Your Worth is not Defined By Your Ability to get Pregnant

Your worth is not defined by your ability to get pregnant.

Read that again.

One of the many troubles this virus has caused is in the area of “non-essential” medical appointments. Infertility treatments and appointments fall into that category.

But for so many couples, these appointments feel essential. Crucial to their plans. Important to their dreams. Vital in their next step in building their family.

Imagine grieving and struggling with the loss that infertility brings, taking the courageous step to make a doctor appointment, and then getting the call that it has all been postponed. In an instant, fear and sadness creep in. All of that pent-up hope spills out.

But, friend, your worth is not defined by your ability to get pregnant.

I had to learn this over the years; to discover my worth is not caught up in that one aspect of womanhood. It wasn’t easy, of course. Usually, these things aren’t.

On this Easter weekend, please remember this.

You are more valuable than any riches on Earth.

God hasn’t forsaken you.

When Jesus headed up that hill to the Cross, he had you on his mind.

Your worth is not defined by your ability to get pregnant.

Remember this.

Momma-in-Waiting {at Christmas time}

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is all around us, isn’t it?  You overhear your co-workers talk about the sweet surprises for their kiddos.  You are forced to look at picture after picture of your friend’s little one’s first Santa visit.  It’s not that you don’t think the images are cute or that you don’t want to see them.  It’s just that it hurts…really hurts.

Christmas morning in most houses is filled with chaos, giggling children, and mounds of bows and wrapping paper.  Weary parents get up at the crack of dawn to watch their children excitedly rip open that special gift from Santa.  Christmas morning at your home is a little different, though.  You get up whenever you desire and exchange presents with your spouse or anyone else staying the night.  It’s quiet and calm and in that stillness, your heart plunges to a depth a lot of people just don’t understand.  Your mind races with the same questions you’ve cried out for way too long…

Why is this happening?  When will it end?  What is wrong with me?  What if I never become a mother?  What if every Christmas is this quiet?

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  My own house is now filled with chaos at Christmas.  I hear my giggling children and clean up mounds of bows and paper.  I watch as the kids rush to the tree to see what Santa brought.  I wish I could tell you that it’s not that big of a deal and you’re not missing much, but that would be a lie.  You know it and so do I.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it?  We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas; yet, you are wailing, wanting, and desperate to celebrate your own miracle; your own gift to the world.  You are waiting to celebrate the birth of your baby.  I don’t really know what to say except I was once where you are and I know that it is miserable.  I knew I could never birth a child but I did not know if I would ever be a parent.  It is so incredibly hard.  It’s one of the worst pains any human can experience on Earth.  I believe that.  I really do.

From Hannah and on, barrenness is noteworthy.  If it wasn’t, then I suspect it would not even be mentioned in Scripture.  People tell you, “God has a plan for you.”  They say, “If it’s God’s will, then it will happen.”  Do you want to know something?  I loathed those words.  I could not stand them.  I despised every single time they were said to me (and they were said more times than I can count).

Only now, after adoption and actually being a Momma-no-longer-in-Waiting, can I say that I “get it”.  I understand that the Lord did have a plan and adoption was His will for my life.  Yet, this knowledge does not erase the pain that I felt nor does it wipe my memory clean of my existence when I was a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is hard but so is just about every day when your steps are padded in confusion.  If there is one gift I can give to you this Christmas, it is this – your feelings are valid, your frustration is justifiable and your grief is not lost on those of us who have been there or who are there right now.

At this Christmas and every single day after, I want you to know that even though it feels like it, God has not forsaken you.  He never will.  Even though you do not feel His presence, He is there.  He is near you when test after test shows a negative, or when your doctor tells you news that you just don’t want to hear.  God is with you when you are lonely, tired and weeping the most sorrowful, thick tears ever imaginable.

Perhaps, Momma-in-Waiting, this is the best gift I can give you; the hope of the Lord.  

Be strong.  Be fierce.  Be courageous.  Don’t let anyone stifle your feelings or your voice.  Keep talking about infertility.  Keep asking questions and all of those other laborious things you need to do when you are meeting with doctors.  Don’t let others tell you how to navigate this journey for it is your own.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who changed the world.  Today, Momma-in-Waiting, I’m thinking of you and I believe that the very baby born so long ago is thinking of you as well.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Author’s Note:  I originally wrote this post in 2017.  Typically, I do not repeat posts that I have already published.  However, this is one that I hope will reach those who need some extra encouragement this time of year.  Blessings, Caroline

Momma-in-Waiting {at Christmas time}

pexels-photo-76931Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is all around us, isn’t it?  You overhear your co-workers talk about the sweet surprises for their kiddos.  You are forced to look at picture after picture of your friend’s little one’s first Santa visit.  It’s not that you don’t think the images are cute or that you don’t want to see them.  It’s just that it hurts…really hurts.

Christmas morning in most houses is filled with chaos, giggling children, and mounds of bows and wrapping paper.  Weary parents get up at the crack of dawn to watch their children excitedly rip open that special gift from Santa.  Christmas morning at your home is a little different, though.  You get up whenever you desire and exchange presents with your spouse or anyone else staying the night.  It’s quiet and calm and in that stillness, your heart plunges to a depth a lot of people just don’t understand.  Your mind races with the same questions you’ve cried out for way too long…

Why is this happening?  When will it end?  What is wrong with me?  What if I never become a mother?  What if every Christmas is this quiet?

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  My own house is now filled with chaos at Christmas.  I hear my giggling children and clean up mounds of bows and paper.  I watch as the kids rush to the tree to see what Santa brought.  I wish I could tell you that it’s not that big of a deal and you’re not missing much, but that would be a lie.  You know it and so do I.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it?  We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas; yet, you are wailing, wanting, and desperate to celebrate your own miracle; your own gift to the world.  You are waiting to celebrate the birth of your baby.  I don’t really know what to say except I was once where you are and I know that it is miserable.  I knew I could never birth a child but I did not know if I would ever be a parent.  It is so incredibly hard.  It’s one of the worst pains any human can experience on Earth.  I believe that.  I really do.

From Hannah and on, barrenness is noteworthy.  If it wasn’t, then I suspect it would not even be mentioned in Scripture.  People tell you, “God has a plan for you.”  They say, “If it’s God’s will, then it will happen.”  Do you want to know something?  I loathed those words.  I could not stand them.  I despised every single time they were said to me (and they were said more times than I can count).

Only now, after adoption and actually being a Momma-no-longer-in-Waiting, can I say that I “get it”.  I understand that the Lord did have a plan and adoption was His will for my life.  Yet, this knowledge does not erase the pain that I felt nor does it wipe my memory clean of my existence when I was a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is hard but so is just about every day when your steps are padded in confusion.  If there is one gift I can give to you this Christmas, it is this – your feelings are valid, your frustration is justifiable and your grief is not lost on those of us who have been there or who are there right now.

At this Christmas and every single day after, I want you to know that even though it feels like it, God has not forsaken you.  He never will.  Even though you do not feel His presence, He is there.  He is near you when test after test shows a negative, or when your doctor tells you news that you just don’t want to hear.  God is with you when you are lonely, tired and weeping the most sorrowful, thick tears ever imaginable.

Perhaps, Momma-in-Waiting, this is the best gift I can give you; the hope of the Lord.  

Be strong.  Be fierce.  Be courageous.  Don’t let anyone stifle your feelings or your voice.  Keep talking about infertility.  Keep asking questions and all of those other laborious things you need to do when you are meeting with doctors.  Don’t let others tell you how to navigate this journey for it is your own.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who changed the world.  Today, Momma-in-Waiting, I’m thinking of you and I believe that the very baby born so long ago is thinking of you as well.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

To the Momma-in-Waiting on Mother’s Day

To the Momma-in-Waiting on Mother’s Day,

This is a tough time, isn’t it?  Your Facebook feed is filled with pictures of smiling moms with their little ones adorning them with cards, pictures, and gifts. You “like” the pictures but in your heart, you have grown to despise them a little bit.  Not the people, of course, but the pictures.

Here’s a little glimpse of what your Mother’s Day (which always falls on a Sunday) may look like:

You grab some coffee and choke down your breakfast but you are not hungry. There’s a lump in your throat and you know why.  After trying on what seems like a bazillion different outfits, you settle on one but it still isn’t good enough.  It’s not that you look bad.  You’re just uncomfortable and the clothes have nothing to do with it.

Your husband walks in, compliments you and you sort of shrug it off.  He knows something is wrong and suggests that maybe skipping church would be okay for today.  You say, “No, it’s fine”.  In your heart, you know it’s not fine, yet you don’t want to be THAT person who skips church just because it’s Mother’s Day.

Off you go, heading towards what you know will be a less than desirable time. On the way there, you beat yourself up over the self-pity that has taken over.  At the front door, greeters welcome you with, “Happy Mother’s Day!” You nod…thinking, “Don’t they know I’m not a mother.”

The sermon, yeah, this is where it gets sticky.  Pastor goes on and on about children and motherhood.  He delivers an enthusiastic message about how God created women to be unique and that childbirth is a miracle.  You listen, sort of.

You fake a good smile when the congregation gives an ovation to the Moms in the room.  You even muster up the strength to slap your hands together but not too enthusiastically and certainly without passion.  You feel ridiculous for being bitter, especially in a church of all places.  All the time, you sink further and further into your skin.

Sweet friend, you are a Momma-in-Waiting and this day is really hard, isn’t it?

It just doesn’t make sense anymore, does it?  You are strong.  You are faithful. You’ve done everything right to prepare for having a family to call your own, but now, you’re just adrift in a lifeless sea.  People tell you, “Just trust God.”  The problem with this is you have always trusted God.  This is not a matter of trusting Him any more or any less.  It’s a matter of heartbreak, loss, and confusion.

It’s not that Mother’s Day is the only one out of the year that reminds you of a life without children.  You are reminded daily through social media, walking by the maternity sections of stores, negative pregnancy tests, grim news from the doctors, financial bills from IVF treatments, getting invitations in the mail to baby showers, and hearing that another person (among many) is expecting.  This is what is hard about infertility and what is most misunderstood about it.

You have become a captive to the bones that carry you around.  Your body is a stranger to you; betrayal of the greatest kind.  Your heart beats and blood flows but it feels like an empty vessel; a shell of what it once was.  Your thoughts won’t let you escape the narrow road that you are walking, even though you try. All this nonsense has awakened a level of sorrow that you never knew existed. Truth be told, you wouldn’t wish this upon anyone.  You never wished it upon yourself.

There’s a special place in your imagination that you frequently visit.  It has visions of pregnancy, childbirth, picking names and holding on to the living witness of love that has come into your life.  It is filled with birthdays, family pictures, giggles, and grins.  You visit if often and even though it brings you pain, it also brings you hope.  Hang on to it.

Survive for the sake of that special place.

No one else should or could tell you how to get through Mother’s Day.  Just do what you need to do.  I’m not even going to tell you what will make this day easier because I know the only thing that would make it better is for a child to look at you, wrap his little arms around you, and call you, “Mommy”.  This is a truth that churns up both devastation and fortitude.  This is something that you know all too well.

To the Momma-in-Waiting on Mother’s Day,

Above anything else I’ve said,

Momma-in-Waiting, on this Mother’s Day, I’m thinking of you. 

It Makes You Human

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I’m super excited to start the process of putting together a support group for people with fertility issues at my church that will begin this summer! This is something that has been on my heart for years. I’ve always felt a calling to do this but have fallen into the thought pattern of “I’m just too busy”. I do not know what the Lord is planning for this but I certainly hope that it will be used to touch the hearts of those struggling as well as educate others about infertility.

I’ve been thinking about the perceptions and stigmas of infertility a lot. One thing that was said to me far too many times is this, “Trust God’s will” and “God has a plan for this!” I knew I would never have biological children, of course, but this did not cause me to wonder what God was doing and why I had to deal with barrenness. I also knew that He must have had a plan for me to go through what I was going through, but I just wondered, at times, what He was doing. These questions were not wrong to have. If anything, they caused me to explore my faith a bit deeper. They certainly made me very human.

If you are struggling with infertility and people keep telling you “Trust God’s will” or “If it is God’s will, then it will happen”, please understand that most people do not know how to respond to someone who is dealing with fertility struggles. Not knowing how to respond also makes them very human.

The more we share our experiences, the better off everyone is. Find a trusting friend, immerse yourself with others through a support group, keep a journal, start a blog, or just start talking with others about what you are dealing with.

Whatever you choose to do, please remember that questioning God’s will in this time of your life does not make you less faithful, it just makes you human. 

 

When Infertility Makes You Feel Inadequate as a Woman {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding infertility and the feelings of inadequacy.  This topic is so near and dear to my heart.  I know too many (including myself) who have struggled, or are struggling with insecurities about themselves based on the confusing and conflicting feelings that infertility and barrenness can bring to one’s life.

Dear friend, if you are struggling with the feelings of inadequacy, please know that you are not alone, and you are far from inadequate.

Click on the link to read the article:  https://adoption.com/when-infertility-makes-you-feel-inadequate-as-a-woman

 

 

Why You Should Never Say “You Can Always Adopt”

Many people have lots to say about infertility.  Some sentiments are of comfort while others are shallow and insincere.  Soon after my hysterectomy in 1983 (at the age of eleven), I lost count early on regarding the number of times someone said to me, “You can always adopt.”  “She can always adopt” were also words that my parents heard regarding my illness and subsequent hysterectomy.  This statement was definitely a running theme in my life.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do believe that people tried to encourage us.  However, in the early to mid-1980’s and subsequent years, the topics of barrenness, infertility, and adoption were often whispered, and not spoken out loud.  Adoption was also in the far off distance of my life.  Sure, I thought about it.  I knew that if parenthood would come, it would do so through adoption.  However, telling me that I could always adopt did very little to help in my understanding of the strong and complex emotions I was feeling.

The reasons why these words fall flat on the ears of people dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss are just as varied as the emotions people feel when facing the issues.  For some people, adoption is not even on their radar.  Others may fear being rejected or not matched for an adoption.  The time it takes, the waiting, the approval, expenses, the desire to adopt, and heartache are all factors that one must take into consideration.

For me, the reason why I never appreciated the words “You can always adopt” is simple:

These words negated the grief and loss I felt about losing the ability to have a biological child.

I suspect others may feel the same way.

Although adoption seems like an instant resolution to barrenness and infertility, it is not.  It is a separate experience in life, and should be considered so.  Telling someone they can always adopt (in reference to infertility) ignores the importance of grieving over the loss of having a biological child, and minimizes adoption as a second choice.

With any great loss in life, there is a process to recovery.  Infertility, barrenness, and pregnancy loss are no different, and yet, so many suffer in silence.  When we are comforting someone who is grieving over the loss of a significant person in their lives, we do not offer that they find someone else who is of equal importance.  The same should be considered when supporting a friend or loved one who is infertile, or has miscarried.

Instead, know that you will never understand their experience and emotions unless you have gone through a similar experience.  Realize that while you are offering quick answers, they are still in the process of asking a multitude of questions.  Some may be in shock or confusion about their situation.  Life is different from what they once thought it would be.  It is important to recognize this.  Understand that infertility is a big deal, and should never be minimized.  It is a life-changer.

“You can alway adopt” are well-meaning words, but they are ones that are better left unsaid. 

Journey of Infertility (my post for National Infertility Awareness Week)

Photography Credit: http://freedomphotography.smugmug.com/
Photography Credit: http://freedomphotography.smugmug.com/
Quote: Author Unknown

Apparently, this is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Who knew?  Right?  I certainly didn’t until I stumbled upon a few blogs about it.  I kinda find it funny that there is just one week to be aware of infertility.  Those of us who have experienced it, are experiencing it, or, like in my case, lived a life of it, are always keenly aware of the presence of not being able to have a biological child.

I so wish that there would have been attention given to infertility when I was a girl.  Instead, it was a hushed topic.  Some of the reasons why I never had deep discussions about it with anyone while growing up was because of my age.  I mean, what in the world do you say to an eleven-year-old who had a hysterectomy?

Most of the time people would say things like “God must have a plan for you.”  My thoughts after hearing these words often went something like this, “Why yes, I’m sure He does and it obviously doesn’t include biological children.”  Or, I was given the advice of “You can always adopt!”  Again, the thoughts behind my smile went like this, “Oh wow, thanks.  I had not thought of that before.”

Now, I know that sounds a little sarcastic.  Looking back now on my life experience and the pain of growing up infertile, I know that I kept these thoughts to myself.  I could not control what happened, but by golly, I could control how I responded to it.  I know God had a plan for my life, I just didn’t know what it was or if it included children.  Throughout the majority of my life after the surgery, I did not want other people’s advice.  This was my battle to win, my life experience to navigate, and my journey to seek the answers.

One thing that I find ironic about infertility is that it creates a sense of isolation and loneliness, but it also creates an unspoken bond with others going through it.  There have been moments where I felt I could almost read someone’s thoughts by their expressions when speaking about infertility.  I just find that to be interestingly ironic.

Just a few weeks ago, I was speaking to another adoptive parent.  She and her husband spent many years trying to get pregnant.  Although she expressed  great joy and love over her little boy, she also agreed that infertility really is a life-long process to deal with.  Missing out on having a biological child does not go away.  However, the incredible and genuinely loving experience of adoption does not go away either.

I feel like an old veteran of a battle waged many years ago whose wounds have healed and are now a source of strength to carry on.  I feel the need to encourage others, motivate others, and testify about how the Lord does work it all out.  For those of you who are just now experiencing a life different than you expected, hear me when I say this:

  • There will be times when you feel like crawling into a hole where no one can find you.
  • There will be those moments when the words of other’s will sit on you like a heavy weight.
  • God is NOT punishing you.
  • You ARE still able to be a parent; it may just take you a little longer to become one.
  • It is okay to avoid the baby departments at stores (stop beating yourself up over it.)
  • It is normal to be a little envious of your friends who are having babies…ALL at the same time (again, stop beating yourself up over it.  This is a process of healing and does not reflect on how much you love your friends.)
  • Baby showers are the worst when you can’t have one, and going into an ob/gyn’s office is miserable when you are the only non-prego chic in the room.
  • There are others who feel the same way you do.  Find them.  Seek support from them.
  • Most people really don’t know how you are feeling.  This is just a fact that you need to accept.
  • Whether you become a parent through birth or adoption, all of these hard times you are going through will seem like a blip on the radar screen compared to the lifetime of love you will be able to give and receive through parenting.  

Infertility is more than about pregnancy.  It is a sojourn into the pits and valleys of despair.  It is a path where each step taken leads to healing.  Like the quote on our family photo above, we were not separated from our children when they were born.  We had all embarked on a journey that led to each other.  Our journey together really did not end at our adoption.  We began a new one with new stories to be written, lessons to be learned, hopes to be fulfilled, and new revelations of the Lord’s presence throughout it all.