Archives For Infertility

I always thought I had an opinion on matters of life, of conception, of the sanctity of it all.in-vitro_1443936-300x277

But infertility opened my eyes to just how complicated life really is. It also gave my wife and I plenty of ethical quandaries to consider.

Today, I’m guest writing over at Evangelicals for Social Action:

While everyone says that a baby is a “miracle,” infertility can provide a special glimpse of just how miraculous a baby really is, how audaciously beautiful life itself is. However, infertility and its treatment can also bring many ethical quandaries.

Though we may consider ourselves pro-life, and feel that we are educated on matters of life, it is safe to say that our churches and communities are not educated about infertility and the myriad of ethical problems that treatment can bring to a desperate couple. From the growing prevalence of stem-cell research, to the recent advances in the UK toward three-person in vitro fertilization, it is clear that while in vitro fertilization becomes more normalized, the most vulnerable humans on the planet are becoming ever more commoditized.

It is more important than ever that we understand how the next generation is not just going to be raised but conceived.

Join me at ESA and think about how conception happens in the “brave new world.”

In the gray light of a dreary Tuesday morning, the city started to awaken.

Mothers stood in darkened kitchens, placing plastic-wrapped sandwiches into brown paper bags while children dressed themselves for school. Dads ensured backpacks were packed and umbrellas were ready by the door. Infants yelped for sleep-deprived parents. Dads changed diapers while moms warmed bottles. Teenagers hit the snooze button for a third time while preschoolers watched cartoons and ate buttered toast on TV trays. Toddlers pulled all of their toys out of their toy boxes, moms avoided two-day-old stacks of dirty dishes in the sink while dads narrowly avoided stepping on pointy plastic trains on the living room floor for the seventeenth time. Morning prayers were said. Hugs and kisses were exchanged. Temperatures were taken. Buses were caught. Ties were straightened.

Everywhere across the city, families greeted the new day with a frenzy of activity.

Everywhere, that is, except for one place.

In the quiet darkness of the hospital room, the monotonous beeping of the heart monitor kept time. The silent dripping of the fluid bags delivered medication. The constant puffing of the leg cuffs kept leg veins circulating. Outside was the dull tapping of the cold November rain on the window and the quiet roar of the traffic: parents driving to work or dropping kids off at daycare, buses taking students to school.

A thin gray wash of sterile-looking light barely illuminated the room on that early November morning. I sat in the plastic chair beside the bed and sipped from my little foam cup of hospital coffee. I had managed to sneak in without waking Cheri, but I would not be able to stay for long before I would have to slip off to work.

That was Cheri and I a year ago last November. We were as far away from our goal of having a child as we could imagine. By God’s grace, Cheri got well and we did have our son just five weeks ago. We have also celebrated with others who celebrate births and we have mourned with people whose dreams have not come true.

I am so proud of the people who shared their stories for Plus or Minus. Infertility taught me so much about parenting before I even became a parent, and I hope the same is true for any of you parents who read the book. I hope it helps educate you on how to encourage your friends who are going through something secret. I hope it helps educate our churches to be able to minister to hurting couples.

Most of all, I hope it gives each of you a new perspective on life and the amazing God who is behind it all. Please, download the ebook, leave a review on Amazon, tell a friend. #ShareTheHope

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After five years of waiting, working, praying and paying, Cheri and I have our boy at home.IMG_8136

It’s been five years, about four of those spent pursuing fertility treatments. Five years is a while to spend waiting for a child whom you want. Plenty of people get pregnant when they “plan” on it. Some people get pregnant, even when they do not plan on it. And yes, there are people who have waited far longer than we have, who have paid a higher price and said more desperate prayers. So we are far from the most long-suffering couples.

In just a few weeks, our infertility memoir, Plus or Minus will be released by Moody Publishers. You might think that with a child in our arms, infertility is forever destined to be in our rear view mirror, a distant memory that we probably will not think about much anymore.

However, when something sticks with you for five years, it tends to leave a pretty indelible mark on your marriage and your faith. The fact is that infertility has been with us so long, I just cannot imagine our marriage without it.

Yes, we have a child in our arms. But here are a few ways that all of that waiting has fundamentally shaped how we see our own child (and all of yours).

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I’ve been taking a year-end break from the blog, but that doesn’t mean we have been taking it easy here in the Appling house.

We spent Christmas week expecting baby to finally arrive.

Two days after Christmas, Cheri started having contractions. All night it went, until we went to the hospital. It was a restful day with the epidural. But when it came time to push, things got rough. Sure, we still had some quiet classical music playing. And Cheri wasn’t even screaming. The loudest person in the room was the doctor. But things slowed to a stalemate with baby not moving.

And so we went to the operating room, the last place we wanted to be. But by now, we have learned that our plans just do not count for much.

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I won’t be posting for the rest of the week with the holiday. But forty-eight hours into my son’s life, I’ve got a few thoughts…

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Last Saturday, I participated in a local author fair at our local library. It was a good time to meet people, talk to other writers, and give away free previews of Plus or Minus.

The first woman awkwardly approached my table. She wore a shapeless brown coat and dragged a small child along.

I told her about my books. “This one is about coping with infertility.”

She let out a little puff of a laugh and said, “Yeah, I wish I was infertile.”Infertility E-Cards

The very first person, the very first member of the public to react to my face told me she wished she was infertile.

I guffawed a little because my natural inclination is to try to deflect any awkwardness that happens in my presence. I should have told her that was a terrible thing to say. I should have told her that there are medical procedures that can help her. I wanted to say anything to confront the blatant thoughtlessness of that comment.

But I did not.

The awkward women dragged her burdensome child along, and the rest of the day went along pleasantly. No one else was rude. We gave away lots and lots of previews.

But it reminded me that for most people, infertility is just not in their vocabulary. It’s so much not in their vocabulary, that the first thing that comes out of their mouths is often rude, thoughtless or even unintentionally cruel.

People have said a lot of unintentionally rude things to Cheri and I over the years. Please, when you run into people who are unhappily childless, resist the urge to respond with these phrases.

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Would you do like Abraham did?

Worst Father-Son picnic ever.

Worst Father-Son picnic ever.

There has been a little conversation bubbling up over the last week, at least in my corner of social media, the question being would you do as Abraham did?

Meaning, would you pass the “test” that Abraham passed when he placed his promised son, Isaac on the altar?

Predictably, there are a lot of people who say “Surely I would!” They announce their confidence that they would absolutely be willing to murder their children if God told them to. They proclaim their willingness as a sign of their faith. It’s just a good thing that God does not tell them to do so.

And on the other side are the people who say, “Surely I would not!” And from this side, the “faithful” are prodded about what kind of God would really ask them to do such a thing. What is faith worth if God is so evil as to ask something like that?

Now Cheri and I have not waited nearly as long for our son as Abraham and Sarah did. But we have learned a couple of things about what it means to be long-waiting parents.

And one thing that we have learned is that while God may never ask us to place our child on a literal altar, the same test that Abraham faced, the rest of us also face, whether we know it or not.

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