You’ve spent months – no, YEARS – trying to have a baby. You’ve tracked your cycles, had sex on demand, and subjected your body to things any sane person would never do. It may feel as though you saw your doctor more than your best friend. You may have spent thousands of dollars on treatments, only to be disappointed again and again. The time has finally come to contemplate Life After Infertility.
You’re wrung out. Tired. Angry at your body, and perhaps your husband. Perhaps feeling guilty for waiting as long as you did to try and get pregnant. Perhaps feeling grief over the loss of one or more pregnancies that began but ended far too soon. Perhaps feeling guilty at what you believe you did that may have caused your infertility. Your friends are taking their kids to soccer practice and Sunday School, while you wonder whether you’ll ever be able to attend a child’s birthday party without crying.
So what do you do now?
There’s no one answer for everyone. But after helping many, many couples struggling with infertility, here are a few things I know that can help make the next phase of your life meaningful.
- Give yourself some grace, and time. The desire for a child is God-given, so a sense of frustration and loss is expected when you can’t have the children you want. Be gentle with yourself. Others may not know how to be supportive, or what to say. For some, your husband may not fully understand how deep this loss is for you. Some grief is normal. Don’t let anyone else pressure you to move out of “infertility” phase of your life before you’re ready.
- Nurture your relationship with your spouse. Your husband deserves a large measure of your love, time, and attention. You may have devoted so much energy to your infertility journey that you’ve slacked off somewhat from investing in your marriage. Make a conscious decision to strengthen the friendship, communication, and intimacy in your relationship. Spend time doing things together. You still have a life together; make it count. It may take some work and time to rebuild the connection between you.
- Reach beyond yourself. For many women, the joy of having a child includes having someone to lavish love on. You can still do that. For some, that means adopting children. For others, that may mean volunteering with an organization helping troubled moms or teens, teaching other kids life skills, or investing in a career where you can help others. I know one would-be mom who had an “unsuccessful” journey with infertility, who, along with her husband, subsequently became a foster parent to 39 children (not all at one time)!
- Redefine your identity if necessary. Some women become so wrapped up in the infertility journey that they don’t know who they are if they can’t become a birth-mom. As beautiful as that dream is, that’s not who you are. God built into you a number of personality traits, experiences, and skills that the world needs. Work to see yourself first as God’s child. And then rediscover what it may be that He has put you on this planet to accomplish. You’ve still got a lot of living to do, and a lot of people to bless with your love.
No one can tell you how long to try and get pregnant, what risks to take, or how much money to spend. No one can tell you the “best” time to let infertility become something in your past.
But at some point that time will come. Always remember that you are more than your ability to become pregnant. Look for the gift God put in you, and find a way to give it to the people who need it.
Yes, there IS life after infertility.
Your Turn: Have you struggled with infertility? Was there anything that helped you move into the next phase of your life? Leave a comment below.
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