Last week I was asked to share my testimony to a group of about 100 women in a community-wide Bible study I attend weekly. I didn't hesitate because I have always asked God to make the hard times of benefit to someone. I struggled with infertility for 4 years and only when I talk about it do I learn so much about the people around me. They did too or they are currently. So, I decided to share it here with you all as well. I hope you are blessed by it.
I started attending church regularly in seventh grade… because the cool kids did. I was baptized and had great attendance, but not really a relationship with God. It was more of a relationship with the church and the people in it. And, that didn’t last very long.
I was a good girl who followed the rules, made straight As, volunteered, and made my parents proud. So in my mind, I was good enough and didn’t need church or Jesus. I graduated high school and college with honors, earned a Masters degree and got married.
We moved to Austin a few months into our marriage and put church on the To Do list. We became Christians together in the fall of 2003 and life was beautiful. We bought our first house, had good jobs, and took vacations each year. We grew in our church and for the first time, in Christ.
In March 2004 on my 28th birthday we decided life was “boring” and wanted to have a child. So, we tried to get pregnant in 2004, and in 2005, in 2006, and 2007. During this time we joined a club lots of couples in our generation have entered, one that nobody imagines or desires to be in- we had infertility issues.
Anytime you go through something difficult, like infertility, I think it is so important to recall God’s promise that he works all things good for those that love Him. I so badly wanted a baby and now looking back, I can see all the good that God worked in me during my 4 years and 2 days of waiting to become pregnant.
One of those good things is that I have a testimony of God’s provision and grace and comfort from my time of waiting.
I know many of you have kids already or even grandchildren. But, I also know that infertility is so widespread right now, that you all will likely know someone who is waiting on the Lord to bless them. I have more friends than I can count who have struggled with infertility, have had painful miscarriages, and those who have children via medical interventions, adoption or even by what doctors can only call a miracle.
I asked those friends to tell me the most painful and most helpful things said to them along their journey. I know we all want the right words to say when a friend is hurting and wanted to give you all some words for that moment.
Here are some of the things NOT to say:
Just try to stop thinking about it
Some people are only meant to be aunts, not mothers
It must be because of sin in your life
It will happen when it's supposed to
Practice makes perfect
Everything happens for a reason
This is probably a sign that you shouldn't have children
Something was probably wrong with the baby
You lazy girl. Why do you not have children yet?
It will happen when you least expect it
Just give up and adopt, then you'll surly get pregnant
You're young and have plenty of time
oh wow, I can't imagine, I just look at my husband and get pregnant!
Do y'all not want children?
When are y'all going to have kids? You're not getting any younger!
You and your husband must not be very compatible
At least you were able to get pregnant or at least you already have one child so you know you can have kids
And my favorite is “well, it is probably for the best, there are so many babies in the church nursery right now anyway!”
We have probably all said something like this to a friend. We want to give them an answer, a solution to their problem. I bet most of these friends walked away thinking what in the world did I just say? It is such a painful issue and there often are no words to say.
But, here are some things other found helpful:
Sometimes you need a pity party or a good cry. And a good friend to say yea it sucks.
The best thing for me was to have someone there to listen. Having a success story gives hope and knowing that it happens to more people then you think; that you're not alone. Knowing you're not a failure for not being able to have a child on your own.
Another friend said, “Just listen. It frustrated me to no end when I heard the slew of advice. I embraced the visits from family and friends that offered to listen, asked what I would like them to do, and especially those that prayed for me but even more so, with me. “
What would've been nice is for a friend or family to help with meals and kids for a couple of days. With 3 kids, it was hard enough to get out of bed, let alone put on a happy face for my littles after my miscarriage.
I'm so sorry y'all are going through this! And How can I pray for you? I also felt loved when people would ask for me to keep them posted on how they could pray specifically for us through the different steps.
A friend of mine who now has 4 kids said, The best thing was friends who had been through infertility and now had kids writing cards, praying for us & asking how treatments were going. I struggled with God blessing others while our arms were empty. I know some people rejoice with those who rejoice way better than I did. There was a time when prayer request time in Sunday School became pregnancy announcement time. I remember dreading it and fighting back the tears.
It meant a lot to have forewarning from friends so it wasn't as big of a shock.
And the lone male responder said, “I could write a book on this subject, but what it boils down to....don't give advice. When talking about it to a friend, the friend is only thinking about it less than 5 minutes while I've been living with it every minute of every day. Offering any kind of advice, insinuating that I haven't thought of something, is insulting and completely belittles the issue.”
Looking back with Romans 8:28 in mind, I can see the good that He worked because I called to Him during infertility, I invited Him in and handed Him my broken heart. The night before I found out I was pregnant, I wrote this about my 4 year journey:
I have learned to pray with passion.
I have seen Him alter our finances, jobs, and insurance with the most heaven sent timing.
I have learned that God has a plan for my life and it will be bigger and grander than the plans I have for myself.
I have been able to share my faith with so many people.
I have reached out to other women struggling with infertility and hopefully given as much as I have received.
I have learned to swallow pills and inject myself with needles. It is not nearly as bad as the internet made it out to be.
I have grown closer to my husband when many couples divorce because of infertility.
I have been able to take the time to discuss parenting with my husband before the stress of a newborn arrives.
I am part of the infertility community, but even better than that, I am part of God’s community and through my infertility struggle, that community became real to me. It served as the hands and feet of Jesus. God came down into my life in a way that I’ve hadn’t experienced before. And for that, those 4 years and 2 days are just precious to me.