Our National Infertility Week series continues today. (Did you miss the post from Chris Thomas earlier? If so, stop now and read it here). I’m so glad to introduce you to Maren McLean Persaud, my new favorite Canadian who tells a story of hope, longing and loss. Here are her beautiful words-
This past fall, we took all our hope, all our prayer, all our being, and all our money and invested it into the expensive and rigorous fertility treatment known as IVF (in vitro fertilization).
We had been trying to have a baby on our own for almost three years only to find out we had around a 1 to 4 percent chance of that ever happening. IVF was our only option if we wanted to have our own child.
If you have had personal experience with IVF, I don’t need to tell you anything and I salute you.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, IVF is a medical procedure that drains you emotionally, physically, and financially to “retrieve” your eggs and fertilize them with sperm from your partner, or a donor, to create viable embryos that can be put back into you to hopefully achieve a successful pregnancy and live birth.
The process involves a whole lot of needles, drugs, procedures, anxiously waiting for phone calls and embryo updates (spoiler: not all of them make it) and in the end, you might just end up with nothing to show for it.
So we did all that with the confident attitude that it would work, because, why wouldn’t it? We’re young!
And it did work! We got pregnant and even had one little embryo to tuck away in the freezer for a later date. What a great return on our investment.
Three days before Christmas, on our wedding anniversary, we floated into our fertility clinic for the 8-week ultrasound ready to hear the heart beat and successfully “graduate’ from the clinic.
Not even thirty seconds into the ultrasound our doctor said “I don’t have good news”.
After that it’s all a blur, but essentially our embryo was there and had grown, but there was no heartbeat. I would miscarry soon. That night I slept as though I was playing dead. No dreams, no restlessness, just darkness. The next morning, I woke up to myself sobbing, wishing I hadn’t woken up.
‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’
My husband turned into our PR guy, messaging family and friends, letting them know what happened and canceling Advent/Christmas events we had planned to host in our home.
My family rushed in to spend Christmas at our house and they let us be the couch potato, tear-filled slobs we had turned into.
They cooked for us, cleaned for us, looked after us and although we had trouble recognizing it in the moment, brought a lot of light to our darkness.
My husband is a minister and in the days after our ultrasound he had to soldier through services that celebrated a special baby being brought into the world.
Being the bad minister’s wife that I am, I didn’t go to those celebrations with him.
The baby has always been my favorite part of the Christmas story. The fact that God chose to enter our world in that new and hopeful form so full of potential has always filled me with wonder and joy, but not this year.
‘Screw you and screw your baby, God!’
I wasn’t having any of it. How could I hear the ‘good news’ when only days before my Doctor told me there was no good news?
I was literally losing my baby as I rang in the new year.
In the days and weeks that followed I threw myself back into work, almost manically making plans and getting things done.
All the while I was haunted by the exact moment when we heard “I don’t have good news”. I would cry almost every night.
By February every night turned into once a week and by March there was even more space between these “episodes”.
With the Christmas story long behind me I felt like Lent was a good place for me at this point in my life. Focus on the depravity of the human condition while contemplating death on a cross? Yes! Let’s get sad, people!
Lent is coming to an end though and I can feel the tension building in my body as we inch closer to Easter. The Lenten focus on depravity of our sinful nature will turn into celebrating the Love God has for us and death on a cross will turn into resurrection. Ugh.
I’m not pregnant and am still grieving our loss, you expect me to sing Hallelujah soon? I feel like the Grinch, “I must stop Easter from coming, but how?”
Currently, there is hope in the little embryo we have tucked away at the clinic, waiting for us.
There is hope in how even though this experience tried to shred our marriage into tatters, my husband and I have become closer and more tightly knit than before.
There is hope in the stories of infertility and loss that others have personally shared with us; there is hope in that every time I see my psychologist I can honestly tell her I’m doing a “bit better” than last time we spoke.
But ultimately, there is hope because 2000 and some years ago God proved that there is no darkness where God isn’t with us. God will bring all things to a good end, and that is where our hope is.
I will reclaim the doctor’s words: “I don’t have good news” and hope that the absence of Good News is not real.
I want to live a beautiful story of hope.
Maren McLean Persaud grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada and pursued her studies in music and theology at Mount Allison University and then Knox College, Toronto School of Theology. Most recently, she worked as Director of Camping Ministry for the Anglican Church in New Brunswick, where she currently lives with her husband, Christian. Prior to that, Maren worked as a ministry student intern in Alberta where she studied the ways that summer camp can teach the wider church to be more creative in community building and spiritual formation. Maren is most passionate about ministry with children and youth and incorporates her experiences in camping and her musical training into that work. She loves spending time outdoors, drinking her coffee black and laughing until she cries.
**If you are looking for another story of loss, hope and healing check out Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility wherever books are sold.***