A story about clinging to faith in infertility.
I vividly remember the day. It was winter, a few short days before Christmas, and Target was insane. The aisles were packed full of people clamoring to grab the last liters of cranberry ginger ale and shopped were crashing their carts in efforts to get to the baguettes first. I was instantly regretting my decision to “make a quick trip” to grab last minute things.
As I stood patiently waiting in line by the deli, I couldn’t help but notice an adorable little girl, probably about 4, standing with her mom and baby brother next to me. She grinned shyly as I smiled back and then the words tumbled from her tiny mouth: “Hi. Where’s your baby?”
I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. My hands got clammy. My heart started racing. I shot a small smile back and tried to muster up the most cheerful voice I could (as hysterical cries and bursting out in tears may have scared her). “Oh, I don’t have a baby.”
Saying the words out loud was difficult.
You see, my husband and I had tried for years to have a child. We had been to doctors, had surgeries, and went through different medical interventions and IVF cycles. In fact, only a year earlier, I was newly pregnant for the first time, excited to share the news with our families on Christmas.
Little did we know that after all of the celebrations, the bleeding would start and we would end the holiday no longer pregnant. Sadness filled my heart as she asked again: “But why don’t you have a baby?”
The mother became aware of the conversation at this point and stepped in, telling her daughter not everyone has a baby, then turned her attention back to the babbling infant in her cart. The little girl’s voice chimed in again. “But why? Why don’t you have a baby too?” Her persistence was admirable. She wanted an answer.
My mind was racing a hundred miles a minute. I was debating whether I should just walk away or try to come up with a reasonable answer. (I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to sit her down and say “Well, sometimes people have a hard time making a baby. And then you need shots and pills and surgeries. And then sometimes you get a baby in your tummy and then your baby dies. Merry Christmas.”)
I chose to stay silent, my eyes started darting around and she could sense she wasn’t about to get an answer. “Well, you should have a baby,” she stated as her mom finally grabbed her arm and onward they went, leaving me unraveling behind them, processing the sorrow that yes, I should have a baby too.
Infertility. Miscarriage. Both far too common and yet so often not talked about.
And yet time after time, women just like me, maybe just like you, are reminded that they are missing someone from their family.
The littlest triggers pop up every day. A diaper commercial where tiny dimpled baby hands crawl across your TV screen. An outing to the mall, where there seems to be moms with strollers everywhere. The app on your phone that you deleted once you lost your child, telling you what size fruit your baby should be now.
Infertility is an emotional rollercoaster, day in and day out. It’s not always easy to find faith in infertility. Every single day seems to usher in a new set of “what-if’s”, thoughts, and memories. We panic, watching our friends grow their family by more feet, while we are desperately trying to just add one.
We receive yet another baby shower invitation and birth announcement and let’s not mention the dreaded Christmas card pregnancy announcements, and the grip on our throats and hearts get a little bit tighter as we wonder if it will ever be our turn. We fill up our carts with gifts for nieces, nephews, and families in need and wonder if we will ever be able to wrap a gift for our own child.
And while the whole world seems to be living life in brilliant colors, our world feels a little bit muted, dulled by unspoken sorrow. The ache and longing feels like a gigantic gaping, bleeding hole and the smiles plastered on can feel so brittle that one wrong question asked and you might just crack.
I’ve been there. I understand and I’m here to tell you if you relate you’re not alone.
You’re not alone if you feel like you can’t tell a soul, yet contract every time someone asks when you’re going to start a family.
You’re not alone if you have hidden in a bathroom at a baby shower, wondering when it will be your turn.
You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed with shame, wondering if it was something you did to deserve “this”.
You’re not alone if you skip church on Mother’s Day and dread Father’s Day, knowing what an amazing dad your husband would make.
You’re not alone if you’ve cried yourself to sleep because of the pain, waking on to find the nagging ache still there.
Let me pull you close, gather you in a hug, sit you down on my couch and remind you of this truth: God is a God of impossibles.
We see it all throughout the Bible, reminders that God can do anything. Sarah and Abraham. Elizabeth and John the Baptist. Hannah. And at the crux, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, our faith, rooted upon the words “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son …”
It doesn’t make sense. And if you’re anything like me, you marvel at how truly impossible that is, and yet it happened. There was a significant wait that was involved for God’s people. A King was supposed to arrive? When? And yet, at the right time, to the right parents, the miracle was performed.
God revels in working miracles.
He wants us to trust Him, in the hard, in the beautiful. And He offers us His presence while navigating the waters that feel like it’ll break your heart. The rest of the verse (Matthew 1:23) goes on to say “… and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means, God with us.”
The great news is that God is with us. God is with me. God is with you. We never have to fight our battles alone. Whether its faith in infertility or something else, God is with you.
God is with you during the cancer battle, during the divorce, during the financial strains, during the panic attacks.
God is with you during the miscarriage, during the launch of a dream, and during the night as you sit up rocking a baby that never seems to stop screaming.
We don’t have the face the sorrow alone. Your situation isn’t hopeless, He is Hope. His Word is true. He cares deeply for the pain you are enduring today and He sees your tears. He knows you feel forgotten and He promises you that your present won’t be your always. You are seen, Jesus, our Immanuel, is with you.
Just like I did, I hope you find faith in your infertility.