The struggles of infertility
"I may not know the joy of giving birth,
May not experience the pain and all the hurt,
But I know how it feels to lose a child,
And if pain is pain, then I am hurting inside.
If infertility makes me less than a girl,
What would I say to many women in this world?
Would you tell them have faith?
Would you tell them be strong?
Or would you tell them that they're less than a woman?" - Lady Saw, No Less A Woman (Infertility)
number of couples get married with the intention of adding to their family unit. For Christians especially, where
having a child outside of wedlock is frowned upon, love is not the only driving force that sees them tying the knot. Many are motivated by the desire to become parents.
For some, though, they have to let go of that dream as the years pass with no sign of a new life on the horizon.
Sad to say, many marriages have crumbled under this kind of disappointment as one of the partners, who thinks he or she is fertile seeks a more compatible person to make it happen before it is too late.
Others, who 'weather' the storm, find added pressure from where a support system should be coming from.
According to the Reverend Dr Edina Bayne, associate pastor and member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, the most difficult thing they have to face about not being parents comes from within the Church and their own families.
"The most difficult thing that childless couples face is the question from parents and church family: 'So when are you going to have a baby?', 'We are waiting to embrace our grandchild!' These questions absolutely pierce their hearts. So family as well as church members have to be made aware of the sensitivity of this issue and resist asking," she said.
According to Bayne, these are the types of questions that couples do not know how to answer at a time in their lives when they are struggling to have a child.
Bayne points out that the biblical culture on barrenness made it seem shameful for a woman not to have a child as there was nothing more precious than having a child.
"But we must be careful that we are not labelling a closed womb as a barren or infertile womb," she said.
Parents normally refer to their baby as a 'bundle of joy', but the counsellor said there is no telling if those children would grow up to bring joy into their parents' lives.
"All children do not bring us joy. Check what Jacob said about his two sons, Simeon and Ruben - unstable, dishonoured their father's word, slept with his concubines; ... Check situations today between parents and children. So we do not know that it is a denied joy," she said, adding that for those who have been denied the pleasure of bearing children, it could be a sign of God being in control.
"He (God) has the sovereign right to allow and to disallow. I must believe that infertility is also part of His plan. It might seem cold, even cruel, but we don't know all things. God is omniscient. We do not know what type of parents we may be, or what a child born into our situation may be faced with in this life, or even how children will impact the plans that God is working out in our lives," she told Family and Religion.
There is also the option of giving love to children who might never have had that chance otherwise. Being childless makes room for the many out there who crave loving from caring
Being childless is no reason for couples lives to fall apart. The reverend points out it is "important for a man to know that he is more than just the father of a child, and the woman more than the mother of a child. There is an eternal vow between husband and wife, not between parents and children. So strive to embrace the gift of each other. Don't reject and abandon each other in that process, while stretching for that which you do not have. Trust the process!" she said.