As much as I’ve tried to begin to shy away from the hurt that infertility has brought into my life, God keeps leading me back to it and reminding me that during this battle His love for me has been made evident. I have proclaimed His name louder and I have knelt deeper in prayer. I have hurt, and I have heard His voice. I have cried, and He has comforted me. I have screamed out in anger and in frustration…and He has remained steady at my side. What has God taught me through infertility? He has taught me that He will never leave me or forsake me.
I will be honest that I didn’t know Infertility Awareness Week even existed. However, I’ve had a million thoughts running through my mind in the last month as I have tried to process everything that God brought me through in regards to infertility, and as I begin to process everything He will be faithful through as we enter into the adoption process.
There are two questions that I haven’t been able to answer until now. They were the two questions I was asked right in the middle of treatment, and right at the end as we decided to no longer pursue infertility treatments. They were this: “Why does this hurt you so much?” and “Will you ever be happy if it never happens?”
“Why does this hurt you so much”? was the question that most haunted me. It was asked by friends who already had children. It was asked by my family members. It was asked by people who barely knew me. And maybe their wording wasn’t all exactly the same, but the essence of the question still was. They couldn’t understand it. And honestly…I couldn’t either.
I thought for a long time that maybe I was selfish for wanting God to grow our family so much that it hurt. I thought I was asking for something that wasn’t meant for me. I felt slighted, and hurt, and marked by God as not good enough for this blessing that most would view as “common”. What hurt the most? Probably the thought of family Christmas when my husband and I grow old and there aren’t any grandchildren, or maybe the thought that I would never know that bond between mother and child as she carried her baby for nine months in her womb, or possibly when I realized there wouldn’t be any little ones running around who had both of our blue eyes and my brown hair with his curls. The hurt, I think, comes mostly when we realize that the buck stops here. That even though we love tradition and heritage so much, that with us it would be different. And I could not reconcile it with what God had laid out in the Bible for husbands and wives. He told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply…why was He withholding this from me? Am I broken?
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them” Genesis 1:27
And that’s it, friends. That’s why it hurts. Because God, who is our Father, is also our creator and we were made in His likeness. We contain attributes of the Father, and so naturally, just as it was His will to be our Father…it is our desire to follow suit, it is our desire to hold flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones and know that we are connected, that we are family.
God is all about His children. He created us. He gave us free will that we would choose to freely love Him…because that’s how family works, isn’t it? We can choose to stay connected, and we can choose to walk away. But it is the hope of every father and mother that our children would also choose to love us…as we have hoped to so dearly love them. God describes His church as a family, He describes us as sons and daughters, Jesus referred to Him as our Father. Why does infertility hurt so much? Because the desire to be a part of a family is intertwined into who we were created to be and in who God is to us.
And so it’s not just that my womb has never stretched to hold life…it’s that it feels like a part of me is entirely missing.
That’s not something that I was prepared to encounter in this life. It’s not something that’s preached about at church, the topic of “what if you can never have children?”. It’s not talked about in high school or middle school… in fact the opposite is discussed, “how not to have children right now!”. And I don’t think you can ever hope to even comprehend the magnitude of it or the depths of your soul that it reaches, unless you yourself have felt its sting.
But…here’s the second question I was asked: “Do you think you could ever be happy if it never happens for you?” There was a period of time where I thought my answer might be no. I couldn’t understand what the purpose was in purchasing a house with three bedrooms and a yard for kids to play in if we would never give birth to children to fill those spaces. I couldn’t get over the fact that I had spent the majority of my life caring for children at local day cares, and church nurseries, and teaching piano lessons, and serving as a private nanny only to be met with the disappointment that I wouldn’t get to step into the leading role as Mama even though I felt so completely prepared.
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-38
Through all of this hurt and disappointment, God has still given me purpose. Every child that I see now, I know that God specifically created and wanted. I see the looks on my friend’s faces as they parent their kids and I know how incredibly blessed they are and I marvel even deeper at the miracle of life. And I realize so much more now, that this life is not my own. It was redeemed at a cost. And that cost was the love of my Father. He must come first, even before my dreams of being a mama.
I prayed that God would bring me peace. I prayed that He would lift this burden from my shoulders and that one day…I would feel whole again. It’s been over three years, and friends, He is doing exactly that. There really is no explanation for what God is doing in my heart, or how my cloud has begun to lift and float away. It just has. Without warning, God has parted my clouds. He keeps speaking to me…it feels in softer tones now. I have felt the fire, and I pray that it has refined me. There was such a temptation to let it melt me instead…but I think now, God was holding me all along. Even as I kicked and screamed, because I’m His child.
We have begun the paperwork to pursue domestic adoption, and while that brings me so much Joy, I know the road ahead will still be hard as we begin to understand the depth and the grief that separation from one’s biological mama entails. The hurt that waits up ahead is not just my own anymore, it’s of my baby and of their mama. It seems that pain multiplies, and my heart breaks as I know that the pain in this world just keeps spreading. But…my God is a mender of broken hearts. And Joy can multiply too. Perhaps, He allowed my heart to be broken that I may weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice…that I might better understand and know my baby who will come home to us one day and their mother who will forever hold the other half of this broken heart of mine. I know the wait could be long for placement, I know that there is the possibility that we won’t be placed, and I know that God has used infertility to prepare me for that wait. I know what it feels like to wait for a long time…I know what it feels like to not know how this ends. And I know how good my Father God is, even if what I will and what I desire never comes to be. His love for me comes first.
My Joy has begun to emerge from a place in my heart that I didn’t know existed and that I don’t think would ever have been uncovered if I had never experienced infertility. So, could I ever be happy if none of this ever happens for me? The answer is yes. I think that because of all of this my Joy will be felt at a greater magnitude. I think that without it I may have taken for granted all that God is and who He is and how He loves me…and how He loves His children. My Joy in Jesus is greater…I am happier in Him because of this. And that is my victory. That though I was met with pain, and though I felt as if I was broken…Jesus has restored my soul. He has replaced the weakness of my heart with strength. He has given me Hope.
To those of you who suffer in this, know that Jesus is greater. Know that prayer is not just uttered desperate words…but that it is fully heard by your Father. Know that tears of pain can become tears of Joy in Him, and that Joy is not dependent on whether or not we are physically healed or whether we are able to become parents…but instead is an unspeakable mystery in the glory of our God for which we can not explain but can proclaim. Joy in Jesus defeats the darkness…and that is full truth.
I have found His grace is all complete, He supplieth every need. While I sit and learn at Jesus feet, I am free, yes, free indeed.
I have found the pleasure I once craved, It is joy and peace within; What a wondrous blessing! I am saved from the awful gulf of sin.
I have found that hope so bright and clear, Living in the realm of grace; Oh, the Saviour’s presence is so near, I can see His smiling face.
I have found the joy no tongue can tell, How its waves of glory roll! It is like a great o’er flowing well, Springing up within in my soul.
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory, oh, the half has never yet been told.
Does this mean I don’t have hard days? no. They still come once in a while. But it means that I’ve found my strength in Jesus, and that this battle no longer stands a chance at defeating me. Jesus is stronger. Jesus is better. Jesus heals hearts. Infertility can’t ever steal your purpose or your worth. It won’t distort you before the Father. It doesn’t mark you as lesser or forgotten. On the contrary…it marks you as brave. It marks you as strong. You, my friend, are a canvas for which the Lord God will paint beautiful things on. Your life can bloom in Him. And your heart can heal.