Sharing one’s journey through infertility is no easy task. Lies surround you, taunting you to feel shame for your struggle to conceive, and telling you to keep this struggle to yourself. You wonder what people would think if they knew you were “one of those couples.”
My name is Claire, and my husband Jon and I are one of those couples.
I have believed these lies for so long. I am done allowing them to control my desire to share and speak on what I feel the Lord has told me to write about: The stages of Grief.
When people think about the 5 stages of grief, they normally associate them with death. Even in school, I remember hearing them used mostly in such context. If you are unfamiliar with the 5 stages they go like this: grief takes place, then you go through denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance.
I want to tell you how the stages of grief have unfolded during our journey through infertility. Before I do though, I want to address one common misconception. Many believe that once you have reached acceptance (the last stage), you no longer battle with the other stages. I am here to say that’s not true. I wish it were, but the truth is, these stages hit replay in our lives month after month.
To be honest, I should have probably hit this stage well before I actually did. We had been trying over a year with no success. My gynecologist suggested we go to a fertility clinic. I made the appointment and the date was set. When I got home that day, I looked at their website noting all the doctors and services provided. It seemed so extreme in my mind to go to such a place, but because my doctor recommend it, we complied. When we walked through the clinic doors, I remember being taken back at how many couples were there. While, at the same time, to me this seemed like any other doctor visit.
Let me explain, for over 12 years I have had other health complications. As a result, I have been to numerous doctor offices. My mind and heart were not yet letting me come to terms with the fact that we were in a fertility clinic. I thought surely I wouldn’t have infertility, on top of my other health issues.
The doctor visited with us and went over our health records. He suggested blood work for me, a semen analysis for my husband, and then recommended a procedure for me called a hysteroscopy. This procedure allows them to look at a women’s uterus and insert a dye to see if your fallopian tubes are open. We set the date for my procedure, yet I was still in denial.
The day came and I had a “let’s get this pointless procedure over with” attitude. They had me undress and put on that “beautiful” hospital gown, along with a oversized blue cap for my hair. The nurse placed the IV in my arm, and I waited to be called back. Again, my mind was leading me to believe this was a routine visit. I finally heard my name, and they began to roll me into the surgery room.
The doors opened, showing a cold sterile room filled with instruments. THAT is when it finally hit me. The veil of denial was ripped from my eyes.
Hot tears rolled down my face, and I couldn’t catch my breath. They rolled me under blinding lights, and strapped my arms down for the procedure.
I was scared after noticing the huge monitors and surgery instrument by my feet. The sweet nurse tried to speak to me and ask me questions, but nothing would come out. Another lady told me “All was okay” and that she was getting my “cocktail” going asap. She said “Just breathe”. The last thoughts I had before the medicine kicked in were “How did we get here?” and “Jesus where are you? I need you.”
I struggled with anger off and on when we first started trying. I had taken time to prepare my body for an entire a year before we even started trying. I went to specialists for help, received acupuncture, went to the chiropractor, and took vitamins. I became frustrated after months of negative pregnancy tests, because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting pregnant right away. My other health conditions were not connected in any way to fertility. I seemed healthy in all other regards. It just did not make sense.
Anger REALLY hit once we got all of our fertility test results back. Their conclusion: Unexplained Infertility. Unexplained, meaning you can’t simply fix it. Unexplained, meaning they can’t find an obvious reason for why you’re not getting pregnant.
I was so angry that after all the testing, there were no answers. None.
I was angry that after taking a year to just prepare my body, it wasn’t doing what I needed it to do. According to the doctor, everything came back exceptional. I couldn’t believe that after going through my other health complications, we were now having to go through this. I will be raw and honest to share I was angry that God was allowing this. Had I not been through enough?
What do I do now?
I used to believe that telling God I was angry was a sin. The more I have grown in the Lord, I understand He already knows ALL my thoughts, even the ones unsaid. He loves me regardless.
Part of having a relationship with God is being transparent. Sometimes we stuff and stuff, and try to use more flowery words to try and hide what is truly in our heart. We might also believe lies that we are “less Christian” if we admit we are angry.
I want to stop right here and encourage you that if this is where you find yourself, you are not alone. Get in a quiet place with Jesus. Tell Him what’s ACTUALLY on your heart. He longs to comfort you and heal that hurt within you.
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. – Psalm 139:4
While sharing your genuine feelings with God might not bring instant healing, it will begin to open up a dialogue between you and Him. He might share or show you things you never saw or knew. For me this has been a process, a long process, one that I am still going through daily.
On Friday, I will share more of our journey and my experience with the stages of grief. Starting with bargaining and ending with the stage I believe has been missing all along. One that I have added. The one we cling to month after month.
The one that without it, I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up off the floor from disappointment after disappointment
Claire and her husband, Jon, live in Texas. She has a passion for working with children with special needs, which is actually how she met Sharon. Their paths crossed while working together during their therapy days. She walked with Sharon through her struggle with infertility and IVF. Now Sharon walks with her through her infertility. Claire enjoys crafts, hiking, traveling, praying for others, spending time with family and playing with their dog, Piper.
If you are struggling with infertility or have questions for Claire, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org