Tag Archives: disease

Less is More – Even with Infertility

“Taking the 5 loaves and 2 fish and looking up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks…” [Mark 6:41].

My friend, Toni, is jokingly referred to as “the one egg wonder” by the staff at her reproductive endocrinologist’s office.  Having crossed the imaginary line between fertility and infertility on her 35th birthday, she was told to get busy getting pregnant.  “When we talked to the doctor about statistics,” she says, “we realized we’d better try to do something, or it might be too late to do anything.”

Many failed IUIs later, after extensive soul-searching, she decided to go forward with IVF.  The retrieval resulted in one egg.  Toni was ecstatic—until her doctor explained that one egg was statistically dismal.  Not easily discouraged, Toni chose to cling to the hope that one egg was all she needed.

“The doctor told me, ‘you may want to consider adoption.’  Before even trying the IVF she was already expecting a negative outcome!  I remember saying, ‘I know you can only do what you can do, but there’s another factor involved here.  I didn’t want to say, ‘God is doing the work’ because I didn’t want to offend her, but that’s what I was thinking.”

Everyone at the doctor’s office regarded Toni as mildly delusional—until her son was conceived and delivered.

What did she know that they didn’t?  What gave her the sense that something virtually impossible was perfectly possible?  And how did she hold on to that confident expectation, even when the experts thought she was crazy?  According to Toni, she prayed with a thankful heart.  “I’ve always prayed ‘thank you’ for everything.  I learned the scriptures that were relevant to infertility.  Once I had that going for me, I just felt really confident.”

Jesus modeled that same confident expectation just before feeding 5,000 people with just 5 loaves and 2 fish.  Everyone around him saw lack, but Jesus saw plenty.

In the midst of infertility, it is our tendency to dwell on insufficiency.  We become obsessed with numbers that aren’t high enough, follicle counts that aren’t large enough, options that aren’t plentiful enough.

One egg?  Get serious!

We need to remember that the gap between our “realistic” perception of insufficiency and God’s knowledge of plenty is enormous.  And there’s only one way to bridge it:  by faith.  We aren’t given the gifts of foreknowledge or control; those are God’s territory.  But, we are invited to believe that “very little” can be “more than enough.”

It worked for Jesus.  It worked for Toni.  It could work for you.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Music Matters for Infertile Couples

Have you noticed that there are days when you’re unable to control negative thoughts?  When your imagination turns against you and floods your mind with “I can’t…,” “I’ll never be able to…,” “What will we do if this doesn’t…?”

Have you noticed that brushing these thoughts aside does no good?  They’re back in a split-second.  Discouraging.  Intimidating.  Harassing.  Acknowledge them and they just seem to multiply, metastasizing into other areas of your life.  In no time, the darkness that accompanies these thoughts can envelope you—causing you to feel helpless and hopeless.  Demoralized and defeated.

Do other women experience this?  Is this part of the infertility journey—this assault from within?  Is feeling under attack and unable to defend yourself from your own thoughts normal?

Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back.  You can… and you should.  How?

By shifting your focus from what you fear to whom you trust.

If that trust is rooted in your own power and control, the fear you feel is the realization that you have limitations.  Your abilities and resources are finite, and that’s not reassuring.  But if your trust is in the God who promises, “…Do not fear; I will help you,” then you have cause for hope.

How do you shift your focus to God’s faithfulness when all you can think about is test results, counting days, scheduling procedures….?  Try this.  Download and listen to “I Will Praise You in This Storm” by Casting Crowns:

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen.  And it’s still raining.
As the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you.”  And as Your mercy falls,
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.
I’ll praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are no matter where I am.
And every tear I’ve cried, You hold in your hand.
You never left my side.  And though my heart is torn,
I will praise You in this storm.

If that helps, try their song, “The Voice of Truth.”  Or, try “Tunnel” by Third Day.  Or, “If You Want Me to” by Jenny Owen.

Consider assembling a collection of songs that acknowledge your struggle, but also express your faith in the God who walks with you.  Then, the next time you feel that familiar surge of anxiety and hear the voice of negative self-talk, take a couple minutes to reclaim your sanity and reaffirm your trust.

Listen, and regain perspective.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]

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Shatter the Silence Around Infertility

Conceiving and carrying a baby to term is difficult for some of us—but not all.  So, what does it mean to be singled-out for suffering?  The church is oddly silent when it comes to addressing this question.  Not just my church.  All churches.  They are all failing to provide insight… compassionate support… even just overt grace to those struggling to build a family.  Instead, they offer silence.


In her review of Pregnant with Hope, E.W. Carter of the Regional Council of Churches writes, “Clergy don’t even know how to talk about infertility in the 21st century, [so] many of our faith communities are silent when confronted with the unfulfilled longing for a child.”  Essentially, she’s saying the church is silent because the clergy are clueless.

Harsh?  No offense intended, but she says it quite clearly, “They don’t even know how to talk about infertility….”  Why would that be?  There are few, if any, other topics on which the church—and those who speak for God through it—have nothing to say.  What’s the problem?

Old habits die hard.

That’s part of the problem.  For centuries, the church has been run by men.  And, for just as long, infertility has been considered a woman’s failure.  Only recently has medical research discovered that infertility is just as often caused by an issue with the prospective father’s health as with the prospective mother’s.

Now, women are in the pulpit and infertile men are in the pews.  But the church hasn’t metabolized this new reality.  No one’s teaching “How to Talk About Infertility” in divinity school.  What’s stopping that change from coming?

Supply meets demand.

That’s the other part of the problem.  No noise.  No clamor for change.  Until the silent give voice to their suffering, inertia will maintain the status quo.  So, if we want messages of hope for those struggling with infertility to make their way to the pulpit, and from the pulpit into the hearts and minds of all those who don’t yet understand the good news of God’s faithfulness—even in the midst of infertility—we’ve got to speak up.

Are you with me?


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]

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Hope > Optimism During Infertility

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams”

– Henry David Thoreau

This is how every infertility journey starts, isn’t it?  Full of confidence, we set off in the direction of the perfect pregnancy.  It will happen effortlessly.  At most, within a few weeks of trying.  We’ll tell everyone the good news, buy lots of maternity clothes, enjoy baby showers with friends and family, have an easy delivery, and poof… have the perfect baby.  What a plan!

Sort of like the perfect wedding, we’ve unconsciously come to desire — and expect — the perfect path to parenthood.  Unrealistic?  Infertility makes that pretty clear.  Unreasonable?  That’s harder to answer.

Clearly, some women do sail through pregnancy and delivery.  Too often, we see them on the cover of People magazine, smiling blissfully as they enjoy their moment in the spotlight.  It’s hard to look at them without wondering, “Why her and not me?  Why is she blessed and I’m…”  What?  Cursed?

Not so fast.  Maybe this detour is for a purpose.

Consider these words from Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church:  “Optimism is psychological; hope is theological.”  This one sentence from his recent sermon got me thinking….

Optimism is what Thoreau advocates:  choose to be confident, and set out.  It’s the favorite advice of all Type A’s:  Go for it!  You can do it!  But that you-can-do-it confidence is rooted in the belief that you can do it.  Infertility teaches each one of us:  No, you can’t.

But God can.  That’s why hope—real theological hope that is God-centered and God-focused—is more than optimism.  It’s more than believing you can if you just try hard enough.  It’s admitting that you can’t, but trusting that God still can.  It’s acknowledging that your limitations are not His, but your dream of becoming a parent… is.

Ground yourself in this kind of confident hope, and wait expectantly.  Trust that this detour is for a purpose—part of which may be teaching you humble God-reliance.  God will honor your trust in His perfect timing with His very best.

Wait and see.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]

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So, Now Infertility’s a Disease?

(Nov. 30, 2009) BioNews, London – The World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART), has formally recognized infertility as a disease in its new international glossary of Assistive Reproductive Technologies (ART) terminology.

Why does it matter if experts label infertility “a disease”?  What does that change for those of us who are struggling with it?

A disease connotes diagnose-ability.  Treat-ability.  Even, cure-ability.  What if you fall in the 10-20% of couples whose infertility can’t be explained?  For whom treatment doesn’t work?  For whom there is no apparent cure?  Does calling it a disease just rub salt in the wound?

Too often, infertility settles into a couple’s life and spirits like a cancer — with an unnerving sense of permanence.  The misery brings with it a profound sense of isolation. There may be millions of others battling the same “disease,” but they are nowhere to be found. Rarely do they choose to self-identify; the social stigma is too powerful. So, even as our spirits crave companionship, we feel increasingly apart, chosen for suffering we do not understand.

Separated from everything “normal,” we seem to be drifting further and further away from anything familiar. Where to? And why is God allowing this to happen?

When life is unfolding according to plan, most of us prefer to side-step the broad philosophical question of why people suffer, as if suffering—like a disease—could be contagious. But infertility propels the question to the forefront with desperate urgency.

The question becomes much more personal—“why me?”—and insistent when the suffering is our own.

In the beginning, all thoughts and feelings about infertility spring from the big, central question: “WHY?” With time, and without conceiving, the “why?” multiplies and metastasizes. Its offshoots begin to spring up everywhere. Why us? Why me? Why now? Why not? Why them?

Anxiety feeds the questions. Doubt does, too. Jealousy poisons many thoughts with toxic envy. The “why?” spreads to cover all aspects of the struggle to get pregnant, sinking its roots deep into the spirit: Why does everyone else…? Why haven’t we…? Why did they…? Why, if we…? Why, if they…? Why not us?!

This state of constant emotional turbulence is a disease.  A “dis-ease” that makes it impossible to recover a sense of equilibrium.  And this “dis-ease” seems even harder to treat than infertility itself.  What can possibly cure it but having our heart’s desire?


What doctor will take this case?

Only the great physician.  He alone can diagnose, treat, cure… and bless.  He alone.


Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com [tweetmeme source=”pregnantwhope” only_single=false]

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