Another negative pregnancy test. Another period. Another cycle begins. Another hope for a child ends. I mourn my loss quietly in the bathroom, stifling my sobs so I don’t wake up my husband in the next room. When I am finished, I wash my face, put my loss behind me, and head out into a new day, as ready as I can be for another day with my two children. That’s right, I have been blessed with children, but I also know the pain of struggling to conceive.

I’ll be honest—I haven’t, by definition, suffered from infertility. I’ve endured months of negative pregnancy tests, but not years. But the pain is still real, and at the end of each month, when I see another negative pregnancy test, my still-raw wound opens again. And again. And again. It never has time to heal before it must be torn open again. Every single month.

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Our firstborn was a wedding gift from God. There was no trying involved. No charting. No ovulation tests. Just one positive pregnancy test.

I assumed all of our pregnancy experiences would be like our first. They weren’t.

Our second child required monthly charting. Daily testing. Weekly conversations with my husband that included words like “peak fertility” and “ovulation.” He knew my cycle just as well as I did. It took us about six months of actively trying to conceive before we were blessed with our daughter. It felt like a long time for us to wait, but also short compared to so many other women I knew. But that knowledge didn’t make those months of struggling to conceive any less difficult. Or the effort required any less burdensome.

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In the months that we waited for the conception of our second child, and now as we find ourselves waiting again, I’ve been forced to find the hope in these seasons of infertility. With each month that passes, one hope dies and another is born in its place. Maybe this will be the month. Waiting is agonizing, but there is peace to be found here. I am taught to be patient and to find contentment where I am. Change is inevitable in the life of a mother, and a new baby brings plenty of change, so we can make the choice to appreciate the calm we are experiencing right now.

Every month brings its pain and loss of hope, but it’s impossible to continue living without acknowledging the gifts we’ve already been given.

I cried this morning when another test came up negative, but by breakfast, my kids had me laughing again. My life had me laughing again. Embracing joy in the midst of sorrow is difficult but possible. And in seasons of secondary infertility, it can make all the difference. It’s the difference between hope and despair, peace and inner turmoil, contentment and longing. Given the choice, I choose hope. I choose peace. I choose to be content with what I’ve been given.

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When you’re in the midst of a season of infertility, whether it is short or long, there is always a temptation to live in the future. Another period means another month of waiting. Another negative pregnancy test means another month of planning. If it’s not this month, then maybe next month? So you constantly look to tomorrow, and you are tempted to forget about today. What is the point, when you’ve lost hope once again?

But my children are the point. They are a daily reminder I need to live in the present. I have so much to live for right now.

Even though it’s hard, I have to trust that God will give us another child when the time is right. And right now? The time isn’t right. God has already blessed us with so much, and I know if I continue to trust Him, He will continue to bless us. When He chooses to give us that third child, it will be in His time, not ours. He knows when we will be ready, and when His time comes, He’ll bless us with the gift of a child—however he chooses to bless us.

So as hard as it might be at times, I choose His time. I choose His plan. I choose to find hope during these seasons of infertility.

Shannon Whitmore

Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing on topics such as marriage, family life, faith, and health. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.