June 6, 2011

"You Are So Young!"

June marks the advent of two big events in my life. The first is my birthday, and 12 days later is my wedding anniversary.

My husband and I were married right after I turned 23. We hardly ever prevented the possibility of becoming pregnant as we felt that God would give us children in His time. However, if you would have told me back then that now, 7 years later, we would still not have any living children, I would not have believed you. Societal expectations of a small town girl dictate that if you are childless in your 20s, that is unfortunate, but your story starts to become sad when you reach the next decade and beyond.

Early on in our infertility, I consoled myself with the fact that I was "young." If I ever talked with anyone about our inability to conceive I was also told, "You are so young." I was regaled with stories of women in their 30's and 40's who struggled with pregnancy. The lesson I took away from these conversations was, "Don't complain, Kim. There are sadder stories than yours."

Part of me consoled myself with these facts and stories. I was young. My husband and I decided to move on with some other things in our lives. I went back to school; my husband indulged in some of his many loves in life (coffee roasting, photography) while continuing to provide for us. The years continued to pass on and my sadness, my doubt of our infertility, would creep in at unexpected times. I remember being at a Mother's Day banquet with my mother and grandmother a few months into our infertility and completely breaking down. Our third anniversary dinner was completely ruined by my sobbing at the table throughout our dinner (although, the waitress did give me a free cookie at the end of the meal). What was happening to me?

I was young, but I was facing (if even from an emotional distance) a reality that I may never have children. It wasn't socially acceptable for me to doubt this yet. I subscribed to this philosophy just as much as those who would offer the (un)helpful "you're young" comments.

As I'm entering into my next decade this June, I have found that our story has flipped. After we experienced a miscarriage in the spring of 2010, I became very vocal about our struggles. Now people will talk to me about relatives, friends that they know that struggle with infertility, and they often preface these stories with, "Their story isn't as hard as yours" or, "They've only been trying for 2 years." It's at this point that I'm able to say with confidence that infertility is hard at any point in the journey. I have walked this road for over 6 years now and the experience is unique to each person who encounters it. My own struggles were much more difficult at the beginning because it wasn't “okay” for me to experience doubt and frustration.

God's graciousness truly started to abound in my life in regard to our infertility when I started talking about it, when I started giving myself permission to grieve even if I was “young.” Once I was able to grieve, I was able to see more fully the existing beauty in my life.

Infertility and child loss are difficult at any point. It would greatly benefit us all if we were given the permission, if we would give ourselves permission to let it be hard when it needs to be hard, regardless of our age or place in life.

When Kim is not buried under her textbooks, she loves to spend time with new recipes or out in the rare Chicagoland sun. Her efforts at growing a successful herb garden this season have only just begun, but she is remaining hopeful that improvements will be made this year for both her and her neighbors' sake. She also greatly values time with her husband, family, and friends.

Author Website: Finding Sunshine