He Said (Brian’s Story)
Psalm 127:3-5 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! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
That passage is extremely painful when you cannot have children. And, it’s a pain that is deep in your heart and your soul that is not easily soothed. In many ways this is a much more painful story to tell than my story of childhood sexual abuse. I am sharing my side of the story of our struggle with infertility. Karin will share her side soon.
As many of you have read Karin’s story you might remember that one of the promises she believed God gave her after she got home from the hospital was that she would have many children. This was a promise that got her through many dark nights and gave her much hope for the future. When she and I were dating we often dreamt about what our family would look like. We envisioned a large family (and I’m talking The Duggers large) that included biological, foster and adoptive children. This terrified our families who weren’t even sure if we would make it past our first year of marriage.
One of the sayings that we used to share with each other while we were dating was “We don’t know what the future holds but we know Who holds the future”. We believed that we were in God’s hands and that we could trust Him with our lives. Part of this trust, we decided, was to trust God with “our” womb. It just didn’t make sense to us to say that we trusted God with everything else in our lives but that in the area of how many kids we will have we would control it.
We determined that we would not ever use protection. We, and our family, were sure that we would be pregnant within months- if not sooner. But, months went by and nothing happened. Soon months turned into a year and a half and still nothing happened. We began mentoring kids and became foster parents. We took in over a dozen kids and loved all of them. We even thought we would adopt a couple of beautiful little girls. But, we also kept hoping for the day when we would have biological children.
Soon, the year and half turned into several years. I often “joked” with Karin that I should have stock in First Response. It seemed like every month there were signs of pregnancy. But, every month we were rudely reminded of our failure to have children. Some months it was tougher because it really seemed that all “signs” pointed to positive. We went by feelings, instincts and various “signs” that we thought we could trust. But, month after month and year after year we had to finally resign ourselves to the reality that something was really wrong.
I didn’t want to admit this because I was quite sure the problem did not lie with Karin. Afterall, she had already had two kids. I like to see myself as the provider for our family and one of the greatest blows to my “manhood” is when I cannot provide things that my family needs. Karin is not one to get wrapped up in material things for the most part. But, her greatest need and the thing she longs for most is to be a mother and to raise a large family. The one thing that she, and I, desire most I cannot provide for her.
We went through years of crying out to God and trusting that God would know our hearts. We claimed Scripture that told us to trust God with all our heart and he will give us the desires of our heart. We did all of this and still nothing. We fought against feeling betrayed and angry. I couldn’t understand why we could not have kids. I really would look around and wonder why all of these stupid people could have kids and didn’t want them and I was begging God for children and couldn’t have one.
After we had been married almost seven years our families started encouraging us to get treatment. Karin had been asking me to do that for years and I refused. I am also a very prideful and stubborn person. I figured we would get pregnant when it was supposed to happen. It was like that old illustration where the guy was standing on the roof while the flood was rising. He prayed to God to help him when a boat came up and asked him to jump in. He refused and said he was waiting on God. I finally saw Karin’s pain and knew that I couldn’t refuse the attempt. It was humiliating to take this step and to be seen as weak. But, I also had to see it as a way God might be answering our prayers.
If I thought that agreeing to being tested was humiliating that would not compare to the humiliation of the actual tests. I thought the doctors should have bought me dinner first for what all they put me through! If you’ve been through this then you know how intrusive it is and just what I’m talking about. Karin said “welcome to my world” and that “that’s how intrusive it is for women when they get their annual exam.”
We waited anxiously for the results. The dr. called us back in and gave us the news that we already knew. Karin was very fertile and I was basically sterile. We had a few options but the most affordable was the least promising. It was an IUI. We knew going into it that it would be a long shot but that we had nothing to lose. We believed that because I was willing to get tested and to find out what was wrong that somehow God would finally give us children.
Of course we had high hopes. We started dreaming about what it would be like to have a biological child. We prayed and thanked God for directing us to the Dr’s and that we would still trust him with our womb. We were sure that this was going to be when we would finally be able to have a biological child. We told God that “no matter what happened that we would trust him”. We really saw that as just a formality. The results were a “given”.
Days went by and we waited to take the pregnancy test. The day finally arrived and Karin went and took the test. I paced back and forth wondering what my reaction would be. Sadly, like so many times before my reaction would be the same as every other time. Putting my arms around Karin and telling her that it would be alright and to not be too upset. I tried not to show my disappointment but the sadness I had in my heart grew a little deeper.
We were so sure that we would be pregnant that Karin had ordered a onesie to surprise me with on Father’s Day. The onesie said “The Force Is Strong With This One”. The onesie arrived and was like a dagger in my heart. I meant to send it to my brother for his baby due in late August/ early September. I couldn’t stand looking at it.
In late September my mom died unexpectedly. Earlier that year my maternal grandfather had passed away. My relationship with my mom is another story but we flew out to Arizona for the funeral. When we got back to Indiana Karin lost her job. If we had to deal with one of those things it would have been a challenging year but to deal with all three was extremely stressful.
Karin and I began fighting a lot. I really thought we were not going to make it and we had both seemed to have resigned ourselves to that. I was finishing up a Masters degree and graduating in December. The holidays were really bad and I still don’t like looking at pictures from that year even to this day. It was the closest Karin and I had ever come to really separating.
But, we made it through the holidays. I didn’t mention that Karin had taken another job and that business closed it’s doors right after Christmas. I also didn’t mention that we were trying to plant a church and we decided with everything else going on that it was not the right time to continue with that. The stress continued to increase but we pulled together to make it through. We decided that divorce would not be an option and recommitted ourselves to each other.
January 26th, 2008. Karin was downstairs having a devotional. She said that she really felt like God was prompting her to take a test. She had taken one earlier in January and after the devastating news, she argued back with God. She was three weeks late but was bound and determined not to let her hopes go there one more time. However, God’s voice grew louder and she submitted with an eye roll and took the test.
But then it happened. Before even a minute was up, a bright pink positive sign appeared. In disbelief, she ran upstairs to tell me. I came rushing out of the bathroom when I heard her calling my name. I told her to calm down and to look at it again and make sure she wasn’t misreading it. She wasn’t. We jumped for joy, we shouted and we hugged. We cried and prayed and thanked God. Then we ran to Tayler’s room, woke him up and shared the news. He was definitely shocked. The next week, I went and got another test to make sure. Karin was terrified to take this test. But, alas the second one was positive as well.
I know most people wait to tell the news but we called everyone at 7 in the morning and told them the news. We just couldn’t contain the excitement. We immediately posted it on our blog and made the appointment for the doctor. Of course she confirmed what we knew and gave us the due date of September.
I mentioned all of the stressful things we were going through because there was no reason for that to have been the time when we got pregnant. It was probably the one time in our marriage where we were not trying to get pregnant. We do not understand why that was the time that God had chosen to give us our child but we were grateful for it. And was it just coincidence that the due date was exactly the same week, a year later that I had lost my mom?
September 2008 finally arrived when we would meet our son. We had dreamt of this day for almost a decade. We imagined him with dark hair and that he would be a big baby. But, like everything else we were caught off guard. Our son William Chase came out as a beautiful blond haired, blue eyed baby boy that weighed 6 pounds. We were going to name him William Bradford after my father but allowed our teenage son to help with the middle name. He chose Chase and we thought it was perfect because of how long we had chased this promise!
The infertility did not stop there. We continued with the “no protection” plan and have yet to have any more kids. I love my son with all my heart and am beyond thankful for him. But I still feel the pain of not being able to bear anymore children. I continue to cry out to God for another child and to provide Chase with a baby brother or sister (or both).
We have not given up the dream that we will be able to parent many children and to have a house full of kids. Having Chase is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and His timing. I know not everyone’s story ends this way and that we are extremely blessed. I hurt with those who continue wanting children but cannot for whatever reason.
Karin blogs at www.allpointswhole.wordpress.com
Part 2- She Said (Karin’s Story)
When Brian first asked me to write “my side of the story,” I wasn’t immediately sure of what I would say. For those of you that know me well or follow me on www.allpointswhole.wordpress.com, know that I typically don’t struggle with expressing myself.
I think one of the first phrases that comes to mind is bitter and sweet. I think this article will take on that old adage.
When Brian and I first married, as he stated, we both felt called and convicted to “trust God with our womb.” We started feeling led and then all within a two week time frame heard it repeated in a sermon by Pastor Tony Evans and then read it in a book by Elisabeth Elliot. These two things along with prayer really solidified the conviction for us. Looking back, I think this was very difficult for Brian, not only because he is more practical than I am but also because he was truly trusting.
Let me explain. To the outside world and to myself at the time, it appeared that I was trusting as well. But, looking back, I sometimes wonder if what I was actually doing was not trusting at all but rather taking God’s promise into my own hands. When I think back, I really do believe God called us to this. But, I wouldn’t credit myself with too much trusting since having a large family was such a strong desire of mine.
I vividly remember being married just one month and praying that we would be pregnant. I think I not only wanted a large family because God designed me that way but also because of a deep need for unconditional love and a burning desire for community. I was longing for the family I never had. These are things I couldn’t see at the time. Only God knows our hearts and this is a good reminder that we can not stand in judgement of other people or get in the way of His workings in other people’s lives.
As Brian mentioned, months turned into years and we decided to foster. Fostering was something we always had a passion for. We prayed about it and took the necessary steps. It seemed God really gave us favor and within a year’s time, we were Foster Parents of the Year, I was President of the Foster Care Association and we were taking in children on a constant basis. Ah- to be young and naive again. Sometimes I miss those days.
At the time, I remember singing to one of our little daughters. She was crying and clawing at her skin in an effort to punish herself for what had been done to her. She was only 4 years old. I remember praying and singing over her and it felt like God was giving me the words as they flowed out. I sang the chorus of “Mommy’s here little angel, mommy’s here” over and over again as I wiped the tears from her eyes. I had an epiphany at that moment. Was I again taking it into my own hands? Was I trying to repair my own brokeness. Was I really singing to myself?
Looking back over that time, I again wonder if I was taking God’s promise into my own hands. If he had promised to give us a large family and we weren’t having biological children, then the logical solution was fostering. We had a heart for it anyway, right? Again, God was definitely with us during that time and I will always treasure those few years as some of the best in my life.
When we moved to Indiana seven years ago, we knew that fostering was temporarily behind us. We were working for a church and were busy focusing on our son Tayler. We really wanted to take time to be intentional with him and make sure that he felt like a priority, safe and secure. We wanted to watch him grow and flourish without the stress of fostering or inner city ministry.
After we had been here a few years, the longing (although it was always present) was growing stronger. I remember Brian coming home one day to surprise me for Valentine’s Day. Excited, he asked if I could guess what it was. I immediately thought he had decided to get tested as this was such a desire of mine. When I answered back with that, he looked confused and said no, I got us tickets to a concert. I was hurt and confused that he could be so off the mark.
Like Brian said, there were many months if not years where I questioned God, got angry, took things into my own hands, wrestled with questions and doubts. So, when Brian decided to finally get tested, I thought this was the miracle I had been waiting for.
We both had to go through tests and sadly on the day of a very invasive procedure for me, he couldn’t come with me. He had a meeting at church and since they didn’t even know about our struggle, he didnt’ feel comfortable telling them. As the procedure was over and I found myself in tears, I felt very angry with not only Brian but ministry in general. If we couldn’t be authentic with our church, what was the point?
As he stated, we did the IUI and as he recounted I was sure this was going to be “it” for us. Maybe God just wanted us to think outside of the box and see how science and spirituality work together. The day came for the test. Brian rented “She’s having a baby” and we watched it in anticipation of a positive result. But, just like so many other times, it was negative.
When Brian’s mom died unexpectedly and I moved on from the adoption agency to a sales position, things were very dark for me. I was hurting, angry and running from people, the church and God. December of that year was one of the worst for us and the most stressful of our marriage. As he said, we threw around the word divorce and I had never seen him or myself look so lost.
But, for the first time ever-I realized that God didnt’ OWE me a baby. In the past, I always believed that since I had given him my child, He would restore that to me. But, somewhere in the depths of my soul, I understood for the first time, that the only thing God owed me was death-definitely not a baby.
In January, out of the blue, I started to feel like it was time..that I was going to be pregnant. I am not sure where this hope came from after all that had been going on. I shared this with Brian and just like he had so many times in the past, he came home from work with a test. I took the test and when two lines moved across, I jumped up and down crying that we were pregnant!
But Brian looked at me, then the box and pointed out that it wasn’t the two lines that meant you were pregnant but rather one line and a positive sign. I felt like I had been stabbed in the gut. I remember feeling utterly betrayed and desperate. I sat in the car in my garage and cried a deep, gut-wrenching cry of grief while on the phone with my sister.
She attempted to comfort me. After all, she said, “it’s not really a good time anyway.” She reminded me that Brian’s work was slow, we just lost his mom, my business shut down and we were fighting like crazy.
Oh how we don’t have the mind of God!
Enter January 26th. It was early morning and I had been dedicated for the last month to really meet Jesus each morning. I would light a candle to symoblize His presence and read the word. I was trying to get “back on track” as I had been turning to other things instead of Him for comfort and knew that I was falling down a slippery slope.
I opened my bible and just like I had the last month, asked God to speak to me. I suddenly heard a voice interrupt my quiet time, telling me to take a test. I argued back that it was ridiculous and that I was most definitely NOT going to take a test. So, I sat for a few minutes then closed my eyes once again. I asked God to speak. Again, I heard the instructions to take a test. Again, I argued back.
I am definitely known for being stubborn.
I finally relented. Rolling my eyes, I found an old test. I ripped it out of its wrapping and took it. It immediately showed positive. To say I was completely shocked is an understatement. I ran upstairs and called Brian out of the bathroom. He wasn’t convinced and made me get him the box to read the instructions. He told me to calm down but once he saw that it was indeed positive this time, we rejoiced together then went on to tell Tayler and our family.
After finding out, each moment I was terrified that this miracle would be taken from me…that it was too good to be true. When Brian made me take a second test a week later, I will never forget the fear I had that it would now be negative. I watched the line move across with such intent that it was almost like I was willing it to be there. Shaking, I was so relieved to see that it was still positive.
I was in such disbelief at times that this could really be happening that I would question my own sanity. But it really was true. God was delivering on His promise.
Just when I thought all hope was lost. Just when I thought that my marriage was failing. Just when I thought that we would lose our home because of our respective job issues. Just when I thought that I would walk away from the church, God and anyone else that got in my way.
He was faithful.
When people ask me what my “favorite” attribute of God is, this is always my answer. God’s faithfulness is more than I could ever grasp. “And be sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6
The day that I delivered my beautiful, blonde-hair, blue-eyed baby Chase is one I will never forget. But, the moment that stuck out the most to me and even brings me to tears now, is when they came into our room to release us. I couldn’t believe that he was really ours and that we really were going to get to bring him home! Instead of leaving empty-handed this time, I was taking home this precious gift in the form of our baby boy.
I was in total awe of my faithful Savior and so thankful for His beautiful promise.
*I know there are many of you reading this that are still hurting, still waiting for for this moment to be yours. I have such empathy for you and I continue to speak out on your behalf-for others and those in the church to understand and not ignore the pain and grief that infertility brings.