I haven’t written anything for a while, and to be honest, it’s because I haven’t felt like writing. I started this blog hoping to share encouragement with other women struggling with infertility, hoping that I could find fulfillment and happiness during my challenges and help others to do the same. But lately I haven’t felt like looking on the bright side. I guess I’m in a season where when infertility knocks me down, I’m not jumping right back up to my feet. Recently infertility has punched me in the gut, and I’ve spent hours on the ground sobbing until no more tears would come. Then feeling numb, I start crawling through another day, taking another prenatal vitamin out of the hundreds I’ve already taken, enduring another day of work in a job that leaves me feeling burned out and unappreciated, surviving another week only to realize on Sunday that my husband and I are now officially the only childless, not pregnant couple in our church congregation under the age of 50. (Thank you so much, naive young newlywed couple, for announcing over the pulpit that you’re expecting and the baby is due a month before your first anniversary.)
So I haven’t posted during this time because I didn’t want to just complain and come across as a Debbie Downer. I hesitated to write anything because I didn’t feel capable of putting a positive spin on everything. But now I’ve decided that I’m not going to apologize for being real and telling my story, the good and the bad, if only because maybe there’s someone else out there who feels the way I do and needs to know they’re not the only one.
Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year. There’s just something so twinkly and magical and sacred about the Christmas season. I have so many happy memories of Christmas traditions growing up, like making gingerbread houses from scratch, singing Christmas carols for elderly people in the neighborhood, putting up Christmas decorations and always starting with the wood Nativity made by my grandpa, cutting down the tree in the mountains, reading the story of Christ’s birth in the Bible, performing in Christmas voice recitals, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Little Women,” and “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas,” pinning the little felt ornaments on the advent calendar, reading Christmas stories that made my mom cry, driving around and looking at the Christmas lights on houses around the town.
When my husband and I got married it was so exciting to start doing many of the traditions we’d each grown up with together as a couple. I made an advent calendar with a white Christmas tree on a red background with colorful felt ornaments that matches the calendars that hang in my parents’, grandparents’, aunts’, uncles’, and cousins’ homes. I asked my grandpa to help me cut a wood Nativity puzzle from the pattern he created. My husband and I have cut a real Christmas tree from the mountains each year we’ve been married, and I’ve started to collect Christmas books that now make me cry when I read them. And, a few Christmases ago, we celebrated the season with an extra bit of excitement and anticipation. A few months previously we had felt it was time to add children to our family and began trying to conceive. We were innocent back then. We assumed that sometime soon, two pink lines would appear on a pregnancy test and our journey as parents would begin. That Christmas, we thought we were celebrating our “last Christmas” just the two of us as a couple. We couldn’t wait for children to start joining our family and get to see the wonder of Christmastime through new eyes, through their eyes.
But the two pink lines never came, month after month after month. Around a year later we started seeing doctors and having tests done, hopeful that we’d find out what was keeping us from becoming pregnant, or that Clomid would do the trick for us like it does for so many people. Christmastime came, we were sadder and wiser than we’d been the year before, but surely, this year would really be our “last Christmas” just the two of us, we thought. But it wasn’t.
Time has passed, more tests have been taken, more medical interventions have been attempted. But this Christmas, we’re no closer to answers than we’ve ever been. We don’t know the cause of our infertility. We don’t know what it will take or how long it will take for us to finally sit by the glow of a Christmas tree with our baby in our arms. It’s another “last Christmas.” And each “last Christmas” that passes seems to squeeze at our hearts a little harder, making a season that has always been so sweet have a bitter aftertaste when we have to watch the unreserved joy of younger couples among our family and friends as they eagerly anticipate the baby soon to be born to them or take their little one to sit on Santa’s lap for the first time. Even remembering the true “reason for the season” can feel like one more reminder of our pain, since we all know Christ came to earth as a newborn child.
Right now, there’s only one thing that makes another “last Christmas” bearable for us. And that is hanging on to the truths that the prophet Alma testifies of in the following verses of scripture (found in Alma chapter 7) from the Book of Mormon:
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
I’ve been reading those verses over and over lately. One day as I was reading verse 12 I felt the spirit of God testify to me that because of the reality and scope of Christ’s Atonement, it would not be inappropriate to mentally substitute a few words in the verse to apply to our personal situation:
12 And he will take upon him infertility, that he may loose the bands of infertility which bind Hannah and Shawn; and he will take upon him their sorrows, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor Hannah and Shawn according to their sorrows.
That’s the way I read that scripture now, because even after all the disappointments we’ve faced and the pain we continue to feel, I have to cling to the belief that one day, we will be loosed from the bands of infertility that bind us; and one day (hopefully soon), the sorrow that permeates our souls will make room for comfort and healing from the One who paid the price to know how to succor us.