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Dealing With the Emotions of Infertility - Part 2



Hopefully you've been following my IGTV series, 10 Things I Learned From My Therapist During Infertility. But even if you haven't, you know that infertility lays out a minefield of changing emotions for us. Which ones will we step on today?


In part two of this series, we'll take a look at some of the most common emotions faced by couples struggling with infertility, illuminate those feelings with biblical wisdom, and offer some day-to-day steps for holding onto hope.





Common Emotions of Infertility


1. Discomfort


What it is:


feelings of unease, anxiety, or embarrassment


Why we experience it:


We become anxious and embarrassed because our infertility feels like the elephant in the room. People either ask us questions that we don't want to answer or avoid the subject entirely. And let's not forget the physical discomfort that comes along with testing and treatment. Shots are no fun. Lying spread eagle in the exam room so that "Wanda" can plunge in for an inside view is even less so.


Biblical wisdom:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV)


As we face another month without a baby, it's difficult to imagine the eternal reckoning that's hinted at in the above verse. However, Paul and Timothy make it clear in their letter to the Corinthians: Our discomfort -- our suffering -- is temporary. It is also an integral part of the equation which leads to a glory that outshines and outweighs our present pain.


Stepping into hope:


-Take the elephant out of the room by crushing pride with vulnerability (i.e. Yes, we're struggling and would appreciate your prayers). Share your heartache with those you trust.

-Avoid situations that add salt to the would (ex. baby showers).

-Read more verses about God's presence in our suffering by Googling it.



Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

2. Isolation


What it is:


Feelings of being separated from others


Why we experience it:


Unable to participate in our friends' discussions about doctor's appointments, nursery colors, and pregnancy cravings, we naturally disconnect to protect ourselves. Our fertile friends take a step back because they aren't sure how to help us. This pulling away on both sides leads to a perfect set up for isolation.


Biblical wisdom:


Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. (Psalm 25:16-17, NAS)


Here, the psalmist paints a picture of a heart so full of despair that it cannot be contained. To be sure, the ache of infertility can skew our perspective.


Like the writer of this psalm, we are desperate for human connection and for healing from our affliction. When the experience of infertility cuts us off from the world, we can turn to God with our sadness and disillusionment. We can ask him for relief in the form of a deeper mending and a more profound awareness of his presence.


Stepping into hope:


-Find a support group in a local church or start one. With 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility, you can be sure there are others who will welcome the chance to be part of a community.

-See a licensed Christian therapist. Start here.

-Have coffee with a safe fertile friend. Share your struggle, ask her to pray for you and support you. Commit to a monthly, girls-only date (no kids) to combat isolation.



3. Depression


What it is:

Persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in life


Why we experience it:


When infertility throws a wrench in our best laid plans, we can lose our compass. The inability to achieve pregnancy after multiple attempts can lead us to tough questions, such as, What is my purpose? and Will I ever feel normal again? The stressors of trying and treatment can exacerbate our feelings of hopelessness.


Biblical wisdom:


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)


Though I understood little about this verse during my infertility struggle, I clung to its words like God had written it on a napkin and stuck it on my windshield. As it turns out, those experiencing infertility have a lot in common with Jeremiah, who lived in exile with very few who understood him, and even fewer he could call friends (and who can blame them with Jeremiah's nickname, "the weeping prophet"). Still, when all signs pointed to doom and gloom, Jeremiah continued to preach the certainty of God's blessing for his people.


God's plans for blessing still ring true today. Despite big fat negatives and an explosion of pregnant friends and relatives all around you, you can count on your heavenly father's intervention for your benefit. And though the "how" and "when" are yet unresolved, God already holds those answers.


Stepping into hope:


-Take a break from trying. Read more here.

-To take back some control, dive into an activity at which you excel.

-Spend time reflecting on God's promises and blessing. Try here, here, and this book!

-And need I repeat? See a licensed Christian therapist. Start here. (Seriously, what are you waiting for, girl?)



Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

4. Frustration


What it is:


being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something


Why we experience it:


Infertility is the perfect recipe for frustration. We experience the disappointment of another wasted month like clockwork, whenever Aunt Flo shows up. We've done what we can do but it wasn't enough.


Biblical wisdom:


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)


As frustrating as the roller-coaster ride of infertility can be, it provides the perfect opportunity to invite God's real and present grace. We may not be compelled to turn cartwheels at that BFN, but Paul makes it clear that our weakness--our inability to change our current circumstances--puts us in the ideal position to ask God for the thing he is thrilled to provide: the very power of Christ.


Stepping into hope:


-Make a daily plan for quiet time with God. Whether it's early morning, during your lunch break, or before bed, all you need to do is open your heart and listen.

-When frustration flares, shoot up an arrow prayer asking for God's power and presence right then and there.

-Be weak. If you're like most women, you take on too much responsibility and are reluctant to take a break. Do it! Put some margin in your calendar and practice self care. Eat well, sleep well, and play well. God is in all of it!


In part three, we'll explore the feelings of inadequacy, loss of perspective, despair, and helplessness.



Until next time!


Your hope cheerleader,

📣

Sarah

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