A few weeks ago, I shared the lengthy story of my journey with infertility. In that post I shared how I largely remained upbeat and positive through all the roadblocks we encountered. However, there was another side to the mental aspect of our experiences that I would like to shine a light on today. Everything I felt was just that – my personal feelings. I don’t claim to represent any other women of faith or any other infertile women, for that matter.
I was raised in an average conservative Christian household. We went to church most Sundays, I was always involved in youth group at church through high school and I knew from a young age that I believed in God and what it meant to accept Jesus as my savior and know I was going to heaven. I never really dove any deeper into my faith and as is pretty common, I relaxed it (quite) a bit in college. When my husband, who has a very similar upbringing to mine, and I got married at the church my Great-Grandfather and Grandparents were long time members of – we decided to become members there, re-strengthen our faith, and started attending on a regular basis in part to visit with my Grandpa. My Grandfather passed away right after I had my first child and my husband and I kept up regular church attendance to build a faith base in her.
After my two ectopic pregnancies, I was never the type to blame myself or God and I never thought it would be the end of our efforts to expand our family (we did have one successful pregnancy in between). So, while I prayed for healing and restored health I really thought they were just little bumps in the road.
Just a few months after my second ectopic pregnancy was surgically removed, I distinctly remember standing in the lobby of the medical building where I had just been told (and seen for myself) that both of my fallopian tubes were damaged beyond repair. My husband could only hug me while I could no longer hold back the tears that were silently streaming down my face. I remember one of my very first thoughts: “God doesn’t want me to have another baby.”
I tried to push that idea aside. At this point we knew that In vitro Fertilization (IVF) would be literally the only way I could get pregnant again. There was no other way for my eggs to reach my uterus. We went through the beginning stages of finding and meeting with a doctor who specialized in IVF but I still had thoughts nagging me. ‘Why would God make it so I can’t get pregnant if I am supposed to have another baby? Maybe I’m not supposed to have another child.’ ‘Who am I to use these modern medical techniques to go around what God has done to my body?’ ‘Is this even ethical to “create” life outside of the womb?’
I kept those thoughts to myself for a long time and it wasn’t until I finally opened up to my husband that I started to see things differently. My husband was quick to point out that people use modern medical procedures every day to save their lives for ailments that in biblical times would be certain death – heart attacks, strokes, cancer the list goes on. I myself would have bled out internally had I not been rushed into emergency surgery on two different occasions with ectopic pregnancies. Well, I realized that is true and it did make me feel better.
I still was uncomfortable with IVF being the moral thing to do. I could quickly think of two strong Christian women I knew who had been through IVF which also made me feel better – if they didn’t have a problem with it, maybe I shouldn’t. Nevertheless, I wondered what the church’s ‘position’ was, and if they even had one. I set a meeting with the senior minister at our church and she had a lot of reassuring comments for us. The one thing that stuck with me that she said, in response to me asking something like ‘Is this like forcing a pregnancy where there wasn’t one in God’s plan?’ was “If it truly is not in God’s plan for you to have another baby, then this procedure won’t work either. You still have to carry this baby for 9 months, this is only helping you get started.”
I felt a lot better after that and moved forward confidently. Unfortunately our first round of IVF didn’t work and a lot of these thoughts came rushing back. ‘OK, now the medical intervention didn’t help either so surely this is a sign I’m not meant to grow another child inside of me’. I forced myself to entertain the thought of adoption but it wasn’t what was in my heart at that time. I just knew I would be pregnant again. Gratefully, I trusted my instincts and we tried again. Happily now we have the second child we struggled and prayed so long for.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have eventually warmed to the idea of adoption. I think adoption is a beautiful thing and such a blessing to families who feel that is the path they are called to take. In fact, based on a growing number of women I know – I can’t even say for sure that adoption is something God won’t place on my heart at a later time. I have heard a lot of stories just recently from mothers who have adopted later in life, many after having already given birth to their older children.
For now we are happy as a family of four and I am so thankful that in this case, I listened to my instincts and didn’t let my head get in the way. Looking back I am 100% confident that this is God’s plan for our family. This is how we were meant to conceive and I know without a doubt our son was meant to be the wonderful addition to our lives that he is. I simply could not imagine it any other way and it helped me to trust God’s timing and accept that there really is a reason why everything happens when it does even if I don’t understand it. I’ve learned that it is important to remember not to take it too hard when things are not going the way I have them planned because it really isn’t up to me after all.