About Me

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Hi. Welcome to my "taboo" blog. My name is Steph, and when I first started this, I was still in my thirties. In 2017, I switch decades! I am a Christian, so underlying everything I do and say is the Word of God, and the foundational truths I have learnt over the years. This doesn't mean I'm perfect - I am human. It just means I recognise I need God's help to live this life and try to live out His way, as best I can. So that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog, I hope you draw strength, hope or encouragement from what you read.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

More Expert Advice in The Media

So it seems that the baby making "experts" have a new round of advice designed to "help" us in our quest to get pregnant!! 

Their first wise recommendation.... You would never have thought of this yourselves without the experts expertise and experience.... For couples trying for a baby, ditching contraception and spending more time between the sheets at key times during the month is the first step

WOW! Genius!
How did people manage to have babies without this priceless bit of advice???

OK... So maybe I'm being a little bit sarcastic, but I think there comes a time when experts should just stop trying to offer their expert advice and we need to put our faith in God. Only because since the start of my own Journey for Bubba, there has been so-called "expert baby-making advice" literally every week. 

But God isn't limited by the opinion of experts, nor is He restricted by what we wrap our packed lunches in (apparently cling film is unacceptable), what we drink (Latte, this week, is highlighted as the WORST drink ever to indulge in), or how much we should be hanging out in the sun (Hmmmm. it looks like the UK is not viable for me to conceive (no sun)... so it's a move to Israel then- THANK YOU LORD!!!!).If you want to read the article for yourself, here is the link.

I know that this Journey for Bubba is a huge attack - is that the right word? - on my faith, and there are times when it is stronger than others, but if I serve a God who is a) Creator of life, and b) knows how we are knit together in our mother's wombs, then isn't He the source of my expert advice?? Why can't He cause me to fall pregnant in spite of all this?

So, my expert advice would be to take the expert advice with a pinch of salt and a bit of wisdom! We all know what we do need to do - more Folic Acid, reduce alcohol. This road is full of enough stress and pressure without adding to the load we bear by thinking we are doing something wrong which is stopping us from conceiving. Either God is the Creator of life or He isn't. Either He has it in His plan for me to conceive or He doesn't. That doesn't mean I can't plead and beg Him to make it happen, but it does take the pressure off me a little!

Father God, I pray that You would give me discernment and wisdom of what I need to be doing, or to avoid doing if I am to work with you and not against you. I know that ultimately, You are the author of life, and I know you have a plan for me, for my future... a plan to prosper me and not harm me. Though it is hard, and my faith is sometimes weak, I choose to put my trust in the plan you have created for me, and the steps you have set before me. May I somehow, even in the midst of this journey, bring you - the real expert - honour and glory. In Jesus name.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Praying For Friend

I received a text from a friend of mine who has been walking her own journey of infertility with her hubby for about seven years. She's been an encouragement and source of strength and God has enabled us to share on each other's path. About a month ago she called to say that finally, she was pregnant. After all the tests, the drugs, the intrusion and just before IVF was due to start, they fell pregnant naturally. We laughed together, we were excited at the news and couldn't wait to arrange to meet up during her pregnancy to celebrate.

This week.
She lost her baby.
Her 19 week old child.

There's is soo much in this life I will never understand. This being one of those things. But this is the time to uphold her in prayer and beg God to carry her through and ease the devastating ache this will create.

Please join me in lifting NN and her hubby JN in prayer at this horrible time. They are currently making preparations for a funeral with the hospital chaplain, which is so important. But she will need God's support and comfort through so many days to come...least of all, her due date in November.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Pressure Of Infertility On Relationships

If infertility is seldom spoken about among Christians, the impact of infertility on relationships even less so.

From my own experience I have noticed changes in all types of relationships in my own life... From  choices I have felt I needed to make, to the choices others may have subconsciously made. For example, there was one friend I had, and we used to share stories over a pot of tea and cake on many an afternoon. The problem for me was that no matter what time of day I would meet her, whether during school hours or not, she would always have at least one of her children in tow, often with the excuse, "I know he should be in school but he sooooo wanted to see you." Often I would purposely arrange to meet her during school hours to avoid the trauma of having a child in tow....this was around the time I was undergoing all the tests known to medicine, as the experts tried to tell me why I was struggling to conceive. So, in time, I made arrangements to meet her less and less, and now we hardly see each other. Self-preservation?

With my parents, I love them to bits, but as we live at opposite ends of the country it is difficult to have heart-to-heart conversations about stuff....especially as they have three other children, including two sons who are very attention-grabbing. As the sensible older child, it is assumed (as has been admitted to me by my mum) that I will always be ok because I am not so demanding of them. So the guilt I feel at not producing the longed-for grandchild (apparently it's different when a daughter gives birth than when the daughter-in-law does, or so I have been reliably informed!) is never spoken about, and the pain of my empty arms is noticed at family gatherings, but never mentioned.

There is also a strain on the relationship with my stepson. The pain of seeing a child who is the image of my hubby but has no part of me. The depth of the bond between father and son I can never share in, the secret jokes and conversations which don't involve me can be painful to watch, and a constant reminder of what I am missing. Yes, we women who long to be mothers know exactly what we are missing when we don't have our own child. Which adds to the grief of our broken dream. And so in order to help me cope, I distance myself. I want to see the relationship between hubby and his son develop and be strengthened, and wouldn't ever try to stick a wedge in, but for my own sanity and peace of mind, I have to sometimes not be part of their adventures, usually around the time Aunty Flo pays a visit.

And finally, there is the impact on the relationship with hubby himself. As I have mentioned previously, he has admitted he can't always understand my struggle and the pain; he can't always cope with the emotions I have as part of my journey...he has his child, it would be great to have another one, but it's not the same fear or frustration as it is for me. What should be a shared battle for most husbands and wives to support and encourage one another, can often be a lonely isolation for women like me who are stepmothers to another woman's child. Sure, we know you had a child before we married you, but we didn't know we would struggle to have our own. It was never supposed to be problematic. It was supposed to just happen when we were both ready.

I've been thinking a lot about relationships and friendships recently. And I don't want anyone's pity.... The purpose of writing this was to explore the real impact of infertility on relationships. It will be different for everyone walking on the Journey of infertility, and within each journey there will be moments when relationships are strong, and times when they appear to have broken.

But I thank God for the consistency of His relationship. If I've said it once, I've said it soooo many times, I don't know how I could walk this walk without Him. He is my comfort, my support, my shoulder to cry on, my encouraging word, my inspirational thought. Whatever your own experiences of infertility on your relationships, I pray you know the depth of the love God has for you, and a full understanding that no matter what, He won't leave you to work it out alone.....if you feel as though you are alone! He loves you enough to stand with you in the bad times as well as the good, and He will never throw your failings in your face, but will love you through your darkest days.

Father God, thank You for Your unfailing friendship which will never leave me just because I can't have children. You won't feel weird about what to say to me. You won't belittle me. You won't leave me. You will love and carry me through. I pray for all those women currently experiencing difficulties in thier relationships, especially with their husband, whether real or perceived. 

May You bring people into our lives who will stand with us and demonstrate true love and support through the Journey of infertility. Who will bring the comfort and strength we sometimes need in our physical battles. And may we in turn be the comfort for someone else who needs to be comforted. In Jesus name I pray.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Educate Girls About Infertility?

Reading the paper over the weekend, in my favourite chair with my favourite mug of latte, I was drawn to an article headline, "NHS chief warns women not to wait until 30 to have baby as country faces a fertility timebomb." (Click here to read the full article in the Mail on Sunday)

The story goes that Professor Geeta Nargund has written to the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to demand fertility and infertility are included in sex education. She states that women over 30 who have waited and can't have children naturally, or easily, are putting a strain on NHS budget.

Part of the argument is that due to the decline in our bodies beyond the age of 30 (I swear that only a few years ago, this "magic age" was 35....I remember writing about it when I turned 35!), more and more women are struggling to conceive and amidst cries of "but nobody warned me!" are embarking on costly IVF treatments to fund their desire for motherhood. Of course, not all of us are doing that! 

I have two thoughts on this:
1) Are we in danger of penalising heterosexual women over 30 who are trying to live a life holy and pleasing to God, or who are not sleeping around, or who are trying to make the most of their lives while they are single and waiting for Mr Right to wake up and ask her to date/marry her? Ok, so the weekend's article is NOT saying that after this age women shouldn't be allowed to have IVF on the NHS...but will that become the next recommendation? "You were warned at school about how the body declines after 30 and yet still you chose to delay having a family...it's your choice to wait until you're 37, putting yourself and your career first. We will not pay for you to have it all...those days are gone lady. See if your God will help you instead!" How real is this threat? (Click here to read a previous blog about a debate on The Alan Tichmarsh as how, last year) And if that does happen, the chance would be that gay "couples" wouldn't be withheld the free treatment, regardless of their age! I personally wouldn't use IVF, but that doesn't mean I agree with women who want to try this route being told they can't, just because of their age.....although, wait..... It does happen already!

2) I agree. Education should include the reality about the decline of the woman's body from an early age. Not to coerce her into making bad choices just to have a baby..... That would be devastating. But to give her a full understanding of God's plan for the cycle of life. Until this generation, age restrictions on having a baby wasn't such a desperate emphasis, because people were marrying younger. It's only since the 1960s this has changed, since the whole, "Women's lib" thing came in. We have spent so much of our time trying to keep up with the men we were never designed to keep up with, emasculating them in the process, that we have lost sight of the purpose for which we were made. And before I get lynched, our sole purpose isn't for pro-creation.....but the way God made woman, we have to acknowledge and accept that pro-creation, bearing children and raising them etc....rather than be an old-fashioned set back, is actually part of God's design. We can't pretend otherwise any longer.

Should we be warning teenagers about the impact of infertility on our lives when we are older? I think we should definitely be educating them, this is a biblical principle (older women teach the younger women, Titus 2:3-5). But not to scare young women into having babies independently of a healthy marriage relationship (God's plan), or not so that the number of single mothers increases, but so the girls can make healthy choices with all the information they need. 

Would it have made a real difference to my life? I don't know..... I might have ended up marrying someone I didn't really want to be with sooner, just to fulfil my desire for motherhood (that's a whole other blog post about the naivety of church girls!!).

If we look back, in order to look forward, personally, I think Jewish women of old knew. And so I think we are being unfair by holding back the most basic of information due to some misguided notion that if we warn against the age restriction of fertility in women, we will somehow hold them back...... Motherhood, for those who desire it, will only propel our women and girls forward. There's nothing worse than reaching your late 30s and realising that the dream of raising your own children  may never become a reality. 

Father God, I pray you would grant us wisdom.... Especially when speaking to the younger generations. May we somehow be open and real with those younger than us, not to scare them into living out what we would have wanted, but so they can follow closely, the plans You have for their lives. In Jesus name I pray.