Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It seems that this week the Lord is speaking to me in a lot of different ways about the same topic: WAITING. I consider myself a patient person, but the waiting involved in the infertility process can test the most saintly person's patience! In the bible study I am doing called, "Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says About Your Baby Hunger", this week's lesson was entitled "Faith & Waiting". Below is an excerpt from the study that explains it beautifully:

"So much of the fight for our sanity in the quest for a baby is waiting. We wait for the next cycle to begin. We wait for the next round of IUI or IVF. We wait for the blood test. We wait to get past the point of the last miscarriage. Everybody despises the dreaded two-week wait. It seems like all we do is just sit around and wait. Why is it that even God tells us to wait? After a while, we get weary in battle. We can boldly proclaim--at the beginning--that this is merely a season in our lives and we know God will show himself mighty on our behalf. Our faith is strong! But then month after month passes with no baby. Year after year, our nurseries and wombs remain silent. Sometimes faith grows weaker as the wait grows longer."

I know that was a long passage, but I felt that it described the waiting process that goes along with infertility very poignantly. Waiting is without a doubt one of the hardest parts of infertility, especially because there are times when I doubt that at the end of the waiting I will have a baby. It is also such a hard balance of waiting on the Lord but at the same time taking action to treat the physical issues I have that have caused problems with me getting pregnant and with miscarriage. 

In this session in the bible study, the author details the struggle that Abraham and Sarah went through to have a baby. The Lord promised a child to Abraham and Sarah, but they had to wait 25 years for that promise to become a reality. Throughout that time, Abraham stayed pretty firm in his faith, believing that the Lord would follow through on His word. Sarah, on the other hand, got impatient and tried to take matters into her own hands (which didn't go so well!) When the Lord's messengers came to Abraham and Sarah to tell them that they would have a child by this time next year, Sarah laughed sarcastically, because she knew she was well past the child-bearing years. One of the Lord's messengers heard her and called her on her unbelief, reiterating to her that she would indeed have a child the following year. 

I think it's so easy for us to read about Sarah's journey with infertility and say to ourselves, "I would NEVER do what Sarah did, I would never doubt the Lord's promises." But being in the midst of this struggle for a fraction of the time that Sarah endured it has made me really relate to her. Sarah's laugh was not a disrespectful mocking, but a cry of pain and a defense mechanism. I too have laughed and joked sarcastically about never having children, when really it kills me inside to think of that possibility. I have also done that in an attempt to not get my hopes up AGAIN...just for more disappointment at the end of the month. I am so thankful that the Lord allows us to experience all feelings, and He knows us well enough to know what our hearts are crying out, even if our words or actions try to cover it up. The author said it like this:

"He [the Lord] heard the cries of her heart. He knew what she was thinking and feeling even if she laughed to herself. Sarah's laughter said all the things her words were incapable of voicing and God heard every unspoken word. Her silent laughter told all the frustration of all the years of watching other women grow their bellies and their families, while her womb and her tent remained quiet. Her laughter cried the devastation of growing old without grandchildren, of no child to call her 'Mama'. God heard every frustration even though Sarah never uttered a spoken word. You don't have to put your feelings into words for God to know the hurts your heart carries. Sometimes, there are no words to describe how you feel inside. What a relief to know that God hears the cry of your heart, even when you cannot tell Him, or anyone else, what you are feeling."

And despite Sarah's sarcastic laugh and unbelief, the Lord still made good on His promise to give her a child and make her a mother. I have had so many people insinuate (and actually SAY) to me that if I had more faith, the Lord would grant me a child. Or people say, "If the Lord wants you to be a mother, you'll get pregnant, and if not, He won't allow you to get pregnant." I don't believe that. I don't believe that the loving God that I serve is picking on me, or is withholding the joy of motherhood until I deserve it. If we all had to wait to receive blessings until we deserved them, we would all be in sad shape! God finds favor with us when we are unworthy...that's the power of GRACE. I am so thankful for God's grace, especially through this time. Lord knows I have many thoughts that make me unworthy, but I am so thankful that I serve a God who blesses us despite our faults!

The author used the examples of Abraham and Sarah, David, and Joseph to illustrate that God was WORKING during those times of waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years to become parents. David waited many years to become King. Joseph waited almost 20 years before his dream became a reality. But through the waiting times of these men and women, the Lord was actively working "behind the scenes". I think sometimes we assume that if we can't actually see or experience God's hand at work, then He must be just up there chillin' on his throne, half-asleep, sipping a latte, when in fact, He is working on us and circumstances around us until His perfect timing is revealed. 

There are many instances in scripture that refer to God's timing coming to pass: Things happened "in due time", "in the fullness of time", "at the right time", and at the "appointed time". The common denominator in all of these phrases is that these things happened in GOD'S TIMING. That is such a hard concept for me. There are times when I vehemently want the Lord's timing to be revealed using words like "next year"or "next month" so that I have a clear picture of WHEN our prayers will be answered. But I also know that His plans are perfect and if He is not revealing His timing and His plan to me right now, there is a reason and a purpose. Waiting on the Lord's timing is a DAILY struggle for me when it comes to waiting for a baby, but one way I can see the Lord working during this time is by sending me constant reminders of his goodness, his faithfulness, and the promise that our reward is coming! 

On Friday, we found out that we did not get pregnant this month, and yesterday I went back to Dr. K to begin our next and last IUI cycle. He is being a little more aggressive with my meds this month, and our prayer is that this can get my left ovary to respond, since it has not for the past 3 months. I will take the Clomid and do the injections starting yesterday until Sunday, and I will go back Monday for a sonogram to see if the left side responded. This week is going to be a process of waiting to see if my body responds, and then the dreaded 2 week wait to see if I am pregnant, and if it doesn't work, we will be taking a break and waiting on clear direction from the Lord before we pursue any other options. Our prayer for this month is that the left side responds so that we at least have a CHANCE of getting pregnant. If the left side responds, at least I can walk away from this process knowing that we tried everything we could, it just wasn't the Lord's timing yet. 

I know the waiting for us is not over, and it's definitely not something that I have mastered BY ANY MEANS, but through this season of waiting I am thankful for God's grace, his forgiveness, and His constant reminders to me that He is still present and evident, even during these waiting periods. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Encouragement and Understanding

One of the main reasons I wanted to share our journey with infertility is to minister to other women going through this struggle. It's an unbelievably hard thing to go through, but going through it alone is even worse. Also, I wanted to bring this issue to light, and help those who haven't been there understand a little bit of what we go through on a daily basis. Sometimes, insensitivity can cause deep wounds in a woman battling infertility, and many times insensitivity is caused by the inability to be empathic.
Okay, I'm going to play the therapy card here and explain what empathy means: Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. This is different from sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone. An empathic person tries to put themselves in someone else's shoes. A sympathetic person thinks, "Oh that's too bad for them, I'm glad that's not me"; an empathic person thinks, "Because I can imagine what they are going through, I am going to do whatever I can to be sensitive to their feelings." Empathy doesn't mean that you will ever truly understand someone's situation, but it means that you want to try...and sometimes that is the best thing you can do for a woman going through this difficult journey.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a detail-oriented, organized planner and I like to be informed. If  a client of mine is dealing with something I'm not experienced with, I ask them to educate me, and do what I can to educate myself. Infertility has been the same for me. I have read several books, blogs, articles, etc. for more information, but perhaps the most helpful information that I have found throughout this journey is the encouraging blogs, websites and books that have been recommended to me by friends and other women who are going through or have gone through the struggle of infertility. The factual information is helpful, but the most cathartic thing for me are the personal testimonies written by women who have been there and can put into words exactly what I am feeling. I want to use the platform of my blog to share these resources with other ladies who can benefit from them as well.
One of the reasons I decided to blog about my journey was because of reading a woman named Hannah Bunker's blog. I have no personal connection to her, a friend of mine just shared the link to her blog with me and it has been a great encouragement to me. She is honest, funny, and expresses a godly view of the struggle of infertility. I would highly encourage anyone to read her blog! The part of her blog that contains the fertility posts is called "Waiting for Grace". (She also blogs about photography and blogging). Here is the link: www.hannahbunker.com/waiting-for-grace.
Through Hannah's blog, I found a ministry called "Dancing Upon Barren Land: Spiritual Nourishment for the Infertility Road". This website contains devotionals and prayers designed exclusively for women going through infertility, and it has a lot of great resources linked to it as well. Here is the link: www.dancinguponbarrenland.com.
Another really awesome encouragement to me has been the Stepping Stones Ministry of Bethany Christian Services. They publish a newsletter 6 times per year to offer hope and support to Christian couples who are facing fertility challenges. The newsletters have personal stories, poems, and information that I have found speak to me on a very personal level. The link to this website (including the way to sign up for the newsletters) is at the following link: www.step.bethany.org.
A funny and informative book that was given to me by a friend is called "A Few Good Eggs: Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility" by Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan. Sometimes it's good to just get a good laugh about the insanity of infertility...and insanity it is!
A bible study that I have just started but was highly recommended is called "Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says About Your Baby Hunger" by Beth Forbus. As I said, I have just started this study but I have heard great things about it.
I hope that you will find some of these resources helpful if you are going through infertility, or that you can pass these along to a woman you know who is dealing with infertility. One of the ways I hope to educate those who haven't experienced infertility is by sharing some parts from several of the above resources about what NOT to do and say when dealing with fertility challenged friends. I always joke that by the end of this I will be able to write a book on what not to say to those struggling with infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss, and I have found several women who have put my feelings into words for me.
The first list that is a must-read when trying to know how to (or how not to) talk to and approach your fertility challenged friends is a post on Hannah Bunker's blog entitled: "The Dos and Donts of Dealing with a Fertility Challenged Friend". She does a great job of expressing this topic, and the link to this specific post is as follows: www.hannahbunker.com/waiting-for-grace-the-dos-and-donts-of-dealing-with-a-fertility-challenged-friend.
The next 2 pictures that I am going to upload (hopefully you can read them!) are from the Stepping Stones newsletters. The first is a short list about things said to women dealing with infertility that can be harmful, entitled "Just Relax". It's in the Mar/Apr edition of the Stepping Stones newsletter, just in case you can't read the picture I post. The second picture is an article from the Stepping Stones Jan/Feb newsletter entitled "After My Miscarriage" that tells you things not to say to a woman who has just experienced a miscarriage. None of these lists are meant to cast blame or point fingers, but rather to help those unfamiliar with the struggles of infertility to be able to relate better and be more sensitive to those in the midst of the battle. I hope these resources will educate, encourage, and speak to my fellow women struggling with infertility, as well as the friends and family we are surrounded by and interact with on a daily basis.