In December of 2005, my husband and I were finally ready to make our dream of having a family a reality. We had just moved to MI, closer to our families, and bought a large colonial house in a good school district. It seemed like the perfect time to start building a family of our own.
But soon after we moved to MI, my mom died from pancreatic cancer leaving me confused and overwhelmed by my own grief. Meanwhile, my husband’s new career in federal law enforcement brought with it lots of unexpected stress that made him burdened and exhausted. We had also just moved from Massachusetts and were in the middle of establishing ourselves into a new community. Looking back now, we know it was not an ideal time to try to conceive, but we were anxious to start building a family of our own.
After two years of trying, we pursued medical treatment through a fertility specialist. Because the doctor found nothing physically wrong with either one of us, he was hopeful that with medication and intrauterine insemination (IUI) we would get pregnant. But after undergoing four IUIs, we were still not pregnant. And as each treatment increased our probability of getting pregnant, my disappointment grew exponentially with every negative pregnancy test. It seemed like my dream of having biological children was slipping through my fingers.
Shortly after our last IUI, I remember sitting at my dining room table on my day off journaling and spending time in God’s word with tears running down my face. I cried out to God confessing my disappointment. I made it clear that I didn’t like my options. On the heels of my mom’s death, my grieving heart wondered if I could trust God again. I was so scared of experiencing more pain that I begged God to end our struggle with infertility.
Because I had every Friday off of work, Friday became my day of grieving. I dreaded Fridays every week, because I got tired of looking my pain in the face. I so badly wanted to avoid my grief. I know now, though, that I needed that weekly encounter with grief. If I didn’t face it every week, it would have consumed me.
Anne Lamott says in her book Small Victories,
“All those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly and as privately as possible. But what I’ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal it.”
It’s important for us to step into our pain and sadness and give it a name. And even though your infertility may not involve pregnancy or infant loss, it is still a loss. It’s a loss of control, a loss of a God-given ability, and a loss of dream that you have carried in your heart.
Facing your grief in the midst of infertility is not easy, but as you stare it in the face, you will then find the ability to entrust dream to God. You’ll be able to open up your hands and your heart to allow God to place His dream into your hands. Even if you are eventually able to conceive, it will still benefit you to grieve your struggle now. I believe it will give you a greater ability to enjoy the gift of life when it comes.
It was during those moments at my dining room table where God started to mend my broken heart. It was as if he stood there allowing me to punch him repeatedly. And when I was done, He’d hug me, hold me close, and remind me that He loves me. He’d remind me of His truth that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. By giving God my grief, I was able to experience the fullness of God’s mercy and grace.
If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, I want to give you permission to grieve your dream today. Be honest with yourself, your spouse, and God. Make time to acknowledge that life looks different than you expected, and the options in front of you are not ideal. Ask God to give you the ability to entrust your dream to Him. And as you do, I pray that you will have open arms to receive the blessing He intends to give you and your family.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
As always, I want to come alongside you and walk this difficult road with you. Feel free to reach out here on the blog or sign up to receive emails every time I post. I’d love to connect with you.