I’m always honored when someone confides in me that they too have faced, or are facing infertility. The story of a want-to-be-mama is intensely private and often a difficult story to tell. That someone would trust me with their story of heartache and hope reminds me that we were never designed to journey through these difficult times alone. And it stirs within me a desire to help shoulder their burden because I know from my own experience how impossible to carry it sometimes feels.
My husband and I receive lots of questions about infertility, and I wanted to answer our most frequently asked questions about infertility all in one place.
Frequently Asked Questions about Infertility
1. How did you make it day-by-day?
The day-to-day of infertility seems to be a never ending cycle of fragile hope, hope, worry, hope, fear, fragile hope, and then disappointment. How did I make it through that endless cycle?
Barely, and with lots of grace and countless prayers on my behalf from family and friends. I wrestled with God over infertility. For a long time I ignored Him, and one time I even cursed Him. Through His sweet pursuit of my heart I realized what a gift it is to be able to wrestle with Him. I encourage you to get real and raw with Him, engage His Word by studying what He has to say about barrenness (it’s a lot!) and flood the gates of Heaven with your precious prayers and tears. He hears your prayers and sees your tears.
2. What do you and your husband think about IVF?
After a couple of years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, my husband and I sought medical help for our infertility. After a handful of tests we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We had a fantastic specialist who answered all of our questions, but we still had some theological and moral questions to iron out.
My husband and I did quite a bit of research about the morality of IVF/IUI/Clomid and decided we felt no moral objection to taking Clomid and undergoing IUI. We personally did not feel comfortable with IVF for two reasons:
- We did not have insurance that covered fertility treatments, and we felt that kind of money would be better spent towards an adoption.
- We both have concerns about what happens to potential “extra” embryos and we were not sure we could put the embryos up for adoption. We were willing to consider IVF but we knew if we did we had to be 100% willing to donate any extra embryos to another family to be adopted. We were unwilling to have our embryos be stored indefinitely or be destroyed.
If you are facing having to decide about various fertility treatments, you may find this article from The Village Church helpful, and you may want to read what the Catholic Church (who traditionally takes a strong pro-life stance) has to say about reproductive therapies and treatments. This article from Ministry Magazine also addresses IVF from a Christian worldview.
If you are considering IVF I encourage you to seek godly wisdom and counsel from men and women you trust. Give them permission to ask you hard questions and to hold you accountable as you navigate the decision making process. Find a doctor who understands your concerns and questions, and who respects your worldview. And make the knees of your pants threadbare from spending time in prayer before the Lord of Hosts. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask. Ask.
The gut-wrenching reality is that there is much heartache and prayer involved in making the decision to use reproductive technology to try and grow your family. I truly believe that God grants peace to some couples, but denies peace to others about which types of fertility treatments and procedures to pursue. It is our high and holy responsibility to be obedient to what He calls us and allows us to do as we seek to grow our families.
3. What kind of fertility treatment did you do?
We began our testing and treatment with my O.B. After a few initial tests we did three consecutive months of Clomid, which resulted in me being half crazy and still very unpregnant. My O.B. referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist, and several months later we underwent our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).
An aside: my body did not respond well to that first IUI. My ovaries, normally the size of apricots, reacted so strongly to the medication that they blew up to the size of grapefruits, and became lodged in my lower pelvis. It was incredibly painful, and there is absolutely nothing you can do except wait for your ovaries to shrink back down to their normal size. We had to wait three months before we could do another IUI.
After our miscarriage our doctor told us we had a 5% chance of pregnancy with continued treatment but God isn’t a god of statistics and chances, is He?!). We were heartbroken and physically exhausted, and we decided to stop all fertility treatment and give ourselves a much needed break.
4. How do you feel about adoption?
After our miscarriage we decided to take a break from fertility treatment. It was hard on my body and my heart.
We spent many long days in prayer and seeking counsel from friends and family. As our hearts began to heal, we felt the Lord nudging us towards foster care/adoption. Three years ago we had the opportunity to be foster parents to three boys, and it has remained on our hearts.
When I became pregnant with Ezra we realized it was not the right time to begin fostering again.
At this time we still don’t know when we will start back, but we continue to invest in other foster parents and minister to the boys who used to live with us.
I think adoption is hard and wonderful and not at all a “second rate” way to start a family. I also feel that it should only be done out of obedience to God, not out of desperation or selfish desires. Scripture gives us a beautiful picture of adoption – our adoption through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – and I feel strongly that earthly adoption should mirror that spiritual adoption into the kingdom of God.
5. How did infertility affect your marriage?
Infertility is hard on a marriage. Our emotions were raw and often ugly. Fertility treatment was very hard on my body. The hormone therapies and rigorous schedule were sometimes a weightier burden than the infertility itself.
There were times that infertility pulled us apart. I think this was a natural response to needing to grieve in our own ways, and needing to wrestle with God individually. We were still doing life together, still walking hand-in-hand, but at times we were disconnected and distant from one another.
Trying to conceive, especially during a treatment cycle, is hard on the marriage bed. Sex became about one thing: baby making, and we soon noticed an absence of the emotional and spiritual closeness that usually accompanies a healthy sex life. During treatment we were totally on someone else’s schedule, so there was no room for spontaneity, and that, in turn, left little room for passion.
Every aspect of our marriage was affected by infertility. And through the darkest days of doubt and bitterness, our relationship grew stronger. God gave us so much grace to be able to walk through infertility together, and to come through it more in love with each other, and Him.
If you are facing infertility please know you are not alone. I pray that God places people in your life who will gently, but firmly speak truth into your heart. Take heart, sweet soul. Our wombs may be empty and barren, but our hearts don’t have to be.