Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Line


About this time last year, my husband and I started talking seriously about having a third child. Not that we were ever closed to the idea, but I’d had some struggles with getting my health back in shape after James’ birth, so we’d been effectively using NFP to space pregnancies a bit in order to give my body a chance to heal. But, after a year, things were back in order, and I was ready to try again.

God and my body, it seems, had other plans.

There are months when I know for certain I’m not going to be pregnant, but some months, I find myself wondering. And then there are the bittersweet months when I really think I might be…only to find that single pink line on the pregnancy test. I am put in mind of Anne Shirley who loved to “soar on the wings of anticipation.” She thought, and I tend to agree, that it “almost pays for the thud” that often follows.

Hope is like that. We soar. We thud. But, if we are Christian—and I think Anne would agree here—we also trust.

Can I trust God as much with my infertility as I did with my fertility?

I am walking a fine line between keeping an eye on my health (most 27-year-old women who have had two children in close succession do not find themselves suddenly irrevocably infertile) and keeping faith. There is blood work to be run, and there are vitamins I may take, but there is also a bevy of options that I must sadly turn aside from. Could I take matters into my own hands and virtually guarantee myself a third baby? With today’s technology, it’s likely. But, it’s a line I’m not willing to cross.

And so I wait and soar on wings of hope.

For two pink lines.


  1. I understand what you're going through - it took us over a year to get our first (when I was 27 too!) only to find out when he was born that the reason was endometriosis - and that we only have a 40% chance of conceiving. Discovering that was heart breaking yes, but it made me realize just how lucky I was to get pregnant in the first place as I was working against 60% odds without knowing it.

    I hope and pray you don't have to wait too much longer!

  2. Beth, I would bet (yes bet) my last dollar that you're not infertile. It's just not time right yet.

  3. Dear Bethany,

    We waited and wondered for 7 months between the return of my cycle and conceiving our second child. My heart would beat faster as I forced myself not to look at the test for a few minutes, and then I'd see the single pink line and often cry.

    Our precious second son was born a few weeks before this past Easter. Just in time to be baptized at Easter Vigil as my husband and I were received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Our hearts were full to bursting that night, and God's timing seemed just right.

    May the peace of the Lord be with you as you wait for those two precious pink lines. I'll be praying.

    Jenny Parish

  4. Molly - Thank you for sharing your own story. God bless you in your own struggle.

    Anon - My gut instinct is to agree with you, but of course we never know what God has in store. I'm just trusting his will and his timing right now.

    Jenny - Maybe your prayers will make the difference ;-)

    To those of you who emailed me with your kind thoughts and your own stories, thank you. It really means a lot.

  5. I'm pretty sure I have age-related infertility. This wouldn't be the case with're really quite young, but I'm 44. I didn't date my now-husband until my late 30s, and didn't get married until I was 40. Four years later without a pregnancy, I doubt I'll ever have a baby.

    I know that even following Catholic doctrine, I could do a few more things (though not IVF) but I'm actually at peace with however my life turns out, child or not. In my mid-thirties, I did go through strong yearnings for a child, but alas I had no potential husband. Now that I'm finally married to a wonderful man (thank you Jesus!) I'm so grateful for him that I'm perfectly happy without a child, just with me and DH.

    However...the few times my period was a couple days late, and I took the test, I felt sad when I saw that line (or the "not pregnant" words, in their plain, no-nonsense font). Yet part of me felt relieved too, because it means I won't have to deal with the heartache of birth defects and miscarriage (much more common at my age than yours).

    God sent me the husband I needed, AND led him to convert to Catholicism, so I know God can do miracles and maybe he will bring us a child. (And yes, I've considered adoption, but all those horror stories about attachment disorders scare me.)

    I guess my point is, even if you only have two children and no more (which is highly unlikely, given your age) it's more children than some of us will ever have. I'm not saying that to sound bitter or to make you feel guilty (I really am happy with my life and I know you are very grateful for yours). I'm just showing another scenario...44 and never pregnant.

    And it does get annoying when well-meaning friends say "Have you tried IVF?" It's especially annoying when the Catholics say this! But oh well...

    Anyway, praying that you'll conceive soon. :)

  6. Maryann, I do understand. And, I am so glad that you are at peace with whatever the Lord sends your way. And, I know what you mean about well-meaning comments being the thing that sometimes upsets your peaceful cart. The one that gets me is when people see my little girl and little boy and say "Oh, perfect. You have one of each! Now you don't have to have to try for another one." I just say, "They are perfect," and move on.

  7. Praying for you, Bethany---I always find it a comfort that God knows our every step before we even take it---I hope that's an inspiration to you as you wait and pray.

    Take care,

  8. It's sad, hearing this. It seems that the good, loving people of the world sometimes have the heaviest crosses to bear. I think that's what makes them so good and loving.

    I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum as you, Bethany...we never had to 'try' with either child. They just WERE. And the few times that I've had to take a test, those three minutes are the most panic stricken 3 minutes of my day, my life, my week.

    I'm not sure what your health struggles were after James, but I'll be perfectly honest here for you - I've been fighting PPD since around the time my Grace was born (she's 20 months). The antidepressant that worked for me is, of course, a class X drug. If I would get pregnant, that means that the baby would have severe birth defects, I'd run the risk of miscarriage, etc. So for now, we prevent conception, but since my cycle isn't regular, we have to use a diaphragm. Thankfully, my priest has advised that my situation falls under the "grave situation" that it's okay to prevent conception. Until my body regulates my cycle, we can't use NFP successfully.

    To be clear, I'd love a baby with different needs just as much as I love my other two. But I don't want to risk harming a child because I can't be off my meds...not yet.

    You are in my thoughts, my dear. Know that I cry with you every month at that one pink line.

  9. Looks like we're in the same spot, Bethany. My younger child is now 3.5 and I'm 28 - and every month I keep hoping that maybe, just maybe, this will be it... Not yet. We don't have the means for fertility testing or anything like that, so we just have to see where it will lead to. I feel very blessed to have my two children but the family just doesn't feel complete yet - but who knows what God's plans are...

  10. Love and prayers, Bethany! You're a wonderful example of faith and God richly rewards those who are faitful to him.

  11. But a wisp of a girl, I cannot even pretend to understand what you and your husband are experiencing. I do long for the day when I give birth to my first child, for I anticipate it being an experience unlike any other.

    Nonetheless, I know that the Lord controls my womb, and at times, He, in His absolute sovereignty, closes those of even the most devout women. Resting in this truth is hard.

    However, my life has been tossed topsy-turvy by the miracle of adoption. Though I do pray that you and your husband will be given the gift of another biological child, I feel led to slip that thought in your mind. Perhaps you have already considered it; perhaps you are utterly against it. I cannot know.

    It truly is a beautiful picture of the Gospel, of the work that Christ accomplished at Calvary. After being so alienated, God's willingness -- no -- His enthusiastic, burning desire to adopt and reclaim us as His children will never cease to amaze me. Yes, I knew this before my sister was adopted, but going through the process has only illumined the majesty of that truth even more.

    Adoption is addictive, I will tell you that! Once you have one child, all the other fatherless ones seem to call for you! But, I think that is some of its beauty, the fact that compassion intensifies in ones life. I don't know -- I'm just rambling now.

    Know that I truly do hope that the infertility you are facing today is but a passing trial that the Lord has seen fit to challenge you with; I hope that He blesses you with a very fertile womb. All that withstanding, I think the Lord wanted me to share this with you!

    I pray that this is helpful and not discouraging. I know that you are listening for God's direction in this matter. Isn't it so loving of Him to give us promises that we can rest in?

    God bless!

    Jane Ellen

  12. Jane Ellen - Thank you for your input. Adoption is, in my mind, truly its own "thing" and I hate to speak of it only in response to fertility issues, but YES it is a beautiful picture of Christ's saving work in the world--putting the fatherless into families. My husband and I are both only children, so this is not a route that our immediate families went, but we both have adopted cousins, and we marvel at how seamlessly God knits together families even where genes are not shared.

    God bless,

  13. Dear Bethany, it has been a while since I commented, but this time I just wanted to say...

    G-d is good, He is right, He is true, He is love. He will give children as He sees fit, and if you are open to life, there can be no doubt you are acting upon His will.

  14. Anna couldn't have said it better....Amen!

  15. I can envision more children beneath your magnificent wings.
    Christine Wilkes


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