Fertility, Faith, and Fear


19 weeks.

That’s how long we have been walking with this little life the doctors told us we would not have without medical intervention. 

But despite the odds, I laid eyes on two pink lines.  

When I saw that positive sign, I laughed.  And then I cursed.  Because my heart was still broken from the previous losses.  I did not want to go through the heartache again.  I knew if loss ensued, I would not be able to handle it.

We had just gotten the hang of walking in the unknown; accepting the reality having children naturally may not be in the cards for us.  We gave up the forcing, we gave up the trying, and just begged the Lord to have His way and allow our hearts to embrace whatever that may look like.  We leaned in to dependence and trust even though our hearts wanted to go the other way.

The past four months have felt like miraculous torture.  Miraculous, because what is going on in my body is defeating statistics.  Tortuous, because I know those stats.  I am well aware of the risks associated with this al natural pregnancy.

And in a time where my faith should be at its absolute strongest, shouting praises to a God who has provided the impossible, I’ve found myself being gripped by a new level of anxiety that most days I cannot shake. And then the thoughts come: Something has to be wrong.  Something will be wrong.  This new life growing within will not have a happy ending.

There are days when PTSD has surfaced.  Nightmares have been a semi regular occurrence.  Because all my mind knows in this space, and in this new season is: the bottom can fall out at any moment.  

Appointments have become riddled with angst as we walk back into exam rooms where we’ve heard those words too many times: There is no heartbeat.

In some ways, I’ve found myself craving that bottom falling out.  Because I know it would be easier to deal with.  I’ve been there before.  We’ve walked through the worst.  It is a familiar and well worn path.  But now, in this space, my brain has no roadmap to go by.  It is all foreign territory.

I’ve tried the different protective tactics:  Stay detached.  Don’t let yourself believe you will ever hold this child.  Don’t buy things.  Don’t tell people.  Stay busy, don’t think about it.

But over the past couple of weeks as my stomach has grown larger and I’ve heard that precious beating heartbeat and felt those tiny kicks, I’ve let my guard drop.  

We bought a rocker.  And then a crib.  We’ve started putting the wheels into motion about what kind of life we want to build as a family of three.  

But the further we get into this process, the less faith I have and the more fear I feel.

The reality sets in that while we serve a good God, He still allows heartbreak in our lives.  He never promised safety and fairytale endings.   

What I’ve craved more than anything these past almost 5 months is certainty.  I want to know we will be taking this child home.  In short, I want that fairytale ending.

I’ve wanted anyone to look me in the eye and tell me it is all going to work out perfectly.  I’ve craved spineless theology- thoughts like: God won’t give you too much to bear so it is bound to be okay.  I’ve wanted to pray name it and claim it prayers.

A Reminder:

A couple weeks ago in church our pastor reminded us of the power of praying for inconvenience.  She invited us to pray prayers of interruption.   

Make us uncomfortable, Lord.  Interrupt our desires for perfect plans and a life of convenience.

I wanted to ignore her words.  Because in this season of life, this is the very last prayer I want to pray.  Because I know from experience, the Lord is faithful to answer those kinds of prayers.   

The prayer I want to pray instead is: stay the heck away from me.  Protect us from interruptions.  Just let us walk through this season untouched by inconvenience and heartache.  Spare us.  

But when I go to pray this prayer, I can’t find the words.  Because I know deep down, this is not the prayer posture I want my faith and my life to be defined by.

I had this misconception that the more my faith grew, the less fear I would feel. But it just is not true. 

Dependence Is A Scary Place:

My dad summed this reality up so perfectly the other day.  He is a surgeon.  He is an expert in his field.  He has countless hours standing over an operating table.  He's the guy the younger surgeons call to seek advice and wisdom about patients and techniques. 

But despite all this experience, my dad said the further he goes into his faith walk and the longer he stays in his field, he's never felt more fear.  He's no longer solely reliant on his expertise and skillsets.  Instead, he realizes he is dependent.  Dependent on God to enter his mind, his hands, his heart, and that operating room before every surgery. 

Now, before every operation, he takes the time and space to pray for interruption.  He asks the Lord to do a thing.  He proclaims to God and to his patients that he simply cannot do this surgery without the divine guidance of the Lord.  Because he's learned, despite all his decades of operating, it isn't enough.  There's no way to guarantee each surgery will be a success.

It is a different posture for a doctor and a surgeon.  It is what humility in this field looks like.  In a world where he is trained to know all the answers and to rely completely on his skillsets and all those years of experience, he acknowledges both to his own heart and his patients' hearts that healing does not rest in his hands alone.  He tells them on paper, his credentials are the best, but he acknowledges that his hands are being guided by a force far greater than him.  And he tells them he will be seeking the Lord's wisdom every moment during that surgery.

And so when the complications come, after praying these kind of prayers, he has to trust the Lord's hand has not left him nor His patient.  He has to depend.  He has to be confident that the Lord is doing a thing even when that thing is not the result he nor his patient desired.  And that is a very scary place.

But The Good Will Come:

Last week, I was writing this piece in the local coffee shop in my neighborhood (a place that over the past 8 months has become a second home of sorts), I sat down in my usual spot.  And then two familiar faces sat down at the table beside me.  We’ve exchanged pleasantries and light conversation over the past year.  But I know little about them and they know little about me.

I happened to run into a dear friend who joined me for a bit.  I told her about the fear.  About the insane anxiety that is rocking my world.  I told her I was ashamed of my lack of faith because I felt like I should know better than to be so afraid.

As she stepped away for a moment, one of the gentlemen sitting at the table beside me, turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and said these words:

I overheard your words and wanted to tell you my wife and I suffered through many years of infertility.  With the help of science we had a child, and through adoption, we had a second child.  And our adopted child, he blew up our hearts in the best of ways.  Because of what we went through, my wife decided to become a counselor to help couples walking through infertility and adoption.  

My eyes began to tear up at his words.  And then his eyes filled with tears.

And the other guy who usually sits with me, well, he had a precious and perfect 15 month old, who one day, out of the blue, got sick.  They thought it was just a normal, every day kind of sickness.  They took him to the hospital but they never came back home with him.  And it was the worst kind of terrible you could imagine.

But this year, they had another child.  A precious, perfect, wonderful child.

My point in telling you all this is there will be bad.  Plans will unravel.  Complications and heartbreak will come.  But there is good, too.  So much good.

The Reality:

This man didn’t mention God or faith.  But what his courageous words said to my anxious heart is what I needed to be reminded of.  His words were not cliche nor drenched in weak theology.  

What is true and what we have learned from those bottoms falling out is this:  God is good even in the bad.  He is there.  He will rescue.  He is working.  His faithfulness and restoration can reach into the darkest part of your story and change it.  It is a slow and steady process.  It will not be that fairytale ending, but instead, it will be something better.  Something deeper.  

This process will hurt.  You can be sure of it.  But the good will come.  I promise the good will come.

A Challenge:

In a society defined by filters, fairytale endings, and highlight reels, may we be a people unafraid of praying for interruptions, imperfection, and inconveniences.  May we lean in to dependence and the faithfulness of a good God, even when the bottom falls out. 

And A Note:

There are some of you reading this who are being rocked by infertility, loss, and a blurry future of what your family will look like. And I am so sorry. I do not understand why God allows conception in some but not in others. And I do not know why God provided us with the impossible when I know so many others who are walking through long seasons of waiting. Yes, we are thankful and grateful and oh so expectant, but we are also fighting to not cling too tightly to this new life and our desired outcome to hold this child. It is this crazy tension of having open hands and a hopeful heart. And it is hard. So hard.