family · Infertility · trying to conceive

Tangible hope

I decided today on one of my trips between our apartment and house (we’re moving this weekend!) that I know what I want to do with my hope chest. It’s been sitting in our garage since we moved to this apartment, and now that we have a house I think it needs a better home. It doesn’t work with our bedroom furniture, it’s awkward to have in a walk-in closet, and there won’t be space in the office.

But there’s room in the third bedroom. The room that will hopefully be a nursery someday.

So I’ve decided to put my hope chest there. And instead of being a traditional hope chest (for a young lady preparing for a home and a marriage); it’s going to be a place where I store things for the baby (or babies) that we so desperately hope to have. Children’s books, things I want to pass along to my children; and maybe I can even start making baby things once my craft room is all set up. I also think that I may start purchasing a baby related item every time my monthly visitor shows up as a way to distract from the disappointment and do something productive instead that keeps me hoping that eventually there won’t be a failed cycle.

After deciding this (and running it by my husband); I reached out to both my mom and my mother-in-law to ask that they make various items for the chest. My mom has sewn/embroidered little outfits for each of her grandchildren, and my mother-in-law crocheted several blankets for her granddaughter. I wanted to include them in this process, and while it’s weird to ask for gifts for a baby that doesn’t even exist, I figured they’d both be at least understanding of the request.

My mother-in-law responded almost immediately with a photograph of an already completed baby blanket with a sticky note attached to it reading “2019; My HOPE blanket, Rainbow Baby (Boy), ***** and ****.” She went on to say that she has two blankets made and would love to add them to the chest.

My heart feels so full right now. It was so very comforting to have that visible (and tangible) evidence that I’m not alone in this after all; and to be reminded that others are not just hoping with us but actually planning for our future child(ren).

So here’s to filling a hope chest with tangible reminders to wait and hope and keep praying for a someday baby…here’s to tangible reminders that I’m not in this wait alone…and here’s hoping I don’t have to purchase all that many items before there’s an actual recipient for them.

 

after miscarriage · appointed time · grief and loss · Infertility · pregnancy loss

It’s not just our testimony

I read something last night that was really profound; and at least for the moment has pulled me out of my funk just a little bit.

Found a series of ‘letters’ on a blog while browsing Pinterest and what I discovered in the one written to “my future mom self” was this gem.

“I know you always imagined what an amazing testimony you would have one day, but it wasn’t just for you. It was for your children too. Because of their story, they will never doubt God as their Savior and King.”

That stopped me in my tracks. This journey of struggling to conceive and of now multiple pregnancy losses is only making it more and more evident that any children we may be blessed with are perfectly timed and perfectly planned by God.

And that’s not just for my husband and I to be able to say, “look at God’s faithfulness and goodness in what he did in our lives.” It’s so we can tell our precious children that not only were they wanted and prayed for and that they are loved by us more than they can imagine…but that God in his sovereignty has chosen them and has a very specific purpose for them that involved them coming into the world at the exact time they did.

I guess in light of that it’s a little harder for me to be angry that baby ‘waterbear’ was not that child. I can still be sad, and I still will be for a long time…but I think there’s a little less anger now and I can start rebuilding my trust in God’s faithfulness.

(Disclaimer: obviously God has a purpose for every life. Every child is ordained by him and is equally valuable in his eyes. I’m not discounting that. But it seems that this truth should sink a little deeper and feel a little more tangible for a child who comes after loss and after infertility.)

Link to article: https://www.in-due-time.com/fertility/a-letter-to-my-future-mom-self/

after miscarriage · grief and loss · missed miscarriage · pregnancy loss

I Will Carry You

(Repost since the formatting was all off before)

This song is really ministering to my heart right now. It is a beautiful picture of how a mother’s deep love for her child is only a reflection of God’s love for that child; a reminder to give thanks for being given the opportunity to have and hold and love a child for the entirety of it’s precious life; and a promise to never forget and never stop loving that child.

I Will Carry You (Audrey’s Song)-Selah

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I’m not
Truth is I’m barely hanging on
But there’s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness

But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says?

I’ve shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who’s chosen me
To carry you

 

after miscarriage · grief and loss · how to · missed miscarriage · pregnancy loss

Various wisdom

I’ve had a couple of very wise things spoken to me in the past weeks. I have been trying to check in with people I consider much more mature/spiritually wise than I am (one of our pastors, a family friend who has counseled a lot of women in various things)…and these conversations have been very helpful overall in just verbalizing what I’m feeling and working through thoughts etc. But they also result in a thought/idea or two jumping out especially and giving me something to mull over or be encouraged by.

So in the interest of trying to use this space to continue to process and hopefully be an encouragement to someone else…here’s a couple things I’ve had shared with me that have made a difference as I process this grief and this loss.

When I talked to my pastor, I was days out from realizing how angry and upset I really was over what had happened. I know in some capacity that it is okay to verbalize our feelings (even negative ones) to God, and that it’s even okay to feel negative ones towards him as long as we do not sin in those places. I mean, the Psalms are full of expressions of hurt and confusion and anger. And God already knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway, it’s not a surprise to him if we express it.

So naturally, my pastor encouraged me to wrestle out these questions and hurts with God. To allow the truths that I know to be the framework to which I return eventually, but to be willing to acknowledge what is *real* for me in this moment even if that is not consistent with what I know in my head to be true. And then he had this insight to share.

Often, in our sadness and grief, we withdraw. Most people who are sad just want to be alone to cry, or be held in silence. But when we are angry, it leads to expression. We move towards the person we are angry with; and we tell them so. In this sense…of being a means to move us back toward him, maybe God actually prefers (poor word choice) that we be in that place of anger because it means we aren’t just isolating ourselves anymore.  (though this is not a universal truth; if anger is what makes you withdraw then the opposite would perhaps be true…*shrug*). It made sense to me. I don’t get angry often; but in the times of being confused and hurting it is easier to go to God and simply be honest about those feelings and it usually feels better after getting them out.

Then, earlier this week, I talked to my family friend. Of her insights (and there were several), the one that made the most impact to where I was in that moment was the following observation.

For Christians, because we believe in a sovereign God, suffering in our lives can often be a harder thing to understand and deal with than it is for a nonbeliever. Because if God has control of everything in our lives, then when really hard things happen to us that don’t seem to have a reason it’s natural to think that “God could have stopped this from happening and I don’t know why he didn’t.” And even if there is the faith that there must be a reason we also know that we may never know it and it’s hard to be okay with that.

Granted, we obviously have a hope and a joy and a confidence in loss and pain that nonbelievers cannot have; so at the end of the day we don’t grieve as those without hope…but for the nonbeliever, there is usually just the “well, life happens and it’s all chance” mentality that at least takes away the internal struggle mentioned above.

Somehow hearing that made a huge difference. Christians are constantly told that suffering is good for our character, that we should expect it, that God works all things for good…and that is absolutely true. But it doesn’t mean that we should be expected to instantly be okay when we experience suffering; and that wrestling with the questions of “why” is actually part of the process of God producing a deeper faith and a deeper relationship with him.

So in a nutshell:

  1. When our anger prompts us to move towards God, it’s completely okay to express those feelings. It’s better than withdrawing and shutting him out.
  2. Suffering for the Christian is deeply hard, and it is completely okay to not immediately be okay.

 

 

 

family · Infertility

On family

I ordered a book a few weeks ago that finally arrived the other day and I’ve basically just been inhaling it; it’s got short chapters so it’s hard to not just go on to the next and the next even though I should probably let each one ruminate for a while. The downside of being a fast reader *shrug*.

Anyway, the book is “Empty Womb, Aching Heart,” and it has stories and reflections from multiple women (or couples) who have struggled with infertility. Once I finish my first read I’ll probably go back and take each chapter a bit slower and write down the takeaway/lesson/attitude adjustment technique in each one…future blog post, perhaps?

One of the chapters especially jumped out to me yesterday. The writer was reflecting on how hard it is to be childless in a church community that is centered around the “family,” family ministry/resources/events were all geared towards the typical parents/children structure.

She went on to share that she taught a Sunday school lesson on the 6th day of creation; and the children drew pictures of animals and then Adam and Eve on a large piece of butcher paper. She told them that this was the point at which God said it was “very good,” and then rested. One of the little girls pointed out that there weren’t any children in the drawing.

“No children, not yet…and still God called it very good. Not….’good-but-it-would-be-better-if…’ After he made man and woman, he proclaimed his work finished. It was complete. They were complete.” 

She comes to realize that a family is not formed once children arrive. The family of two is just as valuable, just as complete.

And she closes the chapter with her new response to those prying “when are you going to start a family” questions. Her answer is essentially this:

“We already have. We’re just waiting to see if God chooses to add to it or not.” (my edit)

-quotes and paraphrases taken from Empty Womb, Aching Heart (chapter 10); book compiled by Marlo Schalesky

how to · Infertility · journal entry · sermon takeaways

When your post has a mind of its own…

I don’t know if this counts as my ‘creative’ activity of the day since I’m just planning to vent a little bit…but I’m technically writing so I’ll probably count it.

I’m actually in pretty good spirits today. The sermon this morning was very encouraging and challenging; especially the bit about “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” More on that another day perhaps…

Or not. Suddenly I don’t think I should use today’s post to vent. I can save that for another time.

We’re going through Romans in church; and we finally reached Romans 12. That’s been a journey in itself; and we’ve been in Romans 12:9-16 for several weeks now. Today was focused on verses 14-16.

Paul calls us here to humility…humility being a state in which we consider others above ourselves. If we are considering others above ourselves, the natural result is that we sympathize with others. We take our eyes off our own situations and fully enter into the joys and the sorrows of others.

Rejoice with those who rejoice: as an early church father pointed out, perhaps Paul put this one first because it is actually harder than it sounds. Especially for a girl on a journey of infertility. I don’t want to rejoice with yet another acquaintance or friend or family member who is pregnant. But if I’m thinking of others above myself, then their joy should be mine as well.

Mourn with those who mourn: easier to understand. Not always easy to do; especially for the fixers who don’t know what to say or do to ease pain. But as I’ve already learned and experienced, in times of grief it is almost always more effective to just sit with, cry with, be with. Pastor read a reflection from someone who’d experienced loss, and the takeaway was the realization that people who come bearing platitudes and messages of hope and redemption are often the ones that we wish would leave. It’s the ones who “sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” that bring the most peace and comfort.

And interestingly enough, that last bit leads into what I initially wanted to write about. I’ll close with this as a reflection instead of creating an unnecessarily long tirade. Perhaps the ‘sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” is why I’m feeling so tired of all the people who want to tell me about every so-and-so they know who “tried for _____ and then got pregnant”, and especially when that includes a “maybe you should try ______.” I’m not in a place right now to hear that. It doesn’t help. I just want the people I share this struggle with to show up, listen to me vent, and then pray simply with me for patience in God’s timing (and for his timing to be soon!).