The Cross of Infertility, Part 4: How to Encourage a Couple Facing Infertility


This is the final installment of Catherine Boucher’s powerful four-part series,”The Cross of Infertility” with special guest Amanda Teixeira. Read Part 1 herePart 2 here, and Part 3 here.

In Part 4, Amanda gives us ideas how TO support a loved one facing infertility.  We also discussed how faith plays in to all of this, how Amanda and Jonathan support one another, the best ways for friends with children to support them, resources for couples facing infertility, and Amanda’s closing thoughts.

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CB: What are some of the most helpful and healing things others have said or done?  What made these gestures so moving?

1. Praying for and with us.

We know many people have actually prayed novenas with and for us. Others have offered Masses and told us. Still others have included us on their pilgrimages to holy sites or brought us blessed religious articles from different places across the world.

These are really comforting to us. These gestures make us feel like we aren’t alone. Others are physically helping us carry the cross in these actions.

2. Inviting us over and opening their lives to us.

Several other couples who struggle with infertility have taken us under their wings. I always walk away from those convos refreshed and ready to keep carrying the cross.

Even fertile couples inviting us over to actually join them in their lives is incredibly healing for us. We get to be around a family and the realities of what it’s like to have kids around. This never makes us jealous or sad. We just enjoy feeling welcomed into the life of others’ families and it helps Jonathan and I feel more like a family even if it’s just us two. It also gives us hope of what might be in store for us someday.

3. Asking us how they can help.

This really takes boldness, and I really appreciate it when a friend asks this.

Infertility is like being on the cross with Jesus. I am totally linked to him. I am well aware that we are asking a LOT of our friends and family to be near us in the struggle.

It’s like when Jesus was on the cross — only Mary, John, and a few women stood nearby. It took tremendous amounts of courage to stay by Jesus on the cross and, in turn, it takes a lot of courage to ask people to stand with us while we hang on the cross. Most people won’t have the emotional ability to stay with us, and I know that. But those willing to try and stick near us…I treasure with all my heart because they are far and few between.

4. Sending us notes/gifts/gift cards/invitations to go have fun with them.

We’ve had people send us groupons or gift cards to go out to eat or to grab coffee. Yes, we’re busy with work and some outside of work activities but yeah, we have time on our hands. Time I all too often resent. When family/friends intentionally step in the gap and try to help me enjoy the time, I am thankful.

Once, I even got flowers with an encouraging message on a day I had some particularly difficult blood tests that a friend knew about. I can’t tell you how loved I felt in that moment.

Best yet, invite us to hangout/come visit if you are OOT. Quality time with others always helps us pass the time with more joy.

5. Asking us how we are doing.

There is a difference between really asking this and just being nosy. Everyone knows the difference.

The sincere asks are refreshing to me. If I don’t feel like answering, I will let you know. More often than not, I am carrying this burden alone with Jonathan and just praying someone will ask me how I am really doing. It’s healthy for me to vent from time to time and open up to people who really care about me.  I appreciate sincere people wanting to know how I am doing, especially because I feel awkward bringing this topic up because I don’t want to burden others.

One of the questions pregnant gals get ALL THE TIME is “how are you feeling?” I’ve never been pregnant, but in FOCUS I am surrounded by pregnant women EVERYWHERE, and so I hear it a lot. For the infertile girl, this question is hard and awkward and most people don’t ask because they simply can’t handle the suffering that will definitely come forth…which is why I am grateful for mature friends and family who willingly walk right into the hurt with me and open a door for me to share my heart.

CB: Being faithful Catholics, how does God play a role in all of this for you and Jonathan?  Do you distinguish between God’s ordained will and His permissive will in regards to your fertility?

This has been one of the hardest questions for us to struggle with honestly.

Questions that bounce through my mind: “Why would God, the author of all life, put a baby in the womb of a woman who will surely go abort it?” or “Why would God put a baby in the womb of a woman whose family will abuse the child?” or even, “Since God hasn’t blessed us with life, does that mean he doesn’t want us to be parents or we would be bad parents?”

There are no answers when I throw these questions at God. Usually only silence. All I do know is that he doesn’t want any child aborted or abused, and he doesn’t want me to suffer and feel like he hates me. But that is all I know. My life is surrounded with dozens of unanswered questions, as many peoples lives are with a variety of sufferings they endure.

CB: What are the best ways that you support Jonathan?  What are the best ways that he supports you?  

Best way to support Jonathan? To be attentive to spending time with him and verbally tell him how happy I am to be married to him/value him in my life. I mentioned previously that he sometimes fears I hate my life married to him without babies…so I have to reassure him of my affections despite my sadness.

Best ways he can support me? Taking me on adventures and helping me put my dreams into a reality. For example: I have been wanting to run a half-marathon lately. Jonathan is helping research races across the country in fun places like California or Florida so we can train together and have something to look forward to.

CB: What are the best moves for friends with children to do?

Keep me in their lives. I think people with children are afraid to talk to me about their children in fear I will have a meltdown. If someone is bragging about their kids to me, yeah, I will get annoyed, but so would anyone.

If a friend with children is simply sharing a hilarious story or wants to talk (without complaining) about how tough it is to be attentive to their older children while they battle sleepless nights with a newborn, I am all ears. That’s their reality, and I want to be a part of it, not shut out. I have the emotional maturity to be a good friend even if I am not blessed with kiddos myself.

Now, there may be seasons when I simply keep my own distance, and don’t think I hate you or anything. I am likely just grieving the most recent bad news (failed treatment, return of an infection, another negative pregnancy test, got 15 pregnancy announcements from other FOCUS women, etc.). I’ll be back. I just might not be able to accept your invitation to come over or attend that Baby Shower you are hosting for a friend.

CB: What resources are available for couples facing infertility?  What encouragement and support would you offer them?

1. Naprotechnology

2. My blog posts

3. Books:

Infertility Companion for Catholics

My Sisters the Saints (LOVE THIS BOOK!!!)

4. Counseling.

5. Prayer, Spiritual Direction, and Confession.

I can’t stress this foundation enough. With infertility, daily prayer is vital to warding off despair. Spiritual direction will also keep you sane. And confession…it will be necessary use this Sacrament to dispel lies from the Devil you slip into believing.

CB: How have you grown in your relationship with God during this time?

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t. There are days I feel I am backsliding in my faith at best..I’ve actually cussed God out a time or two in my weakest moments. Pretty bad, right?

But then I look back on my faith from years ago. It was strong, yes, but it hadn’t been tested. Now, with infertility, I feel as if I’ve been through the fiery furnace only to be sent right back through it again every time another cycle starts. Yep, there are days my faith is hanging on by a string. But most days, a sense of abandonment, surrender, wonder and awe, trust, perspective, humility, and wisdom come over me.

I feel 110% dependent on God alone…mostly because I literally can’t DO anything to take my cross away. I know how weak I am and I quit trusting myself a long time ago with this cross. It’s all Him now. My life finds its identity in God because He’s the only One who can’t let me down. Everything else is passing to me.  I long for heaven. I don’t care about my plans because His are better even if they don’t feel better right now.

Sometimes I think God gave me the cross of infertility to force me into total surrender because I never would have gotten there any other way. That makes me grateful. I’ve always prayed that my life would be about Him and bringing Him glory. That my life would look like His. I really believe infertility is an answered prayer (rarely!!!! but I do sometimes) because I don’t know if I would have been this linked to Jesus through any other means. I get to be with him on the cross…and so it’s only a matter of time until he brings the resurrection into my life. What a sweet day that will be indeed.

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Amanda, thank you so much for opening your heart and spilling out everything–your pain, your longing, your hope, and the truth about everything in between.  Thank you for helping all of us reading to better understand how to love you and anyone we know carrying the cross of infertility.  I am so proud to call you my dear friend.  I pray that this blog series will help the rest of us unburden you from carrying this cross alone.  You are a treasure!

Copyright 2014 Catherine Boucher


About Author

Catherine Boucher went into "early retirement" from teaching high school Spanish to become a stay-at-home mom. She has three children on earth (Jane, Walter, and Harold) and a saint in heaven (Thérèse). When she isn't taking care of her children, she's probably spending time with her husband, blogging, reading, cooking/baking, or catching up with friends. Catherine's personal blog is The Life I Need.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing. My husband and I have struggled with infertility for years and your answers are SPOT ON! I especially loved the 3rd part of this series as people say some crazy things! Many of the statements mentioned, I’ve heard too.

    We’ve been blessed by the gift of foster-to-adopt and have been able to grow our family. I love talking about adoption if anyone is interested, ask away … [email protected]. Amanda, you and your husband will be in our prayers!

    • Courtney,
      Thank you for sharing about your journey from foster-to-adopt and for offering yourself as a resource for any families feeling called to do likewise. Also, thank you for offering your prayers for Amanda and Jonathan. I know they appreciate it!

  2. Catherine, I have really been following this series with great interest. I just finished a blog tour in which I had to answer a lot of questions about my family’s journey with infertility, so I found myself shouting out an “AMEN SISTER!” with so much of what you’ve shared. It’s not pleasant to know someone else is going through so much of what I’ve experienced over the past 16 years of marriage (different, but so much similar), but, somehow, it helps. Hugs & prayers to you, my dear. Keep writing the good fight.

    • Ditto to you, Erin and Amanda! My husband and I have been married for 16 years also. :) We have two, beautiful children whom we adopted as infants after 7 years of not conceiving. Amanda, I recall lamenting to my late mother-in-law, “It’s been almost 2 years of not conceiving” and she said, “Oh, Honey, 2 years really isn’t that long.” My mother-in-law and I were VERY close, and she was SO sweet–such a good and loving woman–but in that moment, I absolutely could have slapped her!!! Thank you for sharing so honestly your thoughts and struggles on this very personal subject. I will be praying for you and Jonathan–for the Lord’s holy will to be accomplished in your lives and for the desires of your hearts to be granted! I marvel everyday at the precious gifts we were granted in our children, and how incredible His timing was in all of it. But I also never forget the pain and isolation those years brought (and infertility still brings on some level). “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…” God bless.

      • Ali, I am sorry to hear that you had to endure the same kind of suffering Amanda described in this series. (You too, Erin!) I hope that reading Amanda’s words was somehow healing, and I hope that the three of you can find comfort in knowing that we can lift one another up in prayer and carry our crosses, whatever they may be, together. Thank you, Ali, for sharing your story!

        • Catherine, thank you–I appreciate your kind words and I am grateful to be able to report that while “adoption isn’t a cure for infertility”, so much healing of my broken heart took place when we were blessed with the gift of adopting our daughter, our first child. The cross of infertility certainly increases my awareness that motherhood is a true gift, and it has honesty helped me to not take this gift for granted on the days when the crosses of MOTHERHOOD are heavy in and of themselves! Thank you for your concern for your friend and for all of us experiencing the trials of infertility. In the midst of our journey, my husband and I (along with 4 other couples) started a Catholic family prayer group. While many in this group were having babies left and right, we actually found that a fairly high percentage of us also struggled with infertility. We have been able to support and encourage one another as well as share this cross with the other very fertile families. I think it made some of those other families a little more sensitive to the reality of infertility and to the kinds of comments they would make. Anyway, thank you again for doing this series. May the Lord bless you on your journey and in your vocation as well!

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