Friends, it’s National Infertility Awareness week. Welcome to several new readers of Preacher on the Plaza! And I’m happy to use this blog over the next couple of days to give others a platform to share their stories of grief, loss and deferred longing. Even if “infertility” is not your thing and you read my blog for other reasons, I ask you stick with me for the next couple days. Hear these stories. Chances are you know someone going through infertility or who has infertility in their story just as I wrote about in Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility.
Today I’m glad to welcome my friend and former seminary classmate, Ronda to the blog. She’s a new mom (congrats, Ronda and Stacy!) but has a powerful story to tell about how “having a baby” is really not the end to infertility (Sigh).
This past Sunday I brought my two-week old son to church for the first time. I wanted him to feel the love of this community that has prayed for him since before he was conceived. As the chords of the familiar opening hymn, “Worthy of Worship” began I found myself once again singing this hymn with tears streaming down my face, something that had become all too familiar over the past three and a half years. The words of this hymn have affected me deeply. On this morning I sang with gratitude for the journey and with a realization that I had not reached the end as I’d expected.
Worthy of worship, worthy of praise,
Worthy of honour and glory;
Worthy of all the glad songs we sing,
Worthy of all the offerings we bring.
You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Saviour, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.
When I first learned I was pregnant I was ecstatic.
My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for ten months and we were elated to see a positive pregnancy test. Immediately we began dreaming of what this life growing inside of me would be. However, two weeks later the bleeding began, signifying that the tiny life that we wanted so much was no more. Unfortunately this was a scenario we would experience twice more over the next couple of years. It would take months or a year to get pregnant only for that pregnancy to quickly come to an end. It came to the point where we would pray for a positive pregnancy test and dread it at the same time.
Throughout these painful losses I would go to church and sing “Worthy of Worship” with tears streaming down my face, barely able to make out the words, wondering where God was.
Eventually we began to see a fertility specialist. Maybe we would finally learn why it took so long for me to get pregnant and why I lost each pregnancy. What followed were months of invasive tests, oral medicines, injected medicines, and intrauterine inseminations. Each month brought new emotions, a mix of hope and dread. All of this was taxing on my body and spirit, and it was hard on my marriage. Last summer I wrote to a friend “I’m sitting here in my dining room about to inject myself with another round of fertility drugs, which affect me body and spirit, and I wonder if it’s worth it, if I should just give up.” And yet I would sit in church, singing “Worthy of Worship” with tears streaming down my face feeling lonely and forgotten.
A little over two weeks later, I once again saw two pink lines. Yet, I couldn’t be excited; I wouldn’t let myself be excited.
At the first appointment, where we saw the tiniest speck on the ultrasound, the doctor said that we needed to continue to wait before being optimistic. Then, a few weeks later we heard a heartbeat for the first time. As each week progressed I finally allowed myself to relax a little, to begin to plan. Although I was still waiting for bad news, for the doctor to tell me that things weren’t going well and that I would once again lose the life growing inside of me. I held my breath throughout the entire pregnancy only exhaling fully when my son was placed in my arms for the first time. Two Sundays later I sang “Worthy of Worship” with tears streaming down my face overwhelmed with feelings.
I thought that holding my child would bring the journey of infertility and pregnancy loss to an end. But I’m beginning to realize that this isn’t the end of the journey, or at least it’s not the end I envisioned.
I find that I still mourn the three lives I never got to meet. At the same time I am reminded not to take the life I hold in my arms today for granted. Somehow the journey has given me a different perspective, one which makes me profoundly grateful for every moment (even the sleepless ones), and one which is so deep that I still don’t have words. What I know is that I have been forever changed by my journey of infertility and pregnancy loss. I discovered a community which deeply understood what I was, and am going through. It is this community which is now helping me to see that while the journey hasn’t ended in the way I thought, there is something new coming forth. So I’ll keep singing “Worthy of Worship” with tears streaming down my face in recognition of the journey that isn’t over yet.
[You can listen to this song if you are unfamiliar with it here]
Ronda Gentry is ordained in the Baptist tradition and currently serves as the Director of the Center for Civic Advancement at Tusculum College in Tennessee. She and her husband Stacy welcomed son Owen to the world a few weeks ago. When Ronda isn’t dreaming of sleep, she enjoys exploring her world through travel and reading.