Many times, God allows us to experience a season of life that requires us to have a “warrior’s heart” (Judges 6:12) As we wrestle in prayer over our circumstances, God is faithful to guide us in His wisdom and instruction.
He daily calls us to relinquish control of our lives into His hands. In doing this, God is glorified, as He does “impossible” things.
Today, I am blessed to share a testimony from Pippasmum (anonymous by request). She and her husband journeyed through “secondary infertility,” allowing God to speak to them through His word during this challenging season and transform their hearts.
I appreciated how she opened up her heart, and shared how God worked in their marriage as well. Fertility can often become an “idol” in women’s hearts, isolating us from our husbands and their needs. As wives, we are called to honor and bless our husbands, even during challenging seasons. (This testimony was shared with her husband’s permission.)
Just to prepare your heart, their story does have a “happy ending.” But no matter where God takes you in your journey, I pray that you would join Him in your “battle,” knowing that our Father is absolutely victorious! Here is Pippasmum’s story:
“When we were hit by infertility, it caught us totally off guard. It was the thing that truly brought us to our knees (both for the worst and for the best).
I grew up knowing that someday, I would like to have children but it was always something that was vaguely in the future. When dh and I met in our first year of university, we knew that there were things that we wanted to accomplish and we set about doing that.
We both grew up in families that weren’t good with money and there had been a lot of struggle and insecurity so we both wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Like so many young couples, we just kept deferring having children because there were other things that had to be done first. There hadn’t ever been any infertility problems in either family and we were very healthy, so we just assumed that everything would go smoothly.
One thing that I should point out, to really understand where we were at, was that during this stage of life, we would have qualified ourselves as being devout Christians. We went to church, we prayed, we participated in small groups and we tried to live a “Christian life.”
Looking back on it now, I also know that we were also terrifically arrogant. For all that we tried to bring God into our lives, we really didn’t think that we “needed” Him in any real way.
We just assumed that if we worked hard enough and were honest and “good” that everything would work out. We didn’t expect to live lavishly or to fly high but we did think that we could chart our course and, as long as we stuck to the game plan, everything would work out the way we wanted. We lived by schedules, budgets and hard work and we just assumed that we could control everything. How wrong we were.
When I was 34, we finally got to the point that we thought it was time for children. Of course, by our planning and scheduling, things went according to plan and I, a teacher, managed to have my first baby the first weekend of September so I got a perfect year off from school (I live in Canada where we have one year maternity leaves.)
I got teased regularly about how I couldn’t have planned it better. Of course, in our arrogance, we just assumed that things had worked because we had “done it right”. Yes, we thanked God for the gift of our beautiful little girl but I don’t think that we truly understand the richness of the gift.
That first year with my daughter, I began to get flashes that God was trying to get my attention. She was an impossible baby who never slept, wanted to nurse all the time and who never gave me a break. I tried to do all the right things and read all the right books and yet, she continued to buck the plan.
I started to be more aware of God’s presence (and did A LOT of 3 a.m. praying as I rocked a crying baby) but even then, I don’t think that I shook the idea that I could fix it all and didn’t REALLY need God.
I went back to work and we decided that since I wasn’t young, we should start trying for our next child. Of course, we did the math and figured out exactly when to time for the perfect summer baby… three months later, nothing had happened. After six months, still nothing and I began to be scared. It seemed like the media was full of stories of older mothers like me who had left things too long and just weren’t able to conceive.
We went running off to our family doctor. She referred us for some preliminary tests and sent me to an o.b. for a consult. By this point, we were really starting to feel the true pain of infertility. I was feeling so lost and helpless – I wish that I could articulate the pain I was feeling but I don’t think that words exist to share how bereft I was feeling.
I ended most days in tears and I got to the point when I couldn’t even face going in a store that sold baby things and seeing women walking around with strollers made me want to weep. When Michele posted her Mother’s Day post last year, sharing the pain that so many women feel around that time, I must have cried for at least an hour after reading it because at least someone understood.
I had tried to control everything perfectly (we were using the fertility awareness method, rigidly charting temps, using ovulation tests, I was going for acupuncture and our eating was great) and we still had no results.
That was when we really got the blow. Dh hadn’t been doing terribly well that winter. I think that the infertility was scaring him, too, and, being male, he didn’t like having a problem that he couldn’t fix. Even worse, I truly believe that in cases of infertility, for many men, it really hits them in terms of their value. Dh’s family does not live with our values and since the arrival of our daughter, had been very difficult. I think that all of that, added to dh’s sense that he needed to be the provider, and he started to really sink into a deep depression.
I tried to understand, but I couldn’t really understand why he couldn’t just “buck up” and deal with things. Looking back, I think I put too much pressure on him and he just withdrew. Then, we got the news from our doctor that for some reason, his sperm count had dropped to the point that it would be unlikely that we would be able to conceive without assistance.
That was the blackest time in our lives. We couldn’t find each other and we both were sinking into greater and greater depths of depression and loneliness. Even then, I don’t think that we really understood that God needed us to admit that we needed him and to give up our pride.
One thing that keeps coming back to me is that during this time, we were participating in the Old Testament Challenge. When we came to the story of Gideon, for some reason, it just kept coming back to me.
Gideon Defeats the Midianites
1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. (Judges 7)
I really began to feel that God was telling me that we needed to rely on Him, we needed to release our struggle to him and accept that He had a plan for us. I got a copy of Jeremiah 29:
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.’
I worked really hard to convince myself that this was true and that I needed to release my “plan” and wait to hear God’s. I won’t say it was easy. I bought myself a copy of The Power of a Praying Wife and I began to try and focus on dh’s feelings instead of mine. I prayed and prayed and prayed for patience and acceptance. I went with dh to his urologist appointments and I tried to focus on what it was doing to him and to let my plans go. I could see that he was starting to come out of his depression and we were healing as a couple. I started to feel like there was hope – not necessarily for another baby but at least for our future as a family.
Finally, the day came for our visit to the fertility specialist. We had been told my dh’s urologist that we would almost certainly need to go the IVF route and we were really struggling with the decision about what to do. I especially had real concerns about our daughter being alone and I really wanted to bless her with a sibling and we didn’t think that we had the money to adopt. I also had ethical issues around some aspects of IVF and we were really struggling about how we might resolve some of those concerns. It didn’t seem like there were going to be any easy answers.
They kept us sitting in the waiting room for over an hour after the time our appointment was supposed to begin. By the time we actually go in to see the doctor, we were both beside ourselves. She had a huge pile of papers in front of her and she slowly went through each piece meticulously, asking questions and making comments. That was excruciating.
Finally, she got to the last page. She flipped through the stack of papers again and then went back to the last page. When she finally commented, she took a deep breath, looked at us and said, “I have never seen anything like this before.” Dh grabbed my hand, both of us assuming that it was bad news. She looked at dh and said again, “I have never seen anything like this. You don’t need me. You will probably be pregnant on your own within three months.”
We asked for clarification and she explained that in the course of one month, dh had gone from a count of 3 million with 96% dead to 29 million with a motility that was ideal. She was more right that she knew – I ovulated that day and within two weeks, I knew that we were pregnant.
Please do not think that I am saying that if you release it all to God that everything will work out exactly the way that YOU plan. We were lucky, we know and appreciate that. We got the valuable lesson as evidenced in the Gideon story. There are times that God has to make sure that we know that HE is in control, that HE has worked the miracle and we have to leave our own arrogance behind.
We are due with a son June 17th and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember what God has done for us and that this has happened entirely because of God’s gift and not because of my strength, my will or my control.
God brought me to my knees and now, looking back, I am so grateful. My marriage is stronger than it ever was before, my faith is stronger and I have evidence of God’s work in my life that I will always remember. If you had told me a year ago that I would have any gratitude for that period of pain in our lives, I would have told you that you were crazy. Yet again, God has made me grateful to be wrong.”>
I am writing A Journey of Blessing: An Encouragement Series for women who are in challenging seasons of life. If you are one of them, I invite you to join me each Friday (or if you know of someone who might benefit from this series, send them this way). Here is Part 1: Encouragement, Part 2: Hope, and Part 3: Longing. I would love to hear your prayer requests, questions, and suggestions.
GUEST POSTING OPPORTUNITY!
I am also looking for women interested in sharing their testimonies through such a journey. If you are interested in guest posting for this series, please let me know at frugalgranola (at) gmail (dot) com.
Photo by Flavio@Flickr