This day seventeen years ago the declaration for our desire to have children softly sounded in the ensuite bathroom as the birth control tray dropped from my hand and bounced at the bottom of the rubbish bin. It was a subtle sound, a small action in one sense and yet the very swirling in my mind, the longing in my heart, the anticipation that consumed my entire being was speaking loudly. We were done with one chapter of life and intentionally entering a new one. As I left the house no one outside our home knew, but I did.
Never could I have guessed the highs and lows that were to follow over the course of seventeen years, the empty arms that remain as I sit here legs curled on the couch tapping away on a laptop. The sound of the keys again soft, yet there is an unmistakable swirling in my mind, longing in my heart, anticipation for what is beyond as I expectantly wonder what lays ahead.
Last night as I lay in bed, the crashing of waves at the beach just beyond, the soft but assuring breath of my man as he soundly slept, my mind was contemplating, my being was processing and feeling. Slowly it dawned on me, I would not be denied because of the words of a well meaning friend. I would allow myself to feel, to share, to be. This is my story, no one can presume to fully understand. They take the words I say and hear it with the reconfiguring of their own story. They look at the pieces of my life they get to see and filter my actions with their expectation. If I want to acknowledge that we are at the seventeen year mark today and it’s not packaged how I expected I can. If I need to reflect on the elements these years have held so I can again soak in the goodness of my God, trace His fingerprints over the happenings and declare my hope still resounds then I can. If I want to push past the fact I’m once again misunderstood and put in a box to be free to be me, to journey with my God then I can. I am allowed to feel. I am allowed to reflect. I am allowed to hope. I am allowed to sit in the presence of my God and be real.
As I lay there unable to sleep for hours and the small hours slipping by I did my own version of counting sheep. Over seventeen years there have been two surgeries for endometriosis that entailed five weeks of recovery and have left a hook scar under my belly button, and three scars that look like “kisses” on my abdomen. There have been two full rounds of IVF that have entailed four weeks of injections, two entries into theatre for egg retrievals, about nine phone calls as we awaited progress on the embryos, three entries into theatre for embryo placements, three phone calls to say this wasn’t our time. There have been about 102 acupuncture appointments to help with fertility, around 68 specialist appointments to navigate the unknowns, 4 of those in the stark rooms of the recurrent miscarriage clinic. Roughly 248 blood tests to be taken, looked at and give no real clarity. Likely my legs have had to go into stirrups and be in a vulnerable state 52 times for scans. About 3560 days where I have consumed a variety of tablets and tonics in the hopes of assistance. There have been 2 lipoidal flushes to aid in keeping a pregnancy to full term, and about 78 days of progesterone pessaries to attempt the same. I had 15 months of being on medication that stole my quality of life in the hopes this was the answer. Three months of being put into false menopause incase that would aid in a successful next round of IVF. And all this for the hard cost of over $90,000, sacrifices and heartache, being misunderstood and questioned on why we just weren’t giving it our all and to keep on just incase.
From our point of view we had given it all we had and then some. That’s not taking into account the few tests my wonderful man had, the way he lovingly and protectively held my hand at each twist and turn, how hard he worked to ensure we could pursue each of these moments, what overtime he put in to be at every single moment, how many hospital floors or chairs he slept on to be beside me, how many blank walls or ugly carpet he fixed his eyes on to be strong for me when he too was hurting like mad. Or even what foods and drinks he went without for years, or what tablets he consumed to aid in our journey.
In 2012 we began the exposing journey of self-publishing so others in it may not feel so alone. We poured thousands of dollars into that. In 2015 we again poured thousands of dollars into a second book to allow others to see there was reason to seek God and find hope, to be defined by more than a label others put on you. That brought me to speak on two stages, while the ugly of me was on display, more so the faithfulness of my God and the example of what love from a good husband is in action was seen.
Since 2011 I’ve pursued and encountered God through the Bible. I’ve discovered how wonky a picture so many people give on His character, heart, plans and way. As my wrong thinking was adjusted I discovered a God so much more loving, alongside, holy, unrelenting, forgiving, faithful and real than I expected. In the pages of Genesis I discovered people are messy but God never gives up. From Leviticus I discovered how orderly and caring He is, that the big and small of our life matters to Him. In Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, Samuel & Kings I discovered how stubborn humanity is, how much doesn’t change in history over thousands of years but how consistent God is, how much His heart doesn’t waver from His big picture, purpose and promise. In Psalms I was relieved to know that God allows people to be real, to bring the ugly and be comforted, to bring the broken and be redeemed, to reflect and be aligned, to seek and be guided, to feel overwhelmed and discover rest. In Jeremiah I was challenged to not hide but to pursue, to not bargain but surrender. Best of all in Matthew and the other gospels I discovered a love so powerful, tender and consuming that my shame was replaced with gratitude, my sense of not belonging was reshaped with being God’s girl no matter what. In Acts and Romans I was chiseled from complacency and refined through confronting moments. In Revelation I expected to be scared but was assured, was confident I’d be judged but was strengthened.
My toughest years have been 2011 and 2021…but one I was broken and selfish, the other I was anchoring and a work in progress. Both have seen actions that disappointed, moments that embarrassed, words said that were ugly and harsh. But as I reflect I clearly see God’s fingerprints and on this day that I mark seventeen years of unexpected blessing in the unwanted reality I am humbled, grateful, trusting, growing, expectant. My story, our story is not yet finished. So with seven being a number for completeness and perfection, I hope to close the door on this season of hardship and a huge curve of being refined and grown, messy and misunderstood to enter a new one of further maturing, intentional living and loving, pursuing and discovering.
I’m working on not using words that label, put people in boxes, diminish, define, focus on self, impose my story on their story as it’s not felt nice having that done to me. I hope in that space I will be a more loving, gracious, understanding, safe person to be alongside. I pray that I will have a consistent joy, an intriguing peace, a heart postured that sees me approachable, a character more aligned that sees me imprint for good, a mouth that’s word are wise and loving, a life that encourages others in their unexpected journeys and allows another to discover the safe presence of my God without wonkiness.
Babies remains my heart desire, each twist and turn God has fuelled that. I don’t know what timing or how it will all look but as I reflect on these seventeen years I am confident God does not set me up to fail, it’s not in His nature. I wouldn’t expect to be turning 42 in a little over a week and have empty arms but I do see that whenever that day comes I’ll be a better mum for these years of waiting. I wouldn’t have thought the land we purchased to build a family home the day our last IVF failed would still be empty and just about to have a hearing for our opposing neighbours but I see we will be in a better place to enjoy the space God so clearly has had a hand on.
What about you? What are your grapples that reflection would allow you to see unexpected wins? What are your spaces to be intentional in to be a walking billboard for God that is more accuraltey aligned with His character and heart? What is your story that God is reminding you is your tailored lane to navigate with His voice leading rather the others imposing?