Why Barrenness Is So..(Lonely!)

Unless you are okay with your all your relatives picturing you naked, and in the bedroom, you are probably not going to “announce” to the gang at Thanksgiving dinner, “We’re trying to get pregnant!”

Therefore, aside from your husband and OBGYN…there’s a good chance your circle of trust is pretty small. Let’s face it, the inability to conceive is not something you bring up in the break room at work, or post on your Facebook.

Privacy Please!

In many regards, barrenness remains a personal matter because..it is. And there’s a good chance you feel like, and possibly even are, the only one in your circle of friends who can’t seem to get pregnant.

It’s hard not to get offended when people (like your dentist) ask that awful reoccurring question, “So…when are YOU TWO going to have some kids?” I always responded with a forced smile and mumbled, “I dunno!” (Cue: fake laugh). It was my attempt to suppress my anger from flaring up through my throat and choking that person and screaming, “I’m working on it!! Okay?!” Maybe I was slightly hostile. But I always felt as if some stranger just started rummaging through my underwear drawer and I couldn’t shoo them out fast enough! (Meanwhile, in their minds, they’re just talking about the weather. Eventually, I had to come to grips with the fact that these people (for the most part) mean well, and are just slightly out of touch with your daily/monthly/yearly reality. And that’s okay. People say stuff. Most are innocent.)

Boundaries

There are times when someone (often a family member) will press too far, because they feel like they are entitled to information. Know what you are comfortable with and make boundaries. You don’t have to share more than you want to. It’s okay just to say, “I’d rather not talk about it.” Or, “I’m not really comfortable talking about it.” (Maybe that sounds formal..but it’s better than spilling more than you want. You can say it in a way that is gentle and kind. True friends won’t make you feel guilty about not sharing more.)

On the Flip Side…Some women may feel extremely comfortable telling the clerk at Target or the barista at Starbucks all about her baby-making escapades. If this is you, be sure your spouse feels the same way. (And please reconsider, for their sakes!)

Getting Help and Healing 

In my own experience, the longer barrenness went on, the more people knew about it. The “outsiders” just eventually figured it out after constantly asking us if we wanted kids..and then never seeing that belly pop. And the”insiders”..because we actually started telling them. As the journey waned on, it began to wear on us. And as we were worn down, we became desperate for a few close friends we trusted to water our dry, dying ground of hope. And those were the who people prayed for us, revived us, kept us alive.

Friends

Be sure you and your spouse both feel comfortable about who knows what you’re going through, and how much detail you will share. This is out of basic respect to your husband. (He has feelings too, even if he doesn’t express them the way you do.) Search out friends who will pray with you and for you, and point you to the Lord; opposed to those who are likely to gossip.

My own advice (and this goes for any personal issue) is to share only with people who are a part of your healing process. Ask the Lord to guide you to people who will point you to Him. You may not have anyone like this in your life. Going to counseling is okay too (especially if the issues are “just too personal” to be helped by a friend or relative.) I highly recommend a biblical counselor who actually opens up the Word of God with you, and prays with you.

This Blog

This blog is a great place you are invited to for comfort and support on your journey. I am sharing things with you that no one shared with me–because I simply didn’t have anyone in my life that had ever gone through this! Know you are not alone.

God 

As always, the most important. He is the foundation upon which the rest of your house stands. Go to Him. Let me leave you with a few Scriptures to remind you that He is with you..even when it doesn’t feel like it:

“…He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Dear God,

Help this precious daughter to pour out her heart before You. And come swiftly to her. Surround her today with Your presence. Fill her heart with hope. Thank you that if she has been walking alone, she does not have to walk alone anymore. Remove all loneliness and despair and surround her with the sweet fellowship of your Holy Spirit! Reveal to her how intimately involved you are in her life, desiring her deepest good, even through this difficult time. Strengthen her heart now Lord, for You have promised, “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.” 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

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5 Important Questions The Barren Woman Should Ask

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using Conception “Helping” Methods:

1. Could this hurt my body? This may seem obvious, but when you are desperate to “have a baby” you often forget to consider harm to your own body. Be sure to do your research and look into any not-so-nice side effects. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

2. How does my spouse feel about it? Considering your spouse’s feelings and convictions about fertility treatments is a big part of honoring (obeying, and submitting) to your husband. Not only that, but your husband is your protector, and it may be God who is warning him against something that could potentially hurt you..even if you don’t understand his logic.

3. What does my doctor think? Obviously, you want to consult with your doctor or OBYGN about your body and any medical /chemical treatments that could affect you. (Chances are, you need their approval, script, or referral anyway.) Consider any warnings, or concerns they may have.

4. Is there a more natural way? If the first or second month you don’t conceive, you rush out and beg your practitioner for fertility treatments, you may be jumping the gun. Aside from some good old patience and relaxation, there may be some better, more natural ways to try to conceive. In my own experience, my OBGYN actually knew very little about some of the more natural fertility methods I came in to ask about. This was discouraging a first, but in the long run, I did my homework and learned a lot through my own research.

5. What Does God say? Praying about what God wants you to do is the most important thing you can do. God is your maker, and He’s certainly the maker of that child you long for as well. Ask Him. He may not write it out for you on the wall, but He will give you the peace that surpasses understanding, and lead you in His way. He cares for you. And even more than giving you a child, He longs to give you Himself. Start right now by giving him your self, your whole self. And let Him fulfill your deepest desire. “In all your ways, submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6

 

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Knowing How Far Is Too Far When Trying To Conceive

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What do you DO when “it doesn’t happen” right away? (Yeah, pregnancy..)

Pick a door! Any door!

Door #1: You jump on Google searching frantically for fertility advice/treatment. Checking out books at the library (if you’re brave. And don’t live in a small town.) Or secretly order books from Amazon (if you’re like me.)

Door #2: You start a super-strict mandatory “schedule” with your spouse. (And take turns hurting each other’s feelings!) (ie. “You don’t think I’m attractive any more!” “Well, I have a headache and I’m not really in the mood.” “Do you even CARE about having a baby?” “Do you even care about ME?”)

Door #3: You rush out to Whole Foods and drop $300 on all the best “fertility increasing” foods. Or run to pharmacy and grab a fist-full of ovulation tests.

Ugh. None of these are really that fun, cheap, or promise anything.

What about pray?

Often turning to the Lord is the last thing we do when we really want something (like a baby). And (in the back of our minds) we know that God probably isn’t going to help us conceive the way the he did for the Virgin Mary. So that means finding some more “practical” options. I believe that the reason Scripture gives so little directives about this area is that God wants us to go to him. Waiting times are for intimacy with God. To really get to know Him.

The reason prayer is so vital is because:

1. It helps you to keep your perspective on the reality of God and His power. (You remember He is in control and sovereign over your life, and your womb.) The Lord opens and closes the womb.

2. It keeps unity with your spouse. (After the Lord, your spouse is your “first love.” If you are opposing your husband by using means of TTC he has a clear conviction against, you are sinning against him, and the Lord.) But to pursue this together, with a pure heart and a clear conscience can bring a sweetness and intimacy between the two of you, as you experience waiting on the Lord together.

3. It keeps you from idols (and becoming a crazy person.) Putting your focus on the Lord prevents you from becoming consumed with your desire to conceive. Like I said, desire is powerful and can drive you places you didn’t intend to go. So, when you continually surrender yourself and your desires to the Lord, you let Him become most important again.

Okay, I poke fun (now) at the three doors I listed above…but there was a time when they were my only reality. And I walked through each one, (and more!) But what is so important is that whatever “method” or “treatment” or “book” you try…be sure You have a clear conscience before the Lord and that is the route He wants you to take. (See Hebrews 13:18)

I realize the Lord may call you to “do something.” Faith and deeds can and do often work together. He will be faithful to show you what His will is for you.

In my own experience, there were times where I felt the Lord say, “Do not pursue this road,” and other times felt He said to pursue that very same road. He may lead you to completely throw out all literature on TTC, and just trust Him. He may want you to go to the doctor and begin fertility treatments.  I don’t know what the Lord will call you to do. This is a personal journey for you and your spouse. God sees you, He loves you, and He cares about this. So go to Him. And I believe the Lord will reveal what His will is for you and your spouse. Stay in the Word, stay in God’s presence, stay connected with your spouse. Whatever you do, do not depart from the Lord and deprive yourself of the deepest blessings God wants to give you, when you go about it His way. May whatever road He has for you, be walked with conviction and confidence and joy.

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About My Barrenness

Discovering Barrenness

“At least 2 years!” Is what I begged of my husband. At least two years where we could have sanity. Build our relationship. Discover who we were as a couple. Then the little munchkins could come. When I was ready.

So…we did the infamous Pill. No dreaded “honeymoon baby” for us. That’s what happened to people who didn’t think. Who didn’t plan. And I was determined that would not be us.

Two years came…and I started to “feel ready.” Something just changed in me. I knew I wanted to be a mom. I didn’t want life to be all about me, or my husband. I wanted a baby to love too.

“Trust me, we won’t have any trouble!” I assured my husband with a wink, as I threw that final round disk of 28 pills like a frisbee into the trash can. My mom and older sister both got pregnant in their first year of marriage, and I was sure I would be of the “Fertile Myrtle,” just-look-my-way and I’ll be pregnant “type.”

But that first month “we tried,” I remember so vividly, so naively (looking back), taking that first pregnancy test. Waiting those two minutes. And the shock when it read: NEGATIVE.

If you have experienced this, at least once, you will know the strange sorrow that subtly fills your heart. I cried before I left for work, and my husband hugged me, and assured me everything was alright. It might just take a few months.

Months Waning On & Why God?

The next month came, and so did my period. And the next, and the next. It was just taking a little “longer than expected.”

I charted my periods, fluids, temperature, and anger. I went to the doctor. My husband went to the doctor. I read books, and blogs. And cried. A lot.

Most of my friends were on baby #2 or #3. But I was barren. And no one knew why. It seemed so easy for everyone else. (Especially those teenage girls pushing their strollers down the street.) But not for me, not for us. It felt as if we stood still; frozen, and the whole world kept rushing past us.

It was about two years of this. It doesn’t seem that long now..but it did then. The climax of every 28 days waiting to find out if “this month is different.” Only to be disappointed by the regular flow of blood, or a negative pregnancy test (that doesn’t magically turn to positive after it’s tossed in the trash can.) Trust me..I always checked. Just in case.

Some months I was full of faith. “In faith..” I’d declare, “I am NOT buying tampons..because I am trusting this month I won’t need them!” (Only later to go out and have to buy the overpriced ones at the gas station down the road.) Darn.

The Day I Stopped Being Barren

Then it happened. All this time God was trying to lasso my heart, and I remember the day He did. Sometimes that happens. You’re not even looking for it, like swimming with your eyes closed and smacking your forehead off the side of the swimming pool.

I was listening to an online episode of “Adventures in Odyssey” with my 5th grade students. While they finished coloring their homemade storybooks, I sat and listened to a story about a woman who had become blind by an accident. She said for years she “tolerated” what God had allowed in her life, but she never was thankful for it. But over the years, she learned how to actually thank God for what He allowed in her life. This is what He determined was for her greatest good. So she embraced it with both arms, and thanked Him.

For so long “tolerating,” but never “thanking” God for what He was doing. At last, so convicted. Cut to the heart. If God decided it was not time, who was I to say His plan was not good? I ducked behind my monitor and wiped away tears and bitterness. Who was I to quarrel with my Maker?

That was the day, this very small seed began to grow in me. Instead of fighting Him tooth and nail over his plan, I began to thank Him. Begrudgingly at first, but then genuinely. Praying things like: Thank You that You know my body better than I do, and maybe you’re protecting me from something my body cannot handle. Thank you I don’t have to go through morning sickness. Or weight gain. Or (the dreaded) labor. Thank You for no stretch marks. Or a flabby stomach. Or flabby arms. (Ok..maybe my list was slightly vain and trivial..but it was sincere.)

I began to realize maybe God had a different purpose for me, for my husband. Began to think of the extra time we would have together. What this might allow us to do. It was the working of a real miracle in me: I stopped envying all my friends who were moms. Stopped wanting other women’s lives. And I started thanking God that He had a unique calling on me. I kept my focus on the few things He had entrusted me with, (like loving my husband, and taking care of our home, and my job) and tried to do those well.

That seed was growing in me. Life was beginning to fill me.  I stopped seeing all the EMPTY in my life. Started seeing how full it was. Overflowing. Joyful. Unique. And God became close, intimate, and sovereign over this. For the first time: I stopped demanding with clenched fists–and started worshiping with open hands.

As I was leaving my job one day, this song came into my mind. I remember jotting it down on pink post-it notes…and finishing it the moment I walked in the door and crashed down at my piano. It was like this cry coming out of me, that I had to get out on paper, had to sing:

Barren, barren for all to see

Barren, but He’s still beautiful to me

 

I prayed for a baby

For the start of new life

Though I barely know how to be a good wife

 

The doctor’s say

They don’t know what to do

I know in Your sovereign will You’ll choose

To give me life

 

And You say,

“There’s Someone living inside you,

Though not a child, tucked inside your womb,

But 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.

 

Do you trust me, Honey?

In My time, In My way

When your womb is barren,

And your hands are empty?”

 

Tears fell over the keys. And a new chord was struck that day, within me. One that had not been played before. I was waiting for a baby to fulfill what only God could. The Life I was longing for.

And I was no longer barren. My soul was full, brimming, overflowing with joy. Gratitude. I was thankful, fruitful. Surrendered. Connected to the Vine. No longer dying..but living. And for the first time…in a very long time: content.

The Baby Blessing

We had rented “The Shadowlands,” and I was scarfing down a bowl of Oreo Birthday Cake ice cream, when I realized I finally had to pee. I had picked up a pregnancy test like I had many other times, and this was nothing new. My period was late..but that didn’t mean anything. This had happened before..to no avail. “Do you want me to pause it?” My husband called as I darted up the stairs. “Noo!” I shouted down. I wasn’t going to let myself be excited. I was just going to be content to “not be pregnant.” No expectations. I peed on the stick and waited, refusing to look at it. Furiously praying as I always did, “Lord. Please let me be at peace with whatever the result is!” (I don’t think there’s ever been a girl in history whose heart hasn’t skipped a beat while waiting those FOREVER two minutes.) I took a deep breath.

Opened my eyes. And to my shock read, “Pregnant.” I shook my head as if to clear it. “Pregnant?” Pregnant. My mind started racing a million miles per hour. “Brandon!!!” I shouted for my husband to come upstairs. I had no words. I just shoved the pee soaked stick into his hands. And he read it. Speechless. Our eyes met. Locked. And we started laughing. “What?!” Hugging. Staring at it.  “Do you think it’s right?!” We’re crying. Collapsing on the bed. Locking onto one another. Could this be real?

And suddenly, the realization, the rush of warmth—God. He did this. In His time, in His way. 

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