The account of Hannah and her anguish at not being able to conceive a child is recorded in I Samuel 1:1-18. I can relate.
We had been married nearly four years in May 2011 when my husband and I decided the time was right for us to begin our family. Being a wife and mother was my biggest dream! I saw my doctor. I stocked up on glossy parenting magazines. We were all set. How naïve we were.
For most women, the desire to have a child is basic to who we are. My husband and I were healthy; there was no reason to not have a baby. Magazines showcase women who have a dreamlike nine-month experience filled with baby showers and shopping sprees, then they waltz into the hospital and waltz out with a perfect bundle of joy. We believe babies come almost as easily as “Stork Delivery Express”—and for some they do. But what I have learned since that summer in 2011 is that for many, babies just don’t come that easy. And yet we don’t talk much about infertility and loss, which leaves women who suffer feeling isolated, alone, broken, and left to suffer in silence. I have walked that journey and have found many others have as well. Let me share my journey with you.
To my excitement, I got pink lines after taking a pregnancy test three months after our decision to have a baby. I spent one rapturous week excited about the life growing inside me, wondering if it was a boy or girl. But then Friday night happened.
We’d gone for a walk. I was chatting excitedly when, suddenly, a jolt of pain dropped me to my knees and stole my breath. A few minutes later, I recovered and assumed I was overreacting. The next Monday, things took another downward turn, and we raced to my doctor’s office. There, after a quick ultrasound, we were told, “There’s no baby there.” I had apparently “miscarried.” I left numb and heartbroken.
Over the next week, I tried to process the hurt, disappointment, and anger of dealing with the loss. I also faced a week of the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. We called a different doctor. After an exam and ultrasound, we received another blow. The ultrasound revealed my abdomen to be entirely black. I had an ectopic pregnancy, and it was rupturing. My abdomen was filled with blood. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately prepped for emergency surgery. I lost a fallopian tube. We lost the baby.
The surgery revealed I had endometriosis, so I began a six-month treatment of shots that put me into a state of medically-induced menopause. The medication made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin and losing my mind. After treatment, doctors were optimistic that I would get pregnant, but a few months of irregular cycles determined that my body was having a hard time going back to “normal.” So, fertility medications were prescribed.
After five months of fertility medicine and the horrible effects they caused, I walked into a prayer service. I was desperate! “God! You didn’t need doctors and pills with Hannah. You are God. If you want me to have a baby, then so be it. I’m done. I’m not taking another pill,” I sobbed.
Three weeks later, we went out of town. I packed the necessary supplies, fully expecting proof that I was not pregnant. But it didn’t happen. Ten days later, I finally worked up the courage to buy a pregnancy test—and the result was pink lines.
I wish I could say I was full of faith and confidence during the pregnancy. But I wasn’t. Every hiccup and twitch sent me to my knees in prayer. My doctors spoiled me with extra ultrasounds. Even after forty-one weeks of doctors’ appointments and a belly the size of a beach ball, I almost had a panic attack when we went to the hospital for fear the doctors would tell me I wasn’t pregnant at all, just severely fat. But twelve hours later, they placed a gorgeous baby girl in my arms. Time stood still. The moment was surreal. God had been faithful.
However, that is not the end of this story. Two years and three months later, there were pink lines again. I went to work floating on air! But three hours later, I was racing to the doctor. Something—again—was not right. Bloodwork confirmed a miscarriage. I totally shut down.
A job change moved us a month after our loss. I made an appointment with another doctor. After giving my history and expressing my concerns, I was told we could pursue another baby, but there would need to be fertility treatments and I would be treated as high risk. But, of course, there were no guarantees. After a lot of talking and soul searching, my husband and I decided it wasn’t a path we wanted to take. We began preparing our hearts to be done having children.
But I kept feeling like someone was missing. I couldn’t shake that instinct to reach for another hand on the way to the car, or thinking I heard a baby cry just as I was drifting off to sleep. My husband and I watched a video about Tupelo Children’s Mansion and donating to Sheaves for Christ. I began to sob—slowly, silently at first, then turned and looked at my husband. He was crying too, and when he looked at me, we knew. God solidly placed the call to adoption on our hearts. It was August 2016.
After a year of researching, we filled out applications and launched ourselves into the adoption process of all the required documents, training, inspections, and background checks. Finally, we were ready to wait for a match. Three months later, we got a call. We had been selected by a birth mother! We packed our bags and lived day to day. We put a nursery together in record time and excitedly shopped for all those baby basics.
A few weeks later we got a call. There was a big hiccup. We waited and prayed for a resolution. After a few days, the phone rang. The birth mother had delivered the baby—and changed her mind. She was going to keep the baby. Even though this loss was not the loss of a baby I carried, the shock and grief were just as strong; the heartbreak was just as real.
We were now back on the waiting list. We waited through six months of silence. Then on April 1, 2019, we got a call. A baby boy had been born over the weekend; would we travel to Tupelo, Mississippi, to meet him? We were packed and on the road within twelve hours. The moment they placed the baby in my arms, an intoxicating wave of love and joy swept over me as I stared into the eyes of our son. Again, God had been so amazingly faithful.
I would love to say I was able to hold my head high as I walked this road, with full assurance of faith that God was with me every step of the way, but that would be lying to you. This road tested me in many ways. I struggled with hurt, anxiety, anger, and fear. The worst part was feeling utterly alone and isolated.
If you read this now and totally relate, do not feel alone. You are surrounded by women who have and are walking similar journeys, women who are willing to walk alongside you. Do not give into the lies that you are broken, alone, and isolated. Your journey may be long and hard, but don’t be silent. Reach out! Talk to someone. You may be surprised how similar your story is to the one you reach out to.
If you have walked this road already, like me, don’t be bound by old, traditional rules of conversation. Don’t let a sister suffer in silence. We are overcomers by the words of our testimony.