A couple years ago I was invited to speak in front of a couple hundred men and women about my experiences with infertility and how it impacted my faith. I shared my story and was met with such love and grace afterward. One woman approached me to share that she had been through several years of infertility as well and that she had appreciated what I’d shared. “But…” I braced myself for what was to follow and smiled brightly and nodded while she continued… “I have a teenage son now and he’s amazing. I went through infertility but then I miraculously got pregnant and now I have my son. It can happen for you, too, so don’t give up!” I expressed how happy I was for her and walked away a little disappointed.
I felt like she hadn’t really heard or understood the point of my message. Because, yes, some people do get a miracle in the form of pregnancy and a biological child. It’s amazing and wonderful when that happens. Honestly, I’ve longed for that to be part of my story, too. But some people don’t have that experience and that’s okay too. It’s wonderful to hope and to pray for that miracle, but it is equally as wonderful to accept that maybe God has something else planned and to move on to that part of the story.
The end all be all miracle of infertility isn’t a biological child. When we cling to that as the only hope and the only answer or miraculous outcome, we’ve sold our story short and put God in a box. At some point all of us who live with infertility must ask ourselves the same question…
“What if I never get pregnant and have a baby?”
That question needs to be asked and answered. Because for many women with infertility that will be reality. During the toughest parts of my journey I actually found stories of women getting pregnant after years of infertility to be discouraging and frustrating. Because I think I knew somewhere deep inside that wasn’t going to be my story. But it was being presented as the best possible outcome. And doesn’t everyone want the best for their lives? So what did that mean for me and for all the other couples who would never deliver a biological child? Were we doomed to a second best life? Where were the stories of victory and hope that didn’t include getting pregnant and having a baby?
I found my way on my own… through a lot of late night tears, desperate prayers, and constant soul searching. I came to a place of quiet acceptance of my infertility. And slowly that acceptance turned to hope… hope that there was something amazing out there for me that just looked a little different. Hope that God’s best for my life didn’t need to look like his best for someone else’s life. I got my miracle too. It just didn’t come home from the hospital all pink and squishy, wrapped up in a tiny blanket. God showed his goodness to me too, but not in the form of a purple plus sign and a big round belly.
My miracle came in the quiet nights when my pillow soaked with tears and I was able to say, and believe, “God, you are good. I know you love me.” It came when I was finally able to attend baby showers without dissolving into tears in the guest bathroom. It came when I recognized the growth in myself and the beautiful effect that this particular story had on my heart: things like resilience, compassion, empathy, grace, love, and perseverance. My miracle came with every day that I chose trust and God’s sovereignty over my own idea of what life should look like. Choosing joy and faith and hope in the midst of incredible heartbreak is it’s own little miracle. I felt the presence and love of God in a way I never had before.
(And I still got my “miracle” babies. I just had to travel over oceans and take a different path, but I still walked through my front door with arms full and a heart overwhelmed by the incredible gifts I’d been given.)
So to you, the woman who is struggling with infertility and wondering, “what if I never have a baby?” I can assure that your story still matters and you still have miracles waiting. You may never get pregnant and that might feel like the worst thing in the world today. I understand and I hurt with you. I don’t want to promise you anything or give you false hope. I just want to say that if your infertility doesn’t end with pregnancy… you matter and your story matters and there is something else (whether adoption or foster care or something entirely different and unimaginable to you now) waiting just for you. One day it won’t hurt as bad as it does now. One day you will find your place and your path and you will feel confident and at peace with it. And it will be the best outcome. God’s best for you.