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Finding life in infertility Print
Guest column
Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

We were one of those crazy couples. We wanted six or seven children (and still do!) when we were married.

Even though we didn't have any money, we said "God will provide!" and did not use contraception or Natural Family Planning.

In fact, when we were dating, I remember having a conversation about children. Chris asked me, "How many children do you want? I was thinking six."

"As many as God will give us!" I responded joyfully.

But, it has been almost 10 years, and we still do not have any children. I certainly did not think that when I said "as many as God will give us," that that might be none.

Following God’s will

We said we'd follow God's will and accept what life dished out, but it hasn't been easy at times. I do know this: God doesn't MAKE bad things happen. Those bad things that do happen are things He allowed to happen because He knew we could handle them.

And if we give them to Him, He can transform them into good things or help us get good things out of them. Christ can transform any cross of suffering into a cross of triumph if we give it to Him.

I would never wish this particular cross on anyone, and if I could get rid of it, I would in an instant. But I have gained so much from this cross.

I have learned so much. My marriage has been strengthened. My faith has been deepened. It has, believe it or not, become a blessing.

Not giving up hope

Most importantly, we are trusting that God has a plan for our lives. In fact, three years ago when I was coming to terms with my infertility (through the help of much marital support, much prayer, changes in diet, counseling, and medication), I told one of my friends from college that I had decided to accept that I was not going to have children.

My friend responded, "No Emily! Don't give up hope! Never give up hope!"

Later, I realized that I wasn't giving up hope. Instead I was accepting hope. I was accepting that God still had a plan for me. I was trusting and leaning on the hope that God could use this for something good, perhaps even for something better.

I was trusting that even though I couldn't see it right now, God was "in charge." Some days, I wish I could see clearer! Some days, I wish He could send me a letter and let me know! Some days I feel like, "I'm going to squeeze every bit of redemption that I can out of this suffering!"

The ache of wanting children

And yes, there are still some days when I feel like Rachel in the Old Testament, "Give me children or I will die."

The ache of wanting children is indescribable. I would compare it to the ache of a single person who knows they are called to marriage and are committed to the Church's teaching, but are unable to find a spouse.

Or the ache we have for God. I once asked a priest the question I knew he couldn't answer: "Why?" He suggested that perhaps God has permitted us to have a foretaste of the longing that is satisfied in heaven.

Why? Why? I don't know. I don't know why God would give me the heart of a mother but not give me any children to mother. I don't know why God would form my very being to transmit life, but allow that transmission to be impaired.

I don't know why God would form so many aspects of my life to call and long for something I can't have. I don't know. It doesn't make any sense. In some ways, it can't make any sense. All sickness is disordered and a result of original sin.

Bringing forth life

But we are told in Samuel, in the prayer of Hannah, the barren one, that the hungry will batten on spoil and that the weak will gird on strength and that "the barren wife will bear seven sons."

Infertility is addressed in the Bible on par with going hungry, being weak, being naked. And like hunger, nakedness, or the sword, it is promised that the barren will bring forth life.

Maybe not here on earth. Maybe not like we are expecting. But "hope does not disappoint."

Emily Seyfert and her husband Christopher are members of St. Mary Parish in Pine Bluff, and live on 12 acres near Ridgeway.

Emily is one of three facilitators and founding members of the new diocesan "Hannah's Hope" Infertility Support Group. "Hannah's Hope" meets on the second Monday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Sow's Ear Coffeeshop in Verona.

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