The journey of infertility and unanswered prayer
Stephanie Chong // February 7, 2019, 4:11 pm
Before you read on, you need to know that this isn’t a story with a happy ending. This story doesn’t even have an ending yet. If you’re looking for a story with a happily ever after, this isn’t the story for you.
This is a story of my struggle with infertility, bitterness and hope.
I’m sharing this with those of you who are also currently struggling to answer the age-old question: “So when are you going to have a child?”
Maybe you’ve just had a miscarriage and are mourning the loss of what-could-have-been. Maybe you’ve been seeing various doctors and have spent too much on procedures. Maybe you’re having fights with your spouse behind closed doors over this.
Maybe you’re trying hard to adopt but the process is draining you down. Maybe you’re still single and are wondering if you’ll ever be able to have your own family. Or maybe you don’t even want children and are just tired of being asked.
I never wanted to write this story. Writing and putting this out makes me feel vulnerable in a way that’s so difficult to admit. However, I do believe that there are many out there who are fighting this same battle in their lives and need to know they’re not alone in this fight.
I will not be discussing my medical history or my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis, or the various medical procedures and struggles I’ve undergone or had in the past few years. Instead, I want to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of the journey so far, to remind us all that there is always hope.
This year, my husband and I will have been married for eight years. We’ve always wanted children and I still firmly believe that my husband would make the best and most loving father.
He knew about my PCOS condition (then undiagnosed officially), but in the naïveté and optimism of our youth, we believed that our enthusiasm and God’s grace could overcome all challenges. The years passed, and as more of our peers got pregnant with their first child, we started getting concerned about our lack of success.
2016 was the worst year for us.
After many doctor’s appointments, procedures, medication, and peeing on pregnancy sticks, 2016 marked the year of failure for me. Facebook was constantly reminding me of all the pregnancies my friends were celebrating – the second child for most of them.
The comments and advice from people were overwhelming and unwanted. There were days when I would find out about multiple pregnancy news, which were sometimes followed by “so when’s your turn?” questions.
There were days when the questions felt intrusive, advice become obnoxious, and concern was actually gossip. It was hard to tell which was worse, the thoughtless “why aren’t you guys trying yet?” or the well-meaning “don’t worry, I know it’ll happen for you soon!”.
That was the year I spiralled downwards into despair, frustration, rage then bitterness. In my brokenness, I decided to burn bridges with people and with God.
I never lashed out publicly or posted denouncements on social media. Instead, I quietly removed myself from social activities, deleted Facebook off my phone, declined invitations and threw myself into work. I reserved my anger and bitterness for God and my poor, patient husband.
A few very close friends and family were concerned, but I kept them all at arm’s length. Our marriage suffered badly and we were on the verge of separation. When I reached rock bottom, I cried out for help and God sent our pastor to speak to my broken heart.
Sometimes in our life, we are so hurt by our experiences that we can’t bring ourselves to cross that bridge to forgiveness. But with God, He can help us forgive and cross over each bridge. He doesn’t force us to cross every bridge at once, but goes slowly and patiently with us every step of the way.
Talking to my pastor was cathartic in more ways than one. She listened without judgement as I shared my story and then shared her own experiences with me. She lovingly counselled me and pointed me the way back to God.
Slowly, I began to pick up the pieces of my life.
I learned to identify the patterns that signified the vicious cycle of despair and prayed against them. I stood up to people who hurt me with thoughtless words and forgave them too.
“Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not laboured with child! For more are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:1)
I reconnected with the friends whom I had avoided and came to adore their children. I asked for forgiveness from people I had openly shunned and reconciled with them. I opened up and shared my journey with others.
I prayed and put everything at the foot of the Cross.
Some days, it’s still hard. There are days when I hide myself in the car or bathrooms to cry my heart out before I put on a brave face to face the world. Mother’s Days in church are tough when everyone celebrates while I put on a big fake smile and pretend everything is okay.
Sometimes the questions get so personal, I find reasons to ignore them or walk away before I lose my self-control. It seems that, for all our career and personal accomplishments, us women are still judged on our ability to marry and bear children.
However, there are more days now where God gives me hope. Those are the days where I can genuinely rejoice with pregnant friends, new-born announcements, and milestone birthdays.
“And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:1-2)
Those are the days when my husband and I can talk about our future children’s names, what they will look like and how much we’ll love them. Those are the days I remember all of God’s promises and count them again one by one.
This story has no ending. There is no happy announcement, no ultrasound scan to share with you. I still struggle with infertility and some days are harder than the rest. But I have a new hope in God and I’m clinging on to His promises.
I’m still walking this journey with my beloved husband who has never wavered in his trust in God and firmly believes in the bright visions of the future. In 2018, we took a big step of faith, and in obedience to His calling, we’ve stopped all medical procedures and are waiting on His timing.
The world tells us we are foolish but we believe that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Maybe you are also going through this journey and are struggling with your own story. Or maybe you know someone else who is and needs to hear that there is still hope in God. This is a story that God has put on my heart for the past year to share with others, and I hope my story has helped you in some way or another.
God bless you.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalms 27:14)
This article was first published on Stephanie’s Facebook post and is republished with permission.