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Archive for the ‘Infertility’ Category

How to Deal With the Grief of Infertility

SOURCE:  Eddie Kaufholz/Relevant Magazine

When you or someone you know is hurting.

My wife and I have been trying to have a child for almost two years and we fear, due to some issues surrounding infertility, we will not be able to. We are beside ourselves with grief and need help—from anywhere. So I’m writing to see if you have anything to offer us. Sorry it’s not a more clear question, I don’t really know what I’m asking.

Normally I’d give the person who asked this question a playful alias just to lighten the mood a bit, but today, that doesn’t seem right. Not with this question, and not with the countless people who will be reading this and hoping—longing—for an answer that provides some respite from the grief.

I bet today and the many yesterdays haven’t been what you expected them to be, have they? Of course not. A few years ago, you and your significant other were eating a lovely dinner at your favorite Thai place. One of you looked at the other one and said, “Hey, do you think we should start trying?” And in a moment, you both realized you were on the road to parenthood. Jitters, fear, excitement, nursery Pinterest boards—it all flooded over your pad Thai and into your relationship. Weren’t those fun days? Wasn’t it nice to have hope?

And then something happened. Month after month, when there was a blue line instead of a pink plus, hope started to fade—and dread took its place. Then one of you said—again at the same Thai place which now feels more like a tragic reminder of some distant happiness—“Should we see a doctor?” So you did. And the doctor said there may be “some complications.” And the walls of the sterile doctor’s office blurred and the words began to jumble. You realized your hope had succumbed to infertility.

It is the worst. Just the worst.

Which leads us to the fundamental question: What can make infertility less terrible? Not, “What can make it better?” because “better” to you, right now, looks like a child in your home. And while I could give you Christian truths and platitudes about how there are many people who, for one reason or another, never had children via biology or adoption and are living happy lives, that’s not helpful for you right now. You want your babies. I understand.

But I would like to submit four quick thoughts for you to hold onto while you traverse the uncertain road ahead:

Let People In

One of the mistakes everyone makes in life is believing if we say nothing, problems will go away or somehow get better. We do it all the time. If there is ever even a distant, faint whisper of shame or embarrassment, we go M.I.A.

Unfortunately, with couples who are having a difficult time conceiving, sometimes shame somehow enters the equation and they silently suffer. Maybe they feel there is something “wrong” with them physically or that God is smiting them for previous indiscretions. Or maybe they just don’t want to be a burden to others. Whatever the case, so many suffer in silence. This cannot continue.

If you are experiencing infertility, you have to tell people you love and trust. Not because it will make it all better, but because you can’t take the hit of a monthly funeral alone. People need to cry with you and shoulder the burden with you. People need to bring you food and help you take your mind off of it for a night. You and your significant other can’t do this alone. Those who love you want to do so not just in thought but in deed. You won’t overwhelm them. They want to be there for you now, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon.

Try Not to Strategize

I fear I may be overstepping with this point, but I’d like to float this idea past you. What if you all stopped thinking about tomorrow (as much as is realistic)? The nature of infertility is that you’re making decisions on a daily basis that are massive, overwhelming and life-changing.

However, these decisions are not everything. Ultimately, we have no control over children being brought into this world. The best doctors and adoption lawyers can’t simply will your child into existence. Truthfully, any child showing up in someone’s home via adoptive or biological means is nothing short of a miracle.

So, because it’s a miracle, and because it’s really out of your hands, what if you tried (again, as much as is realistic) to stop. Stop worrying that today’s shot of medication may or may not result in future complications that even further complicate a confusing situation—yuck. Who could possibly know what’s right and wrong? Well, God knows (more on that in a moment). But you don’t, so make the best decision you can for today and accept that you can’t control the entire road ahead.

I acknowledge, even as I’m writing this, that what I’m asking you to do is impossible. You may even be slightly frustrated with me suggesting that you loosen your grip a bit on all the strategizing. But what if for one moment of one day you weren’t as riddled with fear and dread over a decision? I’d love that for you. And I’d love for God’s narrative to take a front seat to your thinking.

Get Real With God

The relationship between those who are suffering (you) and He who is in control (God) can get very complex. To that end, Here are two articles over the past weeks that I hope will fill out this section. In summary:

1. You can get angry with God. For real. You can, and you should. It’s not helpful to pretend that it’s all OK, and it’s helpful to get into a real tussle with Him. Be with God exactly where you are, and trust that He can handle your worst (and love you through it). You’re His child, and your pain is His.

2. If you’re too hurt to pray, it’s OK. Really, it is.

This Isn’t Your Fault

Finally, in the quiet moments of infertility, the darkness creeps in and the reasons for “why” begin to point to you. This is a lie. The abortion, the physical abuse on your body, etc., etc. begin to be the reason for all of this infertility pain (in your mind).

Hear me say this: What you’re going through isn’t your fault. Yes, a doctor’s report may point to a specific issue with someone’s family history or bodily functioning. But really—really—those issues are not what makes or prevents babies from coming into this world. What makes it happen is a miracle. An everyday, common and not at all common, miracle.

What Not to Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility

SOURCE:  Tamlyn Dennekamp/Relevant Magazine

A few well-meant, but hurtful comments to avoid saying to a couple who’s struggling to get pregnant.

When my husband and I decided it was time for us to start a family nearly four years ago, we never thought that in 2014 we would still be waiting, still praying. We thought that by now, we’d be pregnant with our second.

Since we started on this road we have done two attempts of entry level treatment taking Clomid and two IUI’s (artificial insemination), which involve injections every day. I’ve had an operation, and Michael, my husband, has been for many tests. We recently started our road on ICSI IVF, and are hopeful that our prayers for a child will be answered soon.

Through a blog I started about my journey, I’ve realized that though a lot of couples are struggling with infertility, we don’t really talk candidly about it. And when I have shared with friends and family, I was often offered advice—advice that came from a place of love, but was often hurtful, nonetheless.

If a friend or loved one tells you they are struggling to get pregnant, you should listen to them, mourn with them, encourage them that God is in control—but here are a few things you shouldn’t say:

“I’m Sure it Will Happen as Soon as You Relax.”

I’ve heard many different variations of this idea: “You’re thinking about it too much, as soon as you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”

It is difficult to try and explain why not thinking about it is impossible. The only thing I can think to compare it to is when you need to use the bathroom—when your bladder is so full that your leg actually starts twitching and your eyes are watering. Now imagine you’re waiting in a long line to a bathroom so you can finally be out of this “pain” and someone comes up and tells you that if you just stop thinking about it you won’t need to go anymore. It’s impossible and just untrue.

“Just Have Lots of Sex.”

The only way I’ve ever responded to this is a slightly uncomfortable giggle, but let me shed some light on this. By the time you’ve gotten to a place that you’re in a doctor’s room, worried that something might be wrong—you’ve done A LOT of trying to get pregnant. A doctor won’t even see you until you’ve been trying to have a baby for at least a year. So while you might think you’re making light of it, it’s better to stay clear of this one.

“You’ll Have a Baby When God Feels You’re Ready and Actually Deserve One.”

After years of trying to have a baby, there have been many times when I’ve thought “why me?” or “am I being punished?”

This was the most hurtful thing someone has said to me when they learned about our struggle. It hit me like a ton of bricks. As someone who is actually pretty positive and believes in God’s plan, this comment took me by surprise.

For anyone who’s even thinking of saying something like this, or along those lines, please don’t. Believe me, after years of trying to have a baby, there have been many times when I’ve thought “why me?” or “am I being punished?” So suggesting to someone that they may not deserve to have a child yet is down right despicable. We beat ourselves up enough; we don’t need to think anyone else thinks we’re not deserving.

“I’m Pregnant, I’m Sorry!”

There seems to be a misconception here that people who want children and are battling to have them hate all pregnant people and people with children. We don’t.

When my friends and family tell me they’re pregnant, I am overjoyed. It is a blessing, a life-changing event that I want to celebrate with the people I love. So let’s get this straight, we’re not going to be angry with you when you tell us you’re pregnant. Please know and try understand that we’re frustrated with our situation, not with you.

“Have You Tried ____?”

It can be anything from a different doctor, a homeopath, a 1960’s herbal remedy (yes, even that was suggested to me). I’ve even had people say that all I need to do is get drunk so I can relax (see point 1 above).

It’s not that some of these things don’t have their merits; some of them really do, but be careful how you say it or how often you offer and suggest solutions. We have tried all sorts of things. We haven’t forgotten your suggestions; we’ve just chosen not to go in that direction.

Let’s Just Pretend it isn’t Happening.

While saying the wrong thing can be hurtful, ignoring the topic altogether can be worse. If someone has trusted you enough to tell you about their infertility journey, don’t pretend it is not happening. I’m not saying that we want to talk about it in every conversation, but avoiding mentioning it at all can just come across like you don’t care.

Again, please know that I acknowledge that advice or suggestions are given with love and the intent to help. My advice to people who know someone who’s going through this is to just show the couple you are there for them, praying for them, that you are sorry this is their journey and just let them talk and you be there to listen to their pain.

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This article was originally published at patientlypraying.com.

 

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