I have written at length in the past about the unspoken pain many women carry due to infertility. I lived there for five years. Women who are in the grips of such pain rarely speak out about it, except perhaps to others they know who have experienced the same pain and therefore can understand. It can be an all-consuming pain, and all-consuming pains are very difficult to speak about at all, let alone objectively, to try to explain it to someone to whom it is foreign.
But the other day I startled myself a little by finding myself in a 180° situation while being party to a conversation about a certain pregnancy. In that moment I pictured right where I had been, in the Children's department of the library, with my toddler foster son. It was some "bring your kids to play and learn" gathering, and it was the two of us with two other women and their children. One of the women was pregnant. And she was complaining.
At the time I had never experienced pregnancy, and I wanted to with all my heart. Anyone who complained about giving life was branded in my book as an ungrateful, selfish lout.
So a decade later, seeing the scene in my mind, I was startled to realize I've learned a few things since then. I thought I should write a blog post to the misery-gripped infertile woman I was back then. And, to anyone else it might help.
You hear her say: "I've already gained so much weight."
What it hurts her too much to say: I've always felt so ugly. God, I hate myself.
You hear her say: "I'm gonna make my husband pay for doing this to me!"
What it hurts her too much to say: The last time I was pregnant he started going to a prostitute. He doesn't know I know, and I'm too devastated to bring it up.
You hear her say: "What am I gonna do with another baby?"
What it hurts her too much to say: Why should a horrible woman like me, that no one could really love, bring an innocent child into this world? I'll miss her up too badly.
You hear her say: "Ugh! All those doctor appointments."
What it hurts her too much to say: My last child miscarried/was stillborn/had a serious birth defect/was sick and I'm terrified it will happen again.
You hear her say: "I can't stand feeling sick!"
What it hurts her too much to say: I'm getting pressure to abort this baby, too.
My dear infertile sister, the next time you cringe or rage at the complaints of a woman about her pregnancy, consider that she, too, might just know pain that is too profound for her to face and to put into honest words. Yes, her words hurt and wound you. Just remember the maxim that hurting people hurt people. When you hear it, open your heart, even silently, and offer her your love. Ask God to offer His love to her through you. And guess what? When you do that, you do the maternal thing.
You exercise spiritual maternity.