Do you long to be a mother, but your body fails to cooperate? Infertility is not uncommon among those with Celiac Disease, especially untreated Celiac Disease. Here’s my own story, along with some trusted medical information.
The Connection Between Celiac Disease and Infertility
Celiac Disease has over 300 associated symptoms, one of which is infertility. The cause of this is not known for sure. However there is anecdotal evidence to show an obvious relationship. An Italian study showed that women with Celiac Disease had higher rates of missed periods than those without the disease. For most women with Celiac Disease, infertility resolves after starting on a gluten-free diet. Not me.
Maybe my continued infertility is a blessing in disguise. I can’t pass on Celiac Disease to another generation. (Or any of the other host of family diseases that run rampant in my genetic background. Cancer. Epilepsy. Diabetes. Bi-Polar Disorder.) After a decade, I’ve had time to process my thoughts and emotions. Most years I’m at peace with the situation.
What NOT to Say to a Woman with Infertility
Often many will say, “Regardless of your infertility, you’ve been important to the lives of many children.” This is indeed true. I have been a youth leader, a nanny, a teacher, an aunt and “mom-in-arms” to many kids. In addition, I get the comments that I’m “still a dog mom.” They are adorable, but somehow still not the same. Sadly, I’ve had other comments that aren’t as compassionate. The parents who have said to me, “You just wouldn’t understand. You’re not a mom.” Ugh. Once, someone even told me, “You’re lucky you don’t have children.” Ouch.
When Mother’s Day is Hard
Then there are the years when I’d rather hide from the world on Mother’s Day. Our lives often seem full of stress. Stress in our family, in our jobs, in our community, and even in our church. My nerves can be so close to the surface that you might snag them as you simply walk past me. (People often think I’m “so nice.” Some times I think it’s just because I’ve learned what outward behaviors are socially acceptable.)
On Mother’s Day a few years ago, it was one of those rough years. The projector stopped working right before service. They couldn’t figure out why. It was literally working just before service started. The minister apologized for the technical difficulty and the inability to show the lengthy Mother’s Day video they had planned.
In that small moment, I thanked God for a busted projector.
In Support of All Mothers
If there’s one silver lining in my infertility, it’s that it’s caused me to want to support mothers in general. Maybe because I see what an honor and blessing and hard work it is. I also see how often they are maligned or diminished in our culture. Our mothers definitely deserve much more than one day of appreciation.
I think especially of food-allergy moms who take so many more extra steps to safe guard their children. A nice lunch or a new piece of jewelry can never compare to their sacrifice. Mothers need our support and encouragement everyday. They need to know the day-to-day monotony of repeating themselves is truly valuable. They need help carrying the fearful weight on their shoulders, wondering if they’re “doing this child-rearing thing” right.
Honoring All Women
So a challenge on this Mother’s Day. Please do honor your mother in as much as you are able. But honor the other women who have impacted you, as well. Teachers, friends, neighbors, etc. Do it every day you have breath in your lungs, because they choose to be an intentional part of your life. Honor them because they encourage you to be the best you can be.
May you have a blessed Mother’s Day, whether you are a woman, a man, or even a transgendered person. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your worth in this life is definfed in how you treat one another. Not in what titles you achieve. Never forget that.
Have you been affected by infertility? What has helped you in your emotional journey? What ways do you use your talents to nurture others?