Originally published in the Word Alive Press Blog post for March, 2016.
“I read your book today and loved going with you on your journey from determination to surrender. Thank you for writing with such vulnerability, opening the deepest places of your pain, making of them a gift that can minister healing to others. That is such an example of God’s goodness and grace. May all of your tears be a fragrance that blesses many and your wisdom be a guiding light for others on this journey.” Belinda Burston, Writer’s Nest
With these words, my friend Belinda penned the expressions that motivated me to write EMPTY HANDS TO OPEN ARMS: From Infertility to Possibility. The decision to open once again the deep place of pain, lies in the compassion for those who shed the tears in the loss of a child they may never get to meet. This turmoil requires a resolution of rest.
Agony of Infertility
The heart of the infertile individual is craving rest. From those first thoughts that something is not quite right through inquiries and testing, to the soul-wrenching diagnosis, the heart takes in many blows and bruises. In a moment, this one thing hoped for – a child, so easy for many to conceive, now becomes an impossibility. The results of trying-to-conceive month after month with only a negative pregnancy tester to show for it is exhausting.
According to Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC), one in six couples will be struggling with infertility issues. Although my story may be quite different from others who have gone through so many medical procedures, I understand the hopeless and helpless feelings of an infertility diagnosis. I know the craving to have little arms around your neck. I fathom the drive to want to do something, anything to make the agony and pain of that empty place go away.
Diagnosed at the age of nineteen and a single girl, I dreamed of being a mother since I was a little child. I discovered my infertility and processed this news with a sadness that I didn’t know how to express. For many years I was unable to fully prepare to resolve infertility in my life, as I was not married. Waiting is the characteristic of infertility and for twenty years I desired a husband with whom I could begin to work on my infertility. When my husband and I finally did marry, we realized the impossibility of our situation. I looked to God to meet our need. We exhausted ourselves in trying so hard and the painful decision to not proceed with any medical intervention was made for us. Turning our attention to the adoption process and all the requirements, I burst with hope. Finally we would have our hearts’ desire. After many years, and much paper work and hoops to jump through and waiting, we were still childless.
Faced with our continual empty nest, the strain became too much for me. At the peak of our patience and in total frustration of the unfairness of what life had dealt us, I learned that we would have to face more delays and paperwork. I explode into tears and released years of pent-up distress and panic of a dream unmet. This was the catalyst for full surrender to God and my relinquishment of control I thought I had over my situation. In just a few days, I discovered that God had already provided a perfect-fit resolution for me.
Coping and Support
Recently I had the privilege of presenting EMPTY HANDS TO OPEN ARMS to a group of women at a ladies’ conference. I enjoyed the 3-minute speaking opportunity and throughout the day I met with many precious women who shared their personal story or with whom had a relative or a friend struggling with infertility. A few shared the tragedy of spontaneous abortions and how their dream was torn from their hearts and their wombs. I wept with them. Others spoke of their feelings of helplessness in wanting so much to ease the hurt and pain of a loved one, or friend. I prayed for them. EMPTY HANDS TO OPEN ARMS is the type of book I needed in the years I faced my greatest distress. This is the reason I wrote my story.
Finding a place to share your story is such an important step. Many couples choose to suffer alone and support one another. While this is helpful for the moment, at times seeing your husband or wife hurting with the burden of barrenness is too much to bear alone.
Once couples decide to invest in medical intervention, the first task is to choose the right Doctor. It is important to investigate the physician who has had experiential skill in treating infertility. Many in the medical field have only had introduction to infertility treatment as part of their medical training. A referral from your family Doctor to a reproductive endocrinologist can benefit immensely. He or she could be your greatest supporter in suggesting ways to cope.
While reading materials can be a source of great support, a supportive heart-to-heart conversation with a trusted friend can bring warm comfort. Choose this friend wisely. It is important to find someone who can resist the urge to offer useless advice. Let your friend know that you are not looking for expertise in how to get pregnant. No amount of relaxing, or trying this procedure or that is really what you are wanting to hear right now. If your friend’s cousin Lucy got pregnant on her first In Vitro Fertilization attempt, that’s fine, however, you may not want to know about it.
Give yourself the protection you need from emotionally hurtful situations. I.e. baby showers, and Mother’s day celebrations may best be left for another season in your life. Be good to yourself. Rest. Consider professional counselling if need be. Focus on the Family offers a one-time counselling opportunity and referrals for additional support. http://www.focushelps.ca/counselling-service Visit online support forums such as:
Hannah’s Prayer Ministry: www.hannah.org, Stepping Stones: http://stepforums.bethany.org
Always remember that Father God is waiting to embrace you in your pain. He is waiting to give you the resolution that is a perfect fit. Talk with Him, release the hurt and the frustration. Run into His open arms.
EMPTY HANDS TO OPEN ARMS: From Infertility to Possibility is available at Christian bookstores across Canada as well as:
Word Alive Press
Kindle, Kobo, and Apple
You may reach Paula at www.emptyhandsopenarms.com, and https://www.facebook.com/InfertilityPossibility/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel