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FACING THE

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					     FACING THE
           No-Baby Blues                                          After a decade of infertility treatments,
                                                                 multiple pregnancy losses, three failed
                                                                adoptions and an ectopic pregnancy,
                                                               Sandra Glahn understands the no-baby
                                                               blues faced by childless couples.




     “I think I just need to relax,” I told my ob/gyn after    getting pregnant” – I left his office and stayed away
     my annual examination. “We’re putting in long             for another 18 months. “If God wants us to have
     hours with our youth group, I work full-time, and my      kids,” we told ourselves, “He’ll make it happen.”
     husband just finished seminary.” I had believed the
     myth that the cure for infertility is relaxing.           When we returned to the doctor, we began a journey
                                                               which would take us through three years of no
     “How long have you been trying?” he asked.                conceptions followed by eight early pregnancy losses
                                                               and then three failed adoptions in our quest for a child.
     “About 18 months.” He rolled closer and spoke gently,
     “No. Perhaps it’s time to ‘stop relaxing.’ We can try a   God’s grace and some information drove us forward.
     few simple procedures; the pace is up to you.”            First, we learned that infertility is usually a symptom
                                                               that something is physically wrong. Perhaps there’s
     I did not know then that I had already met the            a thyroid problem or an infection. In 95 percent of
     textbook definition of infertility: the inability         cases, doctors find a diagnosable medical problem.
     to conceive or carry to term after one year of            Second, we learned that for those entering medical
     unprotected intercourse. (Some patients say it’s also     treatment, about 65 percent go on to give birth;
     the chance to determine mood by a thermometer,            for those avoiding treatment, the number drops
     hear every home remedy imaginable, and endure             drastically. Medicine and faith do not have to be
     bankruptcy in injectable form.)                           mutually exclusive.


     Since I cringed at the idea of joining the one in         So we started the process of Love Life by Calendar
     six Americans of childbearing age with fertility          Rule (which brought about as much joy as mopping
     problems – people I considered “obsessed with             floors). A few times we had to “get together,” then




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rush to the doctor’s office to learn whether our           loss of a dream; my heart’s desire is to have my
bodily fluids were “hostile” to each other. We turned      husband’s child and raise it together.”
into pincushions, stuck with daily injections either
to help me conceive or keep a pregnancy going.             I turned to the husband and addressed him. “And you?”
And we fought with our insurer, who lumped our
heartbreak in the same category with tummy tucks.          He looked at her, then back at me. After hesitating
                                                           a moment, he spoke to her gently, and stroked her
The emotional toll astonished us. “The depression          arm, “Don’t take this wrong, honey, but…” Then he
and anxiety experienced by infertile women are             looked at me. “It’s the loss of my wife – she is not
equivalent to that in women suffering from a               the same woman I married. Infertility is really
terminal illness,” says Alice Domar, Ph.D., director       taking a toll on us.”
of the Behavioral Medicine Program for Infertility at
New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston. Why?             “You’re normal,” I assured them. After enduring a
We’re not talking about a new living room set here.        decade of infertility treatment that included multiple
We’re talking about a child – a child who might            pregnancy losses, three failed adoptions, and an
make daisy chains, throw her arms around us, even          ectopic pregnancy, my husband and I had talked to
throw up on us. It’s not that we were “stuck on            numerous couples. And I recognised their stress,
genetics,” as some accused.                                which – though different in each couple’s case – was
                                                           still a normal response to an abnormal experience.
The idea of conceiving a child as the product of
two people’s love is a precious dream, and a deep          When empty arms are a heavy burden
longing. Thus, what a comfort it often is for couples      I always hesitate to tell our “sad story” because
to discover Proverbs 30:16, which tells us that a          I don’t like to engage in what I call the Suffering
“barren womb” is among four things on earth that           Olympics – going for the gold in competing over
are never satisfied. The intense desire                                       who’s hurt the most. Many people
to have children is part of the way                                           have endured much worse. Yet
                                                The intense desire
God structured the world. The drive,                                          during that decade (which ended
the longing, that “unsatisfied” feeling
                                                 to have children             – thank God! – in the miracle of
– these are part of the design.              is part of the way God           a successful adoption) the Lord

                                              structured the world.           taught us these and a few other
Why does it hurt so much?                                                     things that helped us:
A couple sat to eat lunch with me
after I had spoken at an infertility symposium. As         Infertility involves a normal grief process. The
we began to talk, I asked the wife, “When you grieve       loss is intangible, but it is real. First there’s denial.
over your infertility, what is your greatest loss?”        One woman insisted, “I’m not infertile; I’m just
                                                           having trouble getting pregnant!” Other responses
She didn’t have to think about her answer. “It’s the       include crying, bargaining, depression, anger,




                                                                                                                       29
     Children are among God’s many blessings,
     but they are not the only blessing.


     isolation, and resolution. Look at Hannah               friends and support groups.
     (1 Samuel 1); she exhibited almost all of these.
                                                             Remember: children are a gift, not the gift. When
     Unfortunately, infertility is a grief cycle within a    people quote verses about children being blessings
     grief cycle: the monthly cycle of hope and despair      from God, it’s easy to feel you’re being punished.
     interrupts the greater grief process, often leaving     Of the thousands of infertility patients we have
     couples wondering if they will ever stop hurting.       talked with, I’ve met only one person who told me
                                                             she’s never wondered whether God was punishing
     Spouses grieve differently. Because infertility         her (She was an atheist.) Children are among God’s
     occurs during the childbearing years, it’s often the    many blessings, but they are not the only blessing.
     first major loss husbands and wives experience as
     a couple. It can be a shock to discover they grieve     Read up and speak up. As believers, our bodies
     differently. Many researchers have concluded that       are temples of the Holy Spirit. So we must manage
     gender-based differences significantly complicate       them well. Christian ethics here require thought
     the crisis. One sociologist observed that, in           and investigation. Will the clinic show respect for
     general, “Wives saw their husbands as callous and       your convictions? (Most will.) If you do high-tech
     unaffected by infertility while husbands saw their      treatments, will you limit the number of potential
     wives as ‘overreacting’ and unable to put things        embryos to those you are willing to carry to term?
     in perspective. While wives felt their husbands         Take responsibility for your treatment.
     were unwilling to talk about infertility, some
     husbands wondered what there was to talk                Let God strengthen you. This is most important.
     about.” In another study, half of the infertile women   Keep asking yourself, “Do I believe God is good?”
     said their infertility was the hardest thing they       and “Will I trust Him?” Resist the temptation to cry
     had ever experienced; only fifteen percent of their     out, “My stupid body!” Know that God made you
     husbands said the same thing.                           fearfully and wonderfully in love, mysterious as His
                                                             reasons may be. When Job hurt, he fell on his face
     Yet it’s not always she who feels more pain; in some    and worshipped. Worship your Creator in your
     marriages, he does. And infertility is not a “woman’s   pain. He cherishes you and bears your hurt. You’re
     problem.” Its causes are about evenly split between     not alone.
     the genders.
                                                             Reprinted with permission. This article first appeared
     One solution to the emotional disparity is for both     in HomeLife. Sandra Glahn, Th.M., is adjunct professor,
     partners or the one feeling more emotional pain to      Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas
     connect with a support group or find an Internet        Theological Seminary (DTS). Together with Dr William
     buddy. Some psychologists estimate that even            Cutrer, she has co-authored other books which explore
     happily married couples should expect only about        the spiritual, marital, emotional, medical, and ethic
     25 percent of their support to come from their          issues surrounding infertility. More articles on this topic
     spouses. The rest must come from family, church,        can be found on www.aspire2.com




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