In the beginning of my fertility journey, I would share about our struggles with a selected handful of friends. I was not blogging back then. I had made a few friends with a few ladies I met on an online forum who were over 35 and trying to conceive. Other than a couple of friends and a couple of coworkers, nobody at church or at work knew that we were trying. I was feeling quite lonely and scared. It was a dark period of time. I wanted to beat the odds and prove my OB/GYN wrong (because he recommended IVF following a review of the labwork that showed my extra high FSH and extra low AMH). I was struggling emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Fast forward to today. After two years nine months of this journey, I have come to a totally different place. Every time I start a cycle, I email all the people I know will pray for us. This group is expanding to about 15 people. They include people in my bible study group, people who used to be in my bible study group, people at church, people in my family, and people I met online. I truly feel that being surrounded by prayers and prayer warriors made a difference in our previous cycle. Except for work, many people in our friend circle, church circle, and my bible study circle know about our journey.
I am a discussion group leader for an international bible study program. I am part of about 30 leaders that meet every Saturday morning for training. Every time we meet, we are given a piece of paper to write down our prayer requests. We pass the paper to the lady next to us and the prayer will be prayed aloud during our 25-minute prayer time. During the first training session a few weeks ago, I sat there and contemplated what to write down. The most important thing back then in my life was for the mini-IVF cycle to go well and for the retrieval not to be interfering with the bible study schedule. I looked around me and saw that three-quarters of the people in the leaders circle already know about my struggles. I didn’t think I minded other new leaders knowing about me going through fertility treatment. So I decided to be bold and wrote down my prayers request as “Pray for the upcoming cycle of fertility treatment to go smoothly”. My friend next to me who got the slip turned to me and asked, “Do you want me to pray this aloud?” I said, “Go ahead since most of the people already know about it”. So she prayed aloud for me.
Fast forward this past Saturday at the leaders meeting, a brand new lady came and sat next to me. Before the meeting started, she said she wanted to chat with me about my fertility treatment. After the meeting, we stood outside of the church and talked for about 35 minutes. She and her husband’s story is similar to my story with Bob. She got married late. At 38, she has been trying for the last 14 months but nothing is happening. On that Saturday, she found out that her first IUI attempt had failed since AF just arrived on that day. It seems like her AMH is fine though. She poured her heart out and I tried my best to share my experience and my knowledge and to answer all the questions that she had. At one point, she made a remark about the amount of knowledge that I have on this issue. She said that she deliberately came to sit next to me because she heard the prayer request for me the other time and really wanted to connect with me. She explained that this is still something that she and her husband have not shared with many people so she was very glad that I could talk with her. I am so happy and grateful that opening up about my struggles appears to have helped someone else feel less alone in this very lonely journey.
As a group leader, I lead about 15 ladies in a weekly discussion group. We also share our prayer requests with one another so that we can all pray for one another daily. During our first round of prayer requests last week, I again had the choice of waiting to share or sharing immediately. Last year, I did not share about our struggles and the cycles until after mid-semester. After much prayers, I decided to be open about my experiences this year because I would really appreciate prayers from these group members. So I put down “Pray for wisdom, strength, and peace from God during our fertility treatment”. I sent out all the prayer requests to the ladies. Two days later, I received an email from one of the ladies. It said:
“I saw in your prayer request that you are going through fertility treatment and was wondering if you would feel comfortable if I asked you a few questions about it down the line. My husband and I met with a doctor at a fertility clinic to discuss the various options a few months ago. We are still praying and deciding when we should start the process. Although I don’t feel comfortable sharing it with our group yet so I won’t request for prayers for it. We haven’t spoken with anyone about it since it has been quite stressful and discouraging. We are also trying to surrender it to God.”
I was surprised to have received this email and at the same time so glad that I was being open. If I had not been open, this sister in Christ would not have anyone to talk about this with. I am also glad that she opened up because it must have been hard for her to write to a stranger about her struggles. I wrote her back right away and said:
“You can ask me any questions any time. I am pretty open about my journey and my struggles. I didn’t start out that way but after going through it for a a while, I have become very open about it (except for at work). I am sorry that you are going through the uncertainty at this point. My husband and I have been trying for almost 3 years. We have done a few cycles of IVF and had an early miscarriage back in February after our first ever transfer. It took us six months to feel ready emotionally and mentally to start all over again. I know what you mean by it being stressful and discouraging. I found that my first year of trying was the hardest. It has actually gotten a little easier mentally, emotionally, and spiritually after I have accepted that this is our path and I have to trust God on it. I would love to share with you my journey and answer any questions you may have if you feel comfortable with it. We can talk over coffee or on the phone if you would like. Just let me know. :)”
She wrote me back the next day with this response:
“Thank you for being so open and transparent with your fertility. This process can feel so lonely, especially since we are at the beginning stages. Our doctor presented us with several options to start and it completely went over my head because there’s so much information. I do know he suggested starting with Clomid. He also talked about IVF being one of the options after we tried everything else. However, what made me uneasy was that he said the clinic will make me sign an agreement to abort the third fetus if the treatment resulted in triplets. He said IVF sometimes but rarely result in triplets and he said it wasn’t safe or something so you have to sign an agreement to not keep the third. This is something we don’t feel comfortable with so we have been holding back on starting any treatment. We know the chances are very slim in it resulting in triplets but we are not comfortable with it. Do you know if that’s a policy for all fertility clinics? We might wait until end of this year before we start treatment. I would love to hear more about your journey on phone or in person sometime. I am sorry to hear about your miscarriage. I will be praying for you as well. God is good and faithful. He always has better plans than we can imagine even if it doesn’t feel that way when we are going through trials and hardships. I will be praying for you! I’m also very grateful He placed me in your group this year.”
I saw her during our discussion group on Monday and made sure that I reached out to her. We were making plans for getting together either this coming Saturday or some time next week so we can talk in person without interruption.
In this group there is one pregnant lady this year. I am actually not bothered by her presence at all. But I can only imagine what the sight of a pregnancy lady may affect this other lady with infertility issues. The interesting thing is that these two ladies actually share the same first name. I wonder if this infertile lady would have the “why me” mentality. I am even more glad that she’s in my group so she really doesn’t feel that she’s all alone in this.
God works in very mysterious ways. I am not sure why Bob and I have to go through this very difficult journey. This is something that I probably will never understand until I see God face-to-face. One thing I am sure is that God is with me every single step of the way. He guides my path and allows me to be increasingly at peace with this path. He gives me strength to live everyday. He also gives me the courage to be open and transparent and share with others. I did not know that my openness would touch another person’s life. It appears that being able to be open not only touched one person but two people this week. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve these ladies and for them to feel less lonely. God is amazing and He orchestrates every little and big thing in our life. There is no accident that I encountered these two ladies this year. God does not make mistakes. I am excited to see how God can use me this year to help encourage them.