Hi Katie. It's me, Jessica.
I'm the woman whose article about infertility you responded to in a letter entitled, "A strong faith is all you need to live a full life."
Thank you for your letter. I'm grateful to have an open dialogue about such an important issue.
I was also so sorry to have read about your miscarriages - a heartbreak no one can begin to understand until you live through it. Thank you for bravely sharing that part of your story.
In your letter you told me God "does not need a doctor to surgically insert a fertilized egg into your womb for you to live a life to the full. He simply asks for you to say 'yes' to his call and will for your life, whether that means having a biological baby or not."
That's the part I would really like to talk about.
I read a blog post you wrote about the faith organization you co-founded, and am happy you are bringing awareness to the pain and suffering mothers and fathers endure when they lose a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. It's a valuable mission.
In your introductory post you write, "It is hard to share these types of sufferings and sorrows because they make me feel very vulnerable and weak, and I also fear judgment and condemnation from others for my weakness and honesty."
I understand how that feels.
It is hard to be vulnerable and share sufferings. It's scary to open yourself up. Which is why I am so surprised that the person who wrote that very honest sentence then published a letter in The Forum doing exactly what she was so worried about other women doing to her.
Because, Katie, while I'm sure you were well intentioned, your letter felt a lot like judgment. Judgment about the difficult choices my husband and I made trying to start a family and realizing our only option might be IVF. Yes, it was veiled in kind thoughts and fervent prayers, but it felt like judgment nonetheless.
To me, it felt like you read a piece about a woman struggling to start a family, longing for children (but was certainly not bitter or angry, just sad - sad about how hard it is to become a mother) and instead of showing compassion, you told her what she was doing wrong.
Every person's opinion is valuable and anyone who writes to me directly I pay special attention to. At first, I was going to simply read your piece and move on from your words. Because I am confident in the choices I'm making and I am truly happy that you have been able to conceive naturally.
But then I started to think about all the women who can't. The women who might have read your letter and felt bad about themselves for looking into other options - who might have felt trapped or guilty or ashamed. Women who have suffered for years, every month seeing that single line on a pregnancy test and feeling their heart break all over again when they thought it was too shattered to break anymore.
And I don't want women to feel guilty about infertility.
So again, thank you for your letter and the chance to talk about this issue a little bit further. We women feel guilty about so much already (carbs, wine, binge watching "House Hunters International") that I want to make sure we don't also feel guilty about doing everything we can to start a family.
I wish you all the happiness your new family brings you. Thank you for your open-hearted letter.
Jessica Runck, who grew up in Wimbledon, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, is a writer living in Los Angeles. Visit www.jessicarunck.com for more information.