Infertility and the sunrise on becoming stronger through personal struggles

Sunrise through forest

My previous post on the sunset of the possibility of starting our own family is not the end of the story, just the beginning of a new one. As more time passed I was able to slowly come to terms with the thought that we would not be able to start a family of our own. There were times of acceptance and times of anguish, but as more time passed I moved much more to a place of acceptance with thoughts of sadness only creeping in occasionally.

With this acceptance came the ability to be able to reflect back over our journey through infertility and think about all the ways it has impacted my life, for better or worse. I believe God has a plan for my life but in the fog of the curses it can be difficult for us to see the blessings. In my previous post on the sunset of starting our own family I’ve already reflected on the tough times, so in this post I’m going to focus on some of the benefits which have come about through this journey for me.

A strong marriage.

Through this journey we drew closer together to support each other and our marriage became stronger than it had been in the years before. Some support from family and friends was there but as the months went by it became clearer that no one in our support network really understood what we were going through. So the friendship in our marriage grew. We relied on each other heavily to support each other through the tough times, deal with difficult situations that came and work through the range of emotions we faced along the way. We became more of a team than ever before and our bond with each other grew. Things could have gone differently. Adversity can tear a marriage apart. But for us it only drew us closer together.

“We became more of a team than ever before and our bond with each other grew.”

New opportunities.

I can honestly say had we been successful in starting our own family in a typical timeframe I would never have been open to foster care. It just wasn’t ever something that I knew much about or had considered in the past. Considering other options on what our life looks like after accepting infertility lead us to investigating and considering foster care. This is something we have both become deeply passionate about, not in the sense of ‘fixing’ the problem of not starting our own family but because we have a heart for helping children and families who are going through difficult times. This is a problem I was previously ignorant to but through infertility was willing to consider. Now I am deeply thankful for discovering this need as it something my wife and I have a heart to do something about.

Therapeutic parenting from scratch.

Some might say approaching foster care without having experience of raising our own biological children would be a disadvantage. Instead I like to flip this on its head and suggest it can be advantage. Naturally everyone has their own parenting style from their personalities and life experience but we hadn’t been moulded to a particular style of parenting from years of practice. Parenting kids with trauma is different, very different! For us personally we have found therapeutic parenting very practical and useful (and much of my reflections will focus on this approach, although we are still learning!). We have found it a little easier to adjust to foster care fresh to parenting with therapeutic parenting techniques as opposed to if we were trying to change habits formed by parenting biological children with no background in trauma.

“We have found it a little easier to adjust to foster care fresh to parenting with therapeutic parenting techniques”

Sensitivity to the struggles of infertility.

I believe infertility affects far more people than meets the eye in present day. It is a silent struggle that many are carrying around with them on a daily basis. Yet our society and culture is for the most part completely ignorant and insensitive to these struggles. It is perfectly culturally acceptable in a superficial conversation with a complete stranger to ask questions like “are you married”, “how long have you been married for”, “how many kids do you have” with a response in the negative resulting in comments like “your turn next” and “lucky you” etc. All with well intentions of polite conversation, but can be an instant reminder of deep wounds that can make the rest of the day a struggle. There are countless other examples of normal life events which can be extremely different for those struggling with infertility: children’s’ birthday parties, mothers and fathers day and christenings to name just a few. I’ve become very sensitive to these triggers and very aware of the pain and difficulty they can cause, and just how ignorant many are to this. I’m not suggesting we have to be so sensitive that life becomes like walking on eggshells but I believe culturally we can be doing a better job, and it can start by stop allowing personal questions about starting a family as acceptable conversation starters.

“I’ve become very sensitive to these triggers and very aware of the pain and difficulty they can cause, and just how ignorant many are to this … and it can start by stop allowing personal questions about starting a family as acceptable conversation starters”

Helping others.

Following on from being sensitive to others facing infertility, before I came to a place of acceptance I truly struggled with feeling like there was literally no one I could talk to that understood what I was going through. As mentioned my wife was a huge support, but outside of that there was no family or friends that could truly empathise with what I was going through that I felt comfortable I could share openly with. I will never forget how lonely I felt and how hard this was. Moving to a place beyond acceptance, I will always have time for anyone who is struggling with this that I might be able to just hear what they are going through and be an empathetic ear. I know I won’t be able to solve their problems, but just being able to offer some comfort with the ‘been there done that’ by knowing what they have been through and providing some hope life does go on and things do move past this point.

 

I never in my wildest imagination ever thought I could ever look back at our infertility journey and see it as a part of God’s plan and a blessing in our lives, but this is how I view it now. It has strengthened my marriage, opened the door for us as foster carers and allowed me to be a support to others who are struggling with it.

 

This post is Part Two of a two part series on infertility, Part One can be found here: Infertility and the sunset on the possibility of starting our own family. If you would like an email notification when my latest posts are published you can subscribe here. Thank you for sharing my journey.

Image: iStockPhoto

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