Friday, April 24, 2015

Infertility :: Some Resources

People don't really talk about infertility, so most people don't know what to say or how to help a couple struggling with it. For some, there can even be a lot of shame associated with infertility, making it that much more difficult for couples to talk about it. I had an "aha moment" when a friend {also walking the road of infertility} reminded me that sinful and evil things are kept hidden and in secret. Infertility is neither of those things, so why would we hide it and not talk about it?

I didn't want to talk about it for a long time either, and I still walk a very careful line with conversations. I don't feel shame, but I just don't know what to say. I mean, how do you really dive into such a personal struggle? What's an appropriate answer for the innocent questions? The very subject seems to make people uncomfortable, and can cause them to say things I know they wouldn't if they really knew how much it hurt.

Most churches {especially in the Bible belt} are highly family-centered, which can make it incredibly difficult for couples struggling with infertility to process and find comfort within their own church family. But it's so important that Christian couples seek Biblical counsel in walking this road. There are so many tough choices to navigate, and we cannot rely on the world for answers. So I urge pastors to find ways to be a loving resource to your members. This goes for friends of infertile couples too! You don't have to be an expert on all the ins and outs of infertility. But having some knowledge and resources in your arsenal will go a long way in ministering to couples who are walking this difficult road. Be willing to ask the tough questions and wrestle with finding the answers together. 

As someone who is walking the road of infertility, I have the unique opportunity to speak into the ministry of the church on this matter. And I am thankful for that opportunity to minister to those who have to walk this difficult road. That's not always easy; I often find it difficult to be vulnerable on such personal matters. And yet the Lord is teaching me that, in His timing and with His wisdom, I can be a voice on this matter, simply because I have personally walked it. That is such an incredible gift that I hope not to waste.

There are resources out there for Christian couples struggling with infertility. Resources that can help you process the emotions of infertility in a healthy and godly way, as well as prayerfully consider fertility options that preserve a high view of life and honor the Lord.

There are a few books I have found helpful that I thought I would share here. There are probably others, these are just the ones I have found helpful in my journey with infertility. I don't necessarily endorse everything that is written in these books, but I am thankful for the authors' faithfulness to walking readers through the process of seeking the Lord in every part of the infertility process.

He Remembers the Barren
by Katie Schuermann
This book. Fellow sister in Christ, if you read no other book, read this one. This book is saturated with the gospel, containing the exact words that those walking the hard road of infertility need to hear. Many of the infertility books I read were written by authors who eventually became biological mothers through varying infertility treatment or a surprise miracle. Their stories/advice/words were no less valuable, but this sweet sister never achieved pregnancy, and yet she writes with such faith and love for our God. She consistently points the reader to the cross, helping you to focus on the beauty and grace of our Savior, instead of your circumstances. It gave me courage and hope that I can {and will} survive this road, even if God chooses to say "no."

Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss
by Jennifer Saake
I LOVED this book. I'm pretty sure I cried from cover to cover. She expressed in words what I have felt throughout this journey, and she offered hope and gospel-centered grace. While I wouldn't encourage all of her advice (i.e. taking a break from church), I appreciated her humility in offering fertility options that she and her husband walked through and committed to Jesus. She wrote in such a tender way that didn't tout right vs. wrong, but instead pushed her readers to seek out the Scripture for answers, always erring on the side of caution. I would very much like to meet her in person someday to give her a hug, and tell her "thank you" for writing this book. Because of her journey, she created Hannah's Prayer Ministries, which is also a great resource for those facing infertility.

The Infertility Companion: Hope and Help for Couples Facing Infertility
by Sandra L. Glahn (presented by the Christian Medical Association)
This book was more of a textbook. It contained good medical information on infertility, treatment options, and the emotional realities of this struggle. It was very straighforward and technical, which I actually enjoyed. It was helpful for me to understand the differences in treatment, and to understand at least one Christian organization's bioethical stance on those options. I think it is a great resource that presents good questions for couples to ask/answer as they consider and move forward in varying treatment options. It was a great springboard for me to do further research on the types of treatment we were considering.

Surviving Infertility: What the Bible Says about Your Baby Hunger
by Beth Forbus
This was a Bible study specifically walking through Scripture addressing infertility. I typically don't love these types of topical studies, but was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the study. It took me awhile to get through, because there were many days that I just couldn't bring myself to do it {because it hurt too much}. But I am glad I stuck with it, and I think it is a great tool to keep you focused on scripture and God's truth as you walk the road of infertility.

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