April 24-30th is recognized as National Infertility week. I’m pretty positive most people who know this don’t “celebrate” this week. Instead, it’s a time to reflect on their individual journey and raise awareness. It’s not something I ever thought I’d be familiar with, but here I am. We are 5 years into our journey with no end in sight. I have certainly learned many things about myself, and I thought maybe some of them would interest you.
11 Things I’ve learned about myself through our journey with infertility
- Don’t let your heart root in bitterness. There was certainly a point in this journey that I let bitterness seep into my heart. Each time someone announced an “oops” pregnancy I wondered why it wasn’t me. How could it be so easy for some people and yet so incredibly impossible for me to have a baby? Every story about an abused or neglected child made me question God- why give those people a baby when I would certainly love that child and take care of them. I’ve learned that there will always be times when grief hits me and causes my eyes to well up with tears, but I can’t stay there and let my grief turn to bitterness. I have to trust in the story God is writing for my life and believe that His plan and His purpose is so much better than my own.
- God is good, even when life is not. It’s not promised anywhere in the bible that life would be easy. Actually, it’s not even promised that God wouldn’t give us more than we can handle. Life can be really hard and painful sometimes. However, I know ultimately that God is good and again, He has a plan and cause use my story for a purpose. I just have to trust Him. (Easier said than done…
- My husband really is my best friend. Throughout this journey I have seen some of my darkest moments. I have not been my “prettiest” self and through it all, Ryan has stood by my side and loved me- unconditionally. Friends, marriage can be hard. Throwing something like infertility into the picture can make it even more difficult. We’ve had our times of frustration with each other, but it’s strengthened our marriage. It’s brought us close together. Hard times can push couples away from each other if you aren’t careful. We’re purposeful about doing things to stay connected: Praying together, hanging out together, talking to each other even when we’re mad, having fun together, etc.
- Being a mother won’t “complete” me. There have been times I have felt incomplete because I can’t carry a child. I have felt like less-than around other women and wondered if I would ever get to experience the joys of motherhood. It would be easy to get lost in the feelings of being incomplete. But, just like marriage couldn’t complete me- neither will being a mother. I have to find my “completion” in Christ. He’s the only one who can fill the voids in my heart. Being a mom is going to be AMAZING. But it won’t complete me.
- There can be beauty in brokenness. I recently heard someone say, “Infertility is brokenness. Adoption is brokenness. God is using brokenness to build my family.” This really stuck with me. It’s true. A woman’s body was designed to carry children. Mine can’t. In reality, I’m broken. A baby is supposed to stay with their birth mother and birth family. For whatever reasons, sometimes that can happen. That brokenness woven together with my brokenness will undoubtedly create something beautiful beyond comprehension. I could look at it in a negative light, but I choose to see the positive of what God is doing.
- People will say the wrong things. I can’t tell you how many times someone with beautiful intentions has said something to me about our journey that has cut me to the core. Their intentions were pure, but as they wrangle their 3 children running around the house, they can’t possibly understand my story. There have also been those who for whatever reasons have said things bluntly and seemingly set out to hurt me. I can’t possible understand the journey of using a surrogate or IVF or pregnancy complications. People generally have good intentions, sometimes they have no idea what they say hurts. Even if their intentions aren’t pure: Be forgiving. Be gracious.
- Our Adoption Journey isn’t the only “right” way to adopt.. Ryan and I set out on this adoption journey knowing that not everyone would understand it or support it. We’ve had people judge our every move since we opened up about our adoption plans. “Why don’t you adopt from foster care? Are those kids not good enough for you?” “Why are you adopting here in the United States? Kids overseas need you more than kids here in the US.” “Why are you adopting an infant? Why not adopt a teenager. Nobody wants the teenagers.” “Why would you possibly say no to a child with special needs? “.. the list goes on. Those questions can be painful, and so extremely invasive. We have prayerfully considered every single step in this journey. Our steps aren’t for everyone. Some people are called to adopt from foster care. Some people are called to adopt overseas. Some people are called to support others who are adopting and cheer from the sidelines. We are confident that this is the path God has placed us on. If you have questions, we’d love to talk. But know that we have researched and prayed about every possible scenario. We know the pros and cons of every Adoption possibility. This is the journey God has placed us on. We’re good with it.
- Face your fears. Infertility is scary. Growing up, I knew there were issues. My cycle was always extremely irregular and often times, non-existent. I was terrified to go to the doctor because I was afraid they would tell me what I already knew deep in my heart: I’m broken. I knew there was something wrong. I often questioned what exactly my issues were and if they were fixable. Instead of facing my fears and finding out, I hid. I ran. I avoided. I made up excuses and refused to face whatever my reality was. Maybe things would be different if I had addressed it from the beginning. Maybe they would be exactly the same. The point is, I took a risk. I’ll always question if my story would have turned out differently had I faced my fears. (FYI… I go to the doctor now, I know my issues. No lectures needed! 😉 )
- It’s ok to not be ok. This past week has been extremely painful. I feel as though I’m walking around with a broken heart. Things have been happening that we’ve been public about and things that we’ve been not so public about. I’ve cried… a lot. Actually, I’ve cried a lot over the last few years about our infertility. It’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to cry. It’s completely normal. It’s ok to not be ok… for a while. I can’t let myself stay here though. I have to find joy in the everyday and trust that God is writing my story. I may not understand some of the chapters, but I know that the ending will be beautiful.
- I’m stronger than I ever knew. I have faced fears. I have faced uncertainty. I have held it together when everything else was falling apart. I have stepped out in faith. I have asked for help when it’s been REALLY hard. I have worked an incredibly stressful job and then started a new job. I finished my first college degree and we have walked through every hoop and obstacle adoption could throw our way. I never would have believed I could do everything I’ve done. I certainly don’t give all of the credit to myself. Again, God has been beside me. Ryan has been beside me and I have some incredible family and friends who have cheered for me and loved me every step of the way. But I am strong. I CAN do this. I might cry about it and whine from time to time… but every step forward is a step closer to becoming a mom. It’s worth it.
- Sometimes it’s ok to run away- but you have to come back. There have been times that this journey has been so hard that I have wanted to give up. When your life is completely consumed with questions and you are all out of answers, it lays heavy on your heart. Instead of giving up or self-imploding Ryan and I choose to run away. Sometimes we run away to our house and lock the doors and turn off our phones and veg out for a day or two and try to forget that the world outside exists. Sometimes, we load the car for a mini road trip. Sometimes we just need to run away and leave the pain and heartache here. We’ll come back to it. We know that we can’t run away forever. Sometimes you just need some respite from the hard stuff so that you can think clearly and come up with a game plan