I have been married for four years and have multiple sclerosis. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for some time and it’s not happening. I think I am capable of being a mom, despite my illness, but it’s making me nervous to see the clock ticking–and for those of us with illness, it ticks a whole lot faster! I don’t want to grow bitter about not getting pregnant yet, but my friends are having kids, doing family events, and now, not only do I feel ousted because my illness slows me down, but I am just not at soccer games and Chuck E. Cheese. How do I cope with all these mixed up feelings?
My heart aches for you. I remember my own similar journey for years back in the late nineties until the day our son was born and we adopted him in 2003. And yes, it really did feel like a long journey! Like you, I wasn’t sure if God was saying, “No” or “Wait.”
I was recently asked me to write about infertility and chronic illness and it took me awhile to be able to find my voice on this topic.
I had just come from a roller coaster ride of emotions:
- First, my husband and I did our research after seeing our son struggling and gained an official diagnosis for him of ADHD (a diagnosis we are glad we’ve discovered!)
- I had also talked with two women who’d poured their heart out about infertility issues and chronic llness;
- I had the most amazing family time with my son’s birth-grandparents and his little brother who lives with my son’s birth mom (Joshua’s birth mom was sick so couldn’t come.);
- My “story” about infertility and illness came out in Janet Thompson’s new book, “Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?: A Companion Guide for Women on the Infertility Journey” (An amazing book I strongly recommend if you are on this detour in life.)
What could I share? I was a mom who was looking at her own weaknesses, not even sure if I had dealt with infertility, if the infertility was due to my use of rheumatoid arthritis medications, or I had just “needed more time.”
As Mother’s Day approaches I see the many women who long to be a mother. And why does it seem the most kind and nurturing women are the ones who seemed to fill the quiet valleys of infertility? Everything can seem personal. . . from wondering why the teenage girl who lives next door is pregnant and miserable about her situation to the woman who is in a marriage she would like to abandon, but she’s staying because she is pregnant. Every abortion suddenly feels like the death of a dream that we have of our own child. How could they?
Women who feel God has given them a craving for motherhood wonder how and when it will ever be fulfilled. For those of us with chronic illness we wonder if we crossed signals with God, because we all know with each passing day our health is getting worse, and therefore, harder to care for an infant. We don’t have the time that others mom have because we are in a race to be mommy before we lose more abilities.
What would I have wanted to hear when I was on this infertility detour? It sure was not, “give it time” or “if you just relax it will happen.” I would have wanted to hear God’s voice somewhere in the middle of the opinions of people who told me I was silly to think I could be a mom. I would have wanted to know God was in control.
And I did. I remember praying, “Lord, I need a baby and if I can’t have a baby, I don’t want to get depressed or obsessed with it. But I need a purpose while I am waiting.” And what He gave me, through a calling and resources, is now Rest Ministries.
God is in control. I don’t ever wish to imply I can speak words for God, but below is, if I had tried to write out what God was telling me during this time, I would have written. I hope you can use it and adapt it as your own. I don’t presume to know the answers to your situation or what God has in store for you, but I do know He can make miracles out of whatever we may perceive as messy situations in our life.
I know your heart. And I know how your heart hurts. You rise each day and put on a smile. But underneath that smile I know you imagine how your life would be different if your dream of being a mom was fulfilled. Would you awake at 5 AM, but with joy instead of anxiety? Would you go to mommy-and-me meetings, instead of talk of your illness on the computer?
In the deepest parts of your heart I understand that you’re beginning to wonder if you have done something wrong, made some mistake, or overlooked an opportunity, to cause your heart’s longing to not be fulfilled. You are wondering if you should have taken that medication, not taken the medication, drank that Diet Coke, had that treatment, and then I would have answered your prayers. You are looking for where you have messed up, so you can fix it and be with child. You have not made mistakes, child, where I was still not in control of the outcome. I have never left your side, and My will will come to pass.
You hear girlfriends complain about how their children are driving them nuts and you bite your tongue. You try to make plans with them, but they are always busy. They have entered into “Parentland” and you can only get a temporary pass for a few hours to babysit.
Child, I do know your longing. I hear your cries; I see you. I have not turned away or ignored your pleas. I see the pain that pierces you when another friend announces her pregnancy. I see you try to hold back the tears as you walk through baby departments to buy a gift for another baby shower. I see your faith when you buy a little baby gift for yourself to hide away and call it your “mustard seed.”
Do not stop talking to Me. I know you may be tempted to allow bitterness and frustration to seep in. Many people do. But this will only lead to a hardened heart and take you farther away from the person I am designing you to be.
Remember, your hope is different because you know me. Your hope should be in Me, not what I can give to you. The world hopes for things and situations. Put your hope in Me.
You can have peace in the midst of turmoil because of My presence. So don’t turn from Me, as I am the only one who can fill that hole.
Not a moment of your misery is being wasted. The closer you draw to me, even when your prayers are not being answered, the more opportunities I will provide for you to find this hope and refreshment, even in the middle of your pain.
I know it is hard to imagine, but I have great plans for you. Remember how when I told Abraham of his children I would bless him with? His wife Sarah laughed. Even in the most unlikely of situations I can make things happen that are beyond your wildest imagination. In fact, it is in the impossible, I most delight in making miracles happen, because then you can share your joy with the world about how you saw Me at work in the crevices of your life.
Hang on, dear child. Stick by my side, as I have promised to be by yours.
Your Loving Father,