Infertility of the Heart

There's a baby boom among my friends, and it's happening to great people. It's so exciting.

It's also excruciating.

We both want kids, have wanted them for years. There's been a laundry list of reasons we haven't had them (including the priest during who told me I'd have to get the bishop's permission before getting pregnant during The Process), but the biggest one I don't talk about much: the fear that maybe there's just a "good parent" gene missing in my family, and my kids wouldn't have a happier childhood than I did.

The phrase I keep using when I think about it is "heart infertility." Physically, people can become parents, but in their hearts, they can't. As a diabetic inherits his inability to produce enough insulin, maybe I've inherited an inability to nurture. I wonder if all the circumstantial reasons we haven't had kids are God's way of protecting me from becoming someone I'd hate.

I talked to a close friend about it, and somehow that made it worse. (At the same time, I'm so grateful she doesn't understand and can't relate.) It's not a logical fear-- of course I know about parenting books and classes. But it's not about knowing what activities to do, or making sure they brush their teeth. It's not even about appropriate discipline. It's a visceral fear that my kids will be the people I'm not able to love, that they'll have a parent who won't see them for themselves and rejoice.

In the midst of all the crying, I've been praying (a lot of it's angry prayers-- it was NOT FUNNY when I sought solace in the hymnal, and opened up to all the arrangements for the Magnificat). Last night, part of the answer was, "You don't inherit love from your parents. You inherit it from Me. Parents can be vessels, but Love originates in Me."

I think that's the right answer, but I don't quite trust it yet. And I'm dreading Advent.


  1. Oh. Abraham. Faith.

    I can't even make complete sentences, I just hope you know where my train of thought led me.

    I agree with God.

    Love you,

  2. I do understand but I don't.

    I do know this. Camille was 10 when I got pregnant with Cade. I was terrified the entire time that I could not love him. I love and adored Camille and I just did not think I had any love left over for him. I was so petrified and, at times, wished that I had never gotten pregnant.

    Then, when Cade was born, it was like life was never complete without him. He was my missing piece. It just happened.

    I only know you through blog land but I know that you ARE a nurturer.

  3. catherine10:17 PM

    Does knowing that fear is the opposite of faith make it worse? Your answer is perfect, love originates in Him and we do have faith in Him, who is Love.

  4. Oh, sweetie.

    I can't imagine your not being a loving mom given your fierce compassion, honesty, and desire to be one. But the fear makes total sense given your childhood experiences.

    Lots of prayers for safe and empowering places and people to help you continue to heal them, which is a major factor that will help make the home you create completely different from the one you grew up in.

    Always here if you want to talk, pray, or rage about it.

  5. My experience diverges from yours in that I never felt called to have children--from age 8 or 9, I had a sense of this--yet, it was also that I feared a child would experience the kind of anxiety I had in my life. I never had a chance to want children--the fears came too early and too quickly, and by the time I had healed from this, I was almost 40, and had grown into a life I loved, one without children--but there was a lot of crying, and sadness, part of it compassion for myself, and the girl I was, who had such fear, and part of it grief. I don't see you as having an infertility of the heart--I see you as having a compassionate heart for suffering.

  6. Charlotte: xoxo. I completely forgot that about Abraham. Thank you.

    Mindy: Thank you so much for sharing that. It's crazy to me that we're only blog buddies-- it's been such a joy to know you this way.

    Catherine: That's such a kind sentiment. You know, though, it doesn't help as much as you'd think, because we always need to discern whether our fear is sent to keep us from foolishness (Surely there are decisions you hope your children would be afraid to make, because they'd be hurtful.)

    Laura: I've been thinking of you so much lately-- thank you for this. I *do* know that I can turn to you if I need to. Even though I haven't, it's meant a lot to know I can.

    Jo(o): Thanks.

    Margaret: It's funny-- we're coming at it from different angles, but it's so clear you understand. Thank you-- for relating, and for your kindness.

  7. (((you)))

    trust God.

    what everyone else said.

  8. Margaret spoke of this post as we walked this evening. I am a man who could imagine himself being a good father but did not desire children, then mourned not having a child while still not desiring one. You are in our thoughts, my friend. Peace be with you.

  9. Stratoz, your comment is really touching. Thank you so much for this. The two of you are in my thoughts, as well.

  10. i'm sorry i missed this originally. thanks for sending me a link. i don't have words, just love, lots of it. and prayers. lifting you to light.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins