Posts Tagged ‘Infertility’

Christian Community Saved My Faith

whatsavedmyfaithI’m joining the synchroblog for the release of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth by answering the prompt: ‘What saved my faith?’

One of the darkest times in my life was before I had my son and I wrestled with God about my infertility. What saved my faith in that time were my faith communities. I wrote more about that in an older post about coping with infertility. Here is an excerpt:

Even when I’m mad at God, I need the support of my faith communities.

It was a big turning point for me before we had our son when I finally asked to be added to the church prayer list for my infertility concerns. I had told one or two people in the church, but most people had no idea. When I asked for prayer it became public. I was nervous at first, but my church family at the time held my prayer need with utmost respect.

When I am struggling in my faith I am particularly glad for corporate worship and liturgy in particular. Even if I can’t pray, the community of faith carries me through their prayers. Churches who do liturgical worship are accused sometimes of “just going through the motions.” I have to tell you though, when infertility plunged me to my lowest point, those “motions” were all I had. Reciting liturgy that I have memorized, that I know by heart allowed me to pray when I would not have otherwise been able to pray.

One thing that helped me also was when my congregation and other supportive faith communities became aware of the pain of infertility. Due to awareness about infertility, my church family prayed for couples who cannot have children on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Before I had my son, fellow members of an online discussion group for Pastor’s Wives made a point to show sensitivity when sharing about baby news.

What saved your faith? Write your own post answering that question and then visit http://www.edcyzewski.com to learn how you can join the synchroblog or to read additional posts to celebrate the release of Ed’s book A Christian Survival Guide, which is discounted on Amazon this week.

P.S. I got to chat with Ed Cyzewski about A Christian Survival Guide for the Life & Liberty podcast. Listen to our chat here: http://www.davidhousholder.com/a-christian-survival-guide-ed-cyzewski/

Is it Inconceivable that I Still Have the Crib?

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Everyday as I move about my house I walk past crib parts. It has been many years since my one and only son (who is now 10) has slept on that mattress. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to give the crib away because I’m still holding onto hope that I might still have another baby.

You may be wondering why I walk past crib parts everyday.

Well, we don’t have a lot of storage in the old farmhouse where we live. So, we use our enclosed back porch to store what used to be in the garage or attic in our last home–including crib parts.

This porch also serves as a major thoroughfare in our home, so I end up walking past the crib parts many times a day.

Most of the time those crib parts fade into the background–the way things often do when you go past them everyday.

But sometimes a June bug will dive-bomb that way and call my attention to the crib parts. Or I might have to retrieve an item from that storage area and I’ll notice the crib parts idling there.

Even when I do notice them, I don’t always feel moved to write about them. But I noticed them today and it punctuated a lot of what has been on my mind lately.

With the Hobby Lobby verdict about contraception coverage becoming such an uproar, the idea of “conception” has been on my mind a lot.

As a differently-fertile American, I want to go on record as stating that I am pro-conception. My challenges in conceiving lead me to confusion–even lament–that contraception is considered “essential.”

I know, I know, family-planning is very personal and I’m not begrudging anyone the option of using contraceptives. All the same, having this issue in the center of public discourse has triggered a lot of feelings for me.

Added to that was the realization a couple weeks ago that it was 11 years ago this month that my son was conceived. I know the exact date of, um, the act that led to the conception because I was tracking everything fertility-related back then. As that “anniversary” came, my mood–my heart–sank.

Then, I was bummed when my “cycle” started last week. I started taking better care of myself and my cycles resumed last fall. So that made me think that maybe I might be able to have another baby.

So, I keep hoping that this will be the month my cycle doesn’t start on account of becoming pregnant!

Each time a new cycle starts it is a mix of good news and bad news.

It is good news that I am having regular cycles because when I wasn’t as healthy I wasn’t having my cycles.

But it is bad news because it means I’m not pregnant. Again.

So when I brushed up against the crib mattress today, I thought about the crib. And I thought about my ambivalence about having more kids.

I have thought many times about giving away the crib. I have slowly given away nearly everything baby-related over these 10 years of my son’s life.

But the crib is the single most expensive item and it was a gift from my mother, so I don’t take lightly the decision to give it away.

Several months ago I was ready—really ready—to find a new home for the crib.

I was sure I was done with babies. I was certain I was content with a family of three.

In fact, I was leaning toward thinking it would be better to not have any more kids.

I remember the first time I felt such certainty—such peace with the size of our family.

I shared this revelations with dear one who also faces fertility-challenges.

“I’ve been there,” she told me.

But I was confused because she still talked like she wanted more.

“No, I really mean it,” I assured her.

“I meant it too…then.”

“Oh, I’m really at peace with this. I’m sure I’m okay with a family of three.”

She tried to explain to me how she had gone from certainty to longing and back again more than once.

I thought to myself, “She can’t really have been certain.”

I’m sorry, dear friend. I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you—that I didn’t listen.

I couldn’t hear you then.

I had to protect my heart because if I really knew then that this longing would keep creeping up on me…well, I didn’t want to hear that. I couldn’t hear that. My heart couldn’t bear the thought of it.

And so, despite my “certainty,” I have held onto the crib. And in my longing I am glad—even when it is a painful reminder of how inconceivable another baby has been.

When Infertility is Big Business

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I was at the hospital today (just visiting, that is) and by the hospital pharmacy was a sign welcoming IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients and it reminded me of how much the “business” of infertility treatment irks me.

Back in the day when my husband and I first sought treatment for our infertility problems one of the best pieces of advice we got was to decide ahead of time how far we were willing to go with treatment. We took this advice very seriously and tried to look at the situation from all angles.

(Before I go on, I want to acknowledge how very personal these decisions are for couples. In what follows, I am simply describing what we chose and not trying to tell anyone else what they should decide.)

We made two important decisions up front:

  1. We wanted to address my overall health, not just make a baby. My infertility condition is part of a syndrome–meaning there are a variety of symptoms involved. In other words, infertility is not my only problem. Women with this syndrome, called Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), are at greater risk than other women for developing a variety of complications as well. We wanted my treatment to deal with the PCOS on fronts other than the infertility issue.
  2. We did not want to do any treatment that would significantly increase the chance of multiple pregnancy. There is a progression of infertility treatments and the mildest options have very low incidence of multiples. We wanted to stay with the milder treatment options and were willing to accept not getting pregnant at all rather than risk multiples.

We’ve dealt with various doctors over the years with respect to my reproductive health. Most of them totally get our decisions and have respected them and worked with us within the parameters we have set.

But before we had our son there was one particular doctor who ignored our concerns about my overall health and pushed advanced reproductive treatments on us despite our objections. Pictures of babies–even multiples–lined this doctor’s bulletin boards while the expensive treatments lined the doctor’s pockets.

Meanwhile all the emotional ups and downs of treatment had left us weary. We were ready to revise decision #2 to be no treatment that involved shots or scheduled sex. We felt our marriage was on increasingly shaky grounds and we wanted most of all to preserve us.

People I know and love have had children through advanced types of infertility treatment. Babies are a gift, so I’m happy for them.

Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth when that particular doctor did not seem to care about our needs and values in the treatment process. The doctor just wanted to give us our little miracle even if that bundle of joy had to get sent to a broken home.

It was shortly after that appointment that we walked away from any treatment that wasn’t related to our decision #1. Consequently, I credit our decision to address my overall health with my eventual ability to conceive our son.

I know that infertility treatment can work. I also know it comes at great cost–both financially and emotionally. And while, of course, the couples that have successful treatments get the priceless gift of a baby, plenty of other couples go home with empty arms.

But either way, there’s big money in it for the professionals involved.

$o, of cour$e, welcome IVF patient$, we’re $o glad to $ee you.

Mother’s Day is My Day?

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I’m over at Life & Liberty today thinking about Mother’s Day and why it’s hard for me to claim the day as mine. Click the title to read that post:

Why I’m Ambivalent about Mother’s Day

Secondary Infertility and Layers of Angst

I wrote on my blog before about my history of infertility and how I lament that I can’t have another child, I lament my broken body. And while that is true, there is more to it than that. I alluded to it a little in that previous post:

Is there still hope that I could technically get the right treatments, eat the right foods and eventually conceive again?

Probably.

See, that probability could be more in reach than I let on. I mean, there are some relatively simple steps with my health that I could take but I am not taking. And partly why I don’t do those things is because there is part of me that doesn’t want more kids.

I wrote once before about my history of depression and anxiety and how that is a factor in why I am reticent about having more kids:

I sunk to rock-bottom depression in my early days post-partum and at some point after having my son the anxiety kicked in…I mentioned before that my history of infertility is the biggest reason why I don’t have more than one kid, but this depression/anxiety stuff factors in pretty prominently too.

So, I’m disappointed yet a little glad that I can’t because I don’t want to anyway because I was such a depressed mess the first time around.

But there is more.

There is the part that I don’t want to tell but somehow I feel like God wants me to work out. There is the plain old reality that I just don’t want to for my own reasons.

I know my great longing is not a secret, because it is all over this blog. I want this blog to be something to serve others, but so often I am absorbed in all my own drama here. So I have already revealed what I really want.

I want to give birth to more speaking and writing.

You can have it all, just not all at once.And I just can’t give birth to that if I am to have another baby. They say you can have it all, just not all at once, and I believe them.

When my son was small, he required so much, so very much of me. From breastfeeding to bed-wetting, the demands were around-the-clock for so many of his younger years. Add into that the hours-on-end of hands-on involvement during the day–I took seriously the caution not to allow screentime until age 3, the advice to not leave a young child unattended even for a moment. So, I spent a lot of time right there with him, shaping his days, playing games, and telling him stories.

I don’t begrudge him any of that.

I just know myself well enough to know that if that was my reality all over again, then I couldn’t do the speaking and writing that I want to do, you know, with grown-ups.

My son is 9 years old now and halfway to college already! And with his advancing years, he is more independent than ever. Now he is reading fluently and can lose himself in a National Geographic while I write a bit. And the older he gets, being a guy and all, the more he wants to spend time with his dad–so that means more time for me to work on preparing for a talk I’m going to give.

My son still needs me, of course. But more of me is freer now than when he was little little. And I like it this way, this me-being-freer way.

So, why do I feel so guilty about wanting what I want and enjoying my freedom?

I mean, all the time, women of “normal” fertility decide to stop making more babies. They could have more, but they don’t. So, why do I, for whom baby-making does not come so easily, feel so guilty for “I don’t want to”?

Maybe it’s not the “I don’t want to” that I feel guilty about so much as the hiding behind the “I can’t” narrative.

Hiding behind “I can’t” has been an excuse to not directly seek God’s will. If I just stick to the “I can’t” script, then I don’t have to know what God wants for my future. If I can’t, I can’t, right? So God can’t possibly expect me to do what I can’t do.

But, what if I stop hiding behind, “I can’t” and just be honest with God about “I don’t want to because there’s other stuff I want to do instead”? What if I invite God into this complexity of emotion, into these layers of angst?

Ah, though, the trouble with that is what if God doesn’t affirm what I think I want to do? What if this whole speaking and writing stuff is just my will, my want?

I wrestle all the time with sorting out my motives. I want to believe that what I want is what God wants. I have an inkling that this other stuff is where God is calling me. I have a pretty clear vision about what that work might entail.

But for me, moving more fully into the speaking and writing entails having that baby-making stuff behind me. And until I stop hiding behind my assertion of “I can’t” and really ask God whether it is okay to not to, then what I actually can’t do is move forward in anything with any degree of certainty.

Lord, I submit this to you. Grant me the courage and confidence to know and move forward in your will. Amen