My tears remained hidden behind a set of cheap sunglasses as I strolled through Target, passing newborn moms relieved to be out of the house. Equipped with Ergos, bottles, and pacifiers, they strolled precious, wide-eyed babies in bright red grocery carts secured with cushioned cart covers.
Several of my friends had recently announced they were having their second or third baby, while my husband and I spent hours in a Reproductive Medicine office getting scripts for various syringes of follicle-stimulating hormones.
One particular day at church, I was sitting next to a woman with a lovely bump. An elderly woman turned around and said, “What’s in the water at this church? EVERYONE is pregnant.”
These words pierced me. Why was I not included in “Everyone?” What was wrong with my body?
Being an outsider often leads us to blame ourselves, our bodies, or someone else.
If I don’t belong in this club, it must be me.
We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This left us wondering if it was my inability to relax, assaults on my femininity from past trauma and misogyny, or a history of too many processed foods and Diet Coke over the years.
One place we felt safe was our monthly infertility support group. Today, I can still pull up the faces and stories of couples who were experiencing similar feelings of isolation. We slammed our fists on coffee tables, shed tears, and expressed anger with one another. We named loneliness over not belonging in playgroups and family church events.
We witnessed extraordinary miracles together. Every couple who went through the group eventually became parents through adoption, infertility treatments, or a surprise natural conception. When I see photos of their growing children on social media, I am reminded of how these parents warred for them.
After years of waiting, we named our firstborn Hannah, after a woman in the Bible who struggled with infertility. Hannah was so distraught with grief and deferred hope that she was accused of drunkenness. This story is not found in the Baby Name book next to “Hannah,” which means “grace.”
We chose the name Hannah because her story reminds us that God cares intimately about our desires and longings. After years of aching for children, Hannah in the scriptures was given the gift of Samuel. Like her biblical namesake, we want our daughter to feel the freedom to meet the God who loves her on the wrestling mat of desire.
At times, life feels so dark that we can’t fathom a rescue from the pain. During my years of waiting, I needed stories of fierce, desirous women like Hannah and the other women in my support group to bring me hope. Stories help us to grieve and connect with other people, leaving us less lonely in this world. Whatever struggle leaves you marked as an outsider, may you seek out and find comfort in those who are walking similar paths through the wilderness.
Rachel Blackston loves all things beautiful…rich conversations over a hot cup of lemon ginger tea, watching her three little girls twirl around in tutus, and Florida sunrises on her morning walks. She resides in Orlando with her lanky, marathon-running husband and her precious daughters, priceless gifts after several years of infertility. Rachel and her husband Michael co-founded Redeemer Counseling. As a therapist, Rachel considers it an honor to walk with women in their stories of harm, beauty, and redemption.