• Traci McCombs

5 Women of Faith on the Extremes of Infertility

Updated: Mar 26

Infertility is Extremely...

Infertility is extremely complex. So, let's start with something easy, like the definition of infertility.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after having repeat and unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year.


Plain and simple, infertility is extremely common. Infertility affects an estimated 48.5 million couples worldwide, yet our relationship with infertility is one of a kind. If one out of every seven couples experiences infertility, why is it so different for each of us?


I wanted to allow our readers to see infertility through a new lens. So I asked five women of faith to share their personal experience with infertility. It should surprise no one that all five women came up with five different fill-in-the-blank answers to this challenging question...


Infertility is extremely [fill in the blank]


As you read these stories, I challenge you to ask yourself this question:


Why is infertility is extremely [fill in the blank] for me?


Then, ask yourself another question.


Do I relate to any of these infertility stories? If so, how can I take the same steps to cope with my infertility?


5 Women of Faith Share Why



Ann

Infertility is extremely...


Shameful. In our situation, it was my issue, not my husband’s. My menses stopped. It took a long time to figure out, but it was a complicated combo of stress, low stomach acid, hypothyroidism (sort-of), gut issues, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, a sluggish liver, and adrenals making too many stress hormones.


Why is infertility extremely shameful?

I felt like a godly woman should be able to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1) so I was embarrassed. I also didn’t want co-workers asking about my period, my husband’s sperm count, or how many follicles the fertility doctor saw. Being type-A, it was frustrating that my body wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do, and I suspected that part of my own stress was contributing to the problem.


What steps can you take to cope with infertility?

I saw six different doctors to tackle other symptoms that I was having. No one put it together that everything was related. I wish I had tried functional medicine doctors (MDs that are trained to look at the body holistically and find the root cause) before going straight to IUIs and IVF. I’m now grateful for this time because I’ve been able to help others; my ear is trained to hear phrases like, “always tired” or “always cold” and ask about other symptoms and share my story.


Spiritual Advice

During this time I wrote and facilitated a Fertility Challenges Bible Study for my church. In the Word, I found at least eight examples of infertility in the Bible (Sarai, Hannah, Elizabeth, Anna, etc.) The study showed me God’s character, like His loving nature and how I was created for a purpose (Psalm 139). I never felt like He was withholding a baby from me, but more like He was beside me in this journey. I didn’t know if IVF would work or if we would adopt. Or if He was calling me to be a professional career woman. I just took it one step at a time (Psalms 27:14). I also relied on His comfort when I was sad or struggled with feelings of envy towards super-fertile women.


And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. - Genesis 1:22-23
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! - Psalm 27:14



ABOUT ANN: Ann is a homeschooling stay-at-home mom with a school-age kid (IVF), a naturally-conceived pre-schooler, and a frozen embryo waiting to be transferred to her. She has babies in Heaven (three IVF transfers that didn’t implant). She is passionate about building community, cooking from scratch, and showing Christ to her children, husband, neighbors, and co-workers.





Lisa

Infertility is extremely…


Time-consuming. It takes time to discover that there is something wrong and that you are infertile. It takes time to do the testing, to do research on treatments, to make decisions about treatments, to save money for treatments, to receive treatments, and to find out the results of treatments.


Why is infertility extremely time-consuming?

If you decide to adopt, it takes time to do the paperwork, go through licensing procedures, be matched with a child, and get that child home. Infertility has the potential to be all-consuming and take over almost every area of your life if you are not careful and intentional about how to deal with it.


What steps can you take to cope with infertility?

My advice is to find community. Reach out to others either in-person or online. Don’t try to navigate infertility alone. Make your relationship with your spouse a priority.


Spiritual Advice

Spend time in Scripture and in prayer. Remember that even though you are experiencing infertility, you are not an infertile being. You can still produce and create beauty and joy in your work, your marriage, your relationships, and your hobbies.






Lisa Newton blogs at AmateurNester.com. She is the author of “31 Days of Prayer During Infertility” and she lives in Central California with her husband and their two daughters. Find her on Instagram or Facebook.








Erica

Infertility is extremely…


Disheartening. It has the ability to affect your confidence and sense of worth. A person that is challenged with navigating infertility may encounter feelings of isolation, hurtful comments, constant triggers, social stigma, barriers to accessing medical or economic resources, and varying depths of grief and fear.


Why is infertility extremely disheartening?

You must be very intentional about preventing yourself from internalizing the infertility experience and associating this experience with your identity. You have to see yourself as more than this chapter of your journey.


What steps can you take to cope with infertility?

My advice is to dig deep into your faith. Be honest and transparent with God about how you are feeling and what you are struggling with. Study the scriptures and search for verses and narratives that speak directly to your situation. Be deliberate in building community with other women of faith and never stop asking God to lead you in the direction of resources to help you cope with this challenge. Stand firm in knowing that He loves you and that your prayers are heard.


Spiritual Advice

Our experience with infertility calls us to withstand feelings of uncertainty and endure situations that we don’t understand. But Philippians 4:6-7 gives us hope, stating, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”





Erica F. Mitchell is the author of No Less Blessed: Seeking God in the Wilderness of Infertility and Childlessness. She is a Catalyst Facilitator for women’s groups and a military spouse. She resides in Seoul, South Korea with her husband, Richard. Find her on Instagram or Facebook.








Betsy

Infertility is extremely...


Disappointing. It changes a couple's circumstances, it changes their perspective, and it changes the course of their lives. Of course, there are many disappointments throughout our lifetimes, but infertility is life-altering.


Why is infertility extremely disappointing?

It changes what you thought your family would look like: when your children would be born if you'd even have children as you'd hoped, or how they would come into your family (such as fertility treatment or adoption instead of simply getting pregnant). Infertility likely changes the number of children you dreamed of having, shifting around the timelines for other dreams.


What steps can you take to cope with infertility?

Things that have helped me include: praying, crying out to God, writing my way through the grief and other emotions, finding creative outlets. I've been an off-and-on runner throughout my years of infertility - it felt good to force my body to finish a half marathon, especially since my body seemed to be uncooperative in other areas. I would suggest that people pursue other dreams while waiting for a baby.


Spiritual Advice

Many Scriptures have encouraged me during our wait, but one that stands out right now is Psalm 27:13-14. "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Trusting that God will bring something good out of my situation and that I will see it in my life helps me to continue persevering through disappointment.





Betsy Herman is the author of When Infertility Books Are Not Enough: Embracing Hope During Infertility. Betsy and her husband have recently relocated to Hawaii, where she is home with their toddler daughter. Find her on Instagram or Facebook.






Melissa

Infertility is extremely...


Personal. Infertility is personal in its intrusion into every part of our lives and is often aggressive without permission. It’s personal in how it changes us, our relationships, and our lives. How else is it personal? It’s personal in how it alters the visions we had for our future. And it’s personal (and a lot of times, embarrassing) in how our bodies function or don’t function, and in the invasive procedures, we have to endure.


Why is infertility extremely personal?

It’s personal in its control over our daily life, from the stigma that we carry to the triggers we navigate. And it’s personal in how we choose to communicate our infertility and to who, if at all. Every negative pregnancy test, failed IVF cycle, and heartbeat gone is so extremely personal that it changes every part of a person forever – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The effects are intrusive and permanent and never fair. It’s personal in its ruthlessness. Infertility is extremely personal.


What steps can you take to cope with infertility?

The stories we have created from our infertility and pregnancy loss are so endless and so very personal, but put all of our stories together and you find a beautiful community stitched together by faith, resilience, and hope. All stories of infertility have the ability to create connections; a remarkable thing, even when those stories feel unbearable. This is why communication and community are so important when struggling with infertility. We were put in a position to erase the stigma of pregnancy loss and infertility, and the most effective way to do that is by joining forces within the loss community and sharing our experiences. It is through our personal stories that we are given divine opportunities to lift each other up and cultivate compassion from our pain.


Spiritual Advice

The most important thing I have learned from my own personal story is that there is always a happy ending in infertility. Let me say that again: there is always a happy ending in infertility. That ending might look different than you thought it would, or it might look exactly how you pictured it, but it is always a happy one.


"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:24-25


Melissa is an Army wife, a mama, and a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH). She is a certified Bereavement Doula with Stillbirthday and a navigator through infertility and pregnancy loss with her stillborn son and 5 angel babies guiding her way. Find Melissa on Instagram.




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