Tag Archives: loss

National Infertility Awareness Week

It’s National Infertility Awareness week.  Could you be any more aware of how hard it is to conceive?  Well then, rather than seeing this week as salt rubbing into an already gaping wound, consider these words from Jesus Calling:

“Peace is my continual gift to you.  Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My peace.  The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me.  Similarly, I give you sufficient peace for the present, when you come to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving.  If I gave you permanent peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency.”


I wish I’d understood that when we were we struggling through infertility.  The sense of barely having enough peace to make it through the day – or the next few minutes – is not a sign of God’s absence, but of Christ’s Presence.  He does not intend to strengthen us to the point of self-sufficiency.  That is our goal; not His.

His goal is to teach us minute-to-minute reliance on Him.  Our reliance is a constant reminder that He keeps the promise, “I am with you always.”  Our neediness is a constant reminder that He is sufficient for every need.    Our inability to find peace apart from Him is a blessing because it returns us – again and again — to the only Source of strength that can overcome all things.

So, welcome National Infertility Week as a worldly reminder that millions of infertile couples need peace, hope, and compassionate love as they make their way toward the future of parenthood.  You are not alone, and neither are they.  He has promised, “I am with you always.”

Seek Him, and find peace.


Need more encouragement and cause for hope?  Click this link to order your copy of Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.


Filed under Control, Hope, Loss, Peace

The Need for Grace

I was driving down the road a few days ago, not aware that I was thinking about much of anything… and my eyes welled up with tears.  A minute later, they were streaming down my cheeks.  And before I knew it, mournful sobs began pouring out of a heart that had finally been overwhelmed by grief.

How could I have been so oblivious to so much sadness?

It’s taken me days to make sense of that question.  The process of wrestling with it has been painful, but invaluable.  I’ve learned a lesson – and it may help you, too.  That’s my hope.

So, here’s the story…

Years ago, the heartache of circling back to family members — who’d rejoiced at the news of a twin pregnancy – to tell them we’d lost first one, and then both babies, was almost unbearable.  We decided:  Never again.  All subsequent efforts to conceive and carry a baby to term would be in secret.

It was a choice made out of fearful self-protection, rooted in the belief that lightning had struck twice – and it could very well strike again.  We couldn’t bear the thought of an audience to more despair, and so we distanced ourselves from everyone and their expectations of “happily ever after.”

Fast forward….

We’re now in the midst of another struggle, doing our best to strike a healthier balance between disclosure and privacy.  Still, many of the people around us have no idea what we’re facing.  They aren’t riding the emotional roller coaster we are.  Their faith isn’t being tested daily.  They aren’t undergoing trial by fire.  They’re sailing along oblivious to our suffering.

And so, too often, there’s very little grace.

In a world that’s moving at a million miles an hour, there’s apparently no time for it – and no need.  No time to gently uncover the story behind the misunderstanding.  No time for a compassionate question like, “Is everything okay with you?”  No time to revisit things in any context other than the one that inconvenienced or aggravated them.

No extenuating circumstances:  No grace.

So, I’ve been faced with a choice.  I can make our struggle public knowledge and explain its consequences for my emotions, my memory, my occasionally faulty judgment, my fatigue, and my seeming disinterest in the minutia of other people’s lives.  Or, I can slap on the mask of “Everything’s great!” and do my best to meet the world’s expectations – with little or no margin for error.

You know what?  I need another option.  And I need a lot of grace.

That’s what made me cry.

I need more grace — without explanation, without resentment, without a heavy sigh that tells me I’m asking for something unreasonable.  I need it not because I deserve it, but because life is hard.

Where can I find it?

I’ve re-discovered that the world will never be able to give me all the grace and compassion I need.  But the Lord can, and He longs to.  Yesterday, I heard “Better Than a Hallelujah” for the first time.  If you haven’t heard it already, click this link.  You may hear what I did….

“Lord, I need grace” is better than a hallelujah sometimes.


Filed under Hope, Loss, Peace, Perspective

There is Nothing Wrong with Hope

In his book, Love, Medicine & Miracles, Dr. Bernie Siegel writes, “In the face of uncertainty, there is nothing wrong with hope.”  How often has your infertility specialist said that to you?  How about your family or friends?  There is something in Siegel’s unconditional assertion – “there is nothing wrong with hope” – that implies a confidence infertile couples often crave, but do not feel.

Dr. Siegel, a cancer surgeon, discovered years ago that a subset of those patients who came to him for help were able to live lives of meaning and purpose in the midst of uncertainty.  These “exceptional patients,” as he called them, experienced something during their journey that they shared repeatedly with him:  attitude is everything.  As they explained, the belief(s) that guide your thoughts will determine the quality of the life you live.

The same is true of the infertility journey.

Couples who learn to trust God’s plan, release their grip on (the illusion of) control, and lean into believing that there is a purpose in their struggle, invariably go on to become parents.  Some by conception.  Some by adoption.  A few by foster parenthood.  But all of them get there.  I have yet to see a couple give their dream to God and forever remain a twosome.  It’s a matter of how – not If.  A question of when – not Whether.

“… There is nothing wrong with hope.”  Siegel’s words are a great reminder that there is no great risk in hoping that God is faithful.  Hoping that His promises hold true for ALL believers.  Hoping that He will elect to bless those who trust Him – His purpose, His plan, His timing.  There is nothing wrong with hope!  It is not irrational. It is not delusional.  It is not unfounded.

It is faith.

And we have been called to walk by faith, and not by sight.  We have been taught to trust a God we cannot see, but who hears our prayers, knows our thoughts, and shares in our suffering.  It is this God who alone is able to realize our deep desire to become parents.  It is His will that makes it possible.  And when we are in the flow of His will, “there is nothing wrong with hope.”

I know several couples who will be finding out in the next few days whether their recent IVF’s have resulted in Christmas conceptions.  I hope that they have.  But even more, I hope that the God who knows their hearts, feels their longing, and intends to bless the seed of hope He has already planted will give these couples nothing less than His very best.  ‘

I know from experience — it’s worth waiting for.

Emmanuel.  God with us.  There is cause for hope.


Filed under Control, Hope, Perspective

It’s a Blessing…

Once couples who’ve battled infertility reach the goal of parenthood – whether by conception or adoption – it’s tempting for retroactive amnesia to take hold.  Who wants to remember the heartache of the journey?  Why would anyone hold on to memories of loss, grief and suffering?  After all, given the time, money and effort it took to become a family, why do anything but enjoy it?

Because it’s not just about you.

Everything God does has a purpose.  Every difficulty He allows into your life is for a reason.  And very often, His reason extends beyond the impact of this journey on you and your faith life.  He also intends to use your experience, and its life-changing effect on you, to bless others.

As scripture says…

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

The temptation to focus on a hope-filled future, while intentionally forgetting the faith-challenging past, is just that:  a temptation.  It is a common one, a completely understandable one, and one you should resist.


Because part of our calling is to be the body of Christ for one another.  “…To comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive.”  The infertility journey doesn’t end with parenthood.  Instead, we graduate to the next stage of the journey – one in which God calls us to set aside our former need for privacy (secrecy?) and openly witness to God’s goodness and faithfulness in order to give hope to those making the journey behind us.

Kristi and her husband, Carlos, kept his male factor infertility a secret from their family and friends.  But they confided in me, asking that I pray for their decision-making process, and for peace in the midst of uncertainty about the outcome of their journey.  [For more on their story, click this link].

Recently, Kristi got a call from a close friend who confessed that she and her husband were struggling with infertility.  In a split second, Kristi had a decision to make:  should she protect her privacy and the perception of an effortless conception, or should she share her story?  Kristi felt God nudging her to tell the truth.  She did.  She also talked about Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples, and about this blog.  “It was a spiritual lifeline for me,” she assured her friend.

Kristi’s friend hung up, immediately ordered a copy of the book and went online to read recent posts.  She called Kristi back in less than thirty minutes, and “we cried together over how good God is, and how everything happens in His perfect timing.”

Kristi shared this story with me so I would know how much the book and blog helped her — and by extension, her friend.  I pointed out that Kristi’s now taken on the role I played during her journey — of comforter, encourager, faithful witness, and Spirit-filled friend.

You can do that, too.

Do you know someone who’s struggling to find hope in the midst of the infertility journey?  If you’ve become a parent, share your story.  If you’re still making your own journey, it’s not too soon to help someone else.  Pass on your copy of Pregnant With Hope.  Send a link to this blog with a verse of comfort.  Risk exposing your need for God’s help and allow Him to use you to deliver a message of hope.

You will experience the joy that proves the axiom “It is a blessing to be a blessing.”


Filed under Blessings, Hope, Speaking Up

Life is Hard

In the past few days, I’ve received cries for help from three different people.  All three have a sense of being completely overwhelmed by their circumstances.

One (whose story I shared in a previous post) called because she left a family she’d worked with for 12 years for one that seemed considerably saner, but her new employer let her go after a week. Completely blindsided, she knows she can’t go back – and in this economy, there appears to be no way forward.  She’s scared, hurt, angry and confused. “I’ve been crying for a week,” she said. What do you say to such disheartening defeat?

Another emailed me to say his wife finally conceived – naturally, and against all odds – but he wasn’t hired for the job he needs to support them. A business school graduate, he’s been job-hunting for more than a year, working part-time for minimum wage to keep their financial ship from sinking. They got the pregnancy they desperately wanted, but they can’t afford the baby that’s coming. What do you say to someone who’s grateful and resentful all at once?

The third contacted me through an infertility chat room. Her struggle is causing her to have deep doubts about God’s presence and purpose – and whether He cares about her suffering. We’ve never met, and probably never will. What do you offer a stranger who’s lost confidence in God?

Goodness, life is hard.

Here’s the thing:  That’s a given. It’s awful, but it’s true. We all suffer – some of us frequently, some intermittently. Some publicly, and some very privately. But, we all struggle through dark days when we wonder whether things can possibly get any worse. Whether anyone cares.  Whether God’s forgotten us completely. When those moments come, how do we find any real hope?

I believe we can start with this knowledge (from God Calling):

“All sacrifice and all suffering is redemptive:  to teach the individual, or to be used to raise and help others. Nothing is by chance. The divine mind, and its wonder working, is beyond your finite mind to understand. But no detail is forgotten in My plans, which are already perfect.”

In other words, it’s not an accident that you are in the midst of your circumstances. They may help you become the person God intends you to be, or they may prepare you to use your experience and insight to inspire and encourage others. Either way, the fact that you cannot see or imagine how this could possibly be part of any good plan doesn’t mean it isn’t.

If it’s true that there’s some good purpose in your suffering, and you can somehow wrap your mind around it, there’s still the pressing question:  How do you make your way through something so hard? So gut-wrenching, stress-inducing, and heartbreaking? How do you find the strength? The courage? The determination? The hope?

“Cling to the robe.”

That’s the mantra that can sustain you. Remember the woman who came to Jesus after suffering for years with incessant bleeding? Seeing him surrounded by an enormous crowd of people, she told herself that if she could only touch the hem of his cloak, she would be healed. And she was.  Instantly.

Could it be that way for you? If you cling to Christ, will your circumstances change instantly? Maybe, but not necessarily. Not if there’s a good purpose in them continuing — even one you can’t see or understand.

For all three of the people who cried out for help recently, I see a good purpose in their struggle. Questions of God’s role in what’s happening and the extent of His concern for them are coming to the forefront, battling their emotions for attention, and persistently urging them to seek answers. That’s a good thing. Not a fun one, but a profoundly good one.

Here’s the one thing I know will help them — and you, too:  Cling to the robe.  If you do, you will be near the only source of strength that never fails, the only source of wisdom that always comprehends, and the only source of hope more powerful than any circumstance.

Life is hard.

Cling to the robe.


Need help finding cause for hope? Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. It includes ten couples’  first-hand accounts of  God’s role in their infertility journeys, and how He transformed heartbreaking quests into life-changing good news.

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Filed under Hope, Loss

Surviving a “Tsunami”

Sometimes, it’s hard for self-reliant women to admit their limitations — especially if they think they’re addressing them successfully. It can take a true tsunami event to knock them off their feet and force them to cry out for the help they need.

That’s what happened to Cindy.

Five and a half years ago, she and her husband began trying to conceive. The only sign of hope was a single chemical pregnancy. At 35, Cindy knew they couldn’t wait indefinitely. They needed to find a fertility specialist. So, they got a referral and met with their new doctor right away.

Meanwhile, Cindy realized she was going to need support. Her escalating stress level would not help their relationship or contribute to their success conceiving. She found three sources of support:  one clinical, one peer/social, and one spiritual.

Her clinical support came from a therapist recommended by her RE. In the therapist’s office, Cindy noticed a RESOLVE newsletter; a few months later, she sought out their local support group. And through RESOLVE, she heard about a prayer group for infertile women and began participating. She thought her proactive response to her circumstances would be more than enough to counter the ups and downs of the infertility journey.

But, she was wrong.

At lunch with a friend, hoping to confirm a pregnancy very soon, she suddenly began bleeding. “I wanted to crawl under the covers and cry all afternoon,” she recalls. She rushed home. Instead of finding quiet and privacy, she got more bad news from her husband, “Your cousin Casey just died from an overdose.”

That’s when the tsunami hit. It was a tidal wave of grief beyond anything she’d ever experienced. She lost it completely. Frightened by her reaction and unsure how to help, Scott called the therapist in a panic. What could he say to help her? What should he do?

As the therapist was advising Scott, Cindy had realized she couldn’t take any more. “That’s when I knew I had to give it to God. I told Him, ‘I can’t do this on my own. I need you to take over!”

Cindy looks back on that moment as a critical turning point.

Now the mother of a little girl and pregnant with twins, she says, “IVF worked for us, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. The thing I’ve realized is that, even though it can last for years, infertility is ultimately a temporary situation. It’s not the final word. I know people who are using donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogates…. I know people who are adopting. There are so many ways to become a family.”

How did Cindy’s tsunami moment change her perspective? “My faith in God was renewed. I asked Him to take the wheel and be the pilot, and He did. I promised that, at some point, I’d help other people through the emotional aspects of this. I’ve kept that promise and led a peer group through RESOLVE for two years now. I preach to everybody. I tell them, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a happy ending for you!’ And I believe it.”

What did infertility teach her about relating to other women struggling through infertility? “First of all, we have an instant bond because even though no two stories are alike, the struggle to become a parent is the same. Infertility has also taught me to hold my tongue when I can’t relate to someone else’s struggle. I just say, ‘I’m sorry you’re going through that.’ And, it’s helped me find a voice I didn’t know I had.  I’m not political by any means, but I was asked to speak about IVF rights at the state capitol. That’s an important legacy for my children. One day, I’ll tell them, “I fought for you twins to be born, and (to my oldest) for your right to be a big sister.”

Having survived her own “tsunami,” what advice does Cindy have to offer? “Remember that God is at the wheel and you are in good hands. And remember that you are not alone as long as you seek support from others going through the journey.”


For more information about RESOLVE and peer-led support groups, please visit www.resolve.org.

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Filed under Loss, Perspective

When It Rains, It Pours

It started while we were on vacation.  We’d saved all year to rent an ocean front room at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.  No one thought to tell us about the “June Gloom” until after we arrived.  That’s the dense fog that envelops the shoreline, the sky and everything gorgeous until midafternoon each day.  It should’ve been my first clue… but I was blissfully unaware of what was coming.

Several days into the trip, I got a call from my dad.  We chatted briefly and (thankfully) ended with “I love you.”  It was the last time I would ever talk to him; a week later, he died.

I flew to Atlanta for his funeral.  My mother asked me not to cry during the service, or afterwards.  “People need to feel they can express their condolences to us, and if we’re crying, they’ll feel awkward.”   I bottled up my grief – and when the service ended, I couldn’t stand.  The pain in my back was so intense it was nauseating.

Six months later, my mom – who had eloped at 20, and loved my Dad every day of her life – was diagnosed with leukemia.  The oncologist concluded that suppressing her grief was affecting her immune system.  “Get her to cry,” she advised, “or the leukemia will kill her.”

Awful as it was, this was just the beginning.

My husband and I met with an RE to discuss our lack of success conceiving.  He recommended we start with progesterone, Clomid and IUI.  That plan suddenly got more complicated when I had to leave my spouse, my home, and our only source of income to care for my mom as she underwent a bone marrow transplant — halfway across the country.

I flew to Seattle thinking:  one parent’s just died, the other’s fighting for her life, I’m so stressed my body is going haywire, and I’m leaving everything I need to get pregnant.  I’m going to have to guess when I’ll ovulate so I can book a flight to Chicago in time for a rushed IUI and a night with my lonely, tired, med school student husband before I race back to the cancer center for 24/7 bedside.  What is happening?!

Why was I so crazy about conceiving right then?  I don’t think it’s because we’d been trying on our own for a long time.  I guess it’s because it felt like the world was falling apart.  I’d lost control of everything – this wasn’t my script for my life – and somehow it seemed like the best possible time to experience some joy.  To reassure myself that “happily ever after” was more than a mirage.  To reclaim at least part of my dream for the future.

My Job-like journey continued for several more years.  It included multiple miscarriages, numerous surgeries, a cancer (mis)diagnosis, unneeded chemo, five months of bedrest, a premature birth, heart arrhythmias and defibrillation, my mother’s death, so many trips to the emergency room the intake nurse knew me on sight….

It went on, and on, and on.

By the grace of God, I made it.  I survived all of it.  And when I finally experienced my first “normal” day – no crises, no deaths, no trauma – I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  That’s the blessing of “when it rains, it pours” — gratitude so intense it leaves you in tears.

Our infertility journey was intertwined with so many other hard, horrible experiences.  I came face to face with several of my worst fears, and I realized that I was never in control.  I was always at the mercy of God’s grace.  And it never failed. I’m so, so thankful.

Life is hard, and God is good; that’s my “when it rains…” story in a nutshell.  Are you in the middle of a rainy season right now?  Hang in there.  I know life is hard, but God is good.

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Filed under Battles, Control, Loss