Two Couples & Two Different Conclusions About IVF

When a couple makes the decision to proceed with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) they are bound to be on the receiving end of critical, judgmental statements made about their decision, especially if the couple is associated with any religious affiliation.

I am going to write from a Christian’s point of view on this matter, because I am a Christian.

People who tend to be quick to judge in this matter do not take into consideration that when a Christian couple makes the decision to proceed with IVF, typically, it is a decision that is made with much prayer and seeking God’s guidance in the matter. The decision to do IVF is not made flippantly. Our decision was certainly not made flippantly.

I also believe that people who are quick to judge are most likely people who have never walked down the road of infertility. People may think they know how they would walk a certain road if ever they had to walk it, but the truth is, until they have actually walked the road, there is no way possible for them to know what decisions they would be forced to make along the way and what choices will be made.

As I wrote in a recent post, the general public, being that they are fertile (because infertility only strikes 1 out of 6 couples in the USA) do not have a clear definition and picture of what infertility really means. This is understandably so! Why would a couple who decides, “It’s time to make a baby!” and then several months later is pregnant need to know about infertility, IVF and all the other lovely things that come with it? They don’t!

What most people do not realize is that infertility is a disease. Heart disease is a rampant disease here in America. Infertility is just as much a disease that negatively affects the reproductive system like heart disease negatively affects the circulatory system.

Quick frankly, I did not even fully realize that infertility is a disease until my surgery in November and I had been walking the road of infertility for over a year! It wasn’t until I had the surgery and Stage 2 endometriosis was found that it really hit me that I have a disease and because of this disease, I may never get pregnant and give birth to a biological child.

That is a hard reality to swallow – especially for someone who has dreamed, since childhood, of being pregnant and having a baby!

I am an infertile but I am first and foremost a Christian. Long before I realized I had a disease called endometriosis, I realized that the heartache and pain I was experiencing by going through infertility was not a curse in any way but was (and is) God’s way of allowing His glory, His power and His strength to shine through me as I walked this very dark road. It was when I realized this truth, shortly after starting my infertility journey, that I chose God.

I did not choose bitterness, anger, jealously, rage and hurt, although all of those emotions have certainly played a role at some point during this journey.

Infertility has a way of knocking you down flat on your face, month after month after month. However, I am a Christian, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was (and is) available to me …

God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, God’s strength, God’s power. I knew all of that, and more, was available to me if I chose to give up my own will and surrender to God’s will.

Giving up my will for God’s will also requires something else. It requires seeking God’s guidance and direction for every decision that must be made. This is why a close walk with God is so important! Knowing God’s will and seeking His guidance takes close, daily fellowship with Him. It also takes prayer. A lot of prayer. Talking to God and, most importantly, listening to God. And then following God’s leading – no matter where He leads you to go.

It sounds cliché but to say God lead us to IVF is the absolute truth! Which is why I also believe two dedicated Christians seeking God’s will, can come to two different conclusions when deciding to do IVF or to not do IVF.

God’s plan and purpose behind my infertility journey is not the same exact plan and purpose behind another couple’s infertility journey.

Dave and I know a couple who contemplated doing IVF. After much prayer, consideration and even an offer from a parent to pay for the complete procedure, the couple decided God was not leading them in the direction of IVF. They were obedient to the calling of God in their lives and did not do IVF. It wasn’t long and God blessed them with three pregnancies that were completely a surprise!

Now, the argument here could be that God blessed them with children because they chose not to do IVF. I do not believe that is what happened at all. I believe God blessed them because they were obedient to God’s will for their lives. God’s plan all along was to give them children in the way He did and the way he chose to give them children was not through IVF. Had they gone through IVF, they would have missed out on the miracle God desired to perform in them through surrendered, obedient hearts seeking to know, and follow, God’s perfect will.

Remember the story of one of my readers named Jess? She and her husband sought God’s will in deciding whether they should do infertility treatments or not. They believed God was telling them to not do anything and later they learned why. God’s plan all along had been to bring them four children through adoption! After the adoption of their four children, God gave them an unexpected surprise – a biological child. Once again, Jess and her husband were obedient to God and His time clock. Had they done their own will, who knows where four of their children would be today!

A woman and her husband in my church struggled with infertility for a decade. In speaking with her I learned that God began working in their hearts and they knew God was leading them to do IVF. They are now the parents of a beautiful IVF miracle baby!

Eighteen months into my infertility journey, I still do not have the complete picture to be able to know God’s plan and purpose for placing me on this road. But this I have learned in these past 18 months:

Anyone who makes a judgmental statement towards a dedicated Christian couple and their decision to proceed with IVF after seeking God in the matter, is to essentially judge their personal relationship with God. The Bible clearly states that it is only God who can clearly see into the heart of a man and his motivations.

God has plans for us that far exceed anything we can ever plan for ourselves. If we are to discover these marvelous plans that God has mapped out for our individual lives before we even live one day on this earth, it is going to take having a close, personal relationship with Jesus, a surrender of our wills for God’s perfect will, and an obedient heart that follows the lead of God.

That leaves no room for judgmental statements.

73 thoughts on “Two Couples & Two Different Conclusions About IVF

  1. While there are many valuable perspectives presented here, there are some critical questions I am still searching for answers to — as the husband of a heartbroken wife and a couple who has struggled with infertility for over 10 years. We have tried everything short of IVF, without a single pregnancy — and nothing apparently medically wrong with either of us.

    I struggle mightily with the spiritual implications of attempting IVF. Our doctor has recommended we conceive and transfer 5 children via the procedure, with a 70% chance (statistically) that all 5 will die before birth. The obvious question that arises: does God assign culpability to a couple who willingly engages in a medical procedure where the likelihood of the death of their children is so high . . . regardless of the outcome? (. . . and much more so where deaths actually occur?)

    Some say “yes,” others say “no.” What I NEED to know — what I believe any affected Christian needs to know –is what God would say.

    The most compelling (albiet far from conclusive) argument for IVF I’ve heard goes like this:

    Life may begin at “conception,” but “conception” does not occur when the sperm cell passes through the wall of the egg: many other complex biological processes must occur before the father and mother’s DNA combine, ultimately leading to cell division . . . and a growing, living child. So (and this is critical) the IVF procedure — even if ICSI is performed — does not “create” life. Niether the fertility specialist nor the parents who commit to IVF “create” life in the petri dish.

    The argument continues in declaring that only God creates life, with Jer. 1:5 often cited for support. And if this is true, the high statistical mortality rates associated with IVF become meaningless, from a ‘culpability’ perspective: 1) The eggs that never complete the fertilization process were never living children, hence no “death” occurs and 2) Since God created the life in all of the living children — and because we have done nothing but put them into the mother’s body with the prayer that every one of them survive — we are not guilty of anything if they die.

    Stated more simply, this argument hinges on this premise: since God creates all life in IVF, He assumes full responsibility for what happens to them — assuming no man does anything to deliberately end that life.

    The counter-argument . . .

    . . . comes down to points of biblical doctrine. Some counter that God’s creation was completed on the 6th day — and that He has not “created” new human life since. (with the notable exception of His Son, through Mary) When he commands Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply,” then, (Ge 1:28) He is affirming that the reproduction (not creation) of human beings is initiated by human choice and subsequently governed by the natural laws of biology — which He has put in place.

    So when parents choose IVF with the foreknowledge that there is a 70% chance that all of thier children will die during the procedure — and with no way of knowing if the “natural” mortality rate is any different — they incur culpability for the consequences of their decision.

    This perspective makes IVF appear to be form of “negligent homicide.” (no, it wasn’t my aim to kill a person, but the reasonable man should have known that death would have probably occurred under the conditions I willfully created) People go to jail every week under this line of reasoning. SInce the the law does not consider the conceived child to be a . . . child . . . we don’t have to worry about negligent homicide charges in IVF. But if those children were only a little older . . . already born . . . and we willfully subjected them to an environment with only a 30% chance for survival . . . you can bet we’d be in serious trouble with the law.

    I love my wife, and I don’t want to leave this world childless. I don’t want to be guilty of something horrible in the eyes of God either.

    What is most alarming to me of all . . . is that these procedures have been around for a while now, and I can find no guidance on this matter through the present Biblical church. The counsel I receive on this topic is all over the map — and it ought not to be that way. I just don’t think we’re the students of God’s Word that we should be (I certainly am not).

    Pray for us.

    • Hi Tim – you sound extremely well read, so you may already be aware of this but 60-80% of all fertilized eggs fail to implant during the normal intercourse/ conception process of any healthy married couple so you are not increasing the chances beyond what they normally would be that your children do not survive the first few weeks. Also you mentioned placing 5 children in your wife’s uterus, this is extremely high! I’ve never been advised to do anything beyond 2 or 3 tops. And you have the right to choose how many eggs you attempt to fertilize each cycle. So, we have always said we would never attempt to fertilize more eggs than would be possible for us to conceive, despite the fact that this approach is against doctors orders. Just a few things to consider as you pray about ivf. You will be in our prayers!

      • Hi Mary,

        My husband and I are contemplating IVF in the next few months if a few more rounds of injectables with IUIs doesn’t work. I spoke with the nurse today asking whether or not we can choose how many eggs to fertilize, knowing there’s a chance if we don’t fertilize a lot, the chancing of it working are lower. She said although the Dr. will advise otherwise, it’s my body and my decision and even though my Dr. will not be happy if I choose to fertilize 5 eggs and possibly freeze 2 (if they all fertilize), that is my decision in the end. I am all for IVF, but believe once they are embryos, they are life, and I don’t want to “kill” any of my babies by having the Dr. only choose the “best” eggs to transfer. I know it’s in God’s hands. I appreciate you clarifying however, that we can choose how many eggs to fertilize despite Dr’s orders :)

    • I’m struggling with a decision. My marriage is waiting to be restored. In the meantime, I am coming to a time in life when decisions about my body have to be made. I want my spouse to be with me, but unfortunately they are not. I’m on a timeclock if you will. . . . The question is to wait for my spouse’s return to adopt, or go forward with IVF alone. My spouse and I have always wanted children. We went through a number of fertility treatments just short of IVF. I’ve cried so many tears over the past few years, but especially this past week. Why did God take two of my dreams away in one fell swoop. There are also concerns about IVF and single parenting. I believe children need two parents in the home together. The only thing I can find are miracles in the bible (Hannah, Sarah, Rachel, Elizabeth) and adoption. I don’t see anything else remotely related to IVF. My prayer for you and me is that he “remembers” us and opens our wombs. Oh Dear God, please.

      There are numerous questions.

      * What if the IVF does not take, then have we wasted money that could have been used for adoption?
      * IVF side effects for the mother and baby?
      * What if my spouse won’t “connect” with the IVF baby when my spouse returns?
      * Maybe there is a specific reason God does not want the infertile to conceive at this time? Is there some purpose in this??? Protection, destiny, protecting from some future disaster. . . .I don’t know. The questions go on and on. . . .
      My prayers are with all of you that God will reveal his divine purpose to us and give us clear wisdom on the specific steps we are to take for our individual families.
      God bless you all.

  2. Hi Elaine,
    Thank you for this article. We are struggling with some of these questions and contemplating ivf or adoption right now.
    Tim, I appreciate your perspectives as well. Maybe you and your wife should also try praying about adoption. Just as you don’t want to live a childless life, there are children out there right now, this Christmas, praying not to live a parentless life.
    Also, consider that God may not have a singular view about ivf. He may consider it appropriate for some couples and have a different plan for others. Perhaps what is important is not to understand what He thinks about ivf, but what He wants for the two of you specifically.
    Grace

  3. infertility is not a disease. how dare you call not being able to have a baby, a disease. try having cancer. And, as for your, “you don’t understand until youve been through infertility”, well, that can be said for anything in life. I guess no one can say abortion is wrong if they haven’t been in a situation where they were pregnant and didn’t have any support for having the baby? IVF is wrong and immoral and is a complete disgrace…..whether YOU feel desperate for a BIOLOGICAL baby or not. YOUR wants in life don’t change whether something is sinful or not.

    • Dana, your words are incredibly hurtful and insensitive. While I share your view on IVF and abortion, its pulling the log out of your own eye before you scream about the speck in others’ eye. Would you speak to your infertile sister or brother what you just posted on this blog? I doubt it. You would have a more delicate approach, spoken with love and kindness. Infertility is a serious medical condition with many different causes, some of which are cancer. For everyone though, it is an extremely painful emotional and spiritual journey. Each couple has to walk their road and keep God in the middle…in the end every decision and sin we make/commit is between us and God. Other sinners and people are on their own path making their own mistakes and we are not to judge them…that’s for God.

    • Dana,
      Are you a doctor. I am and so is my wife and I never thought we would be walking down this path but we are. There are many medical reasons for infertility. Some are treatable such as endometriosis, testicular varicocele, and hormone abnormalities just to name a few. So to call it a disease is not an inaccuracy.

      I appreciate this blog and the comments. It is not an easy decision for anyone but hopefully each couple will come to the right decision through prayer and God’s guidance.

    • With all due respect, people like you, Dana, give all Christians a bad name. Spewing judgement and hate is NOT the Christian way! This is exactly why many Christians are so hated in the world. To be a good Christian one should a. love God and b. love your neighbor. Your post makes me very very sad and I will pray for you :(

    • Dana I just read this as I am a young woman who is infertile due to medical issues and your comments are extremely hurtful. Infertility is a huge subject and is caused by many things. Because if a disease I am infertile. I may not have had cancer but I have watched my grandfather die as a result of it, I also watched my mother battle breast cancer recently and I would never presume to understand how it has affected her, it is a disease just like infertility. Just because you can obviously see the result of cancer and not infertility does not make it any less hurtful and emotional to go through. For those of us who long for biological children it is extremely hurtful when we are judged for the pain that we suffer. Please consider your words more carefully as we are tAught by God to speak in love.
      God bless you and keep you and make you more loving to His children.

  4. My wife and I are contemplating IVF. The process itself doesn’t strike me as unbiblical as long as the parents fully intend to raise the children with responsibility.

    The problem lies in successful embryos. If you plan on having 2 children but you have 5 viable embryos, what do you do? Donating them to science seems like donating your children to science, as well as discarding them would basically be an abortion.

    The chances of multiple embryos living is apparently rare, but what if it happens? This is where we’re stuck.

    • Hi,

      Did you ever decide what to do regarding IVF? My husband and I are contemplating as well. I know doctors want you to try to fertilize as many as possible so after a few days they can see which ones fertilized and pick the best to transfer. However, I told my nurse today that my husband and I only want to try and fertilize a few because we don’t want to “kill” any extra embryos. She said although the Dr. may not agree, it’s ultimately our decision. If we ever get to IVF (Lord willing we will get pregnant with IUIs), my plan as of now is to try and fertilize 5, see how many fertilize and if they all did, put back 3 (they said 3 in your 30s) and freeze 2,. It’s not likely to get triplets so if we only have 1 that sticks, we have two frozen ones to try and give life to at some point, Yes it’s possible to have 5 kids with that, which we aren’t planning on at all, but God will give us what his plan is for us regardless!

  5. Hi Mary,

    Thank you so much for your honest words. I am sorry that there are people who are responding to you in such a negative and hurtful way. My husband and I have been having fertility struggles for the last year and a half and it is certainly taxing on us emotionally and physically. I too am trying so hard to seek Gods will and follow His direction but am having a hard time deciding what the next step should be. We have done 6 IUI cycles and are on our second doctor. Both doctors push for IVF and I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I noticed that you said you only fertilize and implant the number of eggs as children that you want. I am in the Chicago area, do you know of any doctors who are willing to do that? The two places I have been suggest fertilizing 6-12 and then implanting the 3 “best” ones. Any help you could offer would be much appreciated!

    My prayers are with you and your husband!

    Laura

    • Did you ever decide what to do regarding IVF? My husband and I are contemplating as well. I know doctors want you to try to fertilize as many as possible so after a few days they can see which ones fertilized and pick the best to transfer. However, I told my nurse today that my husband and I only want to try and fertilize a few because we don’t want to “kill” any extra embryos. She said although the Dr. may not agree, it’s ultimately our decision. If we ever get to IVF (Lord willing we will get pregnant with IUIs), my plan as of now is to try and fertilize 5, see how many fertilize and if they all did, put back 3 (they said 3 in your 30s) and freeze 2,. It’s not likely to get triplets so if we only have 1 that sticks, we have two frozen ones to try and give life to at some point, Yes it’s possible to have 5 kids with that, which we aren’t planning on at all, but God will give us what his plan is for us regardless!

  6. My husband and I are currently contemplating IVF. Actually, today I received all the information from my doctor, so no decisions have been finalized. I have done one IUI unsuccessfully and began a second IUI cycle and did not complete the cycle due to my eggs not getting large enough for implantation. As I sit here now, I am thinking about God’s plan for my family. It has been 5 years of infertility. My husband and I have a daughter that is 5. God has blessed us. Although, I still long for another baby. I believe wholeheartedly that life begins at fertilization. My personal plan (if we go forward with ivf) is that if we fertilize 2 eggs then we should implant 2. I don’t know if my doctor will agree with me (probably not)! Yes, it’s a lot of money for a small chance of a baby. I think each individual needs to pray that God will lead you in the path He wants you to go and He will be with you always. I don’t want to look back and have any regrets about trying everything to have another baby, but I don’t personally believe in fertilizing eggs without using them. I know that would lower our chances of conceiving, but that’s where God is instrumental. God has a plan for each of us. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 I love this scripture. God has a plan and I am thankful for His guidance and love. I don’t know if that path involves ivf right now, but whatever decision is made it will be made after thoughtful prayer.
    Thank you everyone for your personal entries. They are encouraging. It’s nice to hear Christians talkinig about infertility in a caring atmosphere.

    Dana, I can relate to “some” of your comments. Before I had infertility problems I would have never even considered ivf. Then, one day I went to my OBGYN and asked him to be referred to a specialist. This was after 5 years of trying, 5 years of feeling like a failure every month when it didn’t happen. It makes it even more difficult when everyone around me were getting pregnant easily and giving me “advice”. After prayer, I asked God for patience and guidance on what I should do. The OBGYN’s nurse called me and told me the specialists name was Dr. Henry. I started crying after hanging up the phone. My mom’s childhood nickname is “Henry”. It not something the family shares with everyone. The doctor’s first name is the same as my husband’s name. Also, after meeting the Dr. he told me his wife was from the same town in which I work. Some people call those coincidences. I call that God hitting me upside the head saying, “Hello, this is what you do!” So, here I am at a place I never thought I’d be…..infertility. Also, saying words like IUI and IVF…things I never thought would be in my vocabulary.

    Jennifer

  7. Hello, I hope it’s okay if I post here. I am a doctoral student at the University of Michigan researching Christian women’s experiences of infertility. I am looking for Christian women to interview and hope that you will contact me if you would like to share your story. Your identity will remain confidential. I am happy to conduct interviews over the phone if you are not in the Michigan area. You will be compensated for your time.

    I am looking for people who meet the following criteria:

    1) You are experiencing/have experienced infertility
    2) You have considered and decided to use OR not use reproductive technologies (e.g. IVF, donors)
    3) 25-50 years old
    4) You identify as Christian (non-Catholic).
    The Catholic portion of this study is complete. But if you are Catholic and have participated in embryo adoption or struggled with what to do with extra embryos, please contact me.
    5)Your religion has affected your experience of infertility in some way

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Research-Study-Christian-womens-experiences-of-infertility/612341252145625?ref=hl

    For more information, or to volunteer, please contact me:
    Danielle Czarnecki
    Dept. of Sociology, University of Michigan
    dczar at umich dot edu
    This study has been reviewed and approved by The Health Sciences and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Boards (IRB-HSBS)

  8. Hi all,

    I wanted to share something that my mom discussed with me. I am still not sure where the Holy Spirit is leading me regarding this, but I thought I would pass it along!
    Just for some background, my husband and I have been trying for a little over 2 years, have gone through 6 rounds of IUI and are heading to our fourth doctor in January. I felt a lot of pressure from the other doctors to go straight to IVF, get a sperm donor, freeze multiple zygotes, etc. These are decisions that have weighed heavily on my heart and I have been trying very hard to seek out God’s will throughout it all.
    Anyway, as this time of year comes, my mom and I were discussing the birth of Jesus. My mom, being a nurse, always struggled with the medical aspect of His birth. She always wondered about what was “egg” part. She reasoned that the egg couldn’t have come from Mary because Jesus was without sin and therefore could not have any part of Mary’s sin nature. She came to the conclusion that Mary was just the host, that she was similar to a surrogate and that God the Father and the Holy Spirit formed a zygote, Jesus, and implanted Him into Mary. Thus, He was an IVF baby! Again, I am still working through this but I thought I would throw it out there and see what everyone else thought!

    God bless you all during this time. I pray that He comforts you all!

    Laura

  9. I also forgot to add that our new doctor is willing to fertilize un-fertilized eggs for me as well as only fertilize as many eggs as we are willing to implant.