Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Infertility

My Story

When I got married, I had no idea I would struggle to conceive. I figured I would try for a few months and be able to have a baby without a long delay. I did not foresee the struggle and pain that the next four years would bring, nor anticipate the amazing work of the Lord through this trial in my life. I share this story now to bring hope, encouragement and comfort to my sisters who have experienced, or are even now experiencing the pain of infertility.

My husband and I had no plans of waiting to have a child when we were married. We wanted to get a family started right away. I had dreamed of a large family with five plus kids. We never prevented pregnancy in any way. Three months passed and nothing. I wasn’t too concerned, reading online that it took healthy when up to a year to conceive at times. We were living in Scotland at the time and I figured the stress of moving to a new country may be putting my body on hold.

As time went on, I struggled with watching friend after friend conceive and deliver precious babies, while for me it wasn’t happening. My husband and I prayed and tried to leave our concerns in the hands of the Lord. As a woman I found the struggle to be particular painful because there were so many shades of emotion. I struggled with impatience, sadness, longing, jealousy….I confess these are not attractive or righteous attitudes. I prayed. Released the pain to God. After a time it would return like a haunting spirit.

For years the pain and fear built upon itself until the point came when I realized the seriousness of what was going on. A dear friend of mine announced she was pregnant with her second child. I had been trying to conceive since before she was pregnant with the first. Suddenly I was no longer a healthy woman being impatient….I was a woman struggling with infertility. I cried more tears during that time than at any other time in my life. I asked God why He had excluded me from the blessing of being a mother when it was all that I wanted. I begged Him for my womb to be open. I cried out in anger when His answer wasn’t an immediate “yes”.

During this time I found it very difficult to be around my pregnant friends. I could hardly handle a baby shower. I grew bitter and was so emotionally tender. I was highly affected by every flippant comment made by people telling me I should have a baby or asking me why we were waiting. We moved back to the US and I found myself at a church that was highly “fertile” ground, as it were. Women were having babies nearly every month and yet I sat by, an incomplete and defective woman in my own estimation. I felt that people looked down on me, that they assumed I was infertile because of my own failure or sin, and that they treated me like a child because I couldn’t to conceive. Some of this was the wayward imaginations of my own mind, and some of it had some merit, I will say.

I hit rock bottom and came to the point when I had to really give it all over to the Lord to be able to function. He was faithful to take my burden. While I still struggled with the pain, God went through it with me and gave me comfort.

Then, four years into my infertility….

I was at a woman’s Wednesday night Bible study and we came across a verse Psalm 113:9. “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” The verse, meant to encourage, broke my heart. I wept to my sisters and allowed them to minister to me. Then at church on Sunday, my pastor read the same Psalm again. I was surprised to hear it again and filled with emotion. Tuesday morning I found out I was pregnant.

The realization of what God had done hit me full force. I knew there was no coincidence. He had given me that verse and confirmed it to prove that it was Him and Him alone who opened my womb. He is the opener and closer of wombs and the only Creator of life! My first feelings weren’t as much of joy as they were of fear. Cramping had led me to the pregnancy test in the first place, so I feared I was miscarrying. Praise the Lord that it wasn’t so and I my daughter, Tabitha, was born a little over 7 months later.

If you struggle with infertility and are reading this, the victory at the end of my story may cause you the same pain that I experienced at hearing of the pregnancies of friends. I’m sorry for this and pray that you will be comforted as I was. My prayer in sharing it is that it will bring you hope and comfort. You are not defective or unworthy of being a mother. God has reasons above our understanding for why He gives children to some and withholds from others. I did nothing to earn my daughter. God had a plan and a time.

Since my daughter’s birth I have again been unable to conceive, and it has been over four years. Again, my husband and I have not tried to prevent pregnancy, so I would now be considered as having secondary infertility. Of course, these words are just terms to define your current state. God is as much in control now as He was when He gave me my daughter. He could give me another child, or He could say no. While I would love to have more children, I believe wholeheartedly that God’s purpose and plan is what’s best. Perhaps He will allow my husband and I to adopt? We are open to His leading.

I wrap this testimony up by sharing three encouragements:

1. God is sovereign and He is the one who opens and closes wombs. Our hope is in the Lord. Just like Hannah petitioning the Lord for a child, we cry out to Him and receive from Him what He wills. We must trust Him and we need to allow His comfort to minister to us and bring us peace and contentment.

2. If you are struggling with infertility, please know that you are not defective or incomplete as a woman. You are complete in Christ. In Christ all fullness dwells and you are in Christ my sister. You lack nothing. God may be allowing you to go through this trial for a purpose that is far beyond what we can see or imagine. I pray fervently that the Lord will open your womb if it be His will. I pray even more so that, no matter what He chooses to do, that you would receive a flood of comfort from the Throne of Grace.

3. If you have a friend who is barren, I pray that you will seek to understand and be sensitive to what a painful struggle she is likely to be going through. Guard her heart by being cautious of your words. Don’t make light of it or joke. I guarantee that, while she may smile on the outside, she is weeping on the inside. Pray for her. Remember her.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

 

Resources for Christian Women with Infertility

Hannah’s Prayer Ministries – This ministry helped me so much as I struggled with infertility the first time. The forums are particularly a blessing as women connect, share their stories, give understanding and encouragement from a place of understanding and offer prayer. I highly recommend them!

Dancing on Barren Lands – I love this site! They have some great resources including some tips on how people who do not struggle with infertility can minister and be sensitive to those who do.

Focus on the Family: Coping with Infertility – Wonderful information and encouragement.

Parenting After Infertility and Loss Ministries – This is really for women who have struggled with infertility or loss of a child and are now adjusting to being a mother (whether it by by natural birth or adoption)

Stepping Stones by Bethany Christian Services

 

When a Loved One Struggles with Infertility

There’s nothing easy about being a woman who struggles with infertility, whether it be primary or secondary. Only those who have experienced the pain of this struggle can fully understand the depth of hurt and longing that a barren woman experiences day by day, for years and years. It is impossible to comprehend her pain without having to experience it yourself, and yet so many woman have dear friends or family that are going through this struggle, and I know you want to be there for her. You should be there for her. She needs you.

The problem is, without understanding the pain, there is a chance you could say or do the wrong thing in an effort to bring comfort. As a woman who struggled with primary infertility and now secondary, I could share many stories of times when friends made careless comments or had advice to give that was anything but what I needed to hear at the moment. It wasn’t their fault. They were trying to help. They didn’t know the pain they were causing or tears I fought back. They had all the right intentions, but without having experienced infertility, one just doesn’t comprehend which comments/actions would be comforting and which would only add to the pain. As a help, here are a few ways you can minister to a loved one who struggles with infertility:

1. Pray. Pray for your friend as often as you can and with a fervent spirit. Prayer is powerful. We acknowledge that it is the Lord who opens and closes wombs. Pray for your friend’s womb to be opened. Pray boldly. Pray also for her aching heart and for her to be filled with comfort and peace. Pray that she will be able to accept God’s will, whatever it may be. Pray often and feel free to tell your friend that you are praying for her to conceive and praying for her comfort.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14

2. Don’t pretend it isn’t an issue. Infertility is a big deal. If you have a friend who wants a child but hasn’t been able to conceive, you can bet that this is something that she thinks about pretty much every day of her life. It is a very big deal to her. Minimizing it or pretending it doesn’t exist does not help her. While it isn’t something you want to bring up all the time, when in private it’s good to ask her how she is doing in coping with infertility. She may be needing to talk about it but feeling too rotten to bring it up herself. Women with infertility sometimes feel ashamed, especially in the Christian community. It makes her feel that she is somehow failing as a woman. This might keep her from opening up to a friend even though she really needs to talk it through. Give her that opportunity and remind her that you are thinking of her and that you care.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

3. Censor your tongue from flippant comments. Oh, the flippant comments that I’ve heard! You know, we all put our foot in our mouths sometimes. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. I would just encourage you to be especially cautious around your infertile friend. Try not to make comments like, “You just don’t get what a pain it is to be pregnant,” or “When are you going to get pregnant already?” or “Maybe you’re just not ready to be a mom.” These are only a few common ones. During my primary infertility phase, I had friends and family members tell me that maybe I should take advice on how to get pregnant from this young, unmarried girl who kept having babies. I was told that I was “lucky” I didn’t have to be pregnant. When I was sharing about the idea of adoption, I had a friend tell me “but there’s nothing in the world like carrying a baby in your womb.” Ouch. She’ll never know the tears I cried over that one comment. As Christians, we are to put the feelings and concerns of others ahead of our own liberty. You have the freedom to say flippant and thoughtless comments all day long if you want, but I urge you to put on compassion and be sensitive and thoughtful when it comes to speaking with a woman with fertility issues.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

4. Don’t treat her like less of a wife, woman or sister in the Lord. You may not even recognize that you do it, but I can tell you from experience that woman without children are often treated differently in the church. I was a married woman, not young by any means, and yet people talked to me as if I was a teenager a lot of the time. Women who were younger than me, but who had babies, were treated as mature woman, whereas I felt they treated me differently. The focus was forever on the women having babies. They were building “families” but me and my husband were viewed as a “couple” – not a “family.” Sometimes I felt that people were judging me, or thought that I wasn’t conceiving because I had done something wrong. Some Christians view infertility that way, and perhaps sometimes it is a judgment from the Lord, but we know that it isn’t always that way. I believe God uses infertility to bring about His plans and also to bring Himself glory. Sometimes I believe He closes wombs so that people will look after the orphans of this world. He knows the plans He has for us. Don’t make your friend feel like less of a woman because she cannot conceive. Don’t make her family and less of a family. She and her husband are their family.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

5. Try not to talk about your pregnancy/children constantly when she’s around. Now this is a tricky one. When I was going through primary infertility, it was so incredibly difficult for me to be around pregnant women or women with babies. It just hurt me inside to see them and hear about the joys of pregnancy that I couldn’t experience. I worked hard to fight against my pain and hold it back so that I could rejoice with my friends who were having babies. I fought back tears at baby showers and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, was able to celebrate with my loved ones. The truth is, I was happy for them. I was excited for them. I wanted to be there for them. I was just so overcome with pain that it was very difficult. While you should talk about your pregnancy and children, just be mindful about how much you talk about it with your friend who struggles in this area. Be discerning about when you need to change the subject. Limit your own liberty for the sake of your hurting friend. Don’t minimize the joy and wonder of carrying and birthing babies, but be sensitive to the heart of your friend who is longing so desperately to experience it too. Be wise and be kind.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…” Colossians 3:12

6. Walk through the journey with her and be supportive. Infertility is a journey. It starts with a couple who want a child, but for some reason cannot conceive. It starts with years of waiting and wondering and worrying. It usually ends up in a doctor’s office with either an explanation or sometimes no answers at all. From there the couple must make decisions about how to go forward…will it be infertility treatment, adoption or the end of the road? Infertility is a journey, and each step can be painful and difficult. Be there for your friend who is going through it. Pray for her. Hold her hand. Encourage her. Help any way you can. Try not to judge her decisions if you don’t agree with them. Try not to minimize the weight of the choices before her and her husband. At the end of the journey, they may end up with a child, or they may not. Either way, be a supportive and loving friend throughout the journey.

A friend loves at all times..” Proverbs 17:17a

7. Give her hope from the Bible. I believe fully that the Lord God of the Bible is the only opener and closer of wombs. He makes that decision. A woman can use birth control and still conceive if God wills, or a young, healthy woman can be stopped from conceiving by the hand of God. He is sovereign. If the God of the Bible is the opener of wombs, then it is from His Word that our hope and comfort comes. When your friend needs hope, give her the Word. When she needs comfort, encourage her with scripture. When she is angry, sooth her with God’s Word. God does not promise that all Christian women will bear children naturally, but He does promise that a woman will be able to mother children….sometimes that is through adoption, working with kids, etc. Here is a great verse for bringing encouragement to sisters who struggle with infertility:

“He (God) will make the barren woman keep house and be the joyful mother of children; praise ye the Lord!” Psalm 113:9

I hope this was a help to you in how to minister to your loved ones who have fertility issues. Please feel free to share this article so that others can glean from it as well. There is nothing easy about infertility, but the care and love of a good friend goes a long way in bringing comfort in those difficult times. God bless!

 

 

Chelsea McCafferty, Keeper of His Home, keeper of the home, Christian wife, Christian wives, blog for Christian wives, blog for wives, Christian women, Proverbs 31, Proverbs 31 wives, homemaking, home keeper, keeper ministries, Christian speaker, public Christian speaker, Christian speaker California, Christian marriage, marriage and God, blog for Christian marriage, keepers at home, home keeper, keeper at home, keepers of the home, infertility, barren woman, Christian women infertility, Christian infertile, barren Christian women
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9 responses to “Infertility

  1. Lynda says:

    As another woman who struggled with infertility while married, this is much appreciated. I recall once, many years after becoming single once more, a friend of mine acted as a surrogate mother for another woman. This upset some of her family no end. They saw it as being against God’s law that she would do such a thing. When she told this, in essence asking me what I thought, I told her “thank you.” When she blinked and said “What?” I said “Thank you, from all of us who can’t have kids on our own.”

    I hadn’t been able to talk to anyone about my own problems with infertility, especially considering the instability of my marriage while I was married, but what she did for her friend did a lot of healing for me.

    • God bless you sister. Thanks so much for sharing. Few people understand the secret pain that so many women experience when they cannot conceive. It’s one of those things we have a hard time talking about and that others have a hard time understanding. Bringing light into this darkness is healing as well. Thanks so much and God bless!

  2. Carol says:

    I read your post on Peaceful Wife’s peacefulsinglegirl blog just a few minutes ago, and clicked over to your blog, and for some reason clicked on this post. Wow. God led me here, that is for sure. I am not (as far as I know) infertile, but I am a single woman hoping desperately to have the chance to have children in the future. I pray every day for both the husband AND the child(ren), so I can relate very well to so much of what you’ve written. Thank you so much for your testimony and reminder of how God works in His perfect timing and through His perfect plan for us. Your last 3 points especially are immensely encouraging to me, and I’m driven to my knees when I think of how loving our Lord is. This test of my faith is being worked for His glory and for my good, so that I may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. I am literally in tears right now, recognizing how much He loves me. Praise Him for He is good indeed!

    • What a blessing to read your comment sister and to rejoice with you that God has a perfect and loving plan for your life. I can tell already that the Lord is using you to bless and minister to people in your life and will continue to do that! I join you in praying for your heart’s desire for a husband and children dear sister. How amazing our Lord is that sometimes He makes us wait for those special blessings so that He can show His lovingkindness all the more! Praise You Jesus! Thank you so much for sharing and I’m blessed to know you sweet sister. God bless you!

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey. It truly is a mystery the opening and closing of wombs but also about God’s timing and Him being the giver of life. I married in my early 40’s (before that, a long season of singleness waiting for God’s timing for marriage) and now at 44 am still hoping that the Lord might grant us a child. God bless you! Alison Joy x

  4. […] For more on Infertility, including resources for those who struggle with this, please visit Infertility Page. […]

  5. Karen Montanaro says:

    I’m 47 years old and was born without functioning ovaries. We tried donor embryo treatment, but not meant to be and were turned down for adoption. I try to see God’s blessings in my life, but still fid it difficult.

    • I’m so sorry for the pain that I know must be there. No one can understand the pain of infertility without having been there. I don’t know why God has closed those doors in your life sister but I pray that He gives you heavenly eyes to see what other amazing plans He does have for your life. I know it must not seem fair, but we have to put our trust in Him and I’m glad that you are doing that. Praying for you. Thank you for sharing!

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