I had heard about “infertility” before I got married. But to be honest, I always kind of shrugged it off. I was sure there were people “out there” who couldn’t get pregnant–but I never imagined I would be one of them.
Why, you ask?
Because I come from a very long line of “fertile” women. I felt sure, if anything…it would be too easy to get pregnant.
That’s why I was so adamant about taking my “pill” each night. And making sure there were no “accidents.”
But after a few years…something changed.
I remember how excited we were, that first fragile month that I chucked the disc of pills into the garbage can, and for the first time ever, we tried.
A few weeks later, I took a pregnancy test before work in the morning. I couldn’t wait to announce to my husband as we both got dressed for work, that we were going to have a baby!
I never expected the test to read: negative.
I never expected the next month, and the next month, and the next to be negative, too.
And I never expected those months to turn into years, years full of “negative.” But…they did.
I was completely unprepared for the emotional journey that was “infertility.”
It felt like riding a rollercoaster every month. There was the hope that, “This month could be different!” The anticipation that comes with trying, and wondering if life has formed in you? The waiting to know. And then the dissapointment when your period returns. Again.
To go through this cycle every month, never knowing when, or if, it will end can be tiring.
Infertility wears on you.
It wears on your soul.
Everyone knows that labor hurts. But no one actually tells you that infertility hurts, too.
On the inside.
In this secret place that no one else can see. Like a locked garden.
Like a mystery.
It’s not a labor of the body, it’s a labor of the soul.
You wait and wonder. You cry and pray. You long and hope. And you try…to hold it all together. You try to hold eachother together, as husband and wife.
But sometimes, you start to sort of unravel inside.
Because you desire to be a mom with all your heart. You feel ready. You wish it could just happen the normal way (as it seems to with everyone else.)
You want love-making and baby-making to go hand-in-hand. But then…sometimes it’s not so simple.
I remember it was especially hard those months when I thought I was pregnant, only to find out I wasn’t. Because some months I really did feel different.
I was more moody, and hungry, and tired. (How many times did I Google “pregnancy symptoms”—in hopes that I was?) But, then, my period would come.
So, it was several years of this wear and tear on my soul, before I realized: I had a choice to make.
I didn’t even know I had a choice. (Other than to feel bummed out…pretty much all the time.)
I did know that every single month when my period came back. And every single day, in between.
I had a choice between joy and despair.
Now let me tell you, I did’t read a self-help book to come this. I didn’t even read infertility blogs (if they existed, I didn’t know about them!)
All I did was pray. And read Scripture. And sometimes, the Holy Spirit would speak to me. When I was quiet enough to hear Him.
There were a few key things the Holy Spirit showed me during that time–and these changed me. They changed the way I saw everything.
Maybe the miracles of my pregnancies drew you to this blog, but I want to tell you about an earlier miracle. Perhaps, the most amazing of all.
This miracle happened in my soul–before I ever got pregnant.
Before I have had a child.
See, when you are barren, you often don’t simply have a barren womb. You also have a barren soul.
And I was truly barren, not just in my womb, but in my soul. I saw my life as this dry, barren wasteland. I saw only what I was lacking. I was thirsty, and I didn’t know how to be quenched.
I was angry and sad. I knew God had the power to heal me–but He wasn’t healing me.
I got to a point where I could “accept” or, “tolerate” the fact that I couldn’t get pregnant. I was able to “grit and bear it.” (And, I actually thought that I was doing pretty well–but I wasn’t.)
Because God didn’t want me to simply “tolerate” the life He was giving me.
He wanted me to embrace it.
He wanted me to enjoy it.
To enjoy Him–in it.
(Because He never left. He was there all along, even in every moment of the infertility.)
For some reason I thought I couldn’t be happy or fulfilled until He gave me a baby.
But He wanted to show me that He was enough–before I ever got a baby. (And, even if He never gave me a baby.)
I was looking for a baby to satisfy what only God could.
All that time, I was clenching my fists closed in anger at what God had allowed in my life, but He wanted me to open my hands.
He wanted me to surrender my plans to His. My desires to His. And He wanted me to embrace the life and calling He had for me–even if I didn’t understand it at the time.
When someone gives you a gift, you don’t “tolerate” it.
You thank them for it.
And I remember when I realized I needed to thank Him. For inferitility. (I know how absolutely crazy this sounds.) But I realized that if God had chosen this for me, it must be good, and He must have a purpose in it–even if I couldn’t see it yet.
So, I literally thanked Him for everything I could think of that was “good” about not being pregnant. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to stop excercising, or go through morning sickness, or endure labor and delivery. I thanked Him that I didn’t have to put on baby wieght, or have a flabby stomach, or vericose veins. (Yes, I was vain. But honest, nonetheless.)
The more I thanked God for His plan, and His timing, the more good I saw in it. And the more I was able to truly surrender.
It’s not that I was “giving up.” It’s that I was “giving over.” I was giving it over to God. The only One who could do anything about it.
I literally did not know what God would do.
I didn’t know if I would ever have a baby.
But right there, right in that place, where my arms were empty, and my womb was barren–was the place He wanted me to lift my arms and worship Him.
To say and mean with all my heart, “Even if You don’t give me what I desperately want, You are still enough. You are still everything. And You still have all of my heart.”
And you know what?
Joy came RUSHING back into my life.
My eyes began to stop seeing all the “lack” in my life. And I started to see all the beauty in it.
I began to realize what God had already given me.
And I began to cherish my husband, and my friends. My students, and family. All the ones He had already placed before me, to love.
I started to stand in the roles He had already placed me in. I embraced my role as a wife, and at my job, and other opportunities I had to serve people. And I started to enjoy them.
I no longer saw myself as a victim of infertility. But instead, as a daughter of God who was chosen and set-apart for His unique purpose for me. Maybe God has some wild plan for us, I could never even imagine? Maybe He will send us oversees? Maybe there is some child waiting in an orphanage that is our baby to adopt? Maybe something is coming around the corner–we never expected?
I didn’t know what it was. But I clung to the Scripture, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)
One day, as I was about to leave work, I felt God speak to me, in the form of a song. (I know, it sounds strange.) I didn’t hear the music, just the lyrics. But I remember writing them down on pink sticky notes that were on my desk. And this is what I heard,
“There’s Someone living inside you,
Though not a child tucked inside your womb,
But it’s my Holy Spirit, who conquered Jesus’ tomb.
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive,
Hear Him roar?
And you’re alive, you’re alive,
More than ever before.”
My heart burned, and I went home and crashed down at my piano and stuck all the sticky notes to it. But as I began to play and sing, all I could hear, was Him singing them to me. And I say this with tears,
Something broke in me.
In that moment, hot tears rolled down my cheeks, and I was undone.
He was living in me.
I was no longer barren.
He was alive in me, so I was alive.
Sure, nothing changed in my womb–but my spirit came to life that day. His Spirit came to life in me.
And the presence of God surrounded me there. And He showed me that He was living in me.
Therefore, I was alive.
That was the day, I literally crossed from “barren to beautiful.”
I no longer saw the barreness in my life, all I could see was His beauty. And the beauty He had filled my life with.
God came, and took away my barreness.
And I had joy again. I could breathe again. And laugh again.
But most of all, live again.
Yes, I was still infertile.
But I was His. And He would not let me go.
Yes, I was still not pregnant.
But I was exactly where He wanted me to be. And He would fulfill His beautiful purpose for me.
Yes, I still wanted to have a baby.
But I knew He would satisfy me. Whether or not, I had a baby. And if He wanted to give me a baby, He would do it, in His time, and in His way.
Dear Barren or Infertile One,
If God has led you here, He wants to take your barreness away.
I don’t know what He will do in your physical womb. But I know what He will do in your soul, if you ask Him.
And I believe He is about to birth something in you, more beautiful than you could ever, possibly imagine.
Maybe it’s not that you need to “pull up your bootstraps” and have more faith that you will get pregnant.
Dear One, He already sees you and knows you. He already hears your cries. He sees your faith, and He sees where you lack faith, too. But He will fulfill His purpose for you.
And instead of pulling up your bootstraps of faith…maybe it’s time to take off your boots. Kick them off.
And run barefoot with Him for a while.
Knowing, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)
Because He has an adventure waiting for you on the other side of your fears. And it’s wild, and free, and full of Him.
Chase Him, and He will take you where you never dared to go. And show you things you didn’t dream possible.
And one day, you will be running with Him, and suddenly realize you have crossed, from barren to beautiful.
And you will never go back.