Encouraging Others When You Need Encouragement Yourself {#EncouragementDare}

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encouragement-dare

Infertility is hard, and it can be difficult to encourage others when we are feeling empty, dry, and in need of encouragement ourselves. But one thing I’ve learned during infertility is that encouraging others, even when it’s hard, is one of the best ways to bring joy and purpose back into our own life.

September 12 is National Encouragement day. To celebrate this special day, I’m participating in Dayspring’s Encouragement Dare. I wanted to share a few quick and easy ways we can encourage others when we might need encouragement, too.

Pray & Ask for Prayer

Prayer is free. We can do it anytime and anywhere. It’s natural to pray for friends who are going through a tough time, but have you ever thought about how it might encourage others when you ask them to pray for you?

My husband and I recently talked a young man he knows who is a few month into his recovery process from drugs and alcohol. As we said goodbye, my husband told the man he would pray for him. And then my husband said, “Will you pray for me, too?” The young man’s face immediately brightened and he said, “Yes! I will!” It was apparent to me that the young man had always been on the receiving side of prayer and the idea that someone wanted him to do the praying was very meaningful and encouraging. So pray for those who need encouragement, but also remember to ask for prayer, too.  It’s a double-dose of encouragement!

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Write a Note

Receiving an encouraging text is wonderful. But there’s something extra-special about sending a hand-written note in the mail. I keep a few boxes of DaySpring’s Encouragement Cards on hand for this exact reason.  Even just a few hand-written sentences can mean so much to the recipient. Also, who doesn’t love an excuse to buy some pretty notecards?!

If you don’t know what to say in your note, here are some simple ideas:

  • I’m so sorry you’re going through this.
  • I’m here if you want to talk. 
  • We’re in this together (for someone else going through infertility).
  • I care about you.
  • I’m thinking of you / I’m praying for you.

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Send a Gift

I love sending small gifts in the mail to people friends who need some encouragement. The thought of them receiving something fun and unexpected in the mail will also cheer me up a little if I’m having a bad day.

If you’re in the middle of a struggle yourself, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to buy a gift, pack it up, and then stand in line at the post office to mail it.  I usually just buy a gift small online and have it shipped directly to my recipient.

Do Something Small

The little things mean the most, right?  Here are a few extra ideas on how to encourage someone.

  • Bring flowers to a friend.
  • Leave chocolate on a co-worker’s desk.
  • Leave coupons on a store shelf next to the item it’s for (one of my favorites!)
  • Buy a drink for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop or drive-thru.
  • Set out a bottle of water or a pack of hand-warmers (depending on the weather where you live!) for your mail carrier.

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Encouraging someone when you need encouragement yourself doesn’t have to be difficult.  Keep things simple, cheap, and from the heart and you can’t go wrong.   You might even find that the act of serving someone else may ease some of your own burden.

“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” – Hebrews 6:10.

Be sure to check out DaySpring’s Encouragement Kit! It’s filled with more fun tips and free downloads.


All the products you see in the photos above are available at DaySpring.  They are a part of their Encouragement BOGO gift sale and BOGO Boxed Card sale. Use code SHAREJOY for the cards. The sales take place now through September 15. which takes place now through September 15.

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What Women with PCOS Want You to Know {PCOS Awareness}

September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. PCOS affects 1 in every 10 women of childbearing age and can affect women’s overall health and appearance. It is a hormonal imbalance whose cause is unknown and a common cause of infertility.

Some of the symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excess facial hair or hair in places where men usually have hair, acne, thinning hair, weight gain, inability to lose weight, darkening of skin, and skin tags.

Many women are able to manage their PCOS by taking certain medications or incorporating lifestyle changes, but many women still struggle with the symptoms even after treatment. Women with PCOS who are able to get pregnant have higher risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and c-sections. And babies born to mothers with PCOS often have higher risk of being born heavy and spending time in the NICU. (1)

I don’t have PCOS, but many of my readers and infertility sisters do. I asked some of them to tell me, “What’s the one thing you’d like your loved ones to know about PCOS?” Their names have been withheld for privacy reasons, but here are their responses.

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“Although my family is very understanding now (I’m 30 and married), when I was first diagnosed, I was sixteen years old. My hormones controlled me, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I was happy one moment, angry the next, and sad a few minutes later. Patience. Back then, I wished they understood that I didn’t know how to control my hormonal emotions.”- B.

“How it effects multiple aspects of your life. We didn’t know I had it until we started trying to conceive. We may not always want to talk about it, [so] don’t take offense to it.

“That every month I pee on multiple [pregnancy test] sticks and they are all a big fat negative. Please don’t ask if I am pregnant.

“The thing with PCOS is a that a woman doesn’t ovulate every month, but can still have a “period” or bleeding so she can miscalculate ovulation days. So it is really, really hard to get pregnant. Many of tracking methods like temping and ovulation tests don’t work on us. This is at times very frustrating. Our chances to conceive are harder because of the fact that we don’t ovulate every month.

Don’t tell me we just have to relax and “do our homework”. It doesn’t matter how many times we do it, if it’s on a month I didn’t ovulate…nothing will happen.”

“Maybe if you lose weight, you’ll get pregnant. Well losing weight isn’t easy with PCOS. And it isn’t a matter of me just relaxing!!

“That no matter how hard I try I can’t get the weight off. Even though I’m appreciative of the diet tips but 9 times out of 10 I have tried it already.”

“Losing weight is not the same for me. A crash diet may work but then I’ll put it back on double after. My lifestyle diet means when you eat pizza, I eat a salad. When you eat a burger and fries, I eat grilled chicken and spinach. PCOS is a hormonal disorder. That means sometimes I will feel absolutely crazy because I have no hormones to adjust my mood. I’ve gone from not having periods at all to having some kind of bleeding every two weeks. I’m at a higher risk of having diabetes by age 40, not because of my eating habits but because of my hormones. I have to pay thousands of dollars for each child I want to have..even when the child does not survive to birth.”

“At 19 years old and weighing 110 lbs. (underweight for my height), I was diagnosed with PCOS. My ovaries were full of cysts and I was not having a period. Can you say moody!?! All I could think about was the terror of not having children. I was put on Metformin and by the grace of God my cysts disappeared. However by age 22 I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and those symptoms were even worse.”

You can’t just take out the cysts. Since your body doesn’t regulate your hormones correctly, it still gets naturally overstimulated and they come back. And the only way mine get suppressed is by birth control which obviously hinders the chance of pregnancy. It’s a lot of playing with your hormones to get the cysts suppressed enough and start a treatment and then hope that it doesn’t cause the cysts to return to interfere with that said treatment. I would do one cycle, cysts return, birth control for a month or so, another cycle, cysts return, and so on and so forth… It’s a lot of different hormones each month and it’s hard not to ‘relax and not think about it.’ It’s exhausting.”


So if a woman you know suffers from PCOS, please show her empathy and understanding. PCOS is a disease with life-changing consequences. The best thing you can do for her is to be supportive and kind. Don’t offer advice or “tips” unless she asks you for them.  Pray for her regularly.  If you really want to help, consider asking her what kinds of specific and practical things would make her feel loved and supported.

You can find out more about PCOS & PCOS Awareness here and here.  You can also read my previous posts about PCOS and read stories from women with PCOS here.

Source: Polycystic ovary syndrome. (2017, July 26). Retrieved August 27, 2017, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.

How I Feel About My Upcoming FET

It’s a weird thing to think about trying for a second baby when you’ve already had one as a result of doing IVF. On one hand, I’m no longer an IVF newbie. I know what to expect from it. I know what it takes. And I know that when it works it’s absolutely worth every penny, every tear, and every injection.

I also know that when it fails, it feels like your whole world is over.

Except this time around, as we are gearing up to try for baby #2, I no longer feel that pressure or the sense that I may never recover if it fails.

I am well aware that I’m one of lucky ones. We have multiple frozen embryos. The odds are in our favor. And I have a beautiful, healthy daughter, so even if I don’t get pregnant, I am beyond blessed. I would be sad, yes, but still immensely grateful that we were able to have a child at all.

Also, I feel like I’m just now getting back to being myself after having our daughter. I struggled with some mild postpartum depression, and our family has been through some major changes and transitions since she was born. My husband changed jobs twice (both were promotions, so it was a good change, but it still was stressful), we sold our house and are currently living with our in-laws until our new house is completed in October, I’ve struggled with balancing self-care and childcare, and we had to euthanize our beloved cat, Hemingway. Oh yeah, and we also endured an extremely stressful cross-country trip that involved everyone getting a stomach virus, missed flights, traffic tickets, torn ligaments, bladder infections, and puking on the airplane. (We keep telling ourselves it will make a hilarious family story in ten years).

So the thought of doing another IVF anytime soon just makes me want to say “No thanks!” But I’m 36 and I really don’t want to be 50 years old with children in elementary school, so we need to get moving. Honestly, if we didn’t have the frozen embryos, we probably wouldn’t be doing this again. I don’t want to take the drugs again. I don’t want to do the monitoring again.

On yeah, and I’m terrified to do it all again while caring for a toddler full-time.

But we are / I am doing it nonetheless.

All this to say that I’m feeling really neutral about it this time around. Almost ambivalent.

Again, I’m well aware that ambivalent is a very fortunate place to be. I remember the not-so-ambivalent feelings I had while trying to conceive my daughter. I know that so many of you reading this probably want to kick me right now. You’d give anything to do IVF without feeling pressure or without feeling like your world will fall apart if it fails. Oh, how I remember, dear friend.

I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m tired of infertility. I’m tired of it for all of us. For those of us trying to conceive baby #1, and for those of trying to conceive subsequent babies.

Thanks for reading this far! I that the Lord would comfort and sustain you wherever you are in your journey.

P.S. Some of you may remember a recent post where I talked about possibly doing a natural FET at Stanford.  Despite my numerous attempts to contact them, they never returned my calls.  Other clinics in the area offer natural cycles, but none that would do long-distance monitoring or would let me become a patient without re-doing certain tests.  So, we are staying with our previous RE (whom we adore, but he doesn’t do natural cycles).  His office is less than 15 minutes away and we feel we can be successful there again.


If you’re looking for more encouragement during infertility, be sure to check out my book, 31 Days of Prayer During Infertility.