Monday, September 25, 2017

when your womb is empty





So I've been going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to share this part of our lives on the blog, but the Lord gave me a prompting and a burden to do so. I'm not super excited about it, but I also want to encourage others and want them to know that they are not alone. I've definitely believed the lie that I am alone in this struggle, and I don't want anyone else to feel that way. There are about a million and one ways this post could look, and I don't really know where it's going to go. So I'm just going to do what all writers do and write what I know. I'm also of the conviction that people need to talk about "taboo" things more. We're all humans just trying to make it to the next day. Just saying. 

All my life I have wanted to be a mom. When my little sister was born, I was obsessed with her. Who knows, I may have called her "my baby;" you know how kids are. I was so so happy to have a little bundle of joy as a new addition to our family and thought it was just about the best thing ever. Growing up I didn't have a lot "normal" teenage jobs- I never worked in retail or in food service. I mostly babysat and worked at preschools. Caring for kids was just natural to me, which led me to teaching elementary school for six years.


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. - Ecclesiastes 3:11

Even in my season of singleness, I always felt like I would be a mom someday. I figured if I didn't get married I would adopt or start a children's home or go live abroad and work in an orphanage or something of the like. So when I did finally meet Rory, obviously I started thinking about kids. Duh. I  was made to be a mom. I know it and feel it in my bones. As the older sibling, I've got the bossy thing down. In middle school, my peers called me "Mommy Jessi." Looking back that was probably an insult, but I didn't care. I saw nothing but positivity in that- they thought I could take care of others! Funny how your middle school (or adult) mind can twist things, isn't it? But seriously, friends. I can think of nothing I want more than raising little disciples of Jesus Christ to be fierce world changers for the Gospel. 

I digress. When Rory and I had been dating for a little while, I remember him asking me if my parents cared that he was white. Obviously they didn't, but I returned the question. He said, "No, my parents don't care. My mom really wants mixed grandkids." And there you have it, folks. At this point I had not even met his mother. The man was serious though. There was another time where we were arguing about different sports and I mentioned how much I wanted to play soccer when I was younger. Soccer is his least favorite sport, so he said, "Our kids are not playing soccer." Friends we had not talked about marriage at this point, and he quickly said, "I just talked about our kids. That was weird. Sorry." TRY AND GUESS IF I MINDED. Heart was swooning, peeps. 

Fast forward to the beginning of marriage when I was on the cray birth control and kind of hated life. We knew we didn't want to have kids right away, and even though we didn't want to wait for too long, it felt like a leap of faith to finally just stop taking the pill after a year after we realized the havoc it was wreaking on oh, everything. There are so many scare tactics surrounding sex and pregnancy and birth control and the like. I mean, we literally thought I could like spontaneously get pregnant if I wasn't on the pill. Oh the good old days. 

During our first year of marriage, I literally would beg Rory for a baby and ask him if we could start trying. We had agreed to wait two years, but we would go back and forth on whether that meant we had to wait two years to start trying or if we could have a baby by the time we had been married for two years. After all of my crazy health stuff with the fibroids, we got the ok from the doctor and decided to start trying in December of 2016. 




At this point I was feeling pretty empowered with all of my knowledge of basal body temping (just Google it) and figured it didn't take rocket science to procreate and thought it wouldn't take us too long. But it didn't happen. And then it didn't happen the next month. Or the month after that. Or the month after that.  Now for y'all who are good at math, you know that it has been less than a year. It's "only" (huge air quotes here) been ten months. Most doctors say to give it a year. When you hear that you may think, "Oh a year isn't too bad! A year can fly by!" Which is true. Except for when you're in a season of infertility. I cannot tell you the myriad ways I have imagined in my head that we would announce our pregnancy to friends and family or the holidays that I thought would be so much brighter because of such fun news. Sadly, we haven't had the opportunity to share that news.

I say "season of infertility" intentionally, because I am not claiming or walking in the identity of an "infertile" woman but am instead believing in the power and promises of an almighty God to heal. I believe that all women have the ability to give life and that my body was created to do so, so I am choosing to believe that God will bring us our own biological child(ren) in due time. Hannah's story in 1 Samuel has been a cornerstone for me during this time, because she never gave up. She persistently asked for the desires of her heart and unashamedly begged her God to fight for and remember her, and He did. I will not give up. I will not be shaken, and I will not back down. That's the kind of faith I want to have. That's the kind of God I want to serve and know and love.


Hope deferred makes the heart sick,


    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.- Proverbs 13:12

The other day, I was driving to work and singing along to Kari Jobe's newest album (go listen to it right now) and these words left my lips: The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ. And then I started weeping. Because you know what? I want that. I really do. But most days I'd really rather have a baby in my belly or in my arms already. 

I used to take my health and my presumed ability to procreate for granted. It seemed pretty easy for most people around me to make babies, so I figured it would be the same for me. That hasn't been the case so far. And you know what? It sucks. It really, really sucks. (Sorry Mom, I know you hate that word.) Part of me feels like I can't even write this post because it hasn't been a year and we have no "official diagnosis" of infertility and there are people who have waited or are waiting so much longer than we have. My heart genuinely hurts with those friends. 

But this is what I know. There is no pain like that of an empty womb. Nothing. It is the deepest and most raw pain I have ever felt. This summer I found myself sitting on the floor of our living room shaking and crying my eyes out and saying to my husband, "Nothing will make this pain go away. No matter how hard I try to busy myself with other things and enjoy other things about my life, this pain still lingers. It hurts and it won't go away and I don't know what to do. I know I have a great life. I love you. I love our house. I love our friends. But I don't have a baby and I don't know when we will have a baby and it hurts so bad."

With each passing month, I have had to lay down and surrender various hopes and dreams. Like the thought that it would be pretty likely that I would be a mom by age 30. Or the hope that next Mother's Day I would hold a baby in my arms. Or that this Christmas we would be a family of three. And the most frustrating part is that each month brings with it the icky yucky awful painful periods that I can't really do much about right now since we are trying to conceive. It seems like a sick cosmic joke. 

I can't control the outcome here. I cannot perform my way to pregnancy or earn a baby. And sometimes that just about does me in. Because friends, I am really good with earning and performance measures. I have cried out to God- why them and not me? What have I done? What have I not done? Whatever You need me to do, just tell me! And you know what's He's said to me? Abide. 

Ummm. Kind of don't want to do that, Lord. Seems a little loosey goosey and mystical.  Just give me a checklist. Give me a program to follow. I am like, so good at following directions. Just give me a clear-cut list please and thank you. 


I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.- John 15:5

Much to my chagrin, God doesn't operate this way. His ways are higher, greater, and better. He is the gentle whisper to my soul in the night when I cannot sleep. He is in the lyrics of the hymns sung in the wee hours of the morning when the pain won't subside. He is in the embrace of my husband's arms when I think I cannot take one more step. He is in the words spoken at just the right time. He is in the card in the mail from a friend who knows how to comfort. He is in the date night where I give thanks that it is still just the two of us for a little while longer. 

For a while I didn't talk to many people about this struggle. It was embarrassing, and I was ashamed. I felt like something was wrong with me and with my body- or with Rory and his body. I didn't want to be a downer when I was constantly surrounded by pregnant women and babies. I've questioned why some people got to have babies "on accident" or why people who didn't even want to have kids got to have them. And to that the Lord said, "That's not for you to decide." Point taken.






Three things are never satisfied;

    four never say, “Enough”:
16 
Sheol, the barren womb,

    the land never satisfied with water,

    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

- Proverbs 30:16

After ten months of trying to make a baby, this is where I find myself- with a barren womb that is not satisfied. But here's the thing. For the first few months of this darkness, I allowed this desire to completely consume me. It touched everything- my marriage, my friendships, my attitude, my thought life- no stone was left unturned. Baby showers just about did me in and seeing the Facebook news feed riddled with pregnancy announcements felt like a personal affront. Some of these things are still painful, and I have to will myself to be happy for others. That's the primary reason I'm not on Instagram right now. The mindless scrolling was producing way too much bitterness and jealousy in this fragile heart of mine. The struggle was is real, and I say that in the least flippant way possible.

When all I can think about is what I don't yet have, I'm not walking in the truth. Because the truth says that I am not lacking. The truth says that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. The truth says that God has not forgotten me. In fact, He has engraved me on the palm of His hands. The enemy of our souls is crafty, friends. It is so so so easy to focus on what "everyone else" has. But when I do that I'm not walking in gratitude and I'm allowing my desires to become demands. And when that happens, I've made God more like my Santa Claus. When I'm focused on my pain and frustrations, I can't love others well because all I can do is look at me, me, me. And the enemy knows that. The beautiful thing about this season, especially the most recent months, is that God has made it overwhelmingly clear that He loves me and that He is continuing to work in my life. In. so. many. ways. 

Here's what I've learned since and am trying my darnedest to walk in- my story is not her story. Her happiness does not have to threaten mine. I can rejoice with others. I can walk alongside friends who are in different seasons and who are experiencing what my heart literally hurts to have. But I cannot do it alone. I have to fight for this joy and this happiness in a way I never have before. It is a conscious choice to celebrate others, but that doesn't make it any less genuine. I have to remember that the world does not revolve around me and my pain- no matter how real and raw it is. I have to remember that my God is for me even when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning because the pregnancy test was negative again. I have to remember that God is sovereign and that He loves me and that His plans for me are always only good. I have to remember that He didn't make me sick or cause my illness and that He's not punishing me. I have to remember. I have to remember. And it is in the remembering that my praise comes forth and my soul is lifted. It is in the remembering that my hope soars and my perspective shifts, because He's in the waiting.

So I buy the gifts and I say congratulations and I go to the showers because that's what a good friend does. And all the while, I hold on to hope. I say thank you to Jesus for the millionth time as I recall His kindness to me and how much He's done for me. I fall more in love with my husband every single day as I covet  admire his strength and unwavering faith. And I pray like I never have before and say sorry a lot and surrender and just ask God for a deeper love for Him and a heart that looks like His. Because if there's anything I've learned in the last ten months, it's that Jesus is all that matters, and He is all I have. So I lift my voice and give a sacrifice of praise and laugh at the days to come as I hope in His unfailing love. And I say with confidence and conviction, it is well with my soul. 

P.S. To those of you who already know this story and who have held my hand, cried with me, prayed for me, encouraged me, comforted me- thank you. You mean more to me than you know. 
P.P.S. If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading along. Please please please don't send any advice or suggestions my way- I don't have the mental or emotional capacity to receive that right now. Instead I ask that you pray for us- for physical healing for me and for the Lord to give us the deepest desire of our hearts.
P.P.P.S. If you are my friend and you are pregnant, I love you (and please don't think otherwise!). I just probably don't want to talk about babies all the time. :)


Sources of Encouragement

God's Plan for Pregnancy (Literally the best book about all things pregnancy- before, during, and after- and one I wish I had a year ago. I recommend it to everyone no matter what their situation.)
Sarah's Laughter Infertility podcast
The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast (episodes #158, #155, #132)
Mom Struggling Well podcast (episode #105)
The Shauna Niequist podcast (episode #2)
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
True Identity by Jennifer Brommett
Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth
Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst
God is Able by Priscilla Shirer
The Lucky Few by Heather Avis
The Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer
Covenant Bible study by Kay Arthur
And entirely too many worship songs to count that have held me and lifted my heart.


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10 comments:

  1. Hugs for being Unashamed in sharing your hard truths and heart! Love you
    All the more for it! I can say I have been in a similar place myself and can only say keep holding onto hope! Our God is a God of miracles and just when you think there is no hope He will make a way! Continuing to pray! I sure will be doing a happy dance when your turn does arrive! I believe and hope and pray with all my heart that God will provide a way for your deepest desires and wishes to come true! Hugs hugs hugs!

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  2. Jessica you are so brave by sharing your voice. It's very refreshing to see raw truth being written or spoken. I will keep you in my prayers.♡Chelsea

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  3. Jessica,

    This was such a beautiful article. Even though I am not in the same boat, I can say God used this to speak to my own heart and lament, at times, at being 30 and still single. Your words remind me and bring me back to Truth when my own discontentment turns to distraction when the enemy grabs hold of it. I will absolutely continue to pray for you guys, being thankful for the fragrance of Christ that emits from you.

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    1. Thank you Jenny! I so appreciate your kindness. I totally understand your feelings too! It is so hard to be able to stand firm in who we are in Christ! Praying for you!

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  4. I WISH I COULD BE THERE TO GIVE YOU A BIG HUG. I LOVE YOU SWEET FRIEND THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR HEART. OLIVIA.

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    1. I don't know how I am just now seeing this, but thank you Olivia! I love you!

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  5. This is beautiful and raw and courageous. Your story is going to be such an inspiration to someone even though this is such a difficult season for you. Sending prayers up for you and your husband.

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    1. Somehow I just saw this comment, but thank you so much, Amber.

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