Today marks the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week. It is one week out of the year set aside to raise awareness for a largely silent problem. People often assume when they see a childless couple that they just aren’t ready for kids or have decided not to have children.
What people don’t realize is that when they ask the question, “So when are you going to have kids?” there is a high probability that the couple they are speaking with is struggling with infertility. Sometimes they have been trying to have children to no avail, sometimes they have lost children early in a pregnancy.
Some of the families you see with children also may have fought a long battle against infertility. If you were to see my family today, you would see two boisterous and happy children and two doting parents. Unless you were aware of our past, you would not see the tears and cries of a couple who thought they would never have kids.
My wife is chronically ill and her illness prevented us from having kids for a decade. What follows is a letter I wrote to her just after the birth of our second child. We are one of the fortunate couples that broke through infertility, but we will never forget what we went through to try to build our family.
To my lovely and enduring wife,
You are my hero. I know you do not and cannot believe this. Heroes are indestructible and have bodies of steel. At least, in comic books they do. A hero is never portrayed as fragile and they certainly don’t have bodies that destroy themselves day after day.
Despite what conventional wisdom has to say about heroes, you have been mine for quite some time and you will remain my hero until my dying day. I know you aren’t indestructible. I’ve watched you crumble and break as fertility treatment after fertility treatment failed and left you shattered and destroyed. I’ve watched you grapple with the anxiety and sorrow that maybe motherhood wasn’t in the cards for you. I’ve listened to the desperate cry of your starving heart as you begged for a tiny miracle from a big God.
You may not have a body of steel, but you have a resolve that is stronger than any steel mankind has ever forged. Despite countless failed treatments, six babies that tried but just couldn’t make it, and years of weeping for children that would not come, you never once gave up.
You kept pushing, kept striving, and kept going long after practically everyone in your life had given up. Though your body would fail frequently, your resolve never waivered. You stood before a childless future, looked your strongest fears straight in the face, gathered up courage and willpower from every corner of your being and boldly whispered, “No.”
It didn’t matter how many times tragedy had knocked you down. It didn’t matter how many jabs with a needle you had to endure. It didn’t matter how complex the regimen of medications, you were determined to capture lightning in a bottle.
And you did! Twice. Your cries and prayers and hopes were answered. You brought two incredible miracles into this world and into our home – and in so doing, you proved again that you are my hero.
Our children may not be able to express it yet, but I know you’re their hero, too.