Infertility & Pregnancy Loss

Drawing on my decade-long struggle with infertility treatment and Dr. Cutrer’s more than twenty-five years of medical expertise, our coauthored books about infertility explore this spiritual, marital, emotional, medical, and ethic crisis. We offer a unique male/female, doctor/patient, and clinical/theological combination of perspectives.

A Journey Through Miscarriage
Six hundred thousand U.S. women experience miscarriage each year. One in every 50 couples trying to have children experience multiple miscarriages. As many as 120,000 couples each year suffer at least their third consecutive miscarriage.

A Heart’s Desire
Why Does It Hurt So Much?
A couple sat to eat lunch with me after I had spoken at an infertility symposium. As we began to talk, I asked the wife, “When you grieve over your infertility, what is your greatest loss?” She didn’t have to think about her answer. “It’s the loss of a dream; my heart’s desire is to have my husband’s child and raise it together.” I turned to the husband and addressed him. “And you?”

Dealing with Aunt Bertha and Other Well-Intentioned Dragons
Whenever I sit in a room full of quiet fertility patients, I’ve found a quick way to get the conversation started. I simply ask, “Has anyone ever been insensitive about your infertility?” At first they give me the “duh” look, indicating that the stupidity of my question is on par with, “Has Oprah ever been on a diet?” But after that momentary pause, they stumble over each other with anecdotes.

Secondary Infertility: The Baby Blues
When Charla and Bob Boyl tried to have a second child, they were shocked to discover they had a fertility problem. The Boyls have plenty of company; at least one in twelve couples of childbearing age experience secondary infertility. They have one child, maybe more, then find that after a year or more of trying, they have been unable to conceive or carry another pregnancy to term.

KCBI Interview
Psychologist David Henderson interviewed me about infertility and pregnancy loss and their effect on women, especially as they affect marriage and faith.

Transcript of 2009 Moody Radio Broadcast
For the couple that’s going through infertility, I would say it’s often the very first thing a couple goes through in their young time together, the first major grief they experience together and they’re floored to find out how differently they deal with it. And just to know that this doesn’t mean you have a lousy marriage, it can actually mean you have a strong marriage, you just need to recognize we‟re not the same.

Infertility FAQ
In English & Spanish
Are infertility and sterility the same thing?
Isn’t infertility really a woman’s problem problem?
Is infertility rare?

In Search of the Stork
When Heather Patterson hadn’t conceived after trying 18 months for a second child, she consulted her physician. At 32, she dropped her jaw when he told her she had begun early menopause. “I cry a lot now,” she said. “Especially when I receive baby shower invitations.”

Facing the No-Baby Blues
“I think I just need to relax,” I told my ob/gyn after my annual examination. “We’re putting in long hours with our youth group, I work full-time, and my husband just finished seminary.” I had believed the myth that the cure for infertility is relaxing.

“I’m Pregnant”: How to Tell Infertile Friends
Tears burned in Kathy’s eyes. It was painful enough to cuddle with her nieces and nephews when she and Kevin longed for a baby. Then, as the family circled the holiday dinner table, her sister exclaimed, “Kathy, I haven’t had a chance to tell you—I’m pregnant again!” All of the relatives stared at their plates. Kathy said later, “I was the only one who didn’t know. I’m sure she was excited about her good news, but my sister did an awful job of telling me she was expecting.”

When Mother’s Day Never Comes
Every year on a Sunday in May, pastors ask mothers to stand. In some churches all the mothers will receive a flower. Restaurants will offer bargain meals to families honoring Mom. On Mother’s Day we honor the sacrifices our mothers have made and continue to make—and well we should. But for millions of couples, Mother’s Day is “M-Day,” the most dreaded holiday of the year. For these couples—the ones experiencing fertility problems—this day serves as a reminder of what they long to have but which eludes their grasp. A child.

Ethics & Infertility

The Ethics of Using Leftover Embryos
What can we do about all the frozen embryos slated for destruction? Avoid cryopreservation of embryos. First, we need to avoid the waste of more embryos by counseling couples pursuing assisted reproductive technologies to limit the number of eggs fertilized to the number they’re committed to carry to term. With in vitro fertilization procedures, each mature egg is placed in a separate dish. So in the case of abundant eggs, embryologists can limit the number of eggs exposed to sperm. Generally when couples request this, clinics honor their ethical desires.

When the Cradle is Empty: Ethical Solutions
Ten years ago, the news reported that a California couple had become part of the world’s first five-parent arrangement. Having contacted the unmarried birthparents of their adopted child, they asked for a biological sibling. By that time, the birth parents had split up and lived in different states, but they offered to donate eggs and sperm. Because the adoptive mother was unable to carry a pregnancy, the adoptive father’s adult daughter (from another marriage) served as a surrogate.

Read the headlines or browse news stories these days and you’ll find all sorts of medically related topics. Cloning. Infertility. Test tube babies. Euthanasia. Stem cell research. Embryo adoption. Surrogacy. These are just a sampling, right? My journey through infertility and pregnancy loss has given me a front-row seat in some of the bioethics conversations—a seat I never would have pursued had my situation not demanded answers.

Multiple Choices: Navigating the Moral Mine Field of Fertility Treatment
We didn’t put much thought into the “right and wrong” of what we were doing. We wanted a baby and either of us probably would have sacrificed anything for success. How many to fertilize, what to do with “leftover embryos,” whether we’d consider using a donor, destroying embryos without thinking—answering those questions beforehand saved us lots of stress in the midst of IVF.

On August 24, I wrote a piece about Plan B, which the FDA had just approved. Afterward, someone left this comment: How do they (scientists) not know whether or not Plan B sheds or doesn’t shed the uterine wall? That seems like it would be simple to find out. If Plan B did in fact do this…would this change some of your opinions?


Un Anhelo Del Corazón
¿Por qué es tan doloroso?
Después de haber dictado una conferencia sobre infertilidad tuve la oportunidad de almorzar con una pareja. Mientras charlábamos le pregunté a la esposa: “¿Qué es lo que te causa más dolor cuando lamentas ser infértil?”

Further Resources

Posts on Infertility & Pregnancy Loss

In the Near Future: Uterus Transplants

By Infertility, Life In The BodyNo Comments

The New York Times November 13 print edition ran an article by Denise Grady that announced “Uterus Transplants May Soon Help Some Infertile Women in the U.S. Become Pregnant.” The Times considered the news so big that a press release came to my in-box.   It’s all going down at The Cleveland Clinic, where doctors expect to become the first in the US  to transplant a uterus into a woman who lacks one—whether due to congenital factors, injury, or illness. The procedure would eliminate the need for a gestational surrogate. After giving birth to one or two children—by C-section—the woman receiving the transplanted uterus would have it removed so she can quit taking anti-rejection meds. An estimated 50,000 women in the United States might be candidates. Currently, eight have begun the screening process. The transplant team would remove the uterus, cervix, and part of the vagina from a recently deceased organ donor. (The uterus, if kept…

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I Wish My Church Knew…

By Gender & Faith, Infertility, Marriage, WomenNo Comments

Recently Her.meneutics asked people to enter a summer writing contest addressing what they wished their church knew. More than 150 women with ages ranging from 16 to 70+ responded from across the world. Here is the list of topics they submitted.  “I wish my church knew . . .” the pain of miscarriage the importance of female pastors as role models that we don’t have all the answers that singles need ministry too that we can learn something from the LGBT community the demands of women who work the pervasiveness of mental illness to teach us how to argue the forgotten power of reciting the psalms to stop looking for the next big thing the needs of rural women what it’s like to be an evangelical introvert how to talk about addiction the ministry opportunities for adults with disabilities how to make disciples out of senior citizens what it’s really like to be a pastor’s kid…

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Marriage podcast: Part 2

By Infertility, MarriageNo Comments

In this episode, I talk about my own marriage and the difficulties we have faced, as well as how we handled these problems. I discuss the theological bases of marriages and how everyone’s belief can be skewed at times. You’ll Discover: The true goal and purpose of a marriage The essential ingredients that help throughout the changing “seasons” of life The number one sex problem    

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