Disclaimer: The following words are NOT warm and fuzzy. They won’t leave you feeling giggly and cheery. But they are *NOT* intended to hurt you, insult you, make you feel guilty, etc. They are meant to share our testimony and to educate you on a situation we pray you’ll never find yourself in. To help you show Christ’s love to other couples in this situation. This is not the view of every couple struggling with infertility, but many of us do share these feelings… if you fear you will become defensive, insulted, or adverse in any way to what we are about to say, please stop reading. If you feel you can continue with an open mind, open heart and take what nuggets you may find… here is our story. 

Us, celebrating 6 years of marriage!

 

This story isn’t an easy one to write. It hasn’t been an easy one to live either. But I’ve promised myself and God that I would share it. This isn’t written to make anyone feel bad, or to edify ourselves. It’s written because its something people don’t talk about – it’s something many don’t ever even think about. And because of this, many people inadvertently hurt those around them without realizing it through their actions, words, and more. What am I talking about?

Infertility.

Such an ugly word – one it took me a long time to even be able to say. One that took even longer for me to realize described an aspect of my husband and I …. We struggle with infertility.

 

Our story began from the beginning of our relationship. I like to say Oliver and I dated with “purpose” – we knew we wanted to marry and we wanted to have a family together from day one. We had our plan in mind – dating, engagement, marriage, celebrate our 2 year anniversary, start our family. We would have a few children, then adopt a few, wanting 5-6 children in all. Moves, health scares, the world’s longest house purchasing process and job changes pushed back our dates. But very early in 2010 we were excited to begin working on a family. I had watched an amazing woman of God go through infertility and the pain it caused her. So Oliver and I chose to tell very few people that we were starting a family. I thank the Lord above for that decision, because what came next was one of the darkest valleys we’ve had to walk through. ..

A few months into the “process” we realized this wasn’t going to be easy… my health had been a concern for some time, and it was simply getting worse. The next year involved tests, specialists, scans, medications, etc. The best meeting is when I met with a “fertility endocrinologist” who promised me she was going to help me get to the bottom of everything. Finally! Hope! Then a week later a family emergency resulted in her moving away. The next doctor I met with was the worst experience we’d had yet… he said some ugly words in that meeting. “PCOS”, “diabetes medications to trick your body”, “IVF”, “very difficult for you to EVER get pregnant”. I broke down so much in that appointment we had to end it early. I couldn’t pull myself together. That is when the fear really took hold of me. At this point my sister-in-law had already become pregnant and had my beautiful niece and my younger sister was pregnant with her first. Would it ever be our turn? We’d been trying so long … What if I could never have children? What if I could never give my husband a child that was half of both of us?

With this fear came the innocent but painful words and actions of others. Very few people did or said things to directly cause us pain (thought there were some…), but it still hurt more than any physical pain I’d ever felt. The relentless questions… “you’ve been married X years, ever planning on having kids?” and “Do you even WANT children? Better get busy…” and “Your sister has a kid … why haven’t you?” and “Do you ever think about having kids?” and “So, when are you guys gonna start popping them out?” and “Children are the best thing ever, you’re really missing out – when do you plan to start trying?” and “Hurry up! I want my child to have a cousin/friend/etc” . The announcements at church about someone else’s pregnancy. The mother’s day, father’s day and “sanctity of life” services at church. The calls from friends or family announcing their pregnancy. Have you ever had to hide sobs coming from the pits of your soul as you rejoice with someone over the phone for their blessing? Again, none of these people were doing anything wrong – but it makes every day life REALLY hard. You have to be “strong enough” that day to go to church/the store/etc. Some days you aren’t strong enough, and you hide yourself in the safety of your home or bury yourself in work.

Why are we telling you this now? That is a two fold answer. The first answer: to raise awareness in people for our fellow couples fighting the infertility battle. I am often heard saying “I wish more people understood the pain, I wish it didn’t hold such a stigma, and I wish people would stop judging us for not having children yet”. So instead of continuing to wish, we are making ourselves vulnerable by sharing our secret, in the hopes that you can show understanding and grace towards others. Some tips for those who have been blessed not to carry this cross:

If you don’t know …

Don’t assume…

  • Having a baby doesn’t fall off of people’s “to do” list. They haven’t ‘forgotten’ about starting a family. There are a LOT of reasons couples don’t have a child, and it’s not always infertility. Perhaps they don’t have the finances, they have relationship issues to deal with, time constraints with current jobs or health concerns. Regardless of the reason, no one needs reminded of their lack of children – they need understanding that right now isn’t that time for them.

Don’t interrogate …

  •  If we haven’t told you, understand that we are preserving our own sanity and privacy. By questioning our plans for baby with who, what, where, when and whys is as invasive as asking us about our bedroom activities. Really it’s not appropriate to ask anyone these questions, yet in our society these are common questions. We’re asking that you think twice before you ask another couple these questions – you don’t realize how much pain you may be accidentally causing them. How hard they’ll have to work to paste on a smile and not insult you while they pull the knife out of their heart.

 Pray for us …

  • If you are concerned that we haven’t had children, pray for us! Pray for us to have wisdom for when we are to begin our family. Pray for our health, marriage and spiritual walk as we build our marriage and future family. A prayer never hurt anything – and you may be interceding for us without even knowing it!

If you do know …

Ask how we’re doing…

  • Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. If you know, it’s probably because we trust you VERY much and want people to confide in. But we also don’t want to burden you. So ask how we’re doing, ask if we want to talk. We’ll let you know if we’re strong enough today to talk or if we just can’t … but if we “pass”, please ask again. Because there are days where we are strong enough to talk, and there are days where we aren’t and NEED to talk… please keep asking.

Be ok with tears…

  • This is a very painful process. As we said above, people inadvertently say hurtful things. Some people say hurtful things intentionally (yes, it really happens). Plain and simple – infertility sucks. What we need most are people who let us know it is ok to cry, sit with us in our tears and can angrily say with us “this is the PITS!”. You can’t fix it, but you can go through the valley with us.  The valley gets very dark. A hand to our back, taking us for a walk to cry or talk, a small gift or tickets to the movies … you give a small glimmer of light in a very dark and lonely valley.
Encourage us ….

Just kind, normal words of encouragement. Not the kind that assume we are one breath away from atheism. Not the kind that attempt to minimize the difficulties and tidy it all up with catchphrases…. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting…. Please never say this again. Thank you.

Pray for us …

  • Please please pray for us. Because we can tell you first hand, that sometimes the pain is too much. Sometimes the sorrow is so overwhelming that you cannot form words for a prayer. Sometimes you are angry at the world. Sometimes you are angry at God. All the time you need others lifting you up through this trial. Petition on our behalf. As it says in 1 Timothy 2:1 “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (NLT)
Don’t “help” us …
  • We don’t need to know about every new fertility treatment available … we’ve researched it. Trust me. We don’t need to hear about your friend’s cousin who adopted and then became pregnant as if it’s a magical cure. We don’t need help “getting used” to our pain through bombardment of everything baby. This isn’t a pain you get used to – nor is it a pain one should become used to … it’s a pain to learn from. And we work hard to learn that lesson… we don’t need anymore “teachers”.

Realize our weakness …

  • We’re human. We are truly happy for you, joyful for your blessing! But realize our joy for you makes our empty arms that much heavier. Understand how much strength it takes for us to hold your baby, to look at your ultrasound pictures, to attend a baby shower. Understand we can’t always do these things and when we do it’s taken a lot of strength. We can’t always offer sympathy when you tell us about your horrible pregnancy symptoms. We’d give a right arm to be in that position – nausea, swollen ankles and more, we want it all. We might have to block you from our facebook feed, because hearing your baby is the size of a pineapple makes our lack of a baby that much more apparent. It’s not you … it’s us. We’re human. We’re weak. We’re trying…

Tara was reading a book called “When Life is Hard” and the author talks about how much of a stigma it is, even in the church, when a couple is going through a trial. People wonder “what did they do to bring this on themselves?” But really, people should worry if they DON’T have trials – because it means Christ isn’t working on them to prepare them for bigger things in the kingdom of God. This really helped us. What also helped us was an amazing woman of God Tara met while in Rwanda. This woman really helped Tara see the damage she was doing to herself and her walk by constantly living in fear of never having a child. She also shared a word from the Lord – that there would be a baby one day. Two actually! Now, this didn’t “fix” our trial over night, but by knowing we had to defeat the fear in our lives, and having the promise from our Lord and Savior to stand on, we plowed forward. We held strong when the storms felt stronger, we prayed harder when the ground gave way beneath us ….

And we are SO happy to announce that our God never breaks His promises!

Baby Roehl will arrive in early January 2013!! (Read all about it here!)

12 Comments on Our Story

  1. I’m so thrilled for you guys! And you spoke some true words above, that people who haven’t been through it might still find hard to understand. Just one thing though – IVF doesn’t have to be an ugly word…we wouldn’t have our son without it so it can be a beautiful word too :)) many blessings on you and your expanding family! xxx

  2. I am wildly happy for the 2 of you! You were so articulate in your story and I admire the both of you so much. I don’t know Oliver but I’m so thankful that the 2 of you have each other. My prayers will be with both of you as your pregnancy progresses!!!! Love love love to you!!!

  3. My heart breaks for you as I read this and rejoices in your news. You have beautifully written the hearts and emotions of so many. Thank you for lovingly explaining this time of so many’s lives. Blessings to you.

  4. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story! You gave words to the thoughts and emotions that I experienced in my struggle with fertility, too. Well done!

  5. What an incredible story God is journeying you through! I am rejoicing with you in this precious announcement and praying that God will, like Hannah, continue to be gracious to you and pour blessings upon you throughout this pregnancy and into your future. Praying health and joy on you, Oliver and baby!

  6. Congratulations Tara and Oliver!! I am Joie’s sister and she sent me your News!! My husband and I suffered the same situations as I have read in your story, and I can attest that in our darkest days, He still is on the throne and He will be faithful!! We have a wonderful daughter today, because we trusted in HIM!! I am overjoyed for you both!! I prayed for a healthy happy pregnancy for you and tha tvery soon you will be holding that little miracle!! Thank you for sharing!!

  7. Wonderfully spoken. You are so eloquent. The words just flowed and we are so happy for you. I honestly did not know you were going through all this – you hid it very well. Of course, I didn’t get to see you very often and don’t know you all that well. I am very proud to know you and Oliver and your mom and dad.

  8. Congratulations you two. I think of you two a lot. I cant wait to know when your little one is born. LOL my birthday is in January. But then we have so many in our family in January.

    Your story is so beautiful and so true. You two have been wonderful at thinking of others while going thru what you have. You explained it so well. And, you gave me a book to read “When lif is hard” Sounds like good reading…. I wish you well Aunt Carol

  9. Hey Tara and Oliver, we lost contact awhile ago. I’m not sure why, or even how I found out you guys were pregnant. And I’m even less sure how I found the blog! But thank you SO much for sharing your story, I love the point of view! It’s such an inspiration I guess to know even you guys sometimes questioned the reason for things. I’m glad your baby finally came.
    Also, know this is very very very old lol. But had to say something.
    -Stefanie

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