Monday, December 30, 2013

The Cross of Infertility With Amanda Teixeira (Part 4 of 4)

If you’re just stumbling upon this series, please do yourself a favor, and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  In Part 1, I introduced the series, and my dear friend, Amanda Teixeira, stole the show with her captivating love story with her husband, Jonathan.  In Part 2, Amanda helped us to understand what infertility feels like.  In Part 3, Amanda shared what NOT to do or say when a loved one is facing infertility.  

In Part 4, Amanda gives us ideas how TO support a loved one facing infertility.  We also discussed how faith plays in to all of this, how Amanda and Jonathan support one another, the best ways for friends with children to support them, resources for couples facing infertility, and Amanda’s closing thoughts.

Just like in Parts 1-3, my questions appear in red italics, and Amanda’s responses appear in regular type.

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Part 4 of The Cross of Infertility
How TO Support a Loved One Facing Infertility

What are some of the most helpful and healing things others have said or done?  What made these gestures so moving?
1. Praying for and with us.
We know many people have actually prayed novenas with and for us. Others have offered Masses and told us. Still others have included us on their pilgrimages to holy sites or brought us blessed religious articles from different places across the world. These are really comforting to us. These gestures make us feel like we aren’t alone. Others are physically helping us carry the cross in these actions.

2. Inviting us over and opening their lives to us.
Several other couples who struggle with infertility have taken us under their wings. I always walk away from those convos refreshed and ready to keep carrying the cross.

Even fertile couples inviting us over to actually join them in their lives is incredibly healing for us. We get to be around a family and the realities of what it’s like to have kids around. This never makes us jealous or sad. We just enjoy feeling welcomed into the life of others’ families and it helps Jonathan and I feel more like a family even if it’s just us two. It also gives us hope of what might be in store for us someday.

3. Asking us how they can help.
This really takes boldness, and I really appreciate it when a friend asks this. Infertility is like being on the cross with Jesus. I am totally linked to him. I am well aware that we are asking a LOT of our friends and family to be near us in the struggle. It’s like when Jesus was on the cross - only Mary, John, and a few women stood nearby. It took tremendous amounts of courage to stay by Jesus on the cross and in turn, it takes a lot of courage to ask people to stand with us while we hang on the cross. Most people won’t have the emotional ability to stay with us, and I know that. But those willing to try and stick near us...I treasure with all my heart because they are far and few between.

4. Sending us notes/gifts/gift cards to go have fun with.
We’ve had people send us groupons or gift cards to go out to eat or to grab coffee. Yes, we’re busy with work and some outside of work activities but yea, we have time on our hands. Time I all too often resent. When family/friends intentionally step in the gap and try to help me enjoy the time, I am thankful.

Once, I even got flowers with an encouraging message on a day I had some particularly difficult blood tests that a friend knew about. I can’t tell you how loved I felt in that moment.

5. Asking us how we are doing.
There is a difference between really asking this and just being nosy. Everyone knows the difference. The sincere asks are refreshing to me. If I don’t feel like answering, I will let you know. More often than not, I am carrying this burden alone with Jonathan and just praying someone will ask me how I am really doing. It’s healthy for me to vent from time to time and open up to people who really care about me.  I appreciate sincere people wanting to know how I am doing, especially because I feel awkward bringing this topic up because I don’t want to burden others.

One of the questions pregnant gals get ALL THE TIME is “how are you feeling?” I’ve never been pregnant, but in FOCUS I am surrounded by pregnant women EVERYWHERE, and so I hear it a lot. For the infertile girl, this question is hard and awkward and most people don’t ask because they simply can’t handle the suffering that will definitely come forth...which is why I am grateful for mature friends and family who willingly walk right into the hurt with me and open a door for me to share my heart.
Being faithful Catholics, how does God play a role in all of this for you and Jonathan?  Do you distinguish between God's ordained will and His permissive will in regards to your fertility?
This has been one of the hardest questions for us to struggle with honestly.

Questions that bounce through my mind: “Why would God, the author of all life, put a baby in the womb of a woman who will surely go abort it?” or “Why would God put a baby in the womb of a woman whose family will abuse the child?” or even, “Since God hasn’t blessed us with life, does that mean he doesn’t want us to be parents or we would be bad parents?”

There are no answers when I throw these questions at God. Usually only silence. All I do know is that he doesn’t want any child aborted or abused, and he doesn’t want me to suffer and feel like he hates me. But that is all I know. My life is surrounded with dozens of unanswered questions, as many peoples lives are with a variety of sufferings they endure.

What are the best ways that you support Jonathan?  What are the best ways that he supports you?  
Best way to support Jonathan? To be attentive to spending time with him and verbally tell him how happy I am to be married to him/value him in my life. I mentioned previously that he sometimes fears I hate my life married to him without I have to reassure him of my affections despite my sadness.

Best ways he can support me? Taking me on adventures and helping me put my dreams into a reality. For example: I have been wanting to run a half-marathon lately. Jonathan is helping research races across the country in fun places like California or Florida so we can train together and have something to look forward to.

What are the best moves for friends with children to do?
Keep me in their lives. I think people with children are afraid to talk to me about their children in fear I will have a meltdown. If someone is bragging about their kids to me, yea, I will get annoyed, but so would anyone.

If a friend with children is simply sharing a hilarious story or wants to talk (without complaining) about how tough it is to be attentive to their older children while they battle sleepless nights with a newborn, I am all ears. That’s their reality, and I want to be a part of it, not shut out. I have the emotional maturity to be a good friend even if I am not blessed with kiddos myself.

Now, there may be seasons when I simply keep my own distance, and don’t think I hate you or anything. I am likely just grieving the most recent bad news (failed treatment, return of an infection, another negative pregnancy test, got 15 pregnancy announcements from other FOCUS women, etc.). I’ll be back. I just might not be able to accept your invitation to come over or attend that Baby Shower you are hosting for a friend.

What resources are available for couples facing infertility?  What encouragement and support would you offer them?
1. Naprotechnology.
3. Books.
- My Sisters the Saints (LOVE THIS BOOK!!!)
4. Counseling.
5. Prayer, Spiritual Direction, and Confession.

I can’t stress this foundation enough. With infertility, daily prayer is vital to warding off despair. Spiritual direction will also keep you sane. And confession…it will be necessary use this Sacrament to dispel lies from the Devil you slip into believing.

I thought ending the series with something positive and uplifting would be best, since I feel like much of what I have to say is sad, confused, and bitter at times - which isn’t the whole of it. So I made up a question or you could weave what I have to say into the ending of the last blog post.

How have you grown in your relationship with God during this time?
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t. There are days I feel I am backsliding in my faith at best..I’ve actually cussed God out a time or two in my weakest moments. Pretty bad, right?

But then I look back on my faith from years ago. It was strong, yes, but it hadn’t been tested. Now, with infertility, I feel as if I’ve been through the fiery furnace only to be sent right back through it again every time another cycle starts. Yep, there are days my faith is hanging on by a string. But most days, a sense of abandonment, surrender, wonder and awe, trust, perspective, humility, and wisdom come over me.

I feel 110% dependent on God alone...mostly because I literally can’t DO anything to take my cross away. I know how weak I am and I quit trusting myself a long time ago with this cross. It’s all Him now. My life finds its identity in God because He’s the only One who can’t let me down. Everything else is passing to me.  I long for heaven. I don’t care about my plans because His are better even if they don’t feel better right now.

Sometimes I think God gave me the cross of infertility to force me into total surrender because I never would have gotten there any other way. That makes me grateful. I’ve always prayed that my life would be about Him and bringing Him glory. That my life would look like His. I really believe infertility is an answered prayer (rarely!!!! but I do sometimes) because I don’t know if I would have been linked to Jesus through any other means. I get to be with him on the cross...and so it’s only a matter of time until he brings the resurrection into my life. What a sweet day that will be indeed.

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Amanda, thank you so much for opening your heart and spilling out everything--your pain, your longing, your hope, and the truth about everything in between. Thank you for helping all of us reading to better understand how to love you and anyone we know carrying the cross of infertility. I am so proud to call you my dear friend. I pray that this blog series will help the rest of us unburden you from carrying this cross alone. You are a treasure!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Cross of Infertility With Amanda Teixeira (Part 3 of 4)

If you’re just stumbling upon this series, please do yourself a favor, and read Part 1 and Part 2 with Amanda Teixeira.  In Part 1, I introduced the series, and Amanda stole the show with her captivating love story with her husband, Jonathan.  In Part 2, Amanda helped us to understand what infertility feels like.  

In Part 3, Amanda and I focus on how NOT to help a loved one facing infertility.  We talked about the common ways people end up making their loved one feel worse by saying or doing the wrong thing.  I imagine most people will find this segment very helpful.  Amanda and I pray that our dialogue will be a source of blessing.  I wanted to ask the hard questions, and Amanda wanted to answer them so that we can talk about what nobody seems to be talking about.  

I hope Part 3 will be:
  • a microphone for couples needing a different kind of support from their loved ones
  • a safe haven where they will feel understood and supported  
  • an opportunity those of us not currently facing infertility to better understand how to be supportive

I am especially proud of Amanda for sharing her candid and heart-wrenching responses in this section.  It would have been easy for her to only share the sweet and pious-sounding responses, but she took a risk in revealing the “snarky thoughts I usually keep to myself.”  These are precisely the thoughts we all need to hear.  The “snarky thoughts” reveal Amanda’s real pain and raw emotion.  These heart-wrenching responses open the door to dialogue and understanding between infertile couples and their loved ones.  

Just like in Parts 1 & 2, my questions appear in red italics, and Amanda’s responses appear in regular type.

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Part 3 of The Cross of Infertility
What NOT to do or say when your loved one is facing infertility

What are some of the most hurtful or least helpful things you and Jonathan have been told?  How do these comments make you feel, and what makes them so hurtful to hear?  

In no particular order, we or friends with infertility, have gotten the following comments. I will provide brief explanations of why these can be hurtful...with some of my own snarky thoughts I usually keep to myself.

1. If you just relax you will get pregnant.

Yea, been there and tried that. Now, I am stressed out with trying to relax. If only it was this simple, people! How about you pay for me to get weekly massages, pedis and manis, acupuncture, and yoga? The financial tag attached to “relaxing” is enough to cause a new wave of stress.

Or, how about I stay home all day and quit my job to focus on relaxing? Then, you will accuse me of being lazy. I can’t win!

2. If you stop traveling and had a more stable job you will get pregnant.

Really? Out of the 25 months of trying to conceive, I’ve traveled about half the months to some degree and almost never when it’s a “fertile-window.” Again, if it were THAT easy, I would stop traveling. And most likely you just don’t like my job and are trying to blame infertility on it, so I change my profession to something you prefer I do instead.

3. If you simply adopt you will get pregnant.

OK, well you can you join our missionary support team so we can pay for the $25,000 adoption price tag? If so, thank you!!! If not, shut up. Also, who are you...God? How do you know if we’ll ever get pregnant? Just because this all too talked about phenomena HAS occurred in the past with some friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law doesn’t mean it will happen to us. You’re setting me up for a false hope here that you really can’t guarantee.

Also, adopting is not an instant fix. It’s a calling in and of itself. I know infertile couples that end up feeling called to adopt, and that is awesome. I know some who do not receive that call. A child should never be adopted because you couldn’t have your own kids, so you settled for second best and bought a kid. It should be done because that child up for adoption is worth loving and you desire to be their parents, regardless of your fertility issues.

Thankfully,, Jonathan and I wanted to pursue adoption way before we ever got married. We love adoption, and even if we had 10 biological children, it’s something we wanted to pursue at some point. But adoption won’t fill the hurt of infertility, and to assume it would is naive. It will be its own unique blessing.

4. Have you tried IVF/IUI/dancing like a chicken in the yard while a full moon is out yet?

Some of the advice we get is from others whose values don’t align with ours. No, we aren’t open to IUI or IVF as Catholics who actually follow Church Teaching because we believe it’s for our good. Just because I am not willing to pursue those doesn’t mean I am not trying. Don’t treat us like we don’t “really” want kids if we don’t want to try artificial means of reproduction.

We also get advice from crazy people who heard about something that helped a couple get pregnant. If you are actually sincere and care about us, I will not be hurt by whatever it is. I will likely research it a bit and talk about it with my doctor. If you are trying to be nosy or talk about something you don’t really know anything about - again, shut up and don’t give me false hope in this “miracle” treatment you heard about working once for a couple in Indonesia.

5. Are you having sex?

SHOOT! We have to do that? That must be the reason! Thanks!

OK - dropping the sarcasm for a real response. This questions is nosey and demeaning. Of course we know where babies come from, you idiot. With infertility, it’s hard to have meaningful sex at times. It’s easy to get burned out and for our intimate lives to be filled with pressure, stress, perfect timing, etc. It can become utilitarian in all honesty, unless the couple really tries hard to keep it humorous and filled with intimacy. Pray for infertile couples to never lose the sense of communion in this most intimate act, regardless of whether they ever get to co-create a life with God.

6. If you stop working out so much you will get pregnant.

I still have a healthy body fat and get a monthly period. I don’t bench 200 lbs, run 10 miles a day, or take steroids to beef up. I am not over-working out.

7. If Jonathan stops using a laptop or carrying his phone in his pocket, you will get pregnant.

Again, if only if it were that easy. And his computer is on a desk anyway and his phone is always lost.

8. Be thankful for the time you have together now.

I am.  But it’s also not the life we thought we would be living 2 years into married life, and that is hard to deal with.

I’ve gotten this comment most often from the “fertiles” who are busy raising kids of their own whom they conceived on their honeymoons/first year of marriage. I get it - they’re desiring more time with their spouse and have never really known married life without kiddos, which is hard. But it’s still hurtful. You fertiles are living the life I wish I had...and let’s face it, you wouldn’t trade your life to be infertile and in my shoes, and I know it.

9. Would you like to babysit my children to get your “kid-fix?”

Walk away before I hurt you.

10. Just surrender. When we stopped trying, that is when we got pregnant.

You are assuming I haven’t surrendered. Let’s be honest, I haven’t surrendered fully but this comment has spiritual entitlement all over it. As soon as I do the act of ___________ (insert surrender, pray this prayer, etc.), God will bless me with a child.

God will bless us with life when it’s His will. It won’t depend on me doing the right prayers, spiritual acts, or positive state of mind. Many women with infertility get pregnant while having never truly found peace with it. Some find peace with it and then get pregnant. It’s God’s timing and will never be dictated by me doing anything to force his hand. Is it possible he will give me the grace to surrender and then I will conceive? Maybe. It could also go a million other ways according to what His will is and I am just along for the ride each day.

11. I have the opposite problem. We can’t stop getting pregnant.

I know that can be a real cross too. I don’t want to belittle the stress that can bring to a marriage, but it’s just not the right comment to give me. Let me tell you how that comment feels:

I am stranded in a desert and on the brink of death from dehydration. You ride past on horseback, toting 100 gallons of water behind you. While you pass by, you complain about your assignment to tote all this water across the desert and how tiring it’s been. While it may truly be a cross to you at the moment, I can’t see anything but the 100 gallons of water and what that would mean to me in this state of deprivation.

Translation - I know you are struggling, but I can’t see anything but the sheer happiness in your family, and I am mad that you have it and aren’t appreciating it for the SHEER GIFT it is.

13. It just isn’t God’s will right now but it will happen.

You aren’t God. You don’t know. I don’t know. This very well may be a lifelong cross for us...we hope not, but it might be, and your assumptive comments, while attempting to be helpful, may be growing false hopes in my heart.
14. Have you tried this novena?

Probably. Again, if you have been through these waters or really care about us, thank you. I will look into it. If not and you’re just making small talk - stop, you really don’t need to.

15. What are your issues?

Yet again, if you are also struggling with infertility or actually care about us, I am happy to tell you/share stories/cry together/pray together.

If you are just a nosy person who likes to be “in the know” so you can gossip about our medical issues better hope I never find out, or I will seriously give you a piece of my mind.

16. Who’s heard this one??? “Want to understand marriage? Think about the Trinity- God the Father loved the Son and the love between them was another person - the Holy Spirit. In marriage the same thing occurs. The husband gives himself to his wife and the love is so real that nine months later you have to give it a name.”

I understand there is deep symbolism here but as an infertile couple, all I hear is, “I am not a real married person since our sex lives don’t mirror the Trinity in bringing forth life.” Comments like this make me feel like we are simply animals acting out of instinct and less souls experiencing deep interpersonal communion, since our acts of intercourse are sterile.

17. Last but not least - “Then we became Catholic and the kids started coming, because that’s what happens when you are Catholic.”

I heard this one at work actually...while sitting at a table with other people battling infertility. I couldn’t feel more isolated and un-Catholic than in that moment.

What do you think are the common misconceptions people have about infertility?
I’ve covered a few above, but I think the biggest would be that adoption is the cure-all to any infertile couples situations. “Just adopt” is the mantra of advice people seem to throw out as soon as they heard about our infertility. They assume that it will solve all our problems. I don’t think people know how intense and hard adoption can be in and of itself. If they did, they likely wouldn't be throwing it out like it’s some simple fix to our shattered dreams.

Within your own relationship, I am sure you and Jonathan had to figure out the best ways to support one another.  What did you learn were the worst things you could do or say to each other?
In the beginning, Jonathan was the one to say, “It’ll happen,” and then another month would pass by without a pregnancy. This began to eat away at me because it felt like a string of broken promises. We’ve since accepted that we don’t know the will of God. We hope it will be for us to be parents, but we simply don’t know. Jonathan sticks with, “God’s will is for our good. Never to harm us. If he gave us His own Son, why would he forget us now?” Statements we can actually cling to with firm hope, despite if we ever have children.

I used to say things like, “You don’t even care about this!” because he never cried about infertility or thought about it like I did. Now, I know he does care, but it looks different, and I’ve stopped accusing him of being a heartless husband or leaving me to shoulder the entire burden.

I imagine there is some tension in some of your relationships with friends not struggling with fertility.  What are the worst moves for friends with children to do?
We just don’t get invited to much. All the families with kids invite other families with kids to come hang their kids can play. All the singles invite other singles to do things, assuming the married folks are busy. The pool of friends willing to hang out with us consistently is newly married couples without kids...and as each year passes, this group shrinks since those couples start having kids. This hurts, but we assume that no one is trying to leave us out, it just naturally happens.

Worst moves for friends with kids - COMPLAINING!!!!  I think complaining is something we all should nix from our lives in general, but I can’t stand pregnant women or women with kids complaining. Women complain (particularily on Facebook) left and right about their kids spilling this, having a diaper blow-out, kids fighting at the store, them not being able to get anything done since their kid doesn’t nap...etc. I would amputate my left leg IF ONLY I could be inconvencied by a child. Those are all my fantasies! Can’t you see that these “obstacles” are linked to little miracles? Please, don’t complain about the biggest gift you’ve ever been given in your whole entire life! Treasure it, and zip your lips when you are tempted to complain.

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I know Amanda was nervous to share her responses, but I am so glad she did.  I imagine a lot of you are either thinking, “Wow, I’ve so been there,” or, “Wow, I had no idea.”  Either way, I imagine Amanda’s responses are a tremendous blessing.  

In Part 4 of The Cross of Infertility, Amanda and I wanted to end on a high note.  We wanted the readers to know the depth and reality of Amanda’s pain, but we also wanted them to know that life is not all doom and gloom for her.  We will focus on how to encourage and lift up a couple experiencing infertility.  Amanda will share resources, encouragement, and final thoughts on her journey.  

Specifically, Amanda will answer these questions:

  • What are some of the most helpful and healing things others have said or done?  What made these gestures so moving?
  • Being faithful Catholics, how does God play a role in all of this for you and Jonathan?  Do you distinguish between God's ordained will and His permissive will in regards to your fertility?
  • What are the best ways that you support Jonathan?  What are the best ways that he supports you?  
  • What are the best moves for friends with children to do?
  • What resources are available for couples facing infertility?  What encouragement and support would you offer them?
  • How have you grown in your relationship with God in this time?

I hope you will join us tomorrow for Part 4!  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Cross of Infertility With Amanda Teixeira (Part 2 of 4)

If you’re just stumbling upon this series, please do yourself a favor, and read Part 1 of The Cross of Infertility With Amanda Teixeira.  In Part 1, I introduced the series, and Amanda stole the show with her captivating love story with her husband, Jonathan.  We got to hear all the good stuff!  I want you to get a glimpse into my beautiful friend’s life before you read on, so please read Part 1 if you haven’t already.  I am so humbled and honored that Amanda is sharing her story with us!

In Part 2 of The Cross of Infertility, Amanda will help us to understand what infertility feels like.  My questions appear in red italics, and Amanda’s responses appear in regular type.

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Part 2 of The Cross of Infertility
Understanding How Infertility Feels

When did you start to think that infertility might be a possibility?
I became a patient at the Pope Paul VI Institute while I was still single and in college. I ended up having surgery to correct some issues with Endometriosis and PCOS. I started a variety of medications to help with severe PMS. It all helped with my quality of life tremendously. With that said, I pretty much knew what I was up against going into marriage. Yet, I was still hopeful.

Our wedding day was my “day of ovulation” according to my Creighton chart. On our 10-day long honeymoon, I even stopped drinking alcohol at our all-inclusive, because of course, I was likely pregnant. I even felt pain in my abdomen which I took to be “implantation pain.” Two weeks later, I got my period, and I didn’t get to join the “pregnant-on-my-honeymoon-Catholic-club.”  I knew in my gut we were in for a very long ride ahead. And then I was pissed that I missed out on drinking those delicious mixed drinks while sitting ocean-side for nothing. Oh, and months later I found out that pain that I thought was a baby was actually a giant cyst growing on my ovary that had to be removed by surgery.

What does it feel like as a woman to be told that you are infertile?  How do you think what you are feeling is different than what Jonathan is feeling?  
Well at this point in the game, we aren’t 100% positive that all our issues lie with my health. Jonathan has some issues of his own, so we are a bit unique in that sense. This quote has been powerful for me in summarizing how I feel so often:

The Gift of Infertility, Part 4 by Dr. Jameson and Jennifer Taylor:

"...Part of the pain of infertility, however, is that it is an invisible sign. The physical and spiritual suffering caused by infertility is usually hidden. To use an analogy, the generosity of the couple who chooses to have a large family is like a brightly burning sun whose beams produce beautiful flowers that everyone can see and admire. While their love might shine just as brightly, the infertile family has no flowers of its own. Yet, as Fulton Sheen perceives: 'There is no sign unless something happens contrary to nature. The brightness of the sun is no sign, but an eclipse is.'"

I’ve never been told I am “infertile” since my Doctor really believes we have a shot and it just hasn’t happened yet...but I coin myself as infertile. I mean it’s been 25 months since we’ve gotten married and we’ve been open to life the whole time. I don’t know what else to call it but infertility. I feel like a big fat failure. A loser. A let-down to the Church. A fake married woman.

Jonathan feels none of that. He’s hopeful. He’s tremendously trusting of God’s will. I am tremendously suspicious, manipulating, doubtful, and hateful. This has been hard to reconcile for us. I can’t see how he can be happy or content with our life. He can’t see how I don’t re-focus on other blessings. He can’t see why a child matters SO much to me. Of course he wants kids, but they aren’t as intrinsically tied to his identity as it is mine, being a woman, made by God to welcome, bear, and nurture life.

To sum it up - I have felt like I will never be happy in life as long as we’re infertile. Jonathan feels sad but it doesn’t take over his life like it does mine.

How did your background in nursing and knowledge of NaProTechnology play into your journey?
I mentioned previously I had already been a Napro patient and knew what I was up against. This was good in the sense I had treatments readily available and knew what we were fighting from day 1. I am glad we didn’t have to spend years getting treatment from all the quacks out there in Reproductive Health. I know many other couples have to run that gauntlet before getting to Napro, and I am thankful we didn’t.

Do you think there was a day when you accepted infertility as an official diagnosis?  How can a doctor come to an official diagnosis of infertility?  Is it still a day-to-day journey?
I think after taking the 4th or 5th pregnancy test during the first few months of married life and seeing them ALL come back negative, I accepted we were infertile. Actually, I think the word “accept” is something I still haven’t done. I identify as being infertile but accepting to me means coming to terms with or some level of peace. That’s fleeting for me. Most of the time I am rejecting that as God’s will for us, kicking and screaming, being depressing, sad, borderline desparing, etc. I have a while to go I think before I “accept” it.

Our Doctor has never labeled us as “infertiles.” She still believes we have like a 50% chance at becoming pregnant. I look at that stat and choose to think we will probably be the 50% that never get pregnant. Infertility has brought out my pessimism in full throttle. But to come to our current diagnoses, I’ve had 3 surgeries, many ultrasounds, dozens of blood draws and lab tests, and a series of hormone profiles. Jonathan has had a few tests of his own. That’s how they gathered the medical evidence to give us our current diagnoses:
  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS
  • Insulin-resistance
  • Bicornuate Uterus
  • Endomitritis
  • Low post-peak estrogen and progesterone
  • Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome
  • Low T3 levels
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Viscosity issues and a Varicocele (Jonathan)

I am convinced that Satan’s #1 target is the family, and I am sure infertility puts major stress on a marriage.  How has infertility impacted your relationship with Jonathan?  How do you prevent infertility from defining your marriage?
As mentioned earlier, we are both reacting to infertility very differently. Many days Jonathan’s positive attitude just pisses me off. I need to see that he hurts too. It was then that I discovered that it does hurt him...just not to the core like it does me. What makes him cry is seeing me hurt so badly and being able to do absolutely nothing about it but beg God for a miracle only to see the miracle never come and my pain grow as the months pass us by.

Infertility has certainly been a cause for fights in our marriage, and I totally see how Satan has attempted to use it to drive a wedge between us to make us grow away from one another. There have been times that Jonathan didn’t feel like he was “enough” simply being a loving husband. That I only loved him if it meant he could give me a baby, or something crazy like that. Thankfully God has poured out his grace and used infertility to bring us closer to one another. We pray every single day about it and have a plethora of devotions to many saints to carry us through this together.

We have a lot of sadness but more often than not, we maintain a spirit of humour in the midst of it all and that has been life-saving for our marriage.

What were your conceptions of infertility before being in these shoes yourself?  Did anything change?  
Honestly, I knew infertility was really hard and I’ve  always had compassion for those going through it. Of course, I couldn’t fully grasp what it was like to live it. I guess I used to naively think things like “Oh, Naprotechnology will fix ANYTHING, so these friends will eventually get pregnant if they simply use it.” or “They can just adopt, right? Then it will all be OK.” Now I understand it and know better.

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Amanda’s last lines are a perfect segway to Part 3 of The Cross of Infertility.  In Part 3, Amanda and I will discuss what NOT to say to your loved one experiencing infertility.  I love this section of the series.  Not only does Amanda identify the insensitive things people often say, but she explains why the things people say are hurtful.  

In Part 3, Amanda answers these questions:
  • What are some of the most hurtful or least helpful things you and Jonathan have been told?  How do these comments make you feel, and what makes them so hurtful to hear?  
  • What do you think are the common misconceptions people have about infertility?
  • Within your own relationship, I am sure you and Jonathan had to figure out the best ways to support one another.  What did you learn were the worst things you could do or say to each other?
  • I imagine there is some tension in some of your relationships with friends not struggling with fertility.  What are the worst moves for friends with children to do?   

Come back tomorrow to read Amanda’s powerful responses!