This prompt is custom made for this blog! What is more taboo than infertility or the death of a child? I was reminder of this just recently when a lady shared her story of stillbirth, followed by her stroke. I just had no words. It wasn't that I didn't want to hear more, I was just overwhelmed by the very knowledge of her double tragedy - either situation, alone, more grief than anyone should face in a lifetime, much less in just 24 hours!
On the topic of infertility, you would think anything would be able to be discussed in our blunt and sex-obsessed society, but when it comes to infertility, with timed intercourse, carefully monitored cycles, and excessive medical intrusion, people (especially those who have never walked the journey) tend to get squirmy with discomfort or say some really insensitive things!
One of the most common comments an IF (infertile) couple hears is "Just relax and it will happen." "Relax" is refereed to as "the R word" in IF circles. Statistically it is nearly impossible to be too stressed to prevent ovulation or conception for moths or years on end. Infertility causes extreme stress, not the other way around. The stress caused by infertility has been likened (and validated through research) as being as emotionally crippling a cancer diagnosis or treatment. It's not something that can be just thought away or taken care of by going on vacation, adopting a child (Like there isn't any stress that come with that drastic life change? And statistically, adoption actually LOWERS the odds of an infertile couple going on to conceive, but I digress...), or thinking about other things. (All variants on the "R" advice.)
A similar theme is, "It will happen in God's timing." While there is a real element of truth to the notion that pregnancy is up to God and we can't rush His plans, "leave it to God" advice both invalidates the very real grief and urgency often experienced in infertility AND it implies (especially to the ears of the couple going through this trial) that you are questioning their spiritual state or implying known, ongoing sin in their lives that is preventing God from blessing them with conception.
As for the medical side of things, if you had a heart condition, would you be content to just leave the medical situation to God, or would you use God-give wisdom in current medical research to try to battle your known medical issues to the best of your ability? Couples who seek medical intervention for infertility aren't usually "playing God" or not trusting Him enough, any more than you are when a painful tooth sends you to the dentist or an eye exam leads to a prescription for eye glasses.
On the topic of sin, the very blunt accusation of "maybe there is something standing between you and God that would prevent Him from opening your womb," is also surprisingly common. I hate to tell you, but I KNOW I sin, every day. YOU are a sinner too. I think this statement springs from the Old Testament mindset that if children are a blessing (God says so!) then infertility can only be a curse, a judgement from God, a punishment. Thankfully, that's not how I read my Bible.
I believe God is full of mercy and grace and does not treat us as our sins deserve. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. Yes, sometimes He uses life's circumstances to get our attention, but that does not equate to a clear-cut formula that infertility equals sin. If infertility were a sign of God's disfavor, why would anyone ever be blessed to bear a child? Why would drunken, unmarried, drug-abusing folks conceive children outside the bonds of marriage, as happens every day? Why would an infertile couple experience blessings in any other area of life?
The supposition that "God is closing your womb" also has Biblical foundation. In the day and time Scripture was written, there was a strong male-centered culture, so the problem was always presumed to be on the part of the woman (the rabbis said in was lawful to divorce your first wife and take a second one if your first wife failed to produce an heir) in lack of other medical understanding.
Modern-day infertility is know to be an issue with the woman's body only about 30% of the time. There is equal male prevalence at about 30%. Another 30% of cases are able to be traced back to physical issues in both the husband and wife. About 10% of cases of infertility currently have no discoverable medical cause (in part because some couples get exhausted from the medical dedication required to pinpoint the cause). Yes, God ultimately is the giver (and withholder) of life, but from the human perspective, sometimes it only takes a simple change to restore proper reproductive function according to God's original design for mankind.
I have much more to say on this topic, as well as on pregnancy loss or infant death, but since I am getting long-winded, I will save more for another day.
Today I am thankful that I have been blessed to be a Mommy, here on earth! I did nothing to earn this blessing and God had every right to say no.
First Published Book: Hannah's Hope : Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss
Book-in-progress on drawing on the fruit of the Spirit in times of trial: Harvesting Hope from Heartache
Next book-in-progress: 6 strokes at age 39, Stroke of Grace
Future manuscript in the plans: Given Me a Thorn, the apostle Paul's story as applicable to living with chronic illness