Tag Archives: talk about infertility

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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The Value of Spiritual Support

Why, if her own infertility journey is over, would a woman choose to work with infertile women?  Lisa Graham does it because she has a servant’s heart, and because it is a joy to watch God work in the lives of women who entrust their stories to her.

Seven years ago, after her own journey made her aware of the profound lack of spiritual support for women battling infertility, Lisa was urged to start a prayer group for infertile women.  A friend told her, “You should get women together, share your stories, and pray for one another.”  At first, Lisa felt intimidated by the idea of being the leader.  But another woman agreed to partner with her, and the two of them launched a unique ministry.

“We meet once a month,” Lisa explained.  “We go around the circle and everyone shares what’s happened to them since we last met:  test results, where they are in their cycle, the next doctor’s appointment….  Sometimes, there are losses to share.  And almost always tears.  Then, we anoint each woman with oil and pray for her.  Every month, we say, ‘Jesus is in the house!’  You can feel his presence in the room.”

Talking about infertility makes many people very uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, that includes those who are expected to embody the love and compassion of Christ during times of struggle and heartache.  According to E.W. Carter of the Regional Council of Churches, “Clergy don’t know how to talk about infertility in the 21st century.  So, when faced with the unfulfilled longing for a child, they are often silent.”

That silence can make infertile couples – especially women – feel judged, marginalized and neglected.  Lisa Graham’s prayer group models one simple solution to this problem.

“It’s amazing to me that there aren’t more churches doing this, but we are the only group like this in Atlanta.  Every month, Christians, Jews and non-believers gather together to honor God, to share their burdens, and to support one another.  It is a simple ministry, but it’s very powerful.  We see so many miracles – women getting pregnant after their doctors have said they can’t, women conceiving naturally after IVF has failed… we know God is at work.”

Luke tells the story of the Pharisees insisting Jesus rebuke his disciples for calling out praises to God for the miracles they’ve seen.  Jesus’ response is “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

That is how “alumni” of Lisa’s prayer group — who are now mothers — feel about acknowledging God’s role in their stories.  Many of them return to the group every month to pray with and for other women.  They feel compelled to share the good news of their own experiences with those in desperate need of hope and inspiration.

“We praise God for what He does, and we claim His promises for one another,” said Lisa.  “The rest is up to Him.”

Might you — or someone you know — benefit from a group like Lisa’s?  If so, consider forwarding a link to this blogpost to your ministry team or your doctor.  Let them know there is a simple way to deliver meaningful support.  If you prefer to protect your privacy, feel free to send their contact information to me (susan@pregnantwithhope.com) and I will  send them information information on how and why to start a prayer group.

Remember:  The God who is so generous and faithful that He must be praised or “the stones will cry out” is ready and waiting to help all those who call on Him.  What are you waiting for?

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Find more resources and cause for hope at PregnantWithHope.com

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Getting Help, Finding Hope

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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To the Ones Who Can Change Things….

Have you ever sat through a church service wondering why nothing you’re hearing speaks to your infertility journey? Or struggled through a baptism wondering if you’ll be able to hold back the tears? Have you ever left a couples’ Sunday school class because you don’t fit in with effortlessly fertile people? Or hustled up the side aisle of the sanctuary because you cannot hear one more word about a ‘family church’ where are all welcome, and everyone finds a place?

Welcome to the club.

The bad news is that you can’t help but be a member of this club if you’re in the midst of the infertility journey. Every church of every denomination seems unable to find a way to acknowledge your struggle, much less meet your needs.

Is that impossible to change? I don’t think so. Will it take a herculean effort on someone else’s part? Nope; just a little-bitty one on yours.

Here’s my idea.

I’ve written an open letter to Faith Leaders, and I’m asking you to deliver it. Email it directly to your ministry team and sign your name, or tuck it anonymously into an offering plate. It doesn’t matter which. Just do it at least once (more than once isn’t a bad idea). Get it in the hands of the right people – and give them what they need to help you make your way to parenthood.

Not sure it’ll change anything? Think of it this way:  the worst that can happen is status quo. But maybe, they’ll listen and learn. And wouldn’t that be a blessing?

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Dear Faith Leader,

In the midst of your congregation are infertile couples longing for help and hope. I am reaching out to you as one of them.

We come here searching for the God who put the dream of parenting in our hearts. As His representative, we look to you for inspiration, wisdom and guidance. Sadly, more often than not, we come away from worship feeling invisible, discouraged, and as if we don’t belong here.  We know that is not God’s desire, and it is not your intention. So, here’s what we ask of you:

1)      See Us – Recognize that 1-in-every-6 couples struggles with infertility issues. Not just women; men, too.  Because of social stigma, we are hesitant to self-identify… but we are here.

2)      Acknowledge Us – It is painful to sit in the pew and hear messages that presume we are not present or not emotionally vulnerable. We are in your midst during baptisms, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, children’s choir performances… all the reminders of what we desperately want but do not have. Please don’t ignore our suffering. Speak a word of hope to those of us who would give anything to be part of these special events.

3)      Inspire Us – Scripture is full of hope-giving words. Speak them over us! Are you not sure how they apply to our circumstances?Read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples. According to Columbia Seminary President Dr. Stephen Hayner, “It invites couples on a journey of hope and healing of the kind only God can give. It is a book for struggling couples, and for those of us who love them and often don’t know what to say or do. I’m so thankful for this resource! May God use it mightily.”

4)      Walk With Us – Do more than talk the talk. Make this journey alongside us, offering the comfort of your steady presence. Pray for us, reach out to us, listen to us, connect us with other infertile couples… show us you are not afraid to be fully present with us in this. Face each challenge next to us, ready to show by example how we can live into God’s promises as we make our way toward parenthood.

5)      Support Us – Statistically speaking, we are not the only infertile couple in this congregation. There are others who need the same kind of help and hope we long to receive. Please consider launching a support group for infertile couples. All the resources you need can be found on the PregnantWithHope.com website. And if you choose to lead us, there are hundreds of blog posts on PregnantWithHope.wordpress.com that can help you better understand our struggles – and the kind of messages that can renew our faith and restore our joy.

Please give this serious consideration.

Your grateful congregant

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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]

========================================================

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

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Fear: It’s All an Illusion

I learned something huge yesterday, and it has very real implications for your infertility journey.

Here’s the backstory:  the host of a TV show came to my house yesterday to film an interview.  She wanted to get the story behind Pregnant With Hope.  Why did I write it?  Why do I write this blog?  And what keeps me going?

When she asked me to do the interview, I was honored and excited.  What a great way to reach more couples, and the people constellated around them.  In half an hour, I could deliver messages of help and hope that could alter the trajectory of countless infertility journeys!

I felt nothing but anticipation… until the middle of the night, when fear flooded my heart.

It came out of nowhere and gripped me so tightly I couldn’t sleep.

When the host arrived yesterday, I was a basketcase.  All I could think about was anxiety and failure.  The prayers I’d prayed seemed powerless in the face of such potent fear.  What was my problem?  The host urged me to relax, but my heart was racing.  My mind was already rehearsing thoughts of failure and defeat.

Somehow, I survived the interview.  But all afternoon I was burdened with a feeling of deep despair.  I had wanted so much to trust God and honor Him with this story.  How could I have failed so completely?

I emailed my husband defeatedly, “It’s over.”  He emailed back, “You were obedient.”  I clung to those words as I tried to console myself.  But when we got in bed last night, I couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned for hours before finally begging God to lift the burden of failure off me so I could rest.

And that’s when I learned something huge:  it was all an illusion.

God answered my prayer by revealing the enemy’s tactic.  My mind had been filled with lies!  There was nothing to fear.  I spoke my heart and my words honored God.  The interview was great, and when it airs, it will speak hope to those who see it.  It wasn’t a disaster – it was a victory!

Here’s what I’m trying to say….  God cannot be defeated.  When we trust and honor Him, when we are obedient to His call on our lives, there is no power that can stop us.  The only obstacle we must overcome is ourselves and our tendency toward fearfulness.

God’s will for our lives — His perfect plan — can never be overpowered when we say an unconditional “yes.”  So, the only weapon in Satan’s arsenal yesterday was to get me focused on (negative) feelings, rather than the fact that something awesome was underway.

The same holds true for your infertility journey.  God already knows the outcome.  The victory is already written in the Book of Life.  It is done!  But there is a spiritual battle underway over you.

Will you focus on who God is and the seed of hope He has planted in your heart?  Will you trust Him no matter what you see or hear from those who do not know Him?  Or, will you trust feelings of fear and thoughts of failure planted in your heart by God’s enemy?  Will you anticipate defeat, lean into that expectation, and invite it to be so?

Learn from my experience.  Your feelings are not the whole story.  In fact, they’re nothing more than a distraction.  An illusion.  A mirage.  They are confusing and distressing and anxiety-provoking – but they are not the Truth.

Ask God to show you the Truth – to tell you the Truth – and watch your fears fall around you like a house of cards.  It will amaze you!  And it will change the way you see everything.

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For more inspiration, visit PregnantWithHope.com

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“Infertility is not Wasted Time”

London-based fertility coach Anya Sizer read Pregnant with Hope: Good News for Infertile Couples recently and wrote this review (reprinted with permission):

“In her book, Pregnant with Hope, Susan Radulovacki has created a unique and truly inspiring read.  It is one the church desperately needs as it seeks to comfort and encourage the 1 in 6 couples currently facing infertility.

It is also a wonderful book for any Christian in terms of the invaluable lessons about God that we find within its pages.  As I read it, a mother of two IVF children, I found myself in tears several times realizing again something of this amazing God we serve.  Of his Love for us in the big and the small areas of our life.  And that surely is a lesson for all believers

The book is written with an easy style.  Sections are given to case studies, as well as personal reflections on what we are learning. It is not a passive book we are to read and go away from, but rather a challenge and a journey to undertake.

The starting premise of the book is that, as people facing infertility, we are holding on tight to an illusion of control and a fear that if we really let God into the darkness, we will somehow lose this control.  But…

‘Infertility shows you the limits of your faith in a way that is inescapable. You discover that letting go completely feels impossible because you don’t trust God.. at the same time, infertility reveals the limits of your own power.’

We are left, then, with a choice.  And as Radulovacki says, it is a choice which takes tremendous courage.  Do we carry on with the illusion?  Or, do we step out in faith and let God deal with it?

Throughout the book, there are many biblical examples of men and women of faith who were tested and challenged by God.  Job, for example.  Here was a man whose life was tested to the limits of what he could endure.  EVERY area of his life was affected.  And yet, through the process (rather than overnight), he learned to shift that source of peace away from himself to a loving and faithful God.

We cannot do it on our own, nor are we meant to.  God will find a way to get us through all the many highs and lows if we will let him in. So often, when we hear sermons or read books about this concept, we are left with only half of the equation. We know we need to be letting God take control, to be trusting him and not ourselves or our circumstances, but HOW?!

Pregnant with Hope has some hugely useful ways forward:

1. Actively choose to put Christ at the center of your life, to displace worry.  This is ongoing and a daily decision, but one that God will more than honor.

2. Actively choose to see life and your relationship with God as holistic and all-encompassing.  Move away from compartmentalizing life into areas of the secular and the spiritual.

3. Begin the process of “renewing your mind,” taking captive all the unhelpful and negative thoughts that can so easily take over, and replace them with God’s truth.  This was so incredibly helpful, it resulted in me having a bit of a cry on a bus into work one day!

4. Remember that “I can do all things (injections, scans, the highs and lows of treatment, etc) through Christ who gives me strength.”

5. See these months as Wilderness months.  Reframe this as a journey through something.  The Wilderness teaches us many things, not least of which is perseverance, compassion for others, and the ability to rely on God for our daily bread.

I also found Radulovacki’s concept of “active waiting“ to be very helpful.  As Christians, we do not live for the future only, but rather, we work with God in our present circumstances – whatever they may be.

The journey of infertility will test a person and their faith in God more than they could ever think.  And yet, God’s faithfulness is always so much more than we could imagine.  It will be sufficient.  My own six-year struggle is testimony to this, and my children were worth every step of the battle.

Infertility is not wasted time.

“Are you willing to trust that if it’s a different story [than you planned], God’s plan will be better?”

This book most certainly reassures us that, with God’s help, we can walk through this season with him to lead, guide and strengthen us.  What good news.

This is a wonderful and much-needed book.”

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For more inspiration, resources and cause for hope, click this link….

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