Saturday, May 9, 2015

The "I" Word: Guest Post by Dr. Laurel Shaler

I am delighted to have Dr. Laurel Shaler on HeartPoint this week as my honored guest. 

Laurel is a professor at Liberty University where she serves as Director of the Human Services Counseling program. She is passionate about intersecting faith, culture, and emotional well-being, which she does by writing and speaking, specifically to women. Laurel and her sailor husband live in Lynchburg, VA, but spend as much time as possible in her beloved hometown of Greenville, SC. She enjoys being active in church and community and spending time with family and friends. She is self-confessedly a "Southern Belle."

Laurel has been published in the well-known Lifeway's Journey, Extraordinary Women and P31 Woman Magazines. She also had two devotionals published in "Penned from the Heart, Volume 20."

I am especially grateful to have Dr. Laurel guest posting over Mother's Day weekend, because she eloquently addresses the deep struggle shared by many women with infertility--the dreaded "I" word. Laurel speaks from her own personal experience and provides a valuable perspective and much-needed insight. I appreciate her candid and honest self-disclosures as well as her practical ideas very much.

Here's Dr. Laurel!

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People make a lot of assumptions about married women who don’t have children. Especially one who has been married for almost a dozen years like me. I get a lot of questions, such as:

Are you going to have children?

When are you going to have children?

Are you trying to have children?

Are you doing anything to prevent pregnancy?

Have you considered adoption?

What about IVF?

Yep, I have been asked ALL of those questions…and more. Talk about invasive! And while I don’t mind close friends checking in, it is never 100% comfortable to talk about. And it is 0% comfortable discussing with people who I don’t know well, or at all.

Let me just give you the run down on women who are struggling with the dreaded “I” word. We are all different. Our stories are all different. Our hearts and prayers are all different. But, I think we would all agree that what we really want is prayer, love and support. Not questions. Not pity. Not gossip. Just prayer, love and support.

My story started when I was 18 years old and had life saving surgery. (Read more HERE and HERE). As far as being able to have biological children…it doesn’t look like that will happen naturally.

And I’m okay with that.

And then I’m not okay with that.

And I don’t understand. And I don’t expect anyone else to understand. On one hand, I trust God and am at peace about His plan.

And, on the other hand, there are moments when I break down and sob. Usually when I’m home alone, or in the middle of the night, at the thought of not having a child or two who look like us. At not having the experience of pregnancy. At not being a biological mom.  At feeling like less than because I haven’t had biological children.

And then, I am right back to thinking I am okay with all of it. Especially when I think of all the needy children in the world who need a good home. Knowing that God has been working in our lives so that we can help provide for HIS children.

But, I don’t like the assumptions. I don’t like feeling like there is something wrong with me because I haven’t been able to have biological children. I don’t like people thinking that I care more about my career than having children. And I definitely don’t want to be pitied. Or asked too many invasive questions. Especially by those who don’t even know me. I just want to be prayed for. And loved and supported.

My encouragement to those who are struggling with infertility (or those who have chosen not to have children or chosen not to have any more children) is to try not to let the questions upset you. Not everyone is sensitive. Not everyone understands your situation. And many may harmlessly be asking. We don’t have to get upset when asked those questions. We can just give a polite response that sets boundaries.

And to those who care about someone who is walking down the path of infertility, there are so many ways you can be supportive. For example, be sensitive to that person. Some of us love attending baby showers and children’s birthday parties, while those special events are too painful for others. Please, just recognize that we are all different, be cautious with your questions, and don’t make assumptions. If you want to learn more, I invite you to read THIS.


We all need to respect that God’s plan for every couple is different, and every couple walks down a unique path. Even if we don’t all agree or understand, I think the only Christian response is to pray, and offer love and support.

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Thanks, Dr. Laurel, for these relevant, touching and helpful thoughts!

Please connect with Dr. Laurel Shaler at her various social media sites including the following:

Website/Blog: DrLaurelShaler.com
Facebook: Dr. Laurel Shaler
Twitter: @DrLaurelShaler
Pinterest: DrLaurelShaler