Do you ever wish sex-ed was a bit more thorough? Don’t get me wrong, learning the basics is helpful. And yet, do you wish you had learned how sometimes it’s really, really difficult to get pregnant? I missed that somehow. Was that just me?
When I found myself struggling with infertility, like 1 in 8 couples do, I was expecting to have a physical journey, not a spiritual one. Turns out God was able to do a lot more in me than put a baby in there.
After my miscarriage, I naively thought I would quickly get pregnant again. I followed all the steps from my first successful pregnancy (it was a concoction of vitamins, ovulation test kits, progesterone pills perfectly timed, and various blood draws). Nothing. For months. Not only was I grieving the miscarriage, but I was trying to forge ahead conceiving again, probably in hopes it would take away some of the pain.
It’s fair to say my number one priority was getting pregnant.
Each month looked something like this:
- Grieve the baby
- Try really hard for another baby
- Spend two weeks (infamously called “The Two Week Wait” in the “trying-to-conceive” community) hoping for positive news
- Get a negative pregnancy test
- Spiral back into more grief for the baby lost in the miscarriage and the loss of another month without a new baby.
Oh, and to top it all off, a global pandemic hit. My husband and I both started working full-time from home with our 20-month-old. Great. This is getting easier. (I kid.)
I need to pause here and say that yes, even with one living child and the knowledge that I could successfully carry a baby, the miscarriage and unexpected fertility journey still wrecked me. I recognize I entered this infertility world with a bit more hope than some. But, when your desire for more children does not line up with your reality, it is still incredibly painful.
In the Bible, James chapter 1 talks about trials or the testing of our faith. Sometimes God tests us, and other times stuff in the world happens, and we go through a testing of whether we will choose God or the world. The Bible tells followers of Jesus to expect trials (John 16:33 and Acts 14:22). To not be surprised when things don’t always go our way. Infertility is a huge trial, and it’s one many people, including followers of Jesus, encounter.
After several months of trying to conceive, I knew something had to change. If you’re living the same story month after month and nothing is happening, it’s time to break the cycle. I can’t say what will work for someone else, but maybe something in my story can help.
I Had To Change Things Up
At the beginning of trying to conceive again, I was not joyful (to say the least). I wore my pain on my face, begging for people to ask what was wrong.
Then I read James 1:2, where we’re told to “count it all joy” when we face a trial. God was telling me that I needed a mental shift.
So, I told my husband it was time to book a trip. Changing up your routine can do wonders for your brain and soul. We couldn’t go too far and wanted to keep our family safe, but we managed to take a mini-vacation and headed for the mountains. I told myself I would be joyful. If I think of trying to conceive again, I will think joyful thoughts. (Note: This doesn’t mean I didn’t let myself feel my true feelings. Grief is good and powerful, but that’s all I had been doing, and I needed a shift.)
I spoke to God a lot on that trip. I asked Him to reveal all the things I was blessed with. I kept going over that list. When I tried a new dish, sipped a delicious beer (thanks, God, that I could enjoy this beer!), or saw the mountains, I thanked him.
Even in the midst of the trial, we can count, or evaluate, our life. We can set new priorities and invite God into our goals.
What’s even stranger is I started to count the trial as joy! I recognized God was speaking to me in new ways, and he was altering the trajectory of my life. He gave me a mentor, a new job, discipline to start healthy routines in my time with God and others, the courage to celebrate the baby’s life from the miscarriage, and extended time with my family. As someone who sought control, God was teaching me that there’s joy when I yield my (perceived) control to Him. And, I was able to start thanking Him for the trial.
Don’t end your trial with joy when the rainbow comes. Start with it and use His joy as your strength while you’re still in the middle of it.
I Realized It’d Either Break Me Or Mature Me
In the Bible, there are countless examples of someone whose faith is tested. James 1:3 goes on to say, “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Abraham finally gets the son he’s promised, and God asks him to sacrifice his son. (You can read more about it in Genesis 22.) Abraham sees a promise fulfilled, and then he has to choose to obey God still or walk away. Abraham goes all the way to preparing the altar to sacrifice his son, and God stops him just in time.
Knowing that our faith will be tested and that these trials can work for our benefit, we can have hope that the trial will mature us. Trials are hardly ever quick. As a former litigation attorney, I know firsthand that a trial with a judge can take hundreds of hours and months of preparation. To be successful, you need patience and character. You need to seek wise counsel, listen well, ask good questions, and hold yourself to a high ethical standard. Sometimes the trial is prolonged or ends with a surprise. You need to be prepared for all circumstances.
Why would a trial of infertility be any different?
God can mature us in this struggle if we endure. It’s not just reading one book, listening to a podcast or pastor’s message, or praying some prayer. It’s day in, day out, tough work to know the trial is happening and to still choose to trust God. That can show up in all sorts of ways like choosing to study the Bible, talk to God daily, and share what’s going on with trusted family, friends, or a therapist.
I started to prioritize spending time reading the Bible. I read about the life of Joseph. Every trial he faced was purposeful. He faced slavery, only to end up in Egypt (many trials and successes later), allowing an entire nation to be spared from a famine.
It was at this time that people started to notice a change. They recognized my joy AND that my hope was in something outside of myself. I had people commenting on how “different” I looked.
Once you recognize the trial you’re going through, choose to read God’s word and seek to understand his purpose behind it. I knew I was facing a trial, and God started to reveal why.
I Had To Stop Trying To Control Everything
During the months of trying, my doctors wanted to start running some tests. In a combination of trusting modern medicine, impatience, and wanting to regain some control, I agreed. One quick test revealed what looked like a huge issue. My ovarian reserve was low. I mean, really, really low, like your supply is approaching menopause low. My doctor politely told me that there was nothing left she could do and that I needed to see a fertility specialist.
Instead of immediately surrendering to God my will to have more children, I first did what any modern person would do: I took to the internet.
Infertility can be an all-consuming lifestyle and head game. There are hundreds of social media accounts, groups, and even industries to turn to. In joining one Facebook group, I learned that my odds of successful infertility treatments were extremely low. Panicked and shocked, I crumbled. I literally fell to the floor and cried. My husband, who had been pretty solid throughout this time, was shaken. We made the appointment with an infertility specialist and started re-evaluating our finances for how to pay for IVF. I mean, I was fully surrendered to the idea that this was going to be expensive, time-consuming, and potentially fruitless.
My priorities immediately shifted to conception first, God second.
But God. If His goal for our lives is maturity, I was showing nothing but immaturity. And, God can’t really mature us if we don’t cooperate.
James 1:4 says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” This means we need to surrender our will and ask for God’s will to control our lives.
Sure, I took some steps for more answers and to get help. I don’t believe this or fertility treatments are outside the will of God. He created the human mind that is solving fertility questions and developing medicines and procedures to help those facing infertility to conceive. I know this is a controversial belief, but if the God of the Bible commands us to be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), then I also think he has a say in conception, even with the most advanced medical intervention.
After a few days, I reshifted my priorities back to God. I surrendered my will and let God take control. I prayed, “God, if you want us to have more children, make it happen in your way.” I enlisted everyone I knew to pray, as well. I knew I couldn’t continue facing this trial alone.
I Started To Actually Believe
When we’re going through a trial, James 1:5 tells us to ask God for wisdom.
So here’s the huge leap I made—If God wanted me to endure this trial, then He surely would have given me all the power and the authority to get through it. After a few days of mourning my news about my ovarian reserve, I decided to boldly ask God for healing. Through reading the Bible and sharing with a few followers of God, I knew what He wanted me to pray. Multiple times a day, I laid hands on my lower abdomen and said, “I bless myself with life.”
I learned that God was my King, and by believing in Him, I have been given authority to use His power. John 14:12 tells us that we will do greater things in this world than Jesus. Well, Jesus brought the dead back to life, so why not ask Him to create life inside of me?
Here’s the wild thing—a few days later, I found out I was pregnant. We kept the appointment with the fertility specialist, who revealed how shocked he was.
I Had To Ditch Fear (Again And Again And Again)
Just being pregnant didn’t mean the trial was over. Having faced a miscarriage and learned how unbelievable it was to be pregnant, my fears only grew. Each time I had a moment of fear, doubt, or worry, I had to ask God to forgive me and turn back to Him. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, and being fearful is not trusting Him.
I knew if I wanted to continue to rely on God and have my character in alignment with his, I couldn’t let this fear hang around. I had to ask for God to take it away. Multiple times a day. For a week. Which turned into weeks and months.
One week I started to bleed, and that fear raged full force that something was wrong and I was going to lose this baby. But God. He knew I needed to lean on him more. I kept turning to Him and trusting.
I Believe For You Too
Weeks before I got the news of my low ovarian reserve, I woke up very early one morning. Half asleep, eyes still closed, I heard a little voice in my head say, “You’ll have a baby by April.” Even after months of asking and praying, I didn’t want to believe it was God’s voice. It was too specific. It perfectly met my needs. Why would the God of the universe want to do that? Of course, He would want to do that. But I was so convinced He wouldn’t want to do it for me.
I’m proof that God heals, does miracles, and still makes and keeps promises today. My baby is due in April 2021. He keeps His promises.
Maybe God’s told your family he will bring you a baby biologically, or maybe it’s through adoption. Perhaps it’s an older child in foster care or even the young neighbor kids next door who want to play in your yard with your dog.
Regardless of how it forms, God is pro-family. He’s taught me that He knows each and every desire of our hearts.
When we suffer, it’s so tempting to turn away from him. Hope and trust can be so slow and painful. But we can choose to not let it consume us:
- Change things up.
- Let God mature us.
- Let go of control.
- Try to believe.
- Do whatever we can to ditch the fear.
Infertility and trying to conceive can be a nasty, isolating beast that I believe the enemy uses to steal our joy, kill our intimacy with God and others, and destroy our hope. Pursue God before you get your happy ending, and see what unfolds. When we make God our number one priority, if our hope comes from Him and the future he wants for us, he will bring us out on the other side.