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The dangers of hoping for a miracle baby

By Nina Steele 

There are countless stories of couples who were told by doctors that they couldn’t have children only to defy all the odds. Stories of miracle babies were on my mind when we were still trying for a child. I could not help thinking that if it could happen to other people, then surely it could happen to us. Now looking back, I can see how damaging these beliefs can be and how it is the reason why so many people cannot move on. And I was reminded of that just the other day.

I was having a chat with a woman when the subject of children came up. On hearing that my husband and I do not have children because of infertility, she felt compelled to tell me her story. She and her husband were told they would never have children for the same reason and they had naturally given up only for her to become pregnant out of the blue. Her message was clear, and it is that miracles do happen.

I didn’t make much of it at the time; it was only later on when I saw a thread on social media about whether one can ever come to terms with not having children that the conversation came back to me. Imagine the impact of such an encounter on a couple still deciding whether or not to carry on with expensive fertility treatments. No doubt that many would be tempted to keep trying. That woman meant well of course and her story like many such stories, is quite powerful. However, it is fair to say that it is equally damaging and even more so in a religious context.

Indeed every so often, the media will report stories of unscrupulous pastors making money out people’s misery by promising them miracle babies through prayer, with one even accused of child trafficking as reported in this BBC article. This is of course an extreme case of what this idea of a miracle child can do. However, even though most people do not go to such lengths, the damage of not knowing when to stop cannot be underestimated.

Going back to the woman I had the conversation with, she made it clear that she and her husband had accepted that they would never have children and were moving on with their life. That is of course different to cases in which couples are actively hoping for a miracle child and never stop trying because of that, until of course nature comes knocking with the menopause. If the menopause becomes the reason why couples are forced to stop as opposed to finding closure earlier on, the damage caused can be very difficult to get over, if at all. This in my view is what makes this idea of a miracle baby so dangerous. By teaching people to never stop trying, those who end up without their miracle child, also never find peace.

Coming to terms with infertility

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