Research shows that an infertility diagnosis can cause the same level of physiological stress as that of terminal cancer. Here Rhythm of Hope’s Sarah Lang, offers insight into the pain of trying for a child and encouragement for those losing hope.
Couples experiencing infertility are thrown into an unwelcome, often unexpected and immensely private world of uncertainty, complex emotions, and unfamiliar and intrusive medical assessments. Those experiencing infertility will often journey a rare and isolating type of grief. A grief that unlike others, often gets worse over time rather than better. And it can vary greatly between husband and wife in the way it presents itself and it’s impact on us.
Whether it’s primary or secondary infertility and for whatever reason - it is a devastating diagnosis for many.
Research has shown that the physiological stress response to a diagnosis of infertility is the same as that of a diagnosis of HIV or terminal cancer. This is very validating, as it calls out the intense pain this diagnosis causes in the very core of who we are, as we long and wait for a baby.
While science has so much to offer, there are absolutely no guarantees of a pregnancy, or a full term pregnancy leading to the delivery of a healthy baby. The adoption route is also one with many twists and turns and again does not always promise a child.
Infertility is a very real issue and yet so often not spoken about. Even within the church. For many couples, juggling faith and infertility is an additional layer of challenge - and the church environment can be both healing and yet sometimes wounding too - when surrounded by families and young children, or grappling with the subject of unanswered prayers and the mystery of miracles and healings.
For many couples, juggling faith and infertility is an additional layer of challenge - and the church environment can be both healing and yet sometimes wounding too.
Many Christian couples will not only wrestle with their diagnosis and prognosis but also with the moral, ethical and theological issues surrounding fertility treatment choices or other options of building family.
The expectations of friends, family, communities, workplace settings etc to ‘have a baby’ are so deeply ingrained in our society couples will soon become experts at fending off intrusive comments and questions with a well rehearsed response which may on the surface seem slick, and yet each time will wound, ache and bring pain to the one scrambling for the words and eyeing up the nearest quick exit point.
We experienced a 20 year journey of infertility and in that time traversed the valleys and near summits in a never ending monthly cycle of hope, and disappointment… it was utterly crushing. We did however, come to know the Lord and His loving kindness so personally, so powerfully and so perfectly over those years - and the depths of His love for us in those times, his nearness and on reflection His utter sovereignty over us and over it all was never in question. We didn’t doubt that God could work a physical miracle of healing in my body, but we did not know with certainty that he would. And that was always the sticking point.
We soon came to learn through those we met experiencing the same agonies of infertility that ‘miracles’ come in many forms, and not always the form of a tiny baby in your arms. The miracle of conception sometimes yes. The miracle of adoption. The miracle of a successful assisted fertility treatment. And sometimes the Grace drenched miracle of finding the strength to say enough is enough, and to stop trying for a family - and start to build a new future as a family without children. It’s can be so damaging to follow the ‘never give up’ cliché!
The Lord didn’t promise to bring us all ‘a hope and a baby’ but he did promise us all a hope and a future.
The Lord didn’t promise to bring us all ‘a hope and a baby’ but he did promise us all a hope and a future. He promised us life in all its fulness. And we are most certain that there is a wonderful meaningful fulfilling life to be lived even if the story isn’t written in the way we’d have penned it.
Because of our own heartbreak and at the time a huge void in terms of support and resources out there for Christian couples in the UK at the time we followed a nudge from the Lord to make our very private story more public, and started The Rhythm of Hope.
An annual retreat day for Christian couples experiencing infertility. We tailored the day as we’d have wanted it! And we’ve had the most special time at each event over the past six years - full of couples from all over the UK wanting to meet with and hear from the Lord. The day provides practical and biblical insights - and we have a wonderful team of speakers who will share their own stories and bring a message of hope.
Our next event is January 29th, we’d love to welcome you there www.therhythmofhope.co.uk