Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eleven Things To Remember During Infertility

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10
(KJV)

As most of you already know,
Kevin and I struggled for 12.5 years with infertility.
You can read our full testimony here.
We've been there and felt the full gamut of emotions that accompany that path.
After seeing four different doctors and being left void of hope,
we made the choice to place the matter into God's hands,
and we finally let go.
A couple of years later, God miraculously, unexpectedly, and mysteriously opened my barren womb,
for one moment in time,
and He allowed me to conceive,
carry full-term, and deliver the sweetest baby boy.
He is now 13 years old and brightens our home and lives every moment of every day.

God's timing could not have been more perfect.

I write this post because I know, firsthand, how it feels to wonder if I would ever become a mother.
I write it because my heart goes out to and breaks for those who now wonder the same thing.
I've been in your shoes, and I know how you feel.
I hope these little tips somehow bring hope and light and help to you as you yearn for motherhood.


#1.  It isn't your fault. 
Be kind to yourself.
Even if you are the one with the physical problem,
you are not to blame.
You didn't ask for this, and you didn't cause it.
Don't beat yourself up and waste energy on self-loathing.
You are precious to God,
you are beautiful,
and you are beyond special...right now...right where you are...
whether you can or cannot conceive.
Infertility does not define you.
It does not make you less of a person.
It does not make up the whole of who you are.


#2.  It isn't your spouse's fault.
They're still the same person you fell in love with...and married.
Infertility hasn't changed who they are.
Remember, they are suffering, too.
Even if they are the one with the physical problem,
they are not to blame.
They didn't ask for this, any more than you did.
It isn't the easiest thing in the world to be told your problem
is the cause for your spouse being denied something they want so badly.
To fault each other adds insult to your already injured hearts...and pride.
Don't play the blame game and cause deeper wounds.
That isn't fair.
Put yourself in each other's shoes,
and always treat each other the way you want to be treated.
Sympathize...and empathize with each other...sincerely and with deep feeling.


#3.  God is not limited...or affected by your diagnosis.
He is not derailed by the name, longevity, stage, or form of any sickness or disease.
He is all power.
He created you.
He knows what is malfunctioning.
And since He made you, He knows how to fix you.
Period.
He still opens barren wombs.
"He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD."
(Psalm 113:9)
Still.  
Even now.
His Word remains and is still 100% true, reliable, and you can stand on its dependability.
What is completely impossible with man, is entirely possible with God.
Sarah's womb was completely dead.
Abraham was way past the point of being able to father a child.
Yet, God overruled human logic, reasoning, and understanding,
and sent them a baby of their very own at the ages of 90 & 100.
Is your situation more impossible than that?
No matter what you have been diagnosed with,
how long you've had it,
what stage it is in,
 or what disparaging news you have received,
God is not affected, nor is His authority diminished by, man's wisdom, proclamations, assertions, assumptions, and/or declarations.
God's power trumps all.
Yes, even medical science.


#4.  God has His own timetable.
He doesn't operate within, nor is He confined to, ours.
He doesn't reckon years...or age....like we do.
Just because we think we have it all figured out,
and we think it is the perfect time to conceive,
that our situation couldn't be more conducive to or convenient for us to have a child,
that it has to happen right now...today,
does not necessarily mean any of this is true...or accurate.
Our logic and analyses do not in any way alter God's mind.
He sees the future.
He knows what is best.
He works accordingly.
We cannot hurry Him.
The sooner we realize this and accept it,
the better...for us.
Struggling with Him,
fighting against His plan,
blaming Him, becoming angry with Him,
and maintaining the mindset that we know better than Him,
only serves to frustrate and discourage us and to hinder His purpose in it all.


#5.  Enjoy the journey while you wait.
Even though it feels like it, this is not all there is to life.
There's a whole world out there...waiting to be explored.
Who knows what exciting thing is up around the bend?
Don't over-obsess.
Don't miss out on the abundant life Jesus is offering you,
just because you are solely convinced it will never be abundant without a baby included.
Instead of spending every ounce of your energy ruing what might be or what might have been,
thank God for what is.
Look at what is in front of you.
God has given you this special person with whom to walk through life.
Don't ever forget, or disregard, or underestimate the enormity of that gift.
Focus on each other.
Don't allow your whole life to be about or consumed by trying to conceive.
It will drive you crazy...and apart.
Serve one another.
Be good to one another.
Speak kindness...and love...and mercy...always.
Relax.
Staying up-tight and overly-focused will actually hinder and impede what you are trying most to accomplish.
Be spontaneous.
Take trips.
Live.
Do the things you won't be able to do as readily,
once that little miracle arrives in your home...and arms...and requires your undivided attention.
You will never get to live through these days again.
God is working all of this for good, and He has many lessons to teach during the waiting.
Open your heart and mind and allow Him to minister to you.
There are things we can learn only through suffering.


#6.  Re-direct all of that bottled-up parental love.
Your spouse could use some of it, to be sure.
Shower them lavishly...with tenderness, concern, compassion, and understanding...
to the same intensity and with the same sincerity that you long to receive it and be loved.
What goes around, comes around.
You will get back what you give away.
Be generously affectionate.
It melts hearts, shatters walls, diffuses tension, and changes minds.
And what about the other people in your life?
Could they benefit from you channeling some of that pent-up parental love their way?
Who in your life is lonely?
What child is living and being raised in a single-parent home?
What mother would give anything for a break?
What parental couple could use some alone time?
You could visit that lonely person.
Call them.
Send them a card.
Give them a hug.
Speak a kind word.
You could be the surrogate parent and fill the void of that single-parent child.
Show an interest in what they like and what is important to them.
Help them with their homework.
Commit to remembering their birthday each year.
Take them to church and/or Sunday School.
Include them the next time you go out to eat.
You could lighten that weary mother's load.
 A word of CAUTION here, as this can be a tricky one.
Chances are, if she is weary and overwhelmed, she also feels inadequate.
No woman, especially a mother, wants to feel they are being condescended to
or that they aren't doing a good, efficient job all on their own.
Without the use of extreme tact and discretion, you could actually do more damage than good on this one.
Don't overstretch your boundaries or be overbearing.
Don't make her feel even more inadequate, like you feel she can't keep up,
or like you know more or better than she does.
It is so much easier to pass judgment on a mother...before you actually become one.
Once you are actually walking in her shoes,
you will long to retrieve every piece of unsolicited parental advice you ever gave.  :)
Believe me.
Be gentle with your suggestions and offers to help,
but, by all means, don't allow the trickiness of all this keep you from reaching out.
Offer to babysit her kids for an afternoon, so she can have some free time and relax.
Offer to do a few loads of laundry.
Offer to clean her house.
Offer to rock a crying baby.
Offer to allow her kids to sit with you in church, so she can actually hear what is being said
and participate and worship.
One thing you can do without offering first is to drop off a home-cooked meal...
or even just dessert.
I don't know any Mama anywhere who has ever resented that kind of help!
You could buy a restaurant gift card for that starved-to-be-alone couple.
Babysit their kids, so they can go out and actually look into each other's eyes...and talk.
Make sure there is another adult or relative present, if there is any hesitancy about safety issues.
Nowadays, you can't be too careful, and many parents aren't too keen on leaving their kids.
You also don't want to put yourself in a suspicious, questionable, or vulnerable-to-accusation position.
It's a shame you have to even think like this, but it is reality in this sin-blighted world,
and it is better to face it and put appropriate defense and protective measures in place ahead of time.
This makes everyone involved feel better and relax.
Do what needs to be done, orchestrate what needs to be coordinated,
so the couple can go away together...alone...without worry overshadowing their every thought while gone.
Another idea to consider while walking the lonely walk of infertility is to do what Elisha and her husband from Waiting for Baby Bird are doing.
They are foster parents to a sweet, little girl!
What a noble, needful, and wonderful way to re-route all of those parental gifts they long to bestow!
So commendable.
There is nothing like reaching out to others to take our minds off ourselves.


#7. Don't pull away from each other.
It is easy to become swallowed up in your own sadness and to recede, withdraw, and shut each other out.
Don't let this happen.
Allow your infertility to draw you together...not apart.
Turn to one another.
Tell each other how you really feel...gently.
Don't hold it in and allow it to fester.
You are both a part of this adventure.
You are not walking this path alone.
To pull away and allow distance to come between the two of you only adds another layer to your pain.
Grieve...and yearn...and dream....together.
Take time to really listen to what is being said.
Validate each other's feelings.
Don't berate each other or adopt the mindset that you are feeling this more keenly than your spouse
just because they aren't reacting in the same way or as extremely as you are.
We all deal with issues in our own way.
Some of us cry, vent, and show other outward signs of what is going on inside.
Some of us keep our emotions hidden deep below the surface.
What may appear to be indifference on your spouse's face,
could actually be the mustering of every ounce of courage they have to hold back a flood of tears.
Remember this...God created men and women with very different compositions.
Our individual strengths and weaknesses have been installed for a Divine purpose by an all-knowing God.
Each gender compliments the other.
We fill in each other's blanks, voids, and missing pieces.
Together, we are complete.
To pull that apart and think we know a better way is the undoing of God's perfect plan.



#8. Give yourself a break.
Self-esteem issues are rampant and highly-pronounced during infertility struggles.
We feel "less than" what we are "supposed" to be.
It is automatic.
I felt like such a failure when I could not conceive.
After all, that is the one thing a woman should automatically be able to do...right?
I didn't like myself too much during those years,
and I have given myself some pretty vicious, unfair, harsh, and mean-spirited beatings.
Sad to say, beatings leave scars...even when they are self-inflicted.
Looking back, I wish I hadn't been so self-abusive.
It really wasn't my fault.
Even though I am the one who was diagnosed with a physical disease that impaired my ability to conceive,
I was not to blame.
I see that now.


#9. There are reasons for God's delays.
 I really thought I knew best.
Thought I had it all planned out in the best possible way it could happen.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
It is so clear now...in retrospect.
Funny how the vision clears as life unfolds and hindsight is 20/20.
God's timing was impeccable...to the minute...right on.
Having Zachary right when I did was the most perfect time I could have ever become a Mama.
Having him still home with us now...when we need him most is nothing short of Divine providence.


#10. Accept the fact that it doesn't always happen.
It pains me to include this one.
But, God says I must.
I sit here, as I type these words, tears streaming.
Because, this is not what you want to hear.
I know that.
I reach out to you where you are right now...you whose arms are empty,
whose nurseries wait...decorated, warm, inviting,
whose hearts break...every, single month,
whose fists pound Heavenward and who scream, "Why?"...only to hear deafening silence,
whose pillows are wet each night...from quiet, falling-asleep tears,
whose wombs remain...barren.
My dear, precious friend!
I mourn with you.
I can't say that one day you will become a mother...or father.
I can't promise you that.
Only God knows.
Factually speaking, there is a chance you may...and a chance you may not.
You already know that.
I hate to bring it up or remind you, because to cause you added pain grieves my heart.


#11. You are going to be okay.
Whatever your individual outcome.
I promise.
You will be loved no less...either way.
You are strong...and resilient...and there is enough courage inside of you to face any lion.
The contributions you make to this world will be eternity-altering...
whether or not you are ever called a parent.
The roles you fill are making a difference...regardless.
You are still you....
unique, Divinely-designed, intricately-woven, and beyond precious to God.
Whatever His plans for you, you will succeed...and overcome.
You will leave this world a better place for having lived in it.
You will be okay, because you are a survivor...a fighter...a victor.
You are God's workmanship,
you are created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God has before ordained that you should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10)
And beautifully walk in them...you shall.

32 comments:

  1. This post is meaningful to me. Our oldest is turning 40 in the fall and never conceived. I told her I will not give up praying and after her sister's second baby last month, I'm storming the heavens for Amy. She's so loving and takes care of everybody and meets much of the criteria in your post except stress. She is an RN and very stressed. Mother's Day is extremely difficult for her and she told me she just can't attend church on that day anymore. I would love your prayers for her.

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    1. Oh, bless your dear heart! I am sitting here in tears as I write this. My heart goes out to Amy in so many ways! I can SO relate to those feelings and not wanting to go to church on Mother's Day and so many other things. It is a very painful thing to endure, but I know GOD, in His great power and wisdom can send Amy a baby of her own. I will definitely be praying for her and taking this need to heart. It really hit home when I read your words. Please tell her there is hope, and God is not limited. If He can open my womb (in the condition I was in)...and the womb of Sarah in the Bible, He can do anything. Lots of love to you and Amy, too.

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    2. I can relate! My ex-husband and I adopted our son 18 years ago! I remember being invited to all my families and friends baby showers and was so depressed every time I got another invitation! God's timing is perfect, and our son has blessed us both even as we are living separate from each other.

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  2. I really liked #3 - God is not affected by our diagnosis. Isn't that the truth! It is NO surprise to Him!!! Thanks for bringing awareness to infertility AND encouragement!

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    1. So thankful you stopped by today, Caroline! Thanks for leaving encouragement behind. :) Lots of love to you!!

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  3. I'm a few days behind on my blog reading and just read this. This is a GREAT post Cheryl. I think you're so wise to put #10, BUT follow it with #11. It's also so important to be intentional about #7- not pulling away from your spouse. It breaks my heart to read blog posts and tweets about divorces and separations caused by infertility. Thanks for sharing some of your wisdom here.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I so appreciate your kind comments and sweet encouragement. Praying for you every day, dear friend! :)

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  4. This is such a great post cheryl! You are so full of wisdom! Can I post this on my blog sometime in the future? Of course give all credit to you and link it back your blog?

    waitingforbabybird.com

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    1. It would bless me beyond words for you to share it in any way you'd like! It just means so much to know that you were encouraged by it. :)

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    2. encouraged!?! I loved it and I know that it can bless so many others! Thank you so much!

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  5. Wow! This was beautifully written! I am pinning this to my Children are a Blessing board and sharing with others who I know will be blessed to and ministered to. Thank you for sharing your heart and your wisdom which has come from Above.

    Thank you for linking up for Marriage Monday!

    Elizabeth

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    1. Thank you SO very much, Elizabeth! So thankful for you and the weekly link-up. God's peace be with you. :)

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  6. Thank you for your 11 wise words for those who struggle with infertility. Your last word of wisdom was to know that you will be okay what ever happens. Our daughter in law could not conceive, and she was so jealous almost full of hate when each of her friends became with child. After a sad divorce she married a man with two daughters and became a mother in another way. We still love her and keep in touch. Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story."

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    1. Oh, that is SO sad about your daughter-in-law and all she went through. It is a sad and lonely place for a woman to find herself and can certainly destroy lives if it is permitted to. It is wonderful that you keep in touch with her and that you love her like you do. Thank you so much for stopping and leaving encouragement behind. :)

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  7. Your post is full of wisdom and gentle advice. Thank-you for sharing your story of waiting on the Lord. The medical community has procedures (with their own stress and risk)--I just read an article about concerns with multiple births that result from fertility treatments. Your testimony gives glory to God as the giver of life.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much, Carol! Your words were such a blessing and encouragement to me today. :) So thankful for you!!

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  8. Thank you for sharing this post! We, too, struggled with infertility for 5 years before God gave us our son. Your words are true and an encouragement. Thank you! <3

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    1. Thank you so much, Amanda! So happy you stopped by today. : ) And so thankful God sent you your own sweet boy! God bless you always.

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  9. If I could be so presumptuous as to suggest a #12... Thank God for what he HASN'T given you. As the accidental mother of a profoundly retarded child because I wasn't content to be patient during our most recent adoption, I can tell you that there are worse things than a quiet home.

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    1. Oh, my! Bless your dear heart! This is such a great point. He always sees both sides & knows what is best. How we should thank Him for unanswered prayers!!!! My heart goes out to you with much love.

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  10. This is so well done. I feel the edges of your pain softening into a gentle tool called wisdom, friend. And I love how you so willingly share it with others. Beauty for ashes, indeed.

    Thankful you linked with Unforced Rhythms this week, Cheryl.

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    1. Oh, Kelli!! Your precious words brought tears to my eyes! You will never know how much I needed this today. God bless you for stopping by here and leaving encouragement behind. Looking forward to the weekly link-up!!

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  11. My struggle has been very minimal compared to some, but my spouse and I do deal with being less than fertile and this post spoke volumes to me. Especially number five, as I personally get obsessed with trying to conceive and I need to be reminded to enjoy and pour love into the blessings the Lord has already given me. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Janelle! I am so grateful for your kind comments and so thankful you stopped by today. May God grant you the desires of your heart, including a baby of your own! :)

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  12. Thank you! I, too, struggled with infertility. Those years were so difficult, and at times I wondered if we would ever have children. We were lucky to have two: twin girls. But, I still remember those Mother's Day, I still get questions about having more children, and I still remember the hurt and pain that comes with such a difficult trial. Your points are spot on and it is so important to always remember that God is in all the details, even when it seems that our dreams aren't coming true. Thank you! Great post!

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    1. Bless your heart! I surely know how it feels to be asked all of those questions. So frustrating! I know people mean well, but having never walked in our shoes, I suppose they just can't understand. :) Thank you so much for stopping by here and for leaving sweet encouragement behind. ;) God bless you!

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  13. Wonderful post. We waiting over 8 years. Joining you in prayer for all moms "in the waiting room"

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! How I trust God will send you the baby you have waited so long for! Thank you for praying and for stopping by today. I so appreciate your comment.

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  14. I really really enjoyed this, thank you so much!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind! God bless you!!

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  15. Mrs Cheryl, I know where you are coming from...
    It took DH,and myself 8 years before having our only son.
    I have homeschooled him since he was 4.This is his last year ,he will graduate .We are excited but then again I am sad.
    He is also wanting to make a career in the Navy.
    Blessings,Renee

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    1. Aww...I am sure you do have mixed emotions, as this very important chapter in your life is coming to a close. I trust God to direct your steps and show you what to do next. Thank you for sharing your testimony here!

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