Sunday, August 22, 2010

When the Answer is No

I got an email today that took me back to a tender bruise on my heart. A mother of three was writing about her disappointment and sense of loss over discovering that despite her and her husband's desires to have more biological children, her womb appears to be closed for business.

I have another friend struggling with infertility right now as well. She has yet to bring a child to term.

I can identify with them both.

When I discovered that I would be unable to conceive without medical assistance (and that was not guaranteed) I mourned. I mourned that it wouldn't get to be surprising, random and miraculously joyful. Something so natural was going to become clinical, scheduled and emotionally trying. Pardon my frankness, but I mourned that I would never just skip a cycle, tee tee on a stick and get to creatively break the news to my husband. I wanted the fairy tale.

What I didn't know when I received the news of my ovarian issues was that I would get my own kind of surprise (triplets!) and because of the very struggle I had dreaded it would feel even more miraculously joyful. It has been a very different kind of fairy tale.

In the months leading up to the delivery of my children my OB asked if I desired a tubal while he was already operating (during the C-section.) My husband and I declined. Many, many women overcome infertility after a successful pregnancy. We had no intentions to use reproductive assistance again, but wouldn't it be just like God to surprise us with another miracle baby, spontaneously conceived after our trio? We hoped so.

After my cardiac issues were addressed I was informed that I had a 50% chance of death with a subsequent pregnancy. A tubal was scheduled for as soon as my heart could handle the surgery. It felt like getting another infertility diagnosis. All of my hopes for a second chance at the fairy tale were crushed.

I had several well intentioned people attempt to comfort me with the reminder that I should "praise God for three healthy children." While I certainly agree that there is MUCH to be thankful for--I don't think you can really understand the mourning that happens (regardless of how many children you have) when the decision is just MADE. So much of a woman's identity, role, dare I even say worth seems to be connected to our womb. Knowing that a chapter is closed takes some getting used to.

Tonight as I was thinking about all this I was reminded that fertility is just one example of the many losses people mourn--the chapters that get closed for us--the fairy tales that we don't get to live out. Sometimes God just says No.

May we never forget that His plans are not random. His Sovereign Will is not arbitrary. He has a purpose. In the words of Beth Moore, "Every No from God is because there is ultimately a better Yes."

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

15 comments:

ChelseaSalomone said...

J- I am reading a book right now that I think you might really like. It is called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. In so many ways her writing reminds me of yours. There is a chapter in her book about this very thing and it is SOOO beautifully written. She says there are two kinds of women in this world- women who have cried in the bathroom (month after month) and ones who haven't. Let me know if you pick that book up.

Blair said...

Oh, how I know this pain. We have been blessed with two beautiful girls, but wanted more. After months of trying and 3 rounds of fertility, we are finally pregnant with #3. It was a struggle trying to accept God's plan, and it was hard evening knowing that He knows what is best. We are so thankful to be pregnant with #3, but my heart does morn the fact that this is the end of the road for us with children (our first 2 were preemies, and while this one isn't here yet, bed rest looks like it is in my near future. That is just too big of a burden to put on 3 kids).
You are an amazing writer! Thank you for saying so eloquently how many of us feel!

k and c's mom said...

I am familiar with some crushing, no-turning-back answers of "no" in my life. I've learned to look ahead in hope to the "yes" as you called it. Not always gracefully, I have to admit. But we wait as people who have seen the faithfulness of God in the past. And who expect to see it again in the future. Thanks for a beautiful post.

twiceasnice said...

I feel so much of what you have just wrote. Blessed with the twins, yet losing my husband while pregnant...so wished to meet someone, get pregnant again and really get to watch what it feels like to have your husband with you when you give birth to the child you made together...no such luck. But, our Lord does have other plans for me and I choose to embrace the ways He shows Himself to me and my twins. Thank you for always being there to touch my life. You have become a source of strength to me as you share His word. My twins start 2nd grade tomorrow! So excited!

Melissa said...

Well said! I think accepting and mourning the fact of never having that fairy tale has been the hardest thing I've ever had to get through in my life. Thank you for your words and encouragement. I'm excited to see what "Yeses" God has in store for me!

Lindsey said...

Thanks so much for sharing that. Seeing God close doors on your dreams is never easy, but the wise perspective you have shared is something that I'm sure I will find myself rereading again and again.

Leanne said...

*wiping my eyes so I can see to type this comment!*

I'm one of the gals who've "cried in the bathroom" month after month, despite the fact that I have several healthy children! *I have so badly wanted to give my husband the 12 children that he has always deeply desired.....Notice I said "I".....all the while, forgetting it is NOT I who give those children!

This is a tender bruise on my heart too.....even though I am now pregnant with our 12th pregnancy and our 8th child, after 15 months of trying. Yes, I am living infertility the past 4 years.....

I often wonder how many children we would have had, had our stillborn girl and our 3 miscarriages survived....

I so often forget that I really have nothing to do with where my journey goes. I may make my plans, but it is the Lord Who orders my steps. He has put my feet on this path and am I going to hesitate and kick and scream the whole way, or am I going to choose to embrace the road that He has for me and the "better Yes" that He has??

Thank you so much for your post. I appreciate and love your frankness and your honesty. Bloggers who are transparent and honest and share struggles are my favorites.

God bless you~~

Bailey's Mommy said...

As a woman in my early thirties who isn't sure if I will ever get the first part of the fairytale, a godly husband, I have been touched by a series of sermons at my sister's church called "Fractured Fairytales".

The sermons are available here:
http://vimeo.com/mountainlake

Kate said...

Ahhh yes, how I can relate to this "fairytale" mindset. I was diagnosed with PCOS at 19, and have been married for two years at 23, my husband and I are not looking forward to the expensive infertility treatments. We have been trying for a year and a half without birth control. I have mourned and mourned for so very long, and I am scared that I am going to be told "No" by God. But I shall look forward to what blessings he has in store for us, whatever they may be. Thank you for your words of encouragement and Truth.

Kimmy said...

Jen: I don't think I've ever commented here, although I am a faithful reader of your blog. Your posts always inspire me or cause me to think more deeply regarding issues that I face as a mom--as a human--as a Christian. Thank you so much for your regular posts that are so relevant in today's world. I live in Canada, on an acreage close to a very small town (our K - Gr. 12 school has just over 100 students in total). Not that I want to get into my whole life story here (although you are ONE blogger I wish I could meet face-to-face), but this post resonated with me on many levels. I have not struggled with infertility, but my fairytale dream of being the mother to girls was put to rest within several years of marriage. I have three sons, whom I adore and honestly, I cannot imagine life without them. However, that does not take away my sadness over not having a daughter. This is something I've struggled with for years and I really appreciated your Beth Moore quote, "Every no from God is because there is ultimately a better Yes." My not having a daughter finally makes sense to me. My better "Yes" is my three sons.

Krystal said...

I don't normally comment on blogs much, but I just wanted to thank you for this post. My husband and I are currently in the middle of our struggle with infertility.(IVF #2 transfer tomorrow!!) And as much as I mourn not having that fairytale, I am trying SO hard to remember that we will be blessed in His time. As I look back over the past 3 years of trying for children, I can already see how our struggles have brought my husband and I closer together and closer to Him - and I would not change that for anything!

J & A said...

Was it hard, as a Christian, to reconcile 'playing God' with infertility treatments? Especially since there are so many children in need of homes both in America and worldwide? It's been food for thought for my husband and I, certainly.

JMom said...

J & A- Yes, it definitely was a consideration...but we prayed and sought godly counsel until we had a plan we were comfortable with. I have a post about this somewhere...Will see if I can find it and post link in a subsequent comment.

JMom said...

Found it

http://lotsofscotts.blogspot.com/2009/03/opening-can-of-worms.html

Angie :) said...

Thanks for being so transparent and honest! My husband and I are currently going through fertility testing and are definitely afraid of the big "no" but we know that God is in control and that there will be a better "yes" in His time if the current answer is no. Thank you for touching my heart with your words!