Monthly Archives: August 2010

Finding Help & Hope During Infertility

I’ve been hearing about the importance of good self-care all my life.   Because there is more to me than just my physical self, it requires me to be attuned 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.

Poor 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.

What’s the alternative if this is the best self-care we can muster?  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.”  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 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 (susan@pregnantwithhope.com).  I’ll work with you to start a group in your area.  There’s also lots of information on the website, PregnantWithHope.com, about how to get the ball rolling.  Find one other couple hungry for support, and you’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.

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For more resources and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Adoption’s Multiple 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 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 six months earlier, this mom wouldn’t have been ready.  If we had been ready six 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 about adopting his twins 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.

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For more resources and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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When There’s Finally Good News

I met Brent & Cathi the first time they came to the infertility Bible study group.   At that point, Cathi was so exhausted by the emotional toll of infertility, it took enormous effort to hold herself together.   Tears were very close to the surface.  Several times they spilled over and poured down her cheeks.  Brent was doing his best to be stoic-yet-supportive.  It was clear they were struggling mightily.

A year later, when I interviewed the two of them for Pregnant with Hope, they spoke candidly about the challenge of being surrounded by countless fertile friends, all of whom seemed to conceive effortlessly.  They acknowledged having wrestled many times with feelings of anger, resentment, jealousy, self-pity, confusion, heartache and more as they struggled.  They also spoke of the deep desire to join the ranks of the “alumni” (couples who’d completed the infertility course and gone on to become parents), and the fear that made that seem impossible whenever bad news overwhelmed them.

So, it was with great joy that I read the article, “Couple Realize Dream of Being Parents.”  Take a minute to enjoy the story, and then remind yourself that the Bible says, “No one who trusts God like this — heart and soul — will ever regret it.  It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be:  the same God for all of us, acting in the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help.  Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

Here’s the story as it appeared….

“When it came to having children, Cathi Hilpert never thought she’d have a problem.  The freelance writer married her husband, Brent, in 2000 and wasn’t in any hurry to start a family.  ‘We were married for some time before we started trying,’ she said.  ‘I always thought I’d pop one out right away, so we took our time.’  But, it wasn’t long before Hilpert realized that having a baby was not going to be as easy as she’d assumed.  After consulting doctors and specialists, she began a rigorous treatment that included test, drugs and needles.  ‘It was pretty intense,’ she recalled.

She and her husband soon found that being infertile absorbed their private lives and spilled into their social circle.  It became increasingly difficult to be around children or to discuss their feelings with friends.  ‘When you’re going through it, you often don’t have friends who understand,’ she said.  ‘It was even hard to go to church — a very hard place to be infertile.  You’re surrounded by children, and there’s a lot of talk about children being blessings.  You start to wonder, ‘Have I done something wrong that I’m not blessed?’

After a year of dealing with the anguish on their own, the couple discovered a class led by author Susan Radulovacki and based on her book, Pregnant with Hope.  In the fall of 2008, Hilpert and her husband began attending regular sessions for infertile couples.  ‘We really wanted to meet other people going through it,’ Hilpert said.  ‘This class was a safe place to share our feelings.  That’s probably the biggest challenge of infertility:  as much as friends and family empathize, it’s really difficult for them to understand.’

Brent Hilpert, a 34-year-old chemistry teacher, described the couple’s two-year struggle as ‘isolating.’  He said, ‘My wife and I looked for any resource we could find and there was very little out there.  The class was especially  helpful because it gave me a place to talk about all of these issues with other men.’

Last November, after nine months of an uncomplicated pregnancy resulting from IVF, Cathi Hilpert, 32, fulfilled her dream of becoming a mother when her daughter Molly was born.  But, she and her husband still attend the class to share their story with other couples.  ‘There are so many people who go through hell to build a family,’ she said.  ‘We want to be supportive of others as they go through the process.’

Hilpert said she knows ‘the whole experience made us different parents than if we hadn’t gone through the infertility journey.  I have a little more patience than I may have had.  I love being a mom and can’t imagine my life any other way than with kids.'”

The same faithful God who brought Brent and Cathi to the moment they longed for, and placed Molly safely in their arms, has a plan that will lead your life to intersect with the life of a particular child who needs you.  That is why He placed the seed of hope in your heart.  That is why He has nurtured and protected it, even as you have suffered through loss after grief after heartache.  He will execute His plan perfectly (if you do not willfully alter its course), as soon as all the pieces are in place.

Until then, trust Him… and visualize that reporter calling you to say, “So, how did your story begin?”

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For more resources and cause for hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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Filed under Blessings, Perspective, Speaking Up