Middle Sister

captive words, freed + captive heart, redeemed

When It’s Negative, Again

Seven months ago, I was in this exact place, doing this exact thing. Sitting in this very chair, at this very desk, attempting productivity and failing miserably. One eye on my work-filled computer screen, the other on my phone — which is and was set to ring at its loudest volume, so I’m not really sure why I watch it. But I do.

Again, something is wrong, and I wait to hear how badly. Again, there is an abnormality, and I wait to understand its gravity. Again, my body is failing me, and I wait to see how severely.

I have been knocked down, again, and I cower, waiting for the impending hit, because I know I’m about to be knocked down again.

This is the story of infertility.

I’ve been scared to tell this story. It’s been there, ebbing and flowing, scarring and healing, but I wasn’t sure how to tell it. I’ve been so terrified someone might look at me and say, “How dare you feel this way?” But I’ve come to realize something. This story isn’t all my own. The details are mine. The timeline is mine. But the pain I carry? It’s so far from being just mine. I wish I had realized that sooner. I wish I hadn’t let the fear of judgment silence me. The details aren’t what matter. It’s the carrying of this pain that matters. It’s that we learn to carry it bravely. It’s that we learn to carry it together.

And so, maybe this post isn’t for everyone. And that’s OK. It’s for the champions of the bathroom floor, for those who choose to stand back up when the devastation of the test-filled trashcan seems more than they can bear.

Last night was the third night in a row I sprung alive, drenched in sweat, overcome with fear. My night terrors are back. I’ve struggled with them for years, but it had been months since I’d had one. Stress will do that.

Stress — did you say stress? That’s terrible for trying to conceive!

Thanks, I know. But in fact, you telling me makes me feel more stressed, and you see, this is all out of my control.

Control — did you say control? Let go of it, honey! It’s in God’s hands!

Oh, how I know this on the deepest of levels. I’m going on month eight of zero control of my own body, so whether or not I wanted to let go of it, it let go of me a long time ago.

You understand now, when I say this post isn’t for everyone, because everyone can’t understand it. Everyone wants you to feel better. They want to say what they can to package you up neatly and leave you with a smile. Oh, I don’t blame everyone — I really don’t. I’m thankful they care enough to say anything at all.

But the truth is that it’s ugly right now, and pretty words can’t mask the mess.

Life, it moves, and it sort-of feels like you’re standing still, watching. The places and people that once held shared dreams now hold a dichotomy: dreams fulfilled in tiny, new exhales and dreams halted in long, slow inhales. There’s a wedge now, where you once shared hope — two bellies, one swelling with life and the other swelling with emptiness. Two bellies, born of the same hope — how can they look so different?

You wish for moments of ignorance, for blocks of time where you could forget. But there’s a toddler laughing in that shopping cart and a fertility bracelet advertisement on your computer screen. There’s a stroller pushed past your window and a screaming baby in that church service. And you wish these things were inconsequential to you, the way they once were. But the toddler’s laugh feels like a punch in your gut and the baby’s scream feels like a knife in your heart.

You wish you could blot out the ache and pour all your attention into life’s positives. There are so many, after all, and day after day, you thank God for them. Thankfulness changes you, without a doubt. But you’ll still come home to another medical bill and wake up to another one-lined rejection. You’ll still “keep your hopes low this time,” and you’ll still cry on that wretched bathroom floor all the same.

You’ll gear up for another month on this road, garnering strength and hope, again, only to feel them fade, again. You’ll watch disappointment paint across the face you love the most, and you’ll hate yourself for putting it there. You’ll remind yourself that you didn’t put it there, really, but you’ll never actually shake the feeling that you did.

You’ll visit the doctor, again, and sneak glances at the other women in the waiting room. Do they feel this way, too? Or is just you? You’ll extend your arm, again, the black-and-blue crease a reminder of the time before, and before that, and before that.

Your eyes will all-at-once be drenched for days, then dry for days, just as your heart will feel pierced for days, then numb for days. You’ll order pregnancy tests more than you order takeout and check your fertility app more than you check your social apps. You’ll feel isolated, in this strange world of hidden pain.

But you’ll carry on with your life, day after day, even when the new medicine makes you feel sick and the two-hour doctor appointment leaves you working at night. Because that’s what you do. You keep going. You keep walking. But it won’t be long on this road before you realize something.

You aren’t walking alone. You never have been.

The specks of his faithfulness dot this sorrowful journey. Where you find hurt, you also find hope. Where you find disappointment, you also find provision. Where you find pain, you also find strength. And I beg you to pay attention.

Because this road isn’t one way or the other. It’s both. That’s the heartbreaking beauty of it.

I fought it for so long. I didn’t understand how the two could coexist. I thought hope and joy and peace were supposed to take all of this pain and wipe it out. I thought I was supposed to walk in these things and leave that ache behind. And to that, I said, “I can’t!” And to that, Jesus said, “You don’t have to! I will show you how to walk in both.”

Let me be clear — He’ll be showing me forever. This isn’t something I’ve mastered. I just understand now, that it’s something. He doesn’t disregard this pain. He doesn’t want me to pretend it isn’t there. In fact, I think, he’s in heaven crying with me. He’s a God of deep mercy, not indifference. He knows this world is broken, and he wants to show us how to walk in the messiest, ugliest parts of it.

But it’s important that we pay attention — that we look for where he is and where he’s been. That we cling to the story of his steadiness when our future feels shaky.

It’s important that we treasure the random surges of hope, because we will, undoubtedly, feel the pang of grief again. It’s important that we speak the unchanging truths of Christ, because we will, undoubtedly, hear the lies of defeat again.

For so long, I believed this story needed a happy ending to be beautiful. Now, I understand there’s beauty here in the trenches. It’s a story as old as time, I think — a story that will be told again, and again. We find ourselves believing that God only lives in the beauty, only to understand, all over again, that he is the king of suffering. That he’s promised to meet us here, and that if we pay attention, we might know him better than ever here.

15 Comments

  1. Oh Allie, this is beautiful. He is faithful ❤️

  2. Wow. Just lovely

  3. Dear Sweet Girl, let me share in your pain with you, but also offer hope. Our family was blessed with a child, (my second; my only son) ten years after the birth of our daughter, and several years after coming to the conclusion there would be no more children. A big, beautiful surprise from God! I was almost 40 years old. I can only tell you that God’s timing was perfect, and I so enjoyed and appreciated motherhood much more that second-go-round (my poor daughter; we learned “parenting” with her!) I don’t know what I’m saying here, except perhaps God’s plan is much better than our own. But you know that. And it does nothing to help alleviate the pain you are going through. But you know, I have found that some of life’s most sorrowful and heart-searing moments are in hindsight some of the most beautiful. It is in those moments of struggle and pain we become closest to God and our understanding deepens, our hearts open a little wider to the world around us. Does that make any sense? It is really something I can’t describe.

    Again, another beautifully written post.

    • It does make perfect sense, and I thank you so much for sharing your story of hope with me. It’s such an encouragement, as are your kind words to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Kathijane!❤️

  4. Lindsey Houghton

    October 19, 2018 at 4:52 am

    BEAUTIFUL- This is a topic that is all too often unspoken of and avoided. I know so many people who I am going to share this with, because they will find comfort knowing someone else understands. I’ll be praying for peace, healing, and guidance for you. Love you! 💕

  5. Teresa Gillenwaters

    October 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Allie, I have felt your pain, we tried for 2.5 years before I ever got pregnant, 2 surgery’s later. We had our Ashley, Keep up the faith. Prayers for you. Teresa

  6. My dear sweet Allie. You and I talked yesterday so I made a point of reading your blog. I always knew you were an amazing woman. I am continually blown away by your strength and wisdom and faith. Your sharing this journey with others is so brave and beautiful. I know in my heart that God provides. As you said it’s also ok to struggle…we are human. I’m so proud to have you as my daughter and love you so very much.

    • ❤️I am so very thankful for you and for the way you love me. I love you and will never be able to thank you enough for your constant support and encouragement. It means so much.

  7. Wow, how absolutely beautiful this is. Here I was looking for art diy’s on Pinterest and came across this piece of heart. Brought tears to my eyes as Ive been there for years after my first born. Swallowed all the good intended advice and encouragements. Suddenly everyone around me was pregnant including unwanted teenage pregnancies. But it broke my heart when my 3yr old son son came home from daycare telling me he is tired of playing with alone and with his parents. He wanted a baby brother or sister, started bringing home pictures he painted, family of four. It was like he he had something different to say every day. One day he asked my, mommy why can’t you just go to a doctor, fart out a baby and come home. We were so shocked. Then the last time he spoke about it he said: ‘mommy you know what, God had many angels in heaven. I think I will just ask him to send us one.’ By this time, I actually stopped praying about it. Threw my unused pregnancy tests to the back of my top cupboard as I was so over all the disappointments.
    One morning a friend came to my office and said: You know Val, did you pray about it. I wa so sick about this by now but.I know he meant well. We are different ethnic groups and have different cultures. He said, Val, its good to pray and ask God for a baby and we know that all blessings are intended to be ours, but did you ever come against whatever is trying to stop those blessings to come through? As much as we would like to ignore the fact of the existence and works of the enemy does not stop him from working. I never thought of that before and I was not totally convinced, but I was willing to try right? That day I went home and I had simple a conversation with God as I did not quite know how to approach this kind of topic. So I just said: Father God, you know my heart, that I would love to have a baby…. unsure I continued, I come against every demonic force, spirit, principality that is stopping me from getting pregnant and I rebuke it in the Name of Jesus. Let thy will be done our God and please give me the peace that surpasses all understanding, in Jesus Name, amen. A month later I fell pregnant with Liam. Was in spiritual warfare throughout the pregnancy as my womb was trying to push out the foetus. This morning was just giving God the praise and honour for the life of Liam as it is his 12th birthday. I will never forget the pain I went through but I realize that our pain is always preparation and training for us to reach out to others with similar or worse pain. Yet, with my heart in pieces in my hands and in different seasons and circumstances I got the point where I surrender it to Him saying whatever Your Will God, I will accept it. Now years later, God has prepared the hearts of my husband and children to fullfil my lifelong dream which now became my husband’s priority, To adopt children. I pray that God will give you the desire of your heart.

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