Article by: Maralee Bradley
Over the last 10 years I’ve been pregnant four times and given birth to two biological children. The label “infertile” doesn’t seem to fit me the way it once did. I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as “intermittently fertile” because apparently that’s how things work for us.
But I remember the day a doctor looked over my lab results and told me pregnancy would be difficult (if not impossible) without major medical intervention—interventions we couldn’t afford and didn’t feel ethically comfortable with.
In the early days of our infertility diagnosis I wanted to know what the point of it was. I knew God loved me and could use suffering for my good, but this felt like a massive and cruel time-out for a crime I didn’t recall committing. I wanted God to tell me what I did wrong so I could fix it.
I wanted a happy ending, too. I wanted a story that would make perfect sense in hindsight. I would sit in my infertility time-out, learn my lesson, and then God would give me what I wanted—pregnancy and a baby. Everyone would see exactly why it happened the way it did.
And it seemed to work out that way. Amazing kids joined my family through adoption. My precious biological boys came at just the right, God-ordained time. I’m thankful infertility put us in the right place at the right time for each of our children. It would be easy to stop here and think the point of my infertility journey was this particular, wonderful family.
But I’ve seen a bigger picture that has nothing to do with children. My kids aren’t the point of my infertility journey. They aren’t the prize for being good during my infertility time-out.
My kids aren’t the point of my infertility journey. They aren’t the prize for being good during my infertility time-out.
I believe God’s plan for my infertility wasn’t about an eventual adoption or pregnancy, but about refining my character and conforming me to the image of Christ.
Through infertility I learned I wasn’t in control the way I thought I was. I could do all the “right” things and still not make a baby, no matter how hard I tried. I could follow all the Christian rules and still feel like a cursed woman.
Infertility made me less likely to judge women whose lives don’t seem to be going according to plan. It taught me to offer empathy instead of “solutions” to someone else’s deeply painful problems.
Infertility showed me that it’s possible to praise God in suffering, and that sometimes God seems silent but present all at once.
Infertility showed me that life is far from “fair,” but God is still present in the unfairness, working out his good and perfect purposes. Sometimes we must stop trying to figure out the grand plan in order to have peace with reality in the day-to-day.
God used infertility to show me my soul is worth more than what my uterus can produce.
God reached into my heart and pulled out the idol of fertility I’d created. I trusted my fertility to give me purpose in life, to create an identity for me, to make me a person of meaning and worth. God used infertility to show me my soul is worth more than what my uterus can produce.
The answer, the cure, the comfort for my infertility wasn’t pregnancy. It was Jesus.
Jesus fulfills me in a way children never could. I can’t pressure my kids to somehow erase my long and painful infertility process, and they didn’t heal all my infertility wounds. Infertility wasn’t some meaningless detour on my way to motherhood; it was a destination all its own with intention and purpose.
I’m so thankful for my children, but if I hadn’t had any children at the end of this process, that wouldn’t have meant my infertility was somehow wasted or purposeless. For anyone struggling with infertility, the journey and suffering will be redeemed even if it isn’t through childbirth. If we’re conformed more to the image of Christ, all the suffering will be worthwhile.
Editors’ note: A version of this article appeared at A Musing Maralee.
Maralee Bradley is a mom of six who writes about her experiences with infertility, miscarriage, foster parenting, adoption, and all things motherhood on her blog, amusingmaralee.com.