A seemingly natural, straightforward, joyful experience that so many others easily celebrate and at times casually joke about, became a clinical, drawn-out and painful journey for us.
Needles, vials of blood drawn, tests, scans, injections, medications… with each hospital visit, I tried to numb myself to the loneliness and sadness in my heart.
I gave myself all sorts of pep-talks. Be strong. Have hope. It’ll be ok. But some days I would mask tears in the shower, cry until my pillow was uncomfortably soaked.
I was crying out at God. Where was He? Was I forgotten? Did He not care? Why was I being robbed of joy? Where was my child?
The truth is, anyone who has walked through infertility would know that is beyond hard. On difficult days, it feels like everything within you gets knocked down and you literally cannot get up.
It can be such a private struggle, something not often or openly spoken about. Indeed, I struggled on my own.
I had to wrestle with questions and comments like “You love kids so much, how come you don’t have your own?” and “Wow! Your sister has three already, you’ve got to catch up!”.
This was coupled with being at that stage of life where pregnancy announcements on social media seem to pop up every other week.
At my lowest, I found it hard to worship and to read His Word. Where was the God whom every good and perfect gift comes from?
My weary soul could not even sing to the lyrics to Way Maker. I could not see Him making a way, I could not see a miracle at work.
SIX MONTHS OF SACRIFICE
Years of waiting eventually led to me taking six months of no-pay leave last year for assisted reproductive treatments (ART).
I wanted to give my body the best chance of a successful pregnancy, especially since I knew that great emotional and physical investment — daily injections and frequent visits to the hospital — lay ahead.
God showed Himself to be strong when we were weak.
To my dismay, the first cycle was unsuccessful, and the second one was cancelled indefinitely because of the circuit breaker.
The hope that had been given from the treatments faded and I felt desperation and disappointment sink in.
With no clear indication of when suspension of our ART would be lifted, it looked like the six-month sacrifice was going to be wasted.
Yet the beautiful thing about this pain, this posture of not being able to hold yourself up, was how God showed Himself to be strong when we were weak.
I had made relentless cries to Him, asking where my child was. In response, God gave me a vision of a child being held in His arms; a reassurance that it wasn’t that my child didn’t exist or that He had forgotten me, but that He knew the best timing for our child.
A month after the painful realisation that my leave may had been wasted by not being able to maximise the number of treatments, God allowed a miracle to happen.
I conceived naturally in what I now realise to have been the one window of opportunity I thought the most impossible.
I had all but given up on the chance of a natural pregnancy.
This was truly God telling me, that what seems impossible to man is possible for Him!
He could breathe and bring forth life – physical, emotional and spiritual – into this situation. This humbled me greatly and I recognised that my Creator is the one who knows me the most intimately – every tear, emotion and thought was not hidden from Him.
During my pregnancy, whenever I worried for the precious life forming within, I was comforted by this image of God seeing and knowing each of Emma’s days (Psalm 139:15-16).
In His arms is the safest place she could be, and He cares for and loves her as her perfect Father and Creator.
TO THE ONE LOOKING TO SUPPORT A FRIEND:
It’s okay if you don’t fully understand what they’re going through. Simply offering to pray for them and turning up for them when they need a listening ear — that would speak volumes.
Your friend has likely exhausted or considered all sorts of medical means, best practices and advice, like “trust in God’s timing” or “continue to have faith”.
Trying to make them feel like they aren’t missing out with phrases like “you should be glad you have time to yourself since children drain you out” really does not sooth the wound for someone yearning to be a father or mother.
Your physical or emotional presence is the support they’re looking for over well-meaning problem solving.
Sometimes they may withdraw and need space to heal. They may be deep in the trenches of pressing on in faith.
Bolstering them through gentle check-ins or letting them know you’re there for them during their grief may bring encouragement and comfort during such a time.
TO THE HOPEFUL MOTHER, THE HOPEFUL FATHER:
I want to share a passage from a book written by Marshall Segal.
“… you may have to walk through pain, disappointment, rejection, and suffering for seven or eight (or seventy or eighty) years. The brighter (and prevailing) side says God never makes a mistake in choosing good for you. Everything you experience—expected or unexpected, wanted or unwanted, pleasing or painful—is God’s good plan to make you his own (John 10:27–29), to give you himself forever (Ps. 16:11), and to use your life to reveal himself and his glory to the world around you (Isa. 43:25; 1 Cor. 10:31). … God has given us himself, his Word, and each other to bring faith, comfort, and strength in the midst of our pain, even the most severe and unique pain.”
Perhaps like me, you didn’t expect such pain. You may not know how to keep persevering.
Would you choose to believe that He is able to do a new and good thing for you and through you even in this suffering?
I know what it feels like to be consumed by your anxieties, fear and doubts. It’s easy to compare — to feel it’s unfair.
But God is the God of love, joy, peace and giver of life. Claim these in faith over your marriage and in your desire to grow your family.
Each sob that shook your body, He held you. Each anguished cry that had no words to it, He heard you.
When people let you down, He is the one extending His unwavering grace, understanding and love.
God did not leave us on our own. He gave Himself to us. We have His Word.
And we have a spiritual community around us, with whom we can call upon faith in an impossible situation.
They bring hope when we have lost it, surrounding us with comfort in the midst of sorrow and strengthening us when we do not know how to go on.
As time passed, God gently encouraged me not to bear my burdens on my own and opened opportunities for me to take that step of courage and faith to share with the people He had brought into our lives over the years.
Granted, at times I wish I could just hide and not have to share the pain and shame I felt. Not everyone understood, not everyone had an encouraging word. It was a big step to share such a personal and painful journey.
But as I look back, we are so grateful to have had friends who came alongside us to bolster our faith, hope for us, hold and encourage us.
It was deeply freeing to bless His name from a place of peace and surrender even as we remained in the valley with dark clouds overhead.
We proclaimed that our unfailing God had not and would not change.
We declared that the same God who has never been late was indeed working all things out for our good.
We believed in faith that His Word and promises are true.
Our pain was not meaningless but would reveal His character to be true and magnify His glory!
- Is there something you’ve been wanting for a long time but haven’t gotten?
- God causes all things to work together for our good. How do you see this truth play out in your life?
- Which part of the author’s message stood out to you? How can you apply this insight to your daily life?
- Do you know someone who is going through a journey like the author’s? How can you come alongside them in this trying time?