I’m truly uneasy with all of the wall photographs of babies delivered by the doctors that are posted in the office. The collage of pictures take approximately a quarter to a fifth of the wall space in the waiting room, and no matter where one may sit, a patient’s eyes will, most likely, catch the photos splattered across the wall.
Almost three years ago, as I was going through testing and treatment for Endometriosis, the overabundance of photographs grasped at my heart as I was still hoping to have a child at some point. Around the time I was crossing the fortieth birthday milestone, I began to consider myself someone who was between childless and childfree – not completely being able to affirm whether or not I wanted to have children but still grieving the possibility of never being a biological mother. As time has past, I have almost completely moved into the camp of being pretty-much content not having biological children of my own. Even though I have evolved on my plans to have children, my thoughts on seeing the posted pictures in the waiting room have not changed.
Remembering the days when I still wanted to birth a child and lacking the opportunity, my heart felt sad seeing a wall of baby photos plastered on the walls. It was tough enough to see all of the women resting their hands on their “baby bumps” as they sat in the waiting room. What we believe some doctors and office managers forget is that not all women coming to the gynecologists office are entering the office for blissful reasons. Some are dealing with Endometriosis (like me), PCOS, uterine, cervical, ovarian, or breast cancer, uterine fibroids, infertility, hormone imbalances, and other reproductive struggles.
Some of these women wish they were visiting this doctor to hear the good news of “you’re pregnant” only to find out their womb is empty or the fetus’ heartbeat has stopped. And some will hear “you’re pregnant” only to crumble into tears wondering how this news will negatively impact their lives.
The OB/GYN is not always a happy place where dreams come true. Sometimes, it’s where people discover extremely devastating news or where their baby dreams turn into infertility nightmares.
When we recall fertility struggles found in the Bible, we think of Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, Tamar and all the women in Scriptures who yearned to have a full womb. How must they have felt to see the other women in their villages or their husband’s other wives carry healthy children to term?
Which brings me from the gynecologist office into the sanctuary: how must childless women feel on Mother’s Day when only mothers are celebrated? How must the woman who just found out she just had a miscarriage react when they ask for all mothers to stand during the worship service? How must the woman who has been trying for two years to become pregnant feel when a church gives little token gifts to mother’s only?
While conducting research for a paper in seminary, I discovered that many childless women will avoid church on Mother’s Day because of the pain in their hearts. This makes me wonder: What can we do as a church to make sure all women feel validated on Mother’s Day for their role in the mothering process of all children? How can we make sure to acknowledge the pain and grief that many women endure whether we are in the sanctuary or in the OB/GYN?