Moms Made Welcome
Was I really invited? “Mom Made.” That was me, right? There’s no way I was invited. Not only had I managed to conceive and birth a miracle baby, but I was able to give that miracle baby a sibling. My time with infertility had passed. I didn’t belong. I didn’t deserve the same support and resources as women actually experiencing infertility. It was too late for me.
These are lies either from society or from within that kind of make us feel good because we’re being considerate and compassionate but actually make us feel conflicted and isolated. I was, in fact, still struggling with the emotional impacts of infertility and pregnancy loss. Grief. Isolation. Mom guilt. Infertility survivor’s guilt. But now, I am free. Here’s how I got there in just two days.
During the opening message of Day 1, Lauren Bourne of I Am Fruitful encouraged the conferenced attendees, “You can leave free.” On Day 2, Long-time faith and fertility blogger Caroline Harries of In Due Time stood in front of hundreds of other women believing in Jesus and his promises and asked the Moms Made in the room to please stand up. I was about to be found out. Until this point in the conference, I had been quiet about my two miracle babies. I didn’t know anyone else’s story, the heartbreak they had experienced, or what healing or miracle they were needing. I just know that I had experienced a similar heartbreak– we all had– and I was about to stand in front of all these women who were still hoping for what I already had.
I rose slowly, thinking I was one of a handful of women there who were also seeking some kind of reverse healing after their time with infertility had passed. Like me, maybe the few Moms Made at the conference were also there with the hope of mending a piece of their heart that had somehow been neglected due to lack of community or resources at the time of their struggle. I looked around, thankful for the somewhat dim lighting and was surprised to see about a quarter of the women in the auditorium were standing all around me. I was not alone. I was not the only woman here who had made it to “the other side,” and I wasn’t the only Mom Made still hurting.
Caroline spoke to the women still sitting, a group of women who two years prior would have included me. She encouraged these Moms in the Making to notice the Moms Made and surmised that they had probably been offended by these standing women at some point in their infertility journeys.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I was once one of those women sitting down, hoping and praying for one baby– please, God, just one. I remembered too vivdly the feeling of instant bitterness toward any mother with her pregnant belly or her children. These mothers and pregnant bellies and children, I knew absolutely nothing about. It was a feeling I wrestled for many months before I realized that these families I had been so offended by had their own struggles which may or may not have included infertility and loss but which were certainly as valid as my own difficulties. I would never have known, and yet I was offended. It was a fact of my infertility struggle I am not proud of, but I know it is an effect of infertility which I am not alone in having experience.
Your children are not offensive.
“Your children are not offensive.” I didn’t know these words could be combined in this order or that they would ever even need to be. Instantly, I was free from a misconception I didn’t know I had.
I had been living with what is referred to in the online community as “infertility survivor’s guilt.” I felt bad for having what I knew so many women still desperately wanted. I was believing the lie that my children were offensive. Offensive. My miracle babies. The ones I waited for and prayed for and cried for and fought for. The ones whose journeys to earth, God worked through for my good in all aspects of my life. My miracle rainbow babies who, after years of sorrow, bitterness, heartache, desperation, and grief, had come in their perfect timing meant by God all along.
Simply and accurately put, I was believing my children were offensive and believing that everyone else’s infertility struggles were my burden to bear. I had been believing this lie that had only negatively affected me rather than positively affecting those for whom I had compassion.
“That’s not your miracle,” Caroline added. She encouraged the Moms in the Making not to be jealous of other women’s babies because they were not the babies of those still yearning. She said she personally wanted her own babies, not somebody else’s, and that it gave her hope to see other women receiving miracles because that meant it was possible for her too. This all made sense to me as I remembered back to my days of waiting when I would see a baby or child on TV and think, “I don’t want that kid.” It was a weird, disconnected feeling that only happened when I was most tired from my time with infertility. The thought made me question how badly I actually wanted kids and if I was strong enough to keep trying for them. After Caroline’s explanation, it made sense. I never wanted someone else’s kids, and neither do these women. I wanted my own, and now I have them.
I don’t know why that’s the timing God chose for me and my children, and I don’t know why he chose the timing he did for all the other moms and moms-to-be in that room at the conference, but I’m giving that burden to him.
Caroline’s freeing words were followed by a powerful prayer during which the Moms in the Making placed their hands on the shoulders of the Moms Made and thanked God for every miracle and every mom and for giving them every resource they needed to be the moms made from him. For several moments, I cried tears of freedom and connected souls with a mom in waiting who had been sitting directly in front of me. It was a precious, healing experience from which I can draw truth whenever I find myself believing the lie that my children are offensive. (See a glimpse of the prayer at 2:37 in the video below.)
When compassion goes too far
Infertility survivor’s guilt stems from compassion (concern for the sufferings of others) and empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.) These are not bad qualities to have. In fact, we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), and to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), but not to the point of shame in our children or– dare I say– pride in our ability to strongly feel the emotions of others.
How are you acting on your empathy? Are you praying for the moms in waiting that they may receive their own healing and miracle? Are you reaching out, forming connections, and offering encouragement? Are you asking the infertility warriors in your life how you can be sensitive to their situation? Are you offering your time, money, or other resources to serve a friend experiencing infertility? Are you getting involved in a ministry or an organization who serves the moms still in waiting? Are you sharing your story so that other women lost in the darkness of infertility know they are not alone and that they are seen? Or are you simply walking through Target with your head hung low, worried about how the mere sight of your children might trigger that stranger lady you imagined could mayyybe possibly be experiencing infertility and wishing you could put a sticker on your forehead that says, “I’ve been through infertility”?
Replacing the lie
It’s not enough to uproot the lie. You have to replace it with something. This is a concept I was familiar with before the conference and which the speakers at the conference reiterated. They explained that uprooting a lie leaves a hole where the lie once was, which will only tempt you to fill it again. If you don’t have something to replace the lie with, the temptation is to refill the hole with the lie.
The same concept applies to quitting a bad habit. When quitting a bad habit or thought process, it’s not enough to say, “Don’t do that,” or “Don’t think that.” That only puts more focus on the thought or habit you’re trying to quit. If you’re trying to quit eating ice cream, it’s not enough to think to yourself, “Don’t eat ice cream. Don’t eat ice cream. Don’t eat ice cream.” You’ll just drive yourself nuts and more likely give in to the temptation because it’s all you can think about and, well, ice cream tastes so good. You have to replace that habit. When you normally would eat ice cream, eat a small piece of dark chocolate instead. Read for a few minutes, go for a walk, or even go to bed a little earlier if you tend to eat ice cream at night.
So what truth am I using to replace the lie that my children are offensive? I am replacing it with the truth that my children are miracles. They are gifts from God sent in his perfect timing (Psalm 127:3-5). They are an offering of God’s grace which I did nothing to earn or deserve but whom– now that they are here– I am meant to cherish and raise to know God and to serve his kingdom (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).
His ways are higher. He is working for the good in these women’s struggles just as he did mine. Whatever that means is not for any of us to know. We can only celebrate the miracles and ask the Lord to do it again for these beautiful Moms in the Making.
And when their time comes, I want them to feel nothing but joy for their miracle babies…