The calendar plays a huge part in our everyday lives. We write or type entries in planners or phones, looking forward to future events with joyful anticipation—birthdays, concerts, dinners, weddings, lunches, parties, and vacations. We remember significant times by looking back at dates past—anniversaries of a loved one’s death, health recovery, obstacles overcome.
We often fill our days and require more flexibility and space to allow God room to work in between our tasks and appointments. Right now we sit in an “in between” time because of a silent, invisible virus. We don’t know what our calendar will look like for the next few weeks, maybe months.
We do know that we want it filled with all the things of life: family get-togethers, eating out in restaurants, in-person birthday celebrations, graduation parties, sitting together in worship with our church family.
The wait of COVID-19 feels tiresome at best, overwhelming at worst. We each have experienced some form of the illness over the last few weeks by way of anxiety, stress, and possibly an infected loved one. We attempt to process our impatience and hope for a return to the normal schedule of life.
At the same time our friends, family, and community members in the middle of the infertility journey feel a tenfold weight of wait.
Even in “normal” times, the calendar doesn’t play fair with those struggling through fertility issues. So much of their daily life depends on specific days of the month: charting daily temperature, monitoring cycles, scheduling medications, injections, and procedures. Timing of every aspect is crucial.
After every attempt at pregnancy comes another wait . . . checking off each day until a pregnancy test shows if efforts succeeded this time. If the result is negative, they are met with a monthly mourning period. They process, grieve, take another deep breath, and renew their resolve to try again. When the pregnancy test shows positive, each day is checked off with bated breath—thoughts of miscarriage possibility compete with internal hope of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
During COVID19 shutdowns and social distancing, most (if not all) fertility treatments have been deemed non-essential, so the rush of time feels particularly urgent as these couples review their calendars and understand that lost time has huge ramifications.
We can serve as a bridge of practical compassion for friends and loved ones in an active infertility season. Will you spend a few minutes with your calendar and, over the next week or two, fill out several days’ worth of outreach activity for someone you know in this fertility fight? Find or create a blank calendar page online and print it out. Write your planned activities of support. A digital version works as well. Here are a few ideas:
- Every other day, write pray on your calendar. On the days of prayer, text them your prayer and let them know you are praying that day. Your prayer should be simple—“Lord, watch over my friend ________ today. Give her/them Your strength, peace, and comfort as they walk through this time. Let them experience Your love and grace today.”
- On another day handwrite and mail or drop off a simple Thinking of you A short sweet message of support is all that you need to write.
- Maybe drop off a small jar with flowers from your yard another day.
- Invite your friend on a nature or neighborhood walk. Companionship, sunshine, and God’s creation are always a great combo! Allow (and be comfortable with) silence. Let them lead the conversation if they feel like talking. Just listen if they need to cry.
- Arrange to send them a favorite dinner delivery one night.
- Drop off a spa or nail salon gift card to use in the future and tell them to plan on a girl’s day of beauty together once life activities resume.
- Order an inspirational read that has no stories of children – just something that soothes the soul.
- Put a movie theater gift card in a note about a future movie date with you. Mention a fun movie that you can both look forward to.
Let’s offer them safe signs of support with texts of care, small acts of kindness, and loads of fervent prayer. Infertility is a painful, isolating reality anyway. In the middle of pandemic situation, they sit and wait on their own and the silence is deafening.
They don’t need us to fix it. They know we can’t.
They don’t need us to offer clichés or success stories—these really don’t help.
They don’t need our standard-reply Bible verses. They know God’s truth, but their human pain is too raw for pat answers in this moment.
They do need to know they are not alone.
They do need to have our quiet presence in person or in prayer.
They do need to experience our presence in their situation with freedom and grace to discuss things or just be.
The calendar of infertility is challenging anytime. During this worldwide medical and social crisis the postponement of doctor visits and treatments must seem unbearable. Let’s come alongside and offer a calendar of care and love to our brothers and sisters in their time of need.
Dr. Julie Shannon is the founder of Shannon Communication, LLC, author of Infertility & Involuntary Childlessness: Traveling the Terrain and When the Stork Passes By: A Field Guide to Practical Compassion (available late June 2020). She holds a Master’s degree in Christian Education and a Doctoral degree in Educational Ministry with an emphasis on women’s studies. Find more about her speaking and writing at drjulieshannon.com.