Dealing with Infertility

I was talking with a friend last week who recently found out that she and her husband can’t have children of their own. Knowing my history she asked, “What have you done to deal with your infertility?”

These are things I wish I could tell the Lynsie of 1998, when I was in the acute stages of infertility. If I could go back in time, I would have to be disguised as someone else because the me of then would freak out about how long I have endured childlessness. And hopefully the 1998 me would listen, but who knows. We all learn the way we need to. Just as I already did.

Before the list, a precursor. People will tell you to offer service. This is awesome, amazing, works wonders, BUT sometimes we forget one of the most important things in life: you need to take care of yourself while you’re serving OR even before you can step foot out your door to serve.

1. Learn about the Principle of Compensation. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave a wonderful talk on this subject entitled Come What May, and Love It. He stated, “That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way.”

Though you would gladly trade these luxuries for being a mom, don’t feel guilty for what you can do at this moment! For instance, at this moment in 2012 you are able to take a bath for as long as you want; drive the Sister Missionaries in the Twingo at a moment’s notice; have a block of uninterrupted hours to study; never have to worry about stretch marks on your belly, losing baby weight, or any other discomforts from pregnancy; you don’t have to get a baby sitter. The list could go on and on.

2.  Prayer and the Temple. When you feel like no one could possibly understand, that’s a lie. That’s when you know to go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. If that’s not enough, go to the temple or go more often. Literally get out of this world and into the Lord’s holy house. Stay there until you feel strong and loved.

3. Strengthen Your Marriage. Do whatever it takes. Go on a vacation, a cruise, somewhere, anywhere and DON’T avoid the subject. Work through it together. If you feel like your efforts are not working, get therapy. Don’t wait for your husband to be ready for therapy. Do it for yourself! I cannot stress this enough.

4. Uncover Your Hidden Talents. I heard a quote recently that goes something like this (and I don’t remember who said it) “The greatest gift we can give Heavenly Father is to nourish and strengthen our talents and then share them with him and the world”. Put your energy into something you’ve been putting off because you might get pregnant. Like going to school and finishing your degree. Don’t doubt. Just do it.

5. Avoid Negativity Like the Plague. It’s okay to feel angry at times, but do your best not to dwell there. If negativity is in the room, walk out. Even if someone is sharing their negative or discouraging words about the simplest of things. Especially right now, you don’t have space in your life for that. Even bloggers and those who might commiserate along side you can pull you down. Be careful where you go to find understanding and peace. Remember #2 if negativity creeps in.

6. Stand Up For the Infertile. A lot more people are discussing infertility openly now than they did in 1998. There are those who don’t have a clue and will say inappropriate and stupid things. Allow them to learn from you that infertility is awful, it hurts, that it’s torture to be around women who are genuinely ungrateful for their children, but also (and most importantly) that God compensates. Gently and boldly help them see that one size doesn’t fit all, that you and many others like you are valuable and can be happy people.

7.  When Someone Says, “There’s Always Adoption” they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s common for this to be someone’s first response to your news that you can’t have babies. It’s okay to tell them, “Thanks for the encouragement.” It’s also okay to zing certain people a little with a, “Hmm, I hadn’t thought about that.” This could go along with #6. Adoption has its own facets. The process is grueling. Be careful not to jump into adoption before you and your husband are both ready.

8. Get a Massage. At least once a month, if you can, until you’re stronger. This is especially recommended if you’ve gone through fertility treatments. There is amazing healing from massage, both physically and emotionally. I wish I had not been blinded by the negative perception of massage during my infertility yuck. If you’re afraid, start with a foot massage or a type of massage where you’ll be fully dressed, like Shiatsu or Seated Massage. Tell your therapist that you’re dealing with infertility. Nothing more needs to be said if you don’t want, but that will help them know you need comfort and peace overall.

9. Ask to Babysit a Friend’s Infant. It sounds crazy when this is what you want and can’t have, but babies are the purest of us all on this earth. Holding them can trigger your pain, but it’s important to deal with that pain. Recognize it. Recognize that it’s okay to cry and be angry that you can’t have babies. Don’t suppress it. Recognize the simple healing power of holding a newborn baby. When you give the baby back to its mother, let the pain and anger go and focus on your blessings.

10. Get a Dog. Name him Woody. He’ll be an outlet for the mothering instincts you were born with,and fostered while taking care of your friends’ kids, your nephews and nieces, the broods you babysat throughout high school, the niece who lived with you for a year and a half. Those instincts and feelings will come naturally and will be so fulfilling. He’ll be a pain in the butt, be forever be in the toddler stage, he’ll shed, he’ll eat grosser than gross things before you can stop him, he’ll drive your extended family crazy because he’s “just a dog”, but he’s more than worth it. He will bring you so very much joy that you can’t imagine life without him.

I know you don’t believe me. Get a dog. Seriously. Get a dog.

Baby Woody

And, above all other things, don’t forget this part of Elder Wirthlin’s message:

“While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.”

9 thoughts on “Dealing with Infertility

  1. I have not dealt with infertility; but I have dealt with adultery which is painful too. But it is not something I can share with very many people. My husband has repented and we are slowly rebuilding our marriage. I have learned more about the power of the Atonement through my pain than any other way. The Savior is there, real and powerful. He can and will put his strong and loving arms around us when we most need it and when we ask for it. No one gets through this life pain free, and the older I get the more I realized that this mortal life is just hard; but it is supposed to be so we can prove our commitment through obedience and be ready to return home. Thank you for sharing your pain and the knowledge gained from it.

  2. Lynsie, You are SOO incredible. I love you and this is an awesome post. I will remember it and turn others I may know to it as a guide. You’re attitude about life as been such a great example to me. Miss you!

  3. Wow, Lynsie, this was amazing to read – and very emotional. Your writing is so eloquent and I think you should most definately write about this. I’d always pondered what happened to you all these years and why you didn’t have kids…didn’t know if you couldn’t have kids or were just in a bad marriage or like me, was sure you didn’t want children. (I waited 10 years before thinking a child could have it’s upswings – I do dream of baths, reading, doing research, and having the time and money to travel, that’s for sure). I was very content with my dogs for all those years. I wondered why you didn’t just adopt or try to foster children when there are so many children out there that need homes. But then I learned what a nightmare that route can be. So I understand…

    All I have to say is you are one strong spirit to take a challenge like this on before signing on to this life. I’ve often wondered what the greater pain would be – to not be able to have a child when you wanted one so badly, or to lose a child to death or to lose a child to the evils of the world. After watching my mom go through losing a child then sinking into further depression each time one of us moved away, I wondered what the fuss was about children when they would either die or move away? Your situation would be so much harder, too, coming from the culture you do, were not having children is such a shock – unlike where I live and outside of Utah where people choosing not to have children is so much more normal. I think it’s ironic that I absolutely did not want children when I lived in Utah just because that seemed to be the only thing people seemed to value and I wanted to be so much more. I was so much more comfortable fitting into a mother role living away from all that pressure.

    Now, and because of watching my mom and dad go through it, I worry every day that my girls will be taken from me and I will have to bury them. It’s twisted, I know, but I do. I think we all have our own private little hells we have to contend with here. I so agree with the above post: “No one gets through this life pain free….this mortal life is just hard; but it’s supposed to be…”

    Thanks for this – you are an amazing person. You are going to be a great help to others going through this.

    • Wow, Jen! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It means more to me than I can say! I admire you for exactly all that you expressed.

  4. Thank you so much for your honesty and openness. I found your blog after a day spent in bed after hearing from my doctor that yet again none of my eggs had fertilized – this after nine years of trying with no obvious reason for our infertility. It is so helpful to know I am not alone, that this trial is nothing I should be ashamed of, and that the choice to be happy is real. You are awesome and I will be sure to follow your continuing journey.

    • Dear Bethany,
      Thank you for your comment. I apologize for taking so long to approve your comment and respond; I have been traveling. But I’m so sorry to hear about your discouraging news. It encourages me to hear that you found my words helpful. There is an instant bond amongst us who’ve been through the infertility walk. I’m honored to add your name to my thoughts and prayers.

Your comments are the butter to my bread.

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