My husband and I were married nine years before we had a successful pregnancy. Before that, we suffered infertility, miscarriages, embarrassing questions, physical exams, and lots of heartache.
We spent a great deal of time in prayer beseeching God to grant us children and endured lots of “suggestions” (also embarrassing) from well-meaning people in our church.
I attended WAY too many baby showers, smiling my way through each of them while dying on the inside. I was so excited for the mother-to-be, but I was truly sad for me. I read every book I could get my hands on, and we tried various medical (both traditional and non-traditional) methods. My faith was strong enough to move mountains at the beginning of each cycle, but would be reduced to rubble when my period started.
While all this was happening, my husband and I were on staff at wonderful churches. They were filled with amazing people who we had the pleasure of serving and doing life alongside. We knew how to minister to people (or so we thought), but no Bible college degree prepared us for the heartache and emptiness that infertility and loss creates.
Statistics around infertility
According to the National Survey of Family Growth, my husband and I were not alone:
– Number of women aged 15-44 with impaired fecundity (impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term) number 7.5 million.
– Percentage of women aged 15-44 with impaired fecundity is 12.3%.
– Number of married women aged 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex with husband) number 1.0 million.
– Percentage of married women aged 15-44 that are infertile is 6.1%.
That being said, although we were able to finally have two healthy children, one of the most fruitful lessons from that time in our lives was on HOW best to love on those who are going through a similar desert experience.
Ways to encourage a couple experiencing infertility
God proved Himself faithful and we came out the other side wiser and with some helpful tools for helping others cope. For those of you with someone in your life who is experiencing infertility, some ways to encourage them include:
1. Pray. Pray for those in your life who are struggling with infertility. Infertility involves all parts of the couple: their spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional lives. They need prayer support.
2. Be a friend. Just be their friend. Come alongside them. Ask how you can help; not everyone grieves and processes the same. Don’t be surprised if they need help with a meal or around the house. Don’t pity them, just love them. I just wanted someone to hold my hand and encourage my husband. I loved random cards and phone calls.
3. Think before posting or speaking. Avoid “meme-ing” them. Do not feel that trite Christian encouragement is the answer. Do not send well-meaning Facebook or Instagram memes without spending quality time with them. In fact, as someone who loves the Bible, I found that sometimes the most hurtful things people said were Scriptures not aptly timed. Romans 8:28 is an incredible wealth of truth, but right after a miscarriage, it felt like a dagger in my heart.
You are there for a reason
Infertility is a tough time in the life of a couple. It can often feel like a time of emotional and spiritual infertility as well. If you have someone in your life who is going through this, please know that God has placed you in their lives for a reason.
One Small Win: Love them and know that they will be forever thankful for your generosity of prayer, time, and encouragement.
Amberly Neese is a national speaker, author, and humorist with a passion for pointing others to the joy found in Christ. She has won hearts (and funny bones) of people all over the country at hundreds of conventions, camps, seminars, retreats, and chapels. She also serves as the program director at UCYC and an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University. Amberly received her Master’s degree from Biola University.
Amberly has been married to Scott Neese since 1992. They have two kids, Judah and Josiah. They live in beautiful Prescott, AZ and love the Food Network and all things Star Wars. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.