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Abso-blimmin-lutely. The concept of grace is hugely misunderstood, yet it's the centre of Christianity. We don't deserve any of the good that happens to us. Likewise, the horrible things that happen aren't because God is punishing us.

"All you can do is pray to God for strength to deal with the shit that happens in every day life."

T, that pretty much sums it up. And even then it sometimes feels like we only have enough air for one more breath.

It's just impossible to make any sense of it, especially in the context of ART. My own particular hot button is when people conceive high-order multiples by ART, then refuse to reduce because it's "God's will" that they carry six babies. Um, no, it was the will of modern medicine — I'm pretty sure God's kind of appalled that his followers would be so arrogant.

I also think that God probably has more important matters to concern Himself with than whether my womb bears fruit, know what I'm sayin'? I'd rather He concentrate on protecting people from genocide, ending the monsoon early this year so that people aren't dying by the thousands in mudslides, et cetera. I can handle what's thrown at me. God has bigger fish to fry.

I once had somebody tell me she doesn't worry about miscarriage because she trusts God. Hmmmmm....Is that why I had a miscarriage? Because I wasn't trusting God enough? I truly felt like popping her one. God never promises us a perfect life, He does however promise that nothing can separate us from His love.

Amen, Tersh. Couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, I actually feel better when I pray to God to help me have the strength to handle whatever is coming my way, rather than asking him to grant my wishes like I'm sitting on Santa's lap.

They say "God only gives you as much as you can handle." That means good or bad.

I look at God like a parent. He's there for us in our down times, whether it be to grant those prayers, or to merely offer comfort. He's there for us in our good times. But he doesn't do everything for us or hold our hand every step of the way.

We are on this earth and everything we do is a choice. You have made a choice to keep trying, even after heartbreak. That makes you a strong and amazing woman.

And in my opinion, and this is my opinion only... and is from experience... when I keep getting denied the things I want or need, and then finally, after much struggle and anguish, get those things... I cherish them all the more.

That doesn't mean that a woman who gets pregnant, after lots of prayer and lots of money, on her first IVF attempt loves her child any less... but for the ones that must struggle seemingly endlessly, the reward is just all that much sweeter.

I'm not going to sit here and say "Oh, doll, keep praying, it will happen for you." I don't know that. But I will say that, no matter, what, stay strong. There will be a reward for you eventually... maybe in the way you would have least expected it.

Ok, ok. I'm done rambling. Buh-buy. ;-)

I couldn't agree more with what you said. I belonged to a group of women struggling with Infertility last year and this exact topic of conversation came up. There was a member of the group who got pregnant and she kept saying she was blessed because of the tons of people she had praying for her - it went straight up my ASS. I had tons of people praying for me, said thousands of prayers for a positive and it didn't work - was I not blessed or did her people have a special God connection that mine did not.

This whole issue really confused me in the midst of my IF. I would never call myself a religious person but I did consider myself spiritual - I believe in God and before my IF battle I truly believed that God never gave us more than we can handle and that everything happens for a reason. That line of thinking changed drastically through my years of Infertility. I now choose to believe in a God that "doesn't cause the shit in our lives, but helps us through it." I can't imagine that God is up in the sky with a clipboard selecting people for things - Sally over here gets cancer (she can handle it), Susie can have Infertility (she can handle it and will grow from it), Ann over here can have a stillbirth (it will make her stronger and help her appreciate the baby she eventually has.) HORSESHIT! I can't imagine a God like that. I don't believe God "gives" us anything - I truly believe in randomness - things happen that is beyond our control and God's. Random, difficult shit happens.

When we finally got pregnant, I cringed when people said to me "oh, our prayers were answered." I know they meant well but I couldn't help but think of all my friends who were still dealing with IF - did God decide their prayers shouldn't be answered? I certainly was praying to God for help but my prayers weren't nice, christian prayers at all. They were more along the lines of "Why in the FUCK is this happening to us, why, why, why. Could you please fucking explain this to me." I am sure there were people struggling who had much more "christian-like" prayers. Mine weren't anything special - if anything they were angry rants at God. Were those the types of prayers people must say to get pregnant??? I think not.

I am much more comfortable believing in a God that "doesn't cause the shit in our lives, but helps us through it."

Kelly

Being Jewish, and Orthodox, I was brought up to believe that God oversees the most minute details of our lives. This means bad, or good. I remember that when I was in sixth grade, a boy in the fifth lay in a coma (and died a year later) after being hit by a car on Yom Kippur. A youth group leader tried to comfort us by staing that it was not a punishment to him, but to his parents. This made me anxious and ill for weeks. I just couldn't believe his parents could have done anything so evil as to deserve this. I chose to look at it as something that God needed to do for His own mysterious reasons, and I focused on the good that came out of such pain; how a community came together in ways it never had before.

When faced with our infertility, I prayed desperately for a baby, and cycle after cycle, no baby. I wailed on the floor, "Why does He hate me so?" But then, after a copuple of months would pass, I would see the good things that happened to me after the failure of each cycle. Things I would have missed if I had been pregnant. On good days I could believe that God wasn't passing over me because I didn't deserve a baby, but because he thought other things were best at those times. (Only on good days, though.)

I had always planned to stay at home after I had children, so I found myself working many years more than I had expected. I was an adjunct professor in a small liberal arts school and I had close relationships with many students. One of these students called me at home to say goodbye after taking all of her anti-depressants and sleeping pills and drinking a bottle of vodka. I kept her on the phone for a while, called 911, called campus security, and thus got her to the hospital in time. I stopped moaning the failure of the previous cycle on that night...

To sum up, I believe God answers our prayers with the big picture, that only he sees, in mind. The cycle after my student's suicide attempt I became pregnant with our amazing little boy.

Tertia,

I'm so with you on this post! Mom and I have been having a lot of talks about God lately. I'm mad as hell,have little to no faith left. Mom keeps telling me to pray.

Sorry mom, I think God has me on mute or ignore. The biggest most important prayer, the one I prayed over and over, every day for years, "Let my Marrissa live, let her be okay." and it went unanswered. I buried my little girl. God laughed in my face, at my prayer. (ok so maybe He didn't laugh but he didn't help either)

I don't get a God who lets crack whores have babies. I don't get a God who sends babies to homes where they will be brutalized and killed.
I don't get a God that allows a 16 year old girl to commit suicide. A little girl who had more faith in Him than I ever had. Why did she have to endure being molested, then raped, add in a mental disorder just for kicks. Thank you God for being so merciful.... UGH...

Sorry, feeling very angry today and missing my baby like crazy...

I've asked myself the same questions Tertia. I just don't get it. I hate the trite cliches about God. "When God closes one door He opens a window. "God only gives us what He knows you can handle." Blech...

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that this post hit home for me today.

Gosh, what a tough issue. I have always considered myself spiritual and held to roughly Christian beliefs. I'm not a regular about praying. I keep God in mind, have a casual chat here and there, and yes, will pray for particulars at times. I have pretty much stopped at this point praying for a pregnancy, let alone a birth. I pray for others' health, babies, safe travel, etc.

There was a time when I prayed every month (this was still in the early phases...pre-Clomid, pre-IF diagnosis, pre-loss-of-hope). About six months into our trying, I found out that I had cancer, specifically melanoma. At that time I thought much along the lines of Bella, that God must have known that I would confront this situation and knew that it would be easier if I were not pregnant. I breezed through the secondary surgery, managed to obtain a "get out of chemo free" card, and went back to life and tyring to conceive. Two years later and still nothing. I keep thinking that if my logic is correct, when will the next shoe fall? What crisis is waiting for me now? We're on the brink of IVF and last week I get a call that my pap results are abnormal. I have to resolve this before I can proceed with the IVF of course. Needless to say, even though the statistics point to the fact that most abnormal results are non-cancerous, I'm a bit nervous. Am I praying? Yes. Because until I have my follow-up appointment, there's not much else I can do. Right now I'm just praying for health, because without that I can't even keep walking down the adoption path (we've started that option too).

I don't think of God as handing out punishments or rewards. I see God as more of a guiding hand in life. I feel like it is God's part to guide me through the tapestry woven by the fates. I know that's a mildly Pagan interpretation of Christianity, but that's my view. It doesn't explain IF by any means, but it helps me to get through each day knowing that the journey continues and that somewhere along the way,in a way that I can't predict right now, the thread that is my child will weave itself into my life. Or, at least, that's what I pray for.

Hot button for me too, Tertia.
I posted about my dad's comment around Memorial Day when I had myself convinced I was miscarrying. He said "Are you sure your putting your trust in the right doctor?" And after explaining about my current specialist after 1 GP and 2 OB's-- I realized he was speaking of "The Great Physician." My reaction was yours exactly: Gee, dad, you're right...if only I'd have trusted God I never would've had 3 miscarriages. Yes, it was all my fault!! Thanks for pointing that out, dad!"
The older I get the more I realize how messed up the beliefs I was taught as a child were. God was made out to be this stern figure who basically waited from above for us to screw up. The love part was a bit glossed over.
I like what many of the women above said. But they'll always be those people who will simplify things to the point of "it happens if you pray hard enough..or are good enough.." as long as my family is around, anyways!

That topic annoys me too. I remember on one site, there was a woman who was so sure that the sole reason she got pregnant was because she had given herself totally to God and been a good Christian. She even gave her email address in case anyone else wanted to know the right way to go about it. So, the rest of us who don't get success are supposed to think we have done things wrong or if only we could hand things over more. Also, those kind of theories always leave you wondering whether you are being punished for something you've done in your life and if you can't think of anything then it must be something you've done in a previous one then. As if it isn't bad enough if it doesn't work out, you also are then supposed to believe that you're to blame for it somehow?? No, I go along with the idea it is all random or there's something causing it and we should try to find out what through tests etc.

God does answer all prayers, sometimes the answer is no. That is the part of Christianity that isn't talked about a lot. People think if I am good and do good things, God will give me what I pray for. It doesn't work that way. We are given what we can handle in God's time, not ours. I have suffered miscarriages and gone thru the rage and hurt and "WHY GOD???" moments. The question to ask is NOT Why me, but why not me? We all have pain and we have have blessings. Sometimes the pain stands out and sometimes the blessings do. Sadly, my faith isn't as strong as it should be, but I hold out that tiny bit that things will work out the way they should, and that may not necessarily be how I want them.

Hang in there, Tertia.

I don't know if I believe in God.

If I did believe in God, you can be sure that after going through all that I've been through with IF, I wouldn't believe in him now.

I hate all the "it's God's plan" stuff. Even thinking that somehow this will make me stronger makes me upset--it hasn't made me stronger. It has just made me very depressed and sometimes even suicidal. I don't even like thinking that children are a blessing--to me that implies that I am not good enough to be blessed. But since I do not believe in God, it shouldn't matter. And yet people are always saying these things to me. So it does end up mattering. Infertility has taught me this: if there is a God, he is not someone I want to know.

I am a Christian who attends church and bible studies regularly and prays many, many times a day. I learned the hard way that God will say no. He answers the prayers just not how I want Him too every time! I am not a better Christian because I go to church and participate in other church activities. I choose to do those things because it makes me feel closer to Him. I can not imagine going through everything without Him next to me. He would still be there, whether I went to church or not. I pray because I don’t know how you can have a relationship with someone you don’t speak too. I get ticked off at Him a good bit. Especially after my miscarriage last month or every negative pregnancy test or not getting into veterinary school or any number of disappointments in my life. But then I remember that God understands when we are mad. Even Jesus said on the cross "why have you forsaken me?” He was mad and felt alone and abandoned just as I do after things blow up. God has a different walk for each us. Some to have children without struggle, some will struggle and struggle and eventually give up while others will get that BFP. I don’t know why some get yes's when it seems I get so many no's. I do know that I handle the no’s better knowing He is with me and in control.

I guess it's easier for me because I don't believe in God. Prayer and/or God is given credit for when we have a child, but not allowed to be blamed when we don't.
Living without faith is like living without a net. There is no one to pray to, and no one looking out for us from above. This would be unsettling for many, but for me, it gives me clarity and focus. I must rely on myself and my own strength. Starting from this viewpoint, I think has made it easier in that I don't have the conflict in why He made this happen or why He won't help.
I therefore tend to dismiss those claims that prayer got someone pregnant. I've seen a devout Mormon go through 11 failed IUIs, 3 failed IVFs, 1 failed adoption, before she got her successful IVF. It had nothing to do with her faith and prayer. Without faith I had gotten pregnant after only (only?) 3 IUIs. I'm not a better person than she is, and she didn't deserve to suffer.

Hi, lurker here but had to post...

I believe in God and I believe that children are a blessing, but I, IN NO WAY, feel that those without children are being punished or aren't good enough to be blessed or whatever else people may feel. I think that they are a blessing, period, no matter who they belong to. And I think that your baby Ben was just as much of a blessing as any living child. I also feel that everything happens for a reason and we often don't know, or may never know what those reasons are. I just keep plugging along hoping that the "answers" will be revealed. I think that faith is an important part of our society. It gives many people the strength to carry on in the face of adversity, it also gives them their "answer" as to why something good or bad has happened to them. It is a tool for "the masses". You just have to decide for yourself how much of this you need. You may not need any help with strength and perhaps that is something that you have been blessed with. You're right though, it makes no sense why things happen like they do and I wish as much as anyone that they were different. But all any of us can do is pray (if you believe in a higher power) for the strength to get you through whatever comes your way.

Only a person who has suffered like we "fertility challenged" women understand this the way you (and I and the other posters) do. After years of praying for a pg, I finally devolved to just praying for strength to make it through whatever my reproductive destiny held for me. And that prayer was answered. When I looked to my faith for strength and peace, I found it.

{{{{{HUGS}}}} and peace to you,

Karen

I think you make some very good points, T.

Great points. After all, if faith or prayers or even potential to be a great mother were the only measure of those deserving there would be many women I know who'd be holding babies in their arms, and several that now have them who would not. It just doesn't work that way. Do I believe God answers prayers? Sure. And sometimes he says No, or not right now, or even that awful favorite phrase of my Dad's.....We'll see.

I believe that while there are certain things that are part of his plan, a whole lot is also determined by genetics, free will, medical intervention, luck, chance and the numerous other things that just happen. The bad that comes with the good. I don't believe that there's something wrong with me or the way I conduct my life that makes him say no to me regarding a baby and yes to someone else. I believe, Tertia, that we probably believe in the same god. The kind that cries when we cry.

Maybe there's some lesson I chose to learn this time around and infertility is part of it...I don't know. What I do know is that every day I have a chance to witness a miracle of some sort, though I get little say in which ones they are or which ones will be mine. Should I happen to receive one, it won't be because I was more deserving or more righteous....but I'd better be appropriately grateful.

Thank you for putting this into words...I most certainly could not have said it as well.

I am always surprised at people who ask me to pray for their elderly ill relatives. They're usually not asking for a death with dignity and without pain, or for family to be with them when they die--they're praying for Nana to live forever, which God obviously doesn't intend.

I also don't go for the "learning from adversity" thing. I loved my first two children quite enough, thank you, before my third was stillborn. I didn't need a life lesson to whip me into shape.

If God is who they say He is, then he really doesn't need my nagging in order to know what I want, does He? I think the purpose of prayer is basically to meditate and clarify your own thoughts, not to tell the Supreme Being what to do.

This is why I am a diest.I believe there is or was a higher power, created the universe, created maybe the systems that started it, but has little to do with how life goes.
Its the only way I can reconcile all the horrible things that go on in the world. No one has any control. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. I suffered 5 years of infertility, 6 miscarriages, 2 friends that died of AIDS before 40, a sister who is truly a hopeless alcoholic, a niece and nephew in chaos. How could God let all that happen?
Then there is the flip side that sees all the unlikely things that had to fall in place to adopt my first daughter, the chance meeting of my husband and I, getting a wonderful home that could be called nothing but serendipity. I don't think I was rewarded to have these things happen. I think I was lucky.
I still pray. Like you, I pray that I can handle what happens. I pray that the best will happen ultimately, and even bad things in retrospect, will make some sort of sense. However I say this having a privledged life. I live in a country not torn apart by war or hunger. I have an education. I have 4 kids- I worked hard for them- but I got them. My prayers are nothing compared to them woman whose worries are so much bigger than mine.

T, thank you so much for posting that. I suppose we've been reading some of the same type of things lately.

It's good to have that 'G-d doesn't love conditionally' theory reintroduced to me after so many of the opposite have dug in their claws.

Thanks again for that.

umm... did I answer this already?

T~You know we've swung at this one b4, being a pastor's wife, and all...That made IF really hard for us, b/c if God wasn't answering our prayers for children, s/he must not think we'd be very good parents!

What really gets in my craw, is that this is so completely UN"Christian". Jesus made it quite clear that God held no favor over anybody. And he knew the most faithful and spiritual were sometimes the most "sinful" (used that term lightly) Hell, the whole book of Job is written to show that being good and faithful doesn't spare you any pain or misery.

I don't know why God "let" my baby die while dh was on humantiarian trip in Guatemala. but I'm pretty sure I'm not as smart as s/he is.

I'm with you, T.

I can't say more than everyone else already has.

I am so conflicted about this in my own life and struggle with infertility. I gone from screaming sobbing rants directed at God to strong deep faith and now to almost indifference. I'm not sure where I stand now except to say that all advice about God or thoughts on his "plan" for us infertile women annoys the shit out of me especially when it comes from people who simply have no fucking clue. How the fuck would they know God's plan?? Do they have God's direct fucking line?? AND how can I get that number??

Great post! And some really wonderful comments. . .

Intriguing post and comments. Being Jewish, the phrase that used to upset me the most during our IF struggles was 'Please God by you', which was said to me quite a lot by fertile Jewish mamas/grandmamas in situations where there were children present. I understood this to mean that if it pleases God, I will have children. If not, then I guess we'll remain childless. Conversely, I understood this to mean that those same Jewish mamas and grandmamas must have believed that they, unlike me, had been pleasing to God. I don't think I need to explain why this was, and still is, a wholly unacceptable way of perceiving God. Two rabbis tried to placate me by saying that the 'please God' expression is just a poor translation from Hebrew and that I have misinterpreted its meaning. So, ban its use, I say! I know I'm not the only one to be vexed by this expression.
Anyway, I'm pregnant now. I don't think I've been blessed or that I did anything to please God in the cycle (IVF/ICSI) that worked. It certainly wasn't prayer that helped as I gave up doing that about a year ago. I haven't prayed since I've been pg. I don't pray that my pregnancy will end with a healthy baby. I hope for it and try to do the right thing by my body. I don't pray for my friends who are still trying to get pg. I hope for them and try to be there for them. I believe that bad luck is random. The same applies to good luck. I believe that a superior being (let's call him God) created the world, but that He is not intimitely involved in our lives. There's too much meaningless tragedy in the world for that to be the case.

What gets me when people say God was/is right there with you when, insert horrible atrocity here, happened. Well, if God was right there, then thanks for nothing, God. Would you, or any other human being, let x suffer the way they did without helping, if you had the divine power to do so? Of course not. So why does a supposedly all loving Being sit around smoking a cigarette while atrocity is being committed? Trying to figure this out is the way to madness. All I can do is to say to myself that if there is another world after this one, and I hope there IS, then I guess I'll know then the whys.

Just wanted to say that you made me think. Not sure if that's what you wanted to do (I'm sure you weren't sitting there thinking that you needed to write something that would make some Australian med-student think) but you made me confront what it is that I believe.

Thanks

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