I’ve shared it all over the Internet since starting my first blog in February 2017, but it’s time to share it here. I’m new to sharing my faith. I’m new to having my faith. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I’ve always been afraid of rejection and offending people, but God has pursued, caught, held, loved, and strengthened me through infertility and miscarriage, and now I’m ready to be more open about why I really decided to share my story. I pray that no matter where you are in your experience with faith or fertility that my testimony will encourage you.
Here’s the short version:
I wasn’t always a Christian. I was baptized Catholic as a baby, had the Ten Commandments hanging on my wall as a child, and attended church every Christmas Eve as a teenager. Church was something to be endured. Jesus probably existed and was probably a pretty great guy. God… I don’t even know. I was overwhelmed enough just thinking about highway infrastructure and outer space. I had a general understanding of what it meant to be a good person based on teachings from my parents, Kindergarten, and the heartfelt lessons of shows like Boy Meets World and Full House.
When I was 15 years old, I prayed to “God, if there is a God” to please be patient as I explored my faith, you know, so I was covered just in case I died suddenly and unexpectedly. Months later, I had a series of dreams about the same man: the “man I was supposed to be with.” I had never had a recurring dream before, but the same man appeared in several dreams over the course of a few weeks. When I woke up, I missed him. When the dreams stopped altogether, my heart ached for him. The first of this series of dreams ended with me introducing myself, followed by his reply, “My name is–” and the dream ended. Why did the dream end that way? I got the sense I didn’t need to hear his name because I already knew his name. It was someone I had met before. I also got the sense his name started with an A but wasn’t Adam. Naturally, I couldn’t for the life of me think of another male name that began with the letter A. This man– not Adam– practiced martial arts, adored children, loved a good adrenaline rush, and– most notably– had a crooked hairline. I had never made this observation about someone in real life, but in my dreams, this man’s face was blurred, accentuating this feature that seriously bugged me!
At 18 years old and two weeks before heading to X-ray school, I logged into my deserted Yahoo email account on a whim and received a pop-up message in the lower right-hand corner. “Hi, I don’t know if you remember me. It’s Anthony. We had a few classes together in high school.” Anthony with an A. Anthony whose name I knew because I was friends with him years earlier, before the dreams. Anthony who at that point had been in the Marine Corps infantry for a year. Talk about an adrenaline rush! We talked for a few days before texting each other recent photos of ourselves. Text message picture quality wasn’t that great in 2009. I couldn’t quite see his face but noticed his hairline was crooked.
We committed to each other in December 2009 and engaged in February of 2011. In October 2011, at age 20, I married Anthony to the tune of Blake Shelton’s version of God Gave Me You in a beach wedding Anthony surprised me with. By that time I had dabbled in agnosticism and Buddhism. I spaced out while Anthony’s childhood pastor read verses from the Bible during our wedding ceremony, though I had heard God Gave Me You several times in the months leading up to our wedding and was glad it made him think of me after a months-long break in our engagement.
In February 2013, Anthony and I decided we were ready to start trying to grow our family. We didn’t get pregnant in the 6 months before his deployment, and we didn’t get pregnant in the 8 months while he was gone. After his return and another 6 months of trying for a total of 12 months, I casually mentioned to my OB that we had been trying for a while and had no success. He ran some tests which revealed a diagnosis of male factor infertility and handed me the contact information for a fertility specialist. I stuck it in my back pocket, smiled, nodded, and went home. We had already decided to forgo medical assistance. I didn’t want anyone telling us we had no chance of conceiving on our own. I wouldn’t believe it, and I didn’t need that nagging doubt in my head.I didn’t want anyone telling us we had no chance of conceiving on our own. I wouldn’t believe it, and I didn’t need that nagging doubt in my head. #infertility #testimony Click To Tweet
I took to Google to learn all the ways we could naturally increase fertility. We eliminated endocrine-disrupting toxins from our home by changing our food, bath products, and cleaning products (see my favorite body and cleaning products here.) Among other lifestyle changes, finally the thing that worked was Softcups. I conceived in May 2015 during a cycle that began on Mother’s Day. Those two pink lines finally appeared on Father’s Day. The baby was due on Valentine’s Day. The timing was perfect. It was meant to be.
It wasn’t meant to be. We lost the baby at 7 weeks. We were devastated. Anthony, who was transitioning out of a 6-year military career had lost his first child and all sight of his identity, his purpose, his faith, and his desire to be a father. He didn’t want to be married anymore. He left.
I was devastated and alone. Desperate, on my knees in pain and defeat, I opened my Bible, my final reach for comfort and direction. It worked for other people. It was worth a try. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” Romans 8:18. I read it over and over until at least I could breathe.
Weeks later, I was at a friend’s house when I received a phone call from Anthony’s boss that Anthony was at his house over an hour away, drunk, and that I needed to come pick him up. I was his wife. He was hurting. I still loved him, and I wanted him to be safe. When I loaded Anthony into the backseat of the car and turned the ignition to head home, immediately our wedding song God Gave Me You played on the radio from the beginning. I knew I had to fight for our marriage. After more breathless nights of devastation, heartache, and loneliness, confusion, I decided I was married and was going to act like it until I no longer was. I prayed that God would work in my husband’s heart to heal him and bring him home. Anthony returned the next day. We took some months to heal physically and emotionally before trying again to grow our family, this time adding baby aspirin to the mix.
In November 2015, I was walking through an exam room at work when I noticed a picture of one of the Duggar daughters happily holding her newborn baby on the front cover of a magazine. I was immediately overcome by jealousy and without thinking about it, I flipped over the magazine and kept walking. Then I stopped and thought, This is not the example I would want to set for my children. I should use this time to prepare to be a mother. I flipped the magazine back over, took a moment to feel genuine happiness for the Duggar daughter and her new baby and went on about my day. I was pregnant at that moment and didn’t yet know it. In fact, given the timeline, that would have been about the time my baby would have implanted. That moment was so powerful for me, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t flipped that magazine right-side up.
Abel (“breath”) Matthias (“gift of God”) was born in August 2016, 8 days past his due date. Had he been born on his due date, I would have returned from maternity leave on Christmas Eve. (I worked at a trauma center.) His birth date pushed my maternity leave to exactly January 1st, 2017, meaning after 3.5 years of waiting for a baby, I could spend all his first holidays at home with him. Had he been born years earlier, on my ideal timeline, I wouldn’t have learned what I did about health. My husband and I wouldn’t have been pushed to figure out some serious issues before having children. Our faith wouldn’t have been tested and strengthened– or in my case, obtained. We might have whole children but a broken home. I might not have become so passionate about breastfeeding or babywearing or gentle parenting. I would be a different mother, maybe not a wife, and probably not a daughter of the King. I never would have chosen infertility or miscarriage, but I can be grateful now for everything I learned during my wait to become a mother and all the ways it has changed me.
In our weakness, God is strong. He pursues us. He is near to the brokenhearted. He works in all things for the good of those who love them. Our sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.
The Way I C It Podcast
To hear more details about my story and my answers to some hard questions (like if I’ve ever considered adoption), listen to my episode on The Way I C It.*
*Just a note for anyone listening, at about time marker 32:30, I state, “Everything was good except for the count.” I meant to say, “Everything was BAD except for the count, so he just had a lot of really bad sperm.”