What I’d Like For You To Know: Infertility

WhatidlikeToday’s edition of What I’d Like For You To Know is actually by request–several of of you asked to hear from a woman who had struggled with the issue of infertility.  It is a painfully private subject, but GiBee of Kisses of Sunshine has shared her own journey below, with her typical gentleness and grace. 

If you’re new here, the idea behind this series to is to allow women to share something about a specific life challenge or circumstance, addressing some of the misconceptions and (most importantly) telling us all how we can reach out better.

Here’s GiBee’s story…

First, let me start by sharing a little bit about me, and an abbreviated version of my own story: I am what I like to refer to as a recovering infertile, and through my own personal journey, I have learned to try to bring a sprinkling of humor into daily life struggles, while trying to be a vessel of encouragement, tremendous sympathy, and God’s shining love. I’m not always good at it, but I give it my best shot, because I feel that my life’s struggles have led me to a place in my life where I can help others going through similar circumstances. I get goose bumps even now as I write this, because this topic… infertility, and the pain and struggles that other women face … well, it is right in the heart of my heart.

My years of primary infertility struggles were filled with difficult months of “temping,“ three years of (un-monitored) Clomid treatments (which eventually led to PCOS), followed by three IUI’s, 3 IVF’s, six “recorded” miscarriages, and a lot of pain, sorrow and loss. In total, 14 years of struggles with infertility.

Today, I can praise God and honor his name, because He is faithful to complete the work he began in us. He has blessed us tremendously with our beautiful son – therefore, I take on the term “recovering infertile,” but as recently as February 2007, we were still struggling with secondary infertility. We had our third IVF procedure and had all of our remaining frozen embryos (2) transferred, which resulted in my sixth miscarriage, and our final and painful decision to stop trying to have another child.

Even through all the pain, we found a way to place our hope and joy in the Lord, and we celebrate each and every day with our precious son! The road hasn’t been easy, and through that time, I have experienced my share of painful comments, thoughtless remarks, and words/actions from people who just didn’t know how to offer support or ministry to me and my husband.

There were times when we experienced painful loss through miscarriage, and we hesitated to share with others, because we knew that loving, well-meaning people would end up saying things that were well-intended, but unknowingly hurtful. At the same time, we also had a tremendous support group through friends, family, and pastors that were very helpful, loving and caring during our difficulties, and I know that during my lowest times, one of them would reach out and touch me in ways they didn’t realize was ministering to my wounded soul.

Infertility is a painful, ugly, bitter struggle for women. It can leave them feeling “stripped” of their “rightful passage” of becoming a mother, as well as feeling empty, dark, un-whole, and like a failure. The treatments can be humiliating and uncomfortable, even painful. The mere sight of a young infant in a mother’s arms can set a woman with infertility into uncontrollable bouts of tears. It can come at any time – at a baby shower, a baby dedication, or the grocery store. Infertility is an “equal-opportunity” demon that can rip a woman’s life apart regardless of age, financial status, race, or faith. Just because you are a Christian, saved by grace, does not exclude you from the possibility of struggling with infertility, and you are not guaranteed a happy and large family. Infertility causes sorrow, self-doubt, bitterness, and brings unwanted grief into your life. If you allow it to, it can really harden your heart.

I acknowledge that each person’s outcome to their journey of infertility is different, but we each have the same choices on how we can personally “handle” the journey and its outcome. We can either 1) hide our heads in the sand, choosing to ignore the issues, 2) become angry, bitter, resentful and blame God as we slowly harden our hearts towards him and walk away from him, or 3) we can run to God and seek his guidance, love, compassion, joy and peace, trusting all the while that he knows and understands what we are going through, that he has a plan for our lives, and that his ways are always the best way. And, whether he chooses to heal us here on earth, or heal us in heaven (in my case, he gave me a child here on earth, as well as a gaggle of them in heaven), we can find joy in our circumstances, although it may not come immediately.

So … what can you do or say when someone you know and love is struggling with infertility (whether it is primary or secondary)? You can love them. Wrap them in a hug, and tell them you are so sorry for the sorrow they are feeling. Offer to pray that God’s peace will rain down on them. Offer to be their prayer partner, and pray daily for them. Ask them how you can help. If they are fearful of the doctor appointments and their spouse can’t go with them, offer to be their “doctor’s office buddy.” If their spouse has to travel while they are scheduled for a round of injections, set aside any squeamish feelings you might have, and offer to help out with administering them (and take chocolate – you MUST take chocolate). And remember that your friend is on a LOT of different hormones, and emotions can easily do a “180” on them at any given moment. Don’t take it personally.

You might also want to flat-out ask them what they are feeling about the whole issue. Ask questions about infertility. Become informed so when they do talk to you, you’re not in the dark. You will need to understand buzz words like temping, IUI, IVF, daily monitoring, injections, 18 gauge needles (no one will EVER choose to have this in their body except an infertile, and this is where chocolate plays a very large role!), chemical pregnancy (in my opinion, a liberal term for a miscarriage), MTHFR, PCOS, Gonadotropins, FSH, luteinizing hormone (LH) etc. (See what I mean? Lots of terminology!)

Or honestly, just hold their hand, place an arm around their shoulder, say nothing, and let them cry their hearts out, understanding that it may happen more than once. Be available for them.

Some of the things that I found to be incredibly thoughtful and healing to me were prayers, flowers, a card, a heart-felt note, a meal, a phone call to see how I’m doing, an email to let me know they are thinking about me. My sister-in-law allowed me to be very involved in my niece’s life – almost in a motherly role. That went a long way towards healing my heart. To this day, I still have a close relationship with my niece and a special bond that will never be broken. It’s not the same as having my own child, but it was like a soothing balm to my broken heart. I had friends and family offer to clean my home. My previous pastor and his wife constantly hugged me, prayed with me, and offered help in anyway possible. They allowed me to speak honestly, openly, and even cry my eyes out and share my anger. Our candidating pastor and his wife embraced me, prayed over me, and then took back my story and had their small group praying for me… even months before they knew that we would offer them a position in our church! I didn’t even know this until a month or so after they came to pastor our church.

Most importantly, show unconditional love – even when you don’t know what to say. Each gesture someone made, whether small or large showed me unconditional, and unquestioned love. THAT, my friends, is how you can minister to someone that is experiencing the agonizing pain and struggle of infertility.

What should you avoid saying? Well, there are many things I’ve heard that I found to be unbearably painful… for instance: “At least you know you can get pregnant.” Or, “you can try again” or, “well, at least you have another baby waiting for you in heaven” or, “maybe it is God’s will for you not to have children,” or even, “maybe something was wrong with that baby and it was God’s way of taking care of the problem.” Honestly? That did absolutely nothing to help me work through the raw pain, emotions, and anger I was dealing with. Take the old motto to heart: When in doubt, do without. In other words, keep your mouth shut, and don’t try to come up with profoundly witty and spiritual things to say. It just isn’t necessary.

I also found that many people would tell me that they understood how I was feeling; people with two, three children that would get pregnant if they so much as looked at their husbands sideways. Really? They understand how I was feeling? I can’t tell you how that would anger me. So try to avoid saying that unless you’ve really walked a mile in the person’s shoes (empathy being quite different than sympathy).

Finally, not everyone that struggles with infertility will be able to bear their own child, and it is a painful realization when they conclude that their battle is over and it is time to look at other options (adoption, foster parents, etc). Those are excellent options, and make them a complete and whole family just as if they had given birth, but a woman still mourns not being able to bear their one child. Just be there for them. Let them dissolve into a heap. Let them cry, let them scream, let them rage, and let them process. Then, pray with them. Pray that God will begin to heal their heart, bring peace to their heart, and teach them how to rejoice once again.

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Philippians 4:6-7 — "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (The Message)

Partner with them in bringing their concerns to God … before you know it … A SENSE OF GOD’S WHOLENESS will come and SETTLE THEM DOWN. It may not be immediate, but if they trust in God, it will happen.

To read more of GiBee’s post, visit her blog, Kisses of Sunshine.

82 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: Infertility

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for this, it’s close to home. I have a little girl in heaven (late miscarriage-really very horrible) and I heard all of the above comments that are useless and hurtful. Luckily we have since been able to have two more healthy kids, but you’re never the same after you lose a child, even a very tiny one.
    Knowing that other people have gone through it doesn’t often make the pain any less when you are dealing with this, but I have felt so much power in being able to tell someone (like my sister as she’s going through it right now) that I KNOW…and really mean it.
    Other comments that are awful were ones we experienced when going through secondary infertility. We’d get comments like, “don’t you WANT more kids?” or people who would try and convince us to have more because our son is so cute…yeah, if you only knew. So just don’t say it!
    “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrows that the eye can’t see.” If you don’t know their situation, don’t offer your opinion about how someone else is having their family.

  2. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I had no trouble having my son, but have secondary infertility and have had 3 miscarriages. But I am so blessed to have my son and I know others are hurting because they can’t have any children.
    I am at peace with our family now, praise God, and I pray that other families struggling with infertility will get to that point.

  3. Renee says:

    Thank you for this. As soon as you announced the series I was hoping so much that you’d have someone cover this topic.
    This morning I actually posted the first in a series I’m writing about how I’ve dealt with it, and then to come over here and find this post was very helpful.

  4. Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up says:

    There definitely is no feeling like the one a woman has when she aches to bear a child and can’t. It tears at your insides and consumes your entire life. And other people just seem to add salt to the wound, even strangers who have no idea of your struggles.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Debbie Glosson says:

    Thank you for the posting. I am done having “babies” but I did have my own struggles. Plus all my friends who struggled with infertility with much sadness and tears! It truly is a sorrow and burden of many women(a silent one)!
    -Sandy Toes

  6. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings says:

    Excellent job, GiBee, as usual. A knocked-it-outta-the-ballpark accurate post. THANK YOU for being real and honest about how hard it is to walk the road of infertility and putting it down on paper (so to speak) all the “selfish” feelings that come with it that infertiles are so often hesitant to share.
    My infertility obliterated my “newlywed years” as I traded just being in love for temping, crying, miscarrying, invasive procedures, prescription after prescription meds, and feelings of total and utter inadequacy.
    It shaped my marriage, my parenting, and the rest of my life…especially when I miscarried recently on the *exact date* I lost my first 6 years before.
    Absolutely nothing brought comfort except God and those sensitive souls around me who followed your very good, very wise advice.
    (((hugs))) You rock, girlfriend.

  7. Lynn says:

    Thank you so much, what a great post! I love the term, a recovering infertile. That is so true. Your words about this subject made me cry. I have struggled with infertility. I have learned to be thankful for what I have and not to long for what I don’t. God has given many, many blessings and has now given me three children. I love this series. Thanks.

  8. edj says:

    Great post. My SIL is dealing with this now, and although I think I wouldn’t have made any of those clueless comments, I found this incredibly helpful. Thanks for sharing so openly.

  9. Gwendolyn says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! It took us three years to finally have our first daughter…then six years and one miscarriage for our second. Somehow, we were then blessed with our boys (and another little boy that we lost in late pregnancy) without all of the infertility stuff, but the scars were still there. I know how blessed that I am to have ended up with four children…but I will never forget that longing.

  10. Megan says:

    Beautiful, and very timely for me.
    I have 2 very close friends struggling with infertility, and as a woman who is one of those types who can look at their spouse and be pregnant, I struggle with such guilt. I am so close to these two friends, and I weep and pray with them, and I feel so guilty sometimes that I have it so easy and they have to struggle and fight so hard. I wonder where the justice is when I have a patient (I am a Labor and Delivery nurse) who has no desire for the child she just delivered, and my best friend would give her right arm for a baby of her own can’t get pregnant no matter how hard she tries.
    Those are the thoughts that continually go through my head, and then I am reminded of God’s love and that He desires for us to let him carry us through our struggles. All I can do is pray and be there for them (and wow, the chocolate thing was a great tip!)….thank you so much for that reminder.

  11. Summer says:

    I really do appreciate this post. I’m one of those women who can just look at her husband sideways and, you know. 🙂 I currently know some women who are struggling with infertility and for the time being I just haven’t said anything at all, because I figured that was better than opening my mouth and screwing up. But this opened my eyes to ways that maybe I can be a support. Thanks.

  12. Tara says:

    Hey GiBee, I’ve got a question about two specific situations. One, a family in our church has stopped treatments and are now waiting for their child through adoption. Papers signed, now they’re waiting.
    Second issue, another family has had numerous miscarriages, early infant loss of twins (preemie) and has decided to stop treatments and not persue adoption or fostering.
    Do you have any words of advice for me in ministering to these women? About the only thing I do regularly is make sure they both get their carnation on Mother’s Day (and the husbands get their Hersheys on Father’s Day).
    Thanks!

  13. Jendeis says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story here. It has been amazing to me in our infertility journey that so many people who haven’t dealt personally with infertility can be so insensitive.
    This topic is so important and must be kept out in the open.

  14. Erica says:

    So wonderful to have help with these issues. I think we all desire to minister to the hearts of our friends who struggle so, and I sure appreciate such sound advice!

  15. momrn2 says:

    What a beautiful job Gibee! Thank you for being so open and for the words of encouragement and wisdom as I encounter hurting women on my own journey!
    Shannon, this series continues to be a fantastic idea as it allows each of us to get a glimpse into another’s life and know how to best be a friend in the various journey’s of others. I continue to learn so much with each and every one! Thanks!

  16. momrn2 (Donnetta) says:

    What a beautiful job Gibee! Thank you for being so open and for the words of encouragement and wisdom as I encounter hurting women on my own journey!
    Shannon, this series continues to be a fantastic idea as it allows each of us to get a glimpse into another’s life and know how to best be a friend in the various journey’s of others. I continue to learn so much with each and every one! Thanks!

  17. jen says:

    Great post, thank you for sharing. I have a friend who struggled with infertility, and it’s hard NOT to offer some kind of platitude. Even when you KNOW it’s wrong, you want to say something, anything. So I thank you for the tips about what is helpful vs. harmful.
    This story makes me want to hear from someone who adopted. Has that topic been done yet?

  18. Amy says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I was hoping Shannon would feature someone who would talk about this terribly painful subject. We have struggled with both primary and secondary infertility, and I don’t know why God blessed us to have our son, but we have soaked in every moment with him. And after a painful struggle with secondary infertility, we decided to adopt. We were joyfully pursuing adoption when we had a surprise miracle: pregnancy. Again, I don’t know why this happened for us. So many people deserve it so much more. I feel guilty about it at times, and fearful that I’ll be more fuel for another hurtful comment: “If you’d just adopt, you’d get pregnant.” Most of the time, it just doesn’t happen that way. We still plan to adopt but for now are just along for the ride!

  19. Kimberly McDougal says:

    Thank you for this blessing in my day! These words come at a perfect time for me to share with a great friend who has been going through IVF. I am just a close friend who cares and wants to know the right things to say and do! God bless!

  20. Edwina says:

    Thanks for posting such a moving blog post. I too have according to the doctors “twins” in heaven awaiting my arrival. I cannot wait to see them and see if they were a boy and a girl, or two boys or two girls. I just know that I will know them and they will know their Mother. I really feel that they are my guarding angels in heaven, helping to take care of our family.
    Edwina at http://thepicketfencecomeandpeakthrough.blogspot.com/

  21. Sarah at themommylogues says:

    My first daughter was a clomid baby, and my second was a pleasant surprise. While my struggle to get pregnant was short-lived, I remember getting those questions all the time “When are you going to have kids?” It was all I could do not to scream, “I’M TRYING.” When meeting new people, I don’t even like to ask if they have kids anymore. I remember how even that was painful. I also miscarried early in a pregnancy before I had my girls. Only our families knew I was pregnant.

  22. Laurieann says:

    About insensitive comments: Here’s the thing. People can’t win with us infertiles. We’re mad if a sister is afraid to tell us she’s pregnant (and so puts off the telling) but we’re just as mad when she calls first thing… all excited.
    I think we need to let people say what they want to say and be better at forgiving. People who say insensitive things aren’t trying to hurt us. I think they genuinely come from a place of caring. Can’t we give them credit for that and let it go?
    About our options for grief: Now in my 14th year of infertility (with my adopted 5-year-old miracle), sometimes I am at peace and sometimes I am in anger with my infertility. Grief is not something you can just go through the 5-step process on. It comes and goes. It’s important to remember that infertility isn’t cured by adoption or even birthing a child. It is a grief, a mourning over a dream, a child, a life.

  23. Jenni says:

    Beautifully put. It is safe to say that I do NOT know how you feel, but I am still aghast that people actually say such unfeeling things. Thank you for the insight.

  24. Jill W. says:

    Thanks for this post. Almost every single person I know has infertility issues-friends, relatives, everyone. I think I am friends with only 3 people that got pregnant the ‘old fashioned way’. It’s amazing that it is so prevalant now. I am glad it is no longer a taboo subject, and I talk about our infertility issues openly.
    My husband was tested and we were told, in a flat tone of voice, ‘this is a tough case. you cannot have children. your only option is to adopt’ – that is what the DOCTOR said to us after delivering the news to us! So, as I was bawling in his office, he was leaving…so DH & I went home, got on the internet, found someone who specialized in our issue, and went for it. We had to have IVF-no other way for us to get pregnant. It didn’t work. We were devastated…then we did it again 6 months later, and DD is 17 months old now. We may try again next summer, but for now, we know what a joy and blessing she is!

  25. Jennifer says:

    I’m glad that this story is on here for all to see. My SIL tried for over 2 years, with fertility treatments leading to a severe e coli infection and a 2 week hospital stay. After that, they began the process to adopt, and brought my nephew home just last month from Korea. My husband (her brother) and I stopped birth control, and in our third month of trying, became pregnant. We were so worried to call her, but she was the top family member on our list to call. She was also the most excited for us. I know that it helped that at that time, they were waiting for their travel call to pick up their baby. I hope that as the time comes for me to deliver, we both keep in mind the others thoughts and feelings. I love her so much, and I have done my best to learn about her journey and to be sensitive. Thanks for this post.

  26. Queen B says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I truly appreciate your words about what to say & do for a friend who is struggling. Your experience is inspiring.
    The one thing that I’ve gathered from many of Shannon’s guest bloggers is to DO. I don’t need to ask what I can do to help…I just need to jump in there and help.

  27. Emily Dykstra says:

    Oh, GiBee- You’re a beautiful rock of faith. Your 14 years of fertility struggles could have made you into a puddle, but you chose to look to God. Again. And again. And again.
    I appreciate your help with me and my husband when we were struggling with a way to do IVF that met with our ethics. I really appreciated your faith and candor. With your information we were able to go forward with IVF with confidence. Laughing… and a lot of ouchy needles.
    Good MC comments, too. We have had 5 losses and the best comfort we received was a hug, not words.

  28. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have secondary infertility as well. I have PCOS and was told I could not conceive, but we miraculously conceived my son a month after our marriage. Since then we have tried to conceive again and are now beginning infertility treatments. Like other commenters have stated, it is so awful for people to ask (even family) when we are going to have another. I want to yell “YES! I want another. Please give me one!” Instead I just say, “When God blesses us.” That shuts them up and I think they get the message even without having to say it.

  29. Lori Clendenen says:

    My sister dealt with infertility for 5 years before having her daughter. I became pregnant twice during that time and it really put such a strain on our relationship. The hormones she had to take really changed her personality and it was very difficult for her.
    I really appreciated LaurieAnn’s comment:
    “About insensitive comments: Here’s the thing. People can’t win with us infertiles. We’re mad if a sister is afraid to tell us she’s pregnant (and so puts off the telling) but we’re just as mad when she calls first thing… all excited.”
    I found this to be so true. And I didn’t fault her for it, and tried to be supportive, but it was still difficult. If I didn’t say something she was upset, but anything I said upset her as well. (even just “i’m praying for you”)
    I can’t imagine dealing with infertility, but please know that most people who make those comments aren’t trying to be hurtful. They are trying to be helpful, but don’t know what to say/do.
    thanks for shedding light on this!
    LL

  30. Libby says:

    GiBee, thank you. It is hard to write with tears pouring down my face. Thank you for sharing in such a gentle and honest way the pain and emptiness that comes from infertility. The years I ached for a baby were the darkest of my life…a strain on my faith, my marriage and on the friendships I had with women who “started trying” after we did and had a baby, or babies, before we were finally able to conceive. Even now, with three beautiful sons thanks to the miracle of repeated IVFs, sometimes the pain of that time bubbles up and fills my eyes.
    Thank you for this beautiful post. I hold all women suffering through infertility in my prayers and in my heart. Wishing you peace.
    Libby

  31. MommaChelle says:

    As a woman who has dealt with primary and secondary infertility, and the loss of a baby during that time, I SOOOO related to your post. We were the first ones among our family and friends to deal with infertility. And we heard it all. My personal favorite was the “just forget about it, relax, it will happen.” Hmmm…they’ve obviously no idea what goes on during a cycle of fertility treatments. lol
    But, I truly believe that God has allowed all of that to become a ministering tool for me now. We have met so many infertile couples (including family) since our experience, and it’s been a blessing to know how to be there for them.
    We now have two beautiful boys. One through fertility treatments and one through adoption, both of whom are incredibly precious to me. It was a very long journey, but how sweet is the outcome!

  32. Bailey's Leaf says:

    I don’t know that I would necessarily fall into the category of infertility per se. I know that it took 11 1/2 months to get pregnant with our daughter, Bailey, who passed away when I was at 22 1/2 weeks because of complications with MTHFR and PAI Type 1. We were told that pregnancy was not so much as a great idea for us to do. But, we were victims of people saying incredibly dumb stuff. Dumb stuff and my friend just having no idea of what to do, so dropping her kid into my lap and saying that she thought that he could help. Uh, no, but I didn’t tell her so. She was so sweet.
    What did help? A couple of things. First, my husband and I went through this together. My severe pre-eclampsia landed me in the hospital in a very near death trip. Genetic testing was done, I was given the information and told that it was a hereditary problem. I passed the info on and through Bailey’s death, we have two more little ones in the family with were able to be monitored closely and born with no problems. Secondly, we were always going to adopt. It was something that we discussed in the first days of dating. That is exactly what we did. We have a beautiful 4 year old daughter that was truly a gift from heaven. She is a county baby and an example of bad birth circumstances, but fantastic! She is more of a gift that I can possibly even tell you.
    I understand that adoption is not for everyone. I understand not being able to go through all that fun pregnancy/birth stuff. I wished that I could have had that happy birth experience where they say, “Congratulations, it’s a – – – ,” but that wasn’t God’s plan for us. My family scooped up our daughter with open arms just as she had been our child by physical birth. My husband’s extended family wasn’t quite as warm about it initially.
    To us, our daughter was born in our hearts. There is a saying from Brian Andreas that we had as her arrival announcement and the art hangs on her wall today:
    For a long time, there were only your footprints and laughter in our dreams and even from such small things, we knew we could not wait to love you forever.
    Infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth is an awful club to belong to. We didn’t ask for it, but the Lord gives us different avenues. We aren’t being punished, we’re just walking the road of God’s Will for our lives. No, we might not be able to get pregnant in the blink of an eye, but we are still mommies. Mommies to babies waiting for us, mommies to babies that took years to get that stick to turn pink, mommies to babies that were born in our hearts and not from our bodies physically.
    I loaned the book out to my brother, but in the Purpose Driven Life, I believe it is Chapter 2 that I called the Adoption Chapter. Anyone contemplating adoption or having walked that road, I would highly encourage to read or re-read that chapter. We plan on reading it with our daughter K-, when she more understands the structure of her family.

  33. Sarah G. says:

    Yes, thank you for sharing this from your heart. My husband and I have been trying for 4 years now. We had a miscarriage two years ago. We have prayed and asked for God to give us patience because we know that He’s in control, but it’s hard to give it up to Him sometimes. Thank you for sharing that scripture. I’m going to write it down and memorize it. I’m hoping that God will bless us with a child soon.
    Sarah G.

  34. Tonggu Momma says:

    As an adoptive momma, I just wanted to say thank you for this post!!!! I, too, find that my experiences definitely help me to minister to others. And, yes, I have given injections to a friend. I smiled and joked and comforted during the process, but I would go home and fall apart afterwards. It’s never easy.
    I feel so blessed by the miracle of adoption. I am grateful to God and totally in love with our daughter. Still, I wish other women didn’t exclude me from the group during their labor stories and nursing commentaries.

  35. Everything Mom says:

    Thank you so much for your very personal account of your journey. I not only have suffered through infertility and loss but I have several friends that are also going through the same thing.
    It amazes me how when we start to talk about our own personal struggles, we find so many loving women who are going through the same thing! God surely is using you to bring comfort to others 🙂

  36. MM says:

    Thank you for this post Gibee. It hits very close to home for me.
    After a decade long journey of infertility/pregnancy loss, we have our beautiful son. But the infertility diagnosis is still there. So is the stigma with a lot of friends. Our journey has proven to us who are true friends and who are not. Those too uncomfortable to even talk with us after our procedures and losses just showed me that their need to be “safe” was greater than their willingness to minister and show God’s love. Sad, but true. An action that confounds and angers me, but God is definitely working on me in that regard.
    So more than anything, this journey has taught me to be more gracious when it comes to others that are hurting, no matter where the pain comes from. To reach out wordlessly when I don’t know what to say. To make my actions speak my love. But not doing or saying anything is truly tantamount to saying “I don’t really care to get involved.” I don’t want to be like those in the Good Samaritan story, passing to the other side of the road. How can I face my God someday knowingly having passed up the opportunity to be a vessel for His love?

  37. Jen says:

    So well said. I am a “success story” of infertility, and I completely credit God’s healing. That’s just the way He chose to do it with me — it’s not the way He chooses with everyone, because we’re all different.
    Two lifelong lessons I learned from infertility: 1: A moment is only a moment long. It is not a year long, or a minute long, or a few minutes, or a few hundred years. It is only a moment — of pain from a shot, of pain from something someone said, from anything. It is a moment. 2: I’m going to feel this way until I don’t feel this way anymore. It is useless to try and feel better or to expect oneself to feel better. You will eventually, so expectations are rather a waste of energy. And you likely will before you expect to anyway. Besides, all these drugs make you crazy anyway.
    I think the biggest pain of infertility is that we cannot do the thing that is imprinted in our DNA — bear children. It is truly a suffering. Thanks for being honest with everyone about it.
    P.S. And not everyone who adopts suddenly winds up pregnant.

  38. Fox's Momma says:

    Thank you for this. My best friend from college is struggling with this issue, and I don’t know what to say or do. I hope I haven’t said any of those things, but I am so thankful for this timely post.
    Thanks again for your openness.

  39. Karen in Louisiana says:

    Thanks for being willing to post about this topic. We dealt with infertility for 8 years before adopting our first son. Three years later, we adopted again. Through all of those years, we tried different fertility treatments and options. One year ago I made the agonizing decision to have a hysterectomy. It has definitely been a journey of grief, sorrow, love, and hope.

  40. Gidget says:

    Thanks for your post that really hits home fore me. That verse has always spoken to me and just these past couple of weeks the Lord has brought be back to it, so thank you for sharing it!

  41. Andrea says:

    Oh, the tears streaming down my face…Thank you for sharing. I have PCOS, and while I have two boys now, it was a very long 12 year process. I still would love another one. Thank you for your suggestions about how to handle the subject. You know how hard it is for well meaning people to say hurtful things.

  42. Tara says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. As a “recovering infertile” myself, I believe nothing helps more than getting the word out. So many suffer and I know their friends and family members would be grateful for such a guide in how to help.

  43. Jenn says:

    What an excellent edition of what I’d like for you to know!
    I too struggled with infertility and PCOS. We often heard “well at least you’re young so you have lots of time to get pregnant”. Not really what a woman wants to hear when her heart is literally aching for a baby. God has since blessed us with 2 girls, but my heart still grieves with those who are childless and suffering. Thank you so much for tackling this delicate subject.

  44. andrea_jennine says:

    Thank you. I’m over 3 1/2 years into infertility with no end in sight. We’ve done many IUIs and 2 IVFs, with not a single positive result. But I am amazed that God has worked in my heart to give me contentment despite my empty arms. (Not that it isn’t still hard.)

  45. CC says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I’ve been married 10 years and have never once been pregnant. Not even for a day. I’ve never missed a period. I’ve never had a life inside.
    and it’s painful.
    We chose to adopt rather than go through ICSI, but it was a very hard choice.
    Shannon, if you ever want someone to talk about that decision, I’d be happy to.

  46. Vanessa says:

    I can not say that I understand the pain you must feel for going through this. But it shocks me how many women face this challenge. My husband, his sister and his brother are all adopted. His Mother could not have children and she decided to open up her arms to my husband and his siblings. I don’t know how she felt or the grief that she must of went through prior to adopting, she passed away a few years ago and we never discussed it, but your story does touch our home in many ways.

  47. Laurie says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, but another thing that I heard so many times when we were in the adoption process is “oh, I know a friend who adopted and got pregnant right away!” Statistically, there is no link between a pregancy in this situation and adoption. The implication behind this is that when you adopt, you won’t be as stressed out about this issue and voila, it will all work. And as anyone who has been through infertility knows, the issues are often quite complex. Thank you for writing this – it will encourage many!

  48. Tara W says:

    Thanks for a great post. As an infertile I would also remind others that a couple is a family. I am unique in the fact I am a Children’s Minister and am blessed to have many children at church (as I a reminded by so many). Yes, sometimes that is enough but there are days I long for a child of my own. In dealing with this for over 14 years I have also had many well meaning senior ladies in the churches I have served want to tell me “ways” to help me in the process of trying to have a baby. I’ve decided that was God’s gift to me- to find some humor in all of this. Although a recent hysterectomy has ended my years of trying for a birth child, I am praying about an adoption opportunity. I know however if this does not work out that my husband and I are a family.
    Thank you for sharing!

  49. Ann Voskamp (Holy Experience) says:

    Achingly beautiful post… Thank you.
    Those who have never experienced fertility, have never “recovered’ from infertility, maybe interested in the stunning book, “Inconceivable” by Shannon Woodward.
    She opens the book with: “I’m writing to the woman who is tired of waiting her life away…”
    She compares infertility to the panic-stricken sense of drowning… A riveting, luminous read…
    I interviewed the author in two posts:
    http://aholyexperience.com/2006/12/finding-peace-part-1-with-shannon.html
    http://aholyexperience.com/2006/12/finding-peace-and-healing-part-2-with.html
    This book and her interview spoke deeply to me…
    It was good to revisit this heart place…
    Thank you, Shannon and GiBee….
    All’s grace,
    Ann

  50. Creative Triplet Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have been through the infertility ups and downs which took us 9 years to conceive our triplets. They are miracles. May God bless you.

  51. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    I was so moved by your post, the honesty and faith touch my heart. I pray that God continues to comfort you through your losses, and blesses you every day with His richest love. Thank you so much for sharing this deeply personal part of your life.

  52. Melanie Barfels says:

    It’s so nice to know we are not alone with our pain. Just the word “infertility” runs shivers down my spine. It’s like a part of me dies every time I hear it. So mentally I translate it to fertility treatments, fertility clinic, etc. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  53. Heather says:

    A recovering infertile here. I am also an adoptive mom of 2 boys. I actually did not find out until after our second adoption as to why I could not get pregnant (endometriosis). Even with a family life bursting at the seams with love and managed chaos, my struggles with infertility will always be a part of what defines me, even if it is only a part of me. And it’s not that I want different kids or “our own kids”. My boys are mine. It’s just that I wished I would have given birth to my two boys. I wish that I carried them for 9 months. That’s the experience that I miss and long for. To share that with my husband.
    Yes, there are many days I am at peace with infertility and often I don’t even have it on my radar. But then there is a day that it just bubbles up and I can’t do anything but wallow in that pain. And friends and family don’t get it. “You have two beautiful boys” is what I hear. Kinda like telling me to get over it.

  54. Dee from Tennessee says:

    I am old …and I am childless.
    Childless… will NEVER be a mother. NEVER.
    Almost all my peers have grandkids by now. We’re the couple in the small town “who don’t have kids, you know.” “they never had any children” etc.
    Not by choice. Not by choice.
    There really are no words.

  55. Dee says:

    Also, PLEASE, when meeting someone, do NOT ask people how many children they have, or assume they have children, or ask when/if they are having children. Trust me, most people will volunteer that information if they do have children. Don’t you? If they don’t mention kids, it is most likely because they don’t have them. If you must ask, ask about their “family.”

  56. harper says:

    I had every reason to expect fertility problems. My family history is rife with them. And I am absolutely astounded and delighted to find that I seem to be one of those who has no trouble conceiving. That said, I think it is worth noting that fully a fifth of couples in the US who have had or would like to have children experience some difficulty conceiving that requires medical assistance.
    With fertility problems so common in this country, it behooves every single one of us who has children or is expecting one to view that child as nothing less than a miracle.

  57. Vicki says:

    Thank you for giving detailed suggestions about what those of us on the “other side” of infertility can do for those closest to us struggling with it.
    All 3 of my closest & dearest friends have struggled for years with infertility. 1 immediately chose the adoption route; 5 years later they are STILL waiting for an adoption to happen. 1 friend has battled a lot with a hardened heart because of it. Another friend went through miscarriage after several years of trying to get pregnant. She is now in her 2nd trimester with baby #2 & we are all hopeful this little one she can meet face to face.
    I have truly never really known what in the world I can do for my friends since it is a struggle I have yet to deal with in my own life. But I knew then & I know now that in those times of uncertainty – prayer is truly the best option. And so I have. Prayed, pleaded on their behalf – for peace, for direction, for endurance as they watch the months pass & the desire still not fulfilled.
    Thank you for sharing.

  58. Huck says:

    My wife sent me a link to this post. It is amazing how closely your story mirrors our own (although we are still haven’t reached the “recovering” phase). We have experienced all of those same insensitive comments. For us, the best friends through this have been like Job’s friends described in Job 2 who just sat with him and mourned and did not say a word. I praise God for godly bloggers like yourself that have encouraged her these past few weeks!

  59. Jill says:

    I hope to one day be able to call myself a recovering infertile. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story…it brought tears to my eyes and a peace to my heart.

  60. Herb of Grace says:

    Thank you so much for talking about this. I am also a recovering (secondary) infertile. Two years of dealing with un-diagnosed PCOS, two miscarriages (one was second trimester) and lots of tears and then God blessed us with our son. It is an incredibly hard thing to go through, but something that I hope more and more women find the courage to speak out about so that we can realize that none of us go through this journey alone.
    I would add one more thing about comforting a friend who has gone through miscarriage; none of the people who sought to minister to me after mine seemed to realize or acknowledge that I had given birth. Granted, my child went straight from my womb to be with the Lord, but I went through days of labor and an actually (pushing included) delivery despite that. Very traumatic, something that I wished people knew, but couldn’t talk about.

  61. kittyhox says:

    We struggled with infertility (I have PCOS also).
    My two least favorite comments:
    1. “Just relax! As soon as you take a break from (fill-in-the-blank: trying so hard, taking Clomid, etc.), it will happen.”
    We don’t tell people with other documented medical conditions to “relax.” This always made me feel like the other person thought my infertility was all in my head or that I caused it somehow by being sad that I hadn’t conceived yet. Incidentally, we did conceive, and it was not a particularly relaxing time for us. And we weren’t on any sort of break, either from trying or from Clomid.
    2. “As soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant. That’s what happened to my (fill-in-the-blank: sister, sister-in-law, pastor’s wife’s neighbor’s third-cousin-twice-removed, etc.)”
    This was when we were considering adoption. This bothered me. We still plan to adopt, and always have – even before we struggled to conceive and even though we now have one (biological) child and another on the way. It makes adoption sound second-best to me, almost like a way to kill time while one’s waiting to conceive biologically. Plus I know so many people for whom this hasn’t been true.
    The most helpful thing I can share for someone struggling with infertility is that a lot of times when it feels like God is saying “no” he is saying “wait.” It’s so hard to wait, but waaaaay worth it.

  62. K says:

    I’m there. DON’T tell someone who wants children how they have SOO much time right now and just wait. Especially if you haven’t bothered to pay attention to the amount of time they are busy during the week for a full time job, extra part time job, volunteer work …. and just because you don’t have kids doesn’t mean you’re free from cooking, housework, home management …

  63. SAHW says:

    Thank you for sharing, GiBee, and thank you for asking GiBee to share, Shannon. 🙂 I’m one of the people who requested an infertility perspective in this series, and I’m very glad to see it here.
    I’m on the road to recovery…hoping and praying for two miracles at the end of this pregnancy, achieved after 2 long years of trying…praise be to God.

  64. Rebekah says:

    Thank you for including infertility in this “series”. It is a trial so many of us are going through, oftentimes in silence. And people really do often say unhelpful and very painful things without meaning to, because they’ve never seen something like this post before and don’t know what else to say!
    I personally can relate to the “healing balm” her niece was to her. When we were in the middle of our difficult experience with secondary infertility (which we are again dealing with), my nephew got me through some of the darkest months of that time. My SIL was so kind, so understanding … from being at his birth to just letting me sit with him for hours and breathe his sweet baby smell in. He wasn’t mine and that was painful, but my arms felt far less empty because of him. God in His kindness blessed us with another son (who just tossed a bowl of thankfully dry Cheerios all over the living room, yee-HAW), but my nephew will forever hold a special place in my heart. Someday I hope to tell him how God used him to help me through a hard time and the special relationship we had when he was a baby.

  65. Sally says:

    We had no trouble conceiving our first daughter, but then experienced secondary infertility. It took 5 years and 2 miscarriages before having our second daughter. It is true that most people don’t know the right thing to say, unless they have been through it themselves.

  66. Missy @ It's Almost Naptime says:

    This was beautiful GiBee, and made me cry.
    You forgot to add the amazing blessing that comes from being a friend to one who is struggling through this, to have a front row seat to see how God answers the prayers. Of course I am thrilled when any of my friends have or adopt babies – but the ones who had fertility issues, I am, oh, about 1000x more thrilled. There are several babies in my life that I tell every time I see them, “Oh, I PRAYED for you, little one!!”
    And, don’t tell anyone, but I love those long-prayed-for babies just a tiny bit more than the others.

  67. Taryn says:

    I’m not even sure how I found your blog but I have to tell you that I love your “What I’d like for you to know” series. Very touching and an awesome idea. I have a new one for you if you are interested email me.

  68. Liz says:

    Thanks for this post…a friend passed it along to me. My husband and I have been struggling with infertility for almost a year and a half. I have been blessed with a tremendous group of friends that support me and pray for me. The office I work at currently has four pregnant ladies in it. It is sometimes so hard to not cry when they are talking about the baby moving or finding out the sex of the baby. I just keep repeating God’s promises over and over, knowing that He loves me and He loves our future children (biological or adopted). God is still good…no matter what my circumstances.

  69. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. It is so wonderful to see some ministry on this. I am currently going through secondary infertility after no issues with baby number 1. I had surgery earlier this year to remove a very large ovarian cyst and have been through 1 round of OI/IUI.
    After terrible results, it’s been recommended that we don’t try that again and go to IVF but I’m struggling with the ethical and christian dilemmas with this (as in the embryos … what to do with excess etc). Did you have any struggles with this? What did you decide to do?
    I would love to hear a Christian’s point of view on this, I have been struggling to find literature to help me and I’m not hearing anything back on my prayers at the moment!!!! Thank you.

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