Coping and Caring

Posted by  | Wednesday, April 9, 2008  at 11:35 AM  
If you are struggling with infertility at the moment, my words of wisdom are not anything profound, but these are some of the things that helped get us through. I also know that we're on the other side of the fence now, but as Krista said ealier, already having a baby doesn't make the quest for #2 any easier. I'm personally dreading the 2nd attempt. I'm slowly warming up to the idea of another baby, but I'm not ready for all the doctors, shots, etc. Anyway, these are some "tips" that helped get us through and will have to help get us through rounds 2 and 3.

(1) Pray. God is big enough to handle every question you ask, including the “Why’s?(The “Why” questions with infertility are endless.) Express all of your feelings to God, even the angry ones! He is big enough! Ask for a spirit of “neutral surrender”—peace with whatever God’s plan is for your family.
(2) Do not make having a baby the focal point of your marriage. Take time to enjoy one another and realize that you and your husband are a COMPLETE FAMILY. The two of you make up the family unit, not the two of you plus children. Children are a heritage and a gift, but not the definition of a family. Don’t wait to have children to establish traditions! Try to see your time as a family of two as a God-ordained time with a task. It became a lot harder for us to be fully involved in church activities once we were three instead of two.
(3) Take care of your body. I found that I became very frustrated with my body for not cooperating. Crazy or not, I believe the mind-spirit-body connection is important.
(4) Avoid having a “pie-in-the-sky” picture of families with babies. It’s HARD work having a newborn, and it takes a while for your marriage to adjust to having attention placed elsewhere. I caught myself seeing couples with babies and imagining how great their lives must be, etc. I think I didn’t appreciate the time with my husband as “just the two of us” as much as I should have as a result of these feelings.
(5) Do not be alone with your struggle. Reach out for support and encouragement and know that infertility is not something to be ashamed of. My husband was great in helping me learn this. I was reluctant to let people know about all we were going through since it is such a personal issue, but he basically helped me see that we needed others to lean on. Also, you can’t expect others to know that their conversations about their babies or children or pregnancy are hurtful—you need to let others in!
(6) Do not go to baby showers if it’s too much to handle . . . and DON’T feel guilty about not going! Still send a gift, but be honest with friends and family members. Infertility is not something to be ashamed of!
(7) Seek medical help. Make an appointment with your general ob/gyn to discuss your situation. It can be a relief to know what the problem is—I’m so glad that we knew Chris was sterile instead of assuming that what one doctor theorized was true. Chances are, you will not need to go through everything we did to have a baby. There are many other less expensive, less invasive treatment options out there. There is also plenty of info on the web. www.resolve.org is a great resource for treatment options, support, etc.
(8) Keep communication open with each other about how you are feeling. Chris had a completely different set of feelings than I did. He felt really powerless and guilty, whereas my feelings were mostly of the anxious variety. It’s easy for the same desire (having a baby) to actually create separation in your marriage.
(9) Decide as a couple where your line is if you have to go the route of fertility treatment. We decided that surrogacy was out of the question. We also decided that having a donor sperm was out of the question, even though a Christian couple we knew conceived by using sperm from a donor. We knew that if we ever came to these options, we would start looking toward adoption more seriously. (We actually researched adoption after our first appointment at Duke.) I would also have a serious, honest discussion about your ethical concerns and seek the counsel of clergy in this area.
(10) Pray, pray, pray!
(11) If you've already had a baby after infertility, don't feel guilty about feelings every mother experiences. One night, I remember crying while holding my sweet little newborn because I had the thought cross my mind, "I can't believe I ever wanted to do this." I was exhausted, nursing was going horribly, and I was sick. I felt like I was being ungrateful for all God had brought us through until I realized that God had actually answered a prayer I had prayed: I was finally just like everyone else.
(11) Hold on. Some days, all we could do was just simply hold on . . .


If you know someone struggling with infertility, here are some ways that you can support her (or him):

(1) If you haven’t ever struggled with fertility, admit that you don’t understand. Now that you’ve read all the posts this week (and more are coming!), you could let her (or him) know that you’ve read about all the struggles and how hard infertility is emotionally and spiritiually.
(2) Ask what type of discussion would make her (or him) uncomfortable. (Your complaining about pregnancy ailments, for example, might be difficult for her to handle.) I personally didn’t want friends treating me differently. I didn’t want them to feel odd sharing pregnancy news with me or having to walk on eggshells around me. It really depends on the person, though, so I say ASK! It also shows that you understand he or she has feelings about the issue.
(3) Listen. Do not offer advice. Do not treat her like she is sick or handicapped. Don't judge feelings she or he has that may not be theologically correct (ie--Why me? It's not fair.)
(4) Pray with them. The prayers that meant the most to me were the ones that I heard. Another option would be to write a prayer to the Lord on their behalf and send it in the mail.
(5) Try to be an escape/diversion. It’s very easy for trying-to-get-pregnant to become the focal point of life. It was nice to be able to hang out with a friend without thinking or talking about pregnancy or children.
(6) The absolute worst thing to say is, “Just relax, and it will happen.” Chances are, she’s heard that a zillion times. Also, for me, it showed that people really had no clue: my husband was sterile. I could relax for months, and nothing was going to happen aside from divine intervention (for which I did pray!).
(7) My general rule is that I don’t ask couples when they are going to have a baby. You never know what they are going through, and some women (and men, too!) feel like failures when they have trouble conceiving. Your asking compounds pressure that she is already feeling.
(8) Be a friend. Simple sentences like, “I’m cheering for you” are just enough, especially when you feel like you can’t relate.


So that's all on my end. The other ladies this week probably have even more nuggets of wisdom to share . . . I'm so glad that we're hearing all of these stories this week! Each family has such a different story, but one main theme: God is forever faithful and His timing is perfect!

3 comments:

Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

Wow, thank you for sharing all this with me...a complete stranger who "happened" on this site. I believe in divine appointments...and this was one!

I really appreciated the "advice" section where you listed things to do and think about re: infertility. I guess...I don't know if I am...yet. Even typing that, is...really hard to go "there"-- that is, the idea that we not be able to conceive.

Like many of the other stories shared (and I've read them ALL straight through!) my husband and I used the pill for the first year...but when I couldn't take it anymore we used other types of prevention for about 6 mo. Then, starting last June (2007) we decided to let things happen as God so ordained. So far...nothing. We (my husband & I) decided to ttc for a year before we sought medical insight...and in about 2 months our year will be up. I'm so scared that I will be barren. I think about that so much, that I just don't even want to go to a Dr. for fear he will give the worst possible news. And we've experienced, like many of the stories shared on this site, "trying" can take all the fun out it as it becomes an emotional roller coaster each month. And so in becoming educated on how to increase your chances...you need to do AB&C...so how do you balance all that? Needing to be precise and yet just trying to enjoy each other...! Ugh!!!

I'm not quite there yet...with feeling free/secure enough to share with others that we are "trying". I never wanted to be one of those couples that talked about that...its just too weird to me. And I don't want people asking or thinking "are they pregnant yet...?" every time they see us! My husband is SOOOOO so supportive and remains positive that it will happened in God's timing. I guess....as much as I LOVE having our "alone" time with just us...I'm feeling the pressure to get going as we are both 31 and I've read that your chances of getting preg. decrease with age.

So...thank you ALL, for sharing your stories/advice (plz keep them coming!)...and for the encouragement you've given to me--to #1 Keep trusting God! and #2 Don't get down and give up...let God use this time of waiting as a tool to draw me closer to Him and lastly #3 God STILL performs miracles!!!

Krista said...

Mary,
Thanks so much for sharing your story first of all as well as all your wonderful advice! I second everything you've said. For our readers out there seeking ways to minister to those battling infertility, here are a couple other things that were helpful to me:
1. Treat her normal - don't not talk about something or change the topic just because "she's coming." I really appreciated my friends who treated me normally and still let me be a part of their talks about children, pregnancy, ttc, etc.
2. If you are pregnant, please don't whine about it. I heard women say things like, "I have a headache," "my feet are swollen," "I'm sooo tired," "it's so hard being pregnant," etc. and I always wanted to say, "You know, some people would give anything to have a headache right now if it meant they could be pregnant!"
3. I really appreciated finding out personally from my friends who were having babies, and not hearing from others or, especially, in a group announcement.
4. If you are pregnant and friends with someone having trouble conceiving, don't act like you're not pregnant. Act normal. While I didn't want it to be our only conversation topic, it was reality and I didn't want to be cut off from that part of my friend's life.
5. I love what Mary said - Pray WITH them!
6. Do not constantly ask if they are pregnant, going to the doc, etc. Let her bring up the topic when/if she's ready.
7. If you have not struggled with infertility, please do not give advice on how to get pregnant.

Jenny,
Thanks for your transparency and sharing. I will be praying for you! I know it is SCARY thinking of going to the doctor and walking this road but in some ways it is such a relief when you can know what you are battling. God has blessed doctors with some amazing wisdom (and it's ironic that I'm saying this as I usually shirk away from docs and western medicine!) when it comes to treating infertility. You don't have to be ashamed and you don't have to go through it alone. It helps me to remember that God is in control and while this is not the lot I would've chosen for me, it is something that He can use to challenge, mold, and refine us into the beautiful vessels that will one day worship at His throne in heaven for all of eternity. He's allowing us to walk this road for a reason and I want to glorify Him in the walking. . . and the waiting.

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