Female Infertility: How Endometriosis Affects Your Ability To Get Pregnant

By Sarah Forbes

Female infertility is a common problem in the world today. There are many reasons why people find it difficult to get pregnant. Endometriosis may be one of the reasons for the difficulties you face when trying to conceive. Here is how this condition affects your ability as a woman to have a baby.

The first thing that you should know when trying to understand how endometriosis affects your ability to get pregnant is to understand how the condition affects your reproductive system. Endometriosis is a common condition among women which causes the lining of the uterus to grow outside the uterine cavity. The result of this is that the tissues of the lining may end up attaching themselves to abdominal or reproductive organs. Further complications may develop during menstruation where this tissue may fill with blood.

Endometriosis usually results in serious complications because of the blood that is trapped within the tissue. This occurs because the lining is out-of-place and thus the blood cannot be shed off through the vagina as it normally would. This usually results in the development of blood blisters. These blisters that result from endometriosis may then develop into scar tissue, cysts or adhesions. This is what usually causes most women with endometriosis to experience a lot of pain.

Endometriosis affects a woman's ability to get pregnant by causing the formation of scar tissues. These scars usually affect the functioning of the female reproductive system, especially the fallopian tubes. It may also result in the secretion of substances into the womb that may affect fertilization and thus preventing a woman from getting pregnant.

In addition to this, this condition is known to increase the chances of a woman having hormonal dysfunction. Progesterone deficiency is one of the dysfunctions that may be caused by endometriosis. By affecting the hormonal balance needed for a woman to get pregnant or keep a pregnancy, this condition reduces the chances of a successful conception. It may also result in early miscarriages.

Given the effects that endometriosis has on a woman who is trying to get pregnant, it is important to treat the condition as early as possible. There are various ways to do this. Stopping a woman's menstruation is one of the medical options that you can choose. Surgery is usually recommended for serious cases. There are also natural ways through which you can prevent endometriosis and which you can take advantage of. Reducing the risks of developing the condition through a healthy lifestyle will definitely increase your chances of getting pregnant.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Forbes writes on ovarian cyst rupture and various ovarian cyst symptoms. She breathes a wealth of experience and expertise in her articles. Through writing, she has transformed thousands of lives of women. She has been writing for sites and blogs on reproductive health for the past 7 years.

Article Source: Female Infertility: How Endometriosis Affects Your Ability To Get Pregnant

Post-Abortion Healing Available For Men

By Lori Peters © 2012

Three in 10 women will have had an abortion by the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Such a decision has far-reaching impact for both women and men. In fact, there is growing evidence that men can be as negatively impacted by an abortion decision as women. Studies begun in the late 1970’s continuing through today show men dealing with abortion may experience after-abortion grief or trauma. Such symptoms include initial relief then anxiety, grief, depression, guilt, powerlessness and anger, feelings that are typical of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Every man who impregnates a woman must live with the possibility that she may abort that child. And, unlike other alternatives like parenting and adoption, he would have no say about it. With parenting, he could choose to be a part of the child’s life. With adoption, he could help choose adoptive parents for his child. He has legal rights in both situations. In the United States, a woman has the right to choose whatever she wants to do with her body, courtesy of Roe v. Wade, and a man’s opinion and views don’t count. Various challenges to this reality have been struck down by state and federal courts, most particularly Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. A woman is allowed to have an abortion with or without the birth father’s consent. It’s perfectly legal and okay.  

Mounting evidence shows men are not OK with their lack of involvement in an abortion decision. Their disapproval manifests itself in physical and emotional symptoms like anxiety, guilt, depression, suicidal thoughts, brief psychosis, sexual dysfunction, alcohol and substance abuse and many others. After-abortion grief or trauma can affect anyone involved in an abortion decision, not just the mother. The man whose partner has aborted their baby without his consent, and sometimes without his knowledge initially, is angry and sad, and regrets his lost fatherhood.

Many psychologists deny the existence of after-abortion grief, but my experiences at three venues—a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, an abortion clinic, and a pregnancy resource center—prove to me that such grief is real. Rachel’s Vineyard, coordinated by Priests For Life and Anglicans For Life, is a counseling and support resource available to anyone experiencing post-abortion trauma. Rachel’s Vineyard offers a person hope, healing and renewal via counseling, the Bible, and hands-on activities.    

Mostly women come to a retreat, but men have come with their partners because they have faced an abortion decision together or because she made that decision prior to their relationship and now needs support before it can move forward. We had two such scenarios during the retreat. The men revealed feelings of shame, worthlessness, humiliation, loneliness and grief. They realized they had made a decision that sounded good at the time but has had devastating long-term effects.

Retreat attendees arrive on a Friday evening and get acquainted. On Saturday, they tell their abortion story, receive a doll representing their lost child, and write a letter, a poem, or journal entry addressed to that child. They also receive individual counseling. The retreat ends with a special mass or commemorative service on Sunday. Throughout the experience, the retreat team uses scriptural readings and helps attendees insert themselves into the Bible stories read. Afterward, they are encouraged to meet for ongoing support. The entire weekend is emotionally draining, but God provides so much healing during that time.

My experiences there plus research in the post-abortion field have helped me find future trauma victims. While praying in front of an abortion clinic, I met a father who had taken his daughter for an abortion after she had refused his offer of help. The pain in his eyes mirrored the pain seen in the eyes of those on the retreat. After this gentleman shared that he’d also lost another daughter a few months before, I knew his risk for after-abortion trauma would be greatly increased. We prayed with this man.

At the pregnancy center, I’ve encountered young men needing support because their partners have undergone the procedure without their consent or they now regret their abortion decision. All have reported feeling angry, frustrated, sad and lost. What will those feelings do to them down the road?

Sometimes, those feelings can help you reverse your actions. For example, a client had an abortion and was pregnant again. She had the abortion due to pressure from her partner and her family, particularly a grandfather who was an integral part of her life. This time she decided to continue with the pregnancy and gave birth. She was surprised when her partner and family embraced her and the baby.
Not all stories end happily, but it is reassuring to know resources like Rachel’s Vineyard and pregnancy centers exist to help men and women reach a state of peace in their lives so they can move forward and make positive decisions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lori Peters, a former journalist, is a mother of 8 children, six of whom are living. In her spare time, she runs a crisis pregnancy center in Carlisle, PA, volunteers at her church, and hosts a radio show on life issues.

Losses Made Wins

By Lori Peters © 2012

The fact that I am the mother of six beautiful children astounds me daily. For a long time I feared I wouldn't have any children. I have lost two, and those experiences brought me to the lowest points of my life, emotionally and spiritually. The power of prayer, loving neighbors, and a healthy, expressive outlet helped to ease my suffering and care for others.

My husband Kevin and I wanted children but never really discussed how many we’d have. We also figured we’d have no problems conceiving them, but our attempts to get pregnant failed miserably, even with the help of a fertility specialist. We decided to take a break from trying—we were moving and became engrossed in our new environment.

In June 1996, I was about four weeks along before I noticed I had become pregnant. I checked out every book on pregnancy from the library and bought every pregnancy magazine to be had. I was already poring over baby names, too. To say that I was obsessed is an understatement.

The next month, I started spotting. This scared me for I knew bleeding during pregnancy was never a good thing. An ultrasound confirmed my fears. The screen showed my uterus had an empty sac that once contained a baby with a beating heart. The words “non-viable pregnancy” echoed in my brain. I don’t remember how I got home that day. All I recall is the utter desolation I felt about being a failure. Crying wasn't enough to wash away my pain.

I kept thinking how I hated God and myself. First, I couldn't get pregnant and then when I finally did, I couldn't hold onto it. What sort of God does this?

I felt a spiritual emptiness for months. As journaling had proven helpful to overcome difficulties, I started writing, but the usual prayers and musings I normally jotted down were elusive. I did not feel God’s presence, but I prayed I would. Attending church tortured me, but because my husband was faithful to his Catholic upbringing and I felt guilty staying home, I went with him to mass.

Around Christmas, I learned I was pregnant again. I did not want to face another failure. Each trip to the bathroom was scary, fearing I’d find blood again. I did not fully entrust this pregnancy to God.

My faith began to rejuvenate once I felt the baby move. I started saying daily prayers of gratitude. I delivered a beautiful and healthy daughter.

As the years passed, I became engulfed with the enormous challenge of raising five children. I also began trusting God again. It wasn't a lightning-bolt moment, but a series of small signs that God was blessing and loving me through my kids. I started talking to Him as I went about my daily duties.

I also started journaling again. Through that, I felt God directing me to set a better example for my children. Kevin and I were of two religious denominations. I could see the danger of confusion, especially as my oldest daughter began asking questions I could not answer. Because I was never attached to my own Protestant background, I began investigating Kevin’s. My research dispelled misconceptions I had about the Catholic religion. Mass started to make sense to me and eventually, I converted to Catholicism in 2004. As a convert, I was on fire for anything pertaining to the religion, voraciously reading any related material, asking questions, attending classes, and becoming involved in various ministries. I believe all this prepared me for yet another test in 2007.

Again, around Christmas, I was pregnant. We were about to announce our news when one morning in early January 2007, I awoke not feeling quite right. I felt a dull ache followed by spotting. As my condition worsened, I drove to the hospital, praying fervently and crying the entire time. By the time I arrived at the ER, I was immediately admitted and an ultrasound was done. Again, like the first miscarriage, no baby was detected. I had outpatient surgery to remove the remaining pieces of my lost baby. After waking up, I prayed and cried silently, caressing my stomach. This time, I was not mad at God, just sad for what could have been.

Unlike my first miscarriage, I sought someone to talk to other than my husband. I found a gentle and loving support group at the local hospital for people who had suffered miscarriage, stillbirth and early infant loss.
I also kept God close. I realized whenever God closes a door, He opens a window, meaning He had other plans for me. Those plans revealed themselves just a few months later when I was hired to run a crisis pregnancy center. The position enabled me to use my miscarriages to help others cope with pregnancy loss by sharing my experiences and offering comfort.

Three tools helped me cope with my miscarriages. The most important, especially with my second miscarriage, was constant prayer. I favor quick and conversational prayer as opposed to formulaic ones, with something as simple as “God, give me strength.”

Secondly, keeping a prayer journal was very valuable. Sometimes, the entries wrote themselves, as if the Holy Spirit had grabbed my pen. I was able to process my feelings and devise a course of action, even if it was just to get up and get dressed.

Lastly, getting support from people experiencing similar pain was highly helpful because I knew I wasn't alone in my grief.

With God’s guidance, I've learned that something positive can come from something negative and the loss can be a win if I use it to move forward with my life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lori Peters, a former journalist, is a mother of 8 children, six of whom are living. In her spare time, she runs a crisis pregnancy center in Carlisle, PA, volunteers at her church, and hosts a radio show on life issues.

What Is Male Infertility?

By Nathan Hapyan

Photo credit: iStockphoto
The term "infertility" is thrown around a lot, but it pays to remember that it can easily take up to a year for a normal couple to get pregnant. As such, infertility is typically said to be the inability to conceive a child after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. The statistics say that about 85% of couples will successfully conceive within this amount of time. The statistics also say that about 15% of couples trying to conceive are deal with some form of infertility, with 40-50% of those cases being due to male infertility. So if you've been diagnosed with some form of male infertility, do not despair, you are far from alone and many options are available to you. The standard forms of male infertility are due to one, or several of the issues of low sperm count, low sperm motility, and poor sperm morphology. In a smaller portion of cases, a physical obstruction or blockage can prohibit normal sperm delivery.

It is important to understand what each of the sperm related terms means.

Sperm Motility
Sperm motility is the ability of the sperm to move forward towards an egg. This is the sperm's "forward progress."

Sperm Count
Sperm count measures the concentration of sperm in a man's ejaculate. Over 15 million sperm per milliliter is considered normal, yet the average today is between 20-40 million. These numbers are just a guideline, and especially with today's technology, men are able to conceive within a wide range of sperm counts.

Sperm Morphology
Sperm morphology refers to the size and shape of the sperm. Certain sizes and shapes of sperm are better at fertilizing an egg than others. It is estimated that up to 10% of sperm has observable defects and will have difficulties fertilizing an egg. It is important to know that sperm morphology is the easiest, and cheapest thing a man can change in terms of his fertility. Basically, the healthier you are the better your morphology. This means eat right, have great morphology.

It is important to remember that successful fertilization relies on a balance of these three factors. Low motility in a high sperm count is not ideal; whereas if you have high motility in a low sperm count you may have no problems conceiving. Also, it will take around 3 months to see changes in these things since it takes about 2 and a half months to grow new sperm.

Here are 6 classifications of male infertility you may have heard about:

  • Oligospermia - "low sperm count", or low concentration of spermatozoa in the semen
  • Aspermia - complete lack of semen
  • Hypospermia - reduced seminal volume
  • Azoospermia - absence of sperm cells in semen
  • Teratospermia - increase in sperm with abnormal morphology
  • Asthenozoospermia - reduced sperm motility

Stay Positive
Being diagnosed with male infertility can be devastating. Believe me, I know. However, the more you learn, the better you will be able to deal with it, and hopefully overcome it. When you make the commitment to undergo treatment, you will be subject to frequent invasive testing and observation. As hard as this will be, keeping a healthy baby in sight will make this part easier. We as humans have an instinct to procreate and often have feelings of insecurity and insufficiency when this basic process does not work. If I get one thing across to you in this article, it is that infertility, both male and female, is very common and can be overcome. Good luck with your journey.

You've only just started your education on male infertility. For a whole lot more head on over to http://ivf-info.org/infertility-male-infertility where the http://ivf-info.org team have written many informative articles. Also, if there is something not explained in the articles there, please don't hesitate to ask on the IVF Forums.
Article Source: What Is Male Infertility?

An Ear to Hear

By Amy L. Bovaird © 2012

Losing our twins late in pregnancy tested our marriage more than any other challenge. Ihab was Egyptian. I was American. We had married against the wishes of our families. After a lengthy wait, we defied military regulations and wed in secret. We began married life together in the United Arab Emirates, a true home to neither of us.
During our 20th week of pregnancy, we learned Celestia, our first twin, had died in utero. Toxemia thrust my surviving baby and me into a Dubai hospital. A month after I arrived, the nurse yanked a teacup out of my hand. “We deliver baby now or mama die.”
Before long, she whisked Noor away to an incubator. Later I saw her tiny body engulfed in tubes. I stroked delicate chapped fingers but never got to hold her. She died a week later, on Mother’s Day. Ihab wasn’t there to help me bear it. I sobbed alone under the covers—the first of many moments we grieved apart.
That day I lay in ICU as Ihab buried Noor following Islamic custom, in a plain shroud against loose dirt. The gravesite rested in a cemetery—forbidden to non-Muslims. During my recuperation, Ihab hid our only photo of Noor so I wouldn’t dwell on the loss. Later, I prepared a memorial service to commemorate both twins’ short lives—alone. Everything about my world screamed ALONE.
Ihab kept himself too busy to talk. Instead of the babies I’d planned to nurse, in his absence, I nursed memories of my baby heartbeats and the first kick—from which twin I never knew. “We need to move forward,” Ihab said. To discuss our loss questioned Allah. The gulf widened as we stumbled through that year of sorrow.
Beach walkers
Photo credit: Mark R. Butterfield. Copyright 2011
When the teaching year ended, I planned to renew my contract. Ihab and I paced along the beach that evening. In tears, I shouted, “Why don’t you want me to sign it?”
“You can’t even tell how stressed you are. You never took a break; you’re an emotional wreck and it’s affecting us.”
“You mean that you need a break. You won’t talk about the twins or us. Should I just give up? I lost my babies. Do I have to lose you, too?”
“Amy, be reasonable. Taking a break back home in America is not ‘giving up’ or ‘losing’ anything.”
Wasn’t my home with Ihab? After we started our life together, he promised we’d never separate. When the sun began to set, the waves grew stronger as if mirroring our emotions in the words that slashed back and forth. Angry, accusing words stabbed at our losses and hacked through the shards of commitment.
But when darkness fell, a peace spread through me. I felt God telling me to honor my husband’s wishes. God, please heal my heartbreak. I agreed not to sign the contract.
Opening the door to our four-wheel drive, I clutched a large, dirty-white seashell I’d latched onto during our feverish discussion. I almost tossed the wet and gritty shell but hesitated. Shaped like an ear, it intrigued me. A white splotched hole resembling an ear cavity spread outward. I kept it as a memento of my peace and faith in God’s promise to heal me.
Time at home strengthened me. I talked to my sister about the difficulties Ihab and I encountered. She shared several Scriptures that helped her. Scripture gave me direction and the talks eased my hurt. I prayed with purpose: heal my spirit. By Thanksgiving, I felt ready to rejoin my husband overseas.
Less than a year later I conceived again but in my third month, I miscarried. Our second loss devastated me and strained our marriage again. Even though we tried to make it work, Ihab lost patience. Was it because I couldn’t give him children or that we argued too much or was God punishing us because of our mixed faiths? Whatever the reason, bound by teaching contracts, we continued to live and teach in the same area.
I prayed that year for God to help me forgive Ihab and be grace-filled; I might be the only Christian witness in Ihab’s life. In time, our sweet friendship returned. My colleagues also witnessed God at work in the forgiveness and friendship I offered Ihab. God’s grace was sufficient and He was glorified!
After my contract finished, I moved back to the States. When I unpacked, I came across that unique seashell. Over time, the sand had lightened and blended together into a fine white powder that slipped away from the shell when I handled it. I recalled the dark, rough grains sticking to it when I left the beach. It seemed as if those dark specks were all the areas of pain God had wanted to heal, and the blend of white sands falling, His subsequent healing. As I traced the ear-shaped shell with my fingertips, the scripture came to me, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15 (NASB). I did hear Him. I embraced peace that day on the beach, and I reclaimed peace, in time, after my marriage dissolved.
I don’t know why God didn’t fix my marriage. But He faithfully nursed me through my heartbreak. During those anguished years, whenever I picked up the shell and saw more grains of sand fall away, I anticipated God’s healing, grain by grain, until I became whole. I matter to Him. He heard my cries, and I always heard his never-failing promise: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Bovaird, a specialist in second language acquisition, taught overseas for many years from Latin America to the Middle and Far East. Now she gives lectures to school children about the lands where she has lived, and talks on missions to local churches. Amy strives to deepen the faith of other Christians through her life experiences. You can find her humorous, uplifting stories about life abroad and in Pennsylvania at: http://amybovaird.com

Focused on Fear

By Teresa Tierney © 2012

Did I pray while our son, Brad, was in the hospital? How does one not pray when your child is that sick? Mostly my husband and I watched and waited for him to recover. It seemed my personal prayer time all but disappeared during those 13 days. Most of the time, my eyes were on him. Little him—Brad; not big Him—God. Yes, I prayed. But my prayers were either formal, spoken prayers with friends and family or brief, staccato prayers like, “Oh, God, help!”

Medical Staff Tending a Patient ca. 1980s-1990sOne night every alarm in the room went off. The TV monitor came to life and a doctor came on screen asking, “Did someone remove Brad’s vent?” The rest of her words faded away as nurses filled the room, talking to the TV while they assessed the damage. My prayer was pretty demanding that night—“Oh. My. God. What is happening?”

Another night I came awake unsure of what had disturbed me. Brad’s breathing was irregular but quiet. An odd stillness in the room drew me to his side. It took a moment for me to recognize the black substance pooling on his shoulder and running down his gown was blood. Brad had pulled out his central line. Once I understood it was Brad’s lifeblood gurgling out of his jugular vein, my prayer consisted of a single word, “Jesus!”

Throughout the eventful days of surgeries and midnight alarms, I focused my prayers on seeking God’s protection for Brad’s life. About a week after the first surgery, the doctor told me Brad was no longer improving, and he didn’t know why. He said he had done all he knew to do. Now, it was a waiting game. I chose not to share those words with my husband. I thought I needed to protect him from this additional stress. I kept those words to myself and fear moved in.

From that point on, I lived with a question mark in the back of my mind. “What is God’s plan for Brad?” I continued to ask God to restore Brad’s health and save his life. With every step forward, I was confident of his plan. But with every step back, the question surfaced again, “What is God’s plan?”

Notice I wasn’t asking God. I was asking myself. I began to manage my stress and pray a little less. I began to reason. I knew I needed to trust God with my son’s life, but a voice began to whisper I might soon be entrusting God with Brad’s eternal life. I remembered the biblical Job, who lost his children and his health. God had not shielded him from tragedy. Should I expect to be?

When I finally shared my fear with my sister, she urged me to talk to the doctor. His surprise at my question gave me immediate peace. “Cancer? What made you think that?” He didn’t know why Brad wasn’t progressing, but he had no concern that an unknown cancer was the cause. My mind now at ease, I quit waiting for the other shoe to drop. I trusted we were on the road to full restoration once my fear was brought into the light.

When I hid my fear, I left a crack open into the back alleyways of my mind and the secretive voice of fear took up residence there. Fear kept my eyes on Brad’s condition and caused me to doubt and question God’s plan. It wasn’t hard to keep my brain occupied so I could avoid the fear most of the time. But in avoiding it, I also avoided the truth.

The enemy lied, telling me I needed to keep the doctor’s words from my husband. This gave him a dark, dank corner to grow his favorite moldy old poison—fear. That fear roared so loudly it almost drowned out my faith. Once I admitted my fear, truth was spoken to the dark lie.

Seeking the truth set me free. God’s word calls us into the light and once I stepped into the light of truth, I was free of fear and trusting God once again. I no longer tried to couch my faith in terms of he may or he may not heal. Once again, I was confident in God’s plan.

Fear is the ultimate lie—declaring our circumstances are beyond God’s control. The next time I have more questions than prayers, I’ll ask God to reveal the lie blocking my view of his truth.

When Jesus healed the epileptic child (Mark 9:23-24), he told the father, “If you can believe, all things are possible.” Like the epileptic’s father, I cry out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

Have you experienced doubt or fear in your life? I hope you will share in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a freelance writer, wife, mother of two, grandmother of three.  She blogs at www.RoadblocksToForgiveness.com You may contact her at T68114@gmail.com

Child Bearing Loss, Miscarriage, Stillbirth - Top 10 Tips for Parents

By Amy Luster

1. Be patient with yourself and your partner. Each of you will experience your grief in different ways and often on different timetables. Feelings will vary in intensity and are likely to come in a random fashion, rather than proceeding in a linear manner. Accept the feelings that come without judging them. Recognize the distinctions in how you and your partner experience the grief process and support each other as best you can.

2. Postpone making any major decisions for at least a year after your loss. Avoid the urge to lose yourself in your work. Permit yourself time to grieve and heal. Although it may seem a tempting distraction, resist the urge to make any immediate, significant change in your life, as it will likely result in additional stress.

3. Ensure you are eating a healthy diet, getting adequate rest and include some form of exercise in your day, even a short walk in the beginning. Grief takes a great deal of energy. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Avoid drugs and alcohol, which will ultimately cause you to feel worse.

4. Expect your memory and focus to be off. Thinking of your baby will be foremost on your mind.

5. Let people know if their well-meant advice or platitudes cause you to feel resentful. Let them know what would be helpful to you.

6. Let others know how they can be of help. Loved ones wish to help, but often don't know how. Tell them, specifically, what would be helpful, such as: running an errand, walking your dog or simply sitting with you as a quiet companion.

7. Ask family and friends to mention your baby by name. Most parents long to hear that their baby will be remembered by others.

8. If you have other children, take time to explain what's happened in simple terms. "The baby was born too tiny to survive," or "The baby was very, very, very, very sick and was not able to get better." Anticipate that they may act out or regress to younger behaviors for a time. Be as patient as possible.

9. Know that it's okay for your other children to witness your grief. Grief is a part of life and tragically, it has become part of your family's present life. It is healthy to express your sad feelings in front of your children. At the same time, recognize and respect their limits. If you feel as though your pain is interfering with your ability to care for your children, seek outside support. Eventually, grief's overwhelming qualities will begin to recede.

10. Find a way for your family to remember your baby. He or she will always be a part of you and creating a ritual or place to honor him or her can provide healing. When you feel ready, consider ways to memorialize your baby.

Coping with the loss of your baby is an incredibly difficult task. Accept that there is no 'right' amount of time, nor a time table for grief. Rather, a goal is simply to get through this difficult time. Resist allowing anyone to pressure you into grieving according to their expectations. Coming to term with the loss of your baby can be a life-long process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Luster, M.A. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in providing support to parents who have experienced child-bearing loss. Her work helps to build awareness about how such loss affects parenting. She works with Individuals, Couples, Families and Groups both in person as well as via telephone, nationally. She provides training to medical staff on the subject of Infertility and Child-Bearing Loss.

To learn more, visit her website: http://www.parentingafteraloss.com/

She can be contacted at: [mailto:amyluster@parentingafteraloss.com] amyluster@parentingafteraloss.com.

Article Source: Child Bearing Loss, Miscarriage, Stillbirth - Top 10 Tips for Parents

Because You Care Book Review

Yesterday we carried an excerpt from Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers, a new book by Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven) and Twila Belk. I hope you enjoyed what Cec and Twila shared.

While I am not a long-term caregiver, I unexpectedly found myself in the role of caregiver when my 87-year-old mother became seriously ill last summer. Before a week passed by, I had the presence of mind to call my brother from out of state and ask for help. He came in and after meeting together with our mother to discuss needs and possibilities, we hired trained personnel who stayed with her 24 hours a day for several weeks until she had recovered.

Had I been able to, I would have gladly cared for my mother, but I was working all day at my job and then caring all night for her. If I hadn’t called for help when I did, I would have been sick, unable to work, and unable to care for Mom. This experience gave me a strong dose of the reality of long-term caregivers. As Cec and Twila tell us in the book, part of long-term caregiving is realizing you “don’t have to be a superwoman or superman; you only have to be human.”

I wish I’d had Because You Care to read a year ago. I wouldn’t have felt so overwhelmed or clueless about what I was doing in caring for my mother. There are 13 vignettes from several people—all who are caregivers. From learning about a diagnosis to facing guilt to death, these stories are filled with compassion, understanding and hope written by people who are living it. As comforting as the stories are this gift book is in full color with calming earth-tone pages punctuated by Betty Fletcher’s photographs of nature. Somehow in just looking at the pictures, a calmness washed over me. In Because You Care, you’ll enjoy 48 pages of hope including 4 pages of practical suggestions. 

If you missed yesterday’s excerpt, you can read it here. See below for links to other caregiving articles by Twila Belk. Be sure to leave a comment about today’s post (or yesterday’s) for your chance at the grand prize listed below.

Find Us on Facebook:COVER-BecauseYouCare

Because You Care Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Because-You-Care-Spiritual-Encouragement-for-Caregivers/250527628357568

Articles by Twila Belk on Caregiving:

blog giveawayGrand Prize Giveaway Description

  • Book—Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers
  • Book—Hope and Comfort for Every Season
  • Hallmark journal, list pad, and memo pad stack
  • Glade “Angel Whispers” candle
  • Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate

Instructions to Enter the Grand Prize Drawing:

  1. Leave a comment about the book or author on the blog post during the blog tour.
  2. Each blog tour host will draw one name from those comments to send to the tour coordinator by October 12.
  3. The coordinator will put all the names into a drawing, and select a winner, using an online randomizer.
  4. The coordinator will notify the blog tour host who submitted the winning name.

The blog tour host (that’s me) will notify the winner and collect the mailing info so the author can send out the prize.

This Is Who You Are


From Cec and Twila

Others may call you brave. They’ll use words like noble or sacrificial. They’ll admire and applaud you because you’ve offered your life to make yourself available to someone who needs a long-term caregiver.

“I couldn’t do what you’re doing for him,” a friend says.

You listen to the words your friend speaks, and you like hearing the compliments. Yet as you listen and smile, you don’t see yourself as exceptional. You’re doing the right thing for someone you love, and that gives you peace. You also know the reason you’ve devoted your energies to another person.

You can express that reason in a single sentence: “I do it because I care.” You might say it’s because you love the person, or you may do it because of a strong sense of commitment to God and to your loved one. Regardless of how you express yourself, you’re determined to give yourself as fully as you can.

Some days you may not feel like loving anyone. You get tired, lose your temper, or think of the things you didn’t accomplish. During the worst times, you wish the situation would change. And in those dark moments, you’ve probably prayed, Dear Lord, please take this burden from me.

The situation probably won’t change for a long time—perhaps years. It’s not the kind of life you would have imagined. You probably envisioned living out your years in blissful peace. Caring for your loved one wasn’t part of your dream, but this is the life you have. Despite the moments of sadness, perhaps even regret, your answer remains the same: “I care.”

Taken from:  Because You Care.  Text Copyright © 2012 by Cecil Murphey, Twila Belk.  Artwork Copyright © 2012 by Betty Fletcher. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon.  Used by permission.

About the Authors:
Twila Belk and Cecil (Cec) Murphey are both long-term caregivers for their spouses. Twila, aka the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves to brag on God. She works fulltime with Cec as his manager, personal assistant, and biggest fan. Cec is a veteran author who has written or co-written more than 125 published books, including the bestsellers 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. Cec and Twilas’ second co-authored book, Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware (Guideposts Books), released in August 2012.

For more info about Twila, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com.
For more info about Cec, visit

Are you a long-term caregiver? What advice would you have for someone who has just begun the journey of caring for a loved one? Leave your comments below for a chance at the grand prize giveaway. Return tomorrow for my review of the book and another chance at the giveaway. 

blog giveawayGrand Prize Giveaway Description

  • Book—Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers
  • Book—Hope and Comfort for Every Season
  • Hallmark journal, list pad, and memo pad stack
  • Glade “Angel Whispers” candle
  • Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate

Instructions to Enter the Grand Prize Drawing:

  1. Leave a comment about the book or author on the blog post during the blog tour.
  2. Each blog tour host will draw one name from those comments to send to the tour coordinator by October 12.
  3. The coordinator will put all the names into a drawing, and select a winner, using an online randomizer.
  4. The coordinator will notify the blog tour host who submitted the winning name.

The blog tour host will notify the winner and collect the mailing info so the author can send out the prize.

If Things Had Been Different

By Kristi Bothur © 2012
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 (NIV)

If things had been different, I would have a three-year-old little girl today. Maybe I would have dropped her off at preschool with her big sister this morning. Maybe she would be playing at my feet in the kitchen. Maybe she would be running around the house making a glorious mess. If things had been different.

My second daughter, Naomi, was due in August 2009. But in early March, our path took a turn I never anticipated. I was hospitalized at 18 weeks of pregnancy for abdominal pain that could not be diagnosed. As the doctors tried to determine what was going on, an infection from twisted intestines was growing out of control and infecting my baby, too. She was born “sleeping” on a Monday morning, having already flown to Heaven sometime during the night while in my womb.

ultrasoundThe days that followed were some of the hardest and darkest of my life. For the first time in my life, something had happened that I couldn’t fix or make better. There was no turning back the clock. I couldn’t get my baby back. I couldn’t sleep from all the tortured thoughts running through my mind. How could this happen? What had I done wrong? What if I had gone to the hospital sooner? Where was God? If he loved me, why had he not protected my daughter? Could I ever trust Him again?

I was desperate for answers and comfort. I scoured the Bible for any reference to babies, and not surprisingly, I came upon Psalm 139. A familiar verse jumped off the page at me: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

I have never been much for knitting, but I love to crochet. I remember my grandmother teaching me to crochet—showing me how to loop the yarn on the hook, the thrill of guiding the hook in and out of the loops and seeing something tangible and even beautiful emerge from nothing.

Over the years, my crocheting projects have waxed and waned depending on my pace of life, but it's often been my fallback craft, the one my fingers remember how to do no matter how crazy life gets. In fact, in the first weeks after Naomi died, crocheting was a comfort for me as I threw myself into two projects.

The first was a baby blanket. The hospital nurses had wrapped our baby in a beautiful, soft yellow blanket, which I learned was one made by the nurses for occasions such as this. I determined that I would add to their collection and spent some of my recovery time making two small baby blankets to comfort other grieving mothers.

The second project was much more personal. I wanted to crochet a gown for our baby girl. I intended it to be her burial gown, but I ran out of time, and she was buried instead in a gown made by a dear friend. I finished the dress anyway and have it in a box of memories from her short life, each stitch representative of all of the dresses and booties and birthday cakes I would have made her in her lifetime.

Images of these projects and others flashed through my mind as I read the Psalm again. I know what care and precision and love I put into each stitch. I pictured God doing the same with our baby, stitch by stitch, cell by cell, beautifully knit together. When my husband and I held our baby after she was born, we were amazed at how perfectly formed she was, even at her young age, down to her tiny fingernails. Our God is a master of details, and nothing is unnoticed by him, even in the secret place of the womb.

That image was the beginning of my healing, and the beginning of my journey back to a place where I could again trust God with my future. I don’t know why He did not have Naomi grow up with us. I doubt my brain could handle knowing His reasons. But I do know it was not for lack of power or lack of love.

Because the same God who knit my little girl together also knit me together, and saw each of my days, including the darkest one I thought I would never recover from. He saw them not only from the beginning of my earthly life, but he saw them from the perspective of the cross, where Jesus laid down His life for me, and for her, and for you. His sacrifice there ensures that although we grieve, it is not without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

And it allows me, with the psalmist, to pray, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Father, I confess that I don’t understand your ways or your reasons for why things happen the way they do. But even when I don’t understand why, help me to believe in your love, to trust you with my future, and to cling to you with all of my strength. Lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven (www.naomiscircle.weebly.com). You are welcome to contact her at naomiscircle@gmail.com. Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.