As we journey through Lent, I am reminded how fortunate I am to be a mother. I humbly remember my sisters who suffer from infertility while I reflect on the contradictions of our society regarding motherhood.
There was a time, not so long ago, when children were a blessing. It wasn’t: “every child a wanted child”, it was: “every woman embraces motherhood”. In our society, we are conditioned to think that our fertility is getting in the way of our lives and must be put under control. Our natural fertility is a dangerous ailment, an abnormality that must be suppressed with steroids or drastic surgery.
Women are concerned about their health; they are exercising, eating organic and taking natural supplements. Yet the same women, obeying the dictates of the culture, are putting chemicals in their system including a group 1 carcinogen, namely the contraceptive pill. The journey to “de-fertilize” themselves is often a journey through the wilderness: side effects that include heart attacks and strokes, an increased risk of breast cancer, miscarriages, unplanned pregnancies that end in abortion and secondary infertility.
This being said, what about our sisters whose deepest yearning is to have a child and who can’t conceive? Isn’t there a contradiction in our society; to avoid a pregnancy at all costs, while some women suffer the heartache of barrenness?
I have a biological sister who can’t get pregnant. I have always felt uneasy with her. I was taking the pill and two times, I was given the blessing that is refused to her and two times I have rejected it in the most violent way. Because of my past decisions regarding motherhood, her nephew and her niece are missing. In a strange way, I understand her personal trials.
My prayer is that one day, we stop treating our fertility as a gangrenous limb that has to be cut off of our body. We need to re-learn that it is an integral part of womanhood and must be respected. I wish we were sold less chemicals and provided more information about Natural Family Planning (see different methods linked on this blog). NFP uses science and nature to address both infertility and avoiding a pregnancy, while respecting the integrity of their bodies. Maybe then both the journey through barrenness and the journey through wilderness would end as women are reconciled with their fertility and with nature.