Where does a couple turn to when they need encouragement for seasons of infertility?
When my husband and I decided we were ready to grow our family, I never expected to walk through infertility or pregnancy loss.
Like many wives, I expected getting pregnant to be relatively easy, and I was completely blindsided when it wasn’t.
It’s Ashley on the blog today and I want to share my experience trying to get pregnant and encourage wives and couples walking through infertility.
Infertility is defined as being unable to get pregnant after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse.
Some definitions also include being unable to carry a pregnancy to term, including couples who have experienced one or more miscarriages. Some couples will experience “secondary infertility,” where they struggle to become pregnant after having a live birth.
Often, infertility is a result of 1 or more steps to conception not working as they should. This could be
- The female not releasing an egg (anovulation.)
- The sperm count or motility being low.
- Failure of a fertilized egg to implant.
- Fertilized egg not viable due to genetic abnormalities.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “about 12% of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term…”
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 4 couples in developed nations is affected by infertility.
Infertility is much more prevalent than most couples realize. While it may seem uncommon in your circle or community, you are not alone.
Encouragement for Seasons of Infertility: My Fertility Experience
In October of 2019, my husband and I unexpectedly found out we were pregnant with our first child. That joy was cut all too short when just a few weeks later, that little babe went to be with Jesus.
Since it was a very early loss, my doctor gave the green light to start trying again right away. What followed was a year of grief and heartache and a whole lot of prayer.
We struggled to get pregnant for a year after that loss. After a few months of negative tests, I began to engross myself in research and learning as much as I could.
I engaged in community with other women who were also trying and struggling to get pregnant. I began praying more desperately than I had in a long time. I learned so much about myself, my marriage, body, and faith.
But I struggled to be patient.
Anxiety and fear overtook my heart for some months as both my and my husband’s hearts were broken over and over again.
But ultimately, we worked hard to draw near to God and each other. Our faith and our marriage grew stronger because of that season.
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but today I want to offer you some things you can do to keep your sanity and nourish your marriage during seasons of infertility.
Let’s dive in!
Encouragement for Seasons of Infertility: 7 Things to Remember
1. Stay rooted in Scripture and prayer
Just like in any season of waiting, infertility can test your faith and your trust in God.
Most couples expect getting pregnant to be the easy part of entering parenthood, but it is a heartbreaking season for many. The heartbreak can be so consuming if you are not careful to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
One Scripture I memorized to keep me grounded was Psalm 33:20-22. It says,
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
These verses were a balm to my heart when yet another pregnancy test was negative.
Those who have put their trust in Jesus can wait in hope. Even if He didn’t give us a baby in our timing or the way we’d hoped or even not at all, we could trust Him.
His unfailing love was with us, and He had good things in store for us, even if it wasn’t children. It helped me to surrender my desires for a baby to Him and rejoice even amid uncertainty.
2. When you struggle with infertility, you must educate yourself about reproductive health
One of the significant struggles of couples facing infertility is feeling helpless. But one thing that every couple can do is arm themselves with knowledge.
Many couples go into a season of trying to have a baby without a good knowledge of how conception actually works. Or what they can do to give themselves the best chance at conceiving a healthy baby.
For example, I had no idea how important my nutrition was. Or that taking a good prenatal vitamin was recommended for all women who thought they might become pregnant within the next six months.
Hormonal balance also plays a significant role, especially in female fertility.
God designed our bodies to work in such beautiful harmony but living in a fallen world causes that beautiful design to go awry for various reasons, like nutritional deficiencies, stress, PCOS, thyroid issues, and toxin exposure.
Educating yourself about reproductive health and hormone balance can seriously increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
3. Prioritize intimacy outside of attempts to conceive
My husband and I struggled with prioritizing our sexual intimacy when we were trying to conceive our daughter.
One of the first things you’ll learn as you research fertility is that intercourse must happen within a specific window of time to allow for conception. This window is small every month, and once it’s closed, it’s closed.
For the couple trying to get pregnant, it is very easy to let your intimacy be all about trying to get pregnant. But putting too much pressure on timing or overscheduling sexual intimacy can seriously strain your relationship.
As my husband once confided in me, it can take some of the fun out of physical intimacy. Infertility is not easy in a marriage, so you must prioritize your friendship and communication.
- Have fun and laugh together.
- Seek the Lord and pray together.
- Be sure to allow room for intimacy to happen that has nothing to do with trying to get pregnant.
4. Seek out a community that understands what you are going through for encouragement for seasons of infertility
While dealing with infertility is more common than most people realize, it can feel incredibly isolating when you are in the middle of it.
Finding community that understands and can encourage you is going to be invaluable here.
A kindred community can be as simple as a Facebook group or an app, such as the Peanut app, where other couples can talk with one another and share their stories. You may be able to find a support or prayer group in your church or community as well.
It can be challenging to open your heart up to others but going through infertility is hard. You do not have to go through it without support.
5. Set boundaries where you need to, without guilt
Seasons of infertility are tough, and you are allowed to do what you need to do to protect your heart. Guarding your soul could mean
- Unfollowing or muting people on social media.
- Sending a gift to a baby shower but not attending.
- Choosing not to watch particular movies or TV shows.
- Stepping down from serving in the nursery at your church.
You can absolutely have joy for others and love on children while keeping boundaries in place for yourself, as needed.
When my husband and I were grieving our loss and trying to conceive again, my sister-in-law was pregnant with twins. While I was thrilled for her and so excited to meet my nieces, being around her was sometimes difficult.
It wasn’t hard all the time.
But there were times, such as when another test came up negative, or we saw a faint positive line fade away, that we chose to keep our distance for a few days.
She absolutely understood and even encouraged us to do so. Those who love you will support what you need and help to protect your heart.
6. Become your own best advocate
It is common in the United States for couples to be counseled to refrain from any reproductive testing until they have been trying to conceive for 12 or more months.
For a couple that has decided to grow their family, a year can feel like an eternity. Luckily, this narrative is slowly changing, and more providers are taking a proactive approach to fertility treatment.
However, as we discussed above, it is vitally important that you become as informed as possible to advocate for yourself in the medical setting. Examples of advocating for yourself include
- Asking for testing your provider isn’t offering.
- Seeking out more specialized medical care if you are able.
God works miracles all the time, and sometimes those miracles come through modern medicine.
7. Remember that God’s timing is perfect
When you are waiting for something you desire so deeply, it can be hard to be patient.
It can be hard to trust that God’s timing will be perfect no matter how long you have to wait. It can be hard when you need encouragement for seasons of infertility but your faith is struggling.
Yet we can find strength in knowing we are not alone.
- Sarah waited decades, well after her childbearing years, for her promised child. (Genesis 18: 10-15)
- The Israelites waited 40 years to enter the Promised Land. (Joshua 5:6)
- The Jewish people waited hundreds of years for their promised messiah to come at the specific time God appointed. (Galatians 4:4)
If you are waiting, be encouraged that God has a plan for it. No matter what He has for you, it will come at the perfect time and in the best way for you.
Read part 2 of this series – 6 Important Things We Learned From Our Miscarriage
Are you a wife walking through infertility? Do you know someone who has? As a couple, have you needed encouragement for seasons of infertility? What tips do you have for others in this season? Tell me in the comments!
About Writer: Ashley Nicole Harris is a writer and Bible teacher, whose mission is to see women’s lives changed by learning to know God intimately through His Word. She enjoys writing at Faithfully Planted reading while sipping a La Croix, and enjoying God’s beautiful creation with her husband of 7 years, Mark