I’m not quite sure how to introduce a post like this. It’s tough to try to summarize our infertility struggle in a nice neat package you’ll want to read, so bear with me.
I’ve imagined writing about this for years, and always thought it would be amazing and beautiful to tell the story of how we became parents, looking back at a long journey of waiting and hoping and praying, with our prayers finally answered. I’ve been excited to write that story, knowing it would all be worth it by then. But this isn’t that story – that story isn’t our story, at least not yet. We are looking back on a long journey of waiting and hoping and praying, but that journey stretches out ahead of us, too. Our prayers haven’t been answered yet.
I hate that infertility is such a meaningful word to us. I hate that we’re the ones “without kids”. And I used to hate the feeling that my story was wrong…that the life I always imagined I’d share with Scott looked so different from reality. But like it or not – infertility is a part of who I am, who Scott and I are together. And as we’ve walked this painful road together, we’ve learned to acknowledge, accept, and even embrace our story. While infertility doesn’t define us, it has shaped our story in a big way, and that’s why I’m writing about it today.
Scott and I were high school sweethearts, and we married young, in 2001. We weren’t in a huge rush to start a family, though we knew we wanted kids & were excited to be parents. As the early years crept by (we stopped preventing pregnancy about a year in) we realized we might have a tougher time getting pregnant than we thought, but since we were still young, it didn’t interrupt our life in a huge way. Eventually we started investigating what might be wrong, and after lots of testing we got the super comforting response – “You’re fine! Everything looks normal! No issues with anything!” As time passed, we ran through the gamut of fertility treatments (including pretty much every suggestion from specialists, friends, family members, and strangers on gluten, progesterone, BBT tracking, timing, position, phase of the moon, you get the idea). We stopped short of IVF, always debating whether that much money should be spent on trying to conceive, or put towards an adoption that might have a better chance of resulting in a baby. Life continued with its ups and downs, and each month passed with another reality check reminding me we still weren’t pregnant, again. I’m still surprised at how many months I would (and still do) truly expect to be pregnant, even after years of trying with no success. It sucks.
So much happened between year 1 and year 12 of our marriage – so many things that broke us and healed us and changed us, that solidified us and confirmed us and made us who we are today – but eventually we started talking about whether to try IVF, or start pursuing other options. I think I’d started thinking more about our friends kids and how old they were, and how old “our kids would be” if we’d been able to conceive back when we were hoping to, and it didn’t seem so crazy to think about adopting an older child or children. In 2014, we decided it was finally time to pursue adoption. We had (and still have!) many people in our life who were huge advocates of adoption and foster parenting, and several close friends of ours had either adopted or fostered to adopt. So we enrolled in training, completed our homestudy, and in December 2014 accepted the foster placement of an 8 year old girl. And then, out of the blue – a day before our foster placement was due to arrive – we found out I was pregnant. It was the craziest, most emotionally shocking feeling. We hadn’t even been remotely “trying”, yet we were finally pregnant! Neither of us knew how to feel or what to do, but we were ecstatic.
The following several weeks were incredibly intense as we navigated our first experience as foster parents, the death of Scott’s grandfather, Christmas, morning sickness, and the elation of being pregnant. I remember the feeling at the end of each crazy day, as we’d crawl into bed exhausted and cuddle up together, making plans and giggling and crying together – I just couldn’t believe that after everything we’d been through together, we were finally going to be parents of a baby that came from us.
Side note – in case I haven’t sufficiently mentioned it yet, Scott is the most amazing, thoughtful, and caring man in the world. I’m head over heels in love with this guy, he’s my best friend (and he tells me every day that I’m his best friend), and we both love being married to each other. I’m the luckiest girl alive – and I know many people think that or say that about themselves with their significant other, but in my case, it’s true. Literally THE luckiest. And that wasn’t always the case in our relationship, so having walked the road of struggle and mistakes and heartbreak together with him makes what we have today even more incredible. I only mention that because it made this brief time in our lives that much more powerful.
A few weeks later, I miscarried. It’s hard enough to go through the pain of losing something so precious, but along with that, to watch my best friend’s heart break right along with me – I can’t express it in words. I’m tempted to compare it to the pain of other people I know, in order to help explain it or soften it, but I’m choosing not to do that. All I know is what we experienced, and it was deep, excruciating, gut-wrenching loss.
In the days and weeks following, we clung to each other and to Jesus. We prayed, cried, and grieved. We were supported and cared for and loved by our amazing community of friends and family, who walked through the pain along with us, prayed for us, and lifted us up with their strength. The precious little ones in our lives hugged us and prayed sweet little prayers for us. We sat in the pain and continued to pray for soft hearts that would heal fully in time, continued to pray that bitterness and resentment wouldn’t have any place in our story.
A few weeks after the miscarriage, I remember being curled up on the couch, crying out to God for an explanation, wanting any direction or any help with the pain. And I can’t really explain very eloquently what happened, but the conversation between my heart and my Creator was real and precise and surprising. I was reading about Abraham and Sarah in the book of Romans:
“Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.”
As I read this, I heard a little voice in my heart saying something like this (I’m paraphrasing so you get all the details, but this was all in there in some form or another):
“It’s been awhile since you’ve asked me for a miracle. You’ve prayed for children, but very safely, and very generally…saying ‘your will be done’, and asking for a heart of acceptance for ‘whatever’ my will might be, protecting yourself against the heartbreak of not being able to bear children. But now you know your heart a little better…you know what it feels like to experience that anticipation and expectancy, and I’m reminding you that it’s okay to long for that. It’s okay to pray for a baby, for pregnancy. You’re not wrong to want a pregnancy more than you want to adopt. I put that in you. It’s there for a reason. Will you ask me for that? Will you allow that desire to grow in your heart, even though you don’t know the outcome? After SO many years of disappointment, will you still trust me with your heart’s desire to be a mother?
Also…I’m God. I can do anything. In fact, I want to remind you of that in a big way, and I’m inviting you to pray for more than just another pregnancy. Ask me for twins. Take the scariest and most precious thing you can think of to ask me for, and double it. You don’t have to – but I’m inviting you to. And while you’re at it, let people know you’re praying for it. Tell whoever will listen. Something like ‘GOD TOLD ME TO PRAY FOR TWINS AND HE TOLD ME TO TELL PEOPLE I’M PRAYING FOR TWINS’ will work just fine. And just trust me with it. Can you do that?”
You guys. This is NOT how I work. I know people who ask God for crazy things, or say things like “God told me “blah blah blah” so “X” is definitely gonna happen” – and then I watch, amused, as the opposite happens. Don’t get me wrong – I pray! And I believe STRONGLY in the power of prayer. And I’ve seen incredibly amazing and life-changing things happen through prayer. But I try not take it to the woo-hoo-crazy-person level. Or if I pray for something crazy, I keep it to myself which makes it nice and tidy when the prayer doesn’t get answered the way I want or expect it to.
But essentially I one hundred percent without a doubt heard God ask me to ask Him for twins and to start publicizing it. So I did what any self-respecting scientifically-minded person would do – I told Him I was gonna need a second source to validate His voice. I did want to believe and respond to Him, I truly did – but I asked if He could please reassure me that I wasn’t crazy by corroborating it with an unrelated piece of evidence. And a few hours later, I got a random text. “Hey Susie, just thinking about you and praying for you, wanted to send this link I saw to a fertility herb blend that’s supposed to be really amazing, and bonus, it increases your chance of twins!” And of course this person doesn’t typically text me…it was completely out of the blue…and of course this person is the ONE person in my life I think of when I think of people who pray crazy prayers and tell people about them and don’t care what it looks like to people on the outside. Then the next day a dear friend and spiritual sister told me she was pregnant with twins…and I “happened” to read something about praying big crazy prayers, and the affirmations kept coming…so Scott and I started praying. And we told our friends about it and asked them to pray, and soon the normal conversation point in our home became “babies” instead of “baby”, and honestly every time I would think about it I’d stop and say WHAT ON EARTH AM I ASKING FOR?!?! because I have twin brothers and I distinctly remember how crazy it was to have two babies at the same time. Insanely crazy.
But I digress.
Fast forward to now. It’s been more than 2 years since we started praying for twins, and many days I completely forget about it. And sometimes when I remember it my first response is “did I really hear Him say that?” We’ve taken more steps towards pregnancy in the past 2 years, but so far, not even one positive pregnancy test. So many days it’s tough enough to keep praying for another pregnancy, let alone getting any more specific with praying for twins. So honestly, most days, thinking about it really sucks. And please don’t misunderstand me – I know full well that a baby (or babies) will completely disrupt the life that Scott and I are used to. Some days I’m actually thankful to have a full day of peace and quiet to get things done the way I want to, and I know that’s impossible with little kiddos. But that doesn’t change the fact that my heart longs for it. And it hasn’t changed the fact that we still pray for it. A lot has happened over the years. A lot IS happening now in our lives, but we’re still praying this prayer, and it still hasn’t been answered. And that little fact – the fact that we’re still waiting, hoping, and praying – is exactly why I’m writing this today.
I don’t know where you’re at in your life journey, but most of us are praying and hoping for something. And most of the time, that process is painful, lonely, and incredibly tough to navigate. For me, it’s a constant questioning of my choices and my path – did I miss something along the way? Should I have chosen this instead of that? If we had done A, B, or C, would we be parents by now? And then I wrestle with what others think – the favorite mental story being “if Scott and Susie really wanted to be parents, they would be by now”. I know that’s not true, but it sure feels true some days. And then there’s the constant comparison of someone else’s story against my/our story – “oh her oldest is 10, we could’ve had a 10 year old by now” or “by the time we become parents – IF we ever do – ALL OF THE OTHER KIDS THAT EXIST IN THE WORLD will be too old to be friends with our kids” and on and on and on. There are so many questions, and I don’t have the answers yet.
So if you’re at that place in life, waiting, hoping, praying for something, I get it. I really do. To a large extent, we don’t get to choose our stories. But what I’m learning is that we do get to choose what we do with them. Do we ignore them, try to hide them, do our best to brute-strength change them? Do we resist things about ourselves that may never change, and miss out on a world of good that might be waiting for us inside the boundaries of real truth? Like I said at the beginning of this post, I used to hate the feeling that my story was wrong. And I’m so grateful that today, so many years later, I’ve discovered that it’s not wrong. Infertility is one of the truths of my story, but it’s not the whole story. If you read my post a while back about wood paneling and wall-to-wall carpeting – for me, infertility is one of “those things”. It’s something that’s yucky and unbecoming and hard and annoying and awful…that has slowly become a carrier of beautiful things, things I never would’ve imagined I’d experience or feel or BE. This one truth of my story – once I embraced it and trusted it to the One who’s still writing my story and knows the ending – has changed me and recreated me in so many big and little ways; it’s forged connections I never would’ve imagined, allowed for unspeakable beauty in the midst of excruciating pain, softened my heart, opened my eyes.
The funniest thing is that I always knew infertility could be beautiful – I just figured the beauty would come through an amazing story of how prayers were answered. That’s not my story, yet – but what if there’s something beautiful to share now? What if my life can be exactly what it’s meant to be right now, even without an answered prayer? The truth is, I believe it can be. And I believe the same for you, no matter what you’re waiting and hoping for. I’m waiting and hoping and praying and crying and grieving right along with you. I don’t know what will happen next. And I don’t always love everything about my story….but I’m choosing to surrender to my Author, praying for courage when I feel anything but brave, opening my heart completely and stepping fully into who He’s writing me to be.