Can I share a little secret? Infertility has a bright side. Now hear me out; I know first-hand the devastation that comes from a diagnosis of infertility. I have cried the tears and prayed the prayers. I have also navigated alternate means of growing our family, i.e., adoption, and through it I am the proud mother of three children. But no one ever talks about the gift of infertility—that is, the gift of being open to life with every act of sexual intimacy.
I am a huge advocate for Natural Family Planning, and my husband and I practiced NFP up until our infertility diagnosis. But after our diagnosis, I did not have to chart via the Creighton Model, or meet with our nurse practitioner, or decide, with my husband, about abstaining. We were gifted a freedom [from typical family planning] that is precious but often left unsaid.
In short, my husband and I remain open to life every single time. It’s so beautiful! And perhaps it’s also a small reward for the pain and anguish of infertility when craving a family.
And with this gift, it means there is always a possibility… Case in point: I turned 50 in January. While not yet in menopause, I’m getting closer to this phase of my life. And, if I’m being honest, I thought that the monthly “wondering” if I could be pregnant would disappear by now. Not exactly.
I will say that these thoughts are not as frequent as they used to be, but just recently, my breasts were tender, and I immediately considered…could I be pregnant? It’s crazy, I know. Yet, I have never experienced how my body would change as it prepares to nurture new life. I have only heard or imagined…
From my experience of being open to life, I am here to tell you that this yearning to be pregnant never completely disappears, at least this side of menopause, but it evolves. What used to be a monthly heartache is now a reminder of the gift of life. What used to consume me now gives me pause to be empathetic. What used to be my cross has transformed me to appreciate my children (through adoption) in a more genuine way.
I also realize more now that grief for a baby-that-does-not-exist is hard to communicate to others. I continue to be amazed at friends who honor their young children who have gone to be with Jesus. They offer a powerful witness to me and to so many, but I often think, how can I also share a similarly inspiring story with a nameless, faceless figment of my imagination?
Since learning about Springs in the Desert, I have become more vocal about our infertility and the graces my husband and I have experienced along the way. I try to share some Springs in the Desert social media posts and trust that they will reach ears that need to hear. My radar is on high alert when I meet young married couples who remain quiet about their family journey, and I add them to my prayer list. This is how my journey has evolved.
Sure, I may still wonder about the possibility of pregnancy for a few more years as we remain open to the gift of life. But these thoughts are now reminders to me that there are women and men out there who are struggling with infertility. I think these thoughts are also a testament to my faith, a faith that believes that with God, all things are possible.
Kristen Templin has been married to her husband for 25 years. They live in southern Illinois and are the proud parents of three adult children and two grandchildren.