When one of our national treasures, DIY sweethearts Chip and Joanna Gaines, announced they were expecting their fifth child, the world rejoiced. Fans burst into chatter imagining what that child’s shiplapped nursery would look like and immediately began scanning the aisles at Target for a new Hearth & Cradle collection.
Not everyone shared that excitement—not necessarily because they dislike the couple (how could you not adore their endearing banter?), but because the news hurt.
For a woman who is struggling with infertility, a pregnancy announcement has the equivalent effect of a kick in a man’s groin. It knocks the wind out of you, pierces your heart, and accentuates the weight of your empty arms.
You’d think this reaction would disappear once you became a mother. When you’re almost 10 years out from those dismal days of waiting and enduring pointless treatments, and now have two remarkable boys who fill your life with joy and bedlam, you’d think it wouldn’t get to you anymore. You’d think you had moved past this pain.
I thought wrong. It still stings, even if just for a quick moment of recalled anguish.
Though the ache of infertility no longer afflicts me because God fulfilled my longing for children—graciously, undeservedly, and completely unexpectedly—I will forever be marked by one of the hardest seasons of my life.
How could you forget the wretched roller coaster of getting your hopes up every month, yearning to see that second pink line lighten into existence, then feeling the sickening crash of disappointment once the bleeding starts?
How could you not shudder at the memory of feeling excluded from normal society, watching friend after friend pop out one, then two, then more babies, while you are left behind, left out of the mom club, left with nothing but questions—from others, directed at you: “So when are you going to have kids?” and from you, to your Father: “God, why aren’t you giving me kids?”
How could you not wince when others laugh about how easily they got pregnant, and tease each other about going for another baby, because for them, it is a decision, not an ordeal?
I carry scars from my years of struggling to conceive—a physical cut from one of the surgeries I underwent, as well as emotional wounds from the depressive effects of infertility and the trauma of experiencing a failed IVF cycle.
God mercifully redeemed these sorrows and blessed me with two sons who are worth every tear shed during my long wait. And He gave me something else, another unexpected gift, one I hadn’t even requested.
He gave me His strength.
When I felt like all hope was lost, that we should stop trying all methods of expanding our family, He provided my husband and me the courage to press on.
When I dreaded going to church because I’d be surrounded by families with tiny bundles of joy that I thought I’d never have, He introduced me to new friends experiencing the exact same heartache and showed me I wasn’t alone.
When I surveyed the room we’d reserved as a nursery, the money we’d spent on fertility treatments and adoption applications, my life’s goal of becoming a mom—and thought all of it was a waste, He prompted me to start an infertility support group and revealed a greater purpose for my pain: to comfort others and share His hope.
Through my desperate struggle, God strengthened me, not due to my persistence, but due to His faithfulness. He brought me through an uncertain, grueling season and renewed my belief that He will not forsake me; He works all things for good; His love never fails, even if I do.
Knowing Jesus delivered me through such disappointment in my past has emboldened me to confront unknown sorrows in my future.
The snare of hypochondria that once entangled my mind no longer traps me because I’ve lived through a distressing medical condition and endured unsuccessful treatments.
The gloom of exclusion that used to embarrass and shame me now motivates me to reach out and embrace outsiders because I’ve experienced isolation and loneliness.
While I’ll undoubtedly still falter and fall short in many ways, I have greater faith because of the difficulties I lived through trying to grow my family.
Part of that confidence comes from finally reaching the outcome of my long wait and receiving the blessing of my children. And it also comes from the struggle of the wait itself—experiencing what it means to be hopeless and helpless, and developing new resilience to face adversity because I know God will carry me through it.
Infertility scarred me. There’s no denying the pain that still twinges when I hear a pregnancy announcement or someone jokes, “So when are you going for a third?” not knowing how much we went through before adding the first two.
Yet the life crisis that wrecked me also changed my life for the better. I’m stronger now for seeing God transform the ruins of my weakness into a portrait of His grace.