Tag Archives: panic

The Season of Discernment

Unexplained infertility can seem like psychological torture.  No one can tell you what’s wrong, what will work, or if anything ever will.

Faced with little-to-no information, how can you make decisions?  When the voice in your head is shouting, “The clock is ticking! You’re running out of time!” how do you think clearly?  When the most-likely-to-succeed protocol fails – repeatedly – what should you do next?  Where can you turn for input?  Who can you trust?  And how much more can you handle?

Bottom line:  What does it mean when there’s still no baby?

Welcome to a season of discernment.

When Don and his wife reached this point in their infertility journey, Don made a very wise choice.  He decided to slow down, wait, and listen.  “I’m one who believes God’s touch is very subtle,” he said.  “You’ve got to exert immense patience to understand – and wait for – what He’s doing in your life.  If you jump to a conclusion, you may miss the message.”

After several miscarriages, Don thought, “We haven’t been able to get pregnant.  Is God sending us a message?  I was listening and thinking, is God saying, ‘You shouldn’t be parents?’ or, ‘You should take another approach?’”  He and Robin decided to join the infertility Bible study to spend time with other couples struggling with the same questions.

“When I first went to the class, I was struck by how many people were emotionally distraught about infertility.  But I kept reminding myself:  God has a way of moving things around so that it’s a win-win for everybody.  It sounds formulaic, but you have to trust Him.  Be ready – do your part – but let it come on His time.”

The more they listened to other couples’ stories – especially those of “alumni” who came back to talk to the group – the more they realized, “you have to be patient.”  Speed and a desperate sense of urgency had not made  these other couples parents.  In fact, just the opposite!  Quite a few affirmed Don’s sense that  “you can’t just take over.  God’s got opportunities, messages and subtleties there for you… but you’ve got to be listening.”

Over time, Don and his wife felt a growing, deepening peace about the choice to adopt.  “God understood what I needed to make a decision,” Don recalled.  “We researched our options thoroughly, moving slowly enough to seek God’s guidance at every step.”

To a casual observer, it might have looked as if they were making no progress on their journey toward parenthood.  But in fact, the most important progress occurred when they slowed down and were perfectly still.  How so?  A birth mother tried to put her twin boys up for adoption five times  – but she always changed her mind.  Finally, she decided she was ready.

“If we’d been ready 6 months earlier, this mom wouldn’t have been ready,” Don said.  “And if we’d been ready 6 months later, we might have missed adopting our boys.  I want to recognize God’s timing in this miracle.  It was perfect.”

God’s timing always is.

The words “Be still and know that I am God” are not just a suggestion from scripture.  They are an imperative command for our benefit.  They are also the only way to answer the many unanswered questions on this journey.

When we are still, we make space for God’s voice to be heard.  Sometimes, He may be silent.  If so, we should stay still, but not be afraid.   He has not forgotten or neglected us.  And it is not His desire to compound our fear and anxiety.

We must trust that He is well able to speak clearly when we are ready to listen, and when the time is right. Those are the two key ingredients to forward progress.

This season, give yourself the two gifts that will bless your journey:  intentional stillness, and active listening.  Expect God’s guidance – wait patiently for it – and He will honor your faith with His faithfulness.

He always does.

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For more inspiration and words of hope, visit PregnantWithHope.com or read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.

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Infertility, Starring….

“I am the star in my own drama.”

Say it out loud, and it sounds self-absorbed.  Narcissistic.  Entitled.  And it is.

Truth be told, it’s also our default setting.

It is human nature to care about others’ impressions of us.  To imagine ourselves as interesting and worth noticing, even fascinating enough to be talked about frequently.  Marketers exploit this tendency to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of others.  They use it against us — and we fall for it, all because we think everyone’s looking.

How does this affect the infertility journey?

It fuels our “need” for secrecy.  It reinforces the irrational fear of exposure.  If infertility is evidence we are failures, then we’ve got to hide it.  If infertility means we are defective, unworthy, and destined for a future no one wants, then we’ve got to change this script — and live a life of denial in the meantime.  We’ve got to invest energy in pretense, so that the truth will never be known — until we reach Happily Ever After.

So, we lie:  “We’re not really trying.”

“We’re not sure we want a family.”

“We ‘re focused on our careers right now.”

“We don’t want to give up our freedom yet.”

We think the only way to end this awful charade is to have a baby.  To make our reality match what we want everyone else to see.  Our desperate urgency, at least in part, is rooted in our deep desire to be who and what (we believe) others think we are:  happy, fortunate, successful, blessed.

Consider this… That may not be God’s priority.  Before you become a parent, He may want you to learn that it’s not all about you.  You’re not the star in life’s most important drama.  He may want you to realize that most people are so fully absorbed in their own stories, they’re not paying much attention to yours.  If they are, it’s likely to be out of People magazine curiosity, rather than a deep desire to judge or reject you.

Maybe one of the reasons you are on this infertility journey is because God wants to show you a better way to live.  He wants to give you an opportunity – and an incentive – to set aside constant thoughts of Self, and replace them with more frequents thoughts of Him.  Why would you make that choice?  Because it’s the path to peace and hope, despite any circumstances.

Look at the other women waiting anxiously at the doctor’s office.  They’re all stars in their own drama.  Everyone’s hiding behind a magazine or an IPhone.  Everyone’s stressing.  Everyone would rather be anywhere but here.  No one wants to talk – except about how worried they are.  And no one wants to listen – unless your story is worse than theirs.

But look to God, and you won’t sense anxiety.  Or fear.  Or desperation.  You won’t feel competitive.  Or threatened.  Or jealous.  You’ll find someone who’s been waiting to listen.  Who hoped you would want to talk.  And who knows how to give comfort that reaches deeper and lasts longer than anything the world can offer.

I say this from experience, and with loving compassion:  putting yourself at the center of the story is the reason for your suffering.  Set your Self aside, put God at the center of the story, trust His purposefulness, and expect this blessing to be fulfilled in your life…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

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For more inspiration and  cause for hope, read Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples

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Moving on After an Unbearable Loss

There is a low point that some couples reach during the infertility journey.  It is a place of despair so deep and dark they wonder if they can survive it.

What they assumed at the time would be the worst of the journey is already behind them, rapidly receding in a past that pales in comparison to the deeply painful present.  Disappointment, discouragement, bad results… it seemed so challenging at the time.  Now, it would be a gift to return to difficulties no worse than what was faced back then.

This is a valley of darkness.

“Kirsten was 18 weeks pregnant and she started having a lot of bleeding,” Mike remembers.  “The trip to the hospital is a blur.  I remember the nurse tried to find a heartbeat in utero, and she couldn’t find one.  We both thought, ‘She doesn’t know what she’s doing’ because we were in such denial.  We thought, ‘The doctor will get here and it’ll be okay.’  He got there and it wasn’t okay.

“He left the room and a minute later, the baby came.  I had to run out of the room to get him.  He ran in and four nurses ran in after him.  I remember just standing out there in the hallway and feeling very dizzy.  One of the nurses got a chair for me and said, ‘It’s okay.  Just sit here.’”

The baby was coming too soon.  His first day outside the womb would be his last.

Where is God when our dreams are dying?  When the joy we’ve longed for and struggled for is slipping from our grasp?  Where is He when our hearts cry out for help?  For comfort?  For hope?

Where is God in such darkness?

He is with us.

“I didn’t think I was going to recover,” Mike remembers.  “When a nurse grabs you and puts you in a chair, it’s because she doesn’t think you can stand.  I don’t think I was capable of doing what I needed to do for Kirsten.  But I was only sitting for about five seconds, and then somehow, a feeling of calm came over me and I heard a voice in my head saying, ‘Go to Kirsten.’  Somehow I went from not being able to stand up to being able to be with her.

“I tell you, that’ll make you believe in divine grace.  I don’t think there’s a psychological ability of the brain to reboot during a crisis – you’re more likely to shut down – but this was truly instantaneous.  It went from one second, ‘I’m nauseous and I can’t feel my legs’ to ‘It all went away.’  I’m very grateful for that.”

Despite feeling completely overwhelmed by heartache, as we struggle through the very worst of infertility, we are not alone.  When our spirits cry out, God hears us.  And He responds.  “I am with you always.”

There are moments… days… seemingly endless stretches of time when we feel no hope.  When it seems as if our greatest fear will be realized: we will never have a child.  Never have another chance at joy.  But scripture says that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him….”

Mike and Kirsten withstood numerous failed IVFs and the gloomy predictions of doctors, clinging to their belief that God had planted a seed of hope in their hearts because He intended for them to become parents.

With the help of a new IVF protocol they finally conceived again.  Their twins arrived safely.  And two years later, a younger sibling – conceived naturally and unexpectedly – arrived safely, too.

If you are struggling mightily to find cause for hope in the darkness, cling to these words from the author of Lamentations:  “I remember my afflictions… and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

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If you are grieving the loss of a pregnancy, click this link for support and resources.  If you are looking for help, hope and inspiration,  please visit PregnantWithHope.com.

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The Story Most People Never Share

Have you ever lost a pregnancy?  How did you ever recover?  Did you ever feel hope again?”

Sadly, despite the frequency of miscarriages, there is virtually no public discussion about them.  When you lose a baby, there is so much you want to know… but who can you ask?  Who is willing to be that open and honest?  That patient with deeply painful questions?  And who cares enough about you to see past the fact of your loss to all the fears and feelings behind it – and your need for help and hope?

Meet Amy & Trey.  They tell the story of their infertility journey in Pregnant With Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples.  Here, they answer a few of the questions a miscarriage makes you wish you could ask:

Q:  Have you ever lost a pregnancy?

Amy:  “I had three miscarriages and two failed IVF cycles before conceiving triplets. Then, I started bleeding and we found out I’d lost two of the three.  But we still had “Baby B” holding on tightly.  It was a very rough pregnancy with lots of scares and bleeding along the way.  At 19½ weeks, my water broke and we were forced to deliver the baby, knowing that it would not survive.  We went to the hospital and delivered a little baby boy.”

Q:  How did you ever recover?

Amy:  “We didn’t have any friends who had gone through anything like this, but the [Pregnant With Hope] class introduced us to people going through similar circumstances.  You want to compare stories and almost – as bad as it sounds – sometimes misery loves company, you know?  Instead of being at a baby shower with all my friends who were experiencing blissful happiness while I had a fake smile, I could talk to people who understood what I was going through.  It was a room full of unconditional love and support.”

Trey:  “When we went to the first class, we went around the room and everyone told their story.  Amy and I were craving other people’s stories.  I didn’t have any friends who’d ever opened up about infertility, so I didn’t have anyone to talk to.  It was so refreshing to be led by someone who had been through it.  We immediately knew that this was genuine.  And it was encouraging to talk to someone who had gotten to the other side of it.”

Q:  Did you ever feel hope again?

Amy:  “We did, but it would have been a lot easier if God had told me, ‘Hold on tight for three years, because the baby’s coming!’  It was the not knowing that was crushing – the starting over with no idea when it would happen.  I needed to know that God had a plan and that a baby was supposed to be ours.  To be able to hold on to that hope, we needed to focus on God’s faithfulness and on scripture.  That’s where the messages of the class really helped.”

T:  “It was helpful to talk about ‘Where is God?  Why is this happening?’  I didn’t understand.  Were we doing it wrong?  Was it not God’s will?  We were at a complete loss.  One thing that resonated with me was hearing, ‘You are pregnant with hope.’  That really helped me.”

Amy and Trey went on to conceive and deliver a healthy baby boy.  A year later, he had a brother.  Now, they lead a Pregnant with Hope group – welcoming infertile couples into a community of support, sharing their inspiring story, and delivering messages of hope rooted in God’s truth.

The Bible says that God walks with us through difficulties – and then, He brings us alongside people facing similar challenges so that we can be there for them, just as He was there for us.  That is the ministry of Pregnant With Hope.

If you have lost a baby and need the kind of love and support Amy & Trey sought — and found, read the inspiring stories in Pregnant With Hope, visit the website, and keep reading this blog.  You will find the help and hope you need.

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Want to hear more inspiring stories from formerly infertile couples, all of whom are now parents?  Click this link….

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What Needs Fixing?

I hadn’t picked up God Calling in several months, but last night, I felt a nudge.  So, I opened to a random page and read…

“It is not circumstances that need altering first, but yourselves, and then the conditions will naturally alter.  Spare no effort to become all I would have you be.  Endeavor to put from you every thought of trouble.  Take each day, and with no backward look, face the day’s problem with Me, and seek My help and guidance as to what you can do.”

There it all is, in one compact paragraph:  God’s advice on how to think about infertility, and how to get through it.

Did it rock your world?  No?  Then look again.  All the answers are in there.

It is not circumstances that need altering first, but yourselves.”  When infertility is diagnosed, it is common for couples to respond with surprise, fear and anger.  We want to know:  Why us?  Why this?  Why now?  Why?  Why?!

It doesn’t occur to us that God might have orchestrated these circumstances for a purpose.  All we can think is, “Fix this, God!”  But God is fixing what is most urgently in need of repair:  Us.

This infertility predicament, and all the associated circumstances, actually creates the perfect medium in which to mold and shape us.  Uncertainty has made us malleable, and our deep desire to conceive has enabled God to get our attention in a whole new way.  We “need altering first,” and this process is designed to effect that change.

“… and then the conditions will naturally alter.”  Instead of constantly pushing, pulling, and pressuring — doing whatever we can to end this suffering! — we need to recognize that infertility is not punishment, and a child is not a reward.  Despite how it feels, we are being blessed in the midst of this journey.

How so?

God is maturing and “ripening” us, patiently awaiting the change(s) that will make us more like the stewards He intends for the children who are coming — more faithful, more trusting, more intentional, more grateful, more selfless… more reliant on Him.

When the process results in the transformation He desires, “… then the conditions will naturally alter.”  In other words, something will shift and the pieces will miraculously fall into place.  In the meantime, God is at work preparing every one of the pieces for that miracle moment, so that our story will unfold in the best possible way.  

So, what do we do now?  How do we work with God to bring about this change so that “… and then…” can draw nearer?  The answers are right there in that power-packed paragraph:

1)      “Spare no effort to become all I would have you be.” – Lean into the process of change.  Instead of resenting your circumstances, recognize that they are a critical part of your transformation.  Be an active participant in it!  Put everything you have into understanding what God wants from you – who He is calling you to be – and then do all you can to become that person.

2)      “Endeavor to put from you every thought of trouble.” – Rest in the knowledge of God’s goodness and purposefulness.  Try not to waste energy on fear or worry.  Do your best to reject every thought that is inconsistent with God’s promise to do “more than you can ask or imagine.”

3)      “Take each day, and with no backward look, face the day’s problem with Me….” – Take one day at a time.  Focus on the future that is awaiting you, and the child who is part of it, rather than the difficulties that are already behind you.  Remember that God walks with you daily, and He confronts every problem alongside you.  You are never alone, never forgotten, and never ignored.

4)      “… and seek My help and guidance as to what you can do.” – Recognize that both power and wisdom (about what you can and cannot do) are always available from God — but you must ask for them, believe you will receive them, and trust them.  Choosing not to is tantamount to going it alone, and that is not the path to the future you want.

I promise:  God never intended to deceive you about this journey.  It has always been about the transformation He intends… en route to the dream you desire.

Trust Him.  It’s His dream, too.

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For more inspiration, click here to visit  PregnantWithHope.com

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God Is Still Faithful

“If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

If we have anything to be grateful for in the midst of infertility, it is this:  even if we are faithless, God will remain faithful.  He cannot be otherwise.  We can reject His faithfulness.  We can deny it.  We can insist it is not real because we are not getting what we want when we want it.  But, that does not change the nature of God.

He can only be who and what He is.  Faithful.  Always.

And so, we can exhale.

We don’t have to understand this suffering.  We don’t have to feign gratitude when what we feel most are hurt and anger.  We don’t have to earn God’s favor or the blessing we desperately desire.

In fact, we can’t.

All we can do is wrap our arms around the gift of grace and whisper, “Thank you.”  We are loved despite our imperfections.  We are going to be blessed, despite our many failures.  We are pregnant with hope, and God intends to grow that seed into the reality of a family — in His perfect timing.

Even if we are faithless – which we so often are when tests come back negative, numbers are discouraging, bleeding starts and hope is dying – even then, God is faithful.  He walks with us to comfort, strengthen and guide.  He sends encouragers to speak His truth into our hearts.  And He continues to nurture the seed of hope that He planted in our hearts for a reason.

So, whatever you do, or don’t, believe…. believe this:  He will remain faithful, for He cannot be otherwise.

Thank God.

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For more inspiration and cause for hope, please click this link…!

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Lost and in a Panic

Years ago, on a vacation to New Mexico, my husband and I decided to take a short hike in the Sandia Mountains.  We were told that the popular trail was well-marked, and so we set off feeling confident.  Several hours later, as the sun began to set, we realized we’d made a serious mistake.  We’d lost sight of the trail, but kept going — certain we could find it again.  Instead, we were now miles from the trailhead with no food or water.

No one knew where we were.  It was getting cold, and we were getting scared.  So, we began to walk faster.  Soon, we were almost running through the darkening woods.  I suggested, half-seriously, that we could spell out a rescue message with rocks.  My husband pointed out that no one was looking for us, so we’d be wasting precious daylight.  We were struggling mightily to control a rising tide of panic.

Not a bad metaphor for the infertility journey.

We set out on what we believe will be a short, safe and enjoyable journey to parenthood.  We’re with the one we love, and we trust this is going to be simple, so enthusiasm is high.  We’re going to have a baby!  But then, we discover we’re off the beaten path.  The route everyone else finds so easy to follow has somehow taken us somewhere else entirely.  How did we get so lost?

We realize we’re ill-equipped for what we’re suddenly facing.  What do we do now?  Can anyone help us?  No one knows exactly where we are – us included.  So, how do we find our way out of here?  The instinctive response to all this uncertainty is a rising tide of panic.  And with panic, comes irrational acceleration.

Peter Block, in his book The Answer to How is Yes, writes that “We treat urgency like a performance-enhancing drug, as if speed will hasten change….”  We want to change our circumstances, escape suffering and reach our desired destination, so we accelerate, thinking, “Go faster – it’ll be over sooner!”  That impulse led my husband and me to make some reckless choices as we tried to race through infertility.  We were rushing along half-blind – so intent on escaping the wilderness of infertility, we hardly stopped to think.

“Wait,” the Bible says.  “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”   That’s the answer… the solution… the way through this wilderness to the desired destination.  We need to realize, the voice saying “Hurry, hurry!” is not God’s.  And if it’s the only voice we hear, we’re definitely lost.  But, we are not lost to God.

We are never alone or abandoned in the wilderness of infertility.  We are constantly under the loving protection and guidance of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus counsels us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. ” This is the greatest challenge, and the great invitation, of the wilderness journey.

God already knows the precise day and moment when the journey will end.  He knows what will happen, and why this experience will have been a blessing-in-disguise.  This journey is an opportunity for Him to mold us – making  us more like the people He longs for us to be by the time we reach our destination:  trusting, grateful, God-reliant people.

Can we trust Him?  Can we wait with confident hope – focused not on the depth of our fear, but the goodness of our God?  The first step to saying “yes” is slowing down and waiting.  Only then can we hear the voice that whispers, “…This is the way; walk in it.”

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Find many more resources & cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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