Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Darn Fertile People

When I see a pregnant woman out in public, one thing runs through my mind 9 times out of 10 – "Darn fertile people." This started very early on in my journey. It seems that everyone who is of child-bearing years is walking around with a swollen belly, pushing a strolling, or navigating their kids through crowds. It is easy to think that all these people get pregnant at the drop of a hat and take their fertility for granted. I knew that I needed to change my thinking one morning after mass. My husband and I stayed in the pew to pray – my mind (and eyes) were straying from prayer. In the corner, I saw a woman who was carrying a large bag happily talking to other church members. I imagined that she was carrying a baby bag packed with all sorts of goodies "Darn fertile people," I thought. A few minutes later as she walked past, I realized that it was a Hawaiian flower bag – definitely not anything remotely to do with babies! And she had no children or even a husband in sight. I realized that I was actually looking for reasons to feel sorry for myself.

When I see pregnant women and that "darn fertile people" thought runs through my mind, I try to remind myself that not all of these women have gotten pregnant easily. At least 10% of couples deal with fertility issues and depending on whose numbers you are looking at, between 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage. I saw so many pregnant women this past weekend while we were out with my parents who were visiting from out of town. Each time I saw a pregnant belly or a woman holding a baby, I felt that familiar tinge of sorrow for what I don't have. This infertility stuff sure requires a lot of grace! But based on the stats, I can assume that at least a few of the women I passed have been through the ringer and don't take their fertility for granted. Many of them have also prayed for the blessing of a child and for the cross of infertility to be lifted from them.

Over the past few weeks, I have started a new prayer after receiving the Eucharist. I have been praying specifically for God to heal me from infertility and miscarriage. I also pray for the other women He has put into my life who are struggling with the same issues (including my new blog friends). Those moments after receiving the Eucharist must be powerful ones, so I want to be straightforward with God – asking for exactly what I desire in my heart. I try to remind myself that if I have the faith of a mustard seed, mountains can be moved.

When I walked into the hospital lobby the day before my laparoscopy, a pregnant woman passed by. The same "Darn fertile people" mantra started running through my mind, when I stopped myself. I remembered that I was having surgery so that one day, hopefully I will be the one walking through the hospital lobby nine months pregnant! I hope that the Holy Spirit will continue to whisper in my ear when I am in those "grass is greener on the other side" situations. I need Him to keep me on the straight and narrow!

"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered." Job 42:2

"Answer when I call, my saving God. In my troubles, you cleared a way; show me favor; hear my prayer." Psalm 4:2

"He said to them, 'Because of your little faith. Amen I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'" Matthew 17:20

Reflection Questions

  1. Do I allow negative thoughts to cross my mind when I see another couple who has been blessed with the gift of a child?
  2. Are there ways that I can refocus myself away from negative thoughts and towards something more constructive?
  3. What specifically do I want to ask of God in my current situation (healing, hope, guidance, direction, acceptance, etc.)?

Prayer to St. Rita

(Patroness of sterility, infertility, bodily ills, sickness, sick people, desperate or impossible causes, lost causes, forgotten causes, difficult marriages, parenthood, victims of physical spouse abuse, widows)

Dear Rita, model wife and widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of (name). To God all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen.


  1. When I arrived my for lap surgery. There was a handcuffed, pregnant woman, in a jail uniform. I couldn't help but laugh. I wasn't laughing at her but it was the obvious situation of her swollen belly in handcuffs and my barrenness. :)

  2. I can totally relate to your post! I too need the grace and strength to endure those tough moments. A priest once told me that while we can easily see the pregnant women, we cannot see all the infertile ones. We have no idea how many women we pass by every day are carrying the same cross as us. Thank you for your words of encouragement!

  3. I don't know how many times per week I repeat those same words- darn fertile people! :)
    Thank you for the reminder that these are actually moments to grow in strength and understanding.

  4. I did start out this way, too. But have now turned that suffering into prayer for those considering abortion. I ask the Lord to take my suffering and change their minds.

  5. As a former infertile who found herself now fertile, thank you for this post. I've been struggling with bridging from "IF" to "PG". I used to feel the same way seeing pregnant women. But all I wanted so badly was to be one! Now, even 20+ weeks into the pregnancy, I'm still in awe that this is really happening. I don't take any moment of it for granted -- even the aches, pains, queasiness, etc, I am enjoying because I know what they all mean. The whole journey has made me more aware of others and what hidden struggles they may have, whether IF or not, and that things aren't always what they appear to be.

  6. You have a wonderful way with words. We suffered with infertility for 6 years before adopting our baby girl, and I still feel the conflict when I see a pregnant women. I hate that I feel that way, and I wonder if I will ever get past it. I loved your reflections and prayers. Thank you.