I recently received the following question from a reader:
"Do you have any advice for those of us who want to be traditional wives and mothers, yet are, as it seems, unable to conceive?"
I decided to publish this here, in case some of my readers have valuable experience that they would like to share.
Personally, I have no experience in the difficulty of fertility struggles, as we held our first child in our arms only 10 months after we were married. However, I will do my best to say a couple of things, some of them based on a wonderful book (in Hebrew) by a rabbi I much respect.
It is a Jewish belief that all our matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel) struggled with infertility - yes, even Leah, who had numerous children. The plight of Sarah and Rachel is perhaps most widely known, as is that of Hannah, mother of Samuel the prophet. The point is, those wondrously righteous women of the Bible struggled with the heart-wrenching pain of yearning for children and not having any for many years, despite them being many degrees higher in faith and closeness to G-d than any of us will ever be. Their pain did not mean that they were doing anything wrong, or that G-d didn't love them; He had a very special plan for their lives, and worked sheer miracles - our sages tell that Sarah, in fact, had no womb! So she was physically definitely unable to carry a child, yet she did. Now, I'm not saying any of us can expect quite that degree of a miracle, but there are many stories of people who conceived against very low odds.
I won't go into details of possible fertility treatments, medical tests, methods to enhance one's fertility, etc, because you don't need me to tell you all this; I'm sure you and your husband, as a couple, can discuss what is the right path for you, in this area. Some families are blessed beyond words by adoption. A relative of mine married a widower with 3 adopted children; with 2 children of her own from a previous marriage, and 3 common children, they are now a family of 10, all happily living in the same house. G-d works in marvellous ways, uniquely in each person's life.
Then there is the matter of being a traditional wife, which in people's minds is most often connected with having a large brood of children - but the fact is, while young children are those whose need in the stability of a well-established household is most readily perceived, we all need stable, warm, welcoming homes, no matter how old we are. As Susan Schaeffer Macaulay beautifully explains in her book, "For the Family's Sake", homemaking isn't only for couples with children - it is for married childless couples too, as well as for single people. It is important to the individual, as well as the community.
There were many women who didn't have children, yet their homes were warm, open and welcoming, largely thanks to the wife, who still took effort to work at her home and take care of her husband's needs; those childless women could be more at leisure with their time than other people, able to extend hospitality more, serve as counsellors, perhaps unofficially "adopt" lonely children who came back from school to empty homes. All through history of mankind, until relatively recently (a century or so) it was considered proper for a woman to find her place within the home, whether she was single, married, or widowed. Community was active and work was plenty. One of my ever-favorite novelists, Jane Austen, remained single, yet lived a home-centered, productive life.
I confess I cannot really imagine my life without my dear children; I don't really know what my life would have been like now, if they hadn't made it so action-packed, full of fun, mess and noise. Yet I do try, from time to time, to look forward into that inevitable point of my life when my little ones are grown and gone - and it will happen, some day. At that point, perhaps I will be able to put more effort into areas of homemaking which are currently pushed aside (such as ironing, decorating, and cooking on a more time-consuming scale than I do now). I might also be able to be more active in my community, to do more to support other people, and practice hospitality on a larger scale. Actually there are so many things for which I would love to find time, but I won't list them all because that would be different for each person.
I don't know whether anything of what I said "clicks" with you in your present situation, but I do hope and pray that you find peace, joy, and abundant blessing as you are walking along the path of your life, under the loving and watchful eye of our Creator, who made us, knows us and loves each one of us, precious and unique as we are in his eyes.
Warmly, with my very best wishes,