Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Merciful Pruning

I've avoided saying this directly for many months now, but I have finally decided to just disclose it.  I guess I was holding it close out of a myriad of reasons: self-protection, fear, a sense of privacy, habit, and who knows what else.  Probably this will come as no surprise as I've alluded to it enough, but Bryan and I have been trying to get pregnant again since November.  Well, that's not exactly accurate.  We were trying to get pregnant again until my thyroid news forced us to put our plans on hold.  In fact, the only reason I know about my thyroid is because 3 months went by without us getting pregnant, and that was unusual.  With Caleb, Joel, my two miscarriages, and Samuel we got pregnant immediately.  Three months without a pregnancy was strange, and I had noticed that something in my cycles had changed, so I went to my OB to do some bloodwork.  That's when my hypothyroidism showed up -- something very influential in fertility. 

Since learning about my thyroid, I have been very, very anxious to get everything in order so we could get pregnant again.  Every bump in the road (and there have been several) has felt like an enormous hurdle and a huge disappointment.  There is a correlation between untreated thyroid issues and miscarriage as well as high thyroid levels and poor fetal brain development, so obviously it's something we need to get under control.  But it has taken much longer than I anticipated. 

At first I was told that I would need to wait two cycles, and that sounded like an eternity.  I prayed and prayed for my numbers to come down, and numerous things suggested my levels would be good at the end of those two months.  But they weren't.  I had to wait another cycle.  I was deeply disappointed and had some hard days, but I surrendered another month.  Then I had to wait another month.  More disappointment and frustration. 

As the waiting has dragged on, I have had to surrender over and over again my hopes for the future.  And I have had to learn a lot about trust, about my heart, about my reluctance to let God work in His own timing -- or in His own way.  I have felt like God was asking so much of me.  Not only did I have to surrender Samuel, I had to lay down my picture of our family.  Each month I have felt the grief of our family not growing on top of my grief for Samuel.  For two years now, we have been trying to grow our family.  Right about two years ago we got pregnant with the first baby we miscarried.  And now, two years later, I still have only two children in this house to raise and love.  It has felt like a grief upon a grief.  Of course I grieve Samuel and the baby boy I sat by, sang to, prayed over, and read to.  I miss him all day, every day.  But I also grieve the family we aren't, the children we don't have and aren't expecting.  They feel like two related but separate griefs.  And some times it feels like too much.

Ask my friends, and they will tell you how challenging this road of not getting pregnant has been for me, how much it's on my mind, how desperately I long for it, and how frequently I talk about it.  It has been the theme of my journal entries and a focus of my prayer times.  It feels like so many more than 7 months have passed since we began to meet with disappointment in this arena.  I have struggled and struggled with this season of infertility.  I have wrestled and wrestled with God.  I have wanted to buck the doctors and take things into my own hands and throw caution to the wind.  I have wanted to take back the reins and blaze my own trail and do it my way.  I have not wanted to wait.

A couple of weeks ago, Bryan came home from work, saw that I had had a hard day, and sent me to Starbucks for an hour to be alone and recover a bit.  While I was there, I pulled out my Bible and started reading John 15, a very familiar passage.  Though it's a chapter I am well acquainted with, I had never thought about it in terms of Samuel or this road of waiting to get pregnant.  But that evening, it struck me afresh, and it was a pivotal paradigm shift for me.  I read the first few verses and then got out of my seat to ask the barista if he had a pen I could borrow so I could mark the passage: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness..."  For the first time, I saw this road of suffering as God pruning me.  I thought of Samuel and how through Samuel God has already pruned me for greater fruitfulness.  And then I thought of this constant struggle in wanting more children and being denied again and again, and I thought that He is pruning my "branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more."  For the first time, I saw this road we've been on as merciful.  This suffering is God's mercy in my life.  It is Him pruning me so that I can bear more fruit.  It is His loving gardener's hand wanting what is best for the sprig that is my life.  It is Him giving me more life, richer life, fruitful life, deeper life, abundant life.  It is His mercy.  And for the first time I felt grateful for this fire we're walking through, this period of infertility.  I am grateful that He loves me enough to prune me.

Honestly, reading that passage changed everything for me.  I am peaceful about this road, about the uncertainty of life ahead, about my longing for another child and having to wait who knows how long.  It is all His mercy, His kindness and love.  And though I still desire another child more than any other earthly thing, I am content to trust Him and let Him work how He wants to.  I don't need to usurp His authority in my life.  I can rest in Him, the perfect Gardener, who guides and feeds and prunes and loves this soul that is His handiwork.


  1. I will simply just send a smiley face your way! Totally understand that side of your journey! If you need to talk or need support, I am here! :o)

  2. Thank you for sharing this. These are just words and so easy to say, but I can assure you from the "other side" of infertility that when God opens your womb and blesses you with a new baby to love, all this time of waiting will shrink in your mind and you will be grateful for God's timing, as it will have led to that child, the child He chose for you and Bryan.
    Not fun to walk the road, but so worth it in the end. I'm so glad you found a small measure of peace in the journey.
    You are one strong lady!

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