As I sorted through the mail, my hand stopped on a letter from my sister and my heart immediately caught in my throat. The letter, a very cute and clever card, announced that she was pregnant with her first child. My little sister was going to be a Mommy. My little sister, who is 10 years younger than me, was able to get pregnant… and I was still barren. After a good cry and more than one reassuring hug from my husband, I swallowed my sorrow and called to congratulate her and share in her joy. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t upset that my sister was pregnant. I was overjoyed! However, her pregnancy further reinforced my fear that motherhood would be an honor I would never share with her. I was happy for my sister, but I was so, so sad for myself.
How did I get here?
So, how did it happen? How did I end up 37 years old with what seemed like little hope of ever becoming a mother?
Well, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) happened. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have waited so long. I would have started trying for a baby the second my husband and I exchanged wedding vows. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. At the time, the reasons we didn’t try were perfectly valid— probably even sound:
- I didn’t even meet my husband until I was 29. We got married at 30 and 32 respectively. By contrast, my sister was 27 when she became pregnant with my precious niece.
- When we got married, I was still in the U.S. Army. It was 2002. Afghanistan was going strong and Iraq was heating up. There was so much uncertainty. I knew it would kill me to get pregnant, give birth, and then face a mandatory deployment to a war zone. So, we waited…
- Eventually it became apparent that I would not deploy. However, I was on shift work, working long hours (sometimes in excess of 14 hours), and we were both in graduate school. A baby would have to wait. Besides, I was still in the military and the military only gives 6 weeks of maternity leave. No, I wanted at least double that amount of time. So, we waited…
- When my military service ended, we moved from Hawaii to Maryland. It took almost a year to get the job situation settled. So, we waited…
- Our little family had an emotionally catastrophic year… major illness, followed by the passing of two very close family members, followed by a very serious cancer scare. We didn’t have the emotional energy to even think of trying for a baby. So, we waited…
Through all of this, I had no idea I suffered from PCOS. It wasn’t until after my second miscarriage, that my OBGYN referred us to a local fertility clinic.
I was already 37 years old. I know there are stories every day of women who miraculously give birth to a healthy set of twins at age 45+. Those stories didn’t resonate with me though. What did resonate was that my body was defective and without serious prayer and the intervention of a reproductive endocrinologist, I would probably never get to hold my own precious baby in my arms.
And that– that thought just about broke my heart to pieces.
Do you know someone who suffers from infertility? Do you suffer from infertility? Clearly every woman’s experience is different. I just wanted to be a part of the Mommy club. I wanted to become a Mommy so desperately that I would have done almost anything to get and stay pregnant. For a while I was content to be a ‘mommy-surrogate.’
- I taught Bible Class on a regular basis and always created the most elaborate crafts and games for the kids. I was living the Mommy dream through them.
- I ‘adopted’ so many kids at church. I tried so hard to be the cool ‘Aunt’ who took them out to movies, to the park, or watched them for free so Mom and Dad could get a break. I was more than happy to hang with the kids. I craved it!
- I forced myself to throw the baby showers, to honor the soon-to-be Moms, partly because I hoped their baby dust would rub off on me.
However, with each month that came and went without good news (and seriously, good news could have just been getting my period more than once every 4 months… because it would have been proof that I was actually ovulating), the joy I derived from ‘pretend parent play’ eroded.
Eventually, I just felt ridiculous. Eventually, I just felt inappropriate. I didn’t need to spoil other people’s kids.
I needed to love my own child.
I wanted to experience the thrill of life through their eyes. There was so much I wanted to teach them.. so much I had to offer.
Motherhood and God’s Plan for My Life
Surely God intended to bless me with a child. Surely I would not be doomed to barrenness forever. I mean, I know my name is Sara.. but even the most modern of medical procedures has yet to impregnate a 90 year old woman. I figured that the fertility clinic would be my best shot… but I also knew deep down that if motherhood was part of His plan for me, God would make it happen.. in His time.
And I guess that is the message.. the encouragement, I want to leave you with. If you are struggling with infertility… trust me, I get it. I don’t know the exact emotions you are dealing with but I know they are probably intense, and they are probably raw. I want to reassure you that God does have a plan for you. I wish I could give you a big hug and tell you that eventually you will get pregnant… but we both know that isn’t how it works.
Still, God does have a plan for your life. Maybe it includes motherhood… perhaps it doesn’t. Trust God anyway. He loves you.. and whatever He has in store for you, I bet it is awesome!
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Thanks for reading this week as I know this is a highly personal post.
So, guess what? I have some pretty exciting news!
Starting this week I am joining Tammy from Creative K Kids to help host her amazing Thoughtful Thursdays linky party! I am really super excited (and a bit nervous that I will mess it up… ha!). Anyway, if you are new to the blogging community (as a reader or fellow blogger), check in each Thursday in order to enjoy some amazing posts from other bloggers!
Thanks again for reading and thanks big time to Tammy for letting me co-host with her!
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