what to say

Missy has asked for people to help her know what to say to an infertile couple.

This is hard.  I was one.  I was once one of those walking bundles of pain and anguish who wants to hold a child so badly that it colors everything.

I have friends who say that “the infertile woman inside your head never goes away, even once you have children” … I disagree.  I am deliriously happy with my one little girl.  She came to us through the difficult process of  adoption and I simply don’t know if I could love any child more than I love her.  We have a wonderful relationship with her birth parents and our whole extended family embraced adoption as a perfectly understandable way of having a child join our home. (And yes, I’m simplifying.  I can’t tell the whole adoption story here.  If you want to know more, read the archives. Jan 2008 through now)

We are lucky.  Very lucky.  God Healed a lot of things before the adoption.  Not the least of which was my heart.

But back when I was going through the whole IVF process, after the second try failed, a dear friend pointed me to a post by this woman named Missy.  It was a Christmas post about how Mary hadn’t expected to give birth in a stable.  It was powerful.

I liked her writing style.  So I read more.  Then I took a deep breath and contacted her.  Even though you would think that someone with four kids under four wouldn’t really appeal to a woman who was aching to have a child.  But we connected.  What did she say that made me feel better? that made her my friend and not the enemy?

  • She didn’t act like there was anything wrong with me as a person.
  • She reminded me CONSTANTLY that God loved me and He had a plan and that it was Good.
  • She listened EVERY time I needed to whine or cry.
  • she didn’t claim to have answers to the physical struggles, but she applied the balm of scripture to my heart.  Reminding me that God ALONE was my rock.
  • And if we had lived in the same state she would have let me hold her kids.  This one is big.  Women who are infertile sometimes have a HUGE sense of restraint when it comes to holding children.  I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I was terrified of holding my arms out to a child.  What if they laughed and ran away?  I KNOW that toddlers do this all the time.  But for a woman who already is feeling like maybe God is saying “you are unfit to be a mother” having a child run away from you can very nearly feel like a physical blow.  So mostly I didn’t have the courage to hold my arms out. I would wait for someone to place their child in my arms.  It was much safer.  Much less chance of rejection.

So moms of many kids – show confidence in your infertile friends as people.  Love them for who they are apart from the issue of childbearing.

Directors of worship – find ways to celebrate mothers day without making it about biological motherhood.  Try celebrating the act of mothering, rather than the miracle of conception.

oh, and whatever you do, don’t earnestly assure them that if they just relax it will happen.  Look.  That has nothing to do with it.  Conception and birth is a miracle that ONLY God controls.

And do yourself a huge favor.  Read this blog post from a friend of mine.  It address some theological and cultural hurdles that infertile women face in the church.  It may help you see some of the hurt in a different light.

Thanks Missy for doing this post.

oh and there is nothing wrong with encouraging folks to consider adoption.  We did.  And I would not have missed out on my Ginny for all the “biologically mine” children in the universe.

happy baby

happy baby


8 thoughts on “what to say

  1. Aw. Now you made ME cry!!!

    I just hope the mom-to-mom carnival helps someone. This is such a meaningful topic Missy.

    It actually is a lot like talking to someone who is grieving a death. Everybody gets it if you come unglued for months or years after the loss of a living child. Whether they kicked you in the spleen, or you got them all the way through college. That makes sense to the general public. But when you grieve children who never even made it to the kicking stage people think you have something wrong in your brain. Like they didn’t count. Oh they count. They count just as much as every murder of an unborn child counts against those doctors when they face God at the final judgment. Those babies lived. Even if only for 12 hours. As soon as there are two cells that successfully join. That is a life. And it is perfectly right to mourn it’s loss.


  2. I am so tired of people saying “just relax it will happen”.

    Another thing that I am tired of hearing people say is, “As soon as you adopt, then you will get pregnant.” Adopting with the hope that it will be the magical cure to your infertility is a really bad reason to adopt! I have always wanted to adopt…even before my struggles with infertility!

    Anyway, great post! And BTW, in many ways you are my “Missy”. You always have words of encouragement and advice and I so greatly appreciate all your comments on my blog!

    Aw! now you made me all weepy! Thanks sweet lady. That means a lot.


  3. Pingback: What to Say to Women Coping with Infertility « On Becoming New

  4. What a great post. You are so right, it’s important to remember that God can make us mothers in many different ways and that one person’s journey is no more “right” than anyone else’s. I am so happy that things have worked out so well for you.
    I also really appreciate your mention of Mother’s Day. We have one daughter, our infertility is secondary so we don’t have the same struggle on that Sunday but we have friends who avoid church that day because it is so painful to them. I have often wondered if there was a way to be more inclusive of everyone. It makes me sad to think that people would feel unwelcome in God’s house.
    Enjoy your little girl!

    Thanks for stopping by. My friend who writes over on Blessed are the Barren really opened my eyes to some of the ways we over-glorify the whole motherhood concept. How we allow it to take a higher place of reverence than we should. My years of struggle with this issue really changed me.
    Come back by, you are welcome anytime.


  5. Hey Deirdre,

    It is a true blessing that you have Ginny!:) The Lord has used everything you’ve been through to lead you to a deeper relationship with and understanding of Him. He is out to cure us! I felt that with my own fertility issues. He came to give us life, and life more abundantly!:)

    Love in Him, ((HUGS)), blessings to you today:)



  6. Hi! I’m here via Missy’s carnival and I just wanted to say hi. I’m also an adoptive mom by open adoption. Thanks for sharing a little of your story here, looking forward to reading more!


  7. Amen to all you said. It’s hard to anwer people who now ask me, are you going to have another one? I wish there was a book people could read that would tell them all the stupid things you should never say to someone. Like The Relax and you’ll get pregnant or if someone dies, They had a good and happy life. The best thing to say in a sensitive situation- a death, miscarriage, infertililty, etc. is to simply say I’m so sorry and I will help you in anyway I can. End of story.


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