“What’s the best tip you have to offer someone struggling with fertility issues?”
Last summer, I was interviewed by Fertility Smarts, and they asked me this question, which seemed to take me longer to answer than the others. I couldn’t help but think back to the beginning when I was first diagnosed with PCOS and given less than a 3% chance of conceiving on my own. I felt defeated and hopeless as I scoured the internet pages, looking for advice on how to navigate these uncharted waters. I remember finding article after article filled with mostly useful nuggets of advice on which treatment option to pursue, diet to follow, exercise regime to try (and eventually quit), as well as vitamins to spend my life savings on. As I mentioned, most of it was helpful, but I quickly realized it was not what my soul needed. Because what I needed was advice on how to cope when the pregnancy test was negative. And how to ride the emotional roller coaster of “happy for them but sad for me” when someone close (or even not close) announced their pregnancy. I also wanted to know if it was worth sharing my story…or better to keep it quiet. Or what about my spouse? How can we keep our marriage from falling apart in the midst of crumbling expectations? And friend, that might be why you are here. You want to know…
You want to know more than just the best treatment options to pursue, diets to follow, exercise regimens to try, and vitamins to take. This is why I asked the closed Waiting for Baby Bird online support group (which you can find here) what they would tell someone first learning of their struggle to conceive. My prayer is that through their nuggets of advice related to everything from marriage to their faith, as well as dealing with the overwhelming pain of grief, and comparison, the struggle you face might become easier, the pain you feel will lessen, and the motivation and empowerment you need to keep pressing forward will strengthen.
It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s okay to not participate in events such as baby showers and gender reveals. ~Bethany
Acknowledge it’s a death and permit yourself to grieve. (And know others won’t understand it). Because it’s the death a dream–of the children, you always thought you would have. People won’t understand this because there isn’t a body or person, but for us, we feel as though we had lost not just one person we loved, but several. ~Monica
Give yourself grace and space to experience grief. Whether it is grief from a pregnancy announcement, a recent loss, the worry from not knowing what your next steps will be, the stress from budgeting due to treatments or adoption costs, the two-week wait, or anything and everything in between. And don’t feel guilty for it either. What you are going through is painful. If you had a cut, you wouldn’t be mad at yourself for hurting, and you wouldn’t pretend it wasn’t bleeding. You would immediately take care of it. Therefore, don’t be mad at yourself for the feelings you feel from this type of cut to your heart. Don’t ignore them either. Simply take care of it by feeling them out. ~Elisha
Know that it’s okay to say no…
No to working in the church nursery.
No to holding your cousin’s baby.
No to attending the baby shower.
No to planning the baby shower.
No to pursuing treatments.
No to answering questions regarding why you and your spouse do not have children.
No to listening to unsolicited advice.
No to visiting a newborn in the hospital.
No to sitting through baby dedication.
No to attending the gender reveal party.
No to opening those picture-perfect Christmas card’s
No to adoption (it’s not always for everyone).
No to fostering (again…not for everyone).
No, to keep trying and trying and trying…
The best thing for your soul can sometimes just be a simple “no” if in this season, saying “yes” will push you away from relationships, rob you of hope, or crush your faith. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Allow yourself time to process and grieve the life you thought you would have. We often feel as though we have to keep up a facade, and we pretend we are okay when behind the mask, our hearts are broken, and our dreams are shattered. It is a hard journey, and one none of us would choose. We have to be free to cry, be angry, and feel the sorrow and plethora of emotions. But then we must go forward. The time frame is different for us all. Some learn to cope and move forward within days of hearing bad news, others like me, need years. Knowing that I am not alone and finding a community of other women has been a priceless asset. but I had to learn to give myself the freedom to be real about where I was and how I felt going through it all. ~Beka
Not everyone’s journey is the same. We all feel and experience differently, therefore know that you have the right to say no to holidays and other events if you are feeling sad or uncomfortable. ~Brandy
You may have to spell out what support means to you. After all, we can’t expect our friends and family always to know what we need; therefore, we might have to tell them. It can feel weird, awkward, and even selfish letting others know specifically how they can help you, but if you don’t, you can’t get upset if they don’t always say or do what it is you need in regards to support. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Take advice with a grain of salt, knowing that people mean well even when their advice is terrible. ~Danielle
Gently educating friends and family is okay when done in love and not in hurt or anger. Most of the time, people mean well and can’t do better if they don’t know better. ~Brittney
You and your partner are not the only ones hurting. The truth is, your siblings, parents, and others whom you are close to are most likely also grieving with you; however, they just don’t know how to express it or comprehend it. Therefore give them grace when they offer you advice; they simply want to help you achieve your dreams. And when your mom, dad, or grandma tells you to give up or insinuates it’s just not meant to be, ignore them. They are most likely feeling hopeless at that moment and therefore only saying the same things you probably have said or will say to yourself when another month goes by without seeing those two precious pink lines. It’s all about that grace…the same grace you would hope they would give to you if the shoe were on the other foot. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Your family may not know how to be there for you, but let them at least try. ~Katrina
Be present with friends and family even when it is hard; those moments will become the memories that get you through the rough times. ~Heather
Some people in your circle will need a stronger boundary. Be sure to know who is safe to share your journey with, and be on the same page with your spouse about it. ~Brittney
Don’t compare your story to anyone else’s. God designed your story for you and their story for them. ~Danielle
Try not to respond to someone else’s hurt with your own. It’s not a comparison game. After all, when I get cut, I bleed. And when you get cut, you bleed. Pain is pain. And pain is relative to the person experiencing it. ~Lesley
Someone else’s joy and pregnancy don’t take away from what God can do for you. We can celebrate their victory and weep in our disappointment. ~Serenah
Don’t compare your struggle to others. I used to always say, “Well, I can’t be that sad because I’m not like so-and-so who has been trying for x amount of years.” Any amount of time with infertility is hard, and you can grieve that. ~Shelbi
One of the hardest things I have had to realize is that what God has blessed others with is none of my business. ~Rachel
Her success does not mean your failure. ~Anne
Every time I start to compare my life to a friend who has the family I hope for, I read the story of Rachel and Leah. Rachel wanted babies, and Leah longed for love—the sisters had what the other wanted and spent their lives battling one another. Neither sister was happy. When we recognize our joy is in Jesus and not our circumstances, we can look at the gorgeous blessings we do have and focus our attention there. Jealous will often creep up, but I’ve found singing praise and gratitude will often help me out of this jealous mindset. ~Brittney
There is no right way to “do” infertility. What treatment option works for one person might not work for you. And that’s okay. How long people choose to pursue their dream of parenthood might be shorter or longer than what you and your spouse have agreed upon. Again, that is okay. How other people share so openly about their experiences might not be for you. Once again, totally okay. There is no right or wrong way to “do” infertility. After all, 6+3=9. But so does 5+4. The way you do things and how I do things aren’t always the only way to do them. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Find one person you can confide in on the hard days. ~Shannon
Don’t let anyone (including yourself) make you feel isolated. It will only slow you down and beat you up inside…trust me, having a support system is important! I can be a hypocrite with this one because I hate talking about feelings, but it’s so much better to have people to lean on when all of the emotions start to get the best of you. ~Ashley
Don’t struggle alone. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and struggling alone makes it that much harder. ~Shae
It’s okay to talk about your infertility with friends and family. I kept our infertility hidden for almost two years, and I was so depressed because I was dealing with it alone, minus my husband. The moment I opened up, I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. ~Erica
Sharing is so important! You never know who might need to hear your story. Just be aware of or know the people you are sharing it with because some will understand and be kind, while others will not. But don’t let the ones who do not get you down. After all, it helps to know how you can turn to in the future for support. ~Melissa
Our stories are powerful and can impact others on this journey in ways we will never know, however, sometimes it’s not safe, or maybe we aren’t ready. We don’t have to share every feeling with the world but share your story with God and a trusted friend when all else fails. Bottling up these emotions is a dangerous recipe for implosion, and getting vulnerable is a way to allow others to speak the truth over the lies that creep in our heads and the shame that resides in our hearts. Putting truth and light into darkness is a beautiful way to combat the ache. ~Brittney
I felt like I was keeping a secret by not telling others of our struggle. Little did I know how many people dealt with the same issue with whom I could talk to and rely on. I wish I would have spilled the beans earlier about my issues because I wouldn’t have felt alone and had more support early on. Now that it’s out, I feel much better. ~Kim
Seek counseling if necessary. My therapist once told me years ago that the minute you start to wonder if you need a counselor, it’s already past time. ~Ashley
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, at least journal. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Put your husband and your marriage first. The worst thing that happened to me was when I became obsessed and wanted to have sex all of the time in hopes we would conceive. I didn’t realize he was starting to resent me for it a little. So, we took a break from it, and now, we make love when we feel like it, not because an ovulation prediction stick tells us to. ~Erin
Don’t blame your spouse for any of it. You are in this together, and you have to love each other through it all. ~Megan
If you and your spouse are not on the same page, don’t nag. Nagging only makes it worse. Therefore, simply remain quiet, talking to the Holy Spirit instead. Ask him to speak to your spouse on your behalf, as well as speak to you. After all, what if it’s your heart that needs to be changed? I realize this is a scary prayer to pray, asking for your heart to be changed, but if the Holy Spirit changes it, trust that it is for the best. Also, when waiting for hearts to be changed, don’t start nagging about it again, because in doing so, you might just be interrupting the Holy Spirit who was still talking…still changing…still working. No one likes to be interrupted…even the Holy Spirit. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
If you go to the doctor, try to go together so that your spouse sees and hears everything first hand. For some reason, men “get it” when a doctor says it. I could talk until I am blue in the face, and he wouldn’t understand. ~Kimberly
Don’t take your disappointments or anger out on your spouse because your spouse struggles just as much as you are, even if they don’t show it. ~Heather
Have unplanned sex that doesn’t occur around ovulation! Let your husband know that he is more than just a baby-making machine! ~Brittney
Know that your husband grieves differently than you and give him grace for that. ~Sara
You are STRONG. You are a SURVIVOR. You WILL find your way, it won’t be easy, but you CAN make it. ~Felicia
It’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. ~Cerissa
Don’t let the hurt of today blind you to the hope of tomorrow. ~ Chelsea
If you do the right thing, but getting the wrong results, don’t give up hope. You never know when your breakthrough is going to breakthrough. ~Elisha
I want you to know you are capable, you are brave, you are significant, and you are loved. Even if you don’t feel like it right now. ~Elisha
Don’t waste the wait. Ask God what your purpose is in this season. For so many years, I thought my life was on pause because I didn’t have children, but everyone around me did. Oh, how I was wrong. The truth is God has multiple purposes for each of our lives, and His plans aren’t defined by one season. ~Megan
It’s okay to feel like this is hopeless. Feel the feelings and then tell Satan to get lost. ~Renee
Never say never. Don’t rule things out just because you are afraid. I said in the beginning that I would never do IVF because I was scared. Well, I have done it all, including IVF, and it is what has given me my babies. ~Stephanie
It’s not an easy road to travel, but every bump and roadblock is all worth the wait when you are holding your baby in your arms. So never give up. Believe that your rainbow will come after the storm you are in has passed. ~Sarah
You will have good days and bad, but don’t give up! ~Sarah
With almost 12 years of experience behind me, I can safely say that you will make it. On the days you feel like you just can’t go on, are just that…days. So cry on the floor in a ball if you can’t do anything else, but know that you will eventually be okay. It’s okay if you are angry. There are five stages of grief, and anger is one of them. And on that note, you are grieving. You are grieving the death of a dream, the death of what your future was supposed to look like. So say no if you have to, and don’t let people guilt you into going places you just can’t go. Most of all, you are not alone. There are too many infertility sisters out there, so find a couple of ladies to talk to, and you’ll become friends for life. They’ll get you when no one else can. ~Alicia
Romans 2:11 says that God does not show favoritism. Try to remember this on the days when you feel left out, forgotten, and abandoned. Because while your feelings will tell you one thing, you need to let the Truth of His word become what you believe. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
It’s not your fault. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But God is still in control, and He is still faithful. Therefore, hold onto hope and continue to believe in miracles. ~Melissa
The doctors might have given you a 5 % chance…or 3 %chance…or zero % chance, but with God, you have a 100% chance! ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Worship even when it hurts. ~Brittney
Before taking that next step, whether pursuing treatments, natural remedies, or a special diet plan, ask God about what He wants you to do. His plan will be the best. He knows what your body before then you and most certainly better than doctors. He also knows what will work, therefore seek Him and trust where He is guiding you. ~Courtney
Cling to God; turn to Him, and He will help you through when you think you can’t hold on any longer. ~Renea
Infertility is not a form of punishment. God showed this when he told the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth in the New Testament. God calls them righteous, yet both childless. However, Elizabeth did become pregnant even in her old age and gave birth to John the Baptist…as in…John THE Baptist, the one who paved the way for Jesus. I am inclined to think that infertility has nothing to do with us but everything to do with ensuring my child is born exactly when they need to be born so that they are used exactly how God needs to use them. It’s not about me; it’s about He. ~Sarah
God can and will heal those broken and shattered dreams. He will even give you new and better ones. He is doing this with me. It hasn’t been easy, but my heart is healing, and I’m beginning to dream again. ~Ashley
Intimacy with God is vital. Therefore, get real with Him and don’t be afraid to tell Him how you really feel (psst…He can take it). ~Ashley
Don’t let this struggle destroy you. It will threaten to consume you but draw near to God; He will sustain you. Focus on the many and abundant blessings in your life and not what you are waiting for. ~Pamela
Don’t idolize becoming a parent. I know it’s hard, but it’s not what God desires for you. Instead, focus on what breaks His heart and less on what is breaking yours. ~Katelyn
Don’t let your struggle become your identity. Although it will be hard, God is still on the throne. He is always there, even in the silence and the chaos. Therefore, when it seems as though it’s all there is to think about, remember Who’s you are and that He has a purpose behind it all. ~Sondra
You are going to have hard days, and that is okay, but don’t stay there. Instead, get in the word of God and find scriptures that encourage you; write them down and hang them up as reminders. I keep some on my kitchen window so that I can be reminded of hope when I am doing the dishes. ~Crystal
It’s okay that you are angry with God; just go to him with your anger and allow him to soothe your soul. ~Katy
God does not put sickness, infertility, or disease on anyone; therefore, I know I can stand against the enemy and infertility because Jesus became a curse on a tree so that I would be redeemed from the curse. ~Katie
God is for you, not against you. He loves you! If He knows the numbers of hair on your head, then rest knowing that he also knows the deepest aches and desires. He is the way maker. His word never fails or returns void; therefore, you can trust Him and His timing. ~Katie
Pray! Leave it at Jesus’ feet and trust him with your whole heart. I know it’s easier said than done, but when you fully start trusting him, the journey will seem less scary. ~Bethany
Pray even when you don’t feel like it. Pray even when you feel angry at God; he wants you to talk to him and share your heart. Pray even when you feel like you are talking to a brick wall. You can also find someone you can confide in, someone who will listen and pray for you and with you. ~Hannah
Don’t neglect reading your bible. You might think it is pointless, and you are not getting anything out of it, but you are. I recommend studying the seven couples in the bible who struggled to conceive and, on the hard days reading through the book of Psalms. Both bring healing, and both will bring you hope. ~Elisha
Avoid researching every little symptom, side effect, etc., because you will only drive yourself crazy! ~Ali
Be open to taking breaks. The truth is you can only peddle uphill for so long before you need to take a break. The same holds true as you pursue your dreams. You can only climb this mountain of infertility so long before you need to stop (for a bit) and take a break. A break does not equal quitting. It just means that…a break. A chance to catch your breath, rest, and prepare mentally to keep going. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Don’t let this circumstance steal your joy or consume your every moment. It can easily become all you think about, and in turn, make you bitter. ~Heather
I write quotes that I have heard or scriptures that have spoken to me, and then I put them on my bathroom mirror. It really is a breath of fresh air whenever I’m brushing my teeth and see those words of encouragement. ~Madison
Take one day at a time. Also, try to find a hobby or something to preoccupy your mind and time for the “hard” days, because there will be some, if not lots. Don’t ever blame yourself or your spouse; neither of you is at fault or being punished. Don’t forget to celebrate the victories and positives. Don’t google anything because it will seem worse than it is and make you even more worried. Find someone (other than your husband or mom) who has gone through infertility and talk. Oh yeah, just breathe! ~Katherine
Find a good support group or devotional related to infertility. ~Rachel
Give yourself grace. Do not feel guilty for needing to unfollow someone on social media if the pain is too great in your heart. And those baby shower invitations? Or gender reveal parties? It’s okay if you kindly decline but send a gift instead. And you know something else? That punch in the gut feeling you sometimes get when you see another ultrasound picture, cute baby bump, or pregnancy announcement? It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you are not happy for them. It just means that you are human with normal human emotions. It is possible to be genuinely happy for someone else and also be completely devastated, heartbroken and hurt over your own situation. So sweet sister, don’t beat yourself up for feeling so much grief over other people’s blessings. Instead, feel your feelings. Cry your tears. And give yourself the gift of grace. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Not having children does not make you any less of a woman. ~Katie
Do not let your circumstance determine your happiness. Happiness comes from within so find what else makes you happy and what else makes you smile, then go out and do those things. Katie
Keep a journal! It’s free therapy as it helps me process my thoughts, vent my frustrations (in a safe place), express my emotions, and even help me work through and solve my problems. Like I said, free therapy! Not to mention the healing that writing in a journal brings. I have found that some of the most painful and heartbreaking events that have occurred in my life tend to follow me around and haunt me; that is until I write about it. Once I write it out…or pour it out…I feel emptier. But in a good way! I don’t feel as though I am carrying around so much baggage. This is why I am a FULL believer in people writing in a journal every day. It’s almost like a brain dump, and it can help clear your mind as you process everything that is happening. ~Elisha, author of Waiting for Baby Bird
Have a girl date and laugh until you cry. Get out of your head. Do a face mask. Read a good book. Watch your favorite movie. Color. Draw. Write. Do more of what makes your soul happy. ~Brittney
I realize some advice is annoying…some of it is useful…some could be thrown out with the trash; nevertheless, we all need each other’s words of wisdom from time to time. Therefore I have to ask, what nugget of advice would YOU give to someone struggling with infertility? Let me know in the comments below!
I would love to connect with you, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then come find Waiting for Baby Bird on the public Facebook page or join me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you!
If you are looking for a faith-based infertility community of other women who just “get it,” then head over to the *PRIVATE* Waiting for Baby Bird Support group for hope + encouragement. There you will find opportunities to ask for prayer, watch *LIVE* encouragement videos from me, author of “Waiting for Baby Bird,” as well as be able to share your heart with others on the same path, enter into exclusive giveaways, and so much more! So what are you waiting for? Find us here!