I have had all this time now to reflect back on our IVF and infertility journey. The ups and down and goods and bads. I came up with 6 specific things that God taught me along the way, and I thought hey, I’m going to share that with you guys. Really I think this can speak into anyone’s individual journey through the depths of a valley, it doesn’t just have to be IVF or even infertility. Truths and lessons come out of any season of bitter cold, you just have to open your eyes and heart to take them in.
First. I learned that fear is in us. It is real and strong and overwhelming and irrational and clingy. I learned that it is hard to shake and hard to get over on our own. Fear comes in and makes us believe a truth that may not even be there, makes us give our thoughts over to possibilities that may not even take shape. Fear doesn’t care how it ruins our day. But most importantly, I had to learn that fear is most definitely not from the Lord. As fear came in waves, I had to learn to turn my eyes to my Father. The conqueror of fear, not the giver of fear.
Second. Prayer is powerful. Prayer can take away fear, prayer can calm hearts, pray can heal. Prayer can do more than our little minds even understand. We have the opportunity to talk directly to God. He hears us, he listens to us, he wants to talk with us. And when you have an army of people praying over you and for you, God hears that loud and clear. The power of prayer can work deep into the cracks of our hearts and into the depths of our souls. I want to keep my days running with the energy I feel from convening in the quiet moments with God. I want that sweet power to fuel me.
Third. This brings me to number three: God works miracles. No, it isn’t something he just did in the Bible. It isn’t something he hung up the towel on or decided to take a break with. He still works miracles today, all the time. We just have to open our ears and eyes and be present in them. When my hcg numbers were so low and hope was almost non-existent inside of me, I asked so many people to be doing that powerful thing called prayer, and God answered with a miracle. He answered by raising my numbers and growing this beautiful baby boy inside of me. He created the miracle of life and brought beauty out of ashes.
Fourth. IVF can really take away the joys of pregnancy. Yes, I am sure every pregnancy comes with its share of scares and anxieties and I am not downplaying that, but IVF and infertility can do its own little thing to your heart. You go from pregnancy being something not real or tangible, not possible, something that had become merely science and numbers, and suddenly it becomes a real life thing going on inside of you. A tiny fetal pole then finally a beating heart and then growth, and your heart and your mind don’t know when or how to break down that wall that is disconnecting you from feeling the closeness of life with your new baby. When is it time to truly feel the joy of this life? When is it safe to give into what is happening inside of me? Back to that powerful thing called prayer I had to go. I needed God to take away the lies and fill me with truth. It took time to settle in, and there are still times that it feels like I am living someone else’s life, but I’m not. This is the miracle that God has given us.
Fifth. Adoption. Through our journey of infertility, God poured onto our hearts about adoption. When I was little, I always talked about adopting a little child from Africa. As I grew older, the dreams slipped from my head, but God held onto them. I remember reading Sara Hagerty’s book Every Bitter Thing is Sweet one night as I took a bath and had extended time with the Lord and the immense and overwhelming feelings of peace and trust that rushed over me as I felt God opening my eyes to what he had for us. And the emotions continued as I brought that story to Cole, and he spilled the truth that God had been speaking adoption into his heart as well. We have always dreamed of a big family, and as infertility began to plague us, I had started to believe that it was no longer an option for us. But instead God spoke to us that he would grow our family his own special way, internationally, domestically, right here inside of me; kids that look like us and kids that don’t; kids with our color of skin and kids with different colored skin. Our family will be a picture of his kingdom, and the joy that brings me is more than I can even explain.
Sixth. God’s plan is the best plan. I have always prayed this and spoke it over my life, but it has become more than just words. It has become a bold and obvious reality. What I had thought up for my life is nothing compared to what he has. No, I didn’t dream of infertility, but God used it in his plan to grow Cole and I closer to him and closer to each other and give us vision for what he wants instead of what we want. I don’t know how he will shape the rest of this life he has for us. I don’t know what adoption will look like for us, how money will be provided for it, when it will take place, but I know I can trust him to bring about what he wants and what he desires. I know he will hold us and take care of us as we are bound to enter new valleys and dark seasons. And I now have this anticipation of what he is going to teach me next. I now have this desire to not have as many expectations and to live more freely in his grace and love. I will continue praying over my life that God’s plan is the best plan.
I’m sure IVF and infertility taught me more than 6 things. I’m sure it taught me a billion things, but if I wrote all of those things down, we could be here a long time. So these 6 are what I leave you with and what I will specifically hold near and dear to my heart. I pray with all of me that you can have the ability to see goodness in the midst of bitterness in your own journeys, and I pray that I can remember these truths myself as I walk into new valleys of darkness.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”