One word of caution, however: We must be careful not to make medical treatments into our gods, believing that they will give us the children we desire. The idols worshipped by the ancient Israelites were fertility gods. We think these people were foolish to worship wooden statues, but we do the same when we put all of our hope in medicine and believe it alone can give us what we want.

Is there a limit to how far you should go in the effort to bear a child? Would you use a surrogate mother, for example?

Yes. I believe the line should be drawn at the point where others begin to be hurt or where life is destroyed. For example, I don't see any problem with using a surrogate mother any more than women used to use wet nurses when they were not able to nurse their babies themselves. However, I do see a problem with selective reduction, where many embryos are placed within the womb and then some of the fetuses are aborted later. In that case, the lives of some of the babies are sacrificed for the others. For me, that is a line I do not want to cross.

How can friends or family support someone who's dealing with infertility?

Often family and friends don't know what to do and end up saying just the wrong things. I have four basic rules that can help:

  • Don't start any sentence with "at least." There is nothing you say after "at least" that's going to be helpful. All that does is trivialize the other person's pain. You can't lessen someone's pain by talking it away, you can only lessen it by sharing it.
  • Don't offer all kinds of excuses for God not giving someone a child. One of my friends was actually told by someone in her church "Maybe God knows you'll be a bad mother and that's why he hasn't given you any children." Our job is just to be there for people-to pray for them, remember them with notes or little cards on difficult days like Mother's Day, understand that it hurts to yearn for a child and not have one. Be someone they can come to and vent frustrations and hurt.
  • Don't give advice unless you're asked for it! A person going through infertility has heard it all before. I got to a point where I thought if I heard "Just relax" or "You should adopt and then you'll get pregnant" one more time I might just punch the person in the nose. Besides, relaxing just isn't going to cure ovarian cysts, open blocked fallopian tubes, and get rid of endometriosis. Stress may affect ovulation, but there are a whole host of other medical problems that could be causing someone's infertility. As for adoption, adopted children are a gift all on their own. They aren't a means to get a biological child.
  • So instead of giving advice, ask how they're holding up. Say things like "This must be really hard for you, how can I help?"

  • Be sensitive that things like baby showers, dedications, baby baptisms, and Mother's Day or Father's Day, are tough for people going through infertility. Sometimes, I just can't endure going to a baby shower. It's too painful.
  • What's your best advice for others struggling with infertility?

    Physically, I'd advise not to waste time being treated by your local OB/GYN. Once you've tried to get pregnant for a year and not been able to, go straight to a specialist--a reproductive endocrinologist. They're up on the latest technology, are specially trained, and deal with infertility all day, every day.

    Emotionally, I'd say live your life to the fullest now. Do the things you enjoy. Don't put things off "just in case" you might get pregnant. Infertility can consume you. And it's going to be emotionally taxing, so try to make time to do things that you find refreshing. When God created Adam and Eve, he pronounced his creation "very good." It was complete. A husband and wife are a complete family. Children only expand that family.

    Spiritually, don't be afraid to go to God with your doubts, fears, and even your angry accusations. Yell, scream, pound on his chest if you have to. Just go to him. He can handle your frustration. What he can't do much with, however, is your silence.