I still remember the doctor looking at me over the top of her glasses. “What this means,” she explained, “is that it is very probable you will never bear children.”

And something inside me just withered up and died right there.

I stumbled through weeks, then months, and then years before I finally started breathing easy again. Through the gentle love of friends, and the incredible grace of God, I learned five important things about facing life with the label of infertility.

1. Let yourself grieve. More than once.

When I found out that my sister-in-law was pregnant with twins, I cried huge blistering tears over the ultrasound pictures. And I thought, “There. I mourned never seeing an ultrasound of my own baby.”

Wrong.

Every few months I mourn the babies that will never be. The months may stretch longer as the years pass but it still happens. And it’s okay.

2. Tell friends that you’re battling infertility.

So many keep it a secret: don’t. Be willing to share!

I’m not saying that you need to announce it at church… but, if you’re constantly being hurt by insensitive comments and you’re starting to dread Sunday mornings and fear is keeping you hostage: you may need to be brave enough and humble enough to stand up and say, “Hey, guys, we can’t have a baby. Pray for us?”

We’re a body. We work together. When one person falls down under crushing weight — it’s time for the rest to step in. Let them.

Pretending to stand when you’re crumbling is actually pride in action.

3. Don’t avoid babies.

Hold them. Cuddle them. Kiss their cheeks. Squeeze their little chubby legs. Tickle their toes. Can’t do it without crying? Go ahead! Salt water never hurt a baby.

The Enemy would love nothing more than to cut you off from little ones. Don’t let him.

I’ve been known to walk into hospital rooms and say, “Hi, I’m here to cry over your baby.” I snuggle them, drip tears and pray that God will raise them up to be warriors for His kingdom. Then I hand them back soaking wet.

4. Repent.

I guarantee that if you’re struggling with infertility there will be a day when you see a mom that isn’t fit to be one and you will think, “God! Why does THAT girl get a baby and not me? I would be a better mom than THAT.”

I’ve done it. I’ve said it. I’ve prayed it. I’ve been that foolish, that prideful and that full of bitterness.

It’s like having a broken leg and watching someone walk by and thinking, “I am a WAY better walker than that — she should have the broken leg, not me!”

But God is gracious. He heals. He turns bitter to sweet. But we have to repent. We have to ask forgiveness. Don’t stay there, I beg of you. When you see your sin get it out before it consumes you.

5. Remember: every person carries pain.

Don’t be foolish enough to think that you’re the only one writhing in pain.

That lady with six kids? She may have buried four.

That unmarried girl with a toddler and a baby on the way? She may fall asleep every night shaking in fear because everyone around her uses her and leaves her crushed and broken.

That girl you grew up with that married her high school sweetheart and had three children, just like she planned? She may go for a walk one day with her twelve-year-old and a car may swerve and kill her daughter right in front of her.

You don’t know. Don’t fall for the lie that your pain is the ultimate. There is a lot of pain in this world.

Those are true stories. I know those women.

Don’t misunderstand me: your pain is real. But it is not the only pain.

Just like you need to let the body hold you up when your pain is crushing you — you must be willing to look beyond yourself to see other people’s pain and help hold them up.

One more thing:

On this Mother’s Day, don’t hide in your house.  Don’t shrink in the corner. Go to church in a pretty dress with a smile. Cry if you need to. Be open. Be real. Be gentle. And kiss as many babies as possible, thanking the Lord for every. single. one. Because they are gifts, even if they aren’t yours.

Don’t worry; my little babies will be getting saltwater baths before I hand them back to their mamas. And I will be clinging to the promise that He will heal my heart because that’s what He does — He heals.

On this Mother’s Day, don’t hide in your house.  Don’t shrink in the corner. Go to church in a pretty dress with a smile. Cry if you need to. Be open. Be real. Be gentle. And kiss as many babies as possible, thanking the Lord for every. single. one. Because they are gifts, even if they aren't yours.

 


Related:
5 Things to Remember When You Can’t Stop Crying by Natasha Metzler
Learning to Love Mother’s Day While Facing Infertility by Natasha Metzler
For more, visit our resource page: grace for loss, infertility, and miscarriage

(originally published May 2012)

59 Comments

  1. natasha, i love your balanced approach in this article. i was never told i would have a child, but i was beginning to wonder after a miscarriage and stillbirth. then i had 3 healthy children without a problem in the world. depending on when people knew me, they might think i never had any trouble. thanks for bringing in the side of the story that not everyone knows. thanks too for encouraging women to stretch and not isolate themselves in their grief. i found that helpful to stay out with friends and enjoy their joy rather than isolating in my grief. (as if it were possible as a pastor’s wife!) needless to say, i shared this wonderful post.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing and for this encouragement. I can relate to you! Sorry to hear this for you. My husband is 12 years older and well, i’m fertile, but less fertile as I have pcos. So, we haven’t given up yet! But the pain sometimes, seeing others having children and they seem to have it all. Good reminder of this article that I’m not the only one. Thank you so much!

    I pray blessings upon you!

  3. Avatar ashleymarisa says:

    I am childless due to circumstances. While this article is beautiful and I love the advice, I can’t go to church on Mother’s Day anymore. I used to be able to focus on my mother and pour all of my love out on her, but then I lost her too. So now I’m over 40, childless, and motherless. Infertile women or women who have had miscarriages seem to get sympathy. However, when I have revealed that I don’t have children because I’m not married, a lot of women tend to treat me like it’s my fault because “I’m too picky” or “I refused to settle.” Single mothers in particular tend to treat me hostilely as if I’m passing judgment on their choices. Without a support system, Mother’s Day is just too hard.

  4. I love number 5 for the reason we all have pain n yet we act as if our pain is the greatest n only pain in this world. To put our pain aside n focus on our neighbors pain would be what Christ would do n want us to do. Therefore we would be helping them n us. I love this article. It helps me understand my barren friend

  5. Thank you for trying, but this doesn’t help the pain that comes with not being able to have a child. My infertility is the reason my husband and I do not have children. I’m 40 now, and it seems we have to live the rest of our lives with this sentence. For those that speak of other options and adoption, we have already spent over $50k with no success. It’s a painful way to live the rest of your life. My husband married the wrong girl. I am a Christian, but that doesn’t change the way we feel or the pain we carry. The grief is for the loss of a child or children that never was/never were. Nothing else in life is as sweet because this pain is always there. Thank you, though.

    1. Oh, friend.
      I know.
      I have felt all of these things, spent all of the money, cringed at all the advice.
      I have watched God do good things with my dead dreams– but that doesn’t change how horrifying death can be.

      Praying that despite it all– you will know that He is near.

  6. Thank you for this!! As each day goes by I”m beginning to realize I may never be a mommy and I’ve been struggling to be OK with that. This was wonderfully written.

  7. Avatar Sister-in-Christ says:

    I cannot imagine married life without children – coming from a culture that expects women to produce offsprings – and where barrenness is perceived as a curse. Our God will never allow us to be tested or tried beyond our abilities to endure. I salute the courage and faith of those women, who in spite of their infertilities, have withstood the pain by strengthening themselves in God.

  8. As an older single girl (approaching my 37th in the next month), I face a form of infertility, that of not being married in order to be able to have children. The last 25 years of my life have been spent teaching, mentoring, caring for, and discipling other people’s children, a role that I take seriously and joyfully. As the years march on, my trust grows in our Almighty God who does ALL things well! Thank you for your great words of encouragement!

    1. Avatar Sister-in-Christ says:

      Sometimes we think our biological clock is ticking and we’re running out of time. Fact is, He makes everything beutiful in His time….God bless you..

      1. I have many friends in your position and we notice, often, how similar our struggles seem. Praying God’s grace into you and through you as you serve Him. {hugs}

  9. Avatar Jessica W. says:

    Thank you for your tender, encouraging article. My husband and I recently experienced a miscarriage (our first pregnancy) Our trust is in our mighty God, whether He sees fit to give us a child or not. Not easy… but He is faithful! Blessings to you.

    1. Oh, my heart is with you. Walking through a miscarriage is never easy. May you feel His comfort. He is, indeed, faithful!

    2. Ive been there I lost a baby after trying for years. I was so upset but thank god I got pregnant again I was scared to , but I thank god every day for that baby who is now 24

  10. You said it so much better than I could have tried. Last fall I attended a bible study on pride – thinking that I only wanted to go to meet others in my church, to find friends. Oh my. My eyes were opened and my heart exposed. here I thought I was ‘no better then anyone else’ and yet I was judging other pregnant women. It was seriously one of the most heart changing experiences I’ve had.

    May the Lord continue to work through your pain to help others.

    1. Thank you for this, Donielle.

      How wonderful that we have a God who meets us right where we’re at- right in the pain and sorrow- and pulls us higher.

  11. This is really a beautiful post, and I hope that many are encouraged by it.

  12. Totally love that you pointed out the varying levels of pain, especially that women can have children and still mourn those she does not have! Though I had two children, I wanted a dozen. After an adoption fell through, my husband swore to never, ever put us through that kind of pain again (we already had the baby when we had to give him back) which unfortunately shut the door on fostering children, too. I went through all the stages of grief (for the baby we had to give back, and for the others I knew I would never have) and it took years before coming to peace over the fact that I will never have more children. I embraced my inability to have more just like you describe – I’d cry over those I held, and cry over those I saw in stores, and cry when I saw pregnant women, and when my own children “flew the nest” as young adults the cut to my heart was deep. But I have recently signed up with a nanny agency so that I can pour all the love my heart has into little ones who are available right now! Who knows, the Lord may put me in a home that otherwise would never know the light of Christ, and I can share His love with dozens of little ones. Thanks for your honesty and transparency!!

    1. A failed adoption is truly like experiencing a death- only other people don’t always understand.
      So excited about your chance to nanny! Some of the most wonderful years of my life were spent being a nanny to little ones!
      Many, many blessings in this new venture!

  13. Thank you so much for your openess, Natasha. Your wise words really touched me – I am so far behind with accepting my life as it is, still keeping infertility as a secret and avoiding babies. How silly. But everything hurts so much, I try to keep myself safe. I will try to remind your great advice!
    Best to you! Martina

    1. Oh, Martina, I understand! I wish so often to just keep myself safe. Yet in trying to “save” myself I actually am more open to attacks from the enemy. I’ll be praying that you can form a circle of friends to share with who will comfort you and pray with you and offer the fellowship you need to make it through this period of life.

      Many blessings!

  14. Natasha –
    Wow. This is one of the best posts I have read on infertility. I have read so many directed to our friends/family about how to understand infertility, it’s easy to fall into the trap that we can act how we want because WE are the ones going through it. I don’t avoid babies, but I do avoid pregnant bellies. And it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that grieves over an ultrasound photo.

    As mother’s day approaches, being childless does creep up a little stronger. Thank you for your words, thank you for your witness. This year I will put on my pretty dress and kiss babies in the aisles at church.

  15. Natasha, thanks so much for this post. It was very humbling to read, and such a different message from what the “world” tells us. Just recently I was reading the comments section of an article where a woman mentioned struggling with infertility AFTER already having 2 children. Many people thought she was wrong to grieve over not being able to bear any more. But you have shown us an example of love and graciousness in the MIDST of grieving.

    1. Oh, my heart goes out to her! I have several friends who deal with secondary infertility and it is just as painful, perhaps even more so because it seems like they shouldn’t be upset by it.

      My sister-in-law (the one with the twins, actually!) is facing secondary infertility and the truth is that I hurt for her almost more than I hurt for me!

      We must all learn to walk in faith in the midst. May our lives give him glory, above all!

  16. I’m single, but this article was still a blessing to me because when I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Overian Syndrome and the gynecologist informed my mother and I that I may never be able to have children without the help of certain medical procedures. The one good thing is that if I did happen to conceive, there would be a high risk of mulitiple births because of my condition. Now that I’m older, my menstrual cycles is regular (God healed me from PCOS) but there are times in my life when I get sad watching my friends with their babies and it reminds me of what I am missing out on. I know that God’s plan for our lives might be a little different from what we want, but we just have to trust Him to know what is best for us.

    1. Sometimes that trust is so hard to come by! So thankful that you’ve found healing. May you feel him near as you follow…

  17. Natasha,
    I think you have the gift of wisdom. That’s all I need to say. ~ Blessings out to you sister, Amy

  18. This article was such a blessing to me and i can relate to so much that Natasha said. My husband and I had 3 miscarriages within 6 months last year, and each time our blossoming hopes were dashed to pieces and we were left feeling crushed. There was no apparent medical reason, and our doctor simply attributed it to ‘bad luck’. I’ve asked myself so often why does this happen when we love children so much and would do our utmost to train them up in the ways of the Lord?! Why can a drug addict or drunk have children they don’t even want, while our arms stay empty?! Every time I see my husband playing with a child, it tears at my heart knowing how much I want to give him one of his own. But God has been merciful, and over the past months has brought a measure of healing to our hearts, as we acknowledged that He was in control and none of this took Him by surprise. Maybe He knew we weren’t ready for children yet, maybe He wanted to give us more time to build our marriage and focus on each other, maybe He just wanted to see if we would still trust Him even when our heart’s desire was snatched away more than once…or maybe He wanted to give us a reminder of what awaits us in Heaven. Whatever the reason, we can truly say that it has worked together for good. At this point in time, we have no idea if we will ever be blessed with a child here on earth or not…that’s in God’s hands alone, but I am so grateful for the life lesson He ‘s given us in Trusting Him no matter what comes our way.

    1. Oh, Debra, my heart is with you. I’ve experienced one miscarriage and I cannot even imagine three! May the Lord continue to lead and guide you. May you experience his love and his gentle mercies. May you know him more by what you’ve experienced. And may your life reflect him into the world.

      Much love and many blessings. xxooxx

  19. You know how dear this topic is to my heart…beautifully done. You’re things to remember are so spot-on. It isn’t an easy journey and sometimes we do need to take that time to step back and just let ourselves heal, before joining back in the fray.

    I still have hope that someday we’ll have a biological child.

    “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1.37

  20. Natasha,

    Your words struck a chord in my heart. I too struggle with the disappointments of infertility. You went directly to the source of the pain of infertility and give hope and inspiration!

  21. Avatar Sherri Taube says:

    This is beautiful Natasha!!

  22. Tasha this brought tears to my eyes! Wow does God just shine right through and out and all over you! Not to mention the strength and humbleness that just oozes from everything you write! God is so gracious and He knows exactly when and why. Just imagine how many people would have missed this post and would have been lost and hurting with out these words. Its very apparent God has a mighty plan for you and for this time in your life.

    I believe you ARE a great mother, although I don’t know you well I’ve seen you with a few children and you help bring them up and show them right from wrong. You are such a beautiful person and there is so much i can learn from you, you inspire me and also reading your words show me all that i need to fix as well. My heart melts for you and you are in my prayers.

    I know of many times in my life that i cried out for a certain healing in my life and did not understand why i didn’t receive it although I had so much faith that it was in arms reach. It was then that God showed me I needed to go through what I went through. That He’d never give me more than I can handle (although at times i wished He thought I could handle less) I was honored to be trusted. I feel like that may be what God is doing in your life (take what sits with you and if im off just throw it away =) ) but I feel like He trusts you so much to handle this exactly how He needs you to, so you can be the mother He needs you to be to all the children who come your way, to be that voice to all the hurting mothers who dont hold their own babies, and to be that example of humbleness and kindness.

    There are so few like you, such a passion to be just like Jesus. Who knows if God has you waiting for such a time to keep you from even more heart ache of a different situation. Sorry if I make no sense but you are in my prayers and thank you for being so obedient to Gods word!

    ps supernatural childbirth is an AMAZING book i love it!!

    1. Thanks, Cassie, for your encouragement! May we all be used “for such a time as this” and may our lives bring Him glory above all.

  23. Wow! This is a truly incredible post, Natasha! Your words are honest and raw, compassionate and full of truth. Your faith and wisdom continue to astound me. Yes, there is enough pain to go around, even for those of us blessed with children.

  24. Thank- you, thank -you a million times over! This is just what I needed to hear today. Me and my husband are just beginning our infertility journey and it hurts so very much but I am learning that bitterness doesn’t solve the problem. We need to rather cling to He who is in control. Thank you so much again.

    Blessings

    1. Oh, my heart is with you! May you feel His presence as you walk this road. He truly is in control. Blessings!

  25. Thanks for opening up your heart to us! You have always been an inspiration to me and the way you handle yourself. I know it is NOT easy! I’ve never dealt w/ infertility in this way but I did wonder at one point whether or not I’d be a mom after having 3 miscarriages. Obviously, the Lord was gracious to me and I don’t take that for granted. Praying the Lord will bless you w/ children in His time and in the meantime, that you will continue to use your pain for the Glory of God! Blessings to you, Natasha!

  26. Avatar Stephanie says:

    Natasha, I completely agree with all the 5 things you mentioned. I too am infertile, and TOTALLY understand what you have been/are/will be feeling. It’s been nearly 10 years now, and I still occasionally have bad days, but that’s ok. It really is ok to cry about it. But over the years I have learned that God DOES love me, He ISN’T punishing me for past sins, He HASN’T forgotten me, and He DOES have a plan for me! God can turn my tragedies and turn them into triumphs. And He has! God has not chosen me to have any biological babies (at least not yet), but instead He has put into my care other women’s babies, that otherwise would’ve had little hope of being loved and nurtured. God has entrusted my husband and I with so much! I have come to the place in my journey, where more often than not, I can say that I am so grateful that God chose infertility for us! Don’t get me wrong, if God blessed us with bio-babies, I will be extremely happy. And like I said, I still do have the occasional bad day. Especially with your #4. But if it weren’t for infertility, we never would’ve had, or taken, the opportunity God gave us to adopt our 5 beautiful babies! I don’t know where your infertility-journey is going to take you, but this I know- God will (and is) use this to bring glory to His name. He will turn your tragedy into triumph if you let Him, and it sounds like you already are. It’s all how you look at it. May God bless you and your husband, and open your eyes to those blessings along your journey, Tasha!

    1. Isn’t it amazing how God gives us a mother’s heart and then opens our eyes to opportunities? I haven’t been able to adopt yet (hopefully someday!) but I am so very thankful that five little ones have found family in your arms.

      May it all be for His glory!

  27. This is truly touching, I have two children of my own and have not had to deal with infertility, but I have had my own battles that seem to stick around everyday. I have to believe that God works everything out for the good of those who love him and are called. I know he will for all the women who have struggles especially like this. This was very touching for me with the situation I am in so thank you for letting God use you to touch others and to better his kingdom!!

  28. Tasha,
    Your are without a doubt, truly a blessing. God speaks to me through you. You are blessed with the words to say, and it always seems to be just what I need to hear. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It’s what I needed to hear. In more ways than one!

  29. Dear Natasha,

    I believe it is not easy to share something so personal, so thank you very much for your transparency and openness.
    With all due respect I would like to tell you this (and please take it as an encouragement, nothing else): If we believe in Jesus then God has the last Word in our lives, not the doctors. His Word is greater than the doctor’s report. “Whose report do you believe?” (Isaiah 53, 1). Deut 7, 14 says, “there shall not be male or female barren among you”. It is not God’s will for you to be infertile. There are so many scriptures that promise us fruitfulness. I encourage you to search the Bible for them and claim what is yours by your heritage in Christ. We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Meditate on the Word of God until His promise becomes greater than the negatve word’s that have been spoken about you. Start speaking His Word about your situation. Refuse anything that is not of God in your life. God has not changed and He still makes the barren woman to be a joyful mother of children. I highly recommend to your the book “Supernatural Childbirth” by Terri and Jackie Mize.
    In Christ, Laura

    1. Laura- thank you for your encouragement! I agree, absolutely, that with God all things are possible! God once said to me, I’m the God of the impossible and what I want to do in you, is take this impossible dream and make it an impossible dream come true. (that was about producing a husband when I was working overseas and wasn’t around any men that were “possibilities” but I think it applies here too, don’t you agree?)

      I think there are times to face head-on what could be while trusting with everything in us that God will take our broken dreams and make beauty. In my life, this list of things is my step of faith. I don’t want to give God a “to-do” list- I want to believe and trust that he will make all things new.

      And I want to be willing and able to accept if “all things new” means the little ones who spend everyday in my home and the nieces and nephews who squeal when they see me and the tough-hurting teenager who calls me Mom are the children my heart is longing for. Even while, for now, I still cling to the hope of “someday”.

      I will definitely look into that book! Thank you so much for the suggestion!!!

      Blessings!

      1. Avatar Anonymous says:

        Your faith inspires me. God can do ANYTHING! I’m not around any men that are possibilities but if God wants me to get married, it will happen, right?
        I believe the same for babies… may His Will be done in our lives and to HIm be the glory.
        Praying for you!

      2. Tasha,
        Your response to this comment reminded me of a verse that a friend shared with me when I was REALLY struggling with my infertility … Psalm 113:9

        He gives the childless woman a family,
        making her a happy mother.
        Praise the Lord!

        She viewed it as a promise that I would, in His perfect timing, have babies of my own. I came to realize that was not what it meant! There are so many children in our world who need adults who are willing to love and nurture them. Some who need to be fostered, others adopted, and others whose parents have to work, etc.

        I did have 1 miracle baby. 10 years of infertility before he was born and 23 since (not that I’m anxious to change that these days). I also had the privilege of raising 2 of my 3 step-kids. The truth is that I had those kids during those first 10 years. I just couldn’t appreciate them because I wanted a biological child so badly that I missed the gift of what I already had!

        You are not doing that and I am so proud of you! Honored to call you my friend!

        1. Thank you for your encouragement, Beth! May we all be aware of the little ones around us that need to know of Christ’s love…

    2. You have to remember that parts of the Bible were written to a specific group of people, with a specific message for their time. Not every single verse in the Bible applies to the here and now. While God does promise to always be there for us, the Fall still happened, and this world is not perfect. What about those who suffer with disease? I’m pretty sure that makes God sad, as does infertility. But he doesn’t promise to take away all disease until we reach Heaven.

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