10 Things Infertility Has Taught Me So Far

Hey everyone! I didn’t post last week because starting a couple of Saturdays ago I started feeling sick (I finally caught what had been going around) and I also started waking up with really bad heartburn for five days in a row. That was extremely strange for me because I never get heartburn. I feel so much better this week. I’ve been making sure to take my vitamins and a packet of super-foods every day with my smoothies.

I wanted to keep trying to write three posts every week, and this week I wanted to start the week off with the subject of infertility.

Over the course of three years, there have been moments that I feel like time has just wasted away and there are other times where I can see small improvements in the person I was when I first (unknowingly) embarked upon this journey. I’m sure I have more learning to do, but I wanted to share this with anyone who may be going through the same thing.

  1. A family doesn’t begin when you have a child. You are already part of a family.
    There are times where I see a couple with cute kids and I think, aw that’s such a cute little family. Especially with the holidays behind us, we received so many cute cards that it became ingrained in my mind that a family is a cute little group of humans who can send out cute Christmas cards. But that’s not true. Yes, they are all families, but just because my husband and I have only each other (and Max) doesn’t mean we aren’t a family. The day our family officially started was the day we got married. Something I learned early on in this journey was “don’t neglect the family you have now for the family you want to have”. Take time to appreciate your spouse, or for those that are dealing with secondary infertility, appreciate the age your little ones are at now without getting too stressed out on the future family you see yourself having. Easier said than done, I know. 🙂
  2. Learn to truly treat your body as a temple.
    Some but not all infertility can be improved with diet and proper nutrition. I’m not talking about fad diets, I’m talking what we eat on a daily basis. Taking certain supplements and refraining from junk food can help us conceive. Also, it’s safe to say that not eating healthy can contribute to some infertility situations. I don’t think God was joking when He said to treat our body like a temple. There are chemicals that can inhibit pregnancy from happening that can be found in hardwood floors, paint, plastics, receipt papers, etc, but we are responsible for what we put into our bodies. Last week while I was sick I binge-watched documentaries about GMO’s, eating meat and the chemicals in the environment. Some I had watched before like Food, Inc and others it was my first time watching. It’s crazy how much our food is manipulated. Even some “health” foods aren’t healthy. That is one thing that my mother instilled in me is to check labels and read about what is actually going into your body. Just because a certain company makes it, or people are losing weight by using it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I personally have been trying to eliminate meats, non-GMO foods, and anything that has protein from soy (since 90% of soy is genetically modified). I always thought that I took fairly good care of my body, but I knew that deep down I wasn’t getting nearly as many fruits and veggies every day and when we first started trying I was actually on the high-end of being underweight for my height. Ryan and I are trying to focus on giving our bodies what they need and to limit what isn’t good for them. We are renting out a plot of land this year and I am so excited to start planting our own fruits and vegetables. We shouldn’t have an excuse come summer as to why we aren’t eating our fruits and veggies. 🙂
  3. Because of Jesus, my life is already complete. Regardless of what happens next.
    How many times in our lives do we think, “if I only had this, I’d be happier” or “once I have this my life will be complete”. It can be the degree, the dream job, the fancy car, the dream house, your dream spouse, your dream body, success, fame, or however many kids you want. This is such a tempting trap to fall into. Once you trick yourself into believing that this is true, you can’t truly enjoy the season you’re living in. And better yet, if you call yourself a Christian, you are missing the whole point. Jesus and his disciples didn’t hang out and spread the gospel while living the American dream. They didn’t hang out together after going to the gym and then later come home to their wives, children and mansions. I get that they weren’t American, so my analogy isn’t perfect. But the point is that they didn’t live a life of luxury or a life of getting what they all had wanted. They lived a life opposite of that. They left their ‘dreams’ to follow Christ. And ultimately that led some of them to be crucified later in their lives just like Jesus. The point I am trying to make is that we need to get it out of our heads that our goal in life is to be perfectly happy and that everything that we say and do is only going to stem from the fact that we want to be happy. I’m not saying our goal in life should be that we are miserable all of the time. Our goal as Christians should be that we imitate Christ and live a life pleasing to him. He is our example. He suffered much in this life and He was still spotless. Another huge goal in the life of a Christian should be to go and make disciples. How can we go and make disciples when our main goal in life is to make ourselves happy? How can we mentor and be there for others when we are only fixed on our wants? If I don’t get another thing in my life, it’s okay. Because of Jesus.
  4. Be open about your struggle, in your own time. 
    This was something that was very challenging for us at first. It took us almost three full years to start telling everyone but a few family members and few close friends. Once we had started being more open about our struggle, it felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. We didn’t want any pity. We felt like we needed to bring awareness and help other couples who were going through the same thing. We also felt like we weren’t being completely transparent about our lives. Yes, infertility is a very personal matter, but you don’t know what other people may be going through, and your strength and faith through your situation may help someone else.
  5. Connect with others in the infertility community.
    I had known of one person on my Facebook that had struggled with infertility, and that’s because she decided to share her struggle openly. I reached out to her and she gave me great advice on where we were at in our journey and suggested books for me to read, which I did end up buying and they have been helpful! When we finally came out via a blog post, I had received so many messages, and phone calls from women in my life that I had never known went through infertility. That one person on Facebook suddenly grew to at least five women. It’s been on my heart lately that we shouldn’t stop there. I totally understand that some couples are not as comfortable sharing something so personal, but I think it could be beneficial to start a support group. I just reached out to two women: one on YouTube and another blogger, who are both currently going through infertility and they shockingly wanted to know more about our story so they can pray with us. I have never met these women in person, but a community of believers sharing and praying through what they are going through is amazing and inspiring to me.
  6. The process of conception, implantation, pregnancy and childbirth is truly a miracle.
    If you don’t know the extensive, amazing, scientific process of the above events that happen, good. That means you probably haven’t gone through infertility. Researching what needs to happen in order for conception and implantation to occur, has opened my eyes to how much a child is truly a miracle. God designed our bodies in such an amazing way and reading what needs to happen in order for that child to get here is truly a miracle in of itself. God is truly the giver of children.
  7. Take the time to look at finances.
    Some may think that not wanting to jump into doctor visits, and treatments makes me a lover of money instead of wanting to have a child of our own. We aren’t struggling but by no means are we the richest people on this planet. I am thankful that through this process we plan on paying off more student loans and saving more money for if the time comes that we need to go see a doctor. After calling around to one specialist and discovering the cost of talking to a doctor for a half hour vs. a full hour (no testing or anything) it made me realize that maybe saving up for a little longer would benefit us right now. I know that you are never fully ready for a child financially or mentally, but I am taking the opportunity God has given us to re-evaluate where we are at. I would much rather save up instead of going into more debt with no promises of it working. BUT like I said in my earlier post at the end of last year, we weren’t given an ultimatum that a treatment is what we need to do, so we are just being cautious and letting God do His thing in the meantime. 🙂
  8. Allow God to speak to you through this experience. 
    Should you jump to expensive, intrusive treatments right away? Should you consider adopting? Should you stop ‘trying’? How can we know the right thing for us to do without consulting God first? I’m not saying that he is going to give you a clear answer right away, but jumping to a decision without taking the time to pray through it and study the word is very risky. Everyone’s situations are so different, that what one couple did may not be what you should do necessarily. Into our second year we were feeling as though God was telling us to ‘be still’ and not let this struggle identify who we were or let it destroy our lives. If it happened, it happened, if not, then God is still good. There is a tendency in infertility to put so much pressure on ourselves and what our body can do that we sometimes eliminate the fact that God can work a miracle. Stop depending on yourself, your spouse and your own abilities and allow God to take control of the situation. Be open to where He may lead you and the steps to get there.
  9. Choose the hope God can offer instead of listening to the enemy.
    Also easier said than done. After losing my mom to cancer in 2009, it seemed that all hope I had disappeared that year. Instead it was shock, disbelief, and always expecting the worst. The grief was the heaviest the first few years without her, and then I eventually learned how to overcome that initial season of grief. Infertility is the next biggest part of my life where hope has seemed to dwindle. Sometimes it just feels like another situation where good things can’t happen to me. The first few months of not getting pregnant I was hopeful. It was probably at 6, 7 or 8 months that I started to lose hope and allow the enemy to whisper in my ear “you’re one of those couples”. From that moment on, I had lost hope, and I only regained it back once I had discovered a new fertility enhancing product. My hope was placed on the wrong thing. Like I mentioned earlier, we have to stop putting pressure on ourselves and our spouses and allow God to take control. To open myself up and to have hope, gives more room for God to be in our situation. Sometimes as Christians, it’s not so much that we lose hope in receiving the thing we want, but we lose hope in God doing something good for us. And we need to properly address that. Don’t put hope in yourself or your spouse. Don’t put hope in the doctors. Put your full trust and hope in God.
  10. It may not feel like it, but he still has a plan for my life. 
    Even though this aspect of my life hasn’t gone according to plan, doesn’t mean there is no plan. Discovering God’s will for you should be a thing we search for daily. God’s timing is perfect.

Thank you for taking the time to read through. I hope that this could encourage at least one person today who may be going through something hard.

 

Our Infertility Story, Part 1

I have debated writing a post like this for some time now, but I knew it was necessary. It’s hard to be able to write about your struggles and emotions, especially in a day and age where we only put our best on social media. It’s hard to be truly transparent when you are dealing with something and facing a trial. I’ve been MIA on my blog for a little while because it’s been hard to not write about this topic, and I wasn’t ready to. This isn’t just my story to tell, it’s also Ryan’s.

As most of you know, Ryan and I met in the fall of 2007, got married the fall of 2010, bought our house summer of 2014…and that’s probably the last you’ve heard about our lives. Everyone has been waiting for it, asking about it and wondering when we are going to have a little child of our own.

We started trying to expand our family at the very end of 2013 and the very beginning of 2014. I was so excited that I started numerous boards on Pinterest of what clothing our new babe was going to wear, and what beautiful gender neutral nurseries are out there and how could I forget? We needed to look for ideas on how to announce our pregnancy, the gender, the arrival of our newborn and all of our baby’s milestones. Fast forward three years, and here we are. With empty bedrooms in our new home with no babies. The photo in this post is actually a sign we bought at the beginning of this year along with a set of baby onesies I bought last year. If you open one of our guest bedrooms in our home, you will see these same exact items, leaned up against the wall, waiting to be put to use.

Three years has seemed like an eternity, and I hesitate to say that because I know many couples have been on this road for far longer than us. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, tests, charts, temping, etc, etc. The first few months I knew I was pregnant. I had all of the “symptoms”. I could feel every little ache and twitch in my body and knew, “wow it really was that easy!”. A pregnancy test confirmed that it wasn’t really that easy. Month after month we learned that it was negative again. Then we stopped buying tests altogether. No need to see the words “not pregnant” written out perfectly clear month after month.

For those of you that do not know, when you are under the age of 35 and have been trying to conceive for more than one year you should seek medical help. At the end of last year, we did undergo some very basic testing which is called a reproductive health screening and were told to take supplements and make an appointment if no success. We took supplements for a little while with again, no results. We haven’t been given an ultimatum, like “you will only get pregnant if x, y and z” but we plan on seeking a specialist at the beginning of next year. It’s sort of bittersweet for me. Part of me wants answers, but I know regardless of what the doctors tell me, I am still putting my hope and trust in God, not what the specialists tell us. The other part of me doesn’t want to go because ultimately IVF might be one of our only options. I’ll be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to IVF until being in this situation and after doing more research on it I feel as though getting rid of embryos at the chance of having one healthy baby that might be able to be carried until term, is still not worth it. The intent is good because you are wanting to create life, but at what cost? As a believer who believes that life begins at conception, this has really challenged my philosophy. As of right now, this is my personal stance and whenever we do see a specialist we will need just as much prayer as we do now for God to guide our next steps. I do not condemn anyone who has undergone IVF or plans to, this is just where I am at personally. Aside from any moral stance, financially, treatments like IVF are very much out of our price range. We both went to a four-year private Christian college for goodness sakes!

It’s been hard these past few years mainly because we feel like we have just been waiting with no answers. We’ve both had our strong moments, and not so strong moments. There are times I feel like, “okay God, if you never give me a biological child, that’s okay, I’m still going to follow you no matter what” and then there are times when I can’t go a full week without crying every single day because the pain is unbearable. This process has taught us to bring all of our emotions to God and to really hold true to the promise that He has this all under control.
Because I work from home, my schedule overlaps with many stay at home moms. The fun Target run on my lunch break soon turns into retail therapy when I walk right into the store entrance and I see newborns and toddlers everywhere with their moms. I can’t look at the baby section anymore because part of me thinks that if I don’t acknowledge it, then I won’t feel the pain.
The same goes with talking about it with other people. We’ve told very close family members at first and then started what felt like confessing to our close friends. And that’s what it’s felt like for me at least. Something about infertility throughout time has felt shameful and embarrassing.

Biblically, infertility has been followed by many great men and women in the bible.
Sarah and Abraham (Issac’s parents)
Rebekah and Issac (Jacob & Esau’s parents)
Rachel and Jacob (Joseph and Benjamin’s parents)
Manoah and his wife (Samson’s parents)
Hannah and Elkanah (Samuel’s parents)
Elizabeth and Zecharias (John the Baptist’s parents)

Reading some of these scriptures such as Hannah’s story comforts me and others put our situation in perspective. It could be worse. I could be in my nineties after menopause like Sarah and Elizabeth. We could wait for twenty-five years. Or we could be actually in need of a miraculous life-or-death healing. We are both healthy, and for that I am beyond thankful. One thing I have learned is that children aren’t a need. They are a want. As heartless as that sounds, think of it this way. I am not on my death bed because of my lack of children. I want children. It’s in my nature to want them. My life doesn’t end because I do not have them.

At first, this revelation was challenging to accept. It’s very difficult to bind my flesh’s wants. Especially when I know without a doubt that we would bring up our children in church. I’ve learned that getting what you want in life, no matter how “right” it is or may feel, doesn’t mean it will automatically be given to you, or that it should.
Waiting is sometimes viewed as a negative thing. It’s painful because we are in a society where we constantly want things as soon as we can have them. However, the bible shows us that waiting is an integral part of being a Christian. Waiting builds our faith, and if are wise, we allow this opportunity to allow us to grow in the process. One of my reasons for waiting so long to see a doctor (I can’t necessarily speak to Ryan’s) is because I didn’t want to idolize having a child. I am by no means saying that if you decide to seek help immediately that it becomes an idol. Every situation is different, and we felt after much prayer to wait. I’m sure I will get some eye rolls from this, but throughout this process we have been wanting God to teach us what we need to be taught and lean on him for all understanding. Sure if we went and saw a specialist that doesn’t mean we would conceive right away, but seeking a doctor’s advice over God’s in this situation is borderline risky. I think there are some moments in our lives where God tells us we just need to be still and take comfort in knowing who is in control.

I titled this post as “Part 1” even though we haven’t experienced the “Part 2” yet because I know God is going to bless us. Whether we are blessed with a biological child, whether we are led to adopt, or if we are childless and are in the will of God, I would still call that a blessing.

I’m trusting God for a part 2 where I can tell you that it gets better. That a blessing comes because God works in impossible situations.

I can’t live life circling around a question just because it hurts. I’m tired of pretending that I am okay, especially on Mother’s Day. It’s hard to celebrate on that day when your mother has already passed, but it is even more of a heartbreaker when you question whether you will ever become one. What used to be a sad day reflecting on the fact that my mother would never be able to see my future children, has evolved into a feeling of wonder if I will ever have children.

Please continue to pray for us. Pray that we would continue to grow in Christ throughout this process. We would like to have a formal sit down with specialists but are also praying that God continues to lead us throughout this process and our thoughts on adoption.
We wanted to bring awareness to those who have not been touched by infertility and bring encouragement to those who have. Many couples do not tell many people, sometimes not even their close friends or family because they feel as though no one will understand. I want other couples to know that they are not alone, which is a feeling we’ve had throughout this journey.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11