Did you know 1 in 6 couples struggle with fertility problems?
When I first found out I was part of the exclusive 1-in-6-club, I was shocked. I felt more like one in a million. In Church, it felt like everyone was pregnant, holding babies or raising children.
'Children are a blessing from God...Doesn't always feel like it at 5am though!' (Cue raucous laughter from all parents in earshot!)
In Church, it felt like everyone was pregnant, holding babies or raising children
'Awwww, you look like such a natural holding that baby, you're going to make a great mum!'
'Don't you have any children? Don't leave it too long...Tick! Tock!'
I felt like the only woman in Church, in the UK, who wasn't being 'blessed by God' or whose biological clock ticked louder than Big Ben mic'd up!
Hubby and I started trying for a family after our first anniversary. I was creeping toward that magic age - 35 - when your body suddenly knows you're old and decides to make it more difficult to conceive. That was four years ago. My heart and body have been locked in conflict ever since. Each month is a turbulent rollercoaster between dizzying-heights of hope and crushing grief, when it's become painfully clear my hope was pointless.
The worst times, though, are when my body plays tricks...one day late...two days...five days...then bam! The dream is over. These are the days I most want to hide away from the world, but these are usually the days someone says something 'helpful' they believe 'God laid on their heart' while they were praying in the shower.
Now I know, 'Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul...' (Proverbs 16:24), but there are times when words have felt like daggers, rather than honey.
'You need to have more faith! God will grant your desire, if you just trust Him.'
'You're too stressed. Let it go.'
'You need to sit on this chair in my office. Everyone who sits there falls pregnant.'
'I was reading about a couple who fell pregnant after eating a special no fat, no carb, no food, organic diet... You should try it!'
'Get a dog.'
'One of my cousins' friends' sister's boyfriend's aunty went on a conceptionmoon holiday thing, and fell pregnant after years of trying.'
'God will give you double for your trouble. You're going to have twins.'
'You don't have enough faith.' (Did I mention that already?)
How should the Church respond?
The Bible talks a lot about infertility, yet the Church doesn't really know how to handle sub-fertile couples. The constantness of it. There's no obvious light at the end of the tunnel. And there are times it feels so overwhelming, even though we might look like we have it altogether, but we are undone again.
During this particular week, I've had some 'interesting' conversations. Like the guy I saw today. His word to me was, 'Steph, I believe God told me you're pregnant, or you're soon to become pregnant.' Let's add this to what happened on Saturday night, when I went to pay for petrol on my way to a party: the woman on the till asked when my baby was due. I was wearing a winter coat which is quite baggy. Added to the fact that I suffer from endometriosis, as well as gluten intolerance, my stomach can balloon...I did mention me and my body have been in conflict over the last four years, right?
The Bible talks a lot about infertility, yet the Church doesn't really know how to handle sub-fertile couples.
But this isn't as bad as the time I walked into my old Church, and a man put his hand on my belly exclaiming 'congratulations!' as I walked past him. A man! Seriously? Get off me!
The seriousness behind the #1in6 campaign is to recognise that across the Church, there are 1 in 6 within our own congregations. Think about how many couples are in your own Church then
do the math...
The challenge for Christian couples goes beyond unmet desires for a baby. Being 1 in 6 impacts our walk with God, affecting our faith, joy, peace. It tests our understanding of Scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 127:3 and 1 Timothy 2:15. It challenges our identity as women, Christian women and wives.
Don't hide in the shadow of infertility. It doesn't define who you are, it is a journey you're on.
Don't hide from someone on the path of infertility. Walk alongside them.
Some of the sweetest words we could hear from you could be as simple as, 'I'll grieve with you.'
To read more from Steph, visit her blog journeyforbubba.blogspot.co.uk