Cross Rhythms website editor Heather Bellamy is a regular contributor for the local Sentinel newspaper's weekly faith column, Yours Faithfully. Each week a different leader from the local faith communities write the column. Check out what Heather has been saying to the fine people of North Staffordshire.
Jon and I don't have children yet, we've been trying for 9 years. We're just two faces in the figures of approximately 3.5 million people that infertility affects in the UK, a staggering one in six couples.
While science and medicine have advanced and brought solutions to some of the physical causes, infertility can't be solely confined to the realms of science and medicine; it's also a deeply emotional life issue.
The pain of this huge problem was brought to all of our attention this weekend with the news that a Cardiff fertility clinic implanted a couple's last usable embryo into the wrong woman who then aborted the baby as soon as the mistake was discovered. I imagine the pain this couple is experiencing will be comparable to what an infertility doctor once said: 'you've not seen hell until you look into the eyes of a woman who can't have children'.
It may sound extreme, but I know what he's trying to say. The emotions of dealing with infertility used to see me crying from a place within that is best described by what that IVF doctor said. When friends would ring to let me know of their pregnancy, tears would stream down my face. It is an agonising problem and if we're not careful, the grief of infertility can dominate our lives.
In my journey, after a few years of not getting pregnant, I felt God encouraging me that I had to 'choose to live and enjoy life, even without children, and give everything into it'. With His help I made that decision and through other miracles, though we're still childless, I haven't cried from that place for many years and am fulfilled in my life.
Commenting about the recent IVF blunder a lady said 'we should think of fertility as a privilege, not a right' and that 'childlessness might be a fate which (like so many of the other sorrows which afflict our lives) sometimes has to be accepted.' I agree with the truth of her sentiments. Where medicine and science can help with fertility issues, great, where God miraculously heals, great; but on the path leading to those possibilities, or on the path that never has either of those possibilities happen, we still have to find a way of living life to the full, with joy and hope, not holding back.
When something causes us grief, a question that can trap and torment us is 'why'? However a more helpful type of 'why' question was asked by my Mum when she had cancer. I never once heard her ask 'why me', she would always say 'why not me'? I never saw bitterness in her, but rather an attitude of not letting it defeat her. We have to deal with grief and not be overcome by it.
For Jon and I, just as we've had our 'emotional miracles', we would also hope for a miracle baby one day too. However, whether that does or doesn't happen, we're grabbing the life we have got with both hands and giving everything we've got into it. For us, there is a greater hope in life and a greater fulfillment. Jesus is the One who sustains and comforts us, gives us a hope for our future and as the Author of life can be trusted in what He leads us through. He gives a hope that's an anchor for the soul, firm and secure stopping us from being blown around by emotions or circumstances, including infertility.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.