The Humility of Sub-fertility

One of the joyous, less talked about perks of finally graduating grad school as a married female is that people now feel free to comment on our family planning which, according to the majority of people apparently, should commence promptly upon graduation.  Now.  And they mention it to us, freely.  In fact, I went to another fellow married female’s defense and I kid you not, less than 10 minutes after declaring the defense successful and congratulating the newest Dr., the chair of our department said they should really start having kids because “being a young parent is fun” and “by the time I graduated we had 3 kids!” (never-mind the fact that his wife was at home raising them while he was in school). I got roped into the comments as well as he knew I was graduating and I just found myself smiling and nodding along because really, what do you say in that situation?

If that had been our plan, I’d probably find those comments entertaining at best or mildly annoying at worst, as the girl who our chair was talking to did as she told me later.  As we’ve actually been trying to expand our family for quite some time now and I agree with (most) everything the man was saying (Don’t let your life be solely determined by your career!  Kids are more fun when you’re young and energetic! Amen, amen!  I’m down with that!), then why the heck did they make me so upset?  Was it the assumption of fertility that had me bugged?  The idea that you can just turn it on and off and if you’re not having kids it must follow that you don’t want them?

A few conversations over a few weeks later and these comments kept coming up.  I realize now in a different sense what I realized a few weeks ago, that eventually I will graduate and I will have to face all this again (done and doing) but also that now everyone else is starting to ask questions.  Great, not a big deal, I’m trying to brace myself.  I’m getting better at talking about it with people who really care to ask.  The comments that bug me are the ones by more acquaintances than friends that assume I don’t want kids yet, that I’m a baby-hating, career driven female who is taking my fertility for granted or that I’m not ready for the responsibility of children.

These comments make my heart just ache.  They have no clue what ground they’re treading on. 

But there is no responding in those situations.

There is only humility. 

There is only taking it on the chin and smiling and nodding.  It does not matter what I have to say anyways, really.  The moment is fleeting and all that is hurt is my pride. 

And that’s embarrassing to admit.

I admit I haven’t read too much of the lives of the saints but I’m trying to learn more about their lives because I’ve realized that something I’ve always taken for granted as a rule of thumb is that you have to speak up for yourself.  I don’t know where I learned this, but I never wanted to be someone who complains and then does nothing about the situation. So if you don’t accept complaining and not doing anything, that means that only thing left to do would be to speak up for yourself and explain the situation, at least from another perspective, right?  Wrong.  Perhaps it was having a husband and/or in-laws that made me realize that disagreeing while saying nothing in any direction is a perfectly (and frequent) acceptable option as well.  Sometimes, saying exactly what you’re thinking and feeling just makes everything so much messier. 

Especially when your pride is the only thing hurt.

Why is it that while humility is such an easy, cleaner answer, its so much harder to do?

Jesus teaches us and the saints live by example as well the virtue of humility. Sub-fertility and infertility just provide ample opportunities to power it home.


6 thoughts on “The Humility of Sub-fertility

  1. It is so hard to be humble! In my line of work EVERYONE is baby-crazy, as was I, outwardly,
    until I realized that I was infertile. Personally, I can do without my large dose of humility, but I’m sure it is serving its greater purpose in my life!

  2. Great post! So many wonderful insights here. I was right there with you. I am the worst at keeping my mouth shut and accepting humility in those situations.

  3. Someone once told me that my need to ‘qualify and clarify everything was endearing’. It caused me to think about how often I make things messier by trying to explain, and I too am learning the art of humility, through keeping my mouth shut. It’s so hard for me to just nod and smile when I ‘know’ the truth is something different.

  4. I think you should make people feel bad for asking you such personal questions! haha. That is the mean side of me speaking. I just get so annoyed when people ask me when we are going to have more kids but I am not usually brave enough to tell them what I am really thinking, which is something along the lines of “That is between my husband, myself, and God.”
    So guess what? Even after you have one, they will ask when you’re going to have another one. It never ends. Why do people think this is any of their business?
    But good for you for taking the higher road! :)

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