Sometimes I don’t write what I have planned but rather what I feel led to write, but that’s what keeps life interesting, right? I didn’t realize in time that it was recently National Infertility Awareness Week. And even though that’s over doesn’t mean we can’t talk about it anyway.
Why would I bother writing about infertility? I have a son after all. I want to write about this subject because I experienced what is referred to as secondary infertility and because infertility is a subject that is kept far too quiet which makes women (and men) feel alone in their struggles when actually, there are far more people going through this than you realize. I did share a brief post on my old blog on the subject, but that’s all I’ve ever really said about it.
Join me today as I talk about my thoughts on infertility and then in my next post of this series, I’ll share my infertility story. There may even be a third post – you just never quite know with me, which is why you should go ahead and subscribe to receive my posts automatically by email.
Why We Don’t Talk About Infertility
We don’t talk about this subject because first of all it’s painful. And sometimes we don’t like to make others feel uncomfortable by discussing our own struggles. I never knew how to bring up the subject. Was I supposed to wait for somebody to say, “How are you doing?” and then say, “Well, we’ve been trying to have another child but just had another miscarriage – how are YOU?” And after going through the awkwardness of telling people that I had a miscarriage after I just told them all I was pregnant and the awkwardness of telling people that I had been pregnant but miscarried but I never told them in the first place that I was pregnant, I decided to just skip the whole telling anybody anything anymore. I didn’t want to deal with how uncomfortable it made others, especially couples announcing pregnancy who shouldn’t have to feel guilty about their blessing.
But was that the right approach? I don’t think so. When we don’t share our struggles with others, not only do we deprive others of blessing us with prayers, wisdom, hugs, and comfort, but we also miss the opportunity to open the door for another woman or couple to discuss their own infertility struggles and to realize that they are not alone after all. If you are currently struggling with infertility, please don’t be afraid to share about it with your friends and family and let them be concerned for you. You might be surprised to find out how many of them have previously struggled or are in the same boat you are.
What Is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children (who were conceived/born without reproductive technologies assistance or fertility meds). It’s probably a struggle you know less about because the couples who are dealing with it already have a child or children. And while those of us who deal with secondary infertility all have the blessing of having a child, it makes the inability to have more even more perplexing.
Sometimes secondary infertility is caused by medical reasons and sometimes there is no known cause. Age plays into it as well since many women are having children later. By the time they realize they have secondary infertility and try to use treatments to have a child, they are already past the point of peak egg production. A woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have and both quantity and quality decrease significantly after mid-30’s. If you have had a child already, you are likely to keep trying to get pregnant longer before seeking help, since you assume that you have no issues because you’ve already had success. That means a woman that doesn’t realize she is suffering from secondary infertility until she is in her mid-30’s will have a much more difficult time having another child, even with fertility medications or treatments.
Encouragement For Those Struggling With Infertility
There is nothing I can say to make light of this struggle or to get you to shrug it off, smile, and get over it today. I get that. It’s a painful journey, and different for each person or couple going through it. But I can share encouragement and hope. My journey was difficult but certainly not as difficult as it is or has been for many. But I am on the other side and can look back without fear. I got through my journey by leaning on God and with much prayer. Maybe I could have got through it easier if I had talked about it with more women, but I’ve always kept my struggles fairly private.
Seek comfort from the Lord, but also from other women and couples going through the same journey. That means that you have to be brave enough to open up about the subject in order to find others who are struggling like you. I promise you – you are not alone. Not at all. When you look at families around you, with their beautiful children, you may not realize that some of those families have suffered infertility. Some waited for years to have children. Some only have children through fertility treatments, or adoptions, including embryo adoptions. Some have never been able to have more children than the one or two that they have. Some have suffered miscarriages, even though they have several children. Some have had infants die at birth or while very young. Some have had to suffer through their non-infant child dying from an illness or an accident. You are not the only one suffering and while it doesn’t necessarily make everything better for you, it helps to remember that.
Whether or not you have a child, or children, or more children – it is possible to find contentment. It may not come quickly. It can show up very gradually until you finally realize that you are indeed okay. Remember that even if you don’t have the family that you imagined or initially desired, you are truly blessed in many ways. Not only that, you are a blessing to others and don’t forget that while you are on your journey. Maybe by reaching out to help others, you can step out of your struggle for a bit.
If you are struggling now or have struggled and haven’t healed from the pain, my prayers are with you, friends. Please speak up and ask for help, prayers, comfort, and love from your friends and family. And you’ve got virtual hugs from me right now. If you have not experienced infertility, please remember to offer a listening ear to your struggling friends, but try not to say things like – oh, it will happen soon enough – or – just stop worrying about it. Don’t feel pressured to give advice. Just be there to listen and comfort the best way that you can.
Sometime soon, I’ll share my own infertility story with you, so come on back for that. The details have all gotten a bit fuzzy (many years have gone by), so it’s good that I’m finally writing it out. Thank you for joining me!
If you have resources for women struggling with infertility such as books or websites that have helped you or online groups to join, feel free to share those in the comments. If you’re looking for Christian support from someone who has experienced the heartbreak of infertility, I do recommend Jennifer Saake’s resources.