I am an infertile woman.
While my experience of infertility does not define me, it informs and impacts every aspect of my life and my relationships. Much like a cancer survivor who is forever changed in the fight for her life, I too have been changed in the desperate fight for life: that of my children.
I grew up in a close-knit community in South Holland, IL where our lives and activities revolved around family and faith. The birth of a new cousin was a time of great joy for me as a child. I would patiently wait my turn to hold this new baby, longing to feel his body mold into my own. Pulling him close, his baby smell filling my nostrils, I was already dreaming of the glorious day when I would hold my own child.
With time, this growing maternal identity was joined by an awakening to the life-giving energy I derived from relationship, from real connection with others. It was my soul's awareness of other souls: their vulnerabilities, their dreams, their searching for protection, and their hungering for nurturance. In short, this combination of inclinations, gifts, and yearnings were the foundations of my callings to be both a mother and a therapist. With increased focus, life experience, and education, these realities have molded me into a psychotherapist specializing in the emotional and relational issues of infertility.
Not long after beginning my career as a Pastoral Counselor, a new and totally different stage of my education began. I joined my life with the man I love, Bob Stewart, and his four children. These children were unexpected gifts who, with time, love, and patience, allowed me to be their mother. They are the children of my heart.
My husband and I spent the next six years engaged in the battle against infertility with all of its testing, diagnoses, uncertainties, procedures, and heartbreak after heartbreak. And yet, in the darkness and despair, I once again found comfort and healing in relationship. There were a special few people who had the courage to walk beside me in my pain.
In 1998, I finally held my baby boy with wonder, joy and disbelief. In 2003, I was blessed to cradle my second infant son. Now, a decade later, in the stillness of the night, I take one last peek into the bedrooms of the children I feared would never be my own. I find comfort in the rhythm of their breathing. It is with profound gratitude that I pull up the kicked-off covers of my sleeping boys.
Today, in our practice, my husband and I seek to nurture, educate and encourage families struggling with the trauma of infertility. It is our goal to help as many families as we can to realize their dream and to make the journey easier. We're glad you have found us.
Shari DeGraff Stewart
Bachelor of Arts • Belmont University
Master of Divinity, Pastoral Care and Counseling • Southern Baptist Theological Seminary