BY JAKE AND MELISSA KIRCHER
In a previous article, we mentioned that we’ve added two children to our family in the past two years. They are an incredible blessing from God and bring so much joy to our lives. But to get to this joyful place, we’ve had to travel a long, hard, painful road. For six years we dealt with infertility. It can be a very difficult thing to explain, when you’re 24 and can’t get pregnant.
Month after month we were disappointed. Year after year Melissa went to the doctors and underwent tests, shots, and procedures. We lost our very first pregnancy at eight weeks and it was devastating. After four years, we gave up on biological children and decided to foster-to-adopt. And that was a crazy-difficult experience as well—thankfully ending in July after the adoption of our 1½ year-old son. (We also had a baby girl in June, who is our miracle baby.)
It’s been exhausting. And it’s challenged our marriage, and our faith, like nothing else we’ve faced in our 12 years together.
Infertility is a sensitive and personal topic, one that isn’t discussed much in public. It’s painful and lonely. Many couples dealing with infertility struggle with deep feelings of failure.
But as we’ve been more open about our own personal journey to parenthood we’ve found that there are so many couples wrestling with this heartbreaking problem. Jake knows numerous youth workers friends who have dealt with infertility issues. And there are more people than we can count who have shared their own miscarriage(s), once we were honest about our loss.
To those of you who may be in the midst of infertility right now, we want to encourage you by saying you are not alone! Many have been, or are in, your shoes, and know exactly how you feel. It’s okay to share your struggles and we guarantee there are many people around you who want to support, pray, and encourage you through this, no matter the outcome. Life is complicated, God’s timing is a mystery, and sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to. But God doesn’t want you to go through painful things alone, we all need each other in the hard times.
To others in ministry who have children already, we would encourage you with two things:
1) Be open. Offer support. If you’ve dealt with infertility in the past, share those struggles with others. The Church is supposed to be a community where we can come together and support one another through the tough stuff. But if no one talks about the hard things, we unintentionally end up alienating our brothers and sisters at a time of great need.
2) Be sensitive. First and foremost, don’t tell another couple that everything will work out, that they should have more faith, or that their infertility is God’s plan. Some couples never have kids, some adopt, some have biological children later in life, or experience multiple miscarriages before having a baby. We can’t know or explain God’s plan, and so the best thing we can do is offer God’s love, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on; not lofty ideals. Secondly, try to be sensitive when talking about your own children. If another couple can’t get pregnant, they might really appreciate hearing about your kids, but then talking about other things as well. Lastly, don’t show pity. It feels awful to be pitied, but wonderful to be built up. Say encouraging words about God’s love and your love to friends struggling with infertility, but please don’t pity them. We all experience hard things in life and the best thing we can do is be there for one another.