Thursday, April 19, 2007

three years

It was April 19th, 2004.

We made a decision that we thought would quickly alter our lives. We decided that one purpose of marriage was to grow our little family of two.

And so we began "trying", as everyone does. Being the researcher of the family, I did my homework and was soon immersed into a world of thermometers, BBT charts, ovulation prediction tests, and fertility websites. I thought, "6 months at the most--we'll definitely be pregnant by October." October came and went. So did November, December, January, February, and March. And then it was April again. And so, as all the books told me, after 1 year of unsuccessful trying, we were now labeled "infertile". Armed with a year's worth of monthly charts, I went to the doctor as soon as we hit the one year mark. A round of routine bloodwork revealed no immediate problems, so other tests were ordered. And reordered, after the results were poor. And again, the results were dismal. After saying that the chances of me ever conceiving "on my own" were slim to none, my doctor recommended a specialist in Memphis.

It was a cruel blow, I remember. I had walked into my doctor's office expecting to be handed a prescription that would fix all our problems. The diagnosis of infertility that required special doctor-assisted reproductive therapy....that was not what I had expected. Almost as soon as I got to the parking lot of the doctor's office, I burst into tears. And I sobbed and sobbed all the way to our house where my husband was packing our bags for our vacation (we were leaving in a matter of hours). It was hard timing. We grieved. Oh, how we grieved.

But we went on our trip, and the further we got from Jackson, Tennessee, the further away, it seemed, was our infertility. We returned with broken hearts, though, and packed up our house as we were moving in 4 days to Missouri where my husband would be taking a new pastorate.

So we packed. And I pushed my heartache down into the deepest moving box I could find, with all my other belongings. It resurfaced when I unpacked in the house in my new town. And from then on, another year passed where I sought to shove away my sorrow while it was ever trying to resurface amidst other battles of ministry and the newness of our life in Missouri.

When we hit two years, we decided it was time to try the doctors again. I found a physician I loved, and had her take a look at our troubles. She ordered all kinds of tests (many were repeats). She even tried an invasive procedure that we were sure would help our chances of achieving the dream we ached for. The procedure gave some good news, but did not (obviously) bring our dream to life. Another round of repeat tests showed that our diagnosis was the same. We, again, were devastated. And my doctor who I had had so much faith in said there was no more she could do....we'd have to go to a specialist in St. Louis.

And that was eight months ago. I've been holding on to that referral for eight months, but have been unable to pick up the phone to make an appointment. My heart won't let me go there.
And while my dear husband and I sit and grieve over a dream that may never come to life, we wonder what we should do. Should we pursue treatment? Should we give up on conceiving altogether? Should we adopt? Should we simply wait and pray? Do we limit our faith to "slim to none"?

We don't know what to do. Three years, while but a breath to some of you, have taken their toll on our hope. Funny thing, hope. You can squelch it down, but it returns at the oddest times. When your heart physically aches as you watch a young family pushing their stroller, when you can't breathe as your friends announce their pregnancy (or possibly their second or third), when sleep eludes you because your mind races with the possibilities of "never" and "how will we cope?".....hope surprises you. It sneaks up on you. Even when you don't want it to.

I have no idea what this fourth year will bring. I can't imagine it being any different than the last three have been. And yet, with all of our heart, we YEARN for it to be different. We ACHE to see our dream in person, wiggling and cooing, before our eyes. But because we sometimes seek to preserve our sanity, we have to limit how much we allow ourselves to hope. We ask that YOU not give up on us, though. Please do not let your hope for us run out. We need your hope to lean on. Please pray for wisdom for us. Pray for hope. Pray that God would bless us with children. But, pray that He would be glorified no matter what.

In all of this, it is by grace that I can always say that God is good. Our life is but a breath; to Him be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

sharing your burden with others....

Twice this week, in two different places, I ran across this video. It's short, and has music, so make sure your speakers are on when you watch it. "Empty Arms" is a good way to share with others your burden of infertility. Most people who have never been infertile have a hard time understanding why infertility is such a hardship. And while they won't understand completely unless they've walked in our shoes, they can learn to empathize, which is what we need at times. My one major qualm with this video is that God is left completely out of the equation. I think the reason we have hope at all is because of Christ. Not that He has promised us children, because He has not. But, because He is our one Hope, our Reason for living. His sacrifice on the cross is what frees us and redeems us. I truly don't know how people walking through inferility without Christ can survive the grief that infertility inevitably brings.

I would recommend that you consider using this video if you are struggling with how to share your burden with family or friends.

"Empty Arms"


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Dear Friend

"Will you be someone who understands?
Will you understand when I
tell you that I need a
Who will liesten as
I share about my
journey through

So many others
have had only advice;
Miracle stories,
herb teas, and new
love-making positions.

Will you understand month
after month when I need to share
My disappointment from another unsuccessful attempt?

Will you understand when I tellyou that I rage and pound my fists at God
Because He doesn't seem to hear me or take away this pain?

Will you know to pray for me when I can no longer pray for myself?
Will you know to send me a card to remind me that I am not alone?

Will you understand the tears that well up when you tell me you are

Will you understand that I celebrate with you, yet long for the day,
When a friends pregnancy doesn't remind me of my own barrenness?

Will you understand when I start to pull away when your tummy begins
to bulge?

As much as I long to share in the excitement, I find the ache too much
As other women encircle you and the conversation turns to motherhood.

Will you understand when I dont' come to your baby shower?

I can't imagine the strength I will need to hold back the tears
In the midst of baby clothes, breastfeeding tips, and birth stories.

Will you understand when your baby is born and I don't come to visit right away?

Please know that I long to hold your child and congratulate you in person
But holding a newborn in my arms sprials me into a place of envy and pain.

Will you understand that my empty arms are still heavy with the grief they carry?
Will you understand that your greatest joy is my greatest sorrow?

When the months turn into years, and you are expecting your second child
Will you understand that I still long to bear a child in my womb?

Will you still be my friend?"

By Kim Notehelfer

*I read this in a recent issue of Stepping Stones, a Bethany Christian Services Publication that offers Christian support for couples facing infertility or pregnancy loss. For more information, go here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

book recommendation

I just finished reading a book that I wanted to pass along to you. This is actually the second time that I have read it, and it was an encouragement the second time around as much as it was the first.

Jennifer Saake, who began the online ministry known as Hannah's Prayer Ministry, is the author of Hannah's Hope, a book full of biblical encouragement for couples going through the difficult hardships of infertility, miscarriage, and/or adoption loss. While perfectly able to sympathize with her readers (Saake is no stranger to any three of the above mentioned hardships), she also points those who are traveling similar paths to Christ for identity, hope, comfort, and security. There is also a section at the end of every chapter for "Burden Bearers", those who may not have ever experienced any difficulty in trying to grow a family but who know someone who has. What an insightful section to include after each chapter! There are also suggestions on how to start support groups within churches, how to cope during family related holidays or events (like Mother's and Father's Day, baby showers, baby dedications, etc.), and how to conquer bitterness that so often seems to take root in many people who are battling infertility. I feel as though I could have penned some of Saake's thoughts at times.

I strongly recommend this book if you are struggling to start a family (whether by conception or adoption). I also recommend Saake's web ministry at There you will find resources as well as forums where people are encouraging, supportive, and most likely are walking in your shoes.

I think I made a similar post on my last infertility-related blog that I shut down. So, if this is a repeat, just bear with me. :)