My Rose Among the Thorns
By Patty Wade
“Infertility” the diagnosis read as I got into my car that hot summer afternoon. “No, I am not infertile,” I said aloud as I wiped the tears from my eyes. It was the first time I had seen it written about myself regarding my on going pursuit to have a baby. The word pierced my heart as I pondered the previous months that brought me to this point.
My husband and I had been married almost five years when we decided to begin our family. Although I did not conceive for the first few months, we weren’t discouraged. Being youth sponsors in a large church while holding full time jobs kept us very busy.
Finally after nine months of praying and hoping, my doctor confirmed that I was pregnant! I thanked God for this life and I felt good that I was not one of those “infertile women” like some of my close friends. We decided to keep our little surprise a secret from our friends until I was at least three months along. We shared our news with our families, and they, like us, began planning and looking forward to the day our little one would arrive and change our lives.
Eight weeks later our plans were shattered when I lost my baby to a miscarriage. The days that followed proved to be trying and difficult. Although we never held or saw this baby, we had to mentally bury our dreams for this child.
For several days after the miscarriage I searched the Scriptures for verses to cling to. In my journal I recorded these thoughts:
“I love you, Lord, because you hear my voice and my supplication, because you have inclined your ear to me. Therefore I shall call upon you as long as I live” Psalm 116:1 2. Although I am reluctant to write these words because they are so freshly painful, I want it to be recorded that God is faithful always in good times and in times of need or pain and that God cares for us. Psalm 116 has been such a source of comfort. Verse 5 says, “Gracious is the Lord and righteous, Yes, our God is compassionate.” I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The Holy Spirit has ministered to me through comfort and by bringing scripture to my memory. Thank you Father for keeping me close to you and for reminding me so quickly to turn to you and your word as my source of strength. Help me to remember enough of the pain to minister to those who may go through a similar experience. Help me to accept things like this that I cannot change, especially in front of my unsaved friends who so desperately ~ need to hear about you and your love…”
God’s word truly sustained my spirit during this time.
I was also ministered to by the encouragement from the friends and family around me. So many women called to tell me that they had suffered a miscarriage also, which made me feel less lonely. I received several cards from friends and family. The support made me realize how important it is to minister to those around me and how important fellow Christians are in my life. With all the good support also came the “thoughtless” remarks. One friend told me that she didn’t trust my doctor. Another inferred that because of the procedure I had, I risked the chance of never conceiving again. Along with these remarks came others from people who really didn’t know what to say. “It was probably a blessing, something may have been wrong; there will be others” and “at least you weren’t too far into your pregnancy” were a few of the remarks. The thought I had to keep before me was that all these people truly did care; some expressed it well and others were at a loss for words.
Time helped dim the pain and after a few months my doctor approved our trying to begin our family again. Five more months came and went quickly. Staying busy in our jobs and ministry helped keep me from staying discouraged. I visited my gynecologist in the spring. She recommended a laparoscopy to see if anything was wrong internally. It was on her bill that I first read my diagnosis: “INFERTILITY.” Perhaps it was time for me to face up to these words. The dictionary defines infertility as the inability to conceive after one year or the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth. Although I knew this didn’t have to be a permanent diagnosis, I did realize that I must carefully search to do everything within my means to conceive our baby. I knew also that God had walked with us every day of our marriage, and He had a perfect plan for us, which at this time included infertility and His grace to endure it. Once again God’s Word comforted me. A verse I kept before me was Psalm 113:9, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children.”
Months and years of infertility can create extreme pressure on a marriage. During my difficult times, I always had the support of my husband. He comforted me when I thought I was pregnant but found I wasn’t. He expressed love and encouragement to me, even though I knew he longed for a child of his own. Our outlook was that God had blessed us so richly with family, friends, and a ministry that we really couldn’t stay depressed about our childless status. In His time, we would have a child.
I went ahead with my laparoscopy in the fall. The surgery, a small incision near the belly button, allows the doctor to look at the female organs for any problems. The prognosis was good. Some endometriosis was spotted but not enough to prevent me from conceiving. A hysterosalpinagogram (dye inserted into the tubes) showed there were no obstructions. Since the tests revealed no specific problems, reluctantly I changed doctors and began seeing an infertility specialist. My regular gynecologist had been so supportive, but we both agreed this was a needed step.
Entering this territory was a whole new world for me – a world I didn’t particularly enjoy. It took me on a roller coaster of monthly highs and lows. Because infertility is so elusive, I strongly encourage everyone who has problems conceiving to go to a specialist. I learned of women who had the simplest things wrong that a specialist could easily detect and resolve. However, sometimes it is a difficult process. It’s amazing how many types of procedures are used to eliminate possible causes of infertility!
For the next year, I felt like a guinea pig while the doctor, my husband, and I tried many different test and procedures. A small problem was a low level of progesterone during the latter portion of my cycle. Corrective medication was prescribed and for months following, it was faithfully administered to no avail. I truly feel for anyone who goes through any length of infertility. It is an emotional and physical strain. You lose a bit of yourself as you learn to deal with disappointments.
One year after my first pregnancy, I recorded these thoughts in my journal:
“Dear God, I can hardly believe that it’s been one year since I first realized that I was pregnant. I’m so glad we can’t see into the future& I praise you Father that you have sustained me, that’s not to say I haven’t hoped or dreamed about being pregnant. It’s all in Your Hands – Your perfect timing and will is sufficient.”
After two years of dealing with my thorn in the flesh, my doctor and I decided it was time for a second surgery. This time he would perform a laparoscopy and use a laser to burn away any endometriosis. The surgery seemed to go well and my doctor didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t conceive.
During the next year we tried to do everything possible to conceive a child. I decreased my work schedule and tried to reduce other outside activities. Concerned family and friends shared much advice from taking cough syrup to eating certain foods. When fertility drugs were used, the family shared their fears about “tampering with nature.” Though at times we felt that the unspoken words, “childless couple,” were seen by some as a dreaded terminal condition, God continually gave us reassuring peace.
We had been waiting nearly four years by this time. On New Year’s day, I recorded some prayer requests that I wanted to see God answer in the coming year. At the end of my long list I wrote, “…and if You so will, we will have a child.”
Isaiah 55:8 says:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways, My ways, declares the Lord.”
It was during this year that we began to seriously look at our alternatives. Adoption seemed to be a reasonable possibility for us to explore. We began requesting information from various agencies. We decided to keep our search private and only share our desire with our families and some close friends.
We prayerfully chose an agency that we felt had the same philosophies and beliefs we did. Filling out the application was truly a chore. Both of us had to write biographies, feelings about our childhood experiences, beliefs and goals. The total process from beginning to end included over 50 pages of various papers and forms. Finally the day came to mail our application.
“I pray that God will sincerely lead us through this road of adoption, especially in the area of finances. I claim the name of Jehovah Jireh, (which means) God will provide, financially, emotionally, spiritually, and most importantly provide a child according to His perfect will.”
Five days later I received an unexpected bonus at work. It was an answer to prayer and the beginning of our adoption fund. Jehovah Jireh, God will provide!
Once we were accepted by the agency, our waiting game began. I must say that adoption is not the answer for everyone. It’s a decision that must be made by each couple. Both partners need to feel ready for this step and comfortable in the fact that this child is not biologically theirs. Viewing adoption not as a “second best choice” is important. For us, God had not opened the door of conception but seemed to open another door. We both had still assurance and peace as we began the long walk through the adoption process.
Weeks turned into months and months into a year. A little over a year had passed when we decided to have some friends over for dinner. Having a daughter who was adopted, they had been such a source of encouragement during our process. We had tried to have them over for some time, but our schedules never seemed to fit together. That afternoon as I was in the kitchen preparing the meal for our friends, my husband ran in the back door. He said the agency had contacted him at his office with some important news that they would only share if both of us were on the phone. Very quickly we dialed the number with each of us on an extension. When our caseworker came on the phone, she said, “Congratulations, a little boy has been born for you!” We were stunned, excited, thankful, and scared. For the next hour, we talked with her about him, his birth parents and, of course, when we could pick him up.
After we hung up the phone, we cried with thankfulness for this precious life. My husband returned to his office and I continued to prepare dinner for our friends. We anticipated sharing our news with them when the right moment became available. When they arrived that night, we tried to be as normal as possible. As we were preparing to eat, our friends asked, “Have you heard anything from the agency?” We began to grin, looked at each other, and they knew. Because they had adopted one year earlier, they truly understood the feelings that were overwhelming us. We thank God that in His divine providence, these special friends came to dinner that particular night to share in our unexpected joy after nearly a year of trying to get together.
That day began four long weeks of difficult waiting. It was perhaps the most difficult time since we had started trying to have a family five years prior.
Similar to the preparations for having a baby naturally, there was much to do. Our church, friends, and family were so generous to us. Through showers and gifts, everything needed for this little one was given. Financially, money was a concern, but our Heavenly Father provided the amount needed when the time came. During this time of waiting, we were able to share freely how God had provided our precious son. His story is a beautiful tribute to God’s faithfulness in his life and ours.
During the last week, I struggled, doubting if we would ever see this child.
Psalm 84:11b says,
“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Would we see this child? Would there be any problems in the approval cycle? My mind constantly replayed these questions. Only God’s grace sustained us.
One afternoon the phone rang on my desk at work. I hesitated as I did every time the phone rang during these expectant days. It was my caseworker. “When can you pick up this little boy?” she asked. I could hardly get the words out through my tears, “You wouldn’t be kidding me, would you?”
The next morning we went to the agency to meet and bring back our son. Many strange feelings filled our minds as we traveled to our destiny that summer morning.
What would he look like? Would we really love him as our own? We would be going as two and coming back as three. How would our lives be impacted?
When we got to the agency, the first hour was spent reviewing papers, fulfilling financial obligations and learning about legal matters. Finally our caseworker asked us, “Would you like to meet your son?”
We got up and went across the hall. As the door was opened, we had our first glimpse of our little angel from heaven. If there was ever love at first sight, this was truly it. We wept as our son was placed in my arms. God’s timing was perfect. On the trip back, as I watched our little son sleeping, the Holy Spirit reminded me of James 1:17a, “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”
My thorn in the flesh, infertility, still sticks me in the side occasionally. But if you look really closely at the thorns, you will see a beautiful rose. This rose has the face of a blue eyed boy. And, without the thorns, there would be no rose.
“Let them know that it is Your hand, that You, 0 Lord, have done it.”