Saturday, November 20, 2010

Judging a friend going through Infertility

**this post has been edited to add Melissa's response**

I'm in need of some dire help. I have a very close friend who is struggling with infertility. It is to the point where the struggle seems to have literally consumed her. All she seems to think about is having a child. I've tried talking to her and encouraging her, but she doesn't seem to appreciate it. It's like anything I say or do isn't right no matter what I try.

Part of my problem with helping her, though, is that they aren't really doing anything about the problem. My friend says she really wants a kid but doesn't want to "put the money where her mouth is". They say they don't have money to spend on doctors or adoption, but then they go off and travel around the world, take vacations, go to concerts and other events, etc.

Those things are all fine and dandy but if you're consumed with having a child, shouldn't your financial priority be just that? And if you can't afford doctors or adoption, don't they realize that kids are going to cost even more??? Last I was informed, my friend was going to an OB that specializes in infertility but had just done some of the basic tests for her. I don't think the doctor is all that great since it sounds like she's done more of the old style testing and not focusing on the real health issues. And I doubt that they've had him tested yet. I'd like to help her out more, but if they're withholding information (which is their right), than what am I supposed to do and how can I effectively help?

Lately, my friend has even been saying that she's not even interested in adoption any more. She just wants her own biological child. While I can understand that desire, I would think that at least a child would satisfy some of the longing. I have some other friends who have adopted and absolutely love the kids more than many biological parents and their own kids. Wouldn't it be best to put all of one's love and devotion into a kid whether biological or adopted?

My other concern for my friend is that she seems to be struggling greatly with her faith. I think at times that she turns her back on God. I think her covetousness for a child is driving her crazy and taking her away from God. She can't be around pregnant women or newborn babies. She gets upset when friends (or anyone for that matter) announce their pregnancies. It's like the jealousy has consumed her as well.

From Rachel:

I have been trying to figure out a kind and gentle way to reply to you. Unfortunately I haven't come up with anything. So here goes:

Stop judging your friend.

Until you have walked in her shoes you have no right to judge what she is going through, She is grieving and when you are grieving, no one can tell you how long it will go on for. With IF you aren't letting time heal, in fact it's quite the opposite. Time only makes it worse because more people have gotten pregnant and more people have had babies and you've wanted a child even longer. The pain grips you to the core, in a way you can't even fathom if you haven't been there.

You need to cut her some slack or stop being her friend. If I were in her place, you are the last kind of friend I would have wanted around me. People know when they are being judged and your advice most likely comes off as insensitive and not genuine.

As for how they are spending their money. First of all is that really your business? Second of all, you have no idea how much money they might spend on recreational things. A spendy vacation could be quite cheap with vouchers and time shares. Concerts can be as well if you buy extra and sell them for more, covering the cost or even making money.

And going through treatments isn't exactly the cost of a vacation or concert. We spent $42,000 to get our son. And we are going on $25,000 for #2.

Having a baby costs money, but NOTHING in comparison to what it can cost to simply achieve the goal.

About her not wanting to adopt anymore. Can you not possibly understand that some people aren't ready to take in another person's child? Or go through the heartache of being chosen and then unchosen, or not being chosen at all? We have gone through the adoption process 2 times now and it is GRUELING. Much more so than any treatments we have gone through. It is also often more expensive than treatments.

Unless you have had the choice of carrying a child taken away from you, I would suggest you stop deciding what she should and shouldn't do. If heaven forbid you went through IF I promise you that you would come back weeping and begging for forgiveness from your friend for your judgment towards her. I know this, because I have had to do it.

As for her faith, you are probably right, it is probably struggling. That doesn't mean that God doesn't still have a hold on her. During my darkest times, my family feared for my faith and yet it was then that God was doing the most work in me.

Pray for her. Pray with her, but seriously, please stop giving her advice. If she wants it, she will ask for it.

This is probably the hardest thing your friend will ever have to go through. Stop trying to make it better and come up with solutions. Because you just can't know how it will end or how much it will cost, or how much heartbreak she will endure. If she needs help, please have her email us, we would be happy to walk through this with her.

My suggestion for you is maybe stop being friends for a while. It seems maybe her situation is too much for you to handle and I simply cannot fathom that you are doing her much good as a friend.

Take a break and cut her some slack.


From Melissa:

I think that if/when you TRULY love someone, you get to a place where you would do ANYTHING for this person.
This is easier said than done....but CAN be done.

Sometimes the THING that you must do is to be quiet and present all at the same time.
It doesn't matter what the situation is of another person (IF, loss of spouse, divorce, financial ruin, terminal illness, severed relationships, etc) UNLESS it is OUR situation, we have absolutely NO place to judge

the Bible is very clear about this
Luke 6:37
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Believe me, I KNOW how hard it is to watch someone who seems to be "slipping" in their faith, so to speak, but WE can not save them anyways.

If you TRULY love this friend, which I am assuming you do since you are seeking out advise on how to walk through this with her, then pray that you can stop judging her.

The Bible talks about laying down your life for someone.....which means be willing to put all your needs and opinions and thoughts and comforts aside for the one you love.
When Rachel initially went through IF, she wasn't always nice to or at wasn't b.c she didn't love me and she certainly didn't mean to hurt me...but she did. And God showed me how to lay my life down for her.
It wasn't easy
But it worked
I stopped expecting anything from her
I started showing her I hurt WITH her FOR her
I stopped judging her (b.c I did!)
I was ok with the times she was hurtful KNOWING she, in no way, MEANT to hurt me

If these things are not worth doing for your friend, which may be the case...then I agree with Rachel. Maybe the friendship needs to end.

But no matter WHAT...please please please commit to praying for her! For her healing, for her family to grow, for her to see Christ like she never has before, for so many things.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

When to go to the dr?

I have a question for Rachel. How long were you married before you realized that you were infertile? At what point did you go see a doctor, and did they diagnose you as being infertile?

My husband Joey and I were married almost 2 years before we decided to start trying for a baby. I tried not to get my hopes up and reminded myself frequently it can take a year for a couple to get pregnant. So we tried and tried and tried and tried. And we did pretty good at not getting too frustrated through that first year.

We disagreed a little bit on the month we actually started "trying" (we agree now :). So because of that it took us a while to finally see a Dr. We had been trying about 17 months when I finally went to see my OB. We did some basic tests on him and I and everything came back "normal".

She recommended we go to see a reproductive endocrinologist. That took a while to get into so by the time we saw him we had already been trying 20 months.

Things happened the way they did, but I would definitely recommend people see a dr at a year. Obviously there is always a chance that you may still get pregnant on your own, but at that point, the chances are greater you will need help than that you will get pregnant on your own.

We were paying for everything out of pocket so we opted not to have any of the tests previously done repeated. Which ended up being a mistake. After we did our first IUI we found out DH had some pretty major sperm problems. Problems that were too advanced for our smaller OB's office to see during their tests.

In the end we wasted time and precious money on treatments that weren't going to get us pregnant.

We were diagnosed with male infertility almost 2 years after we started trying. We knew at that point that IVF was going to be our only options (short of a miracle of course!). So we had decided to pursue adoption. In the end adoption didn't work for us either and we ended up going back to IVF which is what brought us our son.

If you have been trying a year, or close, I would make an appt to see a RE. If you need to see an OB to get a referral than do, but I would really recommend going straight to the RE. Most people who spend any amount of time with an OB first, will agree that starting with the RE makes the most sense. They are specialized in getting people pregnant. Most OB's only have "some" training in the dept.

Good luck!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What to do on Mother's Day?

Occasions like this are hard to know what to do. If you have a friend who is struggling to get pregnant, has maybe had a miscarriage, or lost a child in another way, you may wonder how to treat occasions such as today.

My advice is acknowledge it. Don't let it pass pretending it won't hurt. Don't let them think there is just one more reason they don't get celebrated on a day like today.

Send them an email, a card or even a text telling them you are thinking of them, praying for them and celebrating them today.

I wouldn't advise doing it openly in a public place. Even a quick statement with a hug at church can be hard because it might set them off in tears and be embarrassing.

So be careful how and when you do it, but do it.

Acknowledge them for wanting so badly to have what so many are celebrating today: motherhood.

Remind them that you care and you know they would make an amazing mother.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to deal in the darkest times?

My situation mirrors yours almost to a "T". And it blows!

April will mark our two year anniversary of TTC and this February my sister (actually SIL. But we're that close) will give birth to her first. They got pg on the first try. That stung pretty hard.

My question(s) is:

Rachel. Was there anything you found therapeutic in your most darkest times? A devotional, verse, book, article, song, something someone said to you, etc...? I hate feeling sad/bitter/jealous/angry every time I hear of a new pregnancy. I want to be able to be truly and completely thrilled for that woman/family. But most the time/all the time I fake it. And later cry in the shower.

Melissa. Same question. Was there a verse, devotional, etc. that helped you, help your sister?

Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. I'm glad your back!

Rachel’s Answer:

The best thing for me was having someone I could share myself with. The good, the bad and the ugly.

I needed to know I could spill my guts without any judgment. That was huge for me.

But that can also be tricky.

My friends were very supportive/loving during our journey, so I don’t want to take away from what they offered me, but many of them also went on to get pregnant during our struggles, or had gotten pregnant really easily before, which meant all the support in the world didn’t equal them really understanding (which was what I truly needed).

Once they were pregnant, it impossible for me to continue to share with them without causing hurt feelings.

Being that my sister is my closest friend, it made this difficult on our relationship as well. I wanted to share everything with her, but I had to protect her from the darkness that I felt, specifically towards people who were fertile and pregnant (all of which she is/was).

It was also difficult for those closest to me to NOT be the one I always went to. It was even harder for them that at times I went to complete strangers on the internet for support, simply because they "got" what I was feeling.

Do you have someone in your life that you can turn to that has gone through infertility before you?

If not, check with your church.

Just last week I wrote to the pastors at our church telling them to keep me in mind if they come across women going through IF. Wouldn’t you know the next day I got an email!

I want to be good news to those going through this dark time in their life. And I bet there are others around you who want to as well.

Another thing that used to “soothe” me was music. I would listen to certain songs as loud as I could make them without causing damage and I would let loose. I would yell and beg and cry out to God, tears would be pouring down my face and I would let it all go. Holding nothing back.

But afterward, I always felt better. Letting God know my deepest wounds, somehow made them ache less. Even if temporarily.

I tried to picture myself as a little girl, who fell and scraped her knee, running to my father to get comfort. The pain might last for another week, but having your daddy nearby somehow makes everything a little bit better.

The best song I can think of to recommend is “Stand in the Rain” by superchic. Trust me, you’ll love it.

Have you read the book “Hannah’s Hope” by Jennifer Saake? It was such a great book for me. It is written by a pastor’s wife who went through IF and adoption loss.

Every emotion she talks about, I experienced. And she was a Godly, Christian woman which made it so easy to relate to.

I really recommend you read it. If you can’t afford it, let me know I’ll buy it for you!

Lastly I highly recommend the book “Crazy love” by Frances Chan (same offer as above applies!) I didn’t read it while going through IF but I truly believe that falling deeply and madly in love with Jesus should be the #1 priority I our lives. This book did that for me and I know it has done it to many others.

It’s not a long book but it is life changing. I am learning joy in areas of my life that I didn’t even know I was missing! It is astounding.

Read it! :)

I am so sorry you are going through so much pain. I am praying for the relationship between you and your SIL. May your love for your new niece/nephew over shadow your sadness for yourself. Though I struggled immensely with my sister being pregnant, loving on my niece and nephews brought so much comfort to my wounded heart.


Melissa's Answer:

I don't remember a specific verse or fact, I don't know of a book that helps a family member/close friend walk through the journey of infertility. BUT, what God taught me LOUD and CLEAR is that no matter WHAT was said to me or about me

or implied to me or about me

no matter how angry or cold Rachel may have seemed towards me (at times..not all the time)

this was NOT about me

this was about a much deeper battle that, despite seeming like it was aimed at me at times, had nothing to do with me

I was not the enemy

The inability to conceive was the enemy

As a family member/friend who CAN get pregnant, it is REALLY REALLY important to understand this

b.c once you understand it, you can handle the above mentioned things

you can let them be angry and hurt...even if it's in your direction, b.c you don't need to take it personally

The other thing that really helped me was to realize that I couldn't do anything to make it better.

I couldn't say anything to make it better

All I could do was listen


ask if I could ask questions...and be ok if she said no

It seemed that the more I allowed her to JUST BE when she was with me, the more natural it was

the less on edge she seemed

GRACE is a necessity when walking along side someone going through something so big

As someone who CAN have children easily, we MUST understand that we will NEVER understand what its like to WANT a child so badly....period.

At the same time, the person going through infertility must understand that, if not careful, they can REALLY hurt the people they love. And that the people they love, aren't the enemy. And they really DON'T understand what you are going through...not b.c they don't want to understand, but b.c they CAN'T understand.

it is SUCH a delicate road to walk

Please keep us posted on how you are doing! We will most definitely be praying for you!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

now that Rachels a mom....from Melissa's point of view

I apologize that I have not answered this yet!

As the sister that can get pregnant with apparently no troubles, I had to fight VERY much the lie that I was doing something wrong by having my family.
After baby #3 I might have chosen not to have any more kids just for the sake of Rachels heart...but to be honest with you, it would have been for my sake just as much. The thought of being done with my family, when I may not be ready to be done, seemed worth not ever having to deal with telling my sister that I was pregnant...again...and she wasn't.

As you may know, this was not be the case. I found out I was expecting my 4th shortly after Rachel had told me that the worst thing that could ever happen to her would be if I were to get pregnant again.

Needless to say, this was an exhausting, trying, emotional time in our relationship. I was hurt (not intentionally) many times, in may ways. It started to feel as if my children weren't "miracle" children b.c I didn't have to try really hard to have them.

However, God did an amazing job of protecting my heart and our friendship. It may seem silly that MY heart needed protecting being that I was able to have my kids easily...but protection is needed anytime one is close to a situation that causes grief spreads to all around it.

Being that I was leading the life that Rachel so desired, her grief held on tight to me. From the fact that my best friend was hurting SO bad to the things that were spoken to me or of me....
I wasn't angry and completely by the grace of our amazing God had more compassion for her than hurt for myself. After all, I felt nauseated (on her behalf) at the thought of never being able to have my own children.

The one thing I really did struggle with was wondering if everything that had happened, all the hurtful things said or insinuated in my direction would just suddenly "go away" once she was able to have a baby.
My concern was that I would find a chip left lingering on my shoulder if this was the case. I was afraid I would find myself thinking things such as "Now that YOU have a baby, life is good and it is once again ok for me to talk about MY babies" etc.
This thought scarred me to the core
I was NOT going to allow myself to get bitter and angry over such a sad, unfortunate, undeserved situation like her not being able to have children.

So, I prayed against this
And as I prayed against this for myself
at the same time, I saw Rachel praying against her own bitterness and anger
and I saw something happening
she was becoming at peace
she was becoming content
her whole existence did not rest in the ability to have or not to have a baby...
but in her Creator

the hurtful things said or implied were becoming farther and fewer between
it no longer felt like SHE was the only person in the world struggling with something hard in her life
she was becoming transformed

and the beautiful thing was that all of this happened a significant time before she ever got pregnant

SO, by the time she was pregnant, it was just PURE JOY!! For all hearts
And now that she is a only continues.

Rachel has been a very humble mom, never acting like she knows it all or has it all figured out...She often asks me my advice or my opinion
This is not necessary, and I certainly don't have it all figured out either, but the fact that she has approached this gift she waited so long for with such humility and absence of pride makes being a mom along side her nothing short of fantastic.

But the thing that has changed for ME is my extreme sensitivity towards woman who SO badly want to have children and can't (or can't without lots of work and money). My heart breaks and I find myself praying OFTEN!! It has also caused me to be even MORE grateful for the 5 little gifts I have been blessed with!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How are things different now that Rachel is a mom?

Now that Rachel is a mom, how have things changed (feelings toward others, towards each other)? Rachel-feelings about pregnancy announcements, seeing pregnant know, all the fun IF feelings! Melissa-maybe some relief, worry about next time? ( I don't want to answer for you...just trying to better explain the question being asked!)

Rachel's answer:

Wow, this is a good question. I am only one person and I know for a fact that not everyone feels the way post IF that I have felt, so keep that in mind.

Also it was VERY intentional on my part to get to this point. It was a constant struggle through our journey between feeling sorry for myself and knowing that I didn't have the right. I didn't want to hold onto our pain and let it affect me the rest of our lives. I only wanted to hold onto the positive gains of it, and not the negative.

I will NEVER forget what it feels like to deal with IF, but it hasn't ruined me, it has only made me stronger. Here is a post I wrote on my personal blog about it. I hope it answers this question.

It was written in December of 2009.

I am currently finishing up a Beth Moore bible study on Daniel, Thankfully! I won’t lie, it has been a very challenging study for me. It is simply too historical for me! I struggled with history in school and dealing with facts and names and dates and deaths and all that junk…. so now to do a bible study that is so heavily history based, it has been a little over my head and *ahem* boring for me…. But I have endured through it and thankfully this week is the end of the 12 week study!

I have of course taken some things away from the bible study and one thing I have been wanting to write about for a while was the title above.

If you aren’t familiar with the book of Daniel (or just need a refresher), in chapter 3, Daniel’s three friends were thrown in a furnace for refusing to bow to the King’s idolatrous statue. I love this portion of the scripture:

Verses 16:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

They were SO SURE of the God they served that even in the face of DEATH, they refused to bow to another god. And they knew 100% their God COULD save them, if he chose to. But they also knew there was a possibility He would have other plans and choose NOT to save them. And their faith still stood strong.

But in the end God DID save them!

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

They were left for dead in a blazing furnace and not only did they live, their clothes were untouched (though amazingly you read later their BONDS were broken!), they were unharmed and they didn’t smell like smoke!

They lived through this horrifying experience and yet if you had walked up to them ten seconds later, you would never have known because they didn’t even smell like smoke. There would have been no inclinations to what they had faced previously.

This is how I want to live in regards to our Infertility.

God no doubt used our struggle in so many ways to change me and stretch me, to show me how much I needed him and to even give me Joy through our struggles in HIM.

All of that was just some of what I was given while going through the hardest thing I’d ever had to face.

I had my yucky times (more than a few!), I had my challenges and struggles, I had heart-break and despair. I had anger and jealousy and bitterness. I had it all!

God saved me from that yuckiness, he broke my bonds free and I was finally lifted out of the furnace.

But God gave me the best gift of all just a few months after I became pregnant.

He removed any smell of smoke from me!

If you met me just 4 months into my pregnancy and hadn’t read my blog, you might never have known what I had gone through to get there. I didn’t have leftovers from our experience stanking up everyone’s space!

And I praise Him for that because NOTHING in me wants to go through what I did to get here, and then walk around making sure everyone knows it!

NOTHING makes me want to cling to our experience like some sort of badge of honor.

If Shad, Rack and Benny could face DEATH for their God and not even smell like smoke afterward, surely I don’t want to have gone through something as small as Infertility and feel the need to make sure everyone around me knows what I had to go through!

It has been a year since my son has been born, we have not protected once in that time and I am not miraculously pregnant. We are currently $10,000 in debt for a future baby that most people can have for free and I have been knee-deep in paperwork simply to expand our family.

I have been asked questions about how I plan to discipline and how will I prove to a mother that I won’t favor my biological son over her child, I have been questioned on my families views on adoption and how open they might be, I have been fingerprinted and background checked, I have had to show everyone and anyone that I am worthy of being given a child, when most people in this world get to just have one, whether they want one or not.

And you know what?

I don’t care!!

I am glad to go through this and spend insane amounts of money for my children if needed. I am glad to go through the longer route to find them, I am glad to have to go to seminars and read books and take classes to bring home another child.

Because this is the path God chose for me.

And I will walk it joyfully and prayerfully without smelling like smoke!

I don’t need people to hear my story. If they want to know, fine! If it helps them in their journey, great! But I don’t need it to be told. I do not want to have this badge of honor called “Infertility (aka poor, poor me…)” strapped to my chest for all to see.

God has chosen to save me, and I don’t want to hold onto any earthly rights I think I may have, simply because I took longer to get here.

Moving on, the truth is that VERY RARELY do I feel jealous or upset when I hear of a pregnancy announcement or a birth. Generally I feel just like I did before I went through IF. Which is amazing!

However I would be lying if I said I never felt a slight sting. But Praise God it is only that, a slight sting that I feel for a moment and it's gone.

Please forgive us

It has been too long since we have been to this blog, or even the inbox with questions. We didn't really intend to take a break, it just sort of happened. Every time we get an email and spend time praying through an answer, it takes a lot out of us. So I think after we got going on the blog, we just needed a mental and spiritual break.

But we are back, and hoping to keep going with this blog. Thank you for those with questions and comments. We still plan to get to each one!

Just an update on our lives:

Melissa has had her 5th and final (bio) baby in October, Tad. She had her tubes tied and is done with pregnancy. Her children are so amazing, each and every one. They are hoping to adopt a sibling group in the future, but for now are raising their wonderful and crazy kids one day at a time :)

Rachel's son Brighton is 14 months old and is such a joy every day. They are 3 months into the process of adopting a newborn domestically. Things are going slow as they're in no hurry, but they are getting more and more excited to add another one to their family.

Over the summer Rachel and Joey got involved in a voluntary foster program and had a 3 year old for 4.5 months. It was life changing in many ways. It was hard to let him go, but they are still open to having more foster children in their lives and are praying about the right situation for their family.