I always knew I wanted children. I have always loved kids. My parents had six children (one of whom died at just three days old). They ended up divorcing and after re-marrying my mom had four more. These four have filled my life with so much joy. On my mom’s side I had twelve cousins. Having numerous cousins coupled with eight siblings made life so fun. I can’t ever remember feeling lonely as a child and I have the fondest memories of Christmas Eve at my Grandma’s and Papa’s, Easter egg hunts and the most fun ever at our family Halloween parties. The more kids to run around and play with the merrier life was.
Then I grew up. I met my husband when I was just seventeen. He was twenty two and the father of an almost two-year old boy. I’m sure I didn’t fully grasp the idea of what all being a step-mom entailed but I grew up loving kids and being around them all the time so this was of no hindrance to me. After over two years of dating we married. I fully embraced the role I would have in this little boy’s life and the opportunity to love him and watch him grow up. Seven months after our wedding, we bought a house on an acre of land and settled in to our quiet little country life. Everything was smooth sailing.
I had been raised in a godly home. My mother was faithful to raise us in church and teach us the ways of the Lord. I knew right from wrong but in my late teens I had chosen a life without God and carried this into a marriage at just 19 years of age. Although we seemed to have everything going for us, our lives and our marriage had a deep void. We soon made the decision to attend church and surrendered our lives to God. I do not say “surrender” lightly. We laid down our lives, gave Jesus our hearts and He lovingly and passionately filled us with Himself and gave us life. It was a transformation that twelve years later, still amazes me. At this point we were both working good jobs, loving our church family, serving in various ministries and enjoying life so much greater than before our surrender. In November of 2002 we decided that I would get off of birth control. It wasn’t that we were ready to have children but I had heard somewhere that when you’ve been on birth control it can take a while to get pregnant once you get off. I figured I would get off of it and by the time my body got “back to normal” I’d get pregnant. All in God’s timing of course. Little did I know I would struggle to trust in and believe that little phrase.
A year went by with no conception and I didn’t think much about it. My husband worked out of town often and, you know, my body was still “adjusting” from being off of birth control so I didn’t worry at all. In fact I became preoccupied with feeling a calling to begin fostering. I didn’t know anything about it and so I prayed. The desire grew and I shared it with my husband who expressed the same feeling. We soon found out about a foster care agency that had just opened up in our town. We contacted them and were soon on our way to become state-licensed foster parents. It seems overused and cliche but it’s simply a fact and so we SHOULD overuse it until we get it through our heads and into our hearts that God always knows what’s ahead & He’s always working things together for our good (Romans 8:28). My life is proof. We became licensed foster parents and we were introduced to this precious little one year old girl. My husband fell in love and I was caught off guard. I knew we were called to foster but never did I imagine we would ever adopt. I just had no idea this was part of God’s plan for us and I certainly had no idea that this precious baby girl would bring me so much joy and lessen the pain of a years long struggle with infertility. As the months went on our hearts became knitted tightly to this sweet girl’s. We both acknowledged that clearly the Lord was at work on her behalf, not fully realizing He was at work on our behalf as well. God was performing a miracle for us.
During this time we had been talking about the fact that we had not conceived in several years but honestly I wasn’t worried. In my mind I sort of thought I had it all figured out. I reasoned that my husband was out of town working too much so we were missing my ovulation days or maybe since God was giving us a child through the miracle of adoption He didn’t want me pregnant right now so that we could focus on our newest addition. Or maybe, I would get pregnant right after adopting like so many people suggested. It could be, I thought, that it’s just not God’s timing yet and I was okay with that too. (As long as His timing was in sync with mine.) These were actual ideas I had and used to soften the blow of not being able to conceive. Not that any of those weren’t true, but I was desperate to create my own answer. In 2006, the adoption was final and we were overjoyed. I still am awestruck at the beauty of God’s plan. I cannot describe the feeling of becoming a mother suddenly and unexpectedly. It is beautiful and profound. No nine months of preparation, no baby shower just instant motherhood. Just instant love for this child that God handpicked and delivered so beautifully to us. Such a precious gift and sweet act of kindness from our Father. Life with a new child brought us so much joy. She has been the light of our lives. The most bubbly, silliest, most beautiful-inside-and-out little girl the world has ever known.
In 2009 after almost 7 years of “not preventing” I finally told my husband I wanted to see a fertility specialist. We had trusted in God’s Word and His promises. We had stood firmly on what we believed. We had held on to every prayer and prophetic word spoken over us concerning conception. I knew it was time for us to act on our faith and I needed some kind of answers. I had reached the point where my emotions were beginning to create breaches in the dam of reasoning I had constructed. I was confused, hurt, angry and desperately heartbroken. I could not understand or make sense of any of it.
We made an appointment with a specialist. After going over our health history & my female cycle he recommended blood tests, a hysterosalpingogram, and some tests for my husband. All of our tests came back normal. At our next appointment the doctor then stated that he suspected Endometriosis. Though my menstrual cycle was like clockwork I had always had horrific menstrual pain, even to the degree that I went to the emergency room on one occasion. This was a sign of Endometriosis. He explained that the procedure was a day-surgery called laparoscopy where he would go in and look and if he found Endometriosis, he would remove it. At the same time he would do a hysteroscopy. I was scared but somewhat relieved to finally have the “ball rolling”. The only surgery I had ever had before that was getting my wisdom teeth extracted so I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was I was ready to get it over with. I desperately needed answers.
I woke from surgery, groggy and anxious to hear the news. The doctor informed my husband that I had stage 2 (out of 4) Endometriosis. I was both relieved and saddened. My recovery from the surgery was rough. I could not void for almost two days and ended up in the emergency room where I was catheterized and 800 cc was emptied from my bladder. After seeing a urologist, I was taught to “self-cathe” until my bladder “wakes up”. It was a trying and difficult time. All I could think about was getting better, fully recovering, starting fertility treatment and getting pregnant. I just knew our dream was soon to be fulfilled.
I finally recovered and all bodily organs were functioning normally again. The New Year began and our hope was renewed. I was so utterly filled with hope. We knew that after the surgery our odds for conception were best within that year. We started off with the fertility drug, Clomid. Part of the process while you’re taking this is to have an ovary ultrasound to see your eggs. Mine looked good. I thought for sure we’d be pregnant in no time. While on Clomid, I had what I think was a strange and scary reaction. We decided that I would stop taking it and since we were still within the year of surgery we would just try to naturally conceive. This is how I wanted to conceive, simply naturally. Our hopes were high. Well, that year passed, then another, then another, and another….It has now been 6 years and 4 months since that surgery. This journey of infertility has been like an old wooden rollercoaster — jarring & painful. Not just because of the discouragement of not having conceived after the surgery but because I thought I would have conceived by now with or without surgery. I had no idea that God’s plan was that we would struggle with infertility for thirteen years (and counting). I just had no idea. I thought surely God would have come through by now and all the prayers would be answered and all the prophetic words would be fulfilled.
Yet, still I wait. Hoping, dreaming, praying, believing and holding…holding on to a strand of hope. For so long I relished baby showers and gladly volunteered to host them. Numerous baby showers. I was so good at “managing” this infertility thing that the thought of knowing one day all of these favors would be gladly and joyfully returned to me kept me hosting all the more. But then one day I no longer could. I couldn’t even attend and could barely move myself to send a gift. Years of picking out names and creating lists of my favorites turned into watching other people name their children those names. The reasonings like “next year it will surely happen” or “it’s just not God’s timing yet” that once had helped hold back my emotions no longer worked. Sadness became deep sorrow and hot anger made it’s debut. Depression played games with me but I declared myself the victor through Christ. I refused to let depression take hold. I have fought depression with joy and watched it limp away in defeat.
Today, thirteen years and six months into this journey, I can say I am better, stronger and I am okay. I am still waiting, trusting and believing. I am just brave enough to believe that God will give me this desire of my heart (Psalm 37:4). It is indeed a struggle on many fronts. A struggle to trust in a God who is good, to believe in miracles, to remain joyful and to never quit. Some days I think I’m crazy! “What are you holding on to,” I ask myself? “Just let it go and move on,” declares a random thought. “What’s the point now, you’re almost 35, your husband’s 40, this isn’t the way you had it planned so forget about it.” But I just can’t. I have to hope. It’s who I am and it’s WHOSE I am (Romans 15:13).