About 1 in 10 people — both men and women — experience fertility problems, and the result is often isolation, discouragement and prolonged grief. A new book seeks to provide hope and encouragement to individuals walking that path.
“Waiting in Hope: 31 Reflections for Walking with God Through Infertility” is co-authored by Kelley Ramsey, founder of Waiting in Hope Ministries, and Jenn Hesse, content director at Waiting in Hope.
Both say they felt alone at times during their own journeys through infertility.
“Infertility is a type of grief and that may be new information to many people,” Hesse said. “It is a type of loss. It can include miscarriage, which is losing a baby, which is the death of a loved one. Infertility is death of a dream, of all these expectations.”
“Waiting in Hope” was written to help a woman feel seen, they said.
“We wanted to reach women where they are in that grief and help them get a sense of, ‘God is with you. You’re not abandoned. You’re not alone,’” Hesse said.
Working through the material
Written in a devotional style, the book has short chapters so it’s not too overwhelming. There are reflection questions, a prayer and an action section at the end of each chapter. Though there are 31 chapters, the reader should feel free to take the time needed to process the content before moving on.
“It is meant to meet them where they are in terms of the unique heartache that they are feeling,” Hesse said. “Kelley and I share snippets into moments of our journeys, our waiting experiences and some of the times where we felt extremely lost or confused.”
Ramsey and Hesse acknowledge how God designed people to be in community and lift up each other. Those experiencing infertility have a hard time connecting due to a common stigma that makes it difficult to share openly about this very personal topic.
“When it’s not falling into place as we know that it should — how God made us to conceive and carry life — then there’s a huge amount of grief and letdown from the expectation to the reality that this is not working right,” Hesse said.
Resource for loved ones
Though “Waiting in Hope” is geared toward the women experiencing infertility, it is also helpful for friends, family and churches who love and want to support these women. There is even a section addressing the husbands, written by Justin Ramsey, Kelley’s husband.
Hesse noted attending baby showers or celebrations of others’ growing families is extremely difficult. Compassion is necessary.
“One of the hardest side effects of infertility is how one woman’s joy sparks another woman’s grief,” Hesse said.
Many feel guilt over the difficulty of celebrating Mother’s Day with those who are already mothers, especially their own moms, and don’t want to ignore the day. However, it can feel like having salt poured on a wound during these special times.
“We encounter so many women who can’t even go on Sundays. It’s a lot. They have to prepare themselves and guard their hearts as they go into church, if they can even go there. Mother’s Day in particular is brutal for a woman who is really desperately wanting to become a mom,” Hesse said.
“It’s like this parade in front of you of what you don’t have.”
‘Help each other’
A group that is rarely thought about with infertility problems is women who have had abortions and then later can’t get pregnant.
One woman whose story was included in “Waiting in Hope” felt shame and sorrow over having an abortion when she was young. She found a post-abortion support group and began to heal as she processed her emotions, which helped her trust Jesus when she faced infertility later in life.
Other women feel like infertility is God’s punishment for past mistakes. “Waiting in Hope” reminds them that there’s no condemnation for those in Christ.
“Many women come and show up broken — and that’s okay. God doesn’t take us after we’re cleaned up. This is how we come. This is how we approach Him.
“He is the One who says, ‘I’m doing the work in you. I am your Redeemer. I’m your Savior, and you can tell me that these things have been hard and I will carry them for you,’” Hesse said.
“That’s how we want our community to be — women who help each other believe that God cares.”