infertility

When a Lot *Doesn’t* Happen in a Year

Haven’t we all said it? Or hoped it? Or desperately wished it to be so? “Well, a lot can happen in a year!”

But what if it doesn’t? Or doesn’t feel like it does? How do we watch friends and family go by without us? Survive another night feeling left behind or afraid of being left behind?

What happens when 2023 comes and it isn’t “our year” and we just look at a trail of days that seemingly led us nowhere. Here we go into more days that are just days where nothing happens, but people cheer from the sidelines with rings on fingers and babies on hips shouting, “A lot can change in a year! It did for me!”

But I want you to know you don’t have to afraid or intimidated by this phrase. It’s true that 2023 may come without fireworks or fanfare or what you hoped for.

So let me tell you about 2017.

I don’t remember much of it, really. It was early stages infertility. It was heartbreaking in more ways than one. I had a lot of hard things to say and admit. I don’t remember much life that happened that year. I remember it like death and loss and wounds just pouring out.

But then 2018 came.

And it continued being hard and escalated in April. Then April became a turning point and Mother’s Day in May found us rolling out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of flowers. Ever so gently, I woke up to life. I sensed I missed so much in 2017, but I didn’t really feel regret for it. I just felt the gift of waking up to the fullness of life around me. I was thankful I wasn’t missing it. I don’t know if I could have felt 2017 any differently if I tried. I’m so human, and I was in the very vulnerable stages of finding life cut out so differently and myself scraped against those ridges. I had very real, distressing emotions and questions I needed to bring to God.

It was a time where the phrase, “A lot can happen in a year!” didn’t quite fit. . .and yet 2017 was woven into the fabric of a story where a lot did happen. A lot of good. A lot of healing. A lot of growth and joy, happiness and light-heartedness, miracles and spring and life!

It could be that a lot won’t happen or change this year, and you don’t have to be afraid of this or frustrated by this phrase which can be oblivious and short-sighted. So what if it is! And so what if people have the the “first comes loves then comes marriage then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” That’s not a bad thing and should be celebrated.

But you are not as lost as you think. Your year won’t be wasted. You may not remember much of it, but with God, it will be woven into the fabric of a story where a lot does happen. A lot of good. A lot of healing. A lot growth and joy, happiness and light-heartedness, miracles and spring and life! If you’re not celebrating at the start of 2023 (or this year for that matter!), I get it. I’ve been there. Will be there again.

Keep turning to God. “Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:5). The year itself may feel like nothing. You may forget it. You may feel disappointed by the whole of it. But it won’t be lost. It won’t be wasted. It won’t be the hopelessness you may feel it is right now. There’s no rush and the pressure isn’t on you or me to make things good and okay. God will do the impossible. He will wrap our years into His arms and from His hand we will receive good. And in His presence we will be comforted and emboldened to live. We will be safe to grieve and to rejoice.

A lot may *not* happen or change this year.

So what if it doesn’t?

God isn’t bound by the days on a calendar. His stories last long and rich and eternal.

Breathe.

Pressure is off.


It Wasn’t All Flowers, poem

Why I Wrote Hope Gives a Eulogy

Your Body Is Strong (To the Women Facing Infertility)

Tomorrow in our Garden Lullaby series I’m sharing thoughts + the best photo from 2018. It correlates with this post and my “waking up to life.” Don’t miss it!

 

Garden Lullaby · infertility

Why I’m Still Writing about Infertility

“This is no thaw. This is spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan’s doing.”

I have never read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, but this year, I put them all on my reading list. I read one or two chapters a day. When I read this quote in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by the White Witch’s dwarf, of all characters(!), I loved it. It’s a beautiful, triumphant quote all on its own, but it felt so profound to the story I have lived and will surely live again.

Soon we will return to our Garden Lullaby series where I go back in time and share how God used the garden to help me see His love and the life He wanted for me though my womb was empty and my pain was deep. And somewhere along the way I could say in my soul, though not all was right in my world, “This is no thaw. This is spring!” God had healing for me inside and out. I still grieved. I still struggled. But I could breathe. And laugh. I woke up to life. And began to live. I may be taking this C.S. Lewis quote out of context, but it certainly applies!

Not all was well, but I was becoming well. Winter was being destroyed. Month after month. Year after year. When “NO!” screamed in my ears and the bathroom floor felt like home. It didn’t feel like winter was being destroyed, but God was doing it until suddenly there it was,

This is no thaw. This is spring!”

You may wonder why I am still writing about infertility when I have a son, a daughter due in a few months, and have already written about the healing in a whole book of 97 poems. So here’s at least one reason.

The miracles of God don’t get old. They don’t go away. I’m still living it!

“Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.” -Psalm 66:5

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for my soul.” -Psalm 66:16

Reminders of the spring miracle God did within me keep showing up. And will forever. In my two children, in my garden, in books I read, in poetry I’m inspired to write, in my history with God that touches my present and my future. God’s works are wonderful and they are profound.

I’m not done seeing.

And I’ll keep on sharing all I’ve seen God do.

In those years, I never thought to myself those exact words, “This is no thaw. This is spring!,” but I certainly lived it. Winter couldn’t last forever. Not even when infertility did. Spring filled my soul when nothing filled my womb. And spring greeted my children when they came around and that same spring was beautifully multiplied by their presence.

Miracles everywhere.

What light I have known and life I have lived before, during, after.

This is no thaw!

infertility

Those May Marigolds

Garden Lullaby, July 20, 2018

Honestly? Of all the flowers we bought that May weekend, these marigolds were my least favorite. They were a bit beat up. They were kinda just hanging on. They weren’t that pretty. I was okay with getting them because they seemed like a neutral flower that would compliment the rest of the prettier flowers.

Now? They are vibrant, healthy, and many! They are slowly spilling out of the flower pot. And I love these marigolds. I love how hard they fought to live. And I love that they burst with life over and over again! My opinion of them didn’t alter the outcome of their beauty.

You and me? We are marigolds too. Our opinion of this season doesn’t change the outcome of God’s beautiful purpose and plan. Our wilted hearts become vibrant beneath the shadow of His wings. Our soul can spill out in celebration, and our life is rich in His love and promise now.


about this Garden Lullaby series

Holidays on Broken Backs

If December Is Hard, poem

 

infertility · motherhood

The Days Before I Saw My First Positive Pregnancy Test

Quite a few Novembers ago, I remember sitting outside and trudging through the emotions that come with infertility. There was a storm brewing in the distance, but as I sat there I suddenly felt that it would be okay. . . even good. Not right then. Maybe not soon. But sometime. There was a a settled feeling that washed over me. . .it was almost as though I had caught a glimpse of something beautiful, but it happened so fast. I can’t even remember all the details from that cold, fall afternoon. Only that good was coming.

I think that split second moment was a gift from God. . .momentary relief from the fresh, young tulmtuous waves in my soul.

The years following that moment were filled with tears, anguish, hollowness, heartache, the bathroom floor, pain. . .healing, closeness with Christ, the garden, laughter, the joy of a leaf, a life that filled up with life. And all of these things ran together in a way words could never describe, but you can understand. . .because you’ve been there too.

Fast forward to November 2019. I was on the brighter side of healing. My husband and I had recently had a conversation about how we would move forward in our family journey. I remember saying something along the lines of, “I really want children with you.” But I also remember confidently and peacefully closing doors in so many directions while opening ourselves to a life we hadn’t planned, but I finally felt excited for.

Shortly after that, I received a basket from a friend filled with the brigthest flowery things, pens, and a blank notepad. It was gift that seemed to say, “I see you!” And I put that basket of gifts on display!

Mere days later, another friend sent me this mug, joy comes in the morning, alongsisde a beautiful note which I have in the back of my prayer journal from that time. She knew about my struggle with infertility, and these were some of her words, “I pray for you almost every night and have every confidence that God has the most beautiful plan for you and Ben.”

About a week and half or so after that, I took a pregnancy test not expecting much or really anything at all. I had long-since given up taking these tests and asssumed my hormones were acting up because of my increased sugar intake.(Helloooo harvest party! 😉 )

Well, that test turned to two pink lines so fast. I couldn’t believe it, and yet somehow it was so believable. I just laughed! Hope Gives a Eulogy has a poem for that moment and a hundred others I experienced during infertility.

But there it was. Clear as day. Two lines. A yes. My firstborn son.

Flowers given to us by friends when they found out we were pregnant with our son which we eventually planted as his flower. And now they are blooming wildly this November!

Remember that note from my friend sitting in the back of my prayer journal? Around it I wrote, “note + gift from a friend received a week and a half or so before finding out I was pregnant. This was one of 3 meaningful gifts leading up to the great crescendo of our Shasta-boy.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention a third gift in this blog post, because I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I’ve got it recorded so it happened!

What a parade of gifts before the grand finale of our son. Which, of course, we know is not the finale, because God is always working and weaving miracles and healing and hope realized in so many ways! The reality is I had received thousands of gifts from God in those dark years leading up to those 3 gifts from friends leading up to the gift of a baby I could only yet see in two pink lines.

I hosted our third Thanksgiving in our bright blue home while being 6 or so weeks pregnant. That Thanksgiving was our first holiday with a baby in tow even though we’d never met him yet. The flowery blank notepad given by my friend is now my garden journal.

I totally added the sun flare to this garden journal photo! 😉

And if you’ve been around here for awhile, you know the significance of the garden in my long infertility journey! The “joy” mug is one of my all-time favorites and I love drinking coffee from it during the fall/November season.

Amazingly, I’m writing this blog post on the same November day I found out I was pregnant two years ago! (That wasn’t planned.) Even more beautiful is sitting here typing these words while being 21 weeks pregnant with our little girl.

halfway with our little girl!

I’ve been surprised by both my babies in different, wonderful, totally-of-God ways. We are headed into our fifth hosted Thanksgiving with inexplicable healing and the gift of two children.

And I think it’s important to note that with God this story could have happened in a thousand different miraculously good ways. . .children or not. I believe no matter what, I could still sit in November 2021 and recount God’s goodness. Which solidifies the truth that no matter what happens in our future, I will still be able to recount God’s goodness, be awestruck by His gifts, stunned by His timing, filled with His healing and hope, surrounded by a life made with life by God.

But here I am now. This is the story to date. The good gifts are endless. God’s goodness is endless. I’m moved by God’s love for me. As I wrote in my poem, Lest I Forget!, “and it was flowers, and Novembers, and pink skies, summer nights where Your blessing took over my life, and I was crying and laughing and breathing and longing and it was beautiful lest I forget!”

Today with the gift of my son and daughter, my husband and a 5th Thanskgiving in my home, I pray as I did in 2019, “Help me receive this gift with open, celebratory, trusting hands.”

God makes life. “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” -Psalm 66:5

And so we do, and we will!

Amen.