'Am I Being Punished?' and Other Questions Infertile Women Ask

Beliefnet interviews Marlo Schalefsky, infertility expert and author.

What has been the hardest part of the infertility journey for you?

For me, the monthly roller coaster of hope and disappointment has been by far the hardest. It always starts with me telling myself not to get my hopes up. But still, I can't help wondering if this could be the month, especially if I've undergone some form of treatment. Every twinge is analyzed, I feel a little sick to my stomach and I wonder if it might be morning sickness. I try not to count the days, but I do anyway. And then it starts, and I know I'm not pregnant...again. Still. I can't help crying. And this happens month after month, until I'm so emotionally exhausted that I just don't think I can stand one more cycle of it.

The best help I've found for this is to try to look beyond today's storm to the rainbow--God's promise that it won't rain forever. Someday, the infertility journey will end, and whether that's with children or without I want to have walked with God through it and come out more like Jesus on the other side.

It seems as if a lot of women who get pregnant don't want to be. How do you deal with the issue of God's justice?

I think that just about everyone who goes through infertility at some point wants to turn to God and says, "What are you, crazy?" And when you look at things on a grand scale-the incidence of abortions, teen mothers, and unwanted pregnancies, while wonderful couples can't have children-it doesn't make a lot of sense. So, for me, it helps to look at the smaller picture-my life and what God wants for me. The blessings he chooses for me shouldn't be compared with those he gives to others, and vice versa.

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Also, I believe that every child is a precious and undeserved gift from God. So if he chooses to give that gift to others, even those who don't appreciate it, and not to me, that's his prerogative. God doesn't owe me a child. I hope he'll give me one, but it's his choice.

Do you think infertility is a punishment from God?

Let me answer that with a resounding NO! For some reason as human beings we have the need to answer this question of WHY. Why is this happening to me? "God is punishing me" often becomes a simple answer to that question. A good friend of mine really struggled through this issue. She asked, "Am I being punished because I was sexually active before marriage, because we didn't try to have children right away after we were married, because I'm not a good enough wife, or did this, or didn't do that?" But plenty of people are sexually active before marriage, or use birth control, or whatever, and they have no problem conceiving.

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