Disabilities Can Affect Infertility
You’re chronically sick and the doctor won’t confirm or deny the affect it’ll have on bearing children. You’ve wanted children for a long time and you’re worried that your biological clock is running out of time. What should you do?
Couples can be infertile for a myriad of reasons. It’s hard to process what to do when the only issue is lack of conception. It can be even more difficult if you’ve got health conditions that would affect a pregnancy as well as parenting.
The reality is that your health conditions could worsen during the pregnancy. There’s also the challenge of exhaustion, emotions, and other things flaring up in your health during parenting as well. Sleep disturbed nights, constant need of attention, being more active than you’re used to will all be normal.
This isn’t to scare you away from pursuing growing your family. These are just things that you need to be mindful of beforehand.
Michael and I wrestled through this conversation many times when we were growing through the fertility process. How would my body handle a pregnancy if we could do IVF or embryo adoption? Even if we chose another route, how would I cope with being a parent when stress triggers my symptoms? What about the added physical demand? Could I keep up playing with a toddler, making the meals, and cleaning the house? Just thinking about it wore me out.
We had to come to terms that it would be too difficult. It would have been brutal for Michael. He’d have to take care of everyone – the children, myself, and the dog, along with running the store, and all other responsibilities.
There’s also the fact that the Lord hasn’t given us any other direction. If He decided to stir our hearts towards children, we would do it. We’d trust that He would give us what we needed to make it work.
Though you honestly need to have those hard conversations, there’s always hope. If the Lord desires this for you, you can trust that He will make a way.
Take Katherine Wolf as an example. She had a major stroke at the age of 26. She had a six-month old baby at the time. She was in ICU for a quite a while, and then continued in rehab for a long time after that. Seven years later, the Lord stirred Katherine and her husband Jay, to have another child. She conceived and carried the child full-term. She had a healthy baby boy, named John who is now seven years old. Katherine still deals with ongoing health issues. She’s mostly wheelchair bound, but has figured out ways to be the best mom she can. Jay and her are honest about the exhaustion and struggle they face with it, but also share the immense joy they have in raising their two sons.
In cases like this, you have to find a community that is willing to come alongside you and help raise your children. You need to be honest when you need help. But you also have to be gracious and generous yourself towards that community as well. We’re called to help each other in this family of God.
So, it’s not impossible to have children when you’re dealing with illness. It’s just going to be more difficult. You, better than most, have probably come to realize that you rely on Christ’s strength to get you through each day. Suffering is common to many. Being on a constant cycle of flexibility depending on how your body will handle each day is just like parenting too. It’s okay if you can’t play with your child(ren) 24/7. It’s okay if you can’t meet every one of their needs, or even if they have to help you with yours.
Raising a child in a home with disabilities gives them extra opportunity to understand the sufferings of this world and the dependency we need on Jesus to conquer it. It provides a space to keep their hearts soft towards Him if you look to Jesus yourself instead of harboring bitterness and resentment for your situation. Children are sponges for what you speak and how you act.
That being said, it’s also okay to choose not to have children if you feel like that responsibility will be too much to bear. The Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle. If you have children, He’ll give you the strength to endure. If you don’t, He’ll give you other opportunities to pour your love on others when you are able.
It is a command of the Lord to procreate and to raise children up in the His ways. But there are people in this world that He chooses not to carry that responsibility. We don’t know why, but if that’s you, you are special to Him. He’s got other assignments for you to fulfill. Take heart that He knows you and your desires intimately. Those desires may be fulfilled in other ways than you were expecting, but they’ll be perfect for you. He knows every tear and prayer and He will honour you for them partially here on earth, and especially in heaven.
Rest easy, seek the Lord, and trust your heart and body to Him. He’ll provide whichever way is best and meet every need you have to fulfill it.