Friendship & Infertility: Feeling Alone Is Normal, But Don’t Stay There

It was the start of 8th grade. Having only known life as an Air Force brat, this was my eighth different school since kindergarten. But this year was different. I had just come from a school with twenty students in my grade, and my new school had over 220. My teachers and classes went well, but then came that dreadful lunch hour. Although I had changed schools before and had to make new friends, this was my first vivid memory of feeling alone.

Being alone isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Solitude is good and needful at times, and usually because you want to be alone. Feeling alone is more of an emotional state or reaction. I felt isolated.  I remember wondering what I would do during lunch hour, where would I sit and eat, where would I stand outside afterwards until the bell rang to go to my next class. Whether that feeling lasted two days, two weeks or two months, I am not sure, but I know I didn’t stay alone.

One girl befriended me. She was not new to the school, but she must have seen or sensed I felt alone and she reached out to me. Another girl I met was new that year, too. I didn’t know there was someone else like me who felt like I did. Although the school I had just left was 10 miles away, she had moved all the way from Alaska to Oklahoma! This happened over 30 years ago, and I honestly can’t remember whether she found me or I found her, but I know God brought us together.

Multiply that isolating feeling from 8th grade lunch hour many times over, and you can only imagine how alone I felt at times when we found ourselves facing years of infertility. Or you might know exactly how I felt if you are there right now facing it yourself.

The trials we endure throughout life or compared to others are different, but we can apply what we have learned in other circumstances to help navigate through a different set of circumstances. Just like the girl, who was not new, befriended me at school, I can tell you of many women who befriended me in my infertility. Women who had also experienced infertility found out I was going through the same thing, and they reached out to me through notes and hugs, listening and tears, and most of all, prayers. Even women who didn’t know exactly what it was like to experience infertility still showed compassion by seeking me out to encourage me and fill me with hope. I felt alone at times, but because of them, I didn’t stay there.

During that 8th grade lunch hour, I may have looked around for someone who was quiet like me and eating alone, or perhaps she was the one who looked up and noticed me standing around the courtyard by myself, looking lost. You may think you are the only one on this journey of infertility, but if you and I took the time to look at others around us, we just might find a friend on the same infertility road.

We look at the woman with the college degree who works full-time and automatically assume she must be putting her family on hold to climb the corporate ladder. We don’t see she just might be trying to get pregnant and longing for the day when she can have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom.

We look at a young wife and form an opinion that she is so newly married that we don’t even realize she’s had several miscarriages already and is quietly grieving.

We look at a happy couple that loves dogs and decide they must be animal-lovers and not really want kids of their own. We don’t even consider that they could be privately enduring heartache after heartache of infertility.

Two different circumstances, the same feelings of isolation – they are both normal experiences that other people are going through, but we don’t have to stay alone. We can accept the support when others reach out and not feel isolated anymore, and we can stop the seclusion and look for someone who could be experiencing similar pain and try to encourage each other.

I understand that however long your journey of infertility is, you will still feel alone at times and that no one seems to care. We are never alone because we have Jesus. Whether you know Him as your Lord and Savior or not, He knows exactly what you’re going through. He will hear when you cry out to Him. There is no need to hide the pain, the fear, the tears, the questions. He already knows, and He cares. This verse from the song, “Untitled Hymn – Come To Jesus” by Chris Rice makes me cry and smile at the same time.

Sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain.

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then cry to Jesus.

Cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus and live.

In friendships, or the lack thereof, you can feel alone. The girl who reached out to me that 8th grade lunch hour became my friend and although we have not remained close, I still remember her reaching out to me. It brings a smile to my face, and I will always be grateful for her. The girl from Alaska became my best friend that year and I still consider her one of my best friends and am thankful she loves me in spite of my failures and flaws. If I ever have feelings of being alone in this area, and once in awhile, those feelings crop up, I look at this little album I made called the A to Zs of Friendship and am reassured of the special friends God has given me throughout my life, from those who have accepted me as I am to those who have zipped to my rescue. I am not alone!

In infertility, you can truly feel alone. But with the concerted efforts of Resolve to bring awareness, you can see you are not alone. I can look at my facebook profile and count 37 friends who have experienced infertility and loss and those are the women I know about. That’s over 12% of my facebook friends. I am not alone. You are not alone.

With God, we are never alone. “And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20b

NIAW - National Infertility Awareness Week

Resolve To Know More About The Cost Of Infertility: Financial, Emotional, Spiritual

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This week is RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and the theme is “Resolve to Know More.” The meaning of resolve is 1) to find an answer to 2) to settle or solve something 3) to reduce by analysis 4) to reach a firm decision about 5) to deal with successfully.

Infertility costs. The price infertility charges you will cost you financially, emotionally, and spiritually. No matter how long you have been on this journey of infertility, decide together right now with your spouse to resolve the cost of your infertility.

Financial Cost

My husband and I were prepared and blessed to pay for fertility treatments without going into debt. It wasn’t our choice to wait nine years for a baby, but since that was how long it took us, our DINK (double income, no kids) status along with my husband’s innate frugal mentality prepared us for this financial obligation. Still, we covered our steps and decisions in prayer and carefully considered the costs of adoption and fertility tests and treatment options.

Financial stress is consistently one of the leading causes of marital problems, according to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you become blessed to bring home a baby after the expense of adoption or fertility treatments or both, the actual cost of raising a baby or multiple babies would be additional financial strain. My purpose in sharing this isn’t to advise you to go into debt or not go into debt to have a baby. Having children was very important to us, and now that we are blessed to have one, we can say he was worth every penny. Once we had our son, our finances were a bit more of a strain, as we made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom, yet God has provided all of our needs.

Couples must still depend on prayer and God’s provision, godly counsel, common sense, and creativity to decide together how to have a baby. Besides prayer, we can go to godly counsel, and for godly financial counsel, one such source would be Dave Ramsey. I have linked a couple of questions people asked him about debt and infertility and his answers.

“Moving Forward with IVF”

“Pausing For Adoption”

In addition to godly counsel, we should also use common sense and creativity to determine our course of action. When we looked into adoption, we looked at the whole spectrum from international adoption to domestic adoption. Within domestic adoption, we considered relatively cost-free adoptions like DHS or ICW (Indian Child Welfare), to more costly options like an adoption attorney or adoption agency, to a blend of the two such as an adoption outreach that asks for a balance of your time and money. The Adoption Tax Credit can help lessen the financial burden, and some companies provide adoption benefits to employees. When we pursued fertility treatments, we weighed the cost of treatment versus the chance of success. Our employers did not provide medical benefits for fertility treatments, and our state does not have an infertility insurance mandate to provide coverage (only 15 states currently do), but we compared the costs of different specialists in and out-of-state and explored options like shared risk, which is eventually what we settled on. Creatively come up with ways to reduce your current debt and increase your cash flow to fund your fertility expenses before or as they come due.

Emotional Cost

Unless you truly have a care-free attitude about adding to your family, whether it be “Que sera, sera – Whatever will be, will be” or you can leave it all in God’s hands – “If He wants it to happen, He will make it happen”, you will find your infertility journey to be an emotional roller coaster. The emotional cost is really unavoidable, but help is yours for the taking and you are not alone. RESOLVE offers support through its website as well as its presence on social media. This is also a great Fertility Authority link explaining how infertility is not just a disease, but also an emotional experience.  I’m even thankful for search engines that allow you type in a phrase or question and find the websites or blogs that provide answers and emotional support. The more we can make people aware of infertility and the effects of it, then hopefully, the understanding and support of your church, family, and friends will help bear the emotional cost of infertility.

Spiritual Cost

When we experience infertility and pregnancy loss, naturally, we want to get at the root of the cause, physically. We want to analyze every aspect and gain knowledge from books and blogs to finally seeking out a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Sometimes you may not be able to pinpoint a reason, like endometriosis or PCOS. After all of your tests, your doctor may come back and say you have “unexplained infertility.” Medically speaking, it may be unexplained, but your infertility is not without cause. Resolve to know more about the cost of your infertility, spiritually speaking. Realizing it is for a purpose will help you deal with it successfully.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have to realize, even expect, and God forbid, rejoice, that trials will come into our lives to mold us to be more like Him, to glorify Him, and to encourage others. Our trial of infertility is a test, designed only to try – not to ruin – but to try our character, strength, patience, and trust in God.

“God’s design in afflicting his people is their probation, not their destruction; their advantage, not their ruin: a trial, as the word signifies, is an experiment or search made upon a man, by some affliction, to prove the value and strength of his faith. Our Christianity depends upon our faith; if this be wanting, there is nothing else that is spiritually good in us. Christ prays for this apostle, that his faith might not fail; if that be supported, all the rest will stand firm; the faith of good people is tried, that they themselves may have the comfort of it, God the glory of it, and others the benefit of it. A tried faith is much more precious than tried gold. Gold is the most valuable, pure, useful, and durable, of all the metals; so is faith among the Christian virtues; The trial of faith is much more precious than the trial of gold; Gold does not increase and multiply by trial in the fire, it rather grows less; but faith is established, improved, and multiplied, by the oppositions and afflictions that it meets with. Gold must perish at last–gold that perisheth; but faith never will.”  – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on I Peter 1:6-7

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6-7

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” II Corinthians 1:3-5

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I Corinthians 5:10-11

 

 

Join the Movement. Apply the Ointment.

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I am trying to make a difference in the lives of people with infertility.  I know how it feels.  I know how it hurts.  I have one son, yet infertility is still with me.  I can’t take away my infertility nor can I take away your infertility.  But I can apply the ointment to help alleviate the pain of infertility.

In one word, the ointment is Jesus.

Assuage – I like that word even though I don’t use it in my everyday vocabulary! It means to lessen the intensity of something that pains or distresses.

Through prayer, His Word, a caring friend, a compassionate family member, a song, a devotion, a sermon, and a blog, Jesus applies the ointment to assuage your pain of infertility.  He soothes your troubled soul, calms your anxious heart, comforts your disappointed spirit, and quiets your fears.

National Infertility Awareness Week isn’t just a week to make others (who seem unaware of infertility) aware of infertility. This week causes me to reflect on where I have been and praise God for what He has done in my life through this trial of infertility.  In a sense, this week I relive the pain to relieve the pain for others who are hurting.  This year, I purpose to apply the salve to the women I personally know who are experiencing infertility by praying for them and encouraging them more consistently.

The word ointment comes from the Latin word unguere, meaning to anoint.  When Jesus applies the ointment to our hurting hearts, He is choosing or consecrating us to do the same for others who are hurting.

I do hope for you the joy a baby can bring.  I also pray that you will receive the ointment that can bring you joy as you journey through infertility.

On January 15,2010, I started my blog, due in part to the following devotion I had read four days earlier on January 11 from Streams in the Desert.  I had written in my Streams journal on that day in 2002, realizing I did need training to be a comforter and there would be others down the road that I could help just as someone helped me.

 

Streams in the Desert, January 11th

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
Isaiah 40:1

Store up comfort.  This was the prophet’s mission.  The world is full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou are sufficient for this lofty ministry, thou must be trained.  And thy training is costly in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood.  Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward where thou art taught the divine art of comfort.  Thou art wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere.  Dost thou wonder why thou art passing through some special sorrow?  Wait till ten years are passed, and thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art.  Thou wilt tell them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience and helpfulness.  Selected.

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”  Dr. Jowett

They tell me I must bruise

The rose’s leaf,

Ere I can keep and use

Its fragrance brief.

~~~

They tell me I must break

The skylark’s heart,

Ere her cage song will make

The silence start.

~~~

They tell me love must bleed,

And friendship weep,

Ere in my deepest need

I touch that deep.

~~~

Must it be always so

With precious things?

Must they be bruised and go

With beaten wings?

~~~

Ah, yes! by crushing days,

By caging nights, by scar

Of thorn and stony ways,

These blessings are!

Don’t Ignore Your Support System – My Thank You Notes

The 2012 theme for National Infertility Awareness Week, “Don’t Ignore,” first caused me to look back on the wounds of infertility, the times when I felt ignored in my condition, stung by the words and actions or inactions of people in their ignorance.  However, it didn’t take long for me to also reflect on the people who did not ignore me.  We all have a system of support, if we will avail ourselves to it.  I am thankful we didn’t go through this trial of infertility alone.  Thank you, my support system, the wonderful people and resources God has brought into my life in my time of need.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your omnipresence and your Word. 

For the times when I felt alone, You were always there.  When my heart was feeling overwhelmed, You comforted me through Psalms and other Scripture.  When I felt like no one understood, You preserved examples in the Bible we could learn from, like Sarah and Hannah, who also experienced barrenness.

Thank you for my husband.

You were and still are my protector and greatest source of strength and faith.  Thank you that we went through this trial together and came out of it with our faith and marriage still strong. 

Thank you for our loving parents, who hurt when we hurt and rejoiced when we rejoiced. 

In addition to being there to give hugs when we needed them, you prayed for us.  You sent cards and shared songs that were meaningful on this journey.  Mom, you helped me see God’s purposes in my trial of infertility.  Mom (in-law), you gave me my favorite written resource besides the Bible, my first copy of Streams in the Desert – a godsend!

Thank you for our loving family. 

Our brothers and sisters, your love and support with your prayers, phone calls, notes of encouragement, and thoughtfulness meant so much.  You also exhibited faith by saving all those baby things to pass on to me, generosity when turning your home into a bed and breakfast for me during my stays for IVF, empathy when experiencing secondary infertility and loss, and compassion in trying to be a part of the solution.  Our aunts and uncles, your notes and prayers encouraged us, as well as your efforts to help us find solutions to build our family.

Thank you for the spiritual authority you placed in our lives.

My pastor and his wife:  You loved us and prayed for us.  I am especially grateful you preached about joy from the Book of Philippians, the first series of messages God used for good in my trial of infertility.  You shared personal experiences and later caused me to face the difficult questions, like making sure God didn’t want us to have just one child.

After our preacher retired from the pastoral ministry, I became equally thankful for our new pastor and his wife:  Even though (or perhaps because) you were blessed seven children, you showed compassion for us.  God gave us peace and direction through you when we turned to you for counsel.  And most recently, I am thankful for your messages, the current series on the Life of Joseph – God Meant It For Good.  My pastor’s wife: You also shared godly wisdom in teaching me to think about different aspects concerning infertility and the treatment of it.  You offered hugs and a listening ear when I needed them most.  Thank you for your prayers on our behalf.

Thank you for the women who shared their stories of infertility with me and gave me hope. 

You gave me hope that I would also experience what it was like to be a mommy someday.  You remembered me on Mother’s Day, took me to doctor appointments, asked how things were going, listened to the Lord’s prompting to pray over us, hugged me, cried with me, sent cards, helped me realize I could be thankful I experienced infertility in a time when fertility treatment options like IVF were available.  You showed me I could stay encouraged, stay in His Word, and praise Him.

Thank you for the women who encouraged me while also going through struggles of infertility.

It was hard because some of you got pregnant before me.  But even harder was when I got pregnant and some of you were still barren.  I am blessed with friends like you who shared what helped you, like the website Hannah’s Prayer (http://www.hannah.org/).  You helped me realize secondary infertility was difficult, too.  You offered prayers, hugs, a listening ear, positively uplifting encouragement, and helped me see it is about trusting God and His plan for our lives, though it may not mirror the plan we had envisioned.

Thank you for the people we were privileged to teach.

It warmed our hearts when we heard some of our four-year old boys in Sunday school were praying for us to have a baby.  You heard it from your parents and that was special.  When we started teaching young-married couples, a few young moms gave me precious cards on Mother’s Day.  I saw God had given me children in that you considered me a spiritual mom.  Several of you encouraged me in my own trial even though you had gone through different but very difficult trials in your own pregnancies and deliveries.  One of you even wrote a poem for me on Mother’s Day, “What Makes A Mother.”  I am thankful for each of your testimonies during your difficult trials.

Thank you for showing me others who were hurting.

I am thankful for you who I felt suffered and sacrificed more than I, but through you I saw God uses the difficulties of others to teach us the same lessons and to have compassion.  My Streams in the Desert helped me so much that I wanted to give a copy to everyone who was hurting.  One of you shared with me that devotional and my gesture in giving it helped you make sense of your own trial.

Thank you for my friends and my church – the people I consider my family and my friends.

You gave me continuous support, a listening ear, cards and notes of encouragement, and fervent prayers.

Thank you…

To my friend who prayed God would give me the desire of my heart.  He did!

To my friend who did make eye contact with me while you opened gifts at your baby shower – I didn’t have to ask why, for I saw the compassion in your eyes and knew you were hoping I could experience this one day, too.

To my friend who mailed me a care package when you knew I had experienced disappointment in fertility treatments.

To my friend who was concerned enough about my struggle to ask someone who had experienced infertility to help me.

To my friend who realized I had a difficult time at that one particular ladies meeting in your home and you encouraged me with a sweet note instead of ignoring my pain.

To my friend who offered a big hug and a listening ear when I lost it in the choir one day.

To my friend who prayed for a bundle of joy for us, and knowing you’re a prayer warrior that meant a lot.

To my friend who made me a JOY bookmark for me when the Lord prompted you to think of me.

To my friend who prayed and wanted me to be pregnant almost as badly as I wanted to.

To my friend who gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek and a hug when you noticed my tears in church one day.

To my friends who sent cards and prayed after my surgeries for endometriosis.

To my friend who wrote me a sweet note of compassion when you noticed my sorrow in church one day.

To my friend who took an interest in our desire to add to our family while I was trying to encourage you in your journey.

To my friend who confirmed God allows different trials of infertility in our lives and knows what each of us can handle.

To my friend who prayed for that baby girl; for all I know, you haven’t stopped.

Thank you for helpful online resources, like  RESOLVE (http://www.resolve.org/) and the many websites and blogs devoted to helping those who are experiencing infertility. 

You offer support and a voice for us.  You are a place we turn to when we need or want to keep things private.

Thank you, all of you, for bringing me joy in my journey.

Don’t Ignore People With Infertility – Do You See Me?

When I was talking with my four pregnant friends and you came up to us and said, “Aw!  Look at all the pregnant women!”  Did you see me?

When you, my good friend who was once in my shoes, listened to me time and again talk about the pain of my infertility, yet one day said, “I think you need a support group.”  Did you see I stopped calling you for support?

When you laughed about getting pregnant with your sixth child and said, “All he had to do was look at me!”  Did you see me force a smile and wish it were really that easy?

When I was standing around my five expectant friends, you took note of their pregnant state and then looked at me saying, “What are you doing here?  Wishful thinking?”  Did you see me quietly excuse myself so I could run to the bathroom and cry?

When we got together for ladies fellowships, did you see I didn’t say anything because the only topics of conversation that came up were your pregnancy stories?  “Just call me Fertile Myrtle!”  “I’m so ready for this morning sickness to be over.”  “Hubby ran to the store and got me ice cream at midnight!”  “I felt her kick for the first time!”  “I feel like a beached whale!”

When our group of friends went out to lunch, did you see how I felt excluded when all anyone could discuss were the latest and greatest books and blogs on parenting?

When you talk about how everyone is pregnant – “Don’t drink the water!”  Did you see me?  I’m not pregnant, but I want to be.

When you opened gifts at your baby shower, did you see me in the crowd, trying to share in your joy, all the while hoping I could be next?

When the mothers were asked to stand in church on Mother’s Day, did you see me – sitting – hoping not to burst into tears and not wanting anyone to feel sorry for me?

When all you posted on facebook were pictures of your ultrasounds, updates of your cravings, photos of your pregnant belly month by month, posts of registering at Babies R Us, doctor visits, and Baby Center, did you see I am one of your “facebook” friends?  Did you see I had to limit your updates?

When God finally blessed you with a baby after your struggle with infertility, did you, of all people, see me?

If you do see me…

Don’t ignore me.  To ignore is not to know.  Don’t refuse to take notice of me and my infertility.

Think before you speak, if you must speak at all.

Don’t isolate me.  Try to imagine what it could be like if you were in my place and what you would want someone to say.

Remember I confided in you because I thought you were my friend.

Don’t dismiss my infertility – I may be in the minority, but I still have feelings.

Take a moment in private to tell me you hope I am next.

Don’t make mindless comments about your ability or my inability to get pregnant.

Write a heartfelt note to encourage me not to give up hope.

Think about excluding me from your baby posts so I won’t have to limit your updates.  Or try to understand if I don’t “like” or comment on them.

Don’t disengage me from conversation – take notice there are many interesting things to talk about in addition to pregnancy and babies.

Let me know you are praying for me – and then pray for me.

Don’t pretend that I have never talked to you about my struggle.  I made myself vulnerable sharing that with you.  Can you show balance while rejoicing in your pregnant/mommy state but also by being mindful of my infertility?

Consider that even if you don’t know I am struggling with infertility, there’s a good chance I am.

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.

A Silent Sorrow

In the midst of our journey of infertility, my husband prayed with me one night at the altar.  He called barrenness “a silent sorrow.”

Why is infertility a silent sorrow?  Sorrow is a cause of grief or sadness.  Silent means unspoken, making no mention, not widely known or appreciated.

I felt like most people didn’t know we were struggling with infertility, in part because we are private people and didn’t immediately and readily discuss it outside of family and close friends.  Some people probably just assumed we weren’t ready for children or thought that I wanted to be a career woman.  But I also felt like I was alone.  Initially, I wasn’t aware of anyone in my family, church, or workplace that seemed to have any trouble conceiving.  But they probably were there, too, in silent sorrow.

With barrenness, you, too, may feel like you’re all alone.  Everyone else seems to have no problems “planning” their pregnancies.  We feel like no one can identify with us.  However, if 7.3 million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility, we are definitely not alone!  The Lord did bring other women into my life who had experienced barrenness or were currently struggling with infertility, and it helped knowing someone understood.  I remember a few websites that helped me; blogs may have been around, but I wasn’t aware of them!  Many men and women blog about their current and past experiences with infertility, and we can learn from and empathize with them and vice-versa.  I’ve learned infertility doesn’t have to be as silent as it was for me.

Although I felt like no one understood, people did care.  They didn’t always know how to help or what to say, but I knew they were praying.  When you’re in despair, you don’t always recognize when someone is trying to help.  I had a friend once tell me, “I think you need to find a support group.”  Boy, did I take that the wrong way!  It made me question, was I leaning on her too much, draining her, hurting our friendship?  Instead of communicating to find out if I was talking about my problems too much or if she simply cared and was trying to help, I shunned the suggestion and her.  (Another reason blogs are beneficial!)  Just realize you do have family and friends who care.  A friend of mine who is a pastor’s wife recently called me because someone in her church was experiencing infertility and she cared enough to ask someone else who has been through it – not just ask what she could to do help but also what NOT to do!  This lady is blessed with a loving and wonderful pastor’s wife!

Infertility is “a” silent sorrow.  You may be experiencing a silent sorrow different from infertility.  You may feel like no one cares or understands what you go through every day.  I have friends and family who are afflicted or care for loved ones who have other physical trials – Chron’s disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or an incurable and rare condition.  Friend, Somebody does care – Jesus Christ!  Isaiah 53:3-4 says Christ was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” and that “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”  Any time I cry out to God, He is there.  Turn to Him in the Psalms.  Our sorrow isn’t silent with God.

Psalm 61:1-2 “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 34:4  “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 22:23-24 “…Praise him…glorify him…fear him…For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.”