Hi, my name is Shelley, and my husband Andy and I have been attending Hope for a little over a year. With the holidays coming up and holidays being a time for family, I wanted to share a little bit of my story.
Andy and I got married in 1996, ready and eager to start our family. I always wanted to be a mother. After all, one of God's commands is to be fruitful and multiply. It should have been easy, especially with God behind us. Unfortunately, we struggled with infertility. During that time, I prayed that if it wasn't God's will for us to be parents, He would take that desire away from me. He didn't, so I figured we'd eventually have children. It just might take a little while. After 4 years of infertility, we finally got pregnant, only to miscarry at 8 weeks. We got pregnant again shortly after and lost that baby too. That was 16 years ago on November 16.
After the second miscarriage, I went to the Women's Ministries leader at our church in CA and asked if there was a support group for infertility and pregnancy loss. She said our church didn't have one, but she would check with other churches in the area. She got back to me the following week and said that none of the local churches had one. Then she asked me when I'd like to start one. So, although I never thought I'd find myself in a situation where I would be a part of such a group, let alone *leading* one, Ladies in Waiting was born.
The group I started was called Ladies in Waiting because infertility is all about waiting. Waiting to ovulate, waiting to make sure you time things correctly, waiting to see the doctor, waiting to see if *this* time was a success, waiting to find out it wasn't, waiting to end this month's cycle, and then starting all over again. Infertility is also about the longer wait, waiting to find out how long you have to keep waiting before God finally blesses you with a pregnancy. And then waiting to see if it is a healthy pregnancy. In my case, because of the early monitoring, it also meant waiting to miscarry.
Our Ladies in Waiting group was never very big. I think this was because infertility and miscarriage seem to be a taboo subject, even still. Many of the ladies I met with went on to have successful pregnancies or adopt, but all of us expressed a desire for someone who had made it through the struggle, ultimately childless, yet content with that being God's plan. None of us were really content. There is a verse in Proverbs 30 that says, "There are three things that are really never satisfied, four that never say, 'Enough!': the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, 'Enough!'" Our infertility was listed in the Bible, along with death, drought and fire, as being unquenchable. No wonder it was so consuming!
After a total of eight years trying to start a family, with the never ending waiting and grief, and with four babies born directly into Heaven, I came to the realization that God already HAD started our family back in 1996 when we married and that His plan for us was that there would be the two of us here and four babies waiting for us in Heaven. I was, and am, content with that. I still miss our babies, and what would have been their birthdays still brings me to my knees, but being on my knees, before God, is a good place to be.
Unknown to me at the time, God shaped me into the woman I had prayed for to help me, the one who made it through years of infertility, as well as miscarriage, and came through the other side childless, yet content.
God has given me a passion for women struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss. If you are struggling with either of these areas, even if you already have children, I just want to let you know that, even in that unquenchable desire for children, God is there and will bring you through the waiting and the grief.
One more note about my passion for this subject. I think a lot of women struggle silently through this because they feel like failures. For me, it felt like everyone could procreate but me. The Bible says to be fruitful and multiply, and for a woman who can't do that, it feels like you're letting God down, along with your family and friends. I also feel that because nobody discussed it openly, the constant waiting and grief was unacknowledged and like maybe I was overreacting. I remember thinking I must be wearying God with my prayers. With our babies in Heaven, I heard so many things that seemed to invalidate my feelings, like, "Your baby wasn't even born yet. You miscarried so early. Why does it still bother you?" For those experiencing secondary infertility (infertility after already having a child), a friend of mine has people say, "Come on, you already have one (or more). Why can't you be happy with what you have?"
I want to let people know that their feelings of inadequacy and loss ARE valid, they are not alone, and that there is hope in Jesus. He understands our pain and our loss and our feelings of failure, and He can turn that around and use it for His glory!
If you are going through infertility or have had a miscarriage, I am here. If you feel like you're alone, even while surrounded by people, particularly as we approach the holiday season, you are not. If you wish your family was bigger, I understand. If you want someone to talk to about it, cry with, or pray with, please feel free to message me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know someone who's dealing with issues and you want to help but don't know how, please contact me.
Thanks for reading,