Infertility and Miscarriage Resource Roundup

infertility roundupHello, friends!

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month. As a result, there have been countless bloggers offering their own stories of loss, grieving, healing, and honest looks at their fertility journeys. After sharing my own story last month, I was blown away (and continue to be) by the response. So many women go through these journeys and just need someone in their life to tell them that they aren’t alone, to share their story with them.

The following is a roundup of some great blog posts on Infertility, Miscarriage, and a special section for those of you who may not be dealing with either, but want to learn how to be a better friend to those who are. These are also great words to share with friends who, ahem, maybe need a little more grace in their dealings with you. I hope that you are encouraged, that you find truth and hope, and that we can continue to speak candidly about our journeys.

Blessings,
Karli

INFERTILITY

Amanda at A Royal Daughter (though recently, joyously pregnant) has been blogging through her infertility journey for several years. Her honest and yet Christ-centered approach to the journey of her family echoes the attitude I think many of us wish we had. She is vulnerable and yet encouraging, writes straight from her heart, and never fails to give the Lord glory. Click here to read many of her posts regarding her journey with infertility.

Natasha at Kindred Grace shares a beautiful reflection on facing Mother’s Day as an infertile woman, with an especially heartwarming story about a donkey!

Faith of Modern Alternative Pregnancy shares Jenn’s story of infertility and adoption. Jenn is honest about her physical struggles, and the process of surrendering to the Lord that she and her husband had to journey through. You can read Jenn’s story here.

Alex at Mama Say What shares a poignant post on secondary infertility after the birth of her son. Secondary infertility is discussed even more rarely than primary infertility, and I am thankful for Alex’s faithfulness in sharing her story, especially while in the midst of questioning and processing. You can read her thoughts here.

Sarah of Sarah Writes shares her journey of miscarriage, infertility, and the eventual adoption of her Happy Baby. I especially love how she encourages women not to be ‘named by infertility’- it is so easy to allow ourselves to be defined by this, but we can’t! Read Sarah’s story here.

Katie at Clomid and Cabernet shares marriage tips for surviving infertility together. Her tips are practical but important. The C&C community is a very encouraging place- check it out when you have a free moment. Read Katie’s tips here.

MISCARRIAGE

Julie at A Little Bit of All of It has been an honest and faithful voice to this subject for some time now. Her blog includes many vulnerable and heartfelt stories of loss, hope following, and the many complicated emotions that come along with healing from miscarriage. Click here to find all of her posts.

Kristen of Smithspirations experienced a loss a few years ago and has been sharing her thoughts through her healing and grieving ever since. Her post entitled ‘The Invisible Loss of Miscarriage‘ is like reading my own story. Here, she shares her reflections around what would’ve been her due date, including a beautiful letter to her child.  I’m so thankful that she has been faithful to share the journey the Lord has lead her on.

Amanda at A Royal Daughter shares several resources that are helping her through her healing process after suffering a miscarriage earlier this year.

Sara of A Mama’s Story shares her thoughts on overcoming feelings of guilt or judgement after a miscarriage on Modern Alternative Pregnancy. I think this is incredibly important, as I know that I dealt with those thoughts, and though they are unnecessary, many times they are unavoidable, too.

A guest writer on Modern Alternative Pregnancy shares her thoughts on experiencing a missed miscarriage, and the emotional toll that that can take on the mother. This is what happened with my husband and I’s baby, and I found her post extremely thorough- especially when an MMC is a foreign concept to many. You can read this post here.

FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY

Kristen of Smithspirations offers a beautiful post on how to support someone who has experienced miscarriage.

Amanda of A Royal Daughter shares a heartfelt, two part reflective letter to moms on behalf of infertile women. She also shares her thoughts on Mother’s Day here.

Amy at The Messy Middle writes a compelling open letter to pastors on how they approach Mother’s day. I personally think all pastors should read this- maybe you should forward it to yours?

Whitney Cornelison of Modern Alternative Pregnancy writes a thorough and well-thought-out post on helping children grieve the loss of a sibling here.

Virginia of Georgetown, MN shares her experience making a memorial quilt for a friend who suffered a loss, via Modern Alternative Pregnancy.

Alex at Mama Say What shares a thoughtful post, ‘10 Ways To Support A Friend Dealing With Infertility‘. More than just a list of things ‘not to say’, Alex encourages friends to educate themselves, support their friends through treatment plans, and best of all to be faithful in prayer.

Kindred Grace: conversations between sisters in Christ

A Little Bit of All of It

AProverbs31Wife.com

Infertility, Miscarriage, and Hope: Our Story

Infertility, Miscarriage, and Hope: Our StoryYou never think it’s going to happen to you.

I distinctly remembering thinking about this, right around the time myself and 8 other friends got married within a 6 month window. “The odds of at least one of us having trouble getting pregnant are really good,” I said to myself, worried for those around me. Armed with my copy of Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I knew that it wouldn’t be me.

Flash forward about two years, when my husband and I prayerfully started trying to conceive our first child. Several people close to me had recently been through miscarriages, which I figured only bettered my odds of getting pregnant quickly and carrying to term without a problem. And yet, month after month went by, as we did all of the ‘right things’ the ‘right way’, but still, no baby.

Even though I knew several people who had gone through miscarriage, and even a few who were struggling to conceive, words can’t really express the loneliness and isolation I felt during those long months. See, infertility is a silent battle in our churches. For many couples, it is a private struggle for years, with private grief and private wounds. And I understand that- because infertility is an intensely private issue. But I think that there will be major healing in our churches when we are able to put our emotions aside and talk about this issue, because it affects so many families around us, and many times we don’t even know. So I want to tell my story. I understand that a pregnant woman is not usually the one that you want to hear from when talking about fertility issues or miscarriage, but my story is real, the pain I bore (and still bear) is real, and I want to share it with you, in hopes that somewhere down the line, my story brings hope to someone struggling with the same things I struggled with, silently, for months.

Infertility as a medical term and infertility as an emotional obstacle can be somewhat different. The medical community defines infertility as ‘a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse’. For some couples, that can be the longest twelve months of their lives, as the emotional tolls of infertility set in much faster than that. I want to validate those feelings, and say that no two women’s fertility journeys are alike- and the bottom line is that we must support one another, whether a few months or many years into it. I think it was around the second or third month of trying to conceive that the emotions started to creep up in my heart- feelings that something was wrong, that we would never get pregnant, that my body wasn’t doing what it should, that I would never be a mother. Jealousy at the other pregnant women around me, no matter how happy I truly was for them and their growing families. Feeling like I was the only one that had this struggle. Not wanting to talk about it, for fear that naming it would make it real. Each month that passed became more difficult, and hope seemed farther and farther away from my heart.

Much to our surprise, around our ninth month of trying to conceive, we found out that I was pregnant.

Some people, upon finding out they are pregnant, are secretive about it for a while, waiting to tell family for a few weeks and not making anything public until the first trimester was over, in case something were to happen. I was pretty much the opposite of that. I immediately told my parents, called my husbands parents, and drove around Westminster visiting people and making calls for the rest of the day. I was elated. My heart was full. I was going to be a mom.

In the next few weeks, we made many plans for our little birdy. We knew we didn’t want to find out the gender, but we already had names picked out and that we wanted a grey and yellow nursery (okay, my husband didn’t care much about that) and that even if it was a girl she wouldn’t wear much pink because I’m a nonconformist and I don’t want her to feel like she needs to be Barbie. I was choking down leafy greens and red meat and trying to sleep enough but also stay active and do and don’t do all the crazy things you do and don’t do when you’re an expectant mommy. When the time came for my first appointment, Matt and I were elated. A picture of this little life! I couldn’t think of anything more special.

It was July 10. I still remember pacing in the waiting room trying not to wet myself because I was told that I needed a full bladder to be able to see the baby, and I was going to see that little one no matter what! I remember the coldness of the ultrasound gel, the soft lights, and the little bean shape that popped up on the ultrasound screen. That was my baby! Right there! It was incredible. I was flooded with emotion.

But our joy was soon trampled as we were told that things were not right with our perfect little life. Over the next 24 hours, a series of ultrasounds and blood tests confirmed the worst: that though my body still thought that I was pregnant, our little one was no longer growing. On the afternoon of July 11, I received a call and was asked to schedule surgery to remove the baby. It was the worst, darkest day of my life.

My miscarriage is without a doubt one of the most painful, confusing things I have ever gone through in my entire life. Yes, I learned many lessons through that time, and I can see how the Lord used that baby to draw me closer to Him, to trust Him, and to speak to others. But it doesn’t change the hurt. It doesn’t make the grief go away. Even being pregnant again doesn’t make the fact that we lost a baby disappear. I still think about how old our child would be, marveling at the children of friends who had their babies right around when my due date would have been. One of them even named her son what we would’ve named the baby had it been a boy- a haunting reminder of what could have been.

Painful months passed as we continued to process and grieve this loss, with little direction of what that was even supposed to look like. Scripture doesn’t tell us how to mourn a lost baby, and the church, normally silent on the issue, doesn’t help either. Did the baby have a soul? Will I meet the baby in Heaven someday? When people ask me if I have any children, do I include this little one who isn’t with us anymore? Do I stand when all the moms are acknowledged on Mother’s Day? When people ask if we are going to ‘start trying’, do I launch into this tear-jerking tale? Miscarriage leaves you with a mess of questions and pain and very little finality. I still don’t have the answers.

My tiny glimmer of hope through the loss of that baby was that almost everyone I knew that had miscarried got pregnant again within 3 months, and now had beautiful children. “You’re more fertile after a miscarriage,” they would encourage, “it’ll happen.” Well, it didn’t. Three months came and went, then six, and before I knew it, it was February 14th, our due date, and I was a mess of tears in my bed, not knowing if I would ever be a mother, if my body would ever cooperate, if the Lord would ever bless me as He had seemingly blessed everyone around me. I recounted the miscarriage and all of the emotions surrounding the surgery to my husband that night, who sadly had been on the road when everything happened. As we sat and cried together, the Lord brought us closer, and yet the pain continued to grow. The feelings of loneliness and isolation only intensified.

Several weeks later I was diagnosed with a 7-cm mass that was encasing my right ovary and fallopian tube. I was referred to a gynecological oncologist, who seemed optimistic that I didn’t have cancer (which was obviously good) but told us that realistically, I was going to lose half of my reproductive organs, and that there was a chance that the same thing could develop at some point on the other side, as well. I was devastated. I couldn’t even have a baby with all of my organs intact- how was I ever supposed to start a family with only half of them? Both my husband and I felt strongly that our first child would be biological, and besides, adoption wasn’t financially feasible for us (and still won’t be for a long, long time, sadly), and so I just resolved that whatever was going to happen, would happen, and that I just needed to be honest with myself and with the Lord about where I was and what I was going through.

The Lord really met me in that place, in those dark weeks of doubting and questioning. I found myself beginning to surrender, to trust, to just let go of the emotions I was facing, the doubt, the lack of hope, and I just tried to move on with life. As good as that sounds, as I look back, it felt more like giving up than giving over, though that surrender was there, too.

And then it happened- out of nowhere, almost a year after our first pregnancy, we found out that I was pregnant again. We were overjoyed but also completely terrified. That positive test launched us into a frantic week of ultrasounds and bloodwork, trying to make sure that history didn’t repeat itself. I lived in complete fear for the first twelve weeks, always expecting the worst, because that’s all I knew- it was how I protected myself. Every cramp I felt was the beginning of the end- I over thought everything. I could’t help it. I wasn’t even excited for the first ultrasound because I KNEW that something would be wrong, and I would have to start the grieving process all over again.

To our surprise, our baby was perfect. Her heartbeat was strong- though I only saw it for about 2 seconds before I bawled my eyes out for the rest of the appointment. And here we are today-25 weeks into this journey, the little girl is kicking me as I write. What a testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness.

I want to share this journey with you to make sure that you know that you aren’t alone. You don’t have to be strong if you aren’t. You don’t have to hold it together if you can’t. It’s okay to cry, to be angry, to be disappointed, confused, frustrated, scared, lonely. It’s okay to question the Lord and to petition Him honestly. But we must remember that our identity lies in Him and who He has created us to be in this moment. Our hope must lie in Him, and not in medicine or our bodies or our education or the experiences of others.

The months that we spent unsuccessfully trying to conceive, both before and after our miscarriage, were some of the darkest, most difficult months of my life. I felt like no one understood, like I shouldn’t feel those emotions because somewhere someone was in a worse situation than I was, and like I should just suck it up and pretend that everything was fine. But it wasn’t. So I want you to know, again, that you aren’t alone. I am here for you, I understand where you are. There is hope, but the point of this isn’t even the baby at the end. It’s the camaraderie, the community that I want you to know is surrounding you in this. You don’t have to feel alone like I did, because so many women are dealing with this very thing right now, or have dealt with it in the past.

Church, I think it’s time to take off the silencers and tell our stories. We need to fill our young women with stories of hope, yes, but also real stories of tears and grief and the Lord’s redemption and healing. We need to be honest about these struggles so that women don’t have to isolate themselves anymore.

Women, if this is your story, your journey right now, I am here for you. It’s okay to break down, to feel your emotions, to cry, to be frustrated. This is an intensely difficult thing to go through. There is so much pain and emotion and frustration and confusion involved. Be honest with yourself and with the Lord, and with those around you. You’ll be surprised at how ‘not alone’ you truly are, as people start to come out of the woodwork as they hear your story. The community is here for you- we just need to all find each other.

If you’d like to use this blog as a venue to tell your story, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let’s be a light, a voice of love and truth and healing.

Wise-Woman-Builds Graced Simplicity
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