I read this verse the other day:
“Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:21
It made me cry, and it made me smile (and by the way, check me out, quoting the Bible!!). The verse made me think about how I am blessed even in, or maybe especially in, the difficulties my family has experienced in the past year or so.
It is sometimes difficult to think of my miscarriage or my husband’s vocal cord paralysis as blessings, but without those experiences, I may never have found my way to the peace of Christ. These were and are blessings.
I know that this is true because of another, longer-lasting experience that has challenged me, and my faith, every single day for over a year.
Naturally, I went through a period of mourning after my miscarriage. It still makes me sad to think about what might have been, but I feel at peace about it now. And although my husband’s vocal cord paralysis was difficult and scary, after about seven months, his cord recovered and now seems pretty much as good as new.
But those two things are only part of the story. A very important part, yes, but just the beginning. After getting pregnant and losing that pregnancy last January, I have continued to try to get pregnant again. And I have not been able to. I thank God every day for the three precious children I have. But I still ache to have at least one more.
Late last summer after about six months of trying, I began to realize that we might need a little help to be able to conceive again. I went to my doctor, and have since tried Clomid and then Letrozole. I have tried acupuncture. I have tried much larger doses of Letrozole and have given myself shots of some medicine in the stomach. I’ve had ultrasounds, blood tests, and tested my own pee for various hormones more times than any person should really ever have to.
The fertility specialist we finally consulted in February used the term “dwindling egg reserve” or “diminished egg quality” or something like that. She probably said both of those things. I just turned 38 after all. I guess the old eggs aren’t what they used to be.
Diagnosis? Unexplained secondary infertility.
The months of trying and failing at something that once came so easily to me have at times led me to feel despair. The fact that I cannot control this part of my life that I just want to fix has made me feel crazy. But here’s the thing, the part that is beautiful in all this infertility mess:
Being unable to control my fertility, unable to find a solution, unable to have another baby that I want so desperately, has brought me to my knees.
I said my first prayer during a miscarriage. I began to pray regularly when my husband’s vocal cord became paralyzed. But infertility has helped me to really learn about prayer and depending on God and not being in control.
I wrote about it here. How I spent the first several months of praying about this searching for the right way to do it so that God would grant my request. I found out that Saint Gerard is most commonly viewed as the patron saint of infertility and that some people think Saint Rita and Saint Philomena are as well. I really felt drawn to Saint Rita, since she is also the patron saint of hopeless cases. So I asked daily for the intercession of Saints Gerard and Rita and Philomena. I prayed a Saint Gerard novena and one to Saint Rita. I learned about the Chaplet of Hannah’s Tears, a chaplet specifically for infertility. I did all these things trying to find the magic combination that would result in my prayers being answered.
I thought I had found God. I was desperate and begged Him every day for another baby.
I couldn’t figure out why He wasn’t answering me. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I was kind of a mess.
And then the answer came. I understood. It wasn’t that God wasn’t listening or wasn’t responding. He was giving me an opportunity to learn about trust and faith and letting go of control. He was showing His love for me by teaching me humility and patience.
And with this realization, something beautiful came from the longing and fear and repeated disappointments. I found grace through suffering. I found the ability to pray for another baby while at the same time saying, “It’s okay if it’s not Your plan for me.” I began to pray for God to change my desires if they don’t match with what He wants for me. I ask Him now, every day, to help me to hear Him so I can know if He intends for my family to be complete as it is. To help me to do what He wants, even if it’s not what I want.
And this letting go, this handing it over to God, has given me freedom beyond what I ever could have had without it. For the record, I haven’t lost any of my longing for a baby. I haven’t felt like God is telling me that I should give it up. So we keep trying.
Each time I get a negative result on a pregnancy test I still feel a brief sense of despair. The disappointment is still like a punch in the gut. But instead of wallowing in that place for any length of time, I pray. I shut off the noise in my own head, that voice that wails, “This is awful! I’ll never get pregnant! I’m so unhappy/frustrated/mad/demoralized!” and I just pray. “Okay. Not this time. Now what?”
I still have so much to learn. But one thing I know: There is beauty in difficult. There can be peace in painful. If I’m open to God I can feel it. Because it’s Him.