Infertility Will Never Leave Me

It had been three years since I set foot in an OB-GYN’s office.  I probably felt the first unexpected twinge as I saw the office name on the door, then another as I walked into the waiting room.  “They’re probably all here for OB not GYN,” I thought, as I looked around at all the women.  I quietly retreated to a corner seat to fill out my paperwork.  As I stood up to give my papers back to the receptionist, I glanced at a very pregnant woman sitting with her husband.  I heard another woman greet her friend as they both excitedly compared due dates.  Then all of a sudden, I felt my eyes water.  “Whoa!  Where in the world did this come from?”  I felt blindsided by my old emotions.

I was relieved when the nurse called me back.  She asked the usual questions, one being, “Have you been on birth control?”  I thought, “Birth control?  I haven’t taken the pill in 14 years.”  Aloud, I said, “No,” then added, “We’ve struggled with infertility for many years.”

My new doctor came in and talked about my GYN issues.  I thought he must be wondering why my eyes are red!  I wanted to explain, “I don’t know why I’m so emotional right now.  I guess you just never get over your infertility.”

I am mommy to a wonderful five-year old and content that he may be my only child.  My last few well-woman visits were with my D.O., and I never once thought about the emotions I didn’t have to experience going to an OB-GYN’s office.

In Proverbs 30:15-16, Solomon identifies “Three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things that say not, It is enough.”  The barren womb is never satisfied.  Matthew Henry’s insight teaches the barren womb is impatient of its affliction in being barren and cries, as Rachel did, “Give me children.”  The reference is to the desire of a childless wife for children.  It is the reason the ache and the yearning never cease.

Before I gave birth to my son, it is the reason I cried every month when I started my period, even if I tried to make myself believe it wasn’t a big deal.  If there was one glimmer of hope – a day late, a feeling of nausea – I would take that hope and then my period would start the next day.  Once I gave birth to my son, I never really cried again when I started my new period every month.  So I thought, I am satisfied.

Although I don’t have the same degree of struggles and I shed considerably less tears, I have realized infertility will never leave me.  It may or may not be as great a yearning, but even if you already have a child, you can still experience this with secondary infertility.  It can hit you at any time.  I remember going to two baby showers two weekends in a row.  I went home feeling happy for them but also sad for me.  You can give it to God, but it is a fact, the ache does not go away.  Just continue to give it to God daily.  He knows our desires.  Trust the experience will not cause you to become bitter.

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Myth: If you want to get pregnant, just relax, stop trying, and drink the water.

If you have endured the difficulties of infertility, you have no doubt received unsolicited advice such as this.  If you are like me and now have been given a baby, you can look back on the flippant comments, maybe even chuckle under your breath, and just shake your head, saying, “Yes, I’ve heard that one before.”  However, if you are currently experiencing infertility, I know how painful these crass and absurd words can sound, even if they are delivered, at best, by someone trying to make you feel better, or at worst, coming from someone who speaks before thinking.

According to resolve.org, the vast majority of individuals who have infertility have a medical reason, not a stress-related one.  Stress and infertility may have a connection when one has been trying and not conceiving for awhile, but there has never been a study which shows that simply relaxing increases pregnancy rates.  I like the advice one blogger wrote, instead of telling someone to relax, why not give her something that will help her relax, like a gift certificate for a massage or a pedicure, or treating her to lunch!

The flippancy of these comments implies that a couple’s infertility problems really have no medical basis, that it’s all in their heads, and they’re just too uptight.  This comment insults them because it undermines the problem and their emotional struggles.  Studies show that the average couple who has unprotected intercourse with no intentional timing will, over the course of the year, get pregnant.  After a year, it’s time to see a doctor.  Those who actually pay attention to the calendar (i.e., those trying to get pregnant) aren’t jinxing themselves into infertility.  (From Infertility: A Surivival Guide for Couples and Those Who Love Them by Cindy Lewis Dake)

The last advice about drinking the water is one I heard countless times at church and work when there was a surge of pregnant women.  If only it were that easy, right?

Note:

To my friends who may read this: If you wonder, “I hope I didn’t say any of those things; is she talking about me?” As a professor once said in my class, “If you are the one who always wonders if I’m referring to you, it’s not you.  It’s those who don’t worry that I’m referring to them that I’m talking about!”

If you want to share your more memorable or ludicrous words of advice you have received about getting pregnant – in other words, “what NOT to say” – feel free to comment.  Please do not share anything vulgar or offensive.  I’ve tried to write in a way that is not cynical or sarcastic, although it is sometimes difficult to read one’s tone in an email, on facebook, or on a blog.