As Father’s Day approaches, Project Pomegranate invites you to walk beside those who grieve infertility, miscarriages, and infant loss – and to tend to the ways in which your congregation can provide support. Thank you to our guest bloggers who offer insight and wisdom from the depths of their own experiences. We also invite you to share our book of devotions, Though the Darkness Gather Round: Devotions about Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss! This book is an excellent resource.
There is this odd moment that happens when you finally get the phone call, and the nurse announces excitedly that your wife is pregnant. My instinct was to fall down on the couch laughing, crying, and just holding onto Sarah. And yet, since that moment, I have almost felt disqualified from feeling the pain that hurt for so long. I’m not a part of the infertility club anymore. As we meet nurses, doctors, new co-workers, and new friends, I almost feel like I need to justify my sense of excitement. I want them to know how much more meaningful this really is because of what we have been through. For some reason, I still need to tell that story. I am stuck needing to defend my story.
I need them to know that we aren’t some happy Instagram couple that everything has gone right for. We fought for this, went to therapy for this, were pissed off at God for this, and suffered for this. We wept, screamed, and cried for this. And yet, by all appearances, to the newcomer, we could be a happy-go-lucky couple that is about the have our first child. We both have good jobs in our fields, we have a great house, and we are enjoying life right now. But what about the guilt that I feel, the guilt that follows me around for feeling this way. How can I tell the story of infertility while also moving forward with our lives and the joy that is about to show his face in the coming week or so?
There seems to be an expectation that we would forget all about the struggle of infertility when we got pregnant, that those worries would fade away. The reality of it though, is that those pains are still ever present and now I tend to just feel guilty about escaping the possibilities that we were facing. I don’t know which story to tell.
This year on Father’s Day, I will likely be holding my brand new baby boy, but not without remembering the pain that brought me here. I can’t forget it and wouldn’t want to. For me, Father’s Day will never be a day where I feel like I can fully engaged and be celebrated, because it can also be such a place of pain. I will always remember the awkward Father’s Day dinners where I was excluded from the celebration.
Last year we went out to dinner on Father’s Day, not really realizing what that would look like, but it became vividly clear when a restaurant server asked the men at our table if we were fathers. I said “not yet” and hoped that we could move on as my wife’s uncle was congratulated and thanked. I thought the awkwardness was past until the manager came by at the end of dinner and again asked who the fathers were at the table. She literally looked at me and said, “Are you a father?” I just nodded my head and said, “Yea, sure,” and was handed a 15% off coupon to a restaurant that I never planned on going to again. It seemed easier than explaining that my wife and I actually had 2 frozen embryos but we weren’t sure if they were going to live once they were implanted in her uterus, so we were pumping her full of more drugs, causing her to drop as many healthy eggs as possible, inject them with my sperm and see what we get.
I can’t celebrate Father’s Day, but I am sure that others will try to force it upon me. I haven’t figured out yet where I fit in. I don’t feel fully a part of the new parent club because this journey has been so fraught with a pain that many new parents don’t understand and yet I don’t feel a part of the infertility crowd either. Right now I am choosing to try and be still, but I have a feeling that I am going to remain awkwardly in the middle, living into the tension of seeing God in our lives while continue to feel the depth of God’s absence throughout this journey. Even in this middle space, through the anger and tears, God is still present. When I was screaming into my pillow, feeling abandoned, somehow God was still there in the midst of it. In the laughing and tears that came when we finally got that phone call, God was there too.
This father’s day, I suggest that you just be. Whatever stage of this that you find yourself, just be.
This is part of your story and you can embrace wherever you find yourself. Talk about how ridiculous it is that servers will walk up to you and say, “Are you a father?” Find ways to laugh about it and find ways to cry about it because God remains present in both.