“We thought, we hoped, that last month might be it, the month that we would find out a baby was on the way. But it wasn’t, and it hurt. It hurt a lot. The ache was so intense and the tears were always close. I told J that I didn’t think I could handle anymore months of this. I felt numb and he did, too. The wondering, defeated, hurting thoughts were crowding up our mind. It was the hardest place we had been since we started down this road 2 years ago…….”
This was the beginning of a post I wrote on my blog over a year and a half ago. The months since then have looked rather similar, running together to some extent as the answer of “not this time” has continued to be the theme. The ache is still very present, daily present really, though the intensity of it shifts with every passing day. Countless tears have fallen, thousands of prayers prayed, many wonderings floated across our mind. We are still in this battle and the pain of it is very real.
Infertility: a noun: the inability to conceive children or young. Those are the words, the founding definition of the battlefield we are standing in the middle of right now. It’s a clear, rather simple definition, but it packs out a hard-hitting meaning, one that sits like a boulder in the pit of your stomach. It’s a painful definition, a lonely definition, and it is a definition that is easy to keep close to the chest, telling the smallest handful of people, or none at all.
It’s painful in a unique way because it’s a good thing you’re desiring, a good thing that you’re hoping and praying for. Like others who are longing to be married, longing to be healed, longing to have their own heart cry answered, you are walking a road that is filled with the struggle of asking “why?” It’s painful because it’s so hard to understand why something that’s called a blessing is not being given to you.
It’s lonely because you begin to feel surrounded by babies. It feels like everywhere you turn you’re seeing strollers and baby wraps, you’re pulling another baby shower invitation out of your mailbox, you’re reading another “we’re pregnant” announcement on social media, and you are longing for that to be you. You want to be in the mommy club with your friends, swapping birth stories or sleeping woes or happy baby “firsts.” You want to be able to join in the conversations about multiple kids and post pictures of your oldest cuddling your new baby on the hospital bed. You want to stroke those tiny fingers and inhale that perfect newborn smell and know that you don’t have to hand that baby back, because baby is yours.
And it’s so easy to keep it close, almost hidden. It’s such a hard thing to say out loud. It almost seems that voicing it, putting words to the struggle, will make it more real and thus, more painful. Or you don’t want to share it because you feel ashamed that somehow this is your fault and you aren’t able to do something that “all other women” seem to be able to do. It’s easy to keep hidden and you even may desire to because you’re afraid that no one will be able to relate and you’ll only hear an occasional “I’m so sorry,” but then everyone will go on with their days and forget about what you’re going through.
There have been many moments of begging the Lord to take this from us, of asking Him why this is the way He’s chosen to teach us. There have been times where I want to be rid of all social media because seeing one more picture of a newborn baby feels unbearable. There have been times where I don’t want to talk about it at all because hearing another person say, “Well, at least you haven’t had a miscarriage” or “Oh, it will happen, you just have to be patient” would surely be the tipping point. These emotions, these struggles, these real moments that we could walk into on any given day are the raw pieces of infertility. These pieces are our hard.
And while the ache is still as deep and longing still so strong, while there are still tears and moments of not understanding, there’s the loveliest thread of goodness that runs through our pain because of our God. He has comforted us in the pain, He has held us close in the loneliness, and He has reminded us that His ears are the closest ones to voice these hard words to. Every new valley we’ve fallen into He has shown us His shepherding ways. In our doubt, in our wonderings, He has met us with truth, truth about Himself, truth about our circumstances, truth about who we are to Him. And though I wouldn’t have raised my hand if He had let me choose whether I wanted this path for us or not, He has brought beauty from ashes in ways that only exist because of Him.
There’a a John Newton quote that says, “Nothing is needful that He withholds, everything is needful that He sends.” I will never understand the full depth of the “why” this is our struggle, but truly, it’s not mine to know. But I can gain comfort in the hard knowing that it IS needful for me, for us, for the crevices of our hearts that we don’t even know need this very trial to make us more like Jesus.
And the sweetest part of what this trial, what this pain, has brought about is how much more I know my Savior, my good good Father. He has become dearer to me, more present to me, more of that faithful friend that He is than I imagined He could be. That may sound cliche, but it is the truest thing I can say. His Word is living and active, the best words of comfort, the sweetest words of hope. He is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. When He is at our right hand we shall not be shaken. In His presence there is fullness of joy. All these words that my eyes have run across in the past 3.5 years have become my daily songs, the better theme that I remind myself is the lasting theme. Even if this pain, this longing, doesn’t see an end this side of heaven, it will be well, because He alone fully satisfies my soul. My dad has passed this quote down to all of us kids: “He is better than it all.” And I can wholeheartedly say that I know that to be true.
Dear heart, I know your soul is weary and that the days of “not right now” and the worry of “will it ever be” do feel like the definition of your life. But it is not, my friend. The definition of your life, the truest thing about you, is that He has a good and wise plan for you; a plan that He has laid out since the very beginning of the thought of you, a plan that He has made and is unfolding in the most loving way for you. His love is hard sometimes, but it the deepest love you will ever know, and if you choose to fight to rest in Him, to hear the steadfast heartbeat of truth above that kettle drum that is infertility, you will come to find joy in the hard and beauty nestled amongst the ugly. And He will use you as a means of the loveliest grace, as a banner for His glory, as a testimony of His love to so many others who need that above all other things.
I’m ending with something I shared in another blogpost about a year and a half ago…
“My heart, J’s and my heart, for this season of our living is summed up so well in this excerpt of a letter written by a woman, Judy Squier, to a family whose son had just been born with no arms or legs. This is from Elisabeth Elliot’s book “Keep a Quiet Heart.”
“You as a family have been chosen in a special way to display His unique Masterwork. I pray that your roots of faith will grow deep down into the faithfulness of God’s Loving Plan, that you will exchange your inadequacy for the Adequacy of Jesus’ resurrection power, and that you will be awed as you witness the fruits of the Spirit manifested in your family.””