A friend from my past recently mailed me something she thought might help. It was a bible study specifically geared towards women who lost children or are barren. The package was a book, When Empty Arms Become A Heavy Burden : Encouragement for Couples Facing Infertility by Sandra Glahn & William Cutrer, MD and a Bible study journal Shiloh: a place of rest by Julie Fowler. It was already filled out by my friend who has had several miscarriages on her journey to start a family. It was amazing for her to think of me after not really speaking for years, but honestly it also hurt. She is about a week or two from delivering her first child. It is good to see her faith has finally rewarded her, but I am still not a good place with those who have infants/are pregnant around me.
I also struggled with the idea of miscarriage. I get enraged when people compare what happened to us with miscarriage. I have never experienced a miscarriage and early after my loss I didn’t feel I could connect with the parents of a miscarriage to be honest. I held my children, saw their faces, breast fed (through pumping) one, and changed her diaper. Then I began to think about it, those who face early miscarriage (1st trimester) do not even get that, some never even get to see their precious face. So I had to sit back and reevaluate why I didn’t feel connected to them. After all, they too lost a child. Then it hit me, I was jealous. Even thought they too struggled with infertility, they could get pregnant without ART (artificial reproduction technology: Again referring to this specific instance, other too have to have ART and miscarry).
They made me feel like less of a woman. Something so natural and seemingly easy a teenage in the back seat of her boyfriend’s car having sex for the first time could do it…and I couldn’t. An egg would never be able to fertilize inside my body. It would never even leave my ovary. There was no path. That was my problem. I think even because of all of this, I may have lost my friend’s support and kindness. She doesn’t respond anymore, I know I hurt her with my words about miscarriage not being the same.
I just read a passage from the book that hit home for me:
[Most little girls start early, playing with dolls and hearing their mothers say, “When you have a daughter…” They grow up assuming they will bear children, When women attend social events as adults, they typically answer questions such as, “Do you have children?” while men answer “What do you do?” Women receive baby shower invitations; most men do not. AS a result, even the most career-forced women experiences social pressure related to bearing and raising children. Men receive a different cultural message: “If you have a family, fine. If you have a job, better.” These cultural and societal variables play a significant role in establishing foundational thought processes. “Boys grow into men without much thought of fatherhood,” Says Dan Clements, past chairmen of the board of RESOLVE, Inc., a national consumer group for infertility patients and providers.]
No wonder I feel like less of a woman, wife, and person in general. I heard it all the time at home, work, and out, “You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.” Hell, I couldn’t even carry my children to term inside of me after ART. What kind of mother/woman am I? This is my question, and though I am not very religious, I really think that maybe this series can help me to understand that. I don’t plan on it solving everything and answering all my questions, but maybe, just maybe it can give me some insight on to why I am feeling the way I do (outside of grief for losing my children). With that, I am going to leave you with my first passage from the Bible Study, Job 17:11
“My days have passed, my dreams are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.”