Saturday, April 26, 2008

Do Baby Showers Count As Time Served in Purgatory For Infertile Women?

I love babies, and I’ve never felt any twinges of jealousy over another’s pregnancy. Although I will admit seeing the strollers lined up along side the high school bike rack would wrench my heart a bit, not with jealousy so much as with confusion, but that was before my conversion. Still it’s always been very easy for me to distinguish between my sorrow for the loss of our girls, and the shared joy of a new baby on the way. The part that’s difficult is the awkward pause that occurs when a woman who has lost pregnancies is conversing about the pregnancy at hand. Awkward because my presence was a wordless reminder that pregnancies don't always result in babies, or with empathy? I was never sure. Either way awkwardness sometimes ensued. The decade between ages thirty and forty was the worst, infertility can be very isolating.

Not only showers, any social gathering presents challenges. Women tend to congregate and discuss their children. I understand the phenomenon, we all talk about what we know and are living on a daily basis, but sometimes it can be a bit much. There were points in time that I swore if I heard one more discussion about bowl movements I was going to explode and scream, “Ladies this is a cocktail party not a nursing home, enough with the discussion of the color of pooh,” but I managed to contain myself. Generally if the topic were neutral enough I could chime in with an anecdote about my niece and nephews, but often I would just fade over to hang out with Hubby and the men in the sports zone. Which is an odd situation for a woman who’s accustomed to being one of the gals. I was the president of my sorority for Pete’s sake, yes, infertility can be isolating.

Infertility has given me years and years to contemplate, to think about our culture’s view of children, marriage, and family. We began looking into adoption ten years ago. What an eye opener. On the one hand we have a segment of society that treats children as the latest must have accessory, (think tabloid headlines and IVF clinics) and on the other we have a segment of society that treats children as completely disposable, (think IVF clinics, Planned Parenthood and kids in foster care). We claim to love our children, but as a people we tend to treat them as objects, either killing them outright if they are an inconvenience or shuffling them through twelve years of ware housing, I mean, the public school system until they are sufficiently indoctrinated into our consumer culture to go out and become consumers themselves. I am a product of public education it’s not that I don’t believe in the concept, I’ve just come to believe that much of our popular culture is geared toward indoctrination to a mindset that is shallow and destructive to human beings, and our children are among the most obvious victims.

I didn’t set out to become contemplative. I set out to “have it all” professional success, a family with 2.2 kids, the house, the cars, a vacation or two, you know to be a soccer mom. The American dream all wrapped up nicely with a retirement package and a bow on top. I never spent any time questioning my pop culture indoctrination. Years of wrestling with the questions of why we want children, and how to build our family have lead to a place I could have never imagined.

Heidi at Mommy Monsters, Inc. has an excellent post outlining the plight of our nations kids. She concludes by asking the question, “How will you respond”? My response is to call on the name of Jesus, to follow where he leads me, to hang on his every word and live by God's Grace a life of Christian obedience. It’s the only hope we have.

Jesus heal your people, heal our hearts and our minds, our families. Raise up holy men and women to live a faithful witness to you. Teach us to worship you in spirit and in truth, so that our lives glorify your holy name. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

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