Enter Here, All Ye who Are Barren

[Originally posted on Lisa Newton’s Amateur Nester Blog October 16, 2014.]*

I’ll never forget the first appointment David and I had at a fertility clinic. We walked up to the entrance – ten-foot-tall double doors with a massive wooden overhang and a sign screaming (to us), “Enter here, all ye who are barren!” We felt the despair that permeated the place. We spent two hours in the doctor’s office, though we only spent about ten minutes with her. In those ten minutes she told us our problems were common and gave us some copy-machine literature; then left with a list of dates we had to return to the click for ultrasounds, injections, and intrauterine insemination.

The first question I was asked at every visit to the fertility clinic was, “How old are you?” As long as I said I was in my twenties, I received a smile and a pat on the knee from the nurse. The implication was that there was nothing to worry about; the fertility clinic could help. Once I hit thirty, no nurse ever smiled again. Without words (and sometimes with them), they accused me of waiting too long to get pregnant and wouldn’t make any promises about the clinic’s ability to help such an “old” woman. [Haley, Barren Among the Fruitful (Nashville: Thomas Nelson: 2014, 17.)]

Unfortunately, the insensitivity and cookie-cutter care found in many infertility clinics today is a big reason 23% of fertility patients stop treatment too early due to emotional distress. As easy as it is to say, “brush it off,” ignoring the demoralization that can happen in fertility clinics is hard to accomplish. I could make myself smile and nod my head in the clinic, but I had to go cry about my circumstances when I got in my car. But you can’t let others’ callousness wear you down. Treatments and doctors’ appointments are stressful, trying to have a baby is stressful, and stress reduces an already-infertile couple’s ability to conceive.

What I can humbly offer as God’s answer for David and me–and what may be for you–is finding a new doctor. Find a place where you feel cared for and someone who will attentively listen to you for more than 10 minutes. Seven years and zero live births later, I know having a child is not God’s plan for us. And a lot of that confidence comes from knowing I switched to a doctor who made that journey as smooth as he could.

It’s easy to mourn the circumstances and the callousness, the disappointments and losses. Yes, it is okay to sit “in the ashes” (Job 2:8, The Voice) for a small amount of time.

But you must always remember that God is bigger than your pain. He hasn’t explained to you why you are suffering, and maybe that’s because He wants you to focus on the bigger picture. Have confidence in the truth of who He is: your number-one supporter and the only “coping mechanism” that can move you beyond a life of survival to one of growth.

*Revised for Healthy and Hopeful readers on October 19, 2014.

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