Information is power. That’s the presumption that drives the incessant desire to gather facts and statistics when couples discover they’ve entered the realm of infertility. But what happens when the data is conflicting and the messages contradictory?
This week, one group of experts announced IVF babies are no more likely than naturally-conceived babies to suffer chronic health problems later in life. The same day, another study declared women’s fertility drops off at a much faster rate than previously imagined, as does egg quality [By age 30, 88% of a woman’s eggs are gone; by age 40, only 3% remain – and are likely to contain a higher proportion of abnormal eggs].
So is the news good, or bad? Should we be encouraged, or disheartened?
This is a particularly difficult question for Type A women. The same vigilant monitoring of relevant information that makes us a success at work, causes tremendous stress during infertility. Each bit of news forces us to adjust our perception of reality, so we can factor the newest variable into our calculations. It’s tiring, but we keep pushing because we tell ourselves it’s critically important.
The problem is, the onslaught of good news-bad news-good news-bad news keeps coming. And the clock keeps ticking. Over time, the constant uncertainty about how this will end – and when – becomes increasingly destabilizing. With each day, the emotional roller coaster seems more and more likely to careen out of control – taking us with it. It’s crazy and exhausting… but what is the alternative?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus spoke these words as he promised the presence of the Holy Spirit to those who trust him. “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” [John 14:27]. How can we possibly experience peace in the midst of infertility? How can we hear statistics and read news reports and not be filled with fear that our dreams won’t be realized?
The apostle Paul provides the answer, “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” [Phillipians 4:7]. That new center enables us to focus on whom we trust, rather than what we fear. And from that center, “peace that passes understanding” can radiate in all directions. Faith can gain the upper hand on fear, if we choose this new focal point.
So, what will you choose to think about today, and what will it bring you: panic, or on peace?
Find resources and more cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com
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They’re Clueless About Infertility
For infertile couples, part of the frustration – and a major source of heartache – is other people’s cluelessness. It may be rooted in ignorance, inexperience, a lack of social skills, or pure self-absorption. Whatever the reason, the words of others can cause deep, lasting pain to hearts that are already fragile.
Just after I miscarried twins, we called my husband’s brother to share our heartbreaking news. We had no idea that he and his wife were also planning to start a family. His reaction? “That’s too bad… but now we’ll have the first grandchild!!”
I was speechless. It took everything I had to get to the end of the phone call.
Thankfully, it’s not always that bad. But people can be incredibly insensitive. Has that been your experience? People you think of as loving family or supportive friends suddenly seem incapable of saying anything helpful? Instead, their words slice right through your spirit and take your breath away?
It’s a common problem for couples going through infertility.
People you trust and care about will be thoughtless enough to ask, “why haven’t you two started a family?” Or, they’ll hand out gratuitous, unsolicited advice like, “just adopt – you’ll get pregnant right away” or, “go on vacation – that’s how we got pregnant” or, “stop worrying about it – it’ll happen sooner or later” – as if tossing these tidbits is all it takes to help you.
Surely, they don’t mean to be heartless. Or patronizing. Or dismissive of the challenge you face. But, all too often, they pour salt in your wound. When the tears threaten to pour down your cheeks, you may wonder, am I being oversensitive? Too defensive?
I don’t think so.
It is hard to explain this journey to someone who hasn’t made it – the stress… the fear… the tension… the uncertainty… the worry… the anger… the grief… the sense of being far removed from everyone and everything “normal”… the inability to get on with your life because you’ve put everything on hold.
How do you say all of that in the middle of a phone call? Or a church hallway? Or a restaurant?
But, here’s what you can do:
Set some boundaries – Recognize that you know better than anyone else what helps you now – and what doesn’t. Set firm, healthy boundaries that will protect your vulnerable heart. Make choices that fill your spirit with hope and surround you with people who truly understand how to help. Say “no” to people and events that leave you empty, discouraged, or afraid. Remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power….” [II Tim 1:7]. Use that power to enforce good boundaries.
Give some grace – It’s hard to imagine trying to muster compassion for someone whose remark has just reduced you to tears. The temptation is to focus on the pain they’ve caused. Don’t do it. Release it, reclaim your hope, and let God heal your wound. As Jesus prayed, “…forgive them, they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34].
Find some community – You may be looking to the wrong community for encouragement and hope. If family and friends have failed to offer meaningful support, seek out other couples who understand this journey. Meet with a counselor or clergy member who is not afraid to confront your feelings. And claim this promise, “…hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” [Romans 5:5]. When no one else stands with you, God delivers His hope to you through the Holy Spirit.
Make some progress – There is no greater satisfaction in this journey than sensing forward progress. Instead of measuring it just by test results or egg harvests, learn to measure progress this way: “… let us throw off everything that hinders us… and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” [Heb 12:1-2]. Hurtful remarks hinder us. So does dwelling on them. If we are to run with perseverance, then this isn’t likely to be a sprint. We must pace ourselves – and applaud every bit of progress we make.
The Finish Line is waiting. Don’t be distracted by the voices of the crowd.
Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com
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Tagged as boundaries, careless comments, community, family, friends, Hope, infertility, miscarriage, Pregnant with Hope, thoughtless remarks