Last week did not go the way we planned.
This is not what we hoped for or wanted.
This is what infertility looks like.
In November 2015, after a year of diagnostics and testing, Caleb and I began our first round of infertility treatments. I became pregnant on my first cycle, only to receive the news on the same day that I was pregnant but that I was also losing the pregnancy. Pregnant on Black Friday. Pregnancy gone by Cyber Monday.
Fast forward a year later and we are in the same position, with this God-given desire, and yet no children. After our first treatment, we did two more at the same office. Nothing. We mourned because we were told that your chances of the treatment working after three rounds go down dramatically. I had to take an emotional and physical break. Instead, I focused on what I could do myself. In the spring I started sessions with a naturopath. More tests. We came up with a plan for diet and supplements to address the results of the tests. Still nothing. We decided to seek a second opinion from another infertility office. More tests. I started going to a functional doctor to address my thyroid imbalance and anything else we might be missing. My infertility doctor came up with a plan to try two more rounds of treatment. She said our chances still looked good. I was hopeful and upbeat. I thought, this would be it, that there was just something going on last time that had now been resolved. Both cycles have come and gone, and yet nothing. The answer was still a no.
The ending of this last cycle was the worst one so far for us. Perhaps because it was our fifth round. Or perhaps because we understood the significance, dawning on us as Caleb held me as we wept over the harsh, physical reminder that we would once again not be expecting.
Long-term suffering is no joke. In Psalm 13, David cries out for deliverance from his suffering. “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.”
I’m tired. I’m angry. I don’t understand why God would keep having us pursue all of these avenues if it was still going to be a no. I’ve lost my hope. I no longer think, maybe next month. Just try one more thing. The long afflictions and years of disappointment have worn me down. To everyone else, it’s just another failed treatment. To us, it’s devastating. I want to be a mother. Caleb wants to be a father. In The Bible and the Pain of Infertility, Kimberly Monroe describes this realization of unfulfilled desire: “Grief. No funeral. No burial. No flowers. No cards. Yet there is a death: the death of hopes of the wonder of a child emerging from your love.”
I will never be a woman that gets pregnant by accident. I will never be a person that wakes up one day and realizes I should have started my period days ago. I will never know the joy of using a home pregnancy test and getting a positive result, without a dreaded two-week wait and injections, medications, and an onslaught of ultrasounds and bloodwork coming before it.
I’ve always wondered, if it came down to it, how does one “move on” from having their own children? People do it, and you think how wonderful and selfless it is. But you never think it will have to be you.
“Grief. No funeral. No burial. No flowers. No cards. Yet there is a death: the death of hopes of the wonder of a child emerging from your love.”
You see, I lied. I’ve lied while proudly wearing my necklace that says “And if not, He is still good.” I’m a phony. A sham. Because I do not feel that He is good. I feel betrayed, forgotten. I know that He is good. But there’s a difference. Knowing is better than feeling. But I don’t feel that He is good. God doesn’t make mistakes, He doesn’t forget. His character makes it impossible for Him to do so. I know this.
It feels like a lie because, when I first began writing about infertility, there was a part of me that said I would be one of those people that suffered, certainly, but after I had “learned my lesson,” whatever that was, my desire would be granted. I would get my happy ending. I would hold my baby in my arms and think, this was all worth it. Our child would be a testimony to God’s faithfulness through this fiery trial.
But that hasn’t happened. We are still suffering. Why? “We are indeed very sparing of ourselves in trouble, and do soon begin to think that we are low and tried enough, and therefore would be delivered; but our wise Lord seeth that we need more.” George Hutcheson, 1657.
I remember asking Caleb not long ago if God could give us a new dream. He said yes, of course He could. But He hasn’t done that yet.
Life will get better. It won’t always be like this. I say this not because I feel it, but because I know it. Time will begin to heal the wounds, whether we have children or not. But that’s the future looking into the past. And right now, in the present, I am heartbroken.
If you’ve experienced infertility or another type of long-term suffering, you understand the desire we have for deliverance. The type that makes you long for a reprieve, for justice, for Jesus to return. “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18
Caleb and I pray for the suffering to end. For the ability to be genuinely joyful for our friends and family with children. To be able to attend baby showers again. To help and grieve with the many people we know going through similar circumstances. In A Prayer for the Weeping Heart, Christina Fox writes a prayer for those in lament. “Father, grant me gospel joy; help me to rejoice in Christ even as I grieve. Envelope me with the peace and comfort only you can provide. As the days move into months, may this burden lessen. As the months move to years, use me to encourage and bless someone else who must walk a similar path. Help me to point them to you as the God of all comfort.”
As someone who has been “in the waiting” for a long time, this prayer particularly spoke to me. The author did not mean it specifically for infertility, but she could not have described the cry of an aching heart better. As the months move to years…
Learning to trust in God’s mercy and depend on Him alone is not a 3, 4, 5, or even 10 year long lesson. I know it will be life-long. And trusting in God’s mercy leads to joy in His salvation. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
In verses 5 and 6, Psalm 13 takes a dramatic turn.
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Mark Kelly writes about Psalm 13 and the process of praying through depression.“Time is a gift in this life because we understand it in terms of beginning and ending. We experience our depression in terms of time. We also understand the hope of a time yet to come. If this life is “but a vapor,” how long then is our suffering?”
“Repose,” a prayer from the Valley of Vision.
My faith is in thee,
My expectation is from thee,
My love goes out toward thee,
I believe thee,
accept thy Word,
acquiesce in thy will,
rely on thy promises,
trust thy providence.
I bless thee that the court of conscience
proves me to be thine.
I do not need signs and wonders to believe,
for thy Word is sure truth.
I have cast my anchor in the port of peace,
knowing that present and future
are in nail-pierced hands.
Thou art so good, wise, just holy,
that no mistake is possible to thee.
Thou art fountain and source of all law;
what thou commandest is mine to obey.
I yield to thy sovereignty all that I am and have;
do thou with me as thou wilt.
Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.
Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
my willings from becoming fault-finding
with thy providences,
and have mercy on me.
If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart.