5 Ugly Truths About Infertility

National Infertility Awareness Week is here again! It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Sharing my heart and journey is both heart-wrenching and freeing.

This year’s theme is Uncovered. Infertility warriors have been encouraged to Uncover truths about infertility this week to bring awareness to the disease. I’m hoping to uncover some ugly truths about infertility in a genuine and honest way.

I also hope to uncover the love, hope, and grace of God we’ve experienced while facing the ugly truths. I wouldn’t be doing our story justice without speaking on both.

Ugly truth #1
Infertility is isolating and lonely

There are days when you feel like you’re an island. Who can relate to what’s happening in your life? How can you explain it to the people around you? The reality is that no matter how much details you give, there is no way to fully express the emotions and procedures you are going through. Some relationships change or grow distant. Some people don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all. Some people say insensitive things or make less of your journey. All these things can make you guarded and much more selective with who you’ll be sharing your story with.

Ugly truth #2
Infertility is coping with denial

Edward and I clearly remember the day we saw “IVF ONLY” highlighted in yellow when he was first diagnosed. We couldn’t wrap our heads around it. It was a huge blow for us. We thought, “What the heck? That is so extreme! This can’t be right. Not us”. It took us a year to go back to the doctor. I couldn’t fathom having to go through something so invasive. I didn’t feel strong enough or ready. And I thought that God’s plan HAD TO BE different. Well, it wasn’t. This is the path that we must take. And we are finally at a place where we’ve accepted that this is our reality.

Side Note: We are in the middle of our first IVF cycle! It’s a huge step in our journey. We are excited, nervous, anxious, and hopeful. And I’m super proud of us for taking this step.

Ugly truth #3
Infertility is filled with shame and embarrassment

Honestly, talking about all the stuff that needs to work and be healthy when you’re going through infertility can be so embarrassing. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been examined, prodded, asked intimate questions, and performed analysis’ that are uncomfortable. Then, there’s the shame of feeling like there’s something wrong with you. The shame you feel when people ask if you have children. Or the embarrassment when you have to decline an invite due to financial or emotional struggles.

Ugly truth #4
Infertility is time consuming

If you’re going through infertility and trying to explore different options to become parents, it take A LOT of time and effort. Whether you’re adopting, fostering, getting medical help–it takes a big chunk of your life. Your calendar is dictated by appointments, hearings, visits, or medical procedures. And for the average person dealing with infertility that can mean putting work, responsibilities, goals, jobs, or prior commitments on hold. That in itself can be frustrating and disheartening.

Ugly truth #5
Infertility is coping with pregnancy envy

This is by far the hardest thing to admit for me. By nature, I am not an envious person. I feel most like myself when I’m encouraging and cheering someone on. But grief and loss have weird ways of manifesting. I felt like the worse person in the world when I saw or heard of pregnancy announcements and all I could feel was anger and disappointment. I hid my emotions many times because what kind of “evil” person would feel pregnancy envy? I was genuinely happy for them but incredibly sad for us. We have seen many friends and family get pregnant and give birth in the 3 years we’ve been waiting. The feelings of grief and loss have been deep. But we have learned to work through these feelings. We have chosen to bless, love, and celebrate our loved ones despite what we feel in the moment.

God’s Truth:
Love, hope, faith, and grace

My husband said something very wise to me the other day as we spoke about our journey. “God has a plan behind everything. He doesn’t close one door and never opens another one. He closes one door to open another one. A door we need to go through. The word need should only be used by God. He’s the only one who knows what we need“.

I’ve expressed to Edward many times that I just don’t understand why we have to go through this. Are we not good enough people? Are we destined to be terrible parents? And his response has always been that it is just that God has a special assignment for us.

I now understand this. It’s taken me a while. And sometimes my mind wants to play tricks on me. But in my heart I know that for some reason, God has a knowing we don’t. He sees something we don’t. In His sovereignty, He deems it necessary and essential for THIS to be our story. Somehow this will have a ripple affect for eternity.

Through every single Ugly truth–loneliness, denial, shame, lost time, envy–God has been there. His has loved us fiercely. He has sent people to love us and meet our needs. He had given us the grace to walk through this with dignity and strength. He has orchestrated moments for us to hear his voice. He has provided in ways that are uncommon for most people going through this. And he has double, tripled, our faith.

The real truth is that this incredibly heavy load we carry is something we never wanted but can look back and see evidence of God’s love, grace, and hope. We have come to realize that He is the prize. We have come to believe that He is what we hope for. We have come to know that He is what our hearts are after. And no ugly truth or diagnosis can take Him away.

“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”

Romans 8:38-39

5 Facts About Infertility Everyone Needs To Know

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If you’ve been following the discussion around #NIAW, then you must have read the many stories of people going through this struggle.

The stories are so important to bring awareness. I also believe that hard facts and statistics can make this medical issue (because it is a medical issue) less taboo and easier to talk about.

Not only that but maybe more people will advocate and work to get better medical coverage for it.

Here are 5 important facts/statistics you need to know about infertility:

1. The CDC lists infertility as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. In my opinion, if something is listed by the CDC as an illness, then it needs to be seen and known as a medical issue. Therefore, the necessary work needs to be done to bring awareness, get funding for research, and people who are diagnosed with infertility should be able to seek reliable treatment and reasonable coverage.

The next time you talk to someone struggling with infertility, remember it’s not always as simple as “letting go” or “not stressing about it”. It could be an issue they are battling medically. Which can be very draining emotionally and physically.

2. Infertility is actually very common. 1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility. You may very easily know someone who is battling infertility. 6% of women aged 15 to 44 are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying to conceive. It could be your sister, your brother, your aunt, your coworker, or your friend on Instagram. I’m amazed at the number of people that I know personally that have been diagnosed with infertility. Just in my family, there are 3 people who are struggling with it.

I’m much more aware of what to say, what to bring up, what to keep to myself, and what questions not to ask at this point. But I think we should all start rethinking the questions and suggestions we give others about family planning. It’s too common and too sensitive to ignore.

3. Men struggle with infertility as well. This isn’t just something that happens to women. Or to people of a certain age group. Or people who waited “too long”. As I mentioned earlier this week in our personal infertility story, my husband was diagnosed with infertility. We are in our late 20s and we try to have a healthy lifestyle. Yet, here we are. This issue touches all kinds of people. Again, it’s important to be aware and be sensitive with our words, suggestions, and assumptions.

4. Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, intrauterine insemination, or assisted reproductive technology. And sometimes a combination of these methods are used. BUT…

5. Only 15 states have infertility insurance laws. But that doesn’t mean that it is mandatory for insurances to cover infertility treatments. It’s up to the employer to decide what kind of coverage they’ll provide.

Being that it is a common medical condition, it saddens me that many people don’t get medical attention because they can’t afford it. And if they do, they are using their life savings for it. 

We are so thankful that our current insurance covers the majority of the infertility treatments we need. But that’s not the case for everyone.

Be reminded when meeting or speaking to someone with infertility that they might be carrying a major financial burden. Not only is it draining emotionally and physically, but also financially.

Encouragement for people struggling with infertility: call your insurance before you cross off any type of treatment. Your insurance might cover what you need and you may not even know it. This was the BEST advice I received.

There’s hope in the middle of all this:

I’ve learned so much during this season. I’ve learned to be empathetic. I now understand what it is to grieve. I now understand what it feels like to get a bad report from a doctor. I now understand why these things matter. I now can be there for people going through similar experiences. IT’S NOT ALL BAD. Even though it feels like it.

One thing I also now know is that my God has the power to overcome ALL these facts. Facts, reports, and statistics are great. They inform us and move us to action. But God’s power, sovereignty, and goodness can contend with these things and win every time.

He truly has the final say. He provides the resources. He provides exactly what we need and when we need it. In Him, we live, breathe, and move. He is the one orchestrating a miracle in motion.

Please share this with someone. Let’s help bring awareness and hope.

With love & appreciation,
Theresa

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/publichealth.htm

Quote credit for “Miracle in Motion” to @richwilkersonjr and his amazing sermon series Miracle in Motion. Which you should definitely check out 🔥

Hand lettered & Faith-filled Mobile Wallpapers

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Words are powerful. And when you’re going through a valley season, they are especially powerful. Words can defeat you or encourage you. And one word of encouragement can really change your day. At least that’s what I’ve experienced while struggling with infertility.

Whether the encouragement came from a friend, a blog, or God’s word, they have been pillars of my mental and spiritual health.

The artworks I created, which can be downloaded for free below, are some of the words that have helped and continue to help me stay hopeful, faith-filled, and give me permission to go through every emotion I’m feeling.

I hope they encourage you and give you strength. Share them with others who need them too.

Download the wallpapers by clicking on the wallpaper. Then, right-click if you’re on a desktop or long press if you’re on a mobile device.


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Note: quotes come from different sources that I’ve seen on the web. They are not original quotes.