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Infertility and the Privilege of Motherhood

It took me a while to realize how lucky I am, given my circumstances, that I got to become a mom.

When Gil and I concluded early on that babies weren't coming the natural way, we were left with the adoption route or the treatment route.  We were in the States at the time, so we planned to start the treatment route, but I got pregnant--the one and only time.  It only lasted seven weeks, and by the time the dust had settled, we were on our way to Tanzania again, so there wasn't time to start treatment.  Adoption had always been "Plan A" for us, even if the biological option had worked out, so there wasn't much question that we would start that process in Tanzania.  And 10 years later, we have 4 beautiful children.

I look back now and think about how my life could have gone a completely different way.  I've never birthed a child, but God gave me a husband who was enthusiastic about adoption.  That's not true of a lot of other husbands.  Treatment wasn't available in Tanzania, but adoption was--and it was ethical and hardly cost anything and there were good orphanages who kept careful records on their babies.  That's not true of a lot of other countries.  I could have found myself 40 years old, infertile, and in a country where adoption wasn't possible.  But I didn't.

A friend recently asked me to share about my experience with infertility with a friend of hers.  I told her I would be happy to, but I might not be the best person.  Yes, I did go through a miscarriage and a couple of years of taking my temperature every day and crying every month.  But I have been so fortunate.  I often think of the women in many other cultures whose husbands divorce them for infertility.  Or those who can't afford treatment or can't afford adoption or who would love to adopt and their husband says no.  Or those who mortgage their house to pay for treatment which lasts months or years, and there's only pain and never joy.  Or those women who long for children, but a husband never materializes.

Infertility has helped me understand the privilege of being a mother.  Kind of like how I didn't really understand the privilege of electricity until I had been without it for 12 hours a day for months at a time.  I know that there are many who long for motherhood and for one reason or another, are never granted the privilege.  That could have been me.

Of course, as any mother quickly realizes, motherhood is not all lollipops and rainbows--quite the opposite, in fact, when the lollipops make the child go berserk and the rainbows appear scrawled in crayon on the living room wall.  Motherhood is a dying to self, pure and simple, a laying down of one's life and desires and peace and ambition in sacrifice for these small ones who ruin your pretty things and make you want to hide under the bed.  It's no wonder, really, in our self-consumed culture, that so many women these days are choosing to reject motherhood altogether.  Maybe they need to hear more voices telling them that in losing your life, you actually gain it.  More than you ever dreamed.

But for those reading this today who do dream, who long and wait and who dread Mother's Day, who want nothing more than crayon scribbled on their walls, know that I mourn with you too.  And I pray that as God brought redemption into my life, may He do the same for you--in one of its many forms.

I said that it took me a while to realize how lucky I am to be a mom.  Of course, I don't believe in luck, but in God's providence.  I'm humbled to contemplate this story He wrote for me.

It's been 10, maybe 15 years since I've been with my Mom on Mother's Day.  How blessed I am to call this godly, generous, faithful, sacrificial woman my mother.  And my friend.

My four with the apron they made me.  They made an acrostic out of my name:
Guess they had a hard time thinking of "Y" words.

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