For a long time I felt like being childless in the end would mean failure. Like there was a winning and a losing side to infertility, and it was quite clear what the losing side would be.
To be a mother without children would be the greatest loss of all.
I'm not the only one who has felt that way, or expressed this as truth. It is the undercurrent of almost every interaction throughout most of the infertility journey. The implication mostly unspoken but understood by even those not under the label of infertile.
In fact, the idea someone would choose to give up without the full effort of every treatment and every penny, I found it to be more repulsive to those who had no difficulty having children than in those who walked in my same shoes. More than one mother berated me for even thinking of giving up when I took a hiatus after 4 excruciating years of trying.
So similarly, I can get how they celebrate and acclaim the victory of those who do end up with children, but not those of us who don't. "What victory?" I can see them asking. Just the other week I was watching an online women's conference, and while one woman introduced the other, she explained how long they've known each other, and how she was so over-joyed to have seen her finally able to 'walk in victory' after 8 years, by having a child. The child was the victory.
There was no acclaim for her victory in remaining a strong women of faith for 8 years.
There was no celebration for the joy she still found in life after 8 years of suffering.
There was no honouring what she had chosen to be fruitful in through those 8 long years.
Victory was reduced to what happened in her womb instead of her heart.
This brought me to tears. Partly because, that was me. Years ago when I was in the valley, and the only mountain top I could see was motherhood. But also partly because I wondered if anyone would recognize that I AM victorious! I am out of the valley and on a mountain top, a summit much grander than the one I dreamed of. I am stronger than I ever dreamed of, and more faithful, more joyful, more fruitful.
I am more than infertility and because of infertility I am more.
Now I see there is no winning and losing with infertility. It is a long series of losses, but we can choose to win despite any of the circumstances. Pain doesn't have to stop us or define us or rob us of joy.
Victory is found in how we choose to live despite what life gives us.