I’ve laid awake at night scrolling through decades of apologies I’ve needed to make — instances when I didn’t know the unintended pain I’d inflicted or when I didn’t understand someone’s silent suffering. With age, maturity, and hard-fought life lessons, there comes a new understanding of grief. It’s multi-faceted with layers of nuances we never imagined.
I started writing at (in)courage (where I first posted this) when the youngest of our five children was in kindergarten. With a large family by choice, the pain of infertility was the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, my parents celebrate thirty grandchildren from only four kids. People joked that there must be something in our family water, and when our eldest son got married, he ran with it. He and his precious wife prepped me for the eight grandkids they’d give us right away.
I couldn’t wait. Our home has been the launching pad for some of God’s greatest missional work. And as I’ve made mothering decisions, it’s been with the knowledge that my parenting choices impact not only our own children but our children’s children. The covenant of family weaves legacy components, and now I had the honor of an additional generation.
But when our son and daughter-in-love found out they had a minute chance of having biological children, we were all devastated. Life changed. Dreams shifted. Future plans were instantly rearranged.
With hundreds of Bible verses addressing the blessing of children, they’d stepped forward offering their family and fertility to Him believing, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them” (Psalm 127:3-5a).
So why couldn’t this Scripture be their story?
Infertility isn’t often addressed from a future grandmother’s point of view, but watching your beloved child be filled with such heartbreak and face closed doors is a pain for which I wasn’t prepared. While it’s not a cancer diagnosis or a devastating car accident, that diagnosis changed everything. Yet amidst such disappointment, the Lord has drawn me closer to Himself.
My empathy and sensitivity towards those suffering in silence has increased. One out of every eight women deal with infertility issues. Compound that with the pain that one out of every four women miscarry at some time in their motherhood journey, and we have vast ministry opportunities to encourage and support women at every gathering. For generations, these were topics not talked about amidst the “quilting bees” of life. Stunning statistics sat buried alongside hidden hopes for the future.
If you’ve previously walked this road or are presently pleading for God to expand your family whether as a mother or grandmother, I recognize the grief and exhaustion you’re carrying. On behalf of myself and others who didn’t understand the devastation before, I am so sorry for our insensitivity; I know it can be a lonely journey.
It’s been over four years of holding our son and daughter-in-love’s sorrow near to my heart. I’ve wrestled hard with the Lord over this diagnosis and He’s okay with that. I’ll admit that I’ve even gotten a little judge-y, pointing fingers at others wondering, Why them and not us? My sin has bubbled up, yet He welcomes my questions, my cries, and even my dashed dreams. He lets me mourn and then reminds me that His Word will not return void. So as the months turned to years, we were invited to claim Galatians 6:9 as our pillar of hope:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
With that goal, I’ve decided to usher my heart of sadness into declarations of praise for the Lord’s faithfulness and to walk with those journeying through silent suffering. Does this change our kids’ prognosis? No. Are there still questions and uncertainty? Absolutely. But the same God who opens wombs closes them too, so we persevere and trust in His goodness. I choose to believe His promise of hope in a plentiful harvest because it will come at the Lord’s right and appointed time. I have no idea what that will look like, but I know that every embryo, every baby, and every child matters. And so I wait as God continues to write the story for my children.
While He delights in showing His power through miracles, my expectant prayers have shifted: Lord, please expand their family in any way which brings You the most glory. This is hard, but it’s all for You.
And shouldn’t that be our cry every day? With work or neighbors, family or friends?
Show me how to bring You the most glory, Lord. Every single choice is all for You.
Let’s not become weary in our wait. His harvest is coming.
***Much of this article was taken from journaling I’ve done over the last four years when this wasn’t yet my story to share. I also wrote about what I do as I’m struggling with questions and grief in my article “Raise a Hallelujah.”
I’ll write more about their journey with Embryo Adoption soon.
Beautiful, Jen. Yes, we have so many regrets about things we say in youthful ignorance. May the Lord give us eyes to see and hearts to feel the hardships others face. Praying for this child, whom God has chosen for your son and daughter! What a beautiful story of faithful trust they will have for her as the beginning of her life! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
thank you, friend xoxo
My husband and I walked through infertility for 3.5 years. It was one of the darkest times of my life. I was kindergarten teacher by trade but unable to become what I really wanted to be – a mom. God worked in miraculous ways through foster care, adoption, and birth. We never could have written a better story for our family than He did.
I’m so sorry for the pain you experienced during that season. It’s a pain that so many can’t begin to understand but so thrilled to hear how he’s written your story in even more beautiful ways. 🙂
Thank you sharing. My husband and i have been married for 12 years. We even went through the NEDC embryo program with hopes of birthing a baby into our family and it ended in failure and miscarriage. I’ve followed you for a while and even went to a conference at Lake Junaluska. It was difficult to see your post about your son and daughter in law were successful and getting what I’ve hoped and prayer for for a long time.
So while I say all of those difficult things I am so happy you all will get to celebrate this new life. AND that God graciously has enriched your journey with Him and given you a seasoned perspective of HIS timing and the monumental gift of life
Oh precious Jayne – thank you for sharing just a bit of your story because while our kids haven’t walked the journey for nearly as long as you, I do understand a bit of the pain you’re experiencing as this transfer cycle wasn’t the first they experienced either. I am so very sorry for your miscarriage. I’ve held my breath their whole pregnancy because she’s had one complication after another and I knew to take nothing for granted since there are no guarantees. I don’t know if you are attempting another round with NEDC but I’d be honored to continue praying that the Lord brings comfort in the darkest seasons. It’s a challenge to choose to hold both the grief and celebration knowing both are mentioned so often in Ecclesiastes.
With our son being the only cousin out of 35 that have pregnancy announcements left and right, our empathy has grown so much. People often don’t know how to respond or forget and can be foolish with their comments. Even though I am adopted, I think everyone assumes a biological child is always in their future. It’s so hard and I want you to know I am honored you shared a bit of your story with me.
It really is a lonely journey. I have miscarried and then I was infertile. We tried what we could, but we couldn’t afford some of the expensive pathways at the time. Then my husband left me, after we had moved across the country to live near his family. So I truly was alone, and now many years have gone by. I had always wanted to be a mother, but my friends say maybe it’s for the best. They don’t know how that hurts me. Poverty has been a big factor in my not being able to be a mother. But circumstance also. And now I’m in my early 60’s and my friends are just becoming grandparents. It still hurts even at this age. But my blessing has been that I was a teacher and made a difference in the lives of many children, many of whom have kept in touch with me. Now I teach adults part time, so I still have the blessing of helping others. I understand that sometimes God’s plan isn’t the same as my plan. I have to trust in that. But it still hurts. And people really don’t understand. Congratulations on your new grandchild and also on your newfound understanding.
Lisa – I am so sorry that I am only now seeing your very transparent and heartfelt comment. I wish I had responded right away.
Often I don’t understand God’s plan and as I read your comment, my heart aches for you. I don’t agree with your friends that it’s for the best. We never know exactly why something happens and you will probably never know until you are face to face with the savior, but it’s Okay to voice the loneliness. He understands and hears that. Thank you for giving back as you help others. Serving really does shift our own selfishness, doesn’t it? At least I’ve found that in my own life. Thank you again for telling me a bit of your story. I am honored to hold it close.
I am a long time reader of beauty & bedlam, finding you when my children were small (they are 23 & 25 now.) Our oldest took a long and painful 7 years to make our acquaintance. We were so blessed, as we had prayed long and hard. I told God if he would just give me one, I wouldn’t ask for another, and I didn’t, but he blessed me anyway. Looking back, those precious children arrived at the very right time. Any earlier and I probably would not have been able to stay home with them. Your now knowing the struggle so many of us go through will undoubtedly help someone else in the future. Keep doing what you do best. I love what you write! Really miss the frugal fashionista though 🙂
Daphne – thank you for this comment. It’s unbelievable to think that we’ve “met” years ago and both our families have grown up during this new digital age. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey as you waited for your precious blessing. You are so right. God’s timing is always for our best but it sure can be painful in the process.
And YES, I miss my frugal fashionista posts too. That’s where so many started following me way before thrifing was cool. I had to figure the nay sayers all those years. I still shop and dress that way. I’ll need to put some more up on Instagram. 🙂
Hello Jen! I found you through the Compel training on blogging. I was so pleasantly surprised to find this wonderful piece filled with empathy and grace. My husband and I have struggled with infertility for about a decade and it is so refreshing to hear your perspective. Many avoid the topic because of how painful it is, and while that is totally understandable, it also makes infertility an extremely lonely place to be.
Our prayer has always been that God would grow our family however He saw fit and by His grace alone we are a family of 5 today. We followed the call to become foster parents several years ago. We didn’t know it then, but we would end up adopting our 3 children through the foster care system. Although our beautiful family is more than I could have ever imagined, I still have a lot of healing to do when it comes to that part of me that will always wonder what it is like to experience life growing inside of me.
Your obedience to be a voice in this silent struggle has confirmed God’s voice in my own life as I am embarking on a journey as a fellow writer trying to find my place. I came to see an example of a functioning blog, I did not expect to resonate so strongly with you in an area of my life that I avoid confronting if I’m being honest. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your honesty and Biblical encouragement today.
My heart goes out to your family, I will pray for God’s help and grace as you wait on your miracle!
Amber – thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comment. Sorry that we have found a connection through such a painful season, but I’m so thrilled to hear about your adoption journey. I am an adult adoptee and know the joy found in that. And we are grandparents now to our precious new born granddaughter through embryo adoption. That’s a whole new kind of miracle for sure.