is not unusual for a woman to experience a variety of negative emotions about her body when being unable to become pregnant or carry a baby to term. Her mind will be bombarded with thoughts and emotions trying to understand her current situation. However, two particular feelings can lurk and can easily weigh her down and make her heart heavy.
As you are facing infertility and have been trying to be pregnant for months or perhaps years, do you find yourself at times looking longingly at pregnant women with their bulging bellies and then feeling a stab in your heart? As you have experienced miscarriage once, twice, or even more, did you happen to gaze at a young mother and wonder why your body could not produce the same result? It seems unfair that God would so easily bestow the gift of mothering and bearing children to another and not you.
And then comes the insidious thought: surely, the fault must rest with you or me for being unable to become pregnant or birth a child!
Let me assure you that you are not alone if such thoughts circulate in your head and heart. I remember one day crying to God about my miscarriage and how thinking about all I had done to be faithful to Him, been obedient to my parents, followed the commandments, and so that I should be able to have this desire of my heart. Additionally, I said to God: “I had not abused my body by indulging in unhealthy activities, why could You not have put a baby in there?”
At the time, I had been working for years for a state agency protecting abandoned and neglected children from parents who were abusing them while pregnant and post-partum. To me, the unfairness of it all was glaring! So, as I was reeling under the pain of miscarriage and an unfulfilled desire to birth a living child, I brought my unfair situation to God.
child lossThen, the answer I received was an unexpected one. I was taken aback to recognize the resentment accompanying the grief in my heart. I was resentful towards the women I deemed unworthy to bear a child, my body for failing me, and God for being unjust. For another woman, however, feelings such as resentment and anger during infertility or after a perinatal death may be linked to their personal history. I would encourage every woman on that journey to search deeper as to the root of such ambivalent reactions.
Steven Stony, Ph.D. describes resentment as “the persistent feeling that you're being treated unfairly - not getting due respect, appreciation, consideration, praise, or reward”. In essence, my attitude was: “God, you owed me a baby for fulfilling my part of being a good Catholic girl; and I am hangry that you are not holding your part of the bargain”. After further examination and much prayer, I realized that kind of twisted quid pro quo theology and perspective created a fertile soil for resentment to breed. And certainly, that was not the kind of attitude I wanted inside of me!
Perhaps like me, you may be surprised to find resentment residing in your heart and wreaking havoc in your soul. Many women, including myself, experience a sense of being betrayed by their bodies, or worse yet, that their bodies are “broken”. These feelings usually stem from comparing our bodies and our lives to someone else’s. There is no magical place where I can go to exchange my body or my life for another one! It is dangerous and unhealthy to deny my reality and seek the impossible. Inevitably what will ensue is resentment and anger because we have one life and one body!
Scripture reminds us that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephes 2:10); so there is nothing defective about my body or yours because we are not able to birth children.
So, let me encourage you to give yourself grace by tuning out the voice that is discrediting your worth as a woman and a daughter of God! In other words, forgive yourself and your body for comparing yourself to others and not functioning as expected. Then, acknowledge the pain and where it comes from. The pain of not having a desire fulfilled, the pain of wrestling with what you thought your life would be by now, and the desire to find a cure or a solution to fix what is “broken”.
Another perspective could be to ask God to show you your worth and value from His viewpoint, His love for you. Yes, life is unfair, and your situation may seem unfair too! That is what happens when using comparison as a barometer for evaluating one’s purpose or value! Comparison will always provide a skewed perspective on any situation. For sure, one will have a distorted view of God’s love and plans for self and others”. So, in other words, it is always dangerous to measure oneself against the perceived reality of others.
As you are navigating infertility or miscarriage, I would like for you to remember this saying by St. Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there was one of us”.
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Margalita Poletunow, LPCMH is a mother, beloved daughter of God, and Licensed Professional Counselor