It was a chilly day in late November, almost two years ago. We were in the car, driving toward home. Out of the blue, my husband looked at me with a grin and said, “Hey, do you want to start trying to have a baby?” I thought about it for a second. It felt like a scary step, but exciting at the same time. “Sure,” I said. “Let’s go for it.” You see, when we got engaged we talked about how long we wanted to wait after we were married before starting a family. We both agreed we’d give ourselves a year for it to just be “us” and then we’d reevaluate after that. Well, here we were almost exactly a year after we got married, actually going for it.
I seriously thought I was pregnant the first month. After all, all of the women in my family are pretty dang fertile, and my body had never showed any signs of being “off” in that arena. I just always knew I’d get pregnant within the first month or two that we tried. Any other scenario was never on my radar. It was an experience I didn’t even have a grid for.
After the first month, I shrugged it off. “Alright,” I thought. “since it wasn’t this month, it’s probably gonna be next month.” Not being pregnant the first month made me realize for the first time how badly I actually wanted this. The twinge of disappointment that I felt when the test was negative, confirmed that yes, I was ready for a baby. Or so I thought.
By the time month 6 came and went with no growing baby inside, I felt like I’d been hit by a semi. Blindsided. Why was I not pregnant yet? When my mom got pregnant with both my brother and me, it was as if she and my dad snapped their fingers, and voila! We existed. I am my mother’s mini-me. I should be pregnant right now. What am I doing wrong?! That’s it. I must be doing something wrong. Fear began to creep up. The “what ifs” were debilitating. What if my body is messed up and I can’t have a baby? What if I’m not getting pregnant because I have unforgiveness in my heart? Maybe it’s stress. Maybe I’m not eating the right foods. I’ll take more vitamins. I’ll exercise. Oh but wait, what if exercise is keeping me from getting pregnant? Okay, I won’t exercise except for the two weeks of the month that I know I’m not pregnant. I’ll figure this out. I WILL FIX THIS. These are the kind of thoughts that would run through my head over and over and over. There must be something I can do that I haven’t tried yet that will be the “key” we need to get pregnant. I was so desperately trying to hold on to an illusion of control that I’d never been forced to give up before. The thought of being out of control of my own body was terrifying, and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that I was the one who called the shots. In my head, I wasn’t trying to control the situation. I genuinely thought I was being responsible and a good steward of my body by changing my diet, taking supplements, exercising, etc. The problem was, the more I tried to fix and control and hold on, the more agonizing it became. As the months wore on, I realized I couldn’t hear God’s voice anymore. I was hurting badly. Confused. Alone. Embarrassed. This was not supposed to happen to me. This kind of stuff only happens to the people who don’t take care of themselves. Man, was I wrong. AND arrogant.
At this point, during the first year, we had told no one we were trying except for two very close friends. We started out deciding not to tell anyone because we thought it would be a fun surprise for our friends and family when we told them we were pregnant. Later, it became a matter of being too painful to risk telling someone who wouldn’t understand, and having to bear the agony of hearing the well-intentioned, yet heart-piercing words of a person who just hadn’t walked that road. My heart was too fragile. I just couldn’t risk it. For me, telling people who had never been in my shoes was the most vulnerable and scary thing during the first year and a half. Through the whole process though, I kept feeling the nudge that I would one day blog about our experience. There were many many months where the thought of putting it out there for the whole world to see and comment on made me sick to my stomach. Yet, so often I think about all the women and men out there who are struggling with the very same things and feel so many of the same things we have. My goal and my heart in sharing our story is that those who are experiencing delayed fertility, or really any hard season, would find comfort, peace, and truth in knowing that they are not alone and that God is faithful and good, even when our circumstances look bleak and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Over and over, I have had to fight to hold onto that truth. I have experienced those moments of complete hopelessness and despair, when you can’t see or feel or hear God, and you wonder if he’s abandoned you. I have had days when all I could do was just lay in bed and cry- the kind of cry that comes from deep deep down in the recesses of your soul- and wonder if this is all some kind of sick joke- that God would give us the desire to have a child, only to tease us with something that will always stay just out of our reach.
Through this whole process, I have journaled. Journaling keeps me sane, and helps me process my thoughts and feelings. It is a place where I connect so deeply with God. Some of the most powerful truths I have ever received have come through journaling. Below is an excerpt from my journal, dated 9/23/16. That day was a turning point for me. Up until this point, I had been working really hard to “fix” myself, and had not been able to hear God’s voice for almost a year. I had been able to feel him near me, but his voice felt silent. As I was reading a blog called “Barren to Beautiful,” something I read struck a chord within me and it was as if someone took cotton out of my ears and I could hear for the first time. It was like having blurry vision and putting on a pair of glasses. This is what God spoke to me through my journaling: “Even when you don’t have anything to offer me, I still give good gifts. You are free to be angry, to doubt me, to be sad, lonely, confused, and scared. You’re free to have worries and fears, because I am bigger than all of that. I can handle it. My love is greater than your fear. None of those things are going to thwart or sabotage my plan for you. My gifts are free, they cannot be earned. You could do all the “wrong” things, and I would still give, because that is my nature. I am an extravagant father. You don’t have “lessons to learn” before I’ll give you a baby. I’m not waiting for you to get rid of your bad habits or let go of your fears, or learn the things you need to learn so I can make you a mom. I want to give you a free gift. You can’t earn a baby. There’s no making yourself a worthy candidate of motherhood. You’re already worthy. I am the one who qualifies you. There’s nothing you could do to make it happen, and there is nothing you have or haven’t done that is preventing it from happening. I just want you to rest, and let me give you good gifts in my timing. I want to do a miracle in your heart while you’re waiting for a miracle in your body.” I’ve been trying to give God my “junk” all along in hopes that that’s what would entice him to give something to me that I so desperately want. And it’s not working. I’m realizing I have nothing to give him. He’s not asking for anything. He already has my heart, and I’ve already given him my life. That’s all he ever wanted from me. His love is strong enough to crowd out all of the stuff in my life that doesn’t need to be there. He’s just inviting me to rest with him and let him love me, and he will do the rest. When I didn’t get pregnant right away, I started thinking lies that I must have some work to do first. That there must be some things he wants me to change before he sees me as fit to be a mother. All along this has been the plan of the enemy to keep me looking inward, distracted. In God’s eyes, there are no requirements or prerequisites to motherhood. I get to be free to just love him and be myself, and trust that He knows what is needed and is working it out.
This was the release I needed. The permission to let myself be broken, because He is my healer. He cleans up my messes, He restores my soul. He brings beauty from nothing, and He gives good gifts. Free gifts. Gifts that He gives just because He loves us, not because we have earned it. In the beginning, I would have said that getting pregnant is the goal, and that would be the ultimate gift. Now, I can wholeheartedly say that while I do still so desperately long for and desire to be pregnant, the gift of new life I have received in my heart over and over again throughout these painful months is so priceless that I wouldn’t ever trade it for a baby. Even now, the fact that I can say that reminds me that God really is doing miracles in my heart while I wait for the miracle in my body.
“Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deers, he makes me tread on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
Katie Kelley is a wellness coach and Jesus-worshipper. She and her husband, David, live in Knoxville, TN. She blogs at The Untamed Wildflowers.