Tag Archive: infertility


The Ebb and Flow

My life consists–as I am sure many lives do–of an emotional ebb and flow. For me, a lot of my ebb and flow surrounds my feelings regarding my circumstances. And one circumstance in particular that I often allow to dictate my feelings is in regard to my inability to conceive. (You can read more about that here.) Thankfully I am currently experiencing the “flow.” I noticed this when we recently had friends visit with their new baby. I enjoyed him immensely. Sometimes it is just purely painful for me to be around babies. I am better at hiding that pain than I used to be, but my heart still feels like it is being stabbed in those times of “ebbing.” I am thankful for the “flows;” for the days and weeks it hurts less and is not the glaring sore that it is in those other times. The emotional ebbs and flows tend to catch me by surprise. Many times I am not even sure myself whether it is an ebb or a flow sort of day or moment. Shortly before their arrival, I was a little anxious about how I might inwardly respond to being around their little one. But I truly enjoyed snuggling his squishy body and petting his silky hair. Why is it that we like to pet the hair of babies?! Maybe it is just me. But it is sooooo silky smooth and soft!

I am thankful for the “flow” moments and days. I am especially thankful that as I grow in this area of struggle that there is more flowing than ebbing. Either I am growing in my pain tolerance; time is allowing my wound to heal; or I am better understanding God’s character and growing in trusting His plan even when I don’t like it or understand it. Maybe it is a little bit of each of those.

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So apparently today is the day. Or at least one of them.  🙂

For some reason I woke up this morning remembering this book I read last summer:  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.  Some of you have also read it.  They even made a movie of it.  (I will say, as a quick side note, that the movie did NOT do the book justice at all.  It was only barely the same story in my opinion.  Because this book is so much about the people and the culture they live in, it just didn’t translate well to film.  Too much of the rich character development and depth in the social issues of the time was lost in translation from word to video.  So while I can say that the book shares a powerful story, I cannot so completely say that of the movie.  But again, I have digressed.)

I say that today is the day because this book brought me to better understand some of my intense struggle with infertility.  (If you need more back story, you can see what I wrote here—the first in this sporadic series of sharing about learning to dance through this particular storm.)

I don’t anticipate that this post will go on and on and on nearly as long as the previous one did.  But who knows.  Sometimes I get wordy and start babbling—even on (virtual) paper.

Anyway, I was in the middle of reading this book and beginning to understand WHY this infertility deal caused me to feel such insignificance as a woman.  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is set in historical 19th century China.    I don’t always remember details from stories very well, so I don’t promise a perfectly accurate replay of this book.  But basically, the story centers on Lily, one of two Chinese girls who are “matched” as Lao Tangs (or something like that)—which is basically a way to say “pen pal.”  Chinese women (in this era, according to this story) were not educated, but did create their own written language of sorts.  And so they would message one another on a big fan that they would send back and forth to one another through a messenger.  A Lao Tang relationship was much more formal and binding than a pen-pal—the relationship was defined closer to a marriage type of friendship really.

That is just a little information to fill you in on the storyline.  The narrative plays out as these two young girls who are matched as Lao Tangs grow and change and move on with life—apart but also together through their messages on the fan.

I don’t want to give too much away in case you should decide to read it.  (I do think it is pretty clean, but it deals with some tough topics connected to historic China, so bear that in mind if you choose to pick it up.)  But I reference it because it was through my reading of this book that I realized why my infertility strikes me to the core.  Or at least one of the reasons why.   You see, one of these women struggles to have a son.  And during this time period in China, a woman was NOTHING if she couldn’t bear a son for her husband. Even if she had a handful of daughters, she had absolutely no value apart from bearing a son.

That struck a chord in me.  I realized that (while false) I believed this—at least to some degree—about myself.  Not so much about bearing a son in particular, but about bearing any children at all.  It made me so very sad for the woman in this story—and other women who have lived or do live that story.  But culturally (at that time at least) the woman was absolutely worthless unless she bore sons.  Sad but true.

It got me thinking about how that relates to modern-day America.  Now China has made some strides I would classify as cultural advances; and certainly in the good ol’ U.S. of A we are beyond such backward thinking.  But are we?  I mean really?

I don’t know.  Clearly I sure wasn’t.  Somehow there was still a cultural message that infiltrated my inner-most being that I was less of a woman, less valuable as a person, because I—for whatever reason—could not bear children.  No (biological) sons and no (biological) daughters = less value as a person.

Do not misunderstand.  I FULLY REALIZE THIS IS A LIE FROM THE ENEMY.  But it is a lie I believed for quite some time and still struggle with on occasion.  I am definitely growing in this.  I know some actual dance steps for this storm now instead of just cowering in a corner during the thunder and lightning and wind and rain that rips at my soul. God is healing and restoring me in these hidden places, slowly but surely.  One day, probably far from now or maybe not until Heaven, those deep down hurts will be nothing more than a faded scar at most.

But I would challenge you to examine your own beliefs—those ones that live deep down in your soul that you cower from and try to pretend aren’t there when the storm rolls in.  What lies do you believe about yourself when the devil screams them at you?  And what do you do about it?  I used to wallow in my sadness and despair; I occasionally still do. But I am learning to hear God’s whispers of affirmation over Satan’s screeching of lies and embrace them for the truth they are.  I am the apple of His eye.  He delights in me and sings over me.  He loves me with an unending love.  I have value simply because I am His creation, His masterpiece, the work of His hands.

Do you hear Him when He whispers those same things to you?