For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
My story is a little different than the stories that I often hear at women’s retreats. I always thought I’d be a good mom. I have two younger brothers and lots of little cousins and I loved being the “mom” when we would play as young kids. I worked at a daycare center and loved taking care of the babies in the infant nursery …and I also really enjoyed the after school program where the kids were old enough to play games and have lively conversations about anything and everything their little imaginations could dream up. I had lots of babysitting jobs, I worked in the church nursery, and I began teaching our toddler class when I was a young teen.
I assumed that I’d meet the man of my dreams, get married, and have a family of my own. I don’t think I ever even considered the possibility that all my plans would play out in a very different way than I had imagined.
I met my husband when I was 22 years old. My best friend and I were sharing an apartment and my brother-in-law introduced me to his co-worker. We met at church for the first time and we just clicked! As it turns out he had a very good friend who he introduced to my roommate and they also clicked! It was like the coolest real-life version of friends! Things were falling into place left and right. I had a solid job, an amazing fiancé, great friends, a super supportive family. It really felt like all my childhood dreams were coming true.
Just before our wedding my fiancé began taking a new medication for a skin condition he has had since birth. This drug was really a serious answer to prayers but it came with lots of warnings and requirements. The costliest side-effect was that it would cause severe damage to an unborn child so we had to make a really difficult decision that we would never be parents to our own biological children. I loved my husband so much and felt like there were so many children that needed homes that we would find a way to make that work for us. And at the beginning of our marriage when everything was new and fresh, I really believed it would work out just fine.
Doug and I have a very blessed relationship – I actually have the privilege of being married to my best friend! We approached the idea of adoption several times but we never found this as a successful solution. So many times, we got really close yet it didn’t work out for us.
When you are dating someone you are always asked, “when are you getting married”? Then you get married and you are immediately asked, “when are you going to have children”? That question never stops happening. As a married woman, when you meet someone new, one of the first questions you are asked is how many kids you have. When you explain that you don’t have children there is almost always a look of surprised confusion. It makes people uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say. And that moment when you feel like you have to explain this strange circumstance is salt in the wound every single time – a reminder that you’re not quite what you are supposed to be. Women were meant to have babies and you didn’t get that chance.
I have noticed that most of the time when a group of women get together we call out two groups – women are singles or moms. There can be different types of moms (stay-at-home or working) but you almost never hear the category of married without children. Satan has really defeated me into thinking that just goes to show that I am ‘less-than’. I don’t measure up. I don’t fit anywhere, really. My very best friend is in the same place I am. She got there in a different way through infertility, but our results were the same. While we wanted more than anything to be moms, neither one of us got to see that come true. God obviously knew what He was doing when we met as toddlers and stayed the best of friends through our whole entire lives. She has cried with me, laughed with me, raged with me. She’s been defeated, victorious, and inspiring. She’s been an answer to my prayers. I cannot imagine what my life would be like today, in the position I find myself, without her amazing love and support.
When I was sitting in the last THRIVE conference hearing the stories of those UNFINISHED ladies I felt God tugging at my heart with a reminder that I’m unfinished too. I am not less than. Just because I’ve never earned the cherished title of mom, I still matter to Him. I share with you my journey and that of my friend because I cannot fathom going through this without someone to share this heartache. Those that have battled infertility but wind up with that miracle baby still cannot understand how it feels to never get the happy ending. Women who decide that children are just not for them cannot empathize with those of us that would love to have a baby but never get to do so. Going through this alone must be so hard.
God has blessed Doug and I with 20 years of marriage …20 happy years! I am more thankful than I can express in words that God chose Doug and I to be together. Our love is real …and with God’s help, it is enough! Even though our family looks different than I dreamed, I know it’s what God has planned for me.
Kathy and I left the THRIVE conference together and when we got to church the following morning she came and sat down and said I have something strange to share. I couldn’t wait to hear it and said, I too have something to share with you. Both of us had a very direct message from the Lord that morning while in our showers that our story wasn’t only our story. God wants to use us to remind others who are in a similar situation that they matter. They are worthy. And they are also UNFINISHED.
Like many girls, as a child my dream was to grow up and be a Mom. I have older sisters and I can remember how excited they were during each of their pregnancies. Watching the baby grow and feeling them kick, I couldn’t wait to experience that excitement and expectation.
A year after I graduated high school I got married and I felt I was on my way to my dream life. Unfortunately this did not turn out to be my ‘happily ever after’ and after just 3 ½ years of marriage I was divorced. This was not what I had planned for! My dreams seemed to grow a little dim.
My best friend and I got an apartment and I started life again. Her boyfriend came over one night and let me know there was a guy I should meet. 6 months after my divorce (which seemed like a lifetime) I went on a blind date and met the man of my dreams. We were inseparable. Three years later we were married. I had never been happier. A little over a year of marriage we decided it was time to have a baby. A year went by of trying to conceive, then one day my husband pulled me into a huge bear hug pulling me off my feet. When he did this I felt a horrible pain in my abdomen, so bad that I literally saw stars. Something was definitely wrong. A few days went by and my stomach was sensitive to the touch. I called the doctor and he got me right in. He thought I might be having a tubal pregnancy. He did an ultra sound and found that I was not pregnant but had a mass growing on one of my ovaries. Within 3 weeks I was going in for surgery. By the time I went in for surgery I looked as though I were 6 months pregnant. Once he was in there he found that I had endometriosis and it had already destroyed one of my ovaries. He knew how badly we wanted children so he removed the cyst (a 5 lb cyst! Known as a chocolate cyst) and my ovary. He cleaned up as much endometriosis as possible. A month after surgery I was put into an induced menopause to allow my body to heal and to stop the growth of the endometriosis cells. After nine months of this I was then given fertility shots and we had to begin trying right away. 2 years later my doctor advised there was nothing more he could do and we needed to see a specialist. I called to make an appointment and he couldn’t see us until October (this was August). I made the appointment and we just needed to wait. A couple weeks later I started feeling bad. I told myself it was a ‘good’ sign and maybe, just maybe this was it. I went back to my doctor and we had another ultrasound. At this point, I would love to give you the Cinderella story ending and say we were pregnant and had a healthy baby. I was right when I thought, this was it…. It was over. After reviewing the ultrasound my doctor confirmed it. Due to the additional hormones I had received to assist in getting pregnant the endometriosis cells grew like wildfire. It had completely destroyed my other ovary, my uterus and during surgery he also found it on my spine. At the age of 32, I had a complete hysterectomy. My/Our dreams were crushed! I would never have my own child. I couldn’t give my husband a child. I was broken. We had prayed so hard and for so long for a child. Why did this happen? Why us?
Now I know what many of you are thinking, well, if you want a child so bad just adopt. You’d think that would be the logical answer however when your dream of having a child was just physically removed from your body that is not what you want to hear. I felt empty, hollow. We had so many friends and family that were very supportive but none of them could truly understand the pain. However, I knew that God was with us during this time because I felt His peace and comfort.
Years later we started discussing the possibility of adopting. Unfortunately things did not work out for us. After lots of discussions, research and prayer we did not feel it was right for us (at least for right now. Who knows what God has planned!).
Society makes it seem like if you are a woman you are either married and a Mom or you are single. No one ever thinks about a woman who is married with no children (whether it is by choice or not).
Now, 14 years later, I am still happily married to my soul mate and the mom to two 4-legged babies. (I can hear eyes rolling, A dog mom? Really? Let me say we have been very blessed. They are our pride and joy!) We still do not understand why we were unable to have children but we are happy. I am human, there are times when my heart hurts and times when I feel empty inside. It is hard to be around pregnant women and I still to this day cannot attend a baby shower. But I’ve learned that that is ok. There are times when satan tries to tell me that I’m worthless. He tries to tell me that I have no purpose here. I can’t be happy as a childless woman. When I start feeling like this I turn to my heavenly Father (I’ll admit sometimes I don’t run to Him right away. There are times when I have a little breakdown but I know He is there to pick me up). He is my comforter and my peace. He reassures me that He has a plan for me.
My husband and I have special verse that means so much to us. It is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” For so long, I didn’t know what my purpose was. Women are put on this earth to be a wife and Mother. Why am I here? Where do I fit in?
I believe God was using all these years to heal me. To convince me that He does have a plan for me. I feel that now, my purpose for being here (besides being the loving wife to my amazing husband!) is to help other women going through the same thing. To let other women know that just because we are childless does not mean we are worthless or unloved. We do have purpose and we are loved!