It’s a word most women feel uncomfortable talking about or mentioning. When we hear the word, we tend to tell those talking about their infertility a list of things they could try to help their attempts to have a baby. We want to fix it because we feel uncomfortable. However, when we throw remedies at her, she often begins to feel that we are trying to fix her or that she is somehow broken inside. When it comes to a woman who is battling infertility, she needs us to slow down long enough to listen to her and to help her lace up her warrior boots because she’s too tired to do it herself. She needs us to stand alongside her and let her know she isn’t broken; she is whole.
I’m 26 and unmarried. When I chose to write this post about infertility, I knew I would need help from women who have fought their way through infertility. I wanted to do the topic justice. I thought of one woman I know whose courage as she’s battled infertility rivals Esther’s courage as she fought for her people. Her name is Shannon. Everything you see here is because of her vulnerability in sharing her story with me and with you on how you can stay rooted in peace during your battle with infertility.
Infertility brings about trauma in a couple’s marriage. It comes with its own set of triggers—baby shower invitations, announcements, seemingly harmless questions such as “so when are you going to have a baby?” It comes with its own heavy grief and guilt which a woman endures month after month. It comes with its own spiritual exhaustion and frustration.
Infertility attacks your identity (emotional, physical, spiritual) and makes you question what your role is within your marriage. For some women, their whole life has been shaped around the expectation they would marry and have children. Their hopes for the future are continually shattered with each passing month, year, decade. No two women walk through infertility the same way or experience the same traumas—yet one thing remains the same: women struggling with infertility need us to stand with them in the trenches and battle alongside them.
But Shannon shared that this constant turmoil is not where you have to stay. There is peace you can find in the struggle. Here are a few of the ways she stayed rooted in peace:
- Protecting your identity. God loves you for who you are and not because of what you have or have not done. He sees you are you are meant to be seen—complete, lacking nothing. You are not broken. You are His workmanship and He is the Master Craftsman. You are not unworthy and there is nothing you could do to make God love you less and nothing you could do to make Him love you more. You are worthy, you are enough, you are loved. Rest in that.
- Guarding your focus. Don’t be so focused on your infertility that you miss out on the life God gave you. Don’t make fertility or motherhood your idol. This is so easy to do with Christian culture sometimes making womanhood equal with motherhood. God will not withhold something good from you. Remind yourself to fill the roles you have here and now—don’t miss out on those.
- Don’t be afraid to grieve. Whether you have had miscarriages or have been unable to conceive—your grief is real. It is valid. Your pain is real. Do not deny yourself the right to grieve what is lost. You have a right to grieve the loss of the pregnancy or the ability to not get pregnant, to grieve the loss of the way you had hoped your future would happen, to grieve the loss of the prospect of motherhood. Jesus even wept in the face of loss and he invites us to do the same.
- Find a friend you can confide in. It is so easy to isolate yourself when walking through this painful experience. But you are not alone. Find one friend you know you can trust. Talk to them about your emotional and spiritual condition. Explain what you’re feeling and how you’re walking through it. Don’t allow the devil the satisfaction of being alone in this.
For individuals who do not struggle with infertility, here’s a short list of ways you can help your sister walk down this road:
- Do not complain about your kids. The very thing you are complaining about is the exact thing someone is praying for in their lives—this can be applied to so many other areas but especially infertility.
- Ask your friend how she is doing. But don’t just ask—be willing to listen and pray. Don’t be afraid to answer honestly and say, “I don’t know what that journey must be like but I am here to be someone you can talk to and pray with.” You don’t have to fix it—you just have to be there for her.
- Be sensitive to other women’s journeys. Don’t say “when are you starting your family?” Because you are implying your friend and her husband are not yet whole. Please, pretty please, do not say sin caused this. Be conscious of the pain these things cause women struggling with infertility.
- Be inclusive to women not yet mothers. It is easy for women to isolate themselves when they feel different. Make sure they have a seat at the table and let them know they are worthy to be loved.
All in all, we need to link up arms with our sisters and walk alongside them. We need to help them carry their burdens and remind them they can lace up their warrior boots and walk in God-given peace.