Monthly Archives: April 2010

Infertility’s Need for Community

I’ve been hearing about the importance of good self-care all my life.  It requires me to be attuned to my body’s needs, respond to my body’s messages appropriately, and seek help when I can’t solve a problem.  Because there is more to me than just my physical self, it also means responding constructively to my emotional, intellectual, psychological and spiritual needs.

That became very difficult when we were going through infertility.

It’s a common problem, and one that can snowball rapidly.

Insufficient self-care can quickly undermine a relationship as our list of unmet needs grows – along with our frustration, resentment, hurt and anger.  We can’t control infertility, but a truly committed partner would sense our needs and meet them.  Right?  That unvoiced expectation puts tremendous pressure on a relationship already stressed by the challenges of infertility.

If this is the best self-care we can muster, what’s the alternative?  Who else can help us?  Christ, in community.

“For where two or more are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” [Matthew 18:20].  That’s the foundational assumption on which we built the infertility Bible study group.

People who are struggling through infertility need help and hope.  We need to surround ourselves with people who truly understand the struggle, and care deeply about it.  We need to immerse ourselves in the powerful promises of God – who is bigger than the problem we’re facing.  And, we need to experience the caring presence of Christ through community.

It’s too much to expect good self-care to do all that.  In the midst of infertility, it can’t and it won’t.  Neither will the world’s best partner.

If you are one of the “we” going through infertility, stop expecting the impossible from yourself – or your spouse.  You need a community to surround you and lift you up.  You need to find comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone – and to experience that comfort, first-hand.

When you seek and find it, you will also find affirmation, belonging, support, hope, encouragement, inspiration, compassion, spiritual sustenance, and much more.  And, you will (re)discover the joy of giving all these things to others who – like you – are so hungry for them.

How do you find such an amazing community?  A growing number of hospitals and churches are starting infertility groups, using Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples as the basis for discussion.  If you inquire and find there is no such group, equip yourself with a copy of the book and print-outs of a few blogs that have been particularly meaningful, and point out the need.

The risk you may feel you are taking – “what will people think?!” – is well worth the incredible support you will find God providing in response to your call for help.  Remember, “Everyone who calls, ‘help, God!’ gets help” [Romans 10:12].  So, don’t be afraid.  Think of it as very good self-care.

And if, for some reason, you don’t get the response you want, contact me directly (  I’ll work with you to start a group in your area.  There’s lots of information on the website,, about how to get the ball rolling.  Find one other couple, and we’ll be ready to begin!

The help and hope you need are closer than they feel.  Please, take a step toward them.  It will completely change the way you experience the infertility journey.


For more resources and cause for hope, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Hope, Speaking Up

Adoption’s Pinwheel of Blessings

For some couples, infertility is simply the product of timing.  Initially, that can feel like a huge disappointment.  But, it can prove to be a great blessing.

Robin and Don met in their early 40’s and married just before Robin turned 45.  Statistically, they had an 87% chance of being infertile.  Robin actually conceived naturally – twice – but both times, she miscarried soon afterwards.  Said Don, “I thought, realistically, that chances of me becoming a father were slim.  I remember telling some friends one time that that would be my biggest disappointment in life….”

“ It was hard to think that we had passed the point of being able to have our own genetic children,” Robin agreed.  They talked to fertility specialists, but somehow weren’t at peace with IVF.  So, they began to consider adoption.  Here’s how Don described their decision process:

“I’m one who believes you’ve got to exert immense patience to understand – and wait for – what God’s doing in your life.  If you jump to a conclusion, you may miss the message.  At the time, I wondered:  We haven’t been able to get pregnant — is there a message there?  I was listening and thinking:  Is God saying, ‘You shouldn’t be parents?’ or ‘Take another approach’?  I knew God had messages for us, but we had to be listening.”

Psalm 37 teaches, “Delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.  Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him, and He will help you.”  Don and Robin did that:

1) They entered the adoption process focused intently on God’s love, His purposefulness, and His deep desire to bless them, 2) They sought His guidance and trusted Him to direct their steps, and 3) They chose to believe that He had a plan worth waiting for – one that would be better than anything they could accomplish without Him.

What happened?  Did God help them?  “We were told to expect a 12-18 month wait,” Robin said.  So, they trusted and waited.  Ten days later, they got a phone call.

“Our social worker said, ‘Are you ready to be blown away?’ There is a mom who has 5-month-old twins.  She has been wanting to make an adoption plan since she was pregnant, but she’s had a lot of false starts and nothing’s come through.  She’s ready to go through with it.  She chose you.’”

“I look back on it now,” said Don, “and here’s the miracle: if we’d been ready 6 months earlier, this mom wouldn’t have been ready.  If we had been ready 6 months later, we might have missed adopting our boys.  God has a way of moving things around so that it’s a win-win for everybody.  This mom needed relief, these boys needed a home – they needed our home, Robin and I wanted children… and God worked it all out perfectly.”

Is their story an extraordinary rarity?  I don’t think so.  After spending five years struggling with infertility, Owen and Kelly had a similar experience.  They felt led by God to move onto a path toward adoption and they, too, are now the joyful parents of twins.

Want another example?  How about Bill Haslet, who emailed me yesterday about adopting his twins more than 30 years ago.  He wrote, “We received a call on a Friday evening and picked them up on the following Tuesday. Talk about instant family!! Today, they are 33 years old, both married, both fathers, and two of the finest young Christian men I know.  Our lives don’t always turn out the way WE might plan them, but God’s plan and his blessings are more than we can even comprehend!!”

Sometimes, infertility is the first step on the path designed to lead us toward  adoption.  Rather than a curse, it serves as the signpost that says, “Adoption’s pinwheel of blessings:  this way.”

Don’t be afraid to follow the signs.


For more resources and cause for hope, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Blessings, Peace

Infertility and the Easter Blahs

Is Easter meaningful for infertile couples?  That can be a surprisingly tricky question.

For most people, it signals the arrival of a joyful spiritual season, a candy-filled celebration of spring, or both.  The commercial imagery associated with the holiday is innocuous enough:  bunnies, flowers, eggs… all signs of fertile, new life.  But, for those struggling through infertility, that focus can be a reminder of what we don’t have and can’t seem to achieve.

The resurrection message echoes that reminder – of the lack of life we feel (spiritually), or seem able to create and sustain (biologically).  Where is God in this struggle?  Why does this journey seem so barren and lifeless?  These  thoughts add a sorrowful undercurrent to the symbols of the season.

Expressing grief during this exuberantly fertile, hope-filled season can seem, and feel, selfish and self-indulgent.  Everyone around us is dressed in bright colors, enjoying the sunshine, celebrating the end of winter’s darkness.  Why don’t we join in?  Because it hurts.  So, we pull back from the celebration – feeling fragile, heartbroken and very much alone.

Should couples struggling through infertility be glad, then, only after Easter’s passed?

Not so fast.

A few years ago, on Easter Sunday, I walked past a tiny church that couldn’t hold more than twenty people at a time.  Services were over.  The parking lot was empty.  The doors were closed.  But, the sign out front proclaimed, “God still rolls away stones.”  That got me thinking….

In the Bible, the rolled-away stone at Jesus’ tomb revealed good news (despite foreshadowing, not at all what his followers had anticipated). They found, not death as they’d expected, but life.  Not cause for grief as they’d been feeling, but for joy.  Not defeat as they’d believed they were suffering, but victory!

In an instant, everything the disciples thought they knew and understood about what had happened turned upside-down.  This wasn’t the end; it was the beginning.

How does that moment speak to the infertility experience?  Just as in scripture, a stone is rolled into place when we conclude it’s over, and hope is dead.

In the midst of infertility, our fear and doubt frequently steer us toward this conclusion.  When we agree with these feelings, dwell on negative thoughts, and accept them as “truth,” we allow satan to roll a stone over the hope God has placed in our hearts.  Or worse, we put the stone there ourselves. The longer that stone is in place, the deader our hope seems… until hopelessness becomes the new normal.

But God has another plan.

He rolls away the stone and creates a new hope.  It is a rule-breaking, expectation-shattering, despair-defeating hope.  A God-sized Hope!  Hope that is not limited by human understanding.  Hope that leaps out of the darkness of our fear-filled hearts and into the light, alive again!

How does He do it?

With a word of encouragement or a scrap of good news.  A new protocol.  An inspiring book.  A “hang in there” phone call.  A hopeful test result.  A stranger’s blog post.  A helpful suggestion.  A coincidental conversation.  A timely discovery.  Whatever it takes to breathe life into the hope He purposefully planted in our hearts.

When we sense and claim this hope, when we trust with all our hearts and do not rely on our ability to understand [Proverbs 3:5], we feel a surge in our spirit:  “Lord, I don’t understand, but if You say so, I do believe it’s possible.”

When we say “Yes” to hope, and “No” to fear, we affirm our faith in the God of miracles who every Easter reminds us:  I can do anything.  Let Him roll away your stone.





Find more resources and cause for hope at

Leave a comment

Filed under Hope, Trust

A Surrogate’s Desire to Give Hope

What kind of woman says “giving up a baby was the most thrilling moment of my life”?  Ask Pam MacPhee.

Nine years ago, doctors diagnosed her cousin Henry’s wife with aggressive cervical cancer.  Treatment was likely to cause infertility, so the couple froze eighteen embryos prior to the start of radiation.  Curious about their options, Pam researched surrogacy.  The more she learned, the more she became convinced that she should offer herself as a gestational carrier to Henry and Lauren.

“It was a leap of faith,” she explained.  “I had such a desire to give them hope as they were battling cancer.  I asked myself whether I had the mental, physical and emotional strength… and decided I did.”

How did she explain her choice to her husband and children?  “I told my children, ‘Lauren is sick and her tummy doesn’t work right, so I’m going to put her baby in my tummy until it’s ready to come out.  Then, I’ll give it to her.’  They were fine with that.  The truth is, it’s not that complicated.  My husband was totally supportive.  He wanted to help, too.”

Once the cancer was defeated, “with a foundation of honesty, trust, and open communication,” Pam said, “we found our way through the anxieties, challenges and awkward moments of the surrogacy process together.  The day after Mother’s Day (2001), I was thrilled to deliver a beautiful, healthy baby girl for them.  They were speechless with awe when they first laid eyes on Hope.”

What were Pam’s feelings, as the woman who had carried this baby for nine months?  Did she find it difficult to think of baby Hope as their child?  “Not at all,” she said.  “Intended parents fear that surrogates will bond with the babies they carry.  But a stable, mentally-healthy surrogate never feels like the mother; we are more like nurturer-protectors.  We connect with the baby, but we don’t form a mother-child bond.  Our bond is with the parents.”

Any regrets?  “No.  It was the most fulfilling time of my life,” said Pam, “watching my cousin become a father, and seeing his wife embrace life and hope again after the devastation of cancer. It was a privilege to share that moment of joy and wonder with them.”

Is that how all surrogates feel?  “The main motivation of surrogates is wanting to give joy.  They are women who want to help, who enjoy being pregnant and realize that they can give the gift of a life to someone else.  Whether or not they get paid, money is not the primary factor.  It’s a desire to give hope.”

Pam approached her role as a surrogate with a servant’s heart, giving selflessly out of love. That perspective enabled her, and the baby’s intended parents, to move through the journey with healthy boundaries.  “We focused on clear communication, mutual trust and sharing the pregnancy.”  Their experience models the ideal approach to surrogacy – one based on a foundation of love as scripture describes it:

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails” [I Corinthians 13:4-8].

Pam’s advice to infertile couples considering surrogacy?  “Trust that the surrogate is there for you.  She is not attention-seeking or self-serving.  She is a loving person who wants to help someone who’s hurting become a parent.  Focus on the miracle that is happening through her body, and the joy of anticipating the baby – rather than fear, or the need for control – and it will be a fulfilling journey for both of you.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Pam’s surrogacy experience, visit her website or read her book, Delivering Hope: The Extraordinary Journey of a Surrogate Mother.


Find more resources and cause for hope at

Leave a comment

Filed under Hope, Perspective