What You Don’t Know (about infertility)

This past week was a different sort of birthday/anniversary for my husband and me. It was the birth and death of our second daughter, Ashley. I’ve shared here on the blog about her and what happened. She was delivered on July 2nd and buried on the 7th. That was 28 years ago. I don’t share it to bring sorrow or sympathy, but just as a reminder that she is a part of our lives that we will never forget.

Not only is there a memory of her delivery and burial, but there was a continuing part of our story that was also difficult that I’ll always remember. It’s called Secondary Infertility. It took me a couple of years after she died to feel ready for another baby. I was fearful if we had another child too soon it would feel like we were simply replacing Ashley. My heart couldn’t bear that thought. So we waited and prayed. Then we waited some more because

I couldn’t get pregnant.

It was difficult, but we did have our older daughter, Whitney and we were loving raising her and watching her grow.

Well-meaning people began to ask us questions:

When are you going to have another baby? You don’t want Whitney to be raised alone!”

But they didn’t know. Our struggles were nowhere in their thoughts.

Some people who didn’t know about Ashley would ask why we weren’t having more children and the pain of her death would cut our hearts wide open. But they didn’t know. Surely had they known they would not have asked such hurtful and personal questions.

Since those difficult days I have refrained from asking any woman any questions about why she was or wasn’t having a baby because I don’t know all the facts. Some women are aching inside for a child but cannot conceive. Some have physical issues that they’re dealing with. Some have had a miscarriage or multiple losses and the wound is fresh in their heart and in their womb. Asking them “When are you going to have a baby?!” only emphasizes her emptiness and causes the wound to bleed once again.

Making comments – even sweetly – about how adorable a woman looks with a baby in her arms and making suggestions that it’s “her turn” is making assumptions that could be totally incorrect.

  • You’re assuming she could get pregnant if she wanted to.
  • You’re assuming that it’s just as easy as wanting it to happen, when it could be a monthly struggle instead.

Proverbs 10:19 says, In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

On behalf of every woman out there who is struggling with infertility in any degree, let’s use wisdom and not ask the questions that are in our thoughts  Let’s refrain our lips instead and just pray for God’s will in that family’s life.

Because there are things that we don’t know,  let’s use wisdom instead and show what we do know – if we talk too much we could not only sin, but we might also open a wound that very well might be hidden in her heart.  You never know.

Thanks for letting me share my burden about this.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

With love and a healed heart,

20 thoughts on “What You Don’t Know (about infertility)”

  1. Truer words were never spoken Denise. I never comment on that issue to another young woman. My own sister struggled with infertility and she got a lot of those same comments which crushed her heart. She tried Clomid but felt IVF was not something she could do so she told God that she was giving this up to HIM. If she never had any children, that was ok. A year or so later she found out she was pregnant( at five months as she did not think she could be pregnant!!). We call my niece, Laura, our miracle baby. She is 17 now and such a blessing to her parents and our family. My heart goes out to you in your loss Denise. I can only imagine the pain. Blessings on you today my sweet blog friends.

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  2. I read an article about this several years ago & have tried to refrain from making these comments ever since (though I’m sure I’ve failed at times).
    Thank you for sharing this with us & for the reminder.

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  3. Thank you for this, Denise! I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked about our “family status.” And though I know every time the person asking/commenting was well-meaning, they spoke from a position where they didn’t know what we were dealing with, or had been through. Definitely good things for everyone to keep in mind!!

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    1. Yes, people mean well, they’re just not mindful of others’ situations. May we all learn to be sensitive in even other situations that are similar – singleness, joblessness, etc. Thanks for sharing, Jane!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this! I had many hurtful things said to me during our years of struggling with infertility and multiple miscarriages. One thing God taught me through all that is exactly what you’ve expressed here: being so cautious with my words to other women about having children. A loving, Grace-filled comment can go so far to help heal some of the hurt, but a careless comment or question can totally crush a woman dealing with this. Thanks for being open about this!

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    1. As you said, Bethany, the Lord teaches us so much in situations like this. I pray that I won’t waste what the Lord taught me during that time, and I pray that others will learn to be more careful of what they say. I’m so sorry for your losses and the pain you’ve endured. Won’t heaven be a wonderful reunion?!

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  5. Thank you. I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 17 years and we are unable to have children. What we have “tried”, our reasons for not adopting, etc., are commonly asked questions and they hurt. I’m surprised by how many otherwise tender-hearted women can be thoughtless in this way. But God uses even this to His glory.

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    1. I’m so sorry, Bonnie. One Day we’ll understand, but for now, I pray the Lord will fill the ache in your heart with His sweet presence and comfort. Praying for you now.

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  6. My daughters struggle with this issue and I pray for each of them that in God’s chosen time, they will know the joy of giving birth to a child. One has been blessed by being able to adopt.

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    1. It can be hard for the Grandma’s, too, who get comments from people. Prayer is the best thing you can give to your daughters – you’re a smart lady! Thanks for your comment.

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  7. Denise this made me think back to when we were so Blessed to join yours and pastors ministry at First Baptist Church in Cambridge. If I remember right it was about the time Allison was born. As you know we’ve never been Blessed with a child, for some reason the Lord never chose to allow us to have a child, but thanks to you and Pastor and many of the wonderful ladies in our ministry, I never missed out on knowing what having children in our lives would have been like.I have many wonderful memories of holding, singing an loving on Alli, as well as have a wonderful little girl like Whitney in my life. I am so proud of the wonderful young women they have become. I couldn’t love those two more if they were my own. God also gave me the opportunity to mother a child with special needs and because her mom Caryn was willing to share her baby girl with me. You and Caryn and many of the mothers at Grace Baptist church shared your babies with me. I don’t know why God never chose to give me a baby of my own, but he certainly blessed me with a mothers heart and friends willing to share their babies with me. Yes, it was painful for a long time, especially when I would go to a new momma’s- to-be baby shower, but thanks to you and the other ladies of our church, I was able to come to acceptance of never having my own child. I guess the most important thing I could tell other mothers who were so Blessed, is to try to remember not everyone is so fortunate, and open your hearts and share your children with those who would love to have a child. I will always be eternally grateful to you and Pastor, Caryn Combs and all the wonderful women/mothers of Grace Baptist Church.

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    1. What a sweet testimony, Becky. Thank you for sharing your heart and opening up that wound so we could understand a bit better. You were a blessing to my girls when they were young as you stepped in to be their “Aunt Becky.” I never worried a minute when they were in your care!
      I know you loved Kelsey, too, and I’m sure Caryn is as grateful as I am to have had you in her daughter’s life.
      Hugs to you, my friend.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this and although this may seem like just a female concern it is not. There is the male side that can be just as hard. We thank God for the two children we have had and tried a few different measures but ultimately gave it up to trust that we either had the family we were supposed to have or God would bless us with more. More never came. Many times I thought it was me. Many times she thought it was her. We would question, cry and pray. Looking back, I think I would have liked to have prayed more together but we were still willing to trust and perhaps there would be grandchildren. In the mean time we give where we can and enjoy the company of those around us with children and always take the opportunity to cuddle and play when we can.

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    1. Thank you for sharing the male side of this issue, Glenn. I’m sure it’s just as hard for guys. We need to be just as sensitive and careful with our words when talking to men. Thank you!

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  9. I’m late reading this, Denise … just spotted it in your “most popular of 2015” post. But oh, it is so true. When our kids got married I settled it with God that it was okay with me if there were never any grandchildren. I resolved that I would never be like some parents or parents-in-law who pleaded with their kids to “give us grandchildren!”. By God’s grace I have never been one who would ask people why they didn’t have babies or when it would be “their turn”. I’ve come to recognize that there can be all sorts of reasons why people don’t have children — and also that it’s really none of my business.

    Our younger daughter suffered a miscarriage with her first pregnancy and we were all amazed at how many other women came “out of the woodwork” to share stories of their own miscarriages. People we had never known that about. It really blessed and encouraged all of us to know that this had happened to many folks we knew — and that they were willing to share their stories to encourage someone else. (This same daughter now has six children.)

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart on this … and I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter Ashley. What a joy to know you will see her again someday!

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    1. Thank you. The Lord was so precious and His grace sufficient during Ashley’s death. Yes, our reunion is something I greatly anticipate! And You will meet a grandbaby in heaven! 🙂

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