s see this time, this season as not just a time of waiting and refinement and transformation, but also as preparation for what God has already planned for our lives.
Let’s see how we can use this time to get ready instead of getting out.
Y’all with me?
DON’T walk away from your mom community.
Not when they talk about breastfeeding challenges and boys climbing the furniture and girls’ drama and dream feedings and projectile poop and just how crazy hard getting kids to eat any food sometimes is. Stay with them. It takes a village, ladies and this is where you begin building your village. You will need these women, one or ten life-stages ahead of you, to show you their ways. They have tips and tricks and trophies from hard-fought victories. You need them. Do not turn your back on them now because it’s hard for you in this season. This season will end and what you absolutely do not want is to turn around, when your new season begins, to find you pushed them away years before.
DO love the mothers in your life well.
Those women telling their war stories of motherhood, they are now part of your tribe. They join your besties, your sisters, your college roommates, workmates, bridesmaids, childhood best friends and sisters-in-laws, and they need you to love them. Friend, they are hurting for you, with you, crying next to you, storming the throne of Heaven on your behalf. Love them well. Because you need to serve them unselfishly and honorably, be their place of rest on their motherhood journey and allow them to serve you unselfishly and honorably, as your safe place to land through your infertility journey.
DON’T skip the benefits session.
You know, the exciting stuff of insurance coverage and maternity leave and child care savings plans. There are companies that offer adoption assistance and paternity leave too. You will need some part of those benefits at some point. Know what your options are and will be in the future. And if the year changes and new benefits are released, be at that meeting too. Don’t dodge the things put in place to help with your financial health needs. Someday will come and you need to be prepared.
DO make financial plans.
Meet with your tax accountant or your financial advisor or both. Start saving for infertility treatments. Put a nest egg away for adoption costs. Maybe plan a college savings account. Start reading about the increases in health care expenses and what childcare costs and if you want to continue to work or transition to full-time mom or contribute to your nephew’s college fund. You and your husband, you sit down and you do the work of financially planning for the day you will mother in whatever way God answers that prayer.
DON’T avoid learning.
Read the parenting books, the books on getting infants on a schedule, why toddlers love the word No, adoption memoirs, figure out what redemptive discipline is exactly. Don’t avoid it because you don’t want to plan for something that might not happen. Because we’re not going to live like that anymore. No, we are going to say we might just be the world’s greatest aunt but we will be ready to love that kid and help nurture and guide and listen every time your niece calls you to complain about her mom. You will be ready because, goodness, those children need you.
DO pray about motherhood.
Pray over the type of mother you will be. Go ahead and pray for patience and joy and kindness and self-control and peace because you might not need that self-control for YEARS to come but when you do need it, you will need YEARS worth of it. Pray God will fill you with His assurance and His peace as you step into each and every unknown situation you will encounter. You don’t know what is coming but you are pretty positive you’ll need the Counselor with you every.single.day.
DON’T run from your calling.
If God has called you to it, He is faithful to bring you through this. Don’t try to hide or suppress or talk yourself out of the calling you know God has placed on your life. Almost every infertile I have ever known has reached this point, the point where they wonder if they heard God correctly, if maybe they are asking for something He doesn’t want for them, if He’s changed His mind. But what if instead of questioning all that, we embraced His calling and asked Him to show you? What if we decided to fully trust God in this and with this? And in the asking and accepting, we allowed God to answer His calling on our lives to be mothers in His absolute best way.
DO run to the children in your life.
You will never regret loving children. In fact, we could leave off the last part entirely. You will never regret loving. Even when facing pain, even when struggling with doubt, even when we feel like this is too much. The children in your life are there on purpose. Not a single person, not a neighbor, a co-worker, a cashier at ALDI, not a single person is in your life on accident. And God has called us to love as Christ first loved us. Somedays might be harder than others. Newborns might be gut-wrenching. But your college roommate’s six-year-old little boy might just need a date to McDonald’s and you can do that. You will never regret loving them but you might regret it if you don’t.
I wish someone would have encouraged me in those areas. I wish someone just a few stages ahead of me, a former infertile now on Team Mom, would have said, “Get in the game! Don’t sit the bench, voluntarily, because it’s hard. You are wanted and valuable and called and you are welcome.”
Consider me that person for you.
Now, please hear my heart when I say to you, infertile Sister, that some conversations and some events and some seasons are just plain awful. I left a dear, wonderful, adored friend’s first baby shower because someone I did not know brought their newborn and Y’all, it was only a short time after a failed IVF attempt and the sound of that baby crying…I just couldn’t. I got up and ran out the door ugly-crying. So, I get it. I do. And my friend did too, as will yours.
But the rest of the time?
It’s time to get in the game, Sisters.