Long before Dan and I ever met and eventually got married, I wanted to be a Mom. It’s probably the biggest dream I have ever had. When Dan I got married, he knew I wanted to be a Mom and he knew I wanted to stay home with our babies. I will never forget the first pregnancy test I took. We hadn’t even been married a year and we were talking about moving to South Dakota soon. In the hustle and bustle of making big plans, I had forgotten to take a few birth control pills and was officially late.
I remember sitting in the dark parking lot of the only Walmart in town totally embarrassed that I was buying a pregnancy test. Now the entire world would know that Dan and I were having sex (as if being married didn’t give that away to most people). It felt like all eyes were on me as I walked in and bought the test. I didn’t even make eye contact with the store clerk. I just prayed that no one I knew would see me. That night, I held my breath and saw my first negative pregnancy test. I remember feeling a strange mix of relief and sadness. As much as I wanted to be a Mom, I knew we weren’t ready.
In 2009, just two years after we married, we felt it was best to come off birth control. We weren’t sure it was really the “right” time but my body demanded that we stop taking the medications. I knew we weren’t ready, but who really is ready after all? I had always wanted to be a Mom, and I knew we’d figure it out.
Coming off birth control led me to a diagnosis of a hormonal disorder. That diagnosis eventually led us to pursue fertility treatment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Three months after our first visit with the RE, we got our first positive pregnancy test.
Sadly, just one week after that test, I was being wheeled into emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy. My world was absolutely shattered. After losing our first baby, I spiraled into the depths of depression. The loss was tragic, and my body needed time to recover from the trauma. I needed counseling and medication to help pull me out of the dark pit of despair I was living in.
After we celebrated what should have been the due date of our first baby, we went back to the RE and did one more cycle of medications. It was an awful month that ended with us not being pregnant. It was so hard on my body that we had no choice but to take a break.
During that break, we felt God lead us to “be still”. To us, those words meant no more treatments or tracking. We felt we were supposed to lean into God and trust Him with our future. A year after making that decision, we moved from South Dakota to Missouri.
After moving, my hormones demanded attention. So we found a doctor who specializes in hormones and sought help. We made it clear we wanted to focus on balancing my hormones and didn’t want to discuss fertility treatment. We felt very confident that we were going to treat my hormonal disorder, but not seek fertility treatment. After several months of balancing my hormones, I saw my second positive pregnancy test. However, after a very rough pregnancy, we lost the baby at 10.5 weeks.
After losing our second baby, we struggled to get on the same page with the doctor who specializes in hormones and chose to leave the clinic. Again, we did some soul searching and praying, and again decided we were to continue to “be still”.
In late 2019 we felt unrest in our hearts. We discussed our parenting options again and again. We prayed big prayers and asked for wisdom. Finally, in March 2020, I went to a clinic for a fertility workup. Stepping into that clinic felt so big and scary. We weren’t committed to starting a cycle, in fact, we really just wanted to see what our options were. The entire time I waited in the waiting room, I asked God if I was missing Him. He had said “be still” right?
The appointment was awesome and the doctors were incredibly understanding and kind. When I got home, Dan and I talked about all the options and I told him my concerns about missing God. He looked at me and asked me what I had the most peace with. I simply said “treatment” and he said “Then let’s pursue treatment. I think God speaks through peace.”
Days after my workup, a virus (you may have heard of) blew up the world and fertility clinics across the nation cancelled cycles. Since fertility treatment wasn’t considered essential, we were left to wait and trust. It’s a strange thing to feel like you have peace to move forward, but then the entire world literally shuts down. I remember asking a friend “Do you think this virus is a sign we were never meant to do fertility treatments?” She echoed something almost identical to what Dan had said before. She reminded me that God often doesn’t show us flashing lights in the sky for what direction we should go, but He speaks through that still small voice that causes deep peace.
Finally, in March 2021, nearly a year after our first consultation, we had a second. We were ready to start treatment – or so we thought. We had delays after delay all summer. Strange headaches that demanded treatment and cysts on my ovaries cancelled so many cycles. Even in the midst of all the cancellations, both Dan and I felt complete peace with moving forward.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity of waiting, we did our first cycle. My body responded perfectly to the medications and we were so full of hope. However, at the end of the month, there was no positive pregnancy test. We tried again and again and again for months.
After more cycles, so many shots and hormones, negative tests and lots of tears, we were getting ready to start another cycle. The night before I was to call the doctor and set everything up, I had a panic attack. One of the biggest and hardest panic attacks I have ever had. My body told me it had had enough. I will never forget telling Dan that I thought my panic attack was from thinking about continuing treatment. His voice held so much relief when he said “Maybe it’s time to stop.”
Thirteen years after stopping all forms of birth control, we decided it was best for our family to stop waiting for a baby. We are choosing to continue our lives without children. We absolutely believe that God is a God of miracles, and that babies can still come. We would absolutely love that surprise, however we also are choosing to no longer leave our lives on hold. We aren’t going to wait anymore. We believe that God speaks through peace. While choosing to live without children is heartbreaking, we both feel so much peace.
It’s been fourteen years since my first pregnancy test, and the amount of negative pregnancy tests I have seen over the years can’t be numbered. I have cried big tears over negatives. I have thrown pregnancy tests across the bathroom in anger. I have yelled at God after looking at a test. I have crawled back into bed and swore I would never get back up. We have lost two babies. We have walked through deep valleys. Valleys full of depression and sadness. This journey has been so hard. Honestly, “hard” isn’t a big enough descriptive word.
It would be easy for me to spin this and tell you how much my faith has grown, and how much closer to the Father we both are. I could tell you how I have seen so much beauty come from this season, and that Dan and I are stronger. While much of that may be true, it feels like small band aids being stuck to a limb that has been amputated and is still bleeding. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t questioning Gods goodness.
Honestly, I have felt so much anger. Why did we have to walk through this journey? Why did we have to face so much pain? Why have I always had a desire to mother, but be unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy? Doesn’t the bible say we only have to have faith the size of a mustard seed? Haven’t I prayed big bold prayers and lived from a place of faith? Haven’t others stood in the gap and prayed big bold prayers over our lives? Does God even hear me? I don’t know if any of those questions will ever be answered this side of heaven and that almost makes it hurt worse. Accepting the unknown has felt impossible.
While I refuse to put band aids on an amputated limb. I do think that somewhere deep I believe that God is good. I have seen enough to know that He is good. I think I believe that He is a healer and a redeemer. I have seen it with my own eyes. I think I know His love is never ending and I think I know that He is forever faithful.
While none of that knowledge has changed, it has for sure been tested. This doesn’t feel good. This feels like God has let us down. This feels like torture. However, because I have seen His goodness, I won’t let go. Well, honestly, it’s probably more fair to say I don’t think He will let go of me. I think I know deep in my being that He is holding us through all of this. I know He isn’t afraid of my anger or my questions. Maybe someday he will be my strength, my hope, my confidence, and my He will be my joy… even in the midst of all of this confusion and pain.
Grief and I know each other. We have walked together through loss before. However, the death of this dream is so much different than anything I have walked through before. It colors everything so much differently than before. In the past, grieving has felt like a worthwhile process because there was hope on the other end. When family or friends passed away we said “This hurts, but we will see them again.” When our babies passed away we not only said that, but we also said “We can try again.” Right now, there is no end to this grief. There isn’t something that makes this grief better.
Please know, I am not trying to make it sound like the death of a dream is any worse than the deaths we have previously walked through, but what I am saying is that it’s very different. That difference has made me feel out of sorts. I don’t have an “outline” for what this kind of grief looks like or how it is “supposed” to turn out. There aren’t any classes about what to do when you feel like God let you down, didn’t hear your prayers, or didn’t come through. If you know me at all, you know that not having an outline or steps to follow makes this even more miserable.
I don’t know what our future holds, but I know that I am married to the best man who has ever lived (don’t try to argue with me on that one, you will not win)! I have the most supportive family and the best friends (that i have now claimed as my sisters) a girl could ask for. I have the most beautiful nieces and the coolest nephews. I have always said that being “Aunt Lissa” is one of my favorite titles, and now I feel that even deeper.
I know deep down in my heart that Dan and I are going to be okay. In fact, I believe that we are going to be more than okay. We are going to have a beautiful life, and we are going to live it to the absolute fullest. But right now, we grieve. I am trying so hard not to skip this step. We can’t just magically skip to the “good” part, and that sucks. It really really sucks.