I know what it feels like to hurt so badly for that dream that seems unobtainable. To question if you're strong enough to face yet another round of poking and prodding and potentially frightening test results. To have sleepless nights because you just can't shut off your mind no matter how hard you try to quiet the endless string of "what ifs" that have taken up residence there. To wonder if you're brave enough to make it through another shattering of an already broken heart. I know what it feels like to be blindsided with a diagnosis of infertility and subsequently doubt yourself and your worth as a wife and woman because you can't have a baby the way you planned. To feel embarrassed and ashamed through all of the medical procedures and monitoring. To struggle with feelings of hopelessness and uncertainty as you look towards the future. I know what it's like to feel lonely and isolated as you are forced to grieve a loss every time you try to celebrate the good news of a friend or family member. To feel angry that your life is suddenly on hold, but to simultaneously struggle to not be completely overtaken by this dream that can feel so overwhelming. I know what it's like to fight to not lose your identity, your marriage and your friendships while you pour all of yourself into trying to be a mom. I know what it's like.
Infertility can be cruel, absolutely heart breaking and incredibly demanding. But I also know that no matter what, you cannot give up. You may stick with it until you are finally able to conceive the child you've hoped and worked so hard for; you may alter your methods and decide to use donors; you may change course and decide adoption is the right direction for your family; or a few of you may even decide this isn't a road you want to continue on and learn how to live without children. But no matter which way your story ends, you cannot give up on God, love and life. You can't give up on your story.
Your story matters... today and years from now. You matter... your tears and your smiles. You matter. You may feel completely alone in your struggle, but I can promise you that you are not. Not only are there many other women who are in the same place you are right now, and countless women, like myself and Jenny, who have been there before you, but God is with you right now, right where you are, just waiting on you to give Him the pieces of your heart so He can put it back together in an even more beautiful way. I know on the surface, it seems counter-intuitive to think that a God who loves us so much would allow us to go through such difficult times. But it's because He loves us. It's all part of Him creating us to be the person we are destined to be and writing our individual stories. While the pain and heartbreak are absolutely real, so is the hope for a better tomorrow, for the dream come true or the discovery of a totally different but even more rewarding dream. When you feel like you're at the absolute end of your rope, you have to fight to hang on to the hope that your story has purpose, your life has purpose, new chapters will be written and you will be okay. Better than okay even, if you put your trust and your story in the hands of the One who created you and gave you purpose.
That doesn't mean that if you put your faith in God that life will be painless and struggle free, but it does mean that each and every struggle, every break in our heart and every tear shed has a purpose. All of those struggles are crucial to us finding the path that leads to our faith, hope and future.
I have said this in another post, but I'll say it again here. Sometimes God has to break us, so that he can redeem us. Sometimes He breaks us so that we can have the chance to experience and rely on Him in an intimate way that we wouldn't otherwise ever have. He stretches and challenges us so that we can become the people He designed us to be and reach our full potential as His creation. Without Him, yes, things like the struggle of infertility can seem utterly hopeless. But by putting our faith in Him, not only do we gain hope that the one who created us and loves us more than we can ever imagine is going to take care of us and has plans for us, but we gain purpose as well! After we went through our infertility journey and were blessed with what is likely to be our one and only child, I gained an entirely new appreciation for the magnitude of God's gift and expression of love for us.
He gave up His only son for you and me because He loves us just that much. I cannot even begin to imagine willingly giving up my only child for someone else's sins, but because He did just that, I cannot imagine not accepting His love and grace for me and trusting that His plans for me are good. So when He says to me, child I have plans to prosper and not harm you and that when you face trials it's because I'm trying to grow you to be who I know you can be, I just have to remember what I'm worth to Him and trust.
You and I aren't the first people to struggle with problems of a bigger magnitude than what we could handle alone. Moses, Job and Elijah were just a few of the greatest men in the Bible that ended up with some of the biggest accomplishments and left a legacy worth following. However, at the beginning of their trials, each of these men struggled to the point of severe depression and asking God to take their lives because of the tasks and trials that were set before them. Life can be unbelievably overwhelming at times, but it's designed to be that way. The other thing these men had in common was that no matter how rough things got, none of them ever gave up on God. Because of the faith they clung to, their encounters with the trials life threw at them ended up bringing them face to face with the love of God and allowed them to serve purposes greater and more wonderful than would have otherwise been possible. Job said it best at the end of his trial when he said "surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know... My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:3,5) What an amazing gift that is that comes with each trial. If we will just allow God to love us and take care of us, we will be able to intimately experience Him on a personal level and be filled with His inexpiable peace, despite our circumstances.
If you're reading this post, you have probably already read my IVF story and Jenny's adoption story. If you haven't we encourage you to take a couple minutes and read them. We hope you'll see that through our struggles, we had moments of true life changing pain and heartbreak, but we never lost sight that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and who knew exactly how our stories were supposed to be written. Because of that, we were able to see that the pain was necessary for what was coming. God was shaping us into the wives, mothers, women He wanted us to be. He was equipping us with the tools necessary to help others through similar kinds of struggles. He was teaching us to rely on Him for everything, to be patient, and that when we don't give up on Him, He gets to perform miracles and shower us with blessings far beyond what we could have ever imagined. Because of that, we can both honestly say that though there were days, weeks and months that it was almost unbearable, God gave us the strength, courage and direction to get through every step and every decision. We were able to experience Him and grow in our faith in ways that would have never been otherwise possible. Our marriages are stronger than ever before. In hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. As painful as some of those moments were, I am ever so grateful for each of them because it's made me exactly who I am today and made me so grateful for the blessing that my precious girl is to me now. And most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to be completely reliant upon and completely surrounded by the love, grace and peace of God.
Infertility is a real issue that brings real emotions, real pain, real heartbreak and can be overwhelming. But it is temporary. This phase in your life is not the last chapter to be written and you too will end up with an amazingly beautiful story. The ending may be exactly what you're hoping for or it may be something completely different, but if you root your faith, hope and trust in God, it will be a beautiful story. You and others around you will be blessed in a way you can't imagine right now. It will be worth all the pain of the moment.
While you wait for your story to be written, talk openly and honestly with your spouse, find someone to confide in - be it a best friend, support group, counselor - but somewhere you can let everything out without fear of judgment, keep your spirits up, let yourself feel whatever you're feeling because you can't work through the grieving process without feelings. You can find some other helpful tips for making it through your waiting period here in our post on Embracing Your Longest Wait. And remember, "[You] can do all this through Him who gives [you] strength." (Philippians 4:13)
If you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ or have questions about your relationship or faith, please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or to help guide you towards finding the constant source of our hope and faith.