My husband Duane and I have been seeking treatment for infertility for over 5 years now. And girl, to put it lightly, it ain’t fun. Not only are you dealing with the pokes and prods and hormones and anxiety of the process, but your emotions are SHOOK. I have not figured all this out, but these are some practical ways I’ve found to “deal” with the times that just really suck. (Sorry that I said suck, mom) Specifically the times that you’re certain you’ve counted 874 pregnancies in your inner circle just this week. (My friends say I’m a bit dramatic. I prefer “extra,” but that’s beside the point.) I hope that this will relate to anyone waiting or desiring, not just dealing with infertility.
1. Let Jesus keep your mind and heart in check.
There’s a song lyric by Matt Redman that says, “Forever I’ll be breathing IN your grace, and breathing OUT your praise.” Often I have to stop, and take a deep breath of GRACE. It allows me to “reset” and in turn, breathe out PRAISE. God is not surprised by what’s happening to me. I also don’t believe this is a curse or “the work of the enemy.” I believe He has allowed this trial in my life, to draw me closer to Him. It’s easy to “breathe out praise” when your life is on point. But what about through the suck? It’s a war. Having the TRUTH and the PROMISES of God’s word on your mind at all times is the only way to soldier on and experience victory. Here are a few of my favorite to have posted, written, on my phone, in my car, on my mirror, etc:
“From the end of the earth I will cry unto you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14
“He will fear no bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7
“I am not anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, I present my requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, guards my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.” Phill 4:6-7
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
2. Seriously, just log out.
Is it just me or has everyone just had a baby, announced a pregnancy, done a gender reveal, or only posts pictures of their kids? It may just be me. But isn’t that all you see every time you log on? Social media is already a very easy way to get entangled in the lie of the “have nots.” Don’t torture yourself by scrolling/stalking/trolling for hours. It can oftentimes be INVITING the enemy to take root in your mind. Social media is great for a lot of things, but guard your heart. Be diligent. Know when to log out, and just go play Solitaire.
3. Find your SQUAD.
You are not alone. Let me say it again for the ones in the back— You. Are. Not. Alone. If you’re sitting here reading this, and you don’t have anyone to turn to, and you feel alone and ashamed and you’re blaming yourself, I believe it is physically and emotionally killing you. PLEASE REACH OUT. I would not be here typing this post if I did not have an amazing circle of warriors around me to encourage me and tell me that what I’m feeling is VALID. Do you know that 1 in 8 couples have to seek medical assistance in having a baby??? You probably have 100 Facebook friends going through it right now, or have gone through it in the past. It’s so beneficial to connect your heart and struggle with someone who gets you. Confide in a friend. Seek counseling. Join a support group through social media. Ask for prayer from your leadership staff at church. If you can’t find this circle of support– MESSAGE ME and we’ll find you one together. There are millions of women ready to envelope you with open arms and prayer and encouragement who GET YOU. Don’t miss out. And DON’T suffer in silence.
4. Cry it out, honey.
This one probably seems silly. But for real. When it comes to fertility, fertility meds, hormones, the whole world being pregnant BUT YOU (dramatic)– there is A LOT of “pent up” emotion. A lot of times a good cry can be triggered by the smallest things (cute baby commercial, anyone?) but sometimes when you’re overwhelmed, you just need to come home, sit on your couch or get in your shower and open the floodgates. It’s okay. It’s therapeutic. And you need a release from all that. Or else one day you’re just gonna LOSE it on the grocery bagging teenager that doesn’t organize your cold items with cold items and your dry goods with dry goods. (I don’t know who would do that….. not me….)
5. Have all the feels for your man.
Remember when you first fell in love? Remember what it felt like to love him before the pressures of bills, work, marriage, and fertility? It is so easy to get into the crazy cycle of blame, resentment, irritability, and sex “on a schedule” when you’re walking this road. It’s VITAL (at least it has been for us) to make time for each other that includes no mention of fertility or work or bills or the hard stuff. Get dressed up for dinner. Go on a walk together. Lay in bed and watch funny videos of people falling and laugh until you cry. Men– just be there. I know you want to fix it. I know you wish your wife wasn’t in so much pain. Just encourage her. Tell her she’s beautiful when hormones make her face explode with breakouts and gain 20 pounds when she just looks at a cupcake. Ladies– remind your man that he’s your superman through it all. Remember this is hard for him too. He doesn’t know what to say. Give him grace. Even if babies do come, scripture tells us that your relationship with your spouse comes FIRST. Don’t let it get lost in the shuffle.
6. Keep it 100 with your friends.
I have a lot of pregnant friends right now. We’re just in that season of life. And it’s totally okay. But there are some days, it’s just hard. REALLY HARD. Sometimes when you’re at dinner and the only topics of conversation include maternity clothes, breast pumps, car seats, and birth stories– its rough. I’ve been on this train for a long time, so I’m really good at being genuinely joyful to celebrate new life, or when I’m not– just faking it. But sometimes… I. Just. Don’t. Have. It. In. Me. To. Say. Congratulations. One. More. Time. And its OKAY. You don’t have to put yourself in positions that will end in you crying so hard you can’t see to drive on the way home. Don’t feel like you can emotionally handle a friend’s baby shower? Don’t go. Buy a quick gift online and ship it to their house. It’s better for you to RSVP in the “heck no” category than for you to go with a bad attitude and put a damper on your friend’s day. But here’s the deal– you have to be honest with your friends. Don’t just disappear after their pregnancy announcement and have a friendship end. It’s not their responsibility to read your mind. If they really love you and care about you, they will understand that sometimes you just need a break. To those friends reading this who know someone experiencing infertility, don’t take it personally when they aren’t as accessible. And please PLEASE, don’t give advice, don’t get offended, just love them through it.
7. Make your inner Debbie Downer take a seat.
It is dang near impossible to experience jealousy and anger and have your own self-pity at the forefront, when you have a heart of gratitude. Keep a running list in your notes on your phone of everything you’re grateful for, and I do mean everything (family, friends, Oatmeal Creme Pies, Channing Tatum’s face, all of it). And then when you’re feeling low, or jealous, or angry, make it a POINT to add to this list. I believe it’s impossible to stay defeated if you are truly seeking to live with a heart full of gratitude.
8. Stay in your happy.
A clean living room, with fresh flowers in a beautiful vase, a scented candle burning, a good beverage, a romantic comedy playing on the tv, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, in comfy clothes, with my puppy laying on the carpet in front of me, and my husband laying on the couch beside me……. There is literally nothing that makes me happier. Sometimes it’s an evening like this. Sometimes it’s dropping everything to drive to Mississippi and be with my family. Sometimes it’s Tory Burch and Kate Spade. Sometimes it’s a Chocolate Stampede from Longhorn Steakhouse. No matter what it is for you, find your happy place. Be diligent in adding things to your day that bring you joy. It’s a choice. There are enough things in life that cause us pain, so I challenge you to find one thing that brings you joy TODAY. It’s hard for me to be upset when I’m drowning in comfy covers and watching Andie Anderson and Benjamin Berry discussing a love fern.
9. Find purpose in the pain.
This one is definitely the hardest. And way easier said than done. And there are some things we face that we will never know the purpose on this side of heaven. When I ask “why,” there are a few things I’m always reminded of. Had it not been for infertility, I don’t know that I would have been forced to lay my control freak, “I can handle it all” attitude at the foot of the Cross. Had it not been for infertility, I wouldn’t be connected to some of the bravest, strongest, most hopeful women I’ve ever known. Had it not been for infertility, I would not have been given a platform to minister to other sisters facing the hard days. There are many things I don’t understand, but there is one thing I KNOW… God is good, He has a purpose, I am not forgotten, I am not being punished, and I am not alone. Neither are you.
I’d love to hear what you would add to this list! Sending you big hugs!