I don't know about others, but I have a hard time talking about my infertility, and I suspect I'm not alone. It's personal. It's painful. It's somehow an invitation for unsolicited advice and pat answers. Yet.... if no one talks about infertility, it remains taboo. If no one talks about it, how can I expect others to become comfortable with the subject. I'm torn at how to respect my own privacy and yet open the doors to conversation, but I'm hoping to write a few posts on the topic and see where it goes.
I had an awful time at church yesterday. For the past few months, crying at church has become the new normal. I get in there and start singing, and the waterworks just flow. "Because He Lives" is the absolute worst. When the second verse starts up with, "How sweet to hold a newborn baby," there is just no stopping the tears. Up until now, however, I've managed to hold myself together, at least a little. I've never had to physically leave. Yesterday was a turning point, and the worst part of it was, it did not have to be this way.
We've been going through this prayer guide for Lent, and every Sunday a few members of the staff go up and lead prayer on that day's topic. Yesterday's topic was children. There were three men on the platform and they invited a friend of mine, a staff member and the mother of a toddler, to come up and join them. The last words I heard was, "Because there's something so special about the heart of a mother," and then, without thinking, I stood up, left Gil sitting on the pew, and hightailed it to the washroom. I wept in the stall for a few minutes, thought I was done, went out to the lobby and just couldn't hold it together. Both my boss and our custodian saw me wailing. Not my finest moment.
The thing is, I don't expect everyone to constantly watch their words because there may be an infertile person among us. I really don't. This is church, however. It's supposed to be the refuge for the heavy-hearted, the place I go to for comfort, not a place that drives me towards needing comfort. Why is it necessary to talk about the "heart of a mother", as though only mothers have compassionate hearts?
Eventually, I went back in, sat through the sermon, and went home to grumble to my husband. Typically, I would have stopped there, but I didn't want to. Why? Because people need to know that their word choice hurts. People have to understand that glorification of motherhood in the church is deeply painful for childless women and men... not to mention those who are longing to marry, those with difficult relationships with their parents, those who have given up a child to adoption, etc., etc. It's not okay to just brush past it. So I did what I could: I wrote a firmly-worded comment to the church, letting them know that this kind of word choice is hurtful and alienating. We'll see where it goes, but I'm glad I took a moment to stand up for the infertile among us. Someone needs to speak for us. Maybe that person is me.