Get free email updates as I write new articles (no more than once a week):

Coping With the Stress of Infertility

StamenWe have a beautiful six-year-old daughter, for whom we are so incredibly thankful. Our own struggle with infertility is not as harsh as that experienced by many because of her, but it’s a struggle nonetheless. We had some issues leading up to her birth and were so incredibly grateful when we were finally blessed with Ella that we gave her the middle name of Grace (God’s undeserved favor). Since having Ella, we’ve endured an ectopic pregnancy and another miscarriage and have spent nearly six years in the waiting game.

Infertility is hard – no bones about it. I don’t write or talk about it much, perhaps because of my own fear of being vulnerable in such a public way, but I have come into contact with so many people who suffer this plight that I wanted to share in the hopes that my words might educate and encourage someone else.

My own personal journey would have to begin with an acknowledgment of how much I admire and respect my wife. Her pain runs deeper than my own in the sense that there is a mystical connection between her body and her emotions that I can never experience. She’s a great Mom and she and I hurt together over the fact that she can’t be a great Mom to more kids. But we wait, somewhat patiently…

I must say at the outset, if you’ve not struggled with infertility – you don’t know. You might think you know, but you don’t. And that’s okay, but don’t pretend to understand. You don’t have the right words – there aren’t any. Just realize this and allow your presence to be the encouragement you offer.

Some Painful Realities

There are a lot of painful thoughts connected with the infertility struggle and I wanted to share some you might not have thought of before. These are things my wife and I have expressed, or that we’ve heard others express in their own journeys…

The Pain of Uncertainty

Those of you who have been through it know what I mean – month-in, month-out, test after test, disappointment. Another “negative” stares you down and you wonder… why? when? how? Uncertainty can be extremely painful.

The Pain of Cultural Surroundings

This one works in both directions. You’re (rightfully) furious that the world treats the unborn as optional responsibilities and yet you also struggle with jealousy over those families with large portraits full of smiling faces.

The Pain of Isolation

Just as with most painful experiences, there’s the feeling that nobody else knows or cares. It isn’t true, of course, but it feels that way. In fact, as I said before, most of what people say isn’t really that helpful – things like, “you just need to have more faith” to “isn’t seeing a fertility specialist taking matters out of God’s hands?” Lovely.

Some Encouraging Thoughts

There are, in the midst of the pain of waiting, some encouraging thoughts that spring to my mind, especially in reflection upon God’s Words. One story that springs to mind is the story of Hannah. She struggled with infertility. Her husband thought he should be more fulfilling for her than “ten sons” (what a moron). The priest, who was there to minister to her, just assumed her depression was the result of drinking too much. But… God remembered Hannah. (1 Samuel 1) And God remembers you. He feels our barrenness as His very own pain.

Some Helpful Advice

As Angie and I have navigated the difficulties of this month-in, month-out struggle, we have at times broken down (her far more than me, even) but we’ve also figured out some ways to hang on through it all. Here are a few suggestions…

Talk

If you’re married, don’t let it become her struggle or his struggle – you are one flesh now, so face the problem together. Talk it out. And talk to people outside your marriage as well – your Sunday School class, parents and in-laws, good friends, etc. Don’t let isolation take over.

Cry

Don’t feel bad about feeling bad. We carry so much guilt because we feel pain, but pain is a God-given response to a problem. If you ignore it or stuff it, you’ll wind up struggling with bitterness and resentment.

Rejoice

Every time you hear of someone discovering they are pregnant, it hurts a little. Every baby shower is a reminder that you haven’t experienced on yet. Don’t be afraid to express that pain in appropriate places and times, but in the moment, determine to rejoice with the person as a friend.

Serve

Don’t use busyness as a means of covering over reality, but do stay busy doing meaningful things that contribute to the lives of others. It’s an antidote to self-absorption.

Pray

Don’t stop talking to God about it. Remember that prayer is more than just the request, it’s the conversation and expression that runs both ways. Part of our prayer will always be, “Lord bless us with children,” but part of it is also, “Lord, I don’t understand why…” It’s okay, God is big enough to handle it.

Grow

Know how God builds patience into us? By requiring us to wait. How does He build resilience into our lives? By allowing us to suffer. So as you navigate the infertility struggle, remember that somehow God is growing you through the process. Ask Him the question, “Lord, what are you trying to build into my life, and how can I embrace it?”

It’s hard. It won’t get easier. Infertility can be crushing. As a Pastor, if I were talking to you who struggle with it, the words I’d want to say most are “I’m sorry for what you’re going through.” There are no easy answers or formulas. But God is faithful. He remembers you.

Creative Commons License photo credit: alex_lee2001

Please, Feel Free to Share With Your Friends

Clip to Evernote
Send to Kindle

  • http://caribbeanshulamite.blogspot.com Caribbean Shulamite

    You’re right, there really is no way to know without going through it. I hope my presence is encouraging (hugs to you both) as you suggested.

    Not to deflect from this, but what you wrote sounds exactly like what I feel after every failed relationship attempt and that hope of being married to someone who is a godly companion to share life with, someday sooner rather than later when youth and children are still present and possible. And this is just a normal desire. I am not obsessive about that.
    The tips you shared I can safely take for myself.

    Thankfully, God is the God with whom nothing is impossible, for any of us.

    Caribbean Shulamite’s last blog post..Think You Have Probs At the DMV?

    • Brandon

      Amen – God always knows what He’s up to even when we are confused and others say strangely uncomfortable words – we hang on to hope!

  • http://groundedandsettled.wordpress.com/ Tom Fellows

    Brother, I know exactly where you’re coming from. We had fertility issues on both of our children, and went through a miscarriage as well. In the end, all we could do was give it up to the Lord in prayer. He saw fit to give us a second child, but it was 8 years apart from our first! I’ll tell you though, what a blessing those two kids are and God knew exactly why to space them so far apart. We about lost our 2nd child twice in his first 2 months of life. With his sister being 8 when he was born, there was an element of maturity there that really helped all of us through that time period. Their relationship is so close.

    You and your wife hang tough, give it to God and He’ll bless you in his timing. I can testify so much to that fact! Praying for you both here in Indiana!

  • http://navigateyourmarketing.com/blog/ David (Marketing Integrity)

    Thanks for your transparency. By sharing this you will help encourage a lot of people!

    David (Marketing Integrity)’s last blog post..A Milestone of Sorts

  • http://www.justinsrefuge.com Justin Williams

    That is really deep. All I have to say is that I love you brother, and I am here for you.

    Justin Williams’s last blog post..Exposure 4

  • Angie

    Didn’t know you wrote this . . .I love you and while these are uncertain times for us-I do not despair becuae of THE hope that is within me!

  • Pingback: Thoughts from my husband | The Sweet Life

  • http://mygreenside.wordpress.com Wendy

    I know what you’re going through. My husband and I have two amazing little miracles. We tried for over five years for our first and, long story short, became pregnant after doctors told us we probably wouldn’t conceive. When we did become pregnant we knew it was a gift from God. While trying for our second, I obsessively charted everything there is to chart, broke the bank buying pregnancy tests and had three miscarriages. When I finally gave it all to God, including the possibility that His Will was for us to have one child, He performed another miracle. Baby #2 is now almost two. I don’t know your hearts but I do know that God is good and He has a plan for all of us. Sometimes it’s a different plan than we have for ourselves. You are both in my prayers.

    Wendy’s last blog post..Photo Friday – The Hats

    • Brandon

      Wendy, thanks so much for your empathy and words of encouragement! So far, we have yet to give up hope completely, but are in that phase where you kind of brace for the usual negative news. The toughest aspect is keeping faith that it will happen. And perhaps it won’t, but as I’ve told my wife, I think we have to pray for it and try for it and adjust along the way as we sense that God has something different in mind.

  • Lachelle

    We love you guys and pray that God will give you the strength and support when others can’t. You all are continually in our prayers in this most specific, sensitive area. Thank you for the courage to be so open and honest; it is so very painful and most people cannot comprehend that part of infertility. We will forever remember all the love and encouragement from you and Angie as we struggled in this area together. “He gives and takes away…Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

  • http://danielcberman.com Daniel Berman

    Hi Brandon,
    Thanks for sharing! My wife is the full-time admin for http://christianfamilyplanning.net and as well as can be imagined, there are lots of stories of babies being born. We haven’t been officially tested, but we have begun to wonder ourselves whether we are struggling with infertility as well.

    I know its a struggle for my wife and for me. I never quite imagined myself being a father, but that ache is definitely there. We will see what God has in mind…
    .-= Daniel Berman´s last blog ..How-To Build A Searchable Lifestream =-.