When my wife and I got married, we said what a lot of couples say. You know, that line about waiting a few years to have kids. We wanted to focus on each other first. Seems like a nice idea for a newlywed couple in their early twenties, right? But, a few years quickly turned into five, and we started wondering. Does God not want me to have kids? Then five turned into nearly 10. That’s when we started getting scared. We needed God’s help to overcome a lot of comparison, discomfort, and anger. There was a lot we didn’t know back then, and I’d bet there’s a lot you might not know about people experiencing infertility.
It’s so easy to play the comparison game.
I’m not sure how familiar you are with American geography, but I live in what a lot of people call the Bible belt. And with that can come some assumptions about life stages. It might go a little something like this: graduate high school, go to college, get married, have kids. Then have more kids.
When my experience was different, it got very easy to start comparing.
Honestly, I wish my wife and I could have just checked off those boxes—in that order—just like so many of our friends did. But God had other plans for what our path would look like. In the day-to-day moments, my wife and I could lean on each other, confident in how our process was different. But, it definitely wasn’t always that easy. There were difficult times, too, when I’d find myself thinking about how easy other couples must have it or being angry at God for making it so hard.
It gets weird.
When people expect your life to follow a prescribed pattern and it doesn’t, they start asking questions like, “When are y’all going to start having kids? You’ve been married a while, right?”
From my experience, most people default to thinking it’s our choice. Like we chose to wait 10 years to have kids. Fair enough. Many do, but my wife and I didn’t. And, in most social settings, we didn’t really know what to answer without getting weird. Should we launch into recounting dozens of doctor’s appointments, months of awkward tests, and painful late-night conversations where we began to doubt the very idea of having kids if it’s gonna be so hard right here at your backyard barbecue?
It’s really, really hard.
Are you sensing a theme yet? You got it. There’s comparison. Jealousy. Insecurity. Fear. Anger at God. This whole process carries a lot of pain that’s just plain hard to overcome. It was hard facing the unknown when we couldn’t get pregnant. It was hard visiting multiple doctors and going through all the uncomfortable tests. And it was really hard coming to terms with the fact that at the end of it all, it was me. I was born with a condition that was keeping us from being able to have kids.
In that moment, facing a fork in the road, I had a decision to make. I could either pout and, full of sin and pride, declare that I don’t want kids if they’re not my own. Or, I could thank God for how blessed I am and realize that fathering children and being a daddy are two different things. I mean, as a friend of mine once told me, it only takes a few seconds to become a father, but you get to be a daddy for a lifetime.
Ultimately, it was in that difficult time when I really needed to lean on God for patience, peace, and whatever amount of understanding He chose to show me. And, I came to realize whatever plan God had for me, my wife, and our future family, it was going to be far beyond what I could ask or imagine. I stopped asking, “Does God not want me to have kids?” Instead, we started asking, “What do You have for us, God?”
During our 10-year journey to get pregnant, my wife and I were able to overcome a lot of things: fear, insecurity, anger, comparison. And we couldn’t have done it without seeking God or without the support of our family and friends.
How can you help someone like my friends and family helped me?
- Be sensitive. Don’t assume everyone’s journey looks the same. We can make a plan, but God’s is always better. Proverbs 16:9
- Be there. When someone invites you into their journey, be ready. Be ready to offer support, prayer, or whatever your friend or family member might need. Jude 1:20
- Be Understanding. It’s okay if they aren’t ready to talk about it. Remember, this process is hard. Everyone will approach it at their own pace. Proverbs 17:17
- Ask. Ask what someone might need or how you might be able to help. Sometimes we’re tired and we could really use help with a tangible need. Sometimes all we need is spiritual support—which brings me to my next point. Galatians 6:2
- Pray. It may not seem like it at first, but this is the most effective way you can help. God has proven to me time and time again that He is a God of answered prayers. Psalm 6:9