The Disgrace of Infertility

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This Christmas I preached through the Christmas story as told by Luke. For all the times I’ve read the story, I’ve never noticed this small line hidden in the middle of the Christmas narrative. But this year was different. This year, that small, innocent line refused to go unnoticed and forced me to see it.

After Elizabeth became pregnant with John, she praised God saying, “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

We know that disgrace. My wife knows that disgrace. I know that disgrace.

Infertility.

No, it isn’t the same type of disgrace that Elizabeth experienced. In that day, an inability to bear children was equated with sin. It was assumed that the reason for barrenness was your own doing. You must have done something. You must have something to repent of. Some sin you committed. Some reason God was withholding his blessing from you.

You.

You created the problem by your disobedience, and now God is punishing you.

Thankfully, the shame of disapproving eyes and rumored gossip doesn’t surround infertility in America anymore. But shame still exists.

Shame grows with constant thermometer readings. Peeing on countless sticks. Needles. Probes. Tiny plastic cups. Forever counting days. Sex that feels mechanical and forced because “It’s time.”

Shame slips in with the silent words spoken as another, month pregnant only with hope, passes by. It is amazing how much silence surrounds the struggle of infertility. The silence of not wanting to talk about it. The silence of wanting to talk about, but being scared. The silence of trying to avoid the one thing you are wondering about, but not wanting to focus on it, and yet having your mind dominated by it. The silence of not feeling comfortable talking with others about it because it involves sex. The silence because you just don’t want to deal with the questions.

That silence gives shame all the voice it needs to whisper silently, “Something is wrong with you.”

Infertility is a shame-filled, silent trial, isolating couples in closed bedrooms of pain.

As a man, the pain of infertility is difficult to talk about it. While my wife and I walked through our experiences together, she felt the pain of not being able to conceive more acutely than I did. Pregnancy was failing to take place in her body. Even though the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with either of us, she was the one scheduling the monthly ultrasounds. She was the one taking medications. She was the one physically being reminded every 28 days of the failure to conceive. The pain was much closer and much more tangible for her. And all I could do was stand back and watch. I felt hopeless. Unable to do what I normally do when situations aren’t what I want them to be: fix it.

We stood in the kitchen having the same discussion we’ve had every month. The sadness was making Sarah cry and I stood there helpless. I hugged her, but I couldn’t do anything else. I couldn’t fix this. This was out of my control.

Helplessness is not a feeling I do well with.

As I held my crying wife, I didn’t cry, but quietly grieved and pulling back from hope. The grieving brought on by infertility is different than other grief I have experienced because you do not grieve what was lost, but what never wasAt some point you start grieving for what never will be.

Men don’t talk often about infertility. My guess is that, if we started the conversations, a lot of guys would feel helpless. When people dream of starting their family, no one sees years of disappointment and frustration as part of the process. No, when we dream of starting our family it is a nice and tidy schedule. “First we will go off birth control, then in 3-6 months we will get pregnant.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

Instead those struggling with infertility find themselves dealing with resignation, bitterness, anger and exhaustion.

Exhaustion from fighting to hold on to hope.

Infertility is a brutal cycle that steps on hands gripping hope. The cycle begins each month with hope only to be followed by disappointment.

Hope.

False alarm.

Hope.

Discouragement.

Hope.

Frustration.

Hope.

Shame.

Hope.

Despair.

At any point in this cycle you are constantly reminded of what you cannot do by running into countless pregnant women in the grocery story, at church, or at the gym.

Church is a good place to find support, but it isn’t always a tower of refuge. The American church is one place in our culture where marriage and kids is an expectation. Singles are constantly met with questions about when they will get married, and unnecessarily pitied or prayed for when a potential spouse isn’t in the picture. Young married’s are bombarded about when they will start having kids, as if their marriage doesn’t really matter until a child validates it.

Around church, having kids is talked about as if it is like scheduling a tune-up for your car. “Isn’t it time the two of you start having kids?” is one of the most painful questions a couple dealing with infertility can hear. Because thats exactly how they feel! It is time for them to start having kids. They’ve been hoping and praying and wanting and waiting for a long time for God to respond to their request. So yes, it is time, but no, kids don’t show up on a time table.

My wife and I struggled for 14 months before we surprisingly found ourselves expecting our now 3 year-old son. We were literally starting to have all the testing done the next month when my wife woke me up with the news that she was pregnant.

So many couples never wake up to that news.

It’s now been over two years that we have tried for another child. Two years and an ectopic pregnancy that we had to end. I’m not writing because my wife and I have discovered some secret to living with infertility. I don’t think there is any. I’m not writing because I have some great pastoral wisdom to help comfort those who are struggling with infertility. In fact, I don’t even know how to end this post. All I have is this:

You are not alone. Your struggle may be in silence, but you are not alone.

I don’t have a magic Bible verse of comfort, or prayer of peace, or words of wisdom, or any answers.

I only have “me too.” Us too. We know. We understand. And we mourn with you.

So may we, together, accept that there is nothing wrong with us and see we are simply sharing in the human experience – which is simultaneously beautiful and painful, disheartening and hopeful.

 

photo credit: Niels Linneberg via photopin cc

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for this. My husband and I have walked down this road for 6.5 years, and it is pain like no other. I’ve been writing more recently about our journey, over at buriedhopes.com, and it has been helpful to process my emotions.

    We just got our first positive pregnancy test, thanks to Midwest Fertility, but it is early and we are scared and feel like we are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Also, I don’t know how many people your wife has in her life who have walked through this, but I know very well that it is hard to do it alone. I live in Noblesville and am available, as a fellow infertility sufferer (and fellow pastors wife) :)

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thanks for commenting, Rebecca. I’ll be praying for you and your husband as you walk through the positive. Congrats and blessings.

    • karly

      Rebecca, I completely understand your “cautiously optomistic” feelings at the moment and that is totally normal. One thing infertility does is rob us of enjoying pregnancy. Every time you go to the bathroom you take a deep breath before you pull your pants down because you are afraid of what you may see. Unfortunately pregnancy is not this joyous occasion for us but rather a scared to death phase for weeks on end. At the end of it though, I feel infertility is such a blessing because we cherish our children more, our patience is a little longer, we get WAY more ultrasounds than the average pregnancy :-)
      Hang in there and know that though we never have met you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

      • Rebecca

        Yes x 1000000. I had a dream that I was bleeding last night, and I was terrified when I went to the bathroom this morning. It is so scary. I’m also joyful, because it is a miracle that we are pregnant, but it’s impossible to go from 6 years of crushed hopes to completely unbridled joy.

        I also very much agree about cherishing our children. I do not have any doubt that we will be good parents, after all this waiting and preparation. This kid will be LOVED with every bit of our being.

        I’ve also been telling my infertility friends how awesome all the ultrasounds are. Definitely a perk! (And much better than the zillion ultrasounds I’ve had of my ovaries)

      • Candiss

        Just wanted to say that I’m sorry you had such a hard time having your own biological children! However, I’ve heard that sentiment before, about cherishing or loving your children more because it took so long to get them, and it’s also a hurtful statement. Just remember that most parents love their children dearly. :) Let’s stop all of the comparisons.

        • Rebecca

          I don’t think any of this was an attempt to indicate that those who do not suffer from infertility do not cherish their children. The level of love for a child cannot be compared. But yes, those who wait 10 years for a child will likely cherish each moment in a different way than someone who got pregnant right away. It’s one of the few gifts of infertility, and I don’t think that needs to be stolen away from those who have walked the path.

    • Sally Hardgrove

      Rebecca, I just wanted to give you my words of support. After 2 early losses, I finally went full term with my son, and gave birth to a wonderful, smart, healthy son. I went to the same fertility practice as you, and they made all this possible 14 years ago :)
      After my second loss, I was encouraged to go through grief counseling. At that time the practice had someone on staff who was available to meet with patients. She essentially reminded me to live in the moment with any pregnancy, and to know that protecting my feelings and not getting truly engaged because of the risk of loss, wouldn’t reduce my pain if I *were* to lose it. There is simply no way to protect your heart. That helped me, and somehow, I knew when I got that last positive test, I finally allowed myself to experience joy.
      I wish you peace in your experience.

      • Rebecca

        I honestly can’t express just how much this post means to me. This message has been repeated to us these past few weeks, from the Lord and from others, but it is so hard to keep it up. My mom told me to read a section of Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly, about “Foreboding Joy”, and it pretty much describes what you wrote. Every time I start to hope, I think that I will just hurt more in the end. But there is no way I can make myself hurt less if we lose this baby! It does not hurt to hope. We have never been pregnant before, so there is a ton of joy to be had. Even if it is short lived.

  • Lyonspryd

    Hmmm – interesting how the shame of Infertility is similar to the shame of Unemployment – long-term unemployment. Must be something I am doing wrong – or I did to make God mad, or silence – which is the worst. Our expectations about ourselves seem to leave God’s Purposes out of the picture. For those struggling with family issues like childlessness, or financial setback, or any other crisis “lifestyle”, why do we often have to go it alone?

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Such a great question. Really great question.

    • Rebecca

      Yes, this is very true. When my husband graduated from seminary and applied for jobs, receiving hundreds of rejections or interviews that got his hopes up only to crush them, it was the closest he came to being able to experience my pain in infertility. So, I would say they are very, very similar. Especially since a fulfilling career for a man is a similar type of desire as a woman’s desire to be a mother. And we feel just as forsaken by God when he seems to turn a deaf ear to us.

    • Brooke Mardell

      Sometimes you’re bummed to be an “expert” at something. This is one of those times. Our infertility (7 years, unexplained, and ongoing) and my husbands unemployment coincided around year three of ttc. Talk about being hit from both sides. Forced us to look for identity outside of those cultural norms. A quote from Oswald Chambers really described that season well: ” Sometimes God will let you be hurt out of your sense of entitlement.” I didn’t consider myself an entitled person – until God held something (two things!) back that seemed so normal for everyone else. I think that is the common thread that needs more air time in the church: what do we do when God disappoints us? And gasp, are we even allowed to say He has? Yes, we must dare, because only then are we allowing Him to speak into that pain.
      http://www.brookemardell.com

    • Jenn Ortego

      I am very sorry that you are unemployed, but I do not see the comparison. There are similarities in many situations though. I know when I was let go from a job due to down sizing, I applied everywhere possible, even to McDonald’s, but you can’t make people hire you, wish we could. Thankfully, it only took me 2 1/2 weeks to find another job, not as much money, but it tied me over, until I found a better one. I have had many jobs in the last seven years of my infertilty, especially after moving to another state, but still can not afford IVF or adoption. UGH! It seems easier to find employment for a female than a male, as it did for my ex. I pray you find employment soon!

  • Kristi Ann Naber Kiel

    we’ve walked that road too…happy to talk about it . call any time. we’re in the rca clergy directory. you are not alone

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thank you

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  • Fiona

    Thank you for writing so eloquently on this topic. I reckon men have a real need to know there are others going through similar journeys. Thanks for sharing. I’ve linked to you on my blog, hoping to encourage others. http://themessytrenches.wordpress.com

    • http://www.natepyle.com/ Nate Pyle

      Thank you. I hope it helps other men.

  • Debbie

    A friend shared this on Facebook and it us amazing how similar our stories are! My husband is a minister, and we struggled for ages before having our son, then I had an ectopic pregnancy before eventually getting pregnant with our daughter. I found a lot of comfort in reading about the women in the Bible who longed for children and cried out to God…Elizabeth, Sarah, Rachael, Hannah. I never wanted to forgot it so when our son was born we named him John. Blessings to you both.

  • Lisa Beard

    Struggled alone alone as a couple 5 years through infertility, your words describe exactly how we felt. Thank you for this – I’ve bookmarked it to share with others.

  • Joslyn Bloodworth

    This is beautifully written and hits almost everything with perfect accurate. I have to say, after 4 years of infertility myself, there is one thing I have to disagree with you on. The shame is still there and it is subversively public. People still look at us like we’ve done something wrong. When you have someone tell you, “maybe you just aren’t meant to be a mother” what a woman hears is, “God isn’t going to let you be a mother because either you’ve done something wrong or because you’d suck at it.” Even if no one ever even posits the idea that the only thing you want to do in your life is just something you’re not meant to do, most Christian women will at some point wonder if it was something they did to make God mad, because if God has the power to give me what I want and He’s not then either I did something wrong or God hates me. Since I personally can’t accept the later, the former must be true, at least that’s how it feels.

    • No one cares anymore

      I couldn’t agree more. I suffered with it for 14 year’s. I guess in a way, I’m still suffering, because I had a hysterectomy in Sept. The only thing in life I ever wanted to be is a mother. I have countless angel babies, that I know I’ll see one day. Adoption was also a lifelong dream, and by the Grace of God, we signed up with an agency Oct of 2012. We are currently waiting on a match. May God bless all who struggle.

      • Eizabeth

        Don’t give up. My in-laws adopted my brother-in-law, then five years later, my husband, then five years later, my sister-in-law. It was long and took perseverance, but they did it. You will be ok.God bless you.

    • Jesstina Murphy

      I am so sorry that was said to you. I am sure you will make a wonderful mother. I know in my heart I struggled with infertility for a purpose and would not have my four beautiful children if I had not. They would not be who they are and loved the way they are. God love you and being a mom is so much more than making a child. Gods is not a dictator who releases his wrath, he a guiding father that truly wants the best for us. Be a mother in your own way and don’t wait for others to approve it may never happen.

      • Joslyn Bloodworth

        Thank you. Sadly, I don’t think there is a single woman in my online support group that hasn’t had someone say that to them and sometimes it’s hard not to believe them. Too often infertility is treated as spiritual or mental when it’s a disease just like MS, Parkinson’s, cancer, or any other chronic illness. I wake up and tell myself every day, “We live in a fallen world and this is just a symptom, not a punishment.” Some days I believe myself better than others.

    • Amber

      Hi Joslyn,
      I got married about 7 months ago. I don’t have any children yet…and I’m not sure if I will be able to have children, but I felt impressed that I should share some of my thoughts with you. I am a Christian and I believe that when hard things happen to us it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve done something wrong in God’s eyes. I believe that we all will face different trials in life and the reason for that is because we each are here to learn the things that will help us to reach our fullest potential and to become the person that God intended for us to be. But first, we have to be tested to show God that we trust Him and His timing. I recently lost my mother in what society would consider a “shameful” way. (She took her own life.) I have often wondered why that happened and why she did that and why God let that happen, but after a lot of praying and scripture study, I came to the realization that Christ didn’t ask why he had to go to the Garden of Gethsemene. What he experienced there was very difficult for him and he even asked if it could stop, but God knew that it was necessary for our Savior to complete that ultimate sacrifice. We will each have our own Gethsemenes in life. We will each ask God at some point, “can you please just take this pain away?”
      I have learned over the past few years that instead of asking “why is this happening to me?” we need to ask, “what do you want me to learn from this experience Heavenly Father?” I promise you that it will be a huge blessing in your life if you change your outlook. I know it has helped me to deal with the pains I have struggled with. God loves you and He wants to help you see a bigger picture. :)
      I hope for the best for you and your significant other. From what I can deduce from reading your comment I think you must be a very strong lady.

      • Joslyn Bloodworth

        Thank you.

      • Adoptive mom

        While I intellectually agree with your perspective, and appreciate you backing it up with scripture, it’s really hard for those of us who have, and continue, to struggle to not be looking for “the thing” we are supposed to learn. One day you think you’ve unlocked some new spiritual wisdom and days, weeks, months go by and still no baby. Or maybe it’s not that I haven’t learned something… maybe it’s my spouse hasn’t? Or worse yet, my spouse has, and I’m holding him back because I haven’t gained this new wisdom. I don’t want to learn anything else. I want to have my hope fulfilled.

  • Jenni Langley

    I have not endured infertility but I deeply mourn with those who do. We have some close friends who are deep into their 40s and who tried so hard to have children and haven’t. They’ve also endured a failed adoption–she went with the mom to ultrasounds and doctor appointments, only for the birth mom to decide a month or so before the birth that she would keep the baby. My friends had named him, decorated his room, made arrangements at work, etc. It was awful! Her mother-in-law said it was like a death.

    I do recall the feeling I had when I’d been married over 5 years, desiring a child so much but choosing for awhile not to have a child because my husband was in seminary and it would be beneficial for us not to have children while working on that. But one month, I had a miscarriage at 5 weeks. I was heartbroken. Then, just a week or so later, I learned my newly married (less than 2 years) sister-in-law was pregnant. I cried into my living room floor for an hour straight. How unfair for my sister-in-law to have a grandchild for my in-laws before I did!! It was unthinkable! I was jealous and hurt and so heartbroken over my loss. It felt at the time as if we’d never have children. I cry now remembering those times. Ten years and three kids later, I had another miscarriage. It was so much more painful this time, yet God used that in such a huge way in my life–I really empathize so much with those who have lost babies on the road to parenthood. And He showed me that my heartbreak and loss (trials) lead to patient endurance–so that I may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4). I don’t know why He’s working such patient endurance in your lives through such a painful trial, but heaven will reveal all His purposes. Therein lies my hope!

    [By the way, even if you don’t hold a baby in your arms but have had one for any length of time in your/your wife’s body, YOU ARE A PARENT!]

  • Michelle

    we had quite a few years of infertility… including 3 miscarriages, which all happened very soon after a positive pregnancy test… I still remember so much pain and emotions on the journey… counselling was a big help, from a very Godly woman. One time I went into a courier place to pick-up a package and there were 2 pregnant women out of about 10 people waiting… I couldn’t just turn around and leave – I had to get our package… then I went back to my car and cried and prayed to God to help me cope with that pain/jealousy… then we tried to adopt… that process felt like we had some more control, but first I had to grieve my dream of having a baby… then I grieved the dream of adopting a baby, so we tried to adopt a toddler internationally… and then I got pregnant with our son who is now 4 years old… he has a number of medical and development challenges, and he is our ‘gift from God’… a number of people tell me ‘oh, it’s because you tried to adopt – that’s why you got pregnant’… well, actually, no that’s not the case… while pregnant we found out stuff about us biologically that explained all the miscarriages… and all I can say is that God decided to create our son and enable him to survive pregnancy… to anyone reading this who is going through the pain of infertility, I can’t say I know exactly how you feel, especially since we now have a son… but I hope and pray that you will find other couples who are or who have gone through even a remotely similar journey as you, who can support you

  • Marcy Hanson

    This is exactly why I started writing. As women of faith we look to the bible for our hope, our comfort, but when you battle infertility, it isn’t hope and comfort you find in the stories of our sisters. It is disgrace. It is shame. It is as you said. And the sad thing is that even in our day and age, that stigma is still here. The Christmas story has brought me to tears from more than the magnitude of the story itself, but because it was another pregnancy, and it often felt like I was not finding favor in God’s eyes. It has taken years to overcome that. To realize that our infertility wasn’t/isn’t a punishment. Thank you for sharing your story, for helping to spread hope and awareness about an issue that is so prevalent and so unknown. Blessings.
    ~M
    nomaybebaby.blogspot.com

  • http://www.in-due-time.com/ Caroline

    If you haven’t already, you should check out God’s Plan for Pregnancy, I highly, highly recommend it for anyone struggling. http://www.in-due-time.com

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  • Lorna B. Hernandez-Ramos

    Wow! This is so accurate! My husband and I have been married for 17 years and went through all the above plus grieving the “what will never be”. We are now finding joy in our childless marriage and counting our endless blessings. It has been a painful process, but one that brought us closer together. Therapy has helped too! Church became the place where I felt the most pain and shame. We need to have these conversations at church!

    • Jen Crowder Noricks

      For several years, we skipped church on Mother’s and Father’s Day. I also avoided attending baby showers. If I absolutely felt like I needed to gift a mother-to-be, I would offer to contribute to a group gift and let somebody else do the shopping. Through all of that, we were open about the fact that we were struggling with infertility. 99% of the people we told were extremely sensitive and kind.

  • Monna Clare Payne

    I am so sorry that you and your wife have experienced this kind of pain. I know many who have faced it and my heart hurts with each. I hope for the day when we as church families learn to truly share our lives more honestly and respond to each other with compassion.

    It will take this kind of vulnerability to get us there. So – thank you sharing it.

  • Jennifer Golden Emory

    Words out of our mouths! My husband and I have been TTC for 4 years. We are okay….now, God has this. We have faith in him, he has a plan!

  • Jessica Gourley

    I saw this shared on Facebook and love how it articulates my husband’s feelings on our struggle. Ironically, we started posting about our IF battle this past week on our blog. Feel free to read, share, and further build this online community of support. It’s a “coming out” of sorts and feels so good to have all of you lovely people as company. Also, if you haven’t seen the post (also by a husband) about 10(?) things never to say to people struggling with infertility, it is both poignant and funny. It’s so refreshing to know my sweet husband isn’t alone. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Prayers for your family’s growth!
    http://www.gourleygirlandguy.wordpress.com

  • Martha Peterson

    Two of my sisters have experienced infertility. One has an amazing son but has miscarried 4 babies since then. The other has adopted 2 beautiful girls from China and is waiting on the 3rd. They have both read this post and acutely relate to it. I don’t think I can share this with them, but so do I. But not in the same way.

    I’ll be 40 this year. Single. This post made me cry because, except for the pregnancy tests and dr visits and the marriage part, it is about me. I’ve battled shame over the years….no……I am battling shame right now. What have I done wrong? Is God punishing me? Do I REALLY need this much time to prepare? In my head, I know the answers to these questions but my heart is so slow to follow.

    This paragraph especially hit home. It could also describe singleness.

    “Shame slips in with the silent words spoken as another month pregnant only with hope passes by. It is amazing how much silence surrounds the struggle of infertility. The silence of not wanting to talk about it. The silence of wanting to talk about, but being scared. The silence of trying to avoid the one thing you are wondering about, but not wanting to focus on it, and yet having your mind dominated by it. The silence of not feeling comfortable talking with others about it because it involves sex. The silence because you just don’t want to deal with the questions.”

    This past holiday season was especially hard. The hollow ache was almost physical, yet, I didn’t want to appear pathetic or weak by sharing with others. I don’t want to be pitied (as you mentioned in your post). It’s like…I want a husband but I don’t want the world praying for that sweet, “why in the world is she still single?” gal just because I’m seen as needy or broken or less than whole.

    Hope. It IS exhausting to hold onto it. God never promised me a husband. He has not promised me children. (The irony is that, due to some problems with my ovaries, I don’t even know if I could conceive if I was able to try–double whammy in a way).

    I know….Rom 5:3-5…..but I think I have enough character by now. I’m sure of it.

    I do not mean to ramble but really mean to thank you for sharing and to know that people in other walks of life also relate to your suffering more than you may know.

    • BethanyL2

      I’m praying for you.

    • Tina Dell

      I just wanted to say thank you for your comment. I too was single and
      childless and felt this longing for a child but no one seemed to know
      where I was coming from. I was a live-in nanny and always thought I
      would be a mom. At times this longing to be a mom would bring me to
      tears. If I tried to connect with others who wanted to be a parent but
      were childless it would be all couples. I remember going to a bible
      study and we had to fill out a paper about our family. Your name:
      Spouse’s name: Kids’ names and ages: And somehow you always get asked,
      “How many in your family?” Well my family is me, so 1. There should be a
      name for someone who is longing to be parent but is not someone who is
      going through “traditional infertility” Just because you are single
      doesn’t mean the pain is any less. You are the only other person I have
      heard that seem to be feeling what I was feeling and you expressed it so
      well. Just to give you all the info I was married for the first time at
      39 and I am hoping a child will be in my future but I often lose hope.
      Hang in there, you are not alone.

  • Amy Hunt

    Your empathy is beautiful, Nate. Thank you.

  • Michelle Smith

    An encouragment to any woman that reads this or has ever struggled with infertility:
    “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” -Habakkuk 3:17-18

    This passage helps me remember even though I am not bearing children like I want, God is in control and in that, I should rejoice!

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  • Natilyh007 .

    This is so well written. Even if you have never experienced this pain before you feel it with each word. I would like to encourage anyone that is experiencing infertility that the hopeful reality is that infertility is not something that cannot and has not been conquered. After suffering 2 miscarriages and No one wants to hear that God can do it and put your hope and trust in him but sadly its because of that, that so many people find themselves in these helpless situations. Why does its seem easy for some and not for others, who knows but regardless of where you find yourself in the spectrum the answer that will definitely yield your hearts desire is faith. There are several scriptures (Psalm 113:9, Luke 1:37, Exodus 23:26, Deutoronomy 7:14) that show Gods perspective on fertility. It is our right as his creation to bear fruit in all areas of our lives. Including having children. No matter how long it takes, don’t lose faith. Trust and believe that God has done it for countless others and will do it for you. Losing faith is likened to giving up on that child(ren) that you long to have so encourage yourself in the scriptures and the success stories of others. GOD IS ABLE! Be blessed everyone!

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  • keltrinswife

    I think the church needs to change their tune about having kids. Thank you for this honest article and be blessed:)

  • DrumminD21311

    Another reason to not go to church

  • Chad Pyle

    A man that I know has two lovely daughters. Adopted. One is from Brazil and the other from China. When I asked about how he and his wife came to adopt these two girls, he told me a story very similar to those I read in the comments section below the article. He and his wife visited many of the fertility clinics and doctors in the mid-west. He said after a time they stopped the treatments and decided to adopt instead. When I asked him why they elected to go that route and not continue the treatments, he replied that he believed God had other plans for them. Now, he says he thanks God that he and his wife were not able to have children themselves otherwise they may have never adopted, and these two girls would be living very different lives indeed. Maybe his story is a bunch of bologna and they are secretly both bitter about not being able to have their own children. He pointed out to me, however, that he and his wife had to ask themselves why they wanted children in the first place. To honor themselves, or to honor God? In the final analysis he said they came to the conclusion that the source of the child was much less important than the responsiblity of parenting. He and his wife felt that not only did they feel called to parent because God had important things for them to learn about themselves and about him, but that they could also do so while at the same time benefiting another soul. I get where he is coming from. It makes sense to me. For my part, far from holding this man in dishonor over a biological process that does not allow him to have his ‘own’ children, I regard his willingness to adopt as a great symbol of love. A reflection of God’s love for us by adopting us into his family. I greatly admire his faith and his willingness to put God’s love, through him, on display.

    • Stephanie

      Love this!

    • Susan M

      Love this too! My husband and I struggled with infertility and we were never able to conceive. We turned to adoption and our world opened up and the path became clear. We never looked back and everything fell beautifully into place. We have two amazing little girls along with treasured relationships with special birth relatives in Texas. Our story is not everyone’s story, but it is a miracle and has been something we could have never planned. And we have felt God’s love and guidance every step of the way.

  • Lisha Epperson

    I always appreciate the male perspective on infertility. My husband and I travelled this road for 14 years. In the end we adopted 3 and birthed 1. What a ride it’s been. I’m glad you resolved that with infertility, sometimes there are no words. This was sensitive and thought provoking. Blessings to you and your family. “We know” .

  • Stephanie

    Found this posted by a friend and as of late I have read a number of articles on infertility. For that, I am very thankful! It is a great thing for me to gain insight on how to be encouraging and helpful to those around me that I know or that I may not be aware of that are struggling with infertility. I can only begin to imagine the pain that this road entails and I am heartbroken for those who struggle and would never dare make any sort of judgement or assumption. After reading some comments I do want to interject one thing that I am prayerful will be taken as words to help and not words to harm. If as someone who has dealt with this you see it as offensive or insensitive, please delete this as that is most certainly not my intention. I am not much of a public comment-er, so I hesitate, but here goes:

    I want to specifically touch on the jealousy that I am SURE is so natural so feel when a person struggling with infertility sees pregnant women. I am not disqualifying or trying to invalidate that emotion. But here is what is on my heart….We never know what difficult road a person is being called to walk. Just as I may not know a persons infertility story, so we also may not always know a pregnant woman’s story. I have specifically known women- as my own sister who was 20 years old and pregnant with a child whose father (her fiance) died suddenly and tragically, my cousin who was pregnant with twins and lost one of them half way through the pregnancy yet carried them both to term until her living son was ready to be delivered, a friend who carried her baby boy knowing he had fatal medical complications and then held him in a hospital for his short 6 month life, or maybe the pregnant woman struggled with years of infertility herself. I am in no way playing the “whose got it worst game” or trying to compare heart aches or belittle ANY kind of trial!!!! It is good for me to remember as well, that with any thing in life, to never assume a person who has what I wish I had has an “easier road” than me.

    I pray for my friends who are suffering through infertility and I pray I can be a friend to them. Thank you for your writing and I also find the whole thing to be completely “unfair” and wish greatly everyone who longed for a child had the desire of their heart come true!

  • Jenn Ortego

    “No, it isn’t the same type of disgrace that Elizabeth experienced. In that day, an inability to bear children was equated with sin. It was assumed that the reason for barrenness was your own doing. You must have done something. You must have something to repent of. Some sin you committed. Some reason God was withholding his blessing from you.” Can you please elaborate on how/why it is different b/c I’ve been going through infertiltiy for 7 years now and a lady recently told me that she believes EVERYTHING we face, health related, is a direct result from unrepented sin in our life or someone very close around us.

  • CEA01

    Whilst I applaud the accuracy of this article I disagree with the patronising sentiment that’s attached – the author may sympathise but he most certainly doesn’t understand infertility purely because he has managed to father a child!
    Only when you have no children despite trying for over five years and undertaken every conceivable medical examination can you fully understand infertility!

  • Leisa Newton Wimpee

    We’ve been dealing with infertility for 8 years now. With our last failed invitro a month ago. Your words echo very well in my ears. Well said, well written, well felt. We too have still been judged as if what we go through is the causation of sin. It certainly becomes an interesting progression of self and couple. My heart and many other things have gone through change after change. I just had to finally sit down after this last devastation and make the promise to me and God that this would not break me, and I would get back to praying at least twice a day. And you know what? It’s been 12 days and I already feel more hope and strength than I have in eight years.

  • do_something_about_it

    Sorry about my disqus username in this context. Thank you for sharing. I hope you cont. to share this perspective with other Christians. We’ve been TTC for 9 years while making DH’s ministry-related moves. It’s been very hard. The silence is crippling, and so are a lot of the ‘helpful’ comments we’ve received from other Christians. We’re biologically just about out of opportunities. The redeeming side of that is I hope to feel less vulnerable and therefore more open to breaking the silence about infertility and about big disappointments in general. Because it’s not just the infertile that face broken hopes and dreams. Blessings to all x

  • Andrea Meier

    Such a beautifully written post. My husband and I had been trying to have a family since 2/2009. We watched countless friends and famioy members try or even not try, but get pregnant. After 2 years we got our answer why. Male factor infertility. My husband underwent physical exams and blood test, and everything was normal. We don’t know why we can’t have children together. 7 months after we had our answers, he made a huge sacfifice and we underwent iui with a donor to build our family. We were blessed the 1s time. Our son is now 26 months old. When he was 18 months we took our last vacation as a family of 3. We did a 2nd iui in june of last year. Our 2nd boy is due march 3rd.
    I know how blessed we are. We are UNBELIEVABLY blessed. And yet I find myself still feeling badly that this is what it took for us to make our family. For my husband its like an adoption of a child he was present for the pregnancy and birth of, and I feel he is disconnected from our boys in that way. I often wonder why it took this struggle to get where we are.
    I am so happy we are here, and I wish things had come differently, but this is our family. This is who we are, and how we were made.
    My prayers are with your family, whatever may come.

  • Michelle

    I have a dear friend who has walked through infertility for many years. Along her journey for hope, support, answers, treatment, etc, God gave her an opportunity to write about her journey, and she has a book coming out in the fall through Harper Collins Publishing, called Barren Among the Fruitful. She also has a blog at amandahopehaley.com. I highly recommend it for anyone.

  • Shelly Worrell

    Thank you for your article. I really speaks (mostly) truth to many of us who deal with infertility and to those who don’t and don’t understand. I have to disagree with your statement ‘Thankfully, the shame of disapproving eyes and rumored gossip doesn’t surround infertility in America anymore. – See more at: http://natepyle.com/the-disgrace-of-infertility/#comments” as it is just not true. Maybe because you suffered only 14 months before having children (and by saying “only” I am not trying to minimize your suffering in any way) you did not experience this, but after almost 16 years of infertility, I have most definitely suffered this and mostly from Christian people. I have been told, “You must have some sin in your life. Confess it and you will get pregnant within a month.” or “I knew someone who had some rock music tapes (yes, this was the day of cassette tapes) in a box in their attic, as soon as they found them and burned them, she got pregnant. You need to look through your house and see what sinful music you have that is keeping you from getting pregnant.” or “You need to give it over to the Lord. If you do that, you will get pregnant.” or “Just adopt and you’ll get pregnant.” (BTW, we adopted and didn’t get pregnant) or… Sadly, the church can be the hardest place to be for infertile couples. On Mother’s Day (I love churches that do “Ladies’ Day) when you’re almost handed a gift and then told, “Oh wait, you aren’t a mom, you don’t get one.” (not meant to be cruel in any way, just not thinking and had never dealt with infertility). Just a few of the ways we see that things haven’t changed much from Elizabeth’s day.

  • faith h

    I have 2 natural born children so I do not know the pain of infertility. However, my husband and I have had custody of our granddaughter for 8 years now. Since she was 11 months old. I love her as much, AS MUCH as my natural born children. She is as much a part of me as if I had carried her myself for 10 months. That tells me that it IS possible to love a child that is adopted as much as one that was conceived in your own body. There are so many children out there who need a family to love them. If you cannot have your own child, please consider that as a possibility. You will be blessed from doing so.

    • Tessa

      Please, please don’t put the weight of adoption on those struggling to conceive. You have no right to do that. Adoption is a personal decision and should be considered by all people.

      • guest

        I am grateful that she posted this! When my husband and I struggled for 6 + yrs of infertility, we didn’t consider adoption even an option because my husband didn’t believe that he could love a child the same if it wasn’t biological. My aunt and uncle were never able to have kids and they now regret not having adopted for similar reasons. A friend adopted a son and then immediately conceived a daughter. I do believe that God may allow for infertility to lead us to a child who is parentless. No matter how much pain we suffer with infertility or Hope That we have lost, how much more is the child who has lost his parents and has lost hope on ever having parents or being loved again. Sometimes we are so caught up in our own pain and grief, that we struggle to look past ourselves to see others who need help. I think adoption should be brought up and considered and prayed about. Perhaps we are so busy pursuing our own goals that we are no longer following God’s will for us. Satan uses everything he can to gain a foothold in our lives and infertility was that area for me.

    • Stacy Baker

      Adoption costs more than a car; more than most middle-class families make in a year. It is not something to be taken on lightly. You have to be ready for it. I agree with Tessa. It is not fair to place the burden of adoption solely on the infertile because there are SO many stumbling blocks on the way to adoption that can be ever more painful than infertility. Imagine actually falling in love with a child and then having the birth parent change their mind at the last moment. Completely heartbreaking and it happens every day.

  • Tessa

    Oh how I loved this. It was honest. And this eternal atheist thanks you.

  • La Donna Pizzifred

    Perfectly said sometimes we feel alone and it takes a while to realize we’re not…… Me too and us too

  • Debby Locke

    I lost my first child to eptopic pregnancy on my 21st Birthday, my 2nd I lost in the other tube 6 months later at Thanksgiving. It was a dirty secret no one wanted to talk about it, they didn’t act as though I had lost a baby afterall, they said, I was only a little over a month along when I lost them. I was never the same, besides the great loss I went through the guilt and shame and did feel it was my punishment for my sins along the way. I lost both tubes and so since this was in the 80’s I knew I would never have a child of my own. My dream was always to have twin girls and a boy (my grandmother had 3 sets of twins). It ruined my marriage because I couldn’t get past my shame and didn’t want him to go without children, I felt like half of a women…I felt like damaged goods. We divorced when I was 23. He remarried and they had 2 children. I’m happy for him. I remarried and am blessed with a wonderful Godly husband. He had 2 boys from a previous marriage but even after 27 years they only see me as dad’s wife. Unless you have experienced it you will never know how sad it can make a person feel. I’m grateful to God for my husband, the pain is still there.

  • Jesstina Murphy

    This was beautiful thank you for you different prospective. I am sorry for your pain.

  • Denise Colleen Clemons

    I had 5 miscarriages within the first 3 years of being married. My last miscarriage was in my 5th month. He would have been Joshua Michael. Because I had so many problems (my husband was military) the dr, said well you are fine, go home and try again. Because I did not get a D&C I had scar tissue that plugged my right tube 100% and my left tube 99%.. I was told I would never get pregnant again. We still tried, taking infertility drugs, shots, tests, more tests. I finally had enough. I looked my dr. in the face and after 11 years I said if God wants me to get pregnant, I will. If not, we shall become foster parents and adopt. 2 years later my miracle Christine Eliane was born. She is now 22 years old and she and her husband have my beautiful grandson. I never conceived again. When I was pregnant with her I had a man at church look at me and say “Well I sure hope you can hold on to this one”. I cried for days. We still became foster parents (A lot of children need a loving home) however, our adoption option never came about. I have learned to deal with the hand that God gave me and am so thankful for the best daughter anyone could have.

  • Jenne

    Hi Nate,

    This is a beautiful post. I hope to bring a little light into the darkness of infertility. I am an RN. I am a firm believer in this method as I have many friends – nurses and doctors trained in treating infertility naturally through Naprotechnology. Most doctors misdiagnose infertility and the only option is IVF. At the Pope Paul the VI Institute in Omaha, NE they specialize in finding the root cause. It does take patience to learn the method and the tests to be done, but I know many families who have struggled with infertility have children through this new medical advance. Also, you don’t have to be Catholic to go to this clinic. It is named after a pope who wrote an article on natural family planning and the disadvantages of contraception. Anyways, I wanted to tell you about it if you haven’t heard of it. Here is their website. http://www.popepaulvi.com/

    God bless,

    Jenne

  • Lauren

    I can relate to this all so well. I am 24 years old and was diagnosed with PCOS a few years ago and I can not have children because of the condition. I feel the same way. Did I do something wrong? Did I make God mad? Does he hate me for something I did? No, he loves me and is waiting for MY perfect time to give me my baby. Everyone thinks that it is just something that “happens.” You get married, have babies and live happily ever after. But for some, it stops at having a baby. The pain filled days you have to live everyday. Seeing all the happy mothers with their babies, or hearing about them at work. People dont understand the stress, emotions, and pain that comes along with it. I am just starting my journey with infertility. I was adopted when I was 10 days old. My dad couldn’t have children. He was a pastor and my mom is a very godly woman. She couldn’t understand WHY god would give her that motherly instinct and then take it from her. She wanted a baby more than anything in the entire world. She told me she finally got down in front of the recliner in their house and said God, I want YOUR will, not mine. If its not in your plan for me to have a baby, then so be it. He then gave her the assurance she would have a baby girl. Little did she know, just a short time after that, I was concieved. They got the call I had been born and I was all theirs. She always told me she may not have physically birthed me but she FAITHED ME. That I didnt grow under her heart, but in it. I will never forget that. Now that I am going through the same things she went through, I realize that God put me exactly where I needed to be because he knew I would need her now. I prayed for a very long time not too long ago and he told me, Lauren, I have a greater plan for you than you could imagine. You may not become a mother the way you want to but you WILL become a mother I have planned for you to be from the beginning and you will have a son and his name will be Isaac. I try so hard to hold onto this everyday. When im feeling down about my condition, I just think I have a man god placed in my life who loves me more than I could ever imagine. God gave me one of my wishes and he’s given me reassurance about the other. Yes waiting is hard, but I just know that when that day comes, adoption, physical birth, there wont be a happier woman on this earth than me! I have been through so much with this condition by I REFUSE to let it take control of me. Because I know what Satan tries to use against me for bad, GOD will turn it around for my good!

    • Eizabeth

      Both of my best friends have PCOS. One has one daughter adopted, the other biological. The other has TWO biological children. Don’t despair. They both conceived on Metformin and did not even have to take fertility drugs.

    • Guest

      I can relate to your story so much. I also have PCOS and things were looking very bleak for me in terms of ever conceiving a child… I had very irregular cycles and most of those cycles I never even ovulated. Then by a miracle, I conceived without any medical intervention just 2 months before I was supposed to start fertility treatments. Stay hopeful, God truly can make the impossible possible. It is amazing how looking back I can see how God was with me every single step of the journey. I understand how hard it is when you are in the midsts of it. Take care of yourself and keep praying.

    • Whitney

      Hi Lauren. I don’t know if you will even read this message by now or not…but I just wanted you to know that not only was Nates blog helpful…..but your comment really stood out to me amongst the others. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 4 years. Not only do I have diagnosis of PCOS, blocked tube, reduced ovarian reserve, but also he has azospermia with an unknown cause for his lack of ability to produce sperm. Although I believe in the miracles of Christ, it is looking like in the natural world we will not be able to have children together biologically. All of this….plus he’s struggling right now to find a job! We of course have gotten the saying we should “consider adoption” which I do not condone such statements from people who can have children as I believe it is ALL Christians responsibility to consider the orphan and the widow…not just those who struggle with the heartache of infertility. But..I do believe God is calling.g us to adoption (which we felt led to do before we even found out about our infertility which has given me some comfort). Anyway, your statement about your mom saying she “faithed” you and that you didn’t “grow under her heart but in her heart” really spoke to me…and your testimony that you have become a woman of God who is determined not to become bitter but rejoyce in your circumstances is a story that I know will help many….because I know it helped me. I know the road to adoption is not easy, but your story let’s me know prayers can be answered. I am sorry for your struggles, God bless you, and may the desires of your righteous heart be answered. You are right….”God’s plans are always for our good and not to harm us but to prosper us an give us a better future”

  • paceaux

    Thank you for sharing, Nate.

    My wife and I were married 6 years before we decided to start a family. We tried on our own for a year and a half. Then we spent a year and a half with fertility clinics.

    Everything you mentioned was spot on, but you still missed a spot:

    The Bible never addresses male infertility.

    Where are the infertile men in the Bible?

    They aren’t there, because the writers of the Bible lacked a modern scientific understanding. So our wives have women in scripture that they can turn to. Men have “be fruitful and multiply”.

    We look at scripture and wonder, “what about me?”… while our wives wonder, “why me?” I can’t tell you the number of times I consoled my wife because she felt responsible for my infertility.

    You’re right, there is no magic Bible verse that makes it better. Everyone’s struggles, pains, and losses are different. My wife and I never lost a child– because we could never conceive. We’ve had to stop our adoption process three times because we moved…. and our adoption agency has warned us to expect at least one fall-through.

    What we can’t do is compare our pains. One person’s 18month struggle is not equal to another’s 5 year fight for infertility – to another persons 3 or 4 stillborn children. There’s no prize for, “I’ve suffered the most”.

    We’ve all suffered in devastating ways, and we’re best to suffer with one another, bearing each other’s pains —- I believe a word was created for this………. compassion.

    We can have compassion, because…as a man, I do have Jesus to turn to.

  • Erica Baughman

    After reading this I feel like someone has been searching my thoughts and feelings with a toothpick. How hard it is. And yet no one gets it until they are there. Going on 7yrs. And I have had many a thought. Regret. Shame. Anger. Not good enough. Depression. Not wanting to even see a kid or pregnant woman because it hurts too much. And then to see there complaints. “Oh, I didn’t get to do x because my baby wouldn’t stop crying. ” makes me want to say, “lady! Suck it up and be happy that you have that “problem”.” I would give anything to know what it is like to not have a chance to straighten my hair because a precious little one needed me. ” It seems like they soon take for granted that they have something sooooo precious. And then the feeling of Starting to not care if I ever do, to every now and then sneaking a peek at a kid that passes by and my heart melts. And aches. It is like a whole in your soul. That nothing can fill. This post has me with many emotions. I almost feel naked. Seeing that someone can actually put it in words what I felt/feel.

    • Emily

      I understand exactly how you feeling My husband and I have been ttc and have been unsuccessful and I am beginning to wonder if we ever will have a child. I don’t feel like the Lord would have put this strong desire in our hearts to have a child if we weren’t to have any. I find myself being jealous of my friend who has a 6 month old baby. I use every excuse I can think of to avoid going to see her because of the pain it causes. I know how you feel completely. It breaks my heart to see these children who have no one to love and care for them. Teenagers who go out and have sex one time and then have a baby whom which they don’t want to have anything to do with so they abandon them or worse have an abortion. And the cost of an adoption is so much that normal average people with normal jobs are not able to afford it. I am still holding out hope that one day the Lord is going to bless my husband and I with a child. I know that I must keep my faith strong in the Lord and wait on His will and trust Him. “HE’S GOT THIS!”

  • Jemelene

    Just…thank you.

  • Eizabeth

    Being the mother of five fabulous children, I can say I have not, thankfully, experienced infertility. I lost two to early miscarriage, and that hurt enough. I don’t know how it feels. I DO know that my best friend struggled for four years to get pregnant. Being Catholic, she and her husband knew they would never use in vitro or any other mechanical process to have their family, and fought the desperation that leads many, even pro-life couples, to go thru things that destroy life in the quest to build it. They looked, in the long-term, to possibly adopting, just knowing they HAD to be parents. God intervened, a diagnosis was made, treatment was administered, and two beautiful babies are being adored as we speak. That COULD not happen for my husband’s parents. After finding out that they would certainly never make a baby, they opened their hearts to the beauty of adoption. They adopted three infants, my wonderful husband being one of them. Because they just wanted to be parents – no matter if they were the biological parents or not – an entire family exists. They are parents, in-laws, and now grandparents. I am thankful every day that they adopted my husband. Otherwise, this family that I cherish would not exist. God has a plan. He can heal every hurt. And if anyone told me they were not “meant to be parents” I would have to disagree. People can and DO say hurtful things out of ignorance and maybe just not knowing what to say. God bless all who are praying for a mate or for children.

    • KMR

      “…fought the desperation that leads many, even pro-life couples, to go thru things that destroy life in the quest to build it.”

      This makes me angry mostly because I almost fell for this ridiculous, ill-informed nothing but a heapful of shame inducing legalism and considered not doing IVF. Didn’t though because intelligence and critical thinking won out and now I’ve got two beautiful children to show for it. Anyway I am truly glad your friends were able to be medically treated in ways they were comfortable with and achieved that which they most desired. And there are certainly people who could not be comfortable with IVF and that’s okay. It’s a hard procedure. But if you are able to afford it and would like to do so then religion should offer nothing but support and comfort since IVF can be done in ways that are compatible with pro-life viewpoints. To say otherwise is to spread the worse kind of propaganda and lies since these lies and propaganda could deny people the real opportunity to have children.

  • Lindsay

    So much of what you wrote about married couples dealing with infertility relates to “older” singles dealing with the pain of singleness, as well. I kept nodding my head. We feel the shame. We grieve over things not lost but what we never had (and may never have). We have a hard time at church. Hope deferred truly makes the heart sick.

  • Tracy Lutker Cripps

    I often wonder why adoption is the last choice? And why people have to adopt babies? Maybe God hasn’t allowed a pregnancy because “you’re child” is already out there, waiting for you. I’ve never been there so please forgive me if I’ve offended, but my brother was five when he joined our family and I wish more would go that route. I would love to adopt myself, before I married I was sure I would. It’s sadly not an ooinion for us.

  • Li René Harmon

    this is why religion is stupid.
    any religion.

    • Kaitlin Luksa

      At no point in the bible did Jesus say “judge those who don’t have kids”. People of all walks of life say insensitive things and think badly of people for stupid reasons. Non-religious people were constantly asking me why I wasn’t pregnant yet during my struggle with infertility.

  • Dove

    Thank you Nate for sharing your family’s story. My husband and I tried for almost four years to have a child. We suffered two ectopic pregnancies, five miscarriages, and two failed IVF attempts. We finally decided to stop trying and start healing. Every person we know tells us to “just adopt”. We did not feel we had the energy for another difficult journey to try to have children. We have a lot of healing to do. We almost lost our marriage through all of the pain. It’s been over a year now since we’ve decided to move on. It is still the hardest decision we’ve ever made. People ask why we are giving up. It makes me chuckle a bit, as I think to myself that they have no idea! I’m so sorry for your pain. But, I do understand it. I share in it. I too am learning how to live with it. Thank you.

    • Rebecca

      Dove, you are so very brave. There are few people in this world that know the kind of strength you’ve had to find just to keep on living through this. I am praying for the Lord to overwhelm you with his goodness; you deserve an abundance of it.

  • Jack Wilson

    Although I can feel the pain as I had a sister who used to cry at Christmas and other events because of being the “one” without a child. I would not say mourning is a bad thing. We know Hannah mourned and Sarah mournes as did others. The story, as well written and expressed so well is one that certainly helps the writer get rid of some pain. The fact that the writer had a baby after the pain is hopeful to those who are still out there trying and watching the clock.
    Now for the other side. If we believe God has a plan for us, that alone should comfort us somewhat. I am afraid that the article leaves out the Hannah and the Sarah and the others who miraculously had children. I am not speaking to the unsaved but to the saved and yes, the pain, the frustration, the hurt may be there but the expectation that God will not leave you nor forsake you should always be present.

  • Lily

    You have described pretty much the way my husband and I felt for a long time. We went through this close to a decade. I am surprised we hoped for so long. Hope was being diminished every cycle, every doctor’s visit, every test result. It would hurt so deeply. We finally gave up on the idea of getting pregnant. It felt like a relief in a way, but the guilt was still there. It was telling me that I have to keep doing the impossible, like if it were up to us.
    We rested, and not long after that, we got pregnant. We were shocked by the news and still are, because according to science it wasn’t possible for us to bear children. I would like to say something here that I have shared with my husband. People got excited for us when they found out about the big news, now most of them know what we went through, because we decided to shared it at some point. But now most of them tell us how our lives will change, the annoying, messy and crazy life we will have from now on. Like if children were a curse instead of a blessing. Please understand where we are coming from, we see the whole thing from a different perspective, hoping that parenthood will be different for us and not just another couple that has joined the club. God made this happen and not us!

  • Jen Crowder Noricks

    We’ve been there too. After four years of waiting, we now have two children. The worst thing for me was getting advice from people who didn’t know all the details of our situation. “Just relax and it will happen” helps no one. Sometimes, the best thing friends can do is to just validate that what you’re going through sucks. Oh, and I never, EVER ask people when they are going to have kids, even if they already have one. If they want you to know, they will tell you.

  • Rebecca Erwin

    A sweet friend of mine is struggling through this and the reality that they will never be able to have kids after two tragic and painful miscarriages. Thank you for the kind, comforting words.

  • Phineus

    My wife and I are in our 50s and we never had kids and, barring some kind of miracle like what Elizabeth experienced, it’s not gonna happen at this point.

    But I guess our experience is very different somehow… we never really thought of it as a problem or lack. It just is. We never really felt the kind of desperation to have a child that we noticed in other couples around us who would visit lots of fertility docs to figure out what was wrong. We never even checked in with any kind of fertility doc to see which one of us might be the cause. I don’t feel somehow less for not having had children and I don’t feel like there’s any shame or disgrace in it.

  • Melissa Rhodes

    Thank you for the post! I too struggled with infertility. I finally was able to find out what was causing it and now have 6 children. In my case it was insulin resistance. I was not really overweight but the food we eat everyday was causing my body not to ovulate. I started eating better lost what weight I could with the help of fertility drugs and phentermine I lost the weight and got pregnant with my third child. I know some doctors say phentermine will mess up your metabolism but mine was already so far gone there was nothing else to do. I know my efforts and educating myself helped. I hope this info helps someone who might have the same problems as I did. I know not every case is the same but for those whose case is like mine, I hope this helps!

  • Emilie Bishop

    Christmas is really hard for those struggling with infertility. I sobbed through “Silent Night” at the end of our Christmas Eve service this past year…and every year since 2010, when I’d just miscarried my only pregnancy. We’re waiting to adopt now, but still no child in our house. But all the Christmas carols about “mother and child” really hit home how this holiday is the celebration of not just one but two miraculous births, which were foreshadowed by another one (Isaac’s). And so often it has me railing that if God can go to all the trouble of bringing babies to a virgin and two old women, why not me? Thank you, Nate, for summing up how painful and open-ended this all is. Blessings on you and your wife as you continue to wait for your second child.

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  • http://www.hollicareylong.com/ Holli Carey Long

    Yes. The church and Target are the hardest places to be for an infertile couple, I think.

    Thanks for sharing this. And, btw, “Me too.”

  • Nicky Crick

    I think this was a beautiful heartfelt commentary on infertility. My husband I privately experienced this for over two years. You were able to capture the sometimes unspeakable emotions. We are now the happy parents of three adopted children from foster care. While I may never have a pregnancy or experience that I know that God is in control and he will guide us all through the pain if we let him. Thank you for sharing.

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  • Heather Cosme

    I just wanted to let you know that I shared this on our fundraising website. My husband and I have also been dealing with infertility and are in the process of raising funds for IVF. A friend of mine shared this on FB. I read it and knew I had to share it on our site. See, our site is not only for raising funds for us to do IVF, but it is also a place that others can join in and see into our struggle/journey with infertility as well. We are hoping to make the conversation surrounding infertility more open without fear, shame, gulit. We want others to know they are not alone and that they do not have to stay silent. Your post was so open, honest, and so refreshing, especially from a man’s point of view, that I felt that I just needed to share it and get the word out. Thank you, Nate for sharing so plainly, so openly, and so honestly!

  • Cliff Jones

    your words are right on target. i’m going to share on my FB wall as a vehicle to hopefully open discussion for other and to be a support for those who don’t have anyone else to talk to. your story is our story…thank you for sharing. we have found hope in the miracle of adoption….we get it. thank you!

  • Rachel

    Why do people WITH children write articles entitled The Disgrace of Infertility. My heart is so hurt my this article. Fourteen months doesn’t seem like a long time to wait for the miraculous gift of life.

  • Stephany de Queiroz

    Thank you!!!! From someone walking that very same path…

  • Jennifer

    Nate,

    Thank you so much for writing this. I know it wasn’t the most uplifting and encouraging post, but it resonated with me in a huge way.

  • Morgan Kauffman

    I have not dealt with infertility as I have two healthy ones of my own, but my heart does go out to those of you that have been labeled as “infertile” I’m sure many if not all of you have experienced anger, and frustration. All I can say is when the body is relaxed and when you are not trying is when it will happen and when you least expect it. God is not punishing you, but rather either he feels it’s not time or you’re ready. He would not punish His children if they are already trying the best they can. As human beings, sinfulness is a nature we are all born into, whether or not we like that fact. It’s life. But, we as people also make the choice to accept Him into our hearts and forgive us of anything we may do.

  • Morgan Kauffman

    It also may mean God wants you to care for a child not your own. There are many, MANY children who do not have parents they can call their own in adoption agencies. I’m not saying God will keep you infertile forever, or that He is responsible for it. All I can say is if you ask, He will answer, even if it’s not the answer you expect to hear.

  • hillary

    Me too. Us too. We have been trying to have kids for almost 5 years. I have been through a variety of emotions, jealousy, anger, impatience, anger, sadness, anger, peace, anger, etc… I am a failure as a woman bc all of my life I have been told I will have kids, that’s what women do…except me. By husband feels like a failure bc all I have ever wanted to be when I grow up was a mom. On top of not being able to conceive, we also had a failed adoption!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME, GOD?!? Do you just REFUSE to let me be a mom??? (my initial reaction) but then….Peace. The kind of peace that can only come from God.
    Here is how it went:
    One night, in the midst of my tears I prayed. I had just been reading Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and you mind in Christ Jesus.” So here was my prayer: “God, I am anxious that I will never be a mother. My prayer is that a woman would come knock on my door, say ‘I have a baby, and I want you to adopt it’, and I want it to be free (bc we all know that adoption costs anywhere from $16k-$36k!!!) But ultimately, I trust in you and may your will be done.” Peace. Immediate peace followed that prayer.
    2 days later I get a call from a woman I had spoken to once ever. She said she had a friend who was 7 months prego and wanted to adopt out her child! She said she remembered that I had told her I wanted to adopt and referred her friend to me! WOW! Next best thing to a knock on the door! So, I called around to adoption agencies to ask about identified adoptions and how they work. Called 4, only 1 answered. Will this particular agency, identified adoptions are FREE!!!! WHAT?!? God, you are SOSOSO good! What an answer to prayer…Specific prayer!
    Months go by, birth mom invites us to appointments, doesn’t show up….eventually contact is gone. She wont answer calls. The due date comes and goes…no baby for us. I.was.pissed!
    A little bit later I was discussing the importance of prayer with a friend, and the non-pre-meditated words came out of my mouth, “I like to pray specifically so that it is easier for me to know that He is listening.” Immediately I had a lightbulb moment. God hears me. He knows EXACTLY what I am saying, and what my desires are. He is just telling me, “I have something else planned for you, but I hear you and I AM listening.”
    It was simply amazing. The best experience of my life!!! We are allowed to be sad, and God blesses the poor in spirit. Its ok to grieve, even though society thinks we should never have to. God does not punish. He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. He just might have different (better) plans for our lives!
    Sorry for the novel. I have been wanting to share my story. Thank you for the outlet. I am sorry that you are “poor in spirit”. I have been there too, and understand a bit of what you are going through.

  • R Muller

    Thank you for being so open and honest about this struggle. It made me cry, because my husband and I are going through the same struggle. You helped me understand his emotions about fertility, and realise that he is struggling as much as I am, even though he doesn’t express it the way I do.

    You’re right. There are no magic verses or answers, but knowing that we are not alone in the struggle really helps. This article gave me the courage to be open about my struggles for the first time – I linked it to Facebook – and as a result I have had so many responses from people in similar positions. I finally feel that I am not alone. I have support from people who understand, and prayers from loving friends who just want to be there for us without the platitudes.

    It takes courage to share such a personal struggle. Thanks for your courage, and for helping many others know that they are not alone.

  • Guest

    Thank you for the thoughtful, faithful article Nate.

    We had a miscarriage (around 5 weeks) the first year we were married.

    We were told by a infertility specialist 3 years ago that it was highly unlikely we could have children naturally. So we tried 3 cycles of IUI to be followed by IVF if the IUI did not work… The IUIs failed. The doctor did not even aloud us to try IVF because we of a poor response to the medication. I’m almost 40, and my wife is 35.

    We were heart broken.

    However, 5 months ago my wife went to Korea, I joined her 1 month later. We visited the Cha fertility center in Seoul. We are now 11 weeks pregnant. PRAISE the Lord!
    S.Korea has the best infertility doctors in the world, and the price is about 1/2 of what clinics charge in the US. If you are looking for options, prayerfully consider.

    One of the most hurtful comments to us was from a church deacon (although unintentional) was “Oh, I don’t see any sin in your life, there should be no reason you can’t have a baby”. People, please be sensitive to those who struggle with infertility.

    I’m back in the US now, and have been apart from my wife for the last 2 months… one more month to wait before she comes home.

    Please also pray for us, for safe travel next month (it’s a very long trip) and a healthy full term baby.

    Prayers go out to all who are struggling with this issue. May the Lord somehow work through it, may you be refined into what is pure in His eyes. And may those who contribute to any sort of shame shutup! :)

    • Aaron the Just

      Or you could have gotten married in your early 20s, your wife could have had a baby when she was 18 or 20, and you could have skipped all that heartache.
      When people quit doing things God’s way, there are consequences.l

      • sephira

        You’re a bit of a c***, aren’t you.

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  • Heather Paul Littlefield

    Perfectly written! I’m in tears after reading this, remembering our struggle 3 years ago before finally being blessed with our miracle baby. No one understands unless they’ve been though it. I agree with every single point. You sound like the man we need in the church to start some type of help for us “disgraced” couples.

  • robgilgan

    “No, it isn’t the same type of disgrace that Elizabeth experienced. In that day, an inability to bear children was equated with sin. ”

    “The American church is one place in our culture where marriage and kids is an expectation.”

    “Around church, having kids is talked about as if it is like scheduling a tune-up for your car. “Isn’t it time the two of you start having kids?” is one of the most painful questions a couple dealing with infertility can hear.”

    I think you can see, there’s a common denominator here. Guilt and shame are the currency of religion.

  • Tamara

    I can totally relate to this article. My husband and I tried for seven years to get pregnant, we did all of the tests and came back unexplained infertility. It has been a long road, and we tried metformin, acupuncture and clomid nothing was working. I would try to desensitize myself to seeing pregnant women and new mothers with their babies. We looked into adoption and ivf, finally we decided we were going to try ivf and if it didn’t work then we were going to try and move on with our lives… it was a very emotional time as I was petrified this wouldn’t work but wanted to do it so I knew I did everything in my power to conceive. I realize this option is not for everyone but it was for us. I am so happy we tried it as we have been blessed with the most beautiful little girl and I look at her and can’t believe she is mine. I realize too that many people have tried ivf and it has not worked and know we were very lucky. I just want people to know I understand and havn’t forgotten all of those feelings of despair and to be strong.

  • Mary Fredrich

    My friend sent this post to me and I cried the whole way through. My husband and I have been trying for 5 1/2 years with no end in sight. There is nothing wrong with us as well but for some reason we can’t conceive. Thank you for your vulnerability, this has and is one of the most lonely things we have faced. And knowing your not alone and validated in you emotions is encouraging.

  • Laura Provence

    Your words touched me. I thank you for saying what a lot of men would love to be able to say.
    I have reblogged this giving you full credit. I hope you don’t mind. (www.makingmoviesjealous.blogspot.com)

  • Laura Jay

    Hi Nate. Thank you for this post. We celebrated our 20th anniversary last year. 19 of those years we have lived with infertility. I thought getting pregnant would be easy because I had been pregnant before we met. Now that we are in our 40’s I am only just starting to mourn “what will never be” It is hard. I found some wonderful support online and at church that is helping. I have also fielded some extremely ignorant and insensitive comments and questions.
    Therapy is helping. I still struggle with depression and grief. I thought motherhood would define who I am. Now I am figuring out who I am without being a mother. I believe there is a stigma of shame attached to infertility. I am trying not to be ashamed any more. I want to be proud to be chosen to represent the childless. Thanks for the reminder that this is not just my road, but my husband’s also. I’m glad to see such a great example of a husband willing to walk along with his wife on the journey and not just stand back and not try to be there with her. Thanks!

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  • infamouscrimes

    Such selfishness. It’s all about you isn’t it? You WANT a baby so bad. Well I want to be rich but you won’t see me crying about it on the internet. You already have one kid but nooooo, that’s not enough, you want more. Why don’t be happy with what you have? Instead of making more people in an already overpopulated world why don’t you try helping strangers or animals or try adopting a foster child? Take a hint from your god, you aren’t supposed to be making more people. Infertility is a blessing.

    • Aaron the Just

      Fostering kids is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I even got paid a little bit of money to do it. (About enough to cover the cost of the diapers.)
      But instead people spend $50,000 on IVF or on foreign adoptions.

      • JonesyBoy

        Good for you for fostering, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s not fair to shame those who would rather try for a biological child.

        • Aaron the Just

          I don’t want to shame people who want a biological child.
          The risk is just absurdly high and the reward is lower than ever. Right now, we have an 18 year old girl suing her parents for $30k a year in child support, along with false rape allegations to dad and false “you told me I’m fat so I got an eating disorder” allegations to mom.
          That is the world you will be raising your kids in.

    • JonesyBoy

      Wow, this is like every hurtful cliche directed at infertile people rolled into one comment.

      First off, the author isn’t selfish for wanting another kid. It’s perfectly normal to want to give your kid a sibling. If the author’s selfish for wanting to have another kid, then so are most other parents on this planet.

      As for adoption, why don’t YOU adopt if you think it’s so great? Or maybe you could just accept that adoption or fostering isn’t for everyone and that just because someone is infertile doesn’t mean they are obligated to adopt or refrain from reproducing for the sake of overpopulation. I’d bet you’d never subject a fertile couple that wanted to have a first or second child to this self-righteous, dismissive, smug attitude of yours.

      “Take a hint from your god, you aren’t supposed to be making more people. Infertility is a blessing.”

      Says who? You? Who the hell are you to decide who is and isn’t supposed to be having children? Also, only a person who has never experienced infertility can say something as stupid and emotionally deaf as “infertility is a blessing.” Do you also think other diseases and medical conditions are “blessings” too?

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  • Aaron the Just

    Actually, a woman who has a large number of sexual partners (especially if she gets an STD) is significantly more likely to be infertile.
    A woman who waits until age 30 or age 40 is significantly more likely to be infertile than if she had a baby when she was 20.
    Both of these things are quite shameful. Women who delay marriage and childbearing until they’re 30 after having lots of “fun” in their 20s deserve to be shamed, not celebrated.

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  • Stephanie Pilbeam

    Great post. Sometimes just sharing that you are not alone and acknowledging that it is painful is a help. I had a child then experienced infertility after that, and miscarriages. Never did I feel so bewildered at the things people would say, like God will give you your hearts desire, You must belive and have faith. Or maybe you should adopt. Then our son became chronically ill. Painful, yes. The prayers for healing, indicated if healing did not occur were not asking enough. That then became the focus. For me, I know God grieves at my losses because He is a caring God. I must take the smaller blessings with greater amazement. I personally must give more compassion to those going through things I do not understand. But it still hurts to have an incompleteness that is so misunderstood. Your post sends some comfort.

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  • Jude

    WOW!! Thats all i can really say! Mama Alisha Lura cast a fertility spell for me a few months back and i ask her to recast it a couple of months ago, well today i found out that i am pregnant i am so sucked, could be happier, Mama Lura could you please cast the protection spell for my little blessing now so that he/she is protected 100% to anyone who is reading this, Mama Alisha Lura, she is so very supportive and has helped not only me but so many others, i cannot express how wonderful a person she is and i believed without her fertility spell i would have never gotten pregnant, her positivity and her serenity make the ttc journey a lot less harder when you know that someone like Mama Alisha Lura is helping. Again i am so very grateful to you, Mama Alisha Alura, this baby is truly a blessing. i will be waiting in anticipation for the protraction spell to be cast so that i know my baby will be protracted and healthy while he?she is growing inside me as well as when he/she is born. Thank you again Mama Alisha Lura you are truly the best. You can contact her to for help on getyourexbacksolutionspell@gmail.com or visit her website on http://weeblyalishaluraspell.weebly.com/available-spells.html

  • mika

    hello this is my experience

    I bought this book after 3 failed IVF attempts. Although I
    have conceived naturally in 05, which unfortunately abortion. After 3 months of
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    years. I followed your recommendations before and during my pregnancy and still
    do today. Your guide gave me a completely different perspective on infertility
    even for a bitter skeptic woman who had three failed IVF attempts. Thanks to
    this book that helped me get pregnant.
    download book here: http://tinyurl.com/mfp4keo

  • Crystal Bridges

    Thank you for your words. They gave me the strength I needed. Thank you

  • Phil

    My wife and I are going on 13 months of nothing. So hard to keep the hope up month after unsuccessful month. Standing in the kitchen holding her and being unable to fix it is the hardest part.

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  • Anita

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  • Anita

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