Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pregnant Mama, Know That I Sorrowfully Rejoice With You!

"Lord, please give me the strength to rejoice and not cry," I whispered a silent prayer as I walked into a room filled with giddy smiles and pink balloons. Sweet little polka-dotted onesies were draped across the wall under large painted letters that spelt out this new blessing's name. The pain swelled deep within me like I had been punched in the gut. "Lord, please." I faked a smile, wishing desperately that my joy could be real. That I could truly be a Rom. 12:15 woman. A woman that thinks more of others happiness than her own sorrow. I held it together, ate hors d'oeuvres, complimented tiny pink gifts, skirted around the inevitable birthing conversations that I had never experienced and made it out without giving anyone a hint of the dark cloud that hung over me. When I finally made it back to my car that dark cloud burst into a pool of tears and loud sobs.


That word just drips sorrow. It is negative. Broken. Empty. Hopeless.

5 Years.

This month we say hello to our 5 year anniversary walking hand in hand with this awful word. We like the word "barren" better, but either way it means for 5 years God has shut my womb and we, as a couple, have not been able to conceive. We don't know whether our barreness is permanent or temporary, for only God knows.

I am not writing this so you can message me and tell me the story of your second, half-removed cousin's friend that got pregnant after 15 years of infertility. I am writing this for two reasons, one to scream from the rooftops that all you mamas currently walking through infertility, "I HEAR YOU! YOUR PAIN IS REAL! IT HURTS!" and second to help those of you not walking through it to maybe understand it just a little.

One thing I have learned while walking this dark and lonely road is that God does not promise us children (Anna is a barren woman in the bible that was never given the gift of pregnancy, click here). The same way He doesn't promise we will find a spouse (1 Cor. 7:8). Are these both good blessings? Absolutely. Are they promised in Scripture. No. Often in churches and communities well-meaning people ask these two questions with excitement. To the single, "so when are you going to get married?" and to the childless couple, "so when are you going to start having children?" Like I know when prince charming is going to come a knocking or when our egg and seed will finally combust into a tiny life. These questions are asked as if our completeness without these things is in question.

Our completeness is not found in our marriage or in our womb. Our completeness is found in Christ.
"For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been MADE COMPLETE, and He is the head over all rule and authority;" Colossians 2:9-10

We are complete in Christ. We don't need a husband to complete us, we are married to Christ. We don't need children to complete us, we are heirs with Christ, He will carry on His family name, we don't need to. Often not given the ideal gift of marriage or children we set up this little idol in our heart and we begin to worship this ideal rather that the One who designed it. It is difficult not to. Marriage and children are both good gifts. Blessings. They are good desires, but in our sinfulness we elevate them, are angry over not having them, envy others that do have them and sometimes will even sin to get them.  

In January 2010 Brian and I committed our family planning to God. We committed we would do NOTHING to prevent or promote pregnancy. We were acknowledging that God was in charge of our womb and we were going to trust Him. For five years since 2010 we have been open to any child God would give us.

God was faithful in our commitment and although He has not lifted our barreness He has given us the gift of fertility. We may be infertile in our bodies but God has given our hearts tremendous fertility through adoption!
"He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 113:9

When we yielded our womb to God we yielded all our rights to say that whatever He chose to do, we would trust and worship Him. He is in control to the opening and closing of our womb. We figured since we were graciously surrendering our will that He would perform His will which happened to look very similar to our will in the first place. The thing with God is that He is God and we are not. Sometimes His will is to not give us our heart desires and (you know what?) He is still good.

But my grief and pain are REAL.

But grief, pain and sorrow, these emotions, they don't know theology. They are real, raw, founded, yet separate from the real knowledge of the goodness of God. We must inform our emotions, teach them, train them. The longer I walk through this path of hurt, the more time I have had to inform my emotions that while a good cry is founded and allowed, bitterness, anger and malice towards others experiencing what I am not is NOT allowed. Grief, pain and sorrow are a soil that the weeds of bitterness and anger love to grow in! We must be on guard. When my mourning is stirred I must reject all thoughts of bitterness.

My hurt over my womb not opening doesn't leave me, I am stuck on this path until I am released to another. I will carry my grief just as those who have lost a loved one. I lost something on this path. I had to grieve the loss of my ideals and imagination of the little baby (or babies) that I expected to bear with my own body. I have laid to rest the image of two lines on a stick, the image of my belly growing big with life, the image of our newborn baby gasp for their first breath of air. Infertility is a loss no one can see but can consume many women just as loss of a living, breathing loved one can.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Think if someone lost their husband they may weep at a wedding, remembering the love they had and lost. They don't envy or hate your marriage they just are missing theirs. They sorrowfully rejoice with you. If someone lost their child just before that child's 7th birthday party, they may be greatly impacted with grief when attending your child's 7th birthday party. They don't wish your child the same outcome but the memories of a celebration never able to be celebrated will bring great mourning. They sorrowfully rejoice with you.

So please know, pregnant mama, that I am rejoicing with you!

(Picture Commentary: This picture is of a mural I painted for an amazing friend's nursery. We walked our first 1.5 years of infertility together, then she conceived a baby girl! I was so excited for her I spent 50+ hours in her house painting!)

I love feeling the life growing and kicking in your belly. I love witnessing the glow you carry with you. I love hearing you expectantly speak of that sweet baby inside you. I love celebrating this new life with you and being invited to your baby shower celebration. I love you. So I rejoice with you.

But please don't think any of my love changes if I cry (as I am crying now as I write this). Please don't be mad if I excuse myself from the room when the birthing stories that I have never experienced go on and on. Please don't be mad if I cry and am deeply pained when your belly is big and bursting full of the life mine has not ever seen. Please don't be mad if I weep at your baby shower, a celebration I have never been celebrated. Please know that I do rejoice with you, I sorrowfully rejoice!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I could shut myself up, refuse to touch another growing belly, refuse to attend any future baby showers and some how hope to keep myself from any pain or emotions that may be stirred up by these things. But know that you, pregnant mama, are more important to me than my pain. Showing you love, in the way God shows me love, means more to me than my grief. Rejoicing with you is chosen over my weeping, dear friend. I sorrowfully rejoice with you, at the great blessing you are receiving that I have lost.
"As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." James 5:10-11

God is still in control of my empty womb, no loss or grief can take away that comfort! God is good in all things.

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone


  1. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for writing what I could not...

    1. If it helped just one mama feel normal, I am glad I wrote it!

  2. Those are my EXACT emotions, thoughts, and experiences! Thank you for reminding me I'm not alone...and that Christ is the center of all things. Blessed be His name!
    We are approaching our five year anniversary of marriage and barrenness. Tonight we read Psalm 113 and I'm so glad you used it.

    1. God uses this road of childlessness to drive us to bless parentless children. He promises to turn "all things to good to those who love Him!" (Rom 8:28) He is doing that for sure in both your life and mine!

  3. I am getting in very late on this coversation but I know your pain. I began praying in earnest for my precious babies (I wanted 12) on my wedding night. 25 years, 2 months and 8 days later a 20 minute old baby boy was laid in my arms. I know the pain of infertility and baby showers and friends having babies all around you. I look at your family and read your blog and wonder why God blessed you so young and early into your walk and kept me waiting. But I have to catch myself and realize that God is sovereign. He knows what is best and He has a perfect plan for our lives. My baby just turned 5 and it has been 5 fabulous years. God was very merciful to us in our old age, giving us a little boy who was and is so easy and delightful. My story and life is at www.awomanblessed.weebly.com. I want to share it because it was stories like mine that kept me going year after year and during my darkest moments in that long journey.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. If it touched just one person it would all be worth it!

  5. Thanks for this article very helpful. thanks.
    Pregnancy Guide

  6. I don't mean to be rude or intrusive, but is there a reason you haven't had doctors look at the cause of your not conceiving? It's possible that it's a simple issue that could be fixed without IVF or other reproductive technology you object to on moral grounds.
    God placed doctors in our lives and have them their skills and knowledge to help us.

  7. Thank you for posting....I needed to read this. You have a beautiful heart

  8. I know this is insensitive, but I always wonder about the age difference between you and your husband, and how you met.

    1. Not long ago she posted about this. They have a very sweet story and while there is a gap, it is nothing too crazy. Look back on her facebook page and you might see it.

  9. The story God is building with your life is filled with pain and beauty and you wear both well. To Him be the glory! No matter what!