One Christmas afternoon, I went for a walk with two of my sisters-in-law at a nearby park. Both had experienced difficulties in trying to have a baby. One was eventually successful and the other has yet to conceive even several years later. My husband and I were not trying at the time, but had started daydreaming and planning the perfect timing to get pregnant. My sisters-in-law were discussing the difficulties of TTC, finding doctors who have your best interest in mind, and dealing with the emotional difficulties they faced. One thing that my sister-in-law said stuck with me – "It [infertility] is so hard because no one expects that they will have problems." This came from a woman who would go months without a period! Little did I know that I would learn the same lesson from first-hand experience.
When we first started planning to TTC, I expected things to be easy. I had always had regular cycles, and because we were using natural family planning, I knew when I was ovulating. Since NFP is immediately reversible, we could go from trying to avoid to trying to achieve conception at any time – instead of waiting months to rid hormones and chemicals from my system as do most women who are on birth control. I felt like I'd been hit by a load of bricks when I had my first (second, third…) negative pregnancy test. I remember feeling depressed and disillusioned those first few months as I came to the realization that things would not be so easy after all. Could it be that we would actually have problems trying to get pregnant? I was not one of those women who took it all in stride, not worrying about infertility until after a year or more of TTC. No, I knew from various websites exactly what percentages of couples are able to get pregnant in one cycle, two, three, six…
I had to change my way of thinking and envisioning my future. I wouldn't be one of those women who can plan a pregnancy, I would have to learn to let go of control in planning my life and trust in God's perfect timing. I have experienced different levels of trust over the past several years; at times resigning myself to the will of the Lord, other times desiring to take matters back into my own hands. How lucky we of faith are to have someone to trust and to ask to direct our paths. I imagine the pain of infertility would be even more difficult without having a relationship with an all-loving God.
It is often hard for us to step back from the various situations we are facing (especially distressing situations) to see that along with the struggles, we are receiving many blessings and opportunities for grace. I know that I personally need to take a step back to consider how I have grown and to be thankful for the opportunities I have had during this time of waiting. Here are a few immediate thoughts:
- I am thankful for having a loving and supportive husband. We have only grown closer as a couple through the shared joys and sufferings of the past several years.
- My husband and I were able to take a trip to Italy in 2007, which would not have been possible if we had a child as planned. The trip was full of blessings and opportunities for healing and hope.
- My compassion for the struggles of others has increased, especially those experiencing the crisis of infertility.
- I have had the opportunity to pray more dedicatedly for those suffering from infertility and miscarriage, and to unite my sufferings to theirs.
- I have learned that although the pain of this cross may sometimes feel heavy, I am able to bear it with the help of my Savior.
"When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path." -Psalm 142:3a
"On the way of wisdom I direct you, I lead you on straightforward paths. When you walk, your step will not be impeded, and should you run, you will not stumble." -Proverbs 4: 11-12
- How did I react when I realized that I was not in control of this aspect of my life?
- Have I learned to place my trust in the Lord? Is there anything that I have not surrendered to Him?
- What situations, blessings, or opportunities for personal growth can I be thankful for as a result of this period of waiting?
Prayer of Abandonment to the Father's Will
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
- Charles de Foucauld