Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Cross We Bear

Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a wife and a mom.  I had an awful self esteem growing up, so I never thought either of those things would happen because I was just so gosh darn undesirable.  When I met my husband, I could not believe this was the man God had prepared for me- a man who was everything I had dreamt of and desired and who loved me for me, even considering all of my imperfections.  A man who, above all, loved me because I loved Jesus.  A man who wanted nothing more in this world than to see me grow in my relationship with the Lord and lead me in doing so.  That was this man.  Through Daniel the Lord made me a wife, he made me a daughter-in-law, he made his family my family and my family his.  I assumed one day he would make me a mom.

Isn't that what we are told?  Once we hit a certain age, we get married.  Surely someone will come along and sweep you off your feet.  Married life will be perfect and, once we feel like something is missing, we will get pregnant and finally feel "complete".  Getting pregnant will be easy, I will carry a basketball belly with pride, and eventually welcome a perfectly healthy baby into the world.

No, No, and-guess what?-No.

I've always loved babies and, throughout college, worked in daycare centers and preschools.  We were married for about 3.5 years before we started "trying".  Waiting that long really wasn't too difficult.  I knew early in our marriage we couldn't afford a baby, and I knew that getting married when we were 20 and still in school meant we would be waiting until we were at least graduated, if not longer. We prayed for years that the Lord would clearly tell us when he wanted us to have a baby.  We finally felt it was time last August.

I cannot tell you the excitement I felt ditching the pill and thinking-wow- I could be carrying our son or daughter in just a few weeks.  The night we decided to start trying, I got 3 hours of sleep.  Daniel snored.  In my head, I ran through images of decorated nurseries and rocking a crying baby.  I imagined our families with us in the hospital, passing around a sweet, tightly wrapped baby, telling us how proud they were of us.  I was giddy.  At the time, Daniel's sister was pregnant and we wanted to be conscious and considerate of this exciting time for them.  We didn't want their special time to be interrupted with exciting news from us.  We knew one day our time would come.  We weren't not trying, but we weren't obsessed with it.  Once we knew we could get pregnant and keep it a secret until after my niece was born, we got serious.

I thought, at most, it might take 2-3 months to conceive.  I battled long cycles, ovarian cysts, progesterone deficiencies and anovulatory cycles.  Every time we had a new chance to try for a baby, we were optimistic, only to be devastated when it didn't work.  The problem was with me and, to be quite honest, I felt broken and ashamed.  The natural thing God had intended for me to do since the beginning of time- and given me an intense desire to do-wasn't working right.  I looked at my husband, saw him fall in love with the thought of being a Daddy, and my heart was broken.  Did he wish he had married someone else so he could have babies?  Absolutely not.  Not ever.  But I told myself it was a possibility.  Did his parents wish he had married someone else for that same reason?  Absolutely not.  Not ever.  But I told myself it was a possibility.  Were my parents disappointed that they couldn't be grandparents yet?  Absolutely not.  Not ever.  But I told myself it was a possibility. 

It seemed like everyone else around me could get pregnant with ease.  It felt like we were "left out" because everyone our age had kids and took their kids to places that are kid friendly-together.  It felt like no one wanted to be around us or talk to us because they were just waiting for the moms with babies to walk in so they could hold them, cuddle them, and laugh about all the funny little things they do.  To be honest, we felt invisible. We felt like we could no longer bring anyone else joy because it was clearly our time to have a baby and we seemed to not want one.  People would ask us if we had the "baby bug", if this cute little baby in someones arms "made us want one", and would predict when we would have one, nudging us with "you're next".  Deep down, all of those comments were like a knife being twisted in my gut.  No, we don't have the "baby bug".  We have been praying for years and feel called to be parents and want to raise kids to know, love, and serve the Lord.  Yes, other babies make me want to be a mom so badly that it's, at times, too much to bear.  You can nudge me all you want, but it hurts.  We've been trying and it's killing us.  But I never wanted to say that-out loud at least. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but mostly I didn't want to admit that those things were true. And, stepping back, I can see now that these people were just trying to be supportive by telling us they thought we'd be great parents... and knew it would bring us joy.  It was their way of supporting us.

But, again, the world lies to us.  It tells us that if a couple doesn't have children, it's because they've chosen to not have any.  It tells us that people who do not yet have children are waiting for the "perfect timing" and aren't relying on God to provide.  Because we are supposed to carry this burden and fight this battle in silence, we are hurt by comments and actions that we view as insensitivity instead of ignorance.  How are they supposed to see the hurt inside of me?  We are trained to think that "support" means trying to say the magical words to make the hurt go away. No matter what is said, it almost always makes it worse.  The most comforting thing I ever heard was "I don't know what this feels like.  I don't know what God's trying to lead you to understand.  I do know that it must be hard for you.  I do know that nothing will make this better.  I do know that I will commit to praying for you."  After I mustered up enough guts to admit our struggle out loud, I was comforted beyond explanation in knowing that other people have gone through the same thing, that I wasn't alone and that, finally, someone understood me.

No, I don't have a chronic condition making it hard for me to conceive.  No, there is nothing wrong with my husband.  Yes, we still are not pregnant.  Yes, we are trying, and we are hopeful.  And yes, we are undergoing testing and treatments to help us have a baby.  When you start to taste the pain of infertility, it's easy to fall into an emotional "cycle" along with your body.  Starting with hope, moving on to anticipation, and ending in devastation.  The few things I can say, with confidence, are these.

My marriage has reached new heights I could never imagine.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude that God designed my life before I was conceived to include such a wonderfully strong and godly man.  There is no person I would rather talk to, rather listen to, or rather run home to.  No matter how much time we spend together, it never seems to be enough- I thirst for more.  I grieve to know he feels this pain, but if, for some reason, we could never have a child, I would be content and cherish my life with only him.

One day, I will be able to testify to my child that they were wanted.  They were prayed for.  They were worth the wait and pain.  Sadly, too few children get to hear that.

And lastly, I know that if I believe the God of the Universe created me for His purpose and to glorify himself, then whatever and however he chooses to do that very thing should be what I desire. A few weeks ago, I wrote this while taking notes on the sermon at church:

I thought, "Am I more determined to let Christ be glorified in my life or more determined to have a baby?"  I confess that my attitude, at times during this journey, has been the latter.  I should be honored to be worthy to carry such a burden for the sake of the one who bought me for a price, who authored my salvation and completed it through suffering on my behalf.  A new month brings new hope, and, today, I set my eyes on the One whose timing and plan is far better than ours.

I hesitated in writing and posting this.  I sent Daniel draft after draft.  I cringe at the thought of attracting attention, especially for something like this.  I fear everyone will know our "business", will think of me as the selfish woman who wouldn't shut up about her baby frustrations, and will pity us.  We don't want attention and we don't want pity.  We want prayer.  We have a burden and have a desire for those who love us to help us carry our burden.  In the end, I wanted to write this because I know other people are fighting this battle in silence, carrying their burden alone, crumbling under its weight.  There is no need to go through this alone.  Finding journeys common to ours has given me peace, hope, and lift from this heavy heart.  If you are going through something similar to this, I hope you are able to find support and encouragement in knowing that you are not alone.  You will one day be someone who will help another in ways you cannot fathom, simply by listening and understanding their pain.  If you know someone going through this, give a little extra love.  Consider them on Mothers/Fathers day, give them some grace when their pain seems to consume them, and seek to spend some alone time with them.  It makes the heavy laden a little less heavy, even if you can't find the words to make it better.

My sweet sister-in-law texted me this verse this afternoon:
Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


If this is the cross we have to bear, I thank God for letting us do so.  Come, Lord Jesus!
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7 comments:

  1. I will be praying for you Daniel and Katie!

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  2. Beautifully written! Good for you for sharing your story.

    And I completely understand. ;)

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  3. Katie,

    I stumbled on your blog this afternoon and it was EVERYTHING I needed to read. My story is much like yours- as I was reading- it almost seemed like I was writing the words myself. I understand the pain you are feeling. Thank you for sharing your story. Prayers to you and your husband!

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  4. How brave and compassionate you are! I can only imagine how many people you will touch with your story. God bless you as you continue your journey. May He give you a deep abiding peace!

    A mother and grandmother who will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

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  5. Katie, you don't know me, but through searching for a recipe, I stumbled across your blog and read this post. As I was reading, I lived our life over again a few years ago. We have so much in common. I am a Christian wife who also has a passion for loving the Lord, family, health, sewing, and frugal living....seriously! It was really neat to relate so much. My husband and I also had trouble becoming parents so I wanted to share this with you. I have a book.... "Prayers that Avail Much" and one of the prayers in that book is entitled, "When desiring to have a baby." My husband and I prayed this same prayer together for a year or longer! I wanted to share it with you to pray during these days of waiting. I know this is the hardest time (I've been there!), but this will give you the peace that God is in control. I was unable to have children on my own and my husband was also part of the problem. We eventually had in vitro and we were blessed with twin girls. Then, shortly after they turned one, we found out we were pregnant again without even trying....even though the medical professionals told us that it would never happen! We now have Pate, who is 9 months old :) I am going to be praying with you as you continue to try. God will make a way.

    When Desiring To Have a Baby:
    Our Father, my spouse and I bow our knees unto You. Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named, we pray that You would grant to us according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might by Your Spirit in the inner man. Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, that we — being rooted and grounded in love — may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

    Hallelujah, we praise You, O Lord, for You give children to the childless wife, so that she becomes a happy mother. And we thank You that You are the One Who is building our family. As Your children and inheritors through Jesus Christ, we receive Your gift — the fruit of the womb, Your child as our reward.

    We praise You, our Father, in Jesus’ name, for we know that whatsoever we ask, we receive of You, because we keep Your commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in Your sight.

    Thank You, Father, that we are a fruitful vine within our house; our children will be like olive shoots around our table. Thus shall we be blessed because we fear the Lord.

    In Jesus’ name we pray, amen

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  6. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers! We know the Lord is faithful and we are undeserving of such blessings. All good things come from Him! Katie, we'll be praying for you =). Cyn, thanks for the encouragement. Lucia and Alana, can't thank you enough for praying. So thankful we serve a God who hears us- and loves and forgives us each morning. Blessings to you!

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  7. Greetings Katie, I too am a recent subbie and we are in the same boat. I shed many tears while reading this post as it hit too close to home. We'll keep you'll In our prayers.

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