Purpose through Infertility: A Search to Reclaim My Womanhood

By:  Lauren Tarr

“I’m pregnant!” 

The shouts of joy, celebration, hugs, and joyous tears ensue.   I observe the hurrah, breathe deeply, smile, and give my heartfelt congratulations.  But the guilt consumes me, because while I genuinely don’t want to squash the deserved joy of others, my heart is shattered into millions of teeny tiny pieces.  I want to hide my face so nobody sees how hard it is for me join the celebratory party.  I excuse myself, and find the nearest bathroom where I can safely collapse to the floor and cry alone.  I am happy for my family and friends.  Truly, I am.  But, for a long time, I’ve wanted to join the club of motherhood, and I’m not sure if I will ever get the honor.  A part of me feels like I’ve let my husband down, that our families will be disappointed that I’m not able to add to the otherwise growing family.

Mothers and soon-to-be-mothers surround me:  family, friends, social media acquaintances.  I see the changes in these women – the joy, the love, and the transformation with each trimester and milestone that passes, their precious babies growing inside of them.  With each pregnancy I witness, I am in awe of the miracle that brings new life into this world.  And I wish it was me.

“You’re next, Lauren.” 

“Are you guys trying yet?”

“When are you going to start having kids?”

“Being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done.  You’re missing out.”

“I never knew what love was until I became a mother.”

Comments like these have left me deeply wounded.  I bite my tongue so hard I make it bleed.  They know not what they say, I keep telling myself.  And with time and each passing remark, I begin to feel myself losing value as a woman.  After all, if I can’t have a child, what kind of woman am I?  The grief led me on a journey to reclaim my lost identity, in hopes of gluing back together my broken womanhood.


I have a genetic mutation called Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR).  I’ll save the complex science lesson behind it all for a different day, but for me, it has led to several autoimmune challenges and hormonal issues that have led to fertility obstacles.  Currently, my body is not able to sustain a pregnancy.  And unfortunately, even if I was blessed with a pregnancy, it could pose a health risk to both me and the baby.

So, here I am.  Trying to figure it all out.  Forging on.  And trying to find the why behind it all.

Through the grief, tears, questions, fears, and longing…the one thing that I’ve personally clung to is my faith.  I’ve found myself on my knees pouring myself out to God more times than I can count.  And then, one night, He jolted me from my sleep.

I listened.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

The poetic words brought me comfort, lyrics that hummed me back to sleep.  God’s love filled every empty space within me.  And I felt peace.

It was a moment that shifted everything for me.  It brought me a perspective that I so desperately craved, an understanding that my life was not a mistake.  To the contrary, my life is rich with purpose.   God delights in me as His creation.  And as my Artist, He has been in control the entire time, confident in the end product, that is me. Each joy and heartbreak, every friend and stranger whose life intersected mine, and each experience I have endured—it was perfectly woven to equip me and put me on the path toward my purpose.

Being childless hurts me.  Deeply.  But, I trust my Father’s plan.  And I know He wants me to do something great with this pain; to create beauty from these ashes.  I’ve learned that every woman is maternal by nature.  That our womb is not just an organ that grows children, but to grow life in all its forms.  We have the power to conceive many ideas and birth many creations, for as long as we are blessed with breath in our lungs.  Our womb is home to our divine feminine essence, our source of love and strength, and a place of beauty and miracles.  It has led to my life mission of helping other women deal with their pain – to break free from their bondage, to find peace in mind, body, and spirit, and to experience an abundance of joy and purpose through it all.  And, it has led to my desire of helping orphaned children desperately praying for a family to call home.

And so, today as I look upward towards the Heavens above, I place my hands over these broken ovaries, and I flood them with the glue of love and gratitude.  For I am a woman of God – strong, worthy, and blessed.


About Lauren Tarr

PortraitLauren Tarr, M.S.Ed., INHC is a health and lifestyle coach, blogger, and co-author of the upcoming book release, From Pain to Purpose.  Lauren received her master’s degree in Counselor Education, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, and then obtained her certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Lauren uses a “wholistic” approach to health and well-being:  mind, body, and spirit.  She encourages healthy living through nutrition and exercise, but strongly believes in soul nourishment.  Throughout her personal journey, Lauren found the answer to her unshakable joy is her faith.  Lauren believes that everyone has a profound, perfectly woven story that is meant to be shared with the world.  She partners with her clients to break through patterns of fear and perfection so they can give rise to their voices.  She has experience working with disordered eating, digestive health issues, food allergies/intolerances, chronic illnesses, anxiety and mood disorders, and stagnation.  She has been married to her husband for four-and-a-half years and calls herself mom to their beloved dog, Josie.  They reside in the Pittsburgh, PA area.

Pope Francis, The Catholic Church & Infertility: An honest account of one woman’s Catholic confessions after facing infertility

Our blog this week features thoughts on faith and infertility in light of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. The author has requested to post it anonymously, which I point out to remind you that you always have an option to participate in the project without your name and/or face attached. Different people have different comfort levels with being public about their disease at various stages of the journey, and we believe that’s important to honor and respect that. It’s also an important piece in educating other about the effects of the disease and, how some are an open book, while others never tell anyone they have an infertility diagnosis. Thank you, anonymous poster, for sharing your story!


Pope Francis, The Catholic Church & Infertility: An honest account of one woman’s Catholic confessions after facing infertility

I’ve grown up my entire life as a Catholic. I was sent to Catholic elementary school, high school and college. My parents took my family to weekly, sometimes daily Catholic mass. I remember the names of several nuns who taught me how to read. I received all of my sacraments (well – all except my last rites). Jesuit priests were (and still are) frequent visitors at my parent’s home. I even met my husband at a fall dance at the all-boys Catholic high school. We got married (in a Catholic Church) right out of college – ready, willing and wanting to start a family as soon as possible. So when we began to realize that we were having trouble conceiving, we immediately looked to the Catholic Church to help us through. We sought comfort at mass. We prayed daily novenas. We prayed to Saint Gerard, the patron saint of motherhood. We even reached out to our local parish to see if they could provide us with any resources or support to help us our infertility.


But sadly, as we continued to look to the Church to help us through our journey, we continued to feel more and more displaced from that community which first brought us and our desire for a family together. Attending mass felt more like a deep wound than a source of actual solace. At weekly mass we normally found ourselves witnessing an infant’s baptism or sitting directly behind a large young family. These constant reminders of family life at mass, left us leaving mass more angry and alone than peaceful and with community. We continued to talk about this throughout the next couple of years – struggling to cope with the Catholic Church’s privileging of families in the midst of us struggling, often silently, because there is not an outlet to talk about infertility in the Church.

This struggle with our identity as childless, infertile couple in the Church has increasingly re-entered my consciousness as American Catholics prepare to welcome Pope Francis. Many in the Church – and even those outside of the Church – praise Pope Francis as the “people’s pope” actively reaching out to the marginalized and recognizing the humanity in each individual. As he prepares for The World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, I hope that he considers the word family – I hope he ponders how that word has several meanings, several connotations – especially for the young Catholic couples who are having difficulty conceiving.


I should note at this point that the Catholic Church has come out and has stated that  “family” can include many different identities – single parents, divorcees, even those who never married. However, not explicitly mentioned are those who are infertile. My wish, my hope for Pope Francis as he meets American families is to think about the ways in which the Church continues to ignore those who are infertile. Those who deeply desire a child, a desire rooted in Catholic teaching – but who cannot naturally conceive.

What I hope that does not happen is that Pope Francis suggests how infertile couples can parent in “alternative” ways – as aunts and uncles or through religious mentorship. Yes, these are all ways to find a version of parenting in the everyday. But it does not resolve the reality that my husband and I continue to feel “othered” at mass and continue to feel a deep void in being unable to conceive our own child, our own family.

Further, it should be noted, that some reading this piece may assume that adoption is well-suited alternative to resolving this deep desire. Historically, organizations like Catholic Charities have been great allies in assisting couples to achieve family-building. Yet, today, the reality is that adoption is simply not as common nor as successful as it once was. No longer can a couple simply walk into a place like Catholic Charities, express a desire to adopt, and walk out with a child in their hands. This is a reality that the Catholic Church should begin to recognize and discuss during The World Meeting of Families.


I end this reflection then with a prayer. Pope Francis, I ask that as you prepare to discuss issues of concern to families across the world to remember those who cannot have a family easily. Pray that they may be able to find strength in the many other God has given them and that they may reach out and share their stories of struggling to have a family with all those who fail to understand the physical and emotional pain of infertility. Pray that the Catholic Church may better serve those who are infertile. In this I pray. Amen.