I wanted to ask you all to take a minute and pray for my friends (and your own!) that struggle with infertility/fertility challenges.
For the majority of the population, fertility is something that is not often thought about and when it is the thoughts are how to STOP it. There is a whole separate part of the population that have a burning desire to have children of their own but for a variety of reasons cannot. Some of these people face female fertility challenges like infreqeuent or absence of ovulation, blocked tubes, ovarian (or other types) of cysts, and insufficient lining of the uteran walls that prevent conception and implantation. Some face male fertility challenges like low or non-existant sperm count, insufficient motility (movement), and/or sperm abnormalities (mishapen, etc.). Some face a combination of these factors and others that occur when men and women unite, such as when a woman's body fights off sperm like an intruding disease or when her body chemistry is out of aligned so that the chemical (im)balance kills the sperm that are trying to do their job.
Then there are those who have no difficulty conceiving but time after time lose their children before they are ready to make their entrance into this womb. Some have chemical imbalances so that the body attacks the child growing inside it would a parasite. Some have incompatible blood types so that the child is seen as an intruder. Some have lining problems so that the child has difficulty implanting well and "sticking". Others have problems whereby the fallopian tubes and ovaries aren't lined up well so that eggs that are released and fertilized end up implanting outside of the uterus (a deadly situation for the mothers and babies). Others have problems with their cervix so that it dialates way too soon. Others have problems with late-term conditions such as uterine rupture. Almost all of these indoubtedly end with miscarriage on their own.
These fertility issues and many more are heartbreaking for those who face them. I know for some (especially the super-fertiles), it is difficult, but take a minute to put yourself in their shoes. Like many women, you get the baby bug at some point in your life. Usually you have been responsible and waited for "the right time". Your spouse is finally in agreement that it is time to have a child. You have achieved your pre-baby goals. Saved. Paid off bills. Bought a house. You have the right car and are in good physical shape. All the things necesary to prepare yourself for becoming a parent. And then its time to start trying. You may read a few books, you may join support groups, talk to your friends, your sisters, your mothers, and then again, you may not. You may decide to keep it a secret that only you and your partner know and play it by ear. You may do nothing more than throw out your old way of preventing pregnancy or you may decide to chart and time every detail.
As the first month comes, you think about the excitement and joy. Are you really ready for this? How are you going to tell your spouse? Your family? Your friends? Are you going to get sick or be one of the luckies who glow throughout pregnancy? Do you need to buy new clothes? Are you going to have a girl or boy? You count the time to figure out your due date and picture yourself in the coming months as you grow. You anticipate getting a positive test and how you react. Will you cry? Will you scream with joy? Will your spouse be there or will you keep it a secret and surprise him someway? What will those around you say when you tell them. You go see your OB for a pre-conception visit and start thinking about whether or not you want that person to be your doctor. You may even start taking prenatal vitamins to help get your body ready.
As the end of your cycle nears you count the days, trying to wait as long as possible before you just can't stand to wait to test any longer. You are sure that you are more tired than usual, more hungry, more sick, your boobs hurt, etc. This must be it! But before you can get there your cycle ends unsucessfully. At this point, its not a big deal. You start the excitement part over again, realizing that the "average" woman takes 12 months to conceive, or so you were told at your preconception appointment.
After a few months the disappointment sets in more. After about 6 months or so, the novelty of trying to conceive has surely worn off. The excitement about possibly conceiving every time you "try" is gone. For some, sex becomes a chore, a stressful event that only gets done because its "the right time". Many men start feeling like a tool rather than a partner, a valued husband. By this time you have taken a dozen or more tests, each month hoping for different results, but now, you don't even have any tests at home because you know you won't need them. Even still, you muster the courage and energy to become excited that THIS will be your month. This time you were successful. You have changed your diet, started taking supplements, holding your legs in the air, standing on your head, making love in the morning vs. the night or in the middle of the day. As the end of your cycle approaches you run to the bathroom at every "feeling", only to find that your hopes were false.
As you step out of the restroom, your mother/sister/friend calls and in the conversation manages to ask you why you are waiting so long to have kids. Don't you know they are a joy? Don't you know that you are getting older? You've been married for a while. It's time to have kids. People who wait too long to have kids are just selfish, indulging themselves. Certainly not Christian. Don't worry about the finances...they will come...parents always make a way to provide for their kids because they love them so much...don't you want to be a parent? Why are you waiting so long? Fighting back tears (you don't want them to know your pain), you manage to say "we'll have kids when God is ready"...or something like that, wondering why God hasn't given you them before. Surely the person on the other end of the phone has no idea what you are going through.
You decide to curl up on the couch to watch a little tv...probably with a bowl of ice cream or some chocoloate and a blanket. You turn on the news and the story is about a baby found dead in a dumpster. You change the channel. It's Maury with another show about paternity tests...one dad has 12 kids in 5 years. He's MAYBE 21. You change the channel to something more "educational", a woman's channel perhaps thinking that you'll get some heartwarming movie or a home improvement show. Wouldn't you know...a baby story is on and you get to watch the joy of new parents as they express their excitement and joy. You hear the wife complain about being so big and fat and how the sickness has just let up. All you see is a beautiful baby belly.
You decide to go walk through the mall for some shopping therapy. Kids are running around everywhere. A pregnant teenager walks by you. A mom with toddler twins pushes a stroller by you and you can tell she's well into another pregnancy. As you look for some clothes all the styles remind you of maternity clothes. You might by something, but more likely you decide that it isn't worth it, because that hope creeps back in and tells you that you might be pregnant soon and you don't want to waste your money on the clothes that won't fit you soon anyway. In the back of your mind you roll your eyes.
This continues for weeks, months, years. Many of your friends are now working on their second child (or third!). Its time for your annual ladies visit and everyone in the office is pregnant. One of them complains that the baby is kicking her ribs, and you let your mind wander ever so briefly to the moment where you might get to experience that one day. And you will not take it for granted or complain. Your doctor makes the decision for you...its been 12 months and you get to go see a specialist to start tests (or pills), or you have to wait a little longer...they are sure that if you wait just a few more months you will conceive. And, by the way, are you having sex every other day? Are you eating right? Sleeping right? Remember that the average woman ovulates on the 14th day of the cycle and you should get your period about 14 days after that. Don't bother testing before then, and make sure you start having sex about 10 days after your period begins. We'll get you pregnant in no time! If you are a lucky one, you get to come to the office every couple days or even every morning to have a series of tests run. You get to go to the hospital and have a few "minor procedures" done. They will hurt a "little". You get to take a pill once a day (you thought you were done with pills for a while!) that makes you experience symptoms similar to PMS but intensified. Every day. Or, if that doesn't work, you get to give yourself a shot every day. With a needle. Everyday.
Your life becomes consumed with becoming a parent. But not in the joy way that you experienced in the beginning. All that is gone. The days of you wondering if you will have a boy or a girl, wondering how those first little flutters will feel, wondering how you are going to tell your family, are over. You have no idea where the present went that you planned to use to tell him you were pregnant back in those early months that seem a lifetime away. If you are fortunate, you chuckle to yourself when you realized that all those years you took birth control pills and dealt with the symptoms and took tests even though you KNEW you weren't pregnant...all in vain. So ironic. Or...you give up all hope together.
If you are a Christian you know that this is not the attitude God would have for you. And yet you wonder why God allows people to get pregnant that don't want their babies, that abort their babies, that abuse and mistreat their babies. Doesn't He know everything? Why them and not you. And the guilt riddles you for thinking that way. You may have found a support group, but, if you are like many, you keep it inside because you believe no one will understand. And you are dying inside but trying to put on a good face because you don't want to get ANOTHER lecture about how God is good and you need to trust God's plan and you need to rest in the joy of the Lord. you know all of that is true. You just don't FEEL it right now. You wonder if you will ever have children.
Then, after waiting so long, usually after you've given up on your dream of having children, you realize its been a while since your last period. You think its ridiculous but you take that last test that has been sitting in your cabinet for a few months back when you were still testing. You don't even look at it because you know what its going to be. But curiosity gets to you and you peek. There is a line! Can it be? Of course you don't believe it but you call your doctor. Between now and the appointment time you wait and finally start thinking you really just might be pregnant. The doctor makes you wait 8-10 weeks to come in and you get your first appointment. You and your husband are finally excited. Maybe you told a few people with your excitement.
You get to your appointment full of excitement and joy. The doctor makes you pee on a stick just to confirm it and sure enough, you are pregnant. But when he/she starts rubbing that monitor on your belly you can tell something is wrong. The expression on his/her face turns from joy to seriousness. "I can't find a heartbeat...I'm sorry to tell you this but you are going to lose this baby". Or maybe you find out because you start bleeding heavily. Everyone reassures you that some people bleed during pregnancy, but YOU know that this is the end. Your dreams come crashing down. How silly of you to think that YOU would be a mom sometime soon.
And the process starts all over again.
For those of you that have never experienced this it may sound like I'm exaggerating or extremely negative. But this is a combination of my own story and several of my friends who have all experienced a variety of fertility challenges. It isn't easy. We know that God has a plan for us and that he will take care of our needs. We know we are to remain faithful and hopeful. That he will one day answer our prayers. But in the meantime our flesh takes over. Some of us are able to overcome and rarely loose faith or become disheartened. But the majority suffer with the pain, at least to some degree.
If you are like us, I'm sorry. Please talk about it with others. Find a support group who understands AND is encouraging. Don't keep it bottled inside. Remember that their is a purpose for this and try to find a way to give God the glory in your situation. If you must, cry, question God, and DEAL with your emotions. But don't let the enemy use this challenge to have you be distracted long-term from the purpose he has called you for. If nothing else, there are others out there like you who are struggling just like you are, and need an ear who understands. Let them be Jesus to you...be Jesus to them.
If you are not like us, try and put yourself in our shoes. You don't know who "we" are. We could be anyone...most of the time we don't like to burden others with our troubles and we feel its a private matter anyway. You never know who is going through it. But if you do know, pray! Pray for their comfort; pray for a healthy baby; pray for God's will. Then tell them that you love them and that you are there. Give them time to be alone when they need it; drag them out of their beds to go shopping and have pizza when they need it. Don't ever assume that you know what its like. Probably most importantly, try to see the world from our point of view. The parents who you think are "crazy" for having 10 kids...we see that as a blessing and only wish we could get there. The baby that is crying in the restaurant...that reminds us what we don't have and is usually seen to us as a blessing to those parents, not an annoyance. There are benefits to our situations, but we usually don't see them until after our pain has subsided, which doesn't usually happen until somehow we have our child in our arms. Remember that children are a blessing. Love your children or the children in your lives. and pray.