It may seem strange to be reading about infertility on a blog for moms, but infertility is a reality for one in eight couples in the United States, and the impact of infertility issues on a woman’s heart and mind doesn’t go away when she gets the title “mom,” whether biologically or by marriage or adoption. Our lack of understanding of it only contributes to greater misunderstandings and a tendency to add this to the list of “taboo” topics for our culture.
I was introduced to the term “infertility” over eight years ago. My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for just over a year with no results, so I went to my physician to see what, if anything, could be done.
He gave me some medical explanations of what the problem could be, but the word I remember scribbled at the bottom of my billing form was “infertility”. Tears came to my eyes. I saw it as a sentence for all time, rather than a description of what we knew to be true – that I had been unable “to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse” (www.resolve.org).
We were referred to a specialist and tried a few low-level treatments before deciding to take a break. It was during that break that we conceived our now-six-year-old daughter, without medical intervention. I was ecstatic, thankful, relieved … infertility was now a part of our past, right?
We conceived our second child before our daughter’s first birthday, and were excited and overwhelmed at the thought of two in diapers. Then, at 18 weeks, we lost our daughter Naomi because of an abdominal infection I developed, and were plunged into the world of pregnancy loss. We were told that her death was an anomaly, unlikely to happen again.
Nevertheless, over the next fourteen months, we lost two more babies in first trimester losses, from entirely different causes. Now I was introduced to the second half of Resolve’s definition of infertility – “or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth.”
I was also introduced to the world of secondary infertility, where you experience the heartbreak of infertility after successfully carrying a child to term. The world where you hear things like, “At least you have a child. You should be thankful for the daughter you have. When are you going to give her a sibling?” Where you feel guilty for praying for another child when some women have none. Where pregnancy announcements and baby showers and walking past the diapers in Walmart are unbelievably hard, but nobody seems to get that, because you already have one child (or more).
The blessing, though, was that unlike when I dealt with primary infertility (before I had my daughter), this time I reached out to others, seeking out both support and information. There are hundreds of resources, forum, blogs, websites, and books out there, but these are the top resources that helped me (or would have helped me!) navigate both branches of the road of infertility.
The Resolve website contains this description: “The National Infertility Association, established in 1974, is a non-profit organization with the only established, nationwide network mandated to promote reproductive health and to ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women experiencing infertility or other reproductive disorders.” They have some great information about medical options and support around the country.
This is a website and group of forums for married Christian women dealing with fertility challenges, from infertility to pregnancy and infant loss. The women I “met” here truly helped save my sanity and my faith, especially in the months following Naomi’s death. They are amazing, and some of the best friends I have ever had.
This website offers free and pro memberships where you can track your cycle monthly to better understand what is “normal” for you, when your most fertile days are, etc. Plus they just have some good information, as well as apps for iPhone/iPad and Android.
This is the book I wish I had read before I got married. Fabulous information about the wide range of “normal” in terms of women’s reproductive issues. Reading this book helped me understand how my body works, to understand what is normal for me, and to be aware of changes that I needed to pay attention to. It empowered me to make smart decisions and made me feel less helpless.
Infertility was not something I ever dreamed I would be part of my life, but learning how to deal with it and find joy in the midst of it has made me a stronger and, I hope, better person. If you struggle with primary or secondary infertility, please know that you are not alone. Check out the links above, and if your struggle is more with loss than the ability to conceive, please also look at Naomi’s Circle, a website my husband and I began after our losses. It contains many many resources, including a full list of support groups in the greater Columbia, SC area.