When Infertility Makes You Feel Inadequate as a Woman | NIAW

Please know: You are so much more than infertility.

Caroline Bailey April 25, 2016
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Seems kind of harsh to say that infertility makes a woman feel inadequate, doesn’t it? For many who have never traversed the landscape of infertility, the statement is hard to understand. For the weary travelers of infertility, however, the feelings of inadequacy can cut close to the heart.

In many ways, infertility is all-consuming. We think about it, try to overcome it, spend money on resolving it, grieve over it, harbor bitterness towards it, and pray for it to leave us alone. Women, in particular, may attach their struggles with fertility to their very sense of wholeness.

Our bodies are designed to carry children. Of course, that is not all our bodies are capable of doing, and there are many women who choose not to have children—but for women who desperately want to bring a baby into the world, infertility has slammed that door, locked it, and thrown away the key.

In my experience with barrenness, there were times that I looked in the mirror and wondered why my body betrayed me like it did. I carried around the notion that I was not as feminine, womanly, and attractive because I could never birth a child. After all, it is one thing—a big one—that distinguishes women from men.

I felt inadequate as a spouse. I feared that no one would want to marry a woman who could not birth a child from the union. I questioned whether marriage, or considering a life with children through adoption, was the right path for my life. This may seem a little bit like being a drama queen, but these feelings were directly linked to my feelings of inadequacy due to barrenness, and they were real.

Women who are dealing with the stress of infertility may think, “Everyone else is having kids, except me.” They also may wonder what is wrong with their bodies, their seemingly broken bodies. They question why infertility is happening. Women may also not feel “good enough,” and get caught up in the lies and beliefs about their own abilities.

If you are a woman struggling with infertility, remember that you are not alone. The feelings of inadequacy and thoughts you carry are common. We are connected by this journey that is painful and often misunderstood. At times, we want to keep our pain to ourselves.  Other times, we wish to scream about it from a mountaintop.

Infertility is certainly not for the faint of heart. Women who are dealing with infertility are a lot of things, but we are not inadequate. We are brave. We are curious. We seek answers. We ask tough questions. We dive into the unknowns. We willingly undergo procedures, testing, and processes to aid in our path to motherhood. We embrace life as the gift that it is and have learned not to take anything for granted. Most of all, we understand just how precious motherhood is.

Infertility may make you feel inadequate, but friend, you are not.

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Caroline Bailey

Caroline is a mother of three children through adoption and a strong advocate for the needs of children and families involved in the child welfare system in the United States. At the age of eleven (1983), she underwent an emergency hysterectomy in order to save her life. Caroline is the youngest person to have a hysterectomy. Her life has been profoundly affected by infertility. In 2006, Caroline and her husband, Bruce, became licensed foster parents. They were blessed to adopt two of their children through foster care in 2008 and 2010. Their youngest child is a relative of Caroline, and they celebrated his adoption in 2013. Caroline works for a Christian child welfare agency in Missouri. She has been a guest speaker at churches and conferences regarding adoption and is currently working on a memoir about the impact of illness, faith, foster care, and adoption in her life. Caroline is also an avid cyclist and enjoys cheering her children on in their various sporting activities. She shares her experience about foster care, adoption, barrenness, parenting, and faith on her blog. She would love to hear from you! Contact her at barrentoblessed@gmail.com.

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