My husband and I dealt with the pain and difficulty that infertility brings for five long years. What a personal journey that was! The two emotional stages of infertility we endured were grief and then hope. My husband and I wrestled with God and with each other as we tried to make happen what we both desired more than anything.
We discovered there are three ways to resolve the problem of infertility: Adoption, acceptance, or, having a child biologically. These three options should be treated with equal amounts of respect, excitement, and joy by friends and family. Can I get an amen?
We look back on that time now as such a blessing. We faced trials prior to parenthood that readied us for it. We educated ourselves on how we wanted to parent. And we had extra energy, the ability to do other things and also invest in our marriage.
And that is what the journey of infertility can do for you and your loved one as soon you find hope (and you will).
Facing the Grief
Depending on the couple and on the length of fertility treatments chosen, infertility is a grueling process. There is so much hope in the beginning. It’s an answer to a prayer to begin to get some treatments. Couples wait with great expectation! Couples bond over the shared experience of the trial they’re experiencing, with undertones of “It’s us against the world!” Surprisingly, seasons of closeness in the relationship occur.
If the years pass without a successful pregnancy, it becomes more difficult to retain that hope. Despair can seep in; loneliness and estrangement from a partner seems to be common and somewhat unavoidable.
Every single month the would-be parents experience deep loss. Grief becomes a second language for those who endure extended lengths of infertility. To escape the grief, couples can eventually turn away from one another because it can be too much to bear.
Many people feel helpless. During this time, how does one look into the face of the person she loves most in the world . . . so much so that she wants to reproduce him?! It is a monthly journey of getting excited, testing early, waiting, and then the world crashing down again with intense disappointment. It is the most volatile roller coaster ride I’ve ever taken! It seems the harder one wishes for a child, sometimes the more it slips through her fingers.
The depths of grief are difficult to define. The “what if’s” hurt. The losses, whether actual grief of a child through miscarriage or repeated ambiguous grief during infertility, seem to define the couple during this season. People around them have children rapidly and also become highly interested in the couple’s sex lives. Boundaries absolutely must be created for this couple in order to stay sane in the midst of the trial of infertility.
A Change: Hope Out of Sorrow
Then, the problem is resolved, whether it’s through getting pregnant, adoption, or acceptance. Realizing there is resolution is critical for those around a woman with infertility to understand. The sun dawns again. Hope reappears; it begins as a mist in the air, barely detectable. It continues to gain strength and speed, this hope. There is a recognition something has shifted. Fear and sadness dissolve as hope begins to sprinkle and then to rain down upon this couple, washing away despair. Bitterness can be left behind and dismissed. Anger and sorrow are replaced with joy. And, of course, the joy is extra sweet after the anguish.
There is a part of a woman’s heart that has now become an empathy center. A strength that only comes from the storm is stationed there now and forever. At the end of the pain, when griefs have been grieved, this section of a woman’s heart beautifies. It is strengthened and learns how to nourish others walking similar journeys. Balance is back in her life again. Sadness becomes beautifully engraved in a woman, allowing others around her to be sad when they need to be, too. After all, it is okay, natural, and normal to be sad!
After accepting grief and allowing it to just “be,” a woman is forever changed.
Changed . . . ready to parent her new, wonderful baby in a way that she never could have before.
Or changed . . . open and excited for a life without children that will include incredible, unforeseen adventures.
Or changed . . . adoption ready, including a unique understanding of the trauma of not being connected biologically, bringing empathy to the table that will help their new child flourish.
To any woman on her very personal infertility journey right now, congratulate yourself on this strength and hope you’re forming right now. Even if you’re stuck in this difficult cycle currently, you won’t be stuck in it forever.
You’re moving toward hope. You’re moving out of despair and toward joy. And the more you can accept where you are today, the more your loved ones around you will also benefit by feeling accepted, too. Your peace may be hibernating while going through the winter of infertility. You might not know it yet but just wait for that refreshing spring downpour! You’ll barely recognize who this leads you to become, resilient woman of hope!
Struggling with fertility? Considering becoming a foster parent or adopting? Join FWM Neighbor Groups on Facebook to find resources, support, and community.