When Stacey learned she was facing infertility, she tried everything from advanced treatments to praying for a miracle. And when everything failed, she was pushed to the edge of her hope. Here is her story of what brought her through that darkness.
You know the saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” Let me just say: that’s malarkey.
Navigating the journey of infertility — I tried to handle it myself. I threw myself into restrictive diets and invasive surgeries. I submitted to incessant charting and persistent self-observation. I tried listless medications and supplements. I abandoned my trust in science, allowing myself to believe that if I was just strong enough to endure through it, God would take pity on me. I prayed for a miracle.
I believed that I had what it took to persist in the face of infertility, but self-reliance and seeking greater control could only take me so far. And when this approach reached a limit, it started to lead me into depression.
Make no mistake, this is not to claim that the medicine and prayers I pursued on the journey of infertility were irrelevant or not important. The problem lay in the way I pursued them and leaned on these tools as a solution to my suffering. I finally found hope when I abandoned what I thought I needed to be happy and — with the help of therapy and prayer — began to search for something deeper.
The reality is that not every woman on this planet will be given a child — even if she desires it, even if she would be an amazing biological mother, even if she is a faithful woman. There is still space in my life for the gift of a biological child, but God has chosen me right now to bear the cross of infertility.
With the help of professional counseling, I recognized this suffering does not impact my own identity as a beloved daughter of God, which has realigned my self-view. It has helped me to believe that God only has good gifts to give me — even in my suffering.
I grew up with a strong stigma against counseling. I carried the misconception that counselors could not be trusted because they were not in tune with important values. Additionally, my understanding was that counseling was only for those on the verge of suicide or severe mental health issues. I’ve come to realize that these misconceptions are far from the truth.
Seeking counseling was an act of faith. It was a way to admit I could not handle everything I was facing. It was a movement of surrendering my own self-reliance. Through counseling, I learned to recognize my experience of suffering as valid, and to respond to it by putting my life in God’s hands. I learned to invite God into my experience of infertility — to order my life around God’s will, not my own.
Finding the right counselor or therapist was essential for me. If you are pursuing good counseling, the Church in your area may offer a service to connect individuals with vetted counselors; you can also consult online directories. What’s most important is that you feel your counselor respects your values, challenges you to grow, and that you find some feelings of relief within a few sessions. If you do not find yourself harmonizing in these matters, don’t be afraid to search for a new counselor. Be patient with yourself.
Navigating infertility threatened my spiritual well-being just as much as my emotional wellness. I was tempted to feel abandoned by God. There is also a lack of understanding in our culture of the suffering and real pain involved in this kind of grief. On my journey, I’ve found real community and support from faith-based organizations walking with people like me. These ministries gave me space to grieve, to find validation for suffering, and to heal within a community.
The experience of infertility can be so isolating, so to be able to connect with others who are further along the path, or those just receiving a diagnosis, was a real comfort. I promise that there are people who know what you are going through, who want you to know that you are not alone, and who are waiting to walk with you. I promise even on the darkest of days, there is always a reason for hope.
I had to learn to let go of all worldly hope — even hope for a pregnancy — and there were days when just getting out of bed felt like an insurmountable task. But when I let go of pursuing what I wanted at all costs, I found a deeper, truer form of hope: the hope that I have all I need in God’s love, which is eternal. The hope that God’s love is enough for me.