Infertility: How To Stay Positive, and Practical Tips To Get Through It
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Because time is short before my husband deploys I will be having a few people guest post for me so that I can spend more time with my husband before he leaves. Today, I would like you to welcome Ashlee from Chronicles of the Dashlees. Her post today is something she is currently going through, but is something that she gives much encouragement about as well. I hope it helps anyone currently going through the same thing.Disclosure: This is not something my husband and I have ever struggled with or are currently struggling with. This is a topic that God laid on Ashlee’s heart to write to you all today.
How to Stay Positive Through Infertility:
Having struggled with infertility for quite some time now, I’m becoming acutely aware of one thing: There are way too many women out there who feel completely alone in this. That’s a shame, because truthfully, they’re not. Women tend to bottle up when it comes to expressing something another person might consider ‘personal,’ and because of that, fertility (among other things) has been pushed under the rug all too often, even between close friends. I don’t want that to be the case with me! I want to help other women with my experiences! I want to help women work through the emotions I had to work through (and yes, still work through almost every month)!
There’s no reason a woman should feel alone, especially when trying to have a baby. I’ve chosen to write my guest post about infertility, and particularly infertility among military couples, because I want to be a blessing to those out there who are also struggling with this, and because God has really laid this on my heart! So, before I start, please know that you are NOT alone, that you don’t have to keep all your feelings inside, and that no matter how desperate your situation, there is still hope.
To get a little background on my story and to understand more where I’m coming from, you can read my blog at chroniclesofthedashlees.blogspot.com. To make a very long story short, it would be impossible (short of a miracle, and let me assure you, they DO happen!) for my husband and I to get pregnant, and stay pregnant on our own, without treatment. Right now, every aspect of my cycle has to be controlled by artificial medication for us to be able to try, and we have been trying actively since January of 2011.
First, I want to give a list of some practical tips that have really helped me in my quest to become a mother. It’s very easy for us as women to get downhearted and depressed over infertility, and to be honest, I was 95% in the dumps for a good 9 months. Here are some things that got me out of the rut I was in.
1. Before you do anything in the morning, read your Bible and pray your heart out.
I have noticed that when I don’t pray in the morning, my heart has more of an opportunity to become self-centered, prideful, and ungrateful. All of those things can push you farther into a depression, or push you over the edge if you’re not already there. “Well, God, I do so much for you, I try to always do what’s right, why can’t I have a baby?? “If that girl in Wal-Mart who’s on welfare with 6 kids can get pregnant, why can’t I?!?!?!”
Sound familiar? We need to fight these attitudes, because they are not Biblical! The best way to fight them: Pray. Read. And be honest, gals… God knows our heart. I have found myself saying “Father, I’m so mad at that lady in Wal-Mart who can’t even feed her kids without food stamps… I know I shouldn’t be but I am, and I’m jealous, so please forgive me for that, but really, WHY her??” It’s not a sin to express your emotions to God, so get them out! There’s no better person to let go of all that angst to. Reading your Bible will put your heart in the right spot and convict you about heart attitudes you may need to change in order to grow through this journey.
2. Commit to truth.
We are hormonal beings. It’s a fact. And when those hormones start going crazy, we need to remind ourselves that nothing has changed. More often than not when I am hormonal, I know the truth (it’s in there, somewhere in my head), and choose to ignore it. “DAN! PLEASE stop chewing so loud! Geez! And why are you sitting so close to me!? Can’t you scoot over?? Maybe then I wouldn’t hear ‘CHOMP CHOMP’ in my ear!” And the reality is, he always sits that close, and always chews like that, and you are just more sensitive than normal. Learn your body, learn to recognize when you’re hormonal, and say “Honey, I’m super sensitive, could you scoot over so I can’t hear you as much?”
3. Learn to trust, be content, and be thankful.
Ladies… it’s a learning process. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s work, and hard work at that. You’re going to want that baby more than anything else in this world, and if you’re not careful, it’s going to become an idol. Anything you desire more than your relationship with God is not something He’s is going to encourage! Tell the Lord how much you want a baby. He promises to carry our burdens for us, use that promise! Read 1 Corinthians 1:3-5. Use your experiences to help other women. Trust that the Lord will do His Will in you if you are willing, and remember that His Will is ALWAYS better than what we think we want (Romans 8:28). Don’t trust your own understanding of the way things are…
Did you know each egg you make is different, and that you only ovulate that one egg once in your life? What if the egg you ovulated this month isn’t the egg He wants to use??? What about if you got pregnant now, you would just miscarry right away? Trust God’s answer… even if that answer is ‘wait.’ There is nothing in this world more scary than being outside of God’s Will! Thank God for what you do have. I personally have a wonderful husband, an awesome house, a reliable car that’s fun to drive, two fur babies named Shade and Luna, and plenty of awesome friends to pray for me. Focusing on what you have, rather than what you don’t have, leads your heart to more thankfulness, and less covetousness… and then to less jealousy.
4. Learn and pray about your options.
You and your husband need to pray about how far you want to go with fertility treatment, should it get to that point. There are so many options out there to choose from, ranging from just ovulation induction techniques (such as Clomid, Metformin, Femara, IUI, etc.) all the way to Invitro Fertilization (IVF). Each treatment is varying in severity. While I’m sure there are many strong opinions out there about fertility treatments in relation to what is Biblical, I personally cannot find anything in the Bible that would say any of it is directly wrong. I DO find that the Bible says to always seek the Lord’s guidance and that the Holy Spirit will not lead you astray (John 16:13).
It truly is each couple’s decision, and in order to make a decision inside of God’s Will, you must pray. Pray hard. Pray a lot. Lean not unto your own understanding! A lot of this won’t make sense to you if you don’t have medical training. Refrain from becoming an ‘internet doctor’ and just ask God to lead you into what is right, to open doors and to close doors. The other thing to think about is what you can handle financially. Unfortunately, Tricare doesn’t cover anything fertility related. I will say more about that in a moment.
5. During the ‘Two-Week-Wait’, refrain from over thinking your situation.
I know during my first several months of two-week-waits I drove myself crazy. I would google ‘early pregnancy symptoms’ and ‘clomid success rates.’ I would post on forums to ask other pregnant ladies if they had experienced any of the symptoms I was having before they had their ‘BFP’ (Big Fat Positive, aka a positive pregnancy test). Whether or not I was pregnant would constantly be on my mind. I would take a pregnancy test way too early, and get depressed because it wasn’t positive. I was eager, and there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s what you do with that eagerness that counts. I was not handling it the right way.
I am currently in a two-week-wait as I type, the first two-week-wait of a new treatment we’re trying. I promised myself, my husband, and God a few months ago that I would try my best to just relax and keep my mind off of it during my two-week-waits, and it has made the biggest difference. I am less stressed (and yes, stress CAN keep you from getting pregnant!), have more energy, and am able to focus more on the things I have now that I love. Keep your mind occupied with something else. If it wanders into your mind, pray about it! Several times these last few days I have found myself praying “Lord, please bless my egg and the little spermies traveling to it, and please work Your Will in my body.” And poof! The worry and anticipation was gone, and I was relaxed. Is that going to happen for you right away? Absolutely not! It was WORK to get to the point I am at now, but I want anyone reading this who struggles with this to know it’s possible to get past it!!! With God’s help!!!
6. Remember: God will give you everything you need.
If you don’t have a baby right now, it means you don’t need one. God will supply all your needs. While the intense desire you’re probably feeling might seem like a need, it’s not. I have never met anyone who NEEDED to get pregnant. I have met and counseled many people who FEEL like they need to get pregnant, and while that is a very real and very intense feeling, it is a feeling. This ties in very closely to learning to be content with what you have!
7. There is ALWAYS someone who has it worse than you, and there is always someone who understands.
If there’s anything to say about going through infertility, it’s that it has the potential to bring people together. Ladies, in a LOT of ways, the husband has it worse, especially if there are issues on his side. Men see it as an inability to provide for their wife, and it’s a major hit to their masculinity! Not to mention, they are mostly helpless in this situation, especially when the wife feels as though she can’t talk about her feelings, physical symptoms, etc, either for fear of being too personal, of for fear of getting her hopes up. Use this situation! Make the absolute best of it!!!
8. Be vulnerable, continually.
When you’re trying to have a baby, and it’s failing month after month, there’s a huge temptation to close off. To shut in your hopes and desires. Why? Because if we express our desires, it’s easier and easier to get our hopes up. There’s more opportunity for people to feel sorry for you if it doesn’t work out that month, which if you understand what I’m talking about here, you know only makes things worse. It’s so much easier to bottle up, even to your husband! But you need to fight that desire! When you bottle emotion, over time you WILL become bitter… and we want to become better, not bitter!
I mentioned earlier that I would say a little bit more about Tricare and navigating the waters of insurance with fertility. I think I’ve had every procedure you could possibly have for fertility related issues, so I will tell you from first-hand experience how to work the waters. For reference, we do have Tricare Prime.
First, remember that if the word ‘fertility’ is mentioned at all on doctors papers, Tricare will shut down and reject the claim. However, if you use the term for the actual procedure on the doctors papers, a lot of times Tricare WILL cover it! As an example, right now I am in the middle of a procedure they call ovulation induction. It involves Clomid, and then at the right time, a shot to trigger my ovaries to release the egg. This is very much a fertility related procedure, but Tricare does cover this because my doctor listed the actual procedure on the insurance bill instead of coding it as a fertility procedure. Because of this, my ultrasounds, my medication, and my doctor’s consults are all covered. This is not to be confused in any way with insurance fraud, please don’t think I’m advocating that. It is simply listing the actual procedure being done,rather than coding it under something Tricare would rather not cover.
For those of you who have Tricare Standard, I am not as familiar with that insurance, but I do know that on the Tricare website, without any regard to which level of insurance you have, it states this:
“TRICARE may cover the following types of infertility testing and treatment.
Diagnostic services to identify physical illnesses or injuries to the reproductive system are covered for both men and women. Infertility treatments, corrective treatments and surgeries for women are also covered. However, correction of male infertility may be cost shared, which is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Therapies covered by TRICARE include hormonal treatment, corrective surgery, antibiotics, administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or radiation therapy depending on the cause. These therapies are covered for both sexes.“
So there you go! It is also worth mentioning that there are four military bases that do IVF on base. They are: Wilford Hall Medical Center (San Antonio), Tripler Army Medical Center (Honolulu), Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Washington D.C.), and Naval Medical Center (San Deigo).
I do hope this post has helped anyone struggling with this in some way. I know there are many women suffering in silence, and that hurts me. So ladies! Remember those 8 points above, pray, commit to doing what’s right and being inside God’s Will, and you WILL be okay!
Ashlee is a stay-at-home Air Force wife who enjoys do-it-yourself home projects, anything baby related, her husband, Dan, and pinterest.com. She and Dan were married in April of 2010. Her main goal in writing is to give glory to God first, then to be a blessing to others by sharing her struggles and knowledge.
Thanks for letting me guest post Kathryn! Such an honor! 🙂
No problem! Thank YOU, I enjoy reading your posts! 🙂
Okay, I might be a bit biased, since I am Ashlee’s Mama, but this is a great article!! Good job, Ashlee! :)) I love you and can’t wait to meet Future Baby Dashlee!
Aww that’s sweet! Your daughter is a great writer!
This is such a great post on such a sensitive topic. My husby and I aren’t trying yet, but I have several friends who are struggling with this. Thank you Ashlee for sharing your heart!
You’re very welcome! 🙂
Thank you for this, Ashlee. My husband and I have been trying for our second child since April of this year with no luck. It’s such sensitive topic because no one in my immediate family has ever struggled with. I’ve found a lot of help and encouragement through my blog, which has helped overcome the emotions of the BFN’s every month. I hope we don’t even have to go the route of Fertility Treatment, but my husband is Coast Guard so it’s great to have that bit of information regarding Tricare. Blessings to you and your family.
Wanted to add too, that the link to her blog doesn’t seem to be working. Trying to track her down so I can stalk her blog. 😉
I thought I fixed it! will try again!
It’s fixed and here it is: http://chroniclesofthedashlees.blogspot.com
Secondary infertility is often worse than primary infertility… simply because you think it will be easy, then you go month after month without success and you wonder what’s wrong. I will add you to my prayers, that’s the best thing we can do! Also on a side note, fertility treatments are not for everybody! Some might try and pressure you into them, but remain firm in what you think God has for you… He always knows best. Thanks for the feedback!
We had been trying for over a year for our second child, with zero luck. Went in for my first appointment to discuss with my doctor what we could do as far as fertility treatments, ect. They did a urine pregnancy test, which came back negative (big surprise)… but the next few days after I suddenly noticed my breasts hurt SO bad. I was now late by a two days, and my chest was such horrible pain… but I still held off because the test a few days ago said negative – why bother with another disappointment? Two weeks later, I gave in and took a home test – POSITIVE! At that dr appointment I WAS pregnant, but only about 3 weeks pregnant 🙂
My mom told me that with her second two (my little sister and brother) they tried for about 3 years for each, and found out she was pregnant with both when she went in to meet with a doctor regarding fertility. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
I am now 12 weeks pregnant. Have a dr appointment tomorrow 🙂
I just wanted to let you know I really love this post. I wish I could have read this while I was doing infertility treatments. My sister is struggling with it right now, and I am going to send this to her. I think she will benefit from it.
This article is exactly what I needed to read! I know that this was written nearly a year ago, but I definitely felt God speaking to me through this and telling me to wait on His Will. It has been so hard to see other friends – especially my unwedded friends – have their first and second children while my husband and I try and fail month after month. Thank you so much for sharing this and giving me concrete things to work on in my walk with Christ. You are blessing so many people with this article!! 🙂
Nice platitudes. Please education yourself on why they are useless, especially since you mentioned that you counsel people. Not only are platitudes useless they are harmful to the person who is grieving that is on the receiving end of them because they minimize that persons grief and shut them down from talking about their feelings. Platitudes are thought terminating and that is never a positive for a person who is grieving. I certainly hope you are not telling people who come to you for counseling in regards to infertility that God will give them everything they need. That is certainly not true and it is not even close to being rational. If it were there would be no starving people in the world.
Also, it does not matter if you perceive that one person has it worse than another. First, feeling better about yourself because others have it worse than you is pretty sadistic. Second, what one person might be able to brush off might be the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen to the next. It is not any persons place to judge the magnitude of a persons situation.
I have experienced recurrent miscarriages and now infertility. I have heard nothing but platitudes from people under the guise of support. I can assure you that they have done nothing to help me. They have caused me to reevaluate relationships with the people who have spoken them to me in regards to my grief and I have distanced myself from those people When it comes time for them to need emotional support I will be sure to treat them as they treated me in my time of emotional support. Recurrent miscarriage and now infertility has caused me to start treating others the way they treat me as opposed to treating others the way I want to be treated. This is a far more productive philosophical approach to life since I am no longer wasting emotional investment on people who are unable or are unwilling to make an emotional investment in me.
I did not write this but it’s a great place for you to start educating yourself about platitudes and how useless they are: http://open.salon.com/blog/marytkelly/2010/03/29/platitudes_and_why_they_suck