National Infertility Awareness Week : Day 4 : Control

SINCE THIS WEEK IS NATIONAL INFERTILITY AWARENESS WEEK WE HAVE PICKED A WORD FOR EACH DAY TO FOCUS ON AND BRING TO LIGHT. THESE WORDS WILL REPRESENT A STRUGGLE OR EMOTION THAT WOMEN DEALING WITH INFERTILITY MAY BE FACING. IT IS OUR HOPE THAT THESE WORDS WILL RESONATE WITH YOU. MAY YOU FIND ENCOURAGEMENT BY HEARING SOMEONE ELSE’S EXPERIENCES OR BETTER UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR FRIENDS/FAMILY MIGHT BE GOING THROUGH. 

Getting pregnant and having a baby always seemed so easy...

I mean, we’re constantly hearing about friends, family members, and even celebrities having children – not to mention all the unwanted pregnancy or teen pregnancy statistics that are thrown around day in and day out. So for many of us, the reality of infertility is not only devastating and painful, it’s also shocking.

The reality is that the chances of a “normal” couple becoming pregnant are approximately 20% every month. TWENTY PERCENT. That’s it. Consider what you would think if your doctor recommended a surgery for you that had a 20% success rate. Would you do it? Probably not. And that statistic doesn’t take couples facing infertility into account – my stat, according to my doctor, was somewhere around 2-4% each month. Basically, the act of conception should be considered a miracle each and every time, and the definition of a miracle is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”. The bottom line is this:

Getting pregnant is out of your control, and in God’s control.

The desire to be “in control” is not something that’s limited to dealing with infertility, but when you are on that journey the need to feel as though you have any kind of control over the situation can be overwhelming and pervasive.  As a self-proclaimed control freak I believe you have to identify where in our lives we are being controlling whether consciously or unconsciously. So we’re you being a control freak?  It’s harder than it sounds – there are lots of tricky ways we try and control our lives (and fertility) that aren’t immediately obvious.  For example, when we try and place blame for our infertility – on ourselves (waiting too long to start a family, making bad decisions earlier in life, not being healthy enough, being too focused on ourselves or our career, etc) or on God (I’ve been a good Christian, do I need to pray more, why is this happening to me?). Blaming  is actually a form of trying to retake control of the situation. If our infertility is [which it is NOT] because of something that we did, didn’t do, or need to do, then we can influence (i.e. control) the situation. 

It’s easy to try and maintain the illusion of control in our infertility journey when it comes to medical interventions and treatments. Making plans with the doctor and taking medication made me feel like I had taken charge of my infertility, when in reality no amount of doctor’s visits, injections, procedures, or prescriptions were enough to put me “in charge” of my fertility. What I was trying to do was help God instead of trusting Him. I say that not to imply that no one should seek medical help with dealing with infertility – quite the opposite, in fact, as we only had success in getting pregnant through IVF. But medical invention in infertility should be a process that works through following God’s lead, not trying to walk beside or in front of Him in case He doesn’t come through. Knowing that ONLY God NOT medicine can truly create a human (baby) life.

So what happens when you want to let go of control, and you try to let go, but it just doesn’t happen?

When something hits us in our lives that is as deeply emotional and personal as infertility, it’s our human instinct to hold on to those emotions, fears, and dreams tightly.  This, too, is part of trying to stay in control. Personally, I had to come to a place through our four years of infertility to release my tight grip on those kinds of deep feelings to allow myself to come to a place where I could open my hands (in release and surrender) and give up those emotions and that control back to God. 

Most everyone knows the Serenity Prayer, but for anyone who may not have heard it before, the widely popular version goes like this:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

But did you know that that’s not the whole prayer?

The conclusion of the Serenity Prayer is this: 

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace,

And taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it:

Trusting that He will make all things right If I surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

I don’t know about you, but learning the rest of the Serenity Prayer completely changed the way I thought about it.  It becomes a prayer of surrender and of a beautiful release of control to the One who is (and has been) in control the whole time anyway.  It’s a daily, hourly, sometimes even minute-to-minute decision that can feel overwhelming and impossible as your heart breaks over and over again, but that will ultimately leave your soul comforted in the loving hands of the Creator.  

He has not forgotten about you, even though sometimes it feels that way as we travel through this desert.  He loves you – just open your hands, let go, and receive it to the ONLY ONE who is in CONTROL of it ALL!

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let you be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22

- thanks to Kate Lawrence for sharing her story and writing Day 4.

Infertility Awareness Week Series Posts: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6

-Waiting in HOPE- National Infertility Awareness Week : Day 4 : Control