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

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Don’t Give Up On Your Miracle Baby – Resolve to have audacious faith in 2014.

As an optimist, I always look forward to a new year.  Some of my goals and resolutions may be the same year in and year out, but I welcome the fresh start.  A new year is a reminder I can try again.  I don’t have to give up on what I left undone or didn’t quite reach the year before. 

This new year, 2014, don’t give up on your miracle baby or babies. 

My son is now 7 and yesterday, I came across some notes I had written the day we announced in church that I was pregnant.  I wish I had had a video cam that day, but I kept track of as many well wishes and congratulatory remarks as I could remember, and it is a precious memory that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

Year after year before that January 8, 2006 announcement, I faced times of discouragement, heartache, and confusion.  I wondered how I would ever become a mommy.  I always experienced regular cycles.  To put it plainly, once married, I had approximately 150 monthly periods in a row before I became pregnant.  After each setback or disappointment, my husband would say, “I still think you will get pregnant.”  Those words of faith encouraged me to keep pursuing my miracle baby.  Psalm 113:9 and many other Scriptures encouraged me to continue believing.     

Although it’s not as simple as putting “have a baby in 2014” at the top of your list of resolutions, I encourage you not to give up on your miracle of having a baby.  Don’t give up on faith.  In fact, resolve to have audacious faith – faith that is confident and bold. 

I don’t know what the Lord will do in your life, with your experience of infertility or loss, but I know what He did in my life, and I have seen time after time with friends and acquaintances how He has performed miracles with details unique to each couple that no one could have imagined.  Don’t give up faith.  We just don’t know how or when God will answer. 

“…Faith honors God, and God honors it.  Oh for this faith that will go on, leaving God to fulfill His promise when He sees fit!” 

Thomas Champness (Streams, March 28th)

 “Where we are dealing with a supernatural Being, and taking from Him things that are humanly impossible, it is easier to take much than little, it is easier to stand in a place of audacious trust than in a place of cautious, timid clinging to the shore.  Like wise seamen in the life of faith, let us launch out into the deep, and find that all things are possible with God, and all things are possible unto him that believeth.”

From Days of Heaven Upon Earth (Streams, March 28th)

 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

 “Impossible situations can become possible miracles.”

—Robert H. Schuller

 “Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.”

—Edwin Louis Cole

 “Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.”

—Henry Miller

 

“Joy Comes In The Morning” by William & Gloria Gaither

This song is special to me.  It goes along with Post Gaudius Luctus – Joy Succeeds Sorrow.  My husband’s quartet used to sing this song.  My mom sent me the music to this song to encourage me early on, and the fact that my parents named me Joy gives it even deeper meaning to me.  Shortly after my first laparoscopy – my first “darkest hour” in discovering I had Stage IV endometriosis – my mother-in-law called me and said she was listening to this song in her car and she just cried as she realized this song was for me.  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Joy Comes In The Morning

Words by William J. & Gloria Gaither

 

If you’ve knelt beside the rubble of an aching, broken heart,

When the things you gave your life to fell apart,

You’re not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief or pain,

But the Master promised sunshine after rain.

 

To invest your seed of trust in God in mountains you can’t move,

You have risked your life on things you cannot prove;

But to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose

Is the way to find the joy God has for you.

 

Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning;

Weeping only lasts for the night.

Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning;

The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

Hold on, my child!

Post Gaudius Luctus – Joy Succeeds Sorrow

I would like to wish away the tears that come unexpectedly, without warning, seemingly without reason. 

Yes, I cry for the baby girl – we – my husband, my son, and I want to add to our family but aren’t really pursuing. 

But is that all my tears represent, after all this time?

I remember the tears, just like the tears someone is crying today. 

I cry for others.   

I cry for the woman who is viewing her ultrasound for fibroids, cysts, or endometriosis – instead of viewing an ultrasound of a growing embryo in her uterus. 

I cry for the woman alone in the waiting room of her OB-GYN waiting for her next pap smear – instead of waiting to hear the measurements and heartbeat of her growing baby.

I cry for the woman who miscarried after IVF – instead of hearing the hCG levels after IVF were rising beautifully in the right direction. 

I cry because I have been there.

But then I pray for them.

I remember the joy. 

I pray for joy for them, too.

Post gaudia luctus.  That’s Latin for “joy succeeds sorrow.”  Several verses in Scripture confirm this.     

Jeremiah 31:13b “for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on this verse: Those are comforted indeed whom God comforts, and may forget their troubles when he makes them to rejoice from their sorrow, not only rejoice after it, but rejoice from it their joy shall borrow luster from their sorrow, which shall serve as a foil to it; and the more they think of their troubles, the more they rejoice in their deliverance. 

Psalm 126:5 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Suffering saints are in tears often; they share in the calamities of human life and commonly have a greater share in them than others.  But they sow in tears; they do the duty of an afflicted state and so answer the intentions of the providences they are under.  They shall have a harvest of joy.  The troubles of the saints will not last always, but when they have done their work, shall have a happy period. 

Psalm 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary: If weeping endureth for a night, and it be a wearisome night, yet as sure as the light of the morning returns after the darkness of the night, so sure will joy and comfort return in a short time, in due time, to the people of God. 

“Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them.  And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them.  The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace – these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.” 

Streams in the Desert, April 25