Meet Natalie! She struggled with secondary infertility for 2 years and now has twins thanks to IVF!
Do you think your infertility journey has shaped the way you parent? Yes. Definitely. Since I experienced secondary infertility I know what it has been like to parent a child that I didn’t struggle to have verses parenting my twins who I struggled to conceive. This time around I am SO much more grateful for my kids. I feel like I’m less uptight about things not going my way and have an overall sense of gratefulness. I used to get frustrated when I didn’t get “me” time and while I still have that feeling occasionally it is short lived and followed by feelings of thankfulness and humbleness that God in his grace would allow us to have more children. I would not say that I am more lenient but I do think that my appreciation for my kids runs very deep now. I try not to ever complain about “hard days” because hard days with my kids are a million times sweeter than any day without them.
What would you like women/couples who don’t experience infertility to know about infertility? This is tough. Some people just don’t know how hurtful some of the simplest questions/comments can be. I tried very hard to have patience and grace with people, especially strangers who didn’t know we were struggling but who would say hurtful things. People would ask us when we were going to have more kids or they would tell us time was ticking and we better hurry up and have more kids. They assumed that since we had one kid that we could have more. I never ask “kid” questions anymore. I steer clear of, “Do you have any kids?” or “When are you going to have kids?” I think it is important that fertile people put themselves in our situation. Empathy always helps people to be more sensitive. I would want fertile people to know and understand that it is hard for infertile women to attend baby showers and scroll through instagram and see all the “ooops we’re pregnant again!” announcements. Birth announcements are hard, and all holidays are difficult as they pose as reminders of how much better they would be with a baby. As a woman who struggled with secondary infertility it was very difficult to avoid babies and moms and pregnant women. I was surrounded by it because it was part of my life. I would say to be sensitive when announcing pregnancy to friends who are struggling. For me, it was always best if a friend told me privately that they were pregnant. It gave me time to process it on my own and not be surprised and hurt by it on social media. And joking around about how “easily you got pregnant (all he has to do is look at me)” can be super hurtful. Keep it to yourself! Oh, and suggesting adoption was not helpful either. Don’t try to fix the situation…just listen! And sometimes people would say, “At least you have one kid.” That was not helpful. My heart’s desire was to have more and I felt incomplete. It’s like telling someone who lost an arm, “At least you have one arm still.” Not helpful.
What was the hardest part of this journey for you? Oh goodness. There was so much! I think one of the hardest things for me was not knowing the outcome. I was so exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually. There were times that I just wanted to know if I wasn’t going to be able to have more kids so I could start processing that and healing and moving on with my life. With infertility there is so much waiting every single month. There were months that I got positive pregnancy tests only to discover that I would have a chemical pregnancy (early miscarriage) and would have to start all over again next month. I didn’t understand why God would give me that false hope only to take it away. I spent a lot of time angry at Him, questioning His love for me and His goodness. I doubted His plan for my life and felt forgotten by Him. My faith was rocked and I can truly say I hit rock bottom during those years. Infertility was all-consuming. There was not one moment that I wasn’t thinking about it (partly because you have to be so in tune with your body so it’s impossible to ignore). I felt as though my daughter was suffering because I was so focused on getting pregnant again and going to a million doctor’s appointments that she took a back seat. I found myself unable to truly enjoy things with her because I was so burdened by not being able to get pregnant. It was horrible. I hated that my time with her was spent with my heart being heavy in the background. It was also painful to know that she so desperately wanted siblings and that I couldn’t provide that for her. I was so desperate to fix the situation and yet at the same time I was so overwhelmed because I knew it was out of my control. With infertility there is no control. You realize how helpless you are. In retrospect this was a good thing because it showed me how much I needed Jesus. I was/am helpless and can only get through this life with His strength!
My marriage was also tested and my poor husband… I don’t know how he endured my craziness! Our sex life was robotic and frustrating.
What brought you hope during your journey? Ultimately, Jesus. It certainly helped hearing other people’s success stories but that could only take me so far because that was their story, not mine. I had to seriously sit down and ask myself, “If I never have more children, is Jesus enough?” And if I’m honest, some days He wasn’t. Some days I hurt so badly that even having a Savior wasn’t enough. I’m ashamed to even write that. Over time I came around and started to trust Him again and put my hope in Him again. But it took quite some time. I didn’t understand why He wasn’t blessing me with more kids when I was doing my best to obey Him. But it wasn’t about obeying Him. It was about my heart. And the Lord knew that He did not have my heart and that my eyes needed to be opened to this. And if infertility was the way He had to show me that I was putting my desire for kids above my relationship with Him (and my desire to glorify Him) then something had to be done. Towards the end of my infertility journey I finally started accepting and trusting that He was enough. That He would be enough regardless of my circumstances. I had to wrestle with questions like, “If God took away my husband and my daughter would I still put my hope in Him and trust in Him?” I finally realized that I already had the greatest gift anyone could ask for: eternal life. And I didn’t deserve it! I went from thinking that God “owed” me to recognizing that I deserved nothing from Him but He in his goodness had grace on me and had other plans. Every day I see my kids’ faces I am filled with thankfulness and humbled by my undeserved grace. I pray that if my circumstances were not this fortunate that I would still sing songs of praise and joy because no one can take away my salvation and all glory is owed to Him.
In what ways has infertility changed you and affected your life? It has certainly opened my eyes to see others who are hurting in the same way. I have vowed to make my story known in hopes that I can encourage others who are struggling. I refuse to keep this journey to myself. When I was struggling I searched high and low for other people who had gone through this as well and desperately wanted to talk to someone who would understand. I am passionate about walking alongside other women who are going through infertility and lifting them up. I have boldly shared my story on Instagram and my blog in hopes that others will not feel alone. What good does it do to go through such a trial and not use it for good?!
And obviously infertility has created an appreciation of my children that just wouldn’t be there had I not struggled to have them. One of my favorite things that a fellow infertile mama said once was, ” I hear these moms who complain about how they have to drink their coffee cold every morning because their kids don’t give them a second to drink it hot. What I would give to drink cold coffee for the rest of my life.” She finally did get pregnant by the way and she proudly enjoyed her cold coffee! Perspective is HUGE. Walk humbly and be grateful!
Want to contact Natalie? www.natyouraveragegirl.com