If you have never heard the term it essentially means “it’s been over a year, you aren’t pregnant, and we can’t tell you why.” The doctor said those words to me 7 months ago, and if I think about it too much, I still feel like I want to vomit. J and I have been married almost 3 years and it never fails, when people find out, the next question is when we are going to have kids. I don’t mind the question, but I’m not modest about my answer either. I’m honest and open about our struggle. I learned a long time ago that when I try to hide things, it allows shame to attach itself to them. And I refuse to walk in shame about our struggle with having children. I’m not saying you have to tell everyone your business, and some things are private. But specifically, for me, I can’t hide things. I’m painfully honest and open – I don’t have another choice. I lived in shame, anxiety, and depression for too long and part of the way I stay free from that is being incredibly vulnerable – all the time.
Anyway, J and I have always talked about having kids. We had a nice timeline that we liked, and everything was on track until it wasn’t. At first it was 1-2 months and then it was 4-6 and then it was 8 months and then it was a year and then a year and a half. The only way I know to describe it, is a roller coaster. I would receive prayer and prophetic words that we were going to have a baby and I would get excited. Then 2-3 months would go by and I would be let down. And then I would give up for a month or so and then I would go back to being hopeful and excited, only then to be discouraged again. It’s a brutal and overwhelming cycle.
I have wept and wept at the feet of Jesus trying to understand. I have raged at Heaven’s door demanding answers, and I have gone stone cold silent with the Father refusing to engage. I have talked to my counselor, my mentor, my parents, my wonderful husband, my dear and precious friends, and still I have no resolution for why. I do not understand, and I don’t need to. Trust me, I have heard all the explanations about timing and God’s plan and all the rest – it doesn’t make me feel better. It doesn’t make anyone feel better – let’s all be honest here.
Here is what I have experienced that I will remember for the rest of my days, and that has helped on the hard days.
- I have experienced friendship in an entire new way. I have the most precious friends who shower me with love every day. My beautiful friends have cried out with me, they pray with me anytime I ask and even when I don’t ask, they have constantly encouraged me, and been so sensitive to how difficult this path is every day. I would be lost in this if it was not for them. You need people. You cannot walk this road alone. If you don’t have friends you can call when you are struggling, you need to find them. Friendship has been my saving grace!
- Staying connected to J during this time has been so vital to our marriage. It would be so easy for us to blame each other or pull away from each other, but the only way we get through this is together. Many times, when we are walking through difficult times, we will pull away from our spouse or significant other. We will isolate internally and that is so dangerous for ourselves and our relationships. It has been so important for J and I to stay connected to each other, to continue laughing together, to continue to show each other tons of grace, and enjoy the time we have in the midst of the struggle. I have learned that when we lean into the pain, when we allow ourselves to feel it and not rush the process, there comes a certain fortitude that can only be formed in the struggle. For the rest of my days I will remember this time with my husband and how feeling the pain together made us stronger and more connected than we have ever been.
- I mentioned this in #2 but allowing myself to feel the pain for as long as I need to. We have been taught to try and rush past “bad” feelings and get back to the “good” feelings. I put those words in quotes because feelings aren’t bad or good, they are just feelings that are meant to be felt. So, these days, whenever I see a pregnancy announcement on Facebook, I allow myself to feel sad for as long as I need to. Whenever I see someone complain about their pregnancy or how their kids get on their nerves, I allow myself to feel angry for as long as I need to. Each month when the sign comes that we aren’t pregnant, I allow myself to feel that devastation for as long as I need to. And you know what happens? It goes away. I feel it, and eventually something happens, and J makes me laugh or Winston makes me feel unconditional love and suddenly I feel hopeful again. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable things, we end up pushing them down. There is tons of research on why this is so bad for us, but let me just say this – pushing your feelings down and covering them up is not only harmful for your emotional health but also your mental, spiritual, and physical health. Stop doing it – it’s not good for you in anyway. Also, I’m not talking about depression – that is something completely different. I am talking about feeling how we feel and being ok with that until we feel something different.
- Doing things that I want to do. For a while I found myself sitting around just waiting to get pregnant, and that serves no one. So, I decided at the beginning of the year that I would do what I wanted to do this year. Take an extra trip? Yes. Stay up late hanging out with our friends? Yes. Driving to Phenix City for the day to see my mom? Yes. And even though we spent several months in quarantine and this year has been difficult, I said yes to a lot of things and gained some experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. A lot of us are believing God for a promise we haven’t seen yet – but don’t sit around waiting for it like that thing will bring you happiness. You can find joy now. It is possible to want something so much, and also feel so fulfilled and full of gratefulness you may burst open with it – I am experiencing that now. I want a baby; I don’t need a baby to be happy or have a full life – I am already happy, and my life is already so full. I can live now – I don’t have to wait on a baby before I start living.
- Jesus. I have no words to adequately describe what He has meant to me in this season. I remember one day being so sad and confused and saying, “I just want a baby” and His response simply being, “I know.” But this “know” wasn’t I understand what you are saying, or you have told me this before. This “know” was – I feel the pain, I feel the sinking in your gut, I feel the want, I feel it all with you. I still tear up if I think about that moment with Him. There is something about sitting with someone who truly understands your situation. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 28:20, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is the last thing Jesus says to his disciples before he ascends to Heaven. He is with me. That one statement has settled my soul so many times during this season of life. Jesus, my best friend, is with me. Always – until the end of the age. Jesus hasn’t rushed me through my feelings – He is never in a hurry. He has sat with me in silence, comforted my soul when it was weary, and reminded me that He is trustworthy. He is the kindest soul I have ever known, and knowing He is with me has been enough.
Friends, we all walk through hard times. 2020 has been a hard time for everyone. But Jesus is with us. He is in the silence, He is in the laughter, He is in the tears, and He is in the joy. He is enough and seasons don’t last forever. Keep breathing deep, keep laughing loud, keep feeling – feel it all – He makes beauty from ashes.