For two years, I struggled to conceive naturally. I counted days, took vitamins, and even stood on my head after sex. For two years after that, I became a human lab rat. Blood tests, injections, procedures. And prayers, fasting, and reading every scripture about barrenness. Everyone had such helpful advice as I died a slow death month after month. “Just relax,” they said. “Just adopt,” they said.
After five years of trying and failing, I held my baby boy in my arms. And then more infertility.
God has used the agony of infertility to grow and shape my faith in ways I would never have chosen, and after over a decade of building my family His way, in His timing, not my own, I have come to the hard-won place of saying honestly, I am grateful for infertility. It is a blessing.
“Many are the plan’s in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails,” Proverbs 19:21.
But if you had told me that back at the beginning or even halfway through, I would’ve punched you.
Want to know how I survived infertility without losing my faith? Here are four things I did during my trip down Barren Road that helped me process my feelings and stay close to God:
1. I allowed myself to grieve.
My faith in God never wavered, but my feelings did. When you struggle with infertility, it’s like experiencing the monthly death of a dream, like your baby dies every month. Some months were harder than others. Some I kept going and stayed busy. But others, I turned inside out with tears. During those tough months, I gave myself a day to just grieve. To feel it. To cry out to God. I ripped off my stiff upper lip, flung my big girl pants in a corner, and just laid in God’s lap like a sobbing toddler who dropped her ice cream cone. My dad always used to say, “My shoulders are broad,” meaning, “I’m your daddy, and I can take what you throw at me.” God’s the same way. His shoulders are broad. He can hold you together while you fall apart.
2. I was gentle with myself.
I have endometriosis, so in addition to being infertile, I spend many days in pain. I tried to take care of myself, to lay on the couch if I needed to, especially after a tough procedure or surgery. During a particularly rough summer when everyone seemed to be pregnant but me, I gave myself permission to miss church a few times. Not forever, not at the expense of relationships, but just to give myself the occasional break from congratulating friends and fielding questions about my own situation.
3. I kept my heart soft.
It would’ve been easy to feel bitterness toward my pregnant friends who would innocently talk about how they weren’t even trying when they got pregnant. One way I kept the right attitude during my infertility was to throw baby showers and serve my pregnant friends. I intentionally tried to find opportunities to celebrate my knocked up girlfriends. I knitted blankets, sewed baby clothes, and decorated cakes. I washed a friend’s feet and gave her a pedicure when she was overdue and her cankles were the size of her thighs.
4. I went to counseling.
I should’ve gone during my first four years and didn’t, but after we experienced infertility all over again with our next child, I finally got a recommendation from a friend for a Christian counselor. I showed up at her office and literally just told her, “I’m sad, and I don’t know how to be not sad.” I spent five months with her, and God brought me to a place of healing where He could surprise me with a passion for adoption that I could not have received until I let go of my pain.
If you are struggling with infertility, God holds you close to His heart. The pages of scripture are filled with barren women and God’s love and provision for them. I pray that wherever you are on this journey, that He will give you wisdom and peace.
originally published by Intentional Stewardship
image found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dustandfog