Many of us watched this week as Kate Middleton and Prince William left St Mary’s Hospital in London, England, and gave the world its first glimpse of His Royal Highness Prince George, heir to the British throne. There’s something intimate and beautiful about new parents holding their newborn baby in their arms.
But sadly, many couples do not have an opportunity to experience that joy, and do not have a baby to hold in their arms. Over ten percent of couples are unable to achieve a pregnancy within one year of trying. That’s over 7 million couples in this country. And that leads to the sometimes rocky journey of infertility and its treatment.
The miracle of new life still holds many mysteries. But we do know a number of things that must happen, and happen just right. A mature healthy egg must release from a woman’s ovary. Healthy sperm must find its way to the egg. The fertilized embryo must find its way to a healthy uterine landing place, and develop a connection with mother’s blood supply in order to continue to grow. Problems at any point along the way may keep pregnancy from happening.
The more we learn about the miracle of pregnancy and new life, the more amazed I am at how often pregnancy normally does happen. It really IS a miracle.
For couples facing infertility the emotional and relationship cost is high. Feelings of shame, blame, grief, loss, and failure are common. Continuing month after month without success can be enormously stressful. And for couples who choose to go through infertility treatment, the financial burden is often heavy.
As a Reproductive Endocrinologist I’ve seen couples struggle with these issues, and have seen the stress it puts on their relationship. It often takes a very strong commitment to preserve and protect their marriage so that they have a home to bring a child into, should God so bless them.
Modern medical science affords many treatment options for couples with infertility, and some of them stretch ethical boundaries. I believe we cannot adequately grapple with the issues involved without seeking God’s perspective from a position of faith. In light of that, I have placed specific limits on what infertility options I will offer my patients. One can argue about where those specific boundaries should be, but this is an area where we cannot ignore the mystery, the miracle, and God’s perspective on new life.
Helping couples experience that miracle is a privilege I enjoy. And my hope and prayer is that you can experience that miracle when you so desire.
After all, a new baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on!
On the most recent Dr Carol Show we talk about the physical, emotional, relationship, and spiritual aspects of infertility. The three-minute Saturday Memo gives some specific highlights, as in this post. And the full archive is available here.
On the program we discussed some resources helpful for those facing infertility.
- Reproductive Facts provides a library of fact sheets and other resources from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
- The Infertility FAQs from the CDC provides a wide range of useful information at whatever stage of infertility you are presently.
- Resolve, the National Infertility Association, offers support groups, advocacy, information, and more for those facing infertility.
Your Turn: Have you or someone close to you experienced infertility? How have you managed the personal and relationship stress involved? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
If you enjoy these posts, why not receive them in your email inbox? You can sign up with your email address right here: