Monday, December 14, 2015

Infertility's Grief

You know, there are days where things are good, very good. Where my heart is bursting with thankfulness for the amazing friendships I have, for the cutest little dog who is always at my feet, and for a marriage that has actually exceeded my expectations. And that's saying a lot, because my expectations were high. And it's also saying a lot because so many people kept telling us all the negative things about marriage, and for us, we haven't found them to be true. I know that I am blessed in many ways.

But right there, right in the midst of all of the blessings, there is this heartache that just will not go away. It never really leaves. And I don't believe it will go away until my prayers have been answered. Its name is infertility, and there are days when I am so low, I do not know what I am going to do. And I hate it. I despise it. It sucks. There are many blessings in my life, yes. However, my broken heart, my barren womb, the title of Mother that is still not mine... all of these are on my mind, all of the time. It's hard. And it hurts. It's unfair, and heartbreaking, and devastating all at once. If you think I am being dramatic, then you haven't walked through it. Plain and simple. It isn't the worst thing there is, of course not, but it is the worst thing I have personally faced. And while I know some people face this for decades, four and a half years is not nothing. I grieved before infertility. I have lost loved ones and I have lost relationships. But my heart has never felt so broken or heavy or crushed like it often has during this road of infertility. 

Honestly, I don't want to do it anymore, I don't want to even try or care. I wish I didn't want children. I have wished that so many times. But the desire is not something I can turn off. And I can't quit trying or caring or believing or hoping. I feel that I must keep going if I am going to be a mom. And I have to be a mom. This isn't an option for me. I cannot dwell on the possibility of me not ever being a mom for more than a minute or I will cry. I wear my heart on my sleeve lately. Everything hurts. My heart aches often. I want a baby. I want a son or a daughter. I want to be called mom. I don't want to just be mom to a baby I lost too soon. I want to be mom to a baby I hold in my arms. I want to be mom to a child I watch grow up. Truth be told, I want to be a mom to more than one (but I'll take what I can get!).

Even as I type this my heart physically hurts. This has been a tough couple of months. At the beginning of this year, God gave me a word for the year. The word was BELIEVE. Before that I really didn't know. I knew He could heal me, that wasn't the problem. It was believing that He would. I knew He could & would heal so and so, but I didn't know if He would do it for me. I mean, sometimes He doesn't. And it bothered me a lot that I didn't know. Because if He isn't going to answer my prayers, why continue with treatment? Why continue trying at all, if His answer will always be no? But once He told me to BELIEVE, I felt that was a little sign from Him that I can believe because He is going to do it. I started to really search His word for verses on believing, on faith, on miracles. And I began to really truly BELIEVE. And I still do. But I'm struggling. 

In June, with peace in our hearts, we went back to my RE for fertility treatments. Some people choose not to do fertility treatments, believing for a miracle without them, and I fully respect those people. Everyone's story is different and the infertility journey is different for everyone. Some pursue treatments like IUI or IVF, some use meds only, some skip it all and go straight to adoption, some make the hard decision to live a child-free life. Others do none of that but instead continue to pray and believe God for a miracle without treatment. None of these are right or wrong. All of these are fine. A lot of it depends on your specific diagnosis. For Christians, it also depends on God's leading and direction. 

So we went back to the RE, did three more IUIs (June, July & August) and none of them worked. And so, for several reasons, we decided it was time for a short break. So we haven't been back since August. I wanted to get in one more procedure before our vacation in November, but too much was going on, too many conflicts, and I just didn't have a peace about going back yet. So, we are waiting. Again. Trying on our own, but not pursuing treatments for the time being.

If you think taking a break from treatment is easy, you're mistaken. It is sometimes really good and you know you need it. It is sometimes really hard. This break was at first harder on me than the one we took after my miscarriage. I needed that one, I desperately wanted it, I had to grieve that loss. This time, while I had a lot of peace about our decision, it meant one thing to me... no pregnancy in 2015. It's just that when God gave me the word Believe, I really believed He meant our miracle would take place this year. But suddenly we were taking a break until the end of the year, and I felt as though no more treatments this year meant no baby this year. I can't explain it, because yes, I KNOW God is able and could allow me to conceive without the help of fertility treatments. But that's just how I felt. And now it is December, and as of yesterday I can say for sure I am not going to be pregnant this year. The reason that has been devastating for me is because I cannot bear the thought of beginning another year not pregnant. It makes me think of another birthday, another family reunion, another anniversary, another Christmas without a child. I just do not want to have another year with this kind of pain in my heart all the time. 

You are reading this and possibly thinking, What happened to her faith?! What happened to her BELIEVING and trusting in God for this miracle? I will tell you what happened. I started to look at my circumstances instead of Jesus. You have to keep your eyes on Jesus or you will start to sink! I know this, because for the most part, this whole year I have felt full of belief & trust & hope that God is going to fulfill His promises to me. I have kept my eyes on Him. But this last failed IUI has really shaken me. I have felt heartbroken. I have felt hurt and forgotten by God. I have been angry with Him. And I know that is okay. I can be honest when I talk to Him. He is a big enough and kind enough God to handle my grief, my despair, even my anger. He continues to love me through it.

A month or two ago, for an entire weekend, I got to a really low place. I just was hurting so badly, and very emotional. Brad was pretty worried about me. I was worried about me! I told him I felt like someone was actually sitting on my chest. That Monday I continued feeling that way. Tuesday was the worst. Tuesday night, I had Bible Study and my best friend Mandy covered for me leading worship because I just didn't know if I could do it. I was on the verge of tears already and I didn't want to lose it while trying to lead others in worship. At the end of our meeting, one of the ladies asked if they could pray for me. I said yes. They laid their hands on me and prayed. I cried. I left and felt a tiny bit better, but the heavy heart was still there. The next day, however, around mid-morning that heavy feeling in my chest just lifted. I felt it go. It was an amazing thing, because I knew it was the result of people's prayers. I knew it was. And then just a week or two ago, I had a really rough day, and as I walked to my car after work, I was hit with a wave of depression that just would not leave me alone. I cried myself to sleep. But in my grief, I texted some of my dearest friends asking for prayer, and within 24 hours, I felt that depression leave again! And I just love God for doing that for me! He hasn't given me what I so desperately want, that is true. But He has helped me along the journey. He has given me His peace, His joy, His favor, His comfort, all in the moments I needed it most. I forget sometimes just how big His heart is. I forget that He is truly hurting with me! It is one thing to believe in the power of prayer, and to see prayers answered for someone else. That's awesome, for sure. But to actually be the one suffering and to feel that heaviness go ... there are no words.

Awhile back, our pastor spoke on grief, and on ministering to the bereaved. There was so much wisdom in every word he said, and I really appreciated him for taking the time to share on such an important topic. It should have been recorded! I think it meant so much to me because I am grieving. I don't know if many people realize that, but infertility is grief, and it's constant grief because the situation doesn't get resolved. There is no closure until you have that long awaited child. I was relieved in the beginning when he said that grief isn't associated with death but with loss. How true. You do not only grieve when somebody you love dies, but also with the loss of a job, a house, a relationship, a dream.  I do not say that to say that I am in the same position as someone who lost a spouse, or child, or friend, because I know it's not the same, and I cannot begin to imagine the devastation of losing my child or my husband. But infertility is soul crushing. There are days where I do not know how much longer I can stand it. I am thankful that God is always faithful to bring comfort or peace when I am hurting.

So this is where I am right now, and I think the holidays just make it harder. I am full of joy, then full of pain. I am bursting with thankfulness for the beautiful friendships in my life, and then feeling like I've been slapped with the news of someone else's pregnancy. I am filled with His peace, then flooded with fear. I am content with our house, our dog, our love, then sobbing for the baby we do not have. One minute I am lifting my hands in worship and praise to our God, the next minute weeping bitterly. God, help me!

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I don't know what next year holds. My word for 2015, believe, will be extended another year. Unless God gives me another one, it will be my word for 2016, too. I choose to just keep on believing, even when it's hard, even when it's exhausting, even when I think I must be crazy! Because in my heart of hearts, I know that one day He will turn this mourning into joy, one day He will fulfill His promise to me, ONE DAY, I will give Him the glory for the miracle He has granted us.