Faith and Fertility: A Christian Perspective

As I searched for ways to cling to my faith and God’s promises, I continually found myself unable to overcome the sadness and fear that consumed my heart. I found myself consumed with chronic feelings of hopelessness and feared that my prayer would never be answered. I was no longer able to stay faithful. Church had always been a place where I sought comfort and peace; however, throughout my journey with infertility it became a place I resisted, a place that brought me tears instead of joy.
I couldn’t bear to attend another service knowing that I would be sitting behind the newest arrivals, witnessing a baptism, or listening to the Mother’s Day sermon. Outside of church, it seemed like every week I was learning about a friend or peer getting pregnant. I would watch the evening news and hear about all of these horrific stories of how children were being mistreated. It all seemed too cruel to me as I sought for the answer of “Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be pregnant?”  My resentment continued to grow and my relationship with the Lord grew even more strained. I was angry with the Lord and questioned Him constantly on why he was putting my husband and me through this heartache; little did I know that the answers to all of my questions would be answered in the upcoming months.
The months went by and I was still not pregnant—the question of “why?” continued to circulate in my being. I had already experienced three failed IUIs and two failed IVFs and was in the dreaded two-week wait to see if our third IVF was successful. At this point in our infertility journey, I felt so broken down. I didn’t feel that I could emotionally or physically pursue additional treatments if this third IVF wasn’t successful. At this point, I had lost hope and had developed such a negative attitude. The bubbly optimistic faith-inspired personality that I identified with in the past was no longer. My heart was broken; I was exhausted from trying to understand why the Lord would choose this for my life, why he would choose for me to not be able to get pregnant. Throughout our infertility treatments, my husband and I had also been concurrently completing all of the legal requirements to adopt. We positioned ourselves to be able to begin the matching process should our last IVF treatment fail. My pessimistic attitude and existing lacking of hope had already prepared me for a negative test; therefore, I did not have much emotion when I learned of the test result – I was just numb.
Then, for the first time in a long time, I began to feel like my happy, goofy, and easy-going self. My optimism began to resurface and my heart started to pump with feelings of hope again. As we waited for that special day of receiving a call about a match, my husband and I took the time to just have fun. We had been so consumed in our struggle with infertility that we forgot what it was like to laugh and to be silly. We had been so clouded and unable to recognize all of the other blessings in our life that it was time to emerge ourselves in the present day and enjoy life again, and that it exactly what we did.
There were various things that occurred during our adoption experience that some might call coincidence, but that I call God’s way of answering the “why” to our question surrounding our inability to conceive. His plan for us was revealed and was way better than we could have every imagined. We gained two incredible people in our life: our extraordinary birth mother and our son. While the months of failed infertility treatments were hard, every bit of the heartache was worth it because little did we know our son was in the earliest stages of development. If any of our IVF cycles would have been successful, we wouldn’t have gained our birth mother or son, and for those failed cycles, I am oh so thankful.
Throughout our infertility experience, I shamefully admit that there were times when I felt as though I had given up on God, but He never gave up on me, and thank goodness he didn’t because the life He has created for our family of four is unbelievable. I share my story to bring awareness to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” This verse is quite comforting during life’s struggles, and is one I whole-heartedly embrace; however, even as a Christian, trusting is not always easy, especially when you can’t understand why you’re being put through the struggle or are unable to see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” This is exactly the epitome of faith; we cannot see it, but we have to believe it.
I am susceptible to feeling hopeless and enduring great angst and fear in life; therefore, myfaith is an aspect of my spiritual well-being that I have to exercise daily. I truly believe that through every experience in life whether good or bad, each experience offers the opportunity for us to further develop into the person the Lord wants us to be.When going through infertility, it is easy to be consumed with the heartache of not being able to conceive, but give your best effort to hold on tightly to your faith, believe in the Lord’s promises, and stay present to the blessings that arrive in your life everyday.
Melissa Butcher and she is an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Director of Health Promotion at Charleston Southern University.