Invisible Loss: Understanding the Pain of Infertility

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I originally wrote this in 2017, before we adopted our incredible baby girl in 2019. Since her adoption, the pain of infertility has been greatly soothed with the salve of love and presence and unspeakable joy. The Lord truly has restored “the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). Nevertheless, this post has meaning, and I pray it continues to serve those who read it. If you are struggling with infertility, know you are not alone; you are, to the degree shared experience allows, understood, and you have hope in Christ who will wipe your every tear and swallow up death in life (1 Cor 5:4).

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My wife is infertile. We will be married five years this October, and we’ve been trying the whole time. The causes are complex; they affect more than her fertility; and solving one will not solve the others. The doctors want her to schedule a hysterectomy, because her quality of life is so low, but giving up is not yet an option for us. So, we continue with treatments. If there’s anything we’ve learned on this path, it’s that infertility is hard. In so many ways, it’s hard – emotionally, relationally, physically. Infertility leaves no facet of life untouched. It’s pervasive and defining.

But why is it so hard? That’s a difficult question to answer, and that’s part of the problem. Our inability to answer that question is at the very root of infertility’s relational pain. I wonder if we consider seriously enough the link between the depth of our knowledge of a person and the quality of our love for that person. If I can’t understand you, how well can I really love you? Consider this quote from Francis Schaeffer:

 Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him…The reason we do it is that the one before us is the image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique in the world. This kind of communication is not cheap. To understand and speak to…people is costly. It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressure. Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to the person to whom we are talking. (The God Who Is There, Schaeffer, Francis, p. 120)

That is the kind of love to which God has called his children. 

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