A Fertile Life

Calvin and Rachel married after graduating from college.  They dated throughout college and were ecstatic about finally becoming husband and wife.  More than anything else, Calvin had dreamed of being a high school football coach, so he was elated when a school with an excellent reputation in the Northeast offered him a position as assistant coach.  Rachel had also majored in Education because of her love for children.  She looked forward to a brief teaching career, which she planned to end as soon as she delivered their first child (she anticipated this would be 10-12 months after marriage).  She and Calvin had often talked about the fact that they wanted a large family with three to four children.  They weren’t concerned with where they would live as long as they were together.

“Couples who experience infertility often feel like there are very few that they can talk to or who understand what they are experiencing.”

After three years of marriage, Calvin had fulfilled his childhood dream of being head football coach at the school where he had begun his career and could not have been happier.  He had everything he’d ever dreamed of:  a loving and devoted Christian wife, a salary, which allowed him to provide comfortably for his family and the career of his choice.  Rachel, on the other hand, was sinking further into depression.  She was very happy that her husband had reached his ultimate goals and told him often.  She was very pleased with her marriage, her teaching career and her friends.  However, the one childhood dream that she dreamt most often had not come to fruition.  She had been unable to conceive and she was starting to feel more and more desperate….

The above is an account of what a fictional couple experienced as a result of infertility.  Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child or to carry a child to a live birth after one or more years of normal sexual relations.  Renowned psychologist, Dr. Everett L. Worthington, describes the stages of infertility: 1. Making the assumption that they will one day conceive a child and become parents. 2. Defending the assumption by denying there is a problem; then acknowledging there is a problem but denying responsibility for the cause or cure; and lastly, realizing there is a problem, but believing there must be a cure. 3. Giving up the assumption; this is usually accompanied by several reactions including: surprise/disbelief, sadness, sense of isolation, lowered self-esteem, confused self-image, anger and grief. 4. Acceptance by looking at other options.

Couples who experience infertility often feel like there are very few that they can talk to or who understand what they are experiencing.  They often receive what feels like insensitive comments from family, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even strangers.  Some of these comments include:  “What are you all waiting for?”  “Which one [of you] has a problem?”  “Well, you can always adopt.”  Wives often feel like husbands are not as deeply impacted by the issue and husbands often feel like nothing they do is enough or right.  It is a difficult situation for both partners involved which requires more time and compassion to work through. Even as I dealt with the miscarriage of my child in 1998, I believed God was punishing me for some deep, dark sin. I felt a desperate need to know the answer to that poignant question, “WHY?”  And, though surrounded and comforted by family and friends, I felt very alone with my thoughts and feelings of helplessness. That experience heightened my sensitivity to those experiencing miscarriage and/or infertility and I have since had the privilege of walking with many through the journey of infertility.