Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How To Stay Afloat During Infertility

Infertility is a type of suffering. My husband and I have been through seasons of hope, grief, confusion, and more. Looking back on the seasons, I can see what helped lift me out of the dark times:

  • Focus on others - Infertility is painful, but other people are in pain, too. Look around and see what needs you can meet for other hurting people. Don't become isolated.
  • Be difficult to offend - People will say insensitive things to you. Do not let yourself be offended. People generally mean well. 
  • Surrender bitterness - After being upset when a sermon mentioned every group except singles and couples without children, I realized how sensitive I had become. Letting myself become bitter about perceived offenses only hurts me further. 
  • Look up - Realize that infertility is one portion of your life, even though it can feel like the only portion of your life. Don't let it be the main thing. Do what you enjoyed doing before infertility barged in. Don't get so focused on infertility that you miss the good things around you.
  • Lean on Christ - This one has been tough for me. I like to think of myself as strong and capable of carrying burdens. This one is too heavy, but I sure have tried to carry it alone. Let yourself grieve, and then turn to Christ as your burden-bearer.
  • Guard your marriage - Your spouse is likely suffering through infertility as well. I went for a long time feeling sorry for myself and venting to him; then, I realized that he is hurting, too. Girls talk about this stuff; many guys won't mention it. Don't let infertility characterize your marriage. Have fun together. Declare "infertility free" days when the topic will not be mentioned. 
My suffering at this time is infertility, but I think many of these reminders apply to people in other types of suffering as well. 

What helps you during dark seasons?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

To Say or Not to Say?

I mentioned here that there are good and bad things to say to a person dealing with infertility. While most people mean well, their comments can be hurtful and even harmful. Here is my list of do’s and don’ts.

What not to say:
  • Are you pregnant?! If she is, let her tell you in her own time and her own way. A person dealing with infertility has to tell herself and her husband every month that she is not pregnant. Don’t make her say it again.
  • I know of so many people who got pregnant as soon as they started the adoption process. You may know people in that situation; however, it is not the norm. In fact, the statistics are very low. And also, adoption shouldn’t be used as a good luck charm.
  • I had a friend who just did _____, then got pregnant right away. You should try ___. Maybe yoga fertility poses and all-natural deodorant worked for your friend. Or maybe she would have gotten pregnant without those things. Either way, just because something worked for one person doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
What to say:
  • How are you doing with the infertility process? By asking the question, you show that you care and that you understand she is in a tough season. 
  • Do you want to talk about it? If she doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t push. 
  • I have walked with several friends through infertility. Are you interested in suggestions? Maybe your friends did find the secret to success. Before offering advice, ask if your friend is interested. She could be experiencing information overload already.
  • Which emotions are winning in you lately? Infertility brings about a mixture of emotions: hope, fear, sadness, discontentment, frustration, confusion, and more. Those emotions can tend toward unhealthy feelings: bitterness, envy, anger. Give your friend room to express emotion, but don’t let her be swallowed by sinful thoughts.
  • What do you need right now: a distraction, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to listen,...? Infertility can be a cloud over every aspect of life. Getting distracted from it can be helpful. Sometimes, you just need to cry. Other times, you need to process out loud.
Please remember that nobody is perfect. You may say the wrong thing. Hopefully, your friend will learn not to take offense where none is intended. Most likely, she will appreciate your intentionality.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Seasons of Infertility

Infertility seems to involve seasons. Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down.

My December was dark, isolated, and miserable. Infertility felt like a heavier weight than ever around my neck. Thankfully, I came home from our Christmas trip feeling encouraged. Our time with family was refreshing, and I just feel more positive.

Unfortunately, my husband is having the opposite experience. He said today that he really wants someone to blame for our infertility. Not me, just someone. In his words, “If infertility was a person, I would punch it in the face.” Infertility is really painful for him this month. It’s hard to be around kids and families.

Monday, January 13, 2014

An Opportunity

My mommy friends are tired. I had a chance to have some of them over without their kids. I get the impression that stay-at-home moms have few opportunities to get away while dad babysits.

Maybe I can be a getaway for them. Not only do I have time, but I also have the opportunity to make food, clean, and host without little people distracting me.

Last time they came over, I was more discouraged afterward. I allowed my childlessness to make me feel isolated in a room full of friends. This time, I recognize an opportunity to encourage and minister to my friends. Perspective really is important.