This post has been sitting in drafts for a long time. I’ve just had a hard time pushing “publish,” because it exposes not only my struggles with infertility, but also self worth. However, we started this blog not just to share the good and happy things, but the hard stuff, too. While it’s extremely difficult to be this vulnerable, if this provides encouragement even to one other person, then it is worth sharing my heart.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. That’s been my heart’s desire since I was a little girl. I never really felt like there was anything else that I truly wanted for my life; I didn’t dream of a certain career or fancy life. Now that’s not to say that I was/am not motivated in the things I do, including my job, I just felt I could make the biggest difference and have the most purpose raising children. I simply wanted to be married and have a family.
So you can imagine how devastating it was to be told that I likely could never conceive a child. De.va.sta.ted. When the words poured over me, my dreams crumbled. I had no idea how to move forward, almost to the point of not even having the strength to walk out of the doctor’s office. I felt like someone punched me in the gut and I was only semi-aware of things around me. The next several days were a blur. I remember many tears. I had no idea how to move forward, and honestly, I didn’t want to. I wanted it all to be a bad dream that would go away when I finally woke up. But that didn’t happen, life went on. And I put on a happy face while my insides fell apart.
It seemed like everyone we knew was announcing pregnancies or giving birth around the time of the diagnosis. In fact, just two days after the news, a good friend from work confided in me that she was pregnant. Though I was happy for her, it took everything I had in me to congratulate her and not to fall to the ground and cry. My beautiful niece, whom I love dearly, was born just a couple of weeks later. Pregnancy announcements at church, more at work, baby showers…it all just kept coming. I’d hold back tears when people would ask if Colin and I wanted kids, when we were going to start a family, or if we were “trying.” I’m sure I didn’t do near as good a job hiding my sadness as I would like to think. But I tried nonetheless. What else was there to do? No one talks about infertility.
I kept everything bottled up. Even from Colin. I just could not talk about it. It hurt too much. For a time, I thought maybe the doctor was wrong, or I could somehow be fixed. But as time went on, and tests came back with the same result (and worse), I realized that this may really be my life. My sadness worsened, I felt utterly worthless. I was broken. I questioned if I had done something to cause this, or even worse if I had done something to deserve it. I questioned if Colin would have married me had he known I could not have children. I questioned my self-worth. I was angry about the fact that other women could easily get pregnant, some who didn’t want a baby or who maybe weren’t even fit to raise a child. I was even angry at God, for giving me such a strong desire to be a mother, but keeping the physical ability to conceive from me. I laid in bed many nights with so much pain I physically hurt.
I continued to hold onto my pain, to mask it either behind smiles, anger, or not talking at all. And I grew callused, just going through the motions as best as I could through a life I did not like.
I hesitate to say I wasted two years, because I believe I had to go through that muck to get to a better place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But I hate that I spent so much time stuck in that place. I was encouraged by a wise friend to “get out of neutral.” At the time, I really didn’t know what that would mean for me, but I knew she was right. I had to move forward instead of sitting in my sadness. I had to get rid of the thoughts that I was not good enough.
Soon after, I attended a women’s conference at my church. The theme was “Enthralled.” Psalm 45:11 says “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” The last session really hit home for me. It was entitled “The Power of an Authentic Name.” You see, the enemy of our souls perverts our name, and we take on inauthentic, false names for ourselves. Ugly. Worthless. Broken. We have to get brave enough to spit out the poison and do business with these names, and instead take on the authentic names God has given to us. We took time to write down some of our inauthentic names, and then laid them on the alter. We picked up new, authentic names from God. Beautiful. Worthy. Whole.
I’ve learned that I am whole to God. Even though my body may not be able to do what a woman’s body “should,” I am still His. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still have hard days. Sometimes really hard days. But they are getting fewer, and easier to walk through. I’ve learned that my plans are not always His plans. And I’m working on believing that even though it’s not what I thought I wanted, I can learn to love the plan He has for me. And that His plan must have a purpose and be even better than what I could imagine on my own.