Hi friends and welcome to the Arise, Beloved blog. We have an amazing team of writers behind this blog and our desire is to speak truth into the lies that cripple us and shine light into the darkness that isolates us because we believe that now, more than ever, the Church desperately needs women to be restored so that the world can be set ablaze. Our hope is that you find comfort, solace, and peace in knowing that you are not alone, you are not too far gone and there is ALWAYS hope to be found.
I was recently married 10 months ago and it has been a lovely experience that I would not trade for the world. I love my husband and the life we are building together. We have our hopes and dreams and plans and we are trying our best to let God lead us to His will, even if that means changing all of those hopes and dreams and plans. We are figuring it out and the grace from the sacrament of marriage is carrying us along.
However, there have also been some struggles in married life. One of the struggles I have encountered as a newlywed is the fact that, in marriage, as in life, many people will have opinions and “life lessons” that they will try to offer you. Some are more applicable than others. All are well-meaning. Many end up being hurtful, even if they were not intended to be so.
One of the most hurtful comments for many young married couples is the question, “When are you going to have children?” In the 10 short months that I have been married, I have received this question many times. Some believe having children earlier is better, some believe I should be waiting. Some days my feelings are easier to escape, but it is always a negative experience to hear that question.
My husband and I are relatively young and are healthy for the most part, so there may not appear to be any reason not to have children right now. However, our outward appearance hides many invisible struggles that make this question so difficult.
Invisible is the difficult family history of losing many siblings to miscarriages. Invisible are the scars that come with watching the women I loved the most lose their children and almost their own lives in the process of pregnancy. Invisible is the silent fear always lurking in the background that I will suffer the same fate. The silent fear that I will lose my children, or never be able to have children, or lose my own life. Invisible are the demons that have been using this to ship away at my motherly identity for as long as I can remember.
Invisible is the sex anxiety that comes with incredible pain any time I try to be intimate with my husband. Invisible are the fears that this pain may be related to a serious illness and that some of my deepest fears of never being able to have biological children may be realized. Invisible is the embarrassment and shame associated with this pain which makes any forms of intimacy difficult and drives a wedge into my newly budding marriage. Invisible are these demons who spread doubts that I am not a good wife, no matter how many times my loving husband assures me that I am the best wife he could have possibly imagined.
Eventually, I was able to bite the bullet and see a specialist about this pain who told me that this sex anxiety is actually quite normal and can be fixed with some physical therapy. And, while this offers some relief, there is still an invisible fear that the physical therapist will find something more permanent that will change my life forever.
Additionally, with the relief comes new feelings of frustration and anger. Why had I not been told about sex anxiety? Why had I not been told that almost every sexual encounter might be painful, not just the first? Why was I not told that this is a relatively normal thing? Why is this not more widely known and discussed among women? And, again, the invisible demons arise to attack not only my identity as a wife and mother, but also as a daughter and friend by whispering words such as, “If those who had experienced this before you had loved you, wouldn’t they have warned you?”
Invisible are the doubts in my faith. Even though the issue of the pain has been prayed over numerous times, it persists. Though I know that there are times that God heals by leading us to the people who can heal us, I have been hoping for a miracle and feel disappointed and saddened each time I find that the pain is still present. And so, the invisible demons have made their way to the most fundamental part of my identity as that of a daughter of the King. My invisible struggle makes it difficult to believe in the truth of who I am more and more each day.
And, just like that, the simple question of, “When will you have children?” can send a woman spiraling down a seemingly endless rabbit whole of “what if’s” and attacks on who she is. I know that this is not just a woman’s problem either because the same is true of my husband who struggles with his own invisible demons trying to convince him that he cannot be a good provider, husband, and father. This is a common trap for both of us. Though we are working on this by communicating with each other and health care professionals, it still takes a while to find our rhythm after being rocked by this question.
My story is just one example of possible invisible fertility struggles. I can only imagine the struggle of PCOS or Endometriosis that would cause so much pain and uncertainty about whether or not you will ever be able to conceive. The struggles of sexual trauma or the trauma of losing a child and being reminded of these when trying to be intimate with your spouse. Being diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness and not being healthy enough to conceive. Or, being diagnosed with early onset menopause and being forced to end your family plans sooner than expected. The possibilities of invisible fertility struggles are endless. Though they are not visible in the daylight, your struggle is valid and deserves to be discussed and respected.
I am sure that, in most cases, the question of, “When will you have children,” is not asked in malice, but rather in excitement for the possibilities of bringing new life into the world. This is a good and wonderful excitement that you should feel. However, potential mothers and fathers may feel many mixed emotions in addition to that excitement. So, the next time you see a young married couple and have the desire to ask about children, please consider changing the wording. At the very least, please accept my humble answers of, “I don’t know,” or “When God says so,” because that is the most honest answer that I can give right now and I may not have the strength or the words to say much more.
As always, God has been working behind the scenes to bring good out of the struggles, most of which I am sure I cannot see yet. Through His grace, my husband and I have grown in communication and love for each other. I have been able to meet with some fantastic doctors who may be able to help me. I am also trying to draw deeper into my identity as a child of God first and foremost in order to reclaim my identity and live the life He intended me to. My husband and I are still open to life and pray each month about what is best for our family. And, we are certain that, through keeping Christ at the center of our relationship, we will be able to navigate when to grow our family. We are now, and always will be, a work in progress and Christ is our guiding light through this darkness.
You are all in our prayers, especially during this infertility awareness week. God bless you all!