Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility
By Elizabeth Hagan
Foreword by Amy K. Butler
When infertility painfully interrupted Elizabeth Hagan’s plan to start a family, the path of grace offered her another way. Instead of giving birth to a child, she birthed herself instead. Along the way, she learned you can’t control how fast your dreams come true, if they come true at all, but you can find grace for embracing your life in the present tense, grief and all. When infertility painfully interrupted Elizabeth Hagan’s plan to start a family, the path of grace offered her another way. Instead of giving birth to a child, she birthed herself instead. Along the way, she learned you can’t control how fast your dreams come true, if they come true at all, but you can find grace for embracing your life in the present tense, grief and all.
Through her new book Birthed, Elizabeth Hagan offers her story as a companion and guide for living through your own pain and loss. For the one in eight couples who face infertility, you will know you are not alone and a long season of grief does not have to destroy your marriage or your friendships with childbearing friends. For those friends and family members of infertile couples, there are no “one size fits all” answers to a fertility journey—medically, emotionally, or spiritually—and the worst thing you can say is nothing at all. Adoption is never the complete solution to infertility, and through it all, pain can never be fixed, only lived through. So allow grace to help you begin to live today in the present moment.
"As I think about friends and their years of frustration (to have children), I wish that I could have given them Rev. Elizabeth Hagan’s book, Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility,because within these covers, Hagan dispels isolation, reframes hope, and reclaims the scriptures for the many people who suffer through infertility.
It is a strange thing—for when Hagan sheds light on deeply personal moments, it strikes an external resonance for the reader. Through these descriptions, she pulls back that shroud of secrecy and shrugs off the taboos. And in those beautiful gestures, Hagan not only tells her story, but she allows it to become our story. Her words become a history from which we can learn, and a hope that we can share. As pastors, if we have not gone through similar experiences, we can gain incredible insight to understand those who have. And we can pass the book along, breaking the silences and letting people know that they are not alone.
Hagan’s theological wrestling as she longs for a child invites us to deeper questions about what it means to be a child of God. In the midst of this primal yearning, Hagan teaches us about sharing our stories, renewing our hope, and ultimately finding refuge in our faith, even when things don’t work out as we planned."―Carol Howard Merritt, Communitas (Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary), 2018
An excerpt from “BIRTHED: Finding Grace through Infertility, a memoir about infertility that will be a blessing to you," Ruth Everhart, 11/16/16, rutheverhart.com (read the entire post here) :
"Here are some of hard-won lessons you will glean from sharing Elizabeth’s journey:
~ When life doesn’t go as you plan, something greater might be emerging beneath the surface. Live through the pain and you will get there!
~ There are no “one-size” fits all answers to a fertility journey, medically, emotionally or spiritually.
~ It is okay to live into the mystery — the mystery of not knowing how you will bear a child, when or if at all.
~ Infertility does not have to be a silent journey. Connect with my story. Connect to others who’ve gone through it too. Let friends and family who can bear with your pain love you through it.
~ A long season of grief doesn’t have to destroy your marriage or friendships. It can in fact bring you closer."
“With emotional depth and pastoral sensitivity, Elizabeth Hagan gives particular insight to the visceral longing for biological motherhood. Her story is instructive for people who are not aware of the trials of infertility, and it is hopeful as Hagan bears witness for the countless women and men who know those trials all too well.” —Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, author of Healing Spiritual Wounds
“Raw. Real. Funny. Honest. Hagan’s tale of hope amid infertility will delight readers with its accessibility and nourish them with thoughtful reflections on love, faith and family. So many books on this topic have a happy bundle of joy waiting at the end. Hagan’s story is more nuanced than that. And yet grace lurks on each page, sometimes in surprising places.” —MaryAnn McKibben Dana, author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time
“Elizabeth Hagan has done a masterful and poetic job of capturing the pain, agony, beauty and grace present in the struggle of infertility. As a fellow infertile, I wish my wife and I had this book during our period of sorrow to provide language for our grief. I highly recommend this book to pastors, therapists, chaplains or anyone who is willing to be present with those who are suffering.” —Rev. Todd Maberry, Duke Divinity School
“An utterly absorbing account of birthing — and allowing God to birth — compassion, pain, hope, solidarity, abundance, and lament. But not only those: in this birth story, what's born is a richness in the spiritual life, and, ultimately, a self. (Which means that you needn't be, or want to be, a mother, to find this book good, wise company.)” — Lauren F. Winner, author of Mudhouse Sabbath and Wearing God
“Elizabeth speaks with honesty and integrity about the excruciating reality of infertility. But somehow, in spite of such, she magically and miraculously weaves (and lives) a story of surprising beauty and blessing. Birthed is a true and tender book that offers its readers the priceless gifts of redemption and hope; she honors and models the enduring capacity of a woman's heart.”— Ronna Detrick, M.Div., CSD
"Birthed is an unflinching, courageous, and much-needed portrait of what it means to wrestle faithfully with desire, death, and rebirth. By shying away from trite phrases and easy answers, Birthed invites us to reflect honestly and courageously on our own forays into the valley of the shadow of death. Yes, this is a story about one’s woman’s hard-fought struggle through infertility, but it is also a much-needed reminder that God’s Spirit is always making things new in us." — Rev. Dr. Maria A. Kane, Rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
In Birthed, Elizabeth Hagan opens her heart, describing with exquisite intimacy her excruciating feelings of biological failure, human disappointment and divine abandonment. The reader looking for support while living through infertility will find a friend who understands, and the friend looking for ways to offer support will find answers, in this warm and real account of the author’s attempts to have the baby she so dearly wants. - Rev. Martha Spong, Clergy Coach, Executive Director, RevGalBlogPals, and Editor, There’s a Woman in the Pulpit
“The Rev. Elizabeth Hagan speaks intimately and powerfully to all who have ever experienced the inability to fully realize a lifelong hope or heartfelt dream. Giving words to topics all-too-often “unspeakable,” Hagan opens us up to possibly giving voice to our own deepest fears, tragedies, and broken places. Allowing the love of her friends, family, and God to guide her, Hagan finds grace throughout her journey. This book left me feeling refreshingly vulnerable and incredibly inspired!” —Allen V. Harris, Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ) Capital Area
“Birthed is honest and forthright and while Elizabeth does not sugar coat the pain or the difficulty of the journey with easy platitudes, she also shares the spaces and places she found and experienced God's amazing grace in the midst of disappointment and heartache. Birthed moves infertility out of the shadows where shame, guilt and discomfort have lodged it for far too long and teaches us that giving voice to our deepest fears and pain is the only way for hope and possibility to take root and flourish." —Edith Guffey, UCC Conference Minister, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference