Painting Unanswered Prayers

I remember the day we walked through our first house. We had looked at over four million houses online and walked through what felt like one hundred. We had fallen in love a few times, but nothing felt as perfect as that one. When we walked out of THE house for the first time, Dan grabbed me and told me he was going to buy it for me… and then he did.

Long before we moved in, we started dreaming. The basement of the house wasn’t finished, and I was still taking birth control, but we had big plans. I know it sounds crazy, but we wanted that home to be our forever home. Our kids would be born and grow up there. We would watch them take their first steps, teach them to ride their bikes, take pictures of them before their first days of school and hear them struggle to learn how to play instruments in our basement. One day, our children would bring our grandbabies to that home and we would experience all the firsts over again. We would be the first to live in the home and we were so excited to make every inch ours.

The room right across from the master would be a guest room for now, but one day it would be the perfect nursery. Our babies would sleep safely just a hallway away until they were old enough to move down into the basement. I remember walking through the paint aisle struggling to pick the perfect color that would compliment a guest room, but would one day be a cozy nursery. The room was painted before we ever knew what struggles lie ahead.

Then a diagnosis came that made it feel like motherhood was out of reach, however hope made me keep going. Even when we walked through our first loss, which was earth shattering and breath taking, we clung to the hope that one day that room would still be a nursery.

Then, in 2015, we moved. I remember the pain I felt when I realized all the prayers I prayed for that room to become a nursey had gone “unanswered”. After I few days, I remember telling Dan that maybe the next family was going to raise their babies in the room? Maybe I had been praying for their babies all along? While it didn’t take away all the heartache, it did calm some of my pain.

After we moved, we lived in a rental for a year, before buying our second and current home. We knew when we bought this home that it probably wasn’t our forever home, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of our nursery. Again, I picked out a color that would work for a guest room but be cozy for a nursery. Again, I painted with hope.

This time, we had been on the journey long enough that we had people behind us praying with us. Even though the room was a guestroom, we hung a map of all the people praying for Baby Forster. I often sat on that guestroom bed praying for our future baby and dreaming of what it would be like to raise our baby in that room.

When we lost our second baby, we grieved with hope. While we were deeply heartbroken, we expected to get pregnant again. We missed the baby we would never meet this side of heaven, but we would try again. We would still be parents.

In 2020, we seriously considered selling our home. While we never put our house on the market, we prepared our house as if we were going to move. As part of the preparation, I painted the “nursery” a more neutral color. As I painted, I cried. I remember telling God that I was tired of waiting. I remember telling Him that it just wasn’t fair that I had painted TWO nursery’s now… and both had remained empty. As I angrily painted the room, I tried to hold on to the hope that I had previously. Maybe another family was going to raise their babies in this room?

Dan and I didn’t sell our house. In fact, in early 2021, we started fertility treatment. So, around that same time, we decided to really go all out. Instead of just painting, we designed the nursery. We moved the guest room into the office and truly devoted the room that would be the nursery to just that – the nursery. Okay okay, so it was mostly a storage room, but we designed a focal wall and painted it colors that were meant for a nursery. We were the most prepared we had ever been for a baby to join us.

I prayed big prayers in that room. I planned nursery furniture and imagined holding our sweet babies in that room. Month after month, failed treatment after failed treatment, we clung to hope. Finally, after many months of failed treatments, in the summer of 2022, my body begged us to stop. We made the decision to move forward without children. We boxed up all the baby items that had bought in faith, we took down the map of all the sweet people who have been praying for us, and we moved it to storage.

While moving all the tangible items to storage did help, the empty room felt like a constant gaping reminder of unanswered prayers. Each day I would walk by the room and the questions that would whirl in my mind would get bigger. For years I have been taught that God gives us the desires of our hearts, so where does that leave me? For even more years, I have been told that faith the size of a mustered seed can move mountains… and yet here we are. Is my faith too small? Is my mountain too big? Everywhere I look I see unanswered prayers. Not just our lack of a baby, but dying people, broken hearts and hurting people. I understand that we live in a broken and fallen world, but it is hard to understand how the loving God I have grown to trust allows so much.

This grief feels so hopeless. While diagnosis’ and loss has felt impossible to face in the past there has always been hope of healing, hope of trying again, hope of heaven… but right now, all I see is pain without any hope. This doesn’t just feel impossible, it feels cruel.

For months, the empty nursery has haunted me. It’s reminded me of all the things we won’t have. All the empty promises. All the unanswered prayers. All the questions that feel like they have fallen on deaf ears. However, slowly, Dan and and I are picking up the pieces.

The room is becoming our hobby room. We have created a place for Lil Bit of Glimmer to grow. A place for us to workout. A place for us to play video games and a place for us to read. We are growing a place for both of us to unwind and relax. Its not at all what we planned, but that seems to be the theme of our lives.

We are still very heartbroken. If I am honest, I am coming to terms with the fact that we will probably be in some stage of grief for the rest of our lives. I am uncomfortable. For years, I have told people “it’s okay not to be okay”, but somehow being the person that is not okay, is not something that I am okay walking out. I am more anxious now than I have ever been. I am afraid of losing the things I hold dear, because I feel like I have so little left, and yet somehow in the midst of all of that I find myself so grateful.

As I wrote this, a friend I hadn’t spoke to in a few weeks texted me to tell me she loves me and was thinking of me. A few dear friends send me the snarkiest memes and make me laugh so hard I cry nearly every day. My best friend isn’t surprised by darkest thoughts. I have the sweetest nieces and nephews that are honestly amazing, being their Aunt isn’t a consolation prize, it’s one of my greatest joys.

When I married Dan, I had no idea how much our vows would really mean. In sickness or health, for better or worse. Dan truly is the best gift. I used to jokingly tell people that the most romantic thing Dan ever said to me was that after living with me for a few years he still wanted to come home to me, but honestly after the past 18 months… the fact that he still wants to be in the same room with me, hold my hand and adventure with me is one of my biggest blessings. It really blows my mind.

All of that to say, as we prepare to paint what “should” have been a nursery for the third and final time, I am beyond heartbroken. I don’t understand. I have more questions than I can count, that I will probably never have the answers to. However, for the first time in a really long time, I am also starting to realize that we really are going to be more than “just okay”.

When I first started writing in this space, I really didn’t know what it would look like, but I promise you… it did NOT look like this. Stories that are finished, with pretty bows are so much easier to share. However, that is rarely what life is. The reality is that much of life is lived in the middle. Where it’s messy and ugly and awful. All I can say, is if you are in the middle of a season you least expected, I am sorry. I am sitting with you.

2 responses to “Painting Unanswered Prayers”

  1. Kathleen F. Crouse Avatar
    Kathleen F. Crouse

    My heart breaks for you & Dan. You would make great parents. I don’t know why God hasn’t given you the desire of your hearts, but I do He has work for you to do & He isn’t finished with you. God bless you both. Love you


  2. We don’t understand at all either. We appreciate your thoughts.


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