This month we will be sharing several stories of infertility as part of our Give Grace campaign. We hope these stories offer encouragement, hope and a reminder that you are not alone. We believe that every story matters. No matter how short or long you have faced this struggle, your feelings are real. And we mourn with you. I am so excited to share our sweet friend Laura's story. I hope it blesses you in a big way!
I am a control freak. A planner. An organizer. I like to know what I’m doing and to plan my next ten steps ahead of time. But during the year I spent doing mission work in Ethiopia, the Lord transformed me with a new understanding of how perfect His plans for me are. Four months later, I met an amazing guy named Dan Cater. We fell in love and got married in June 2012.
Dan and I, both teachers, really love kids. Having our own children has become increasingly more important over the years of our marriage. In March of 2014, we started trying to conceive. In the first few months, I was surprised by my eagerness each time I took a pregnancy test and again surprised at the sadness I felt each time it was negative. During this time, many close friends announced their pregnancies, and I was caught off guard by the sting I felt with each new announcement. Three months passed, then six months, and I began to feel frustrated. So Dan and I decided to see a specialist and undergo testing.
After months of blood work and exams, the doctor reached the conclusion that there were no major issues. He felt confident that our problem would be a simple fix and started me on medication. Dan and I felt hopeful, excited and sure that we were now on the road to pregnancy. Five months and three rounds of medicine later, my body was still not responding. My frustration had grown and was now joined by a sadness and hopelessness that consumed my heart and mind. We were surrounded by countless pregnancies and births, and with each one came a flood of tears. I had no friends struggling with infertility, or if they had in the past, they were already pregnant or had children. Even Dan could not fully understand the things I was feeling and experiencing. I felt a new and very uncomfortable sense of insecurity in not being able to give him the child that he so desired. I have never felt so alone.
How quickly we forget. Just six years before, the Lord took me on a journey and taught me that His dreams for me are much better than my own. We have been blessed with many wonderful people who have loved and encouraged us so well through this journey. I have been very open about my journey from the beginning, and my transparency has been both helpful and harmful. Being vulnerable about my struggles with infertility has helped me to process my feelings honestly. My openness has also grown the number of people praying for and encouraging us, which is such a tangible source of comfort. But being honest and forthright about our struggles has also opened us up to the “opinions” and “advice” of others, which is not always helpful.
After studying the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel and reading Hannah’s Hope, a very powerful book about infertility, I came to realize that nowhere in the Bible does God promise women children. But He does make this promise: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). Those plans just might not be the same as my plans. Having finally grasped this truth, Dan and I decided to begin praying that God would take away the sadness, jealousy, anger, and insecurity, and replace them with a joy and contentment that can only come from Him. We still, of course, pray daily that the Lord will give us a child, but more importantly, we pray to be filled with joy as we daily see His plans revealed to us. Since that day, I have been more content and joyful than I have been in months, and I praise God for restoring me to this place.
Infertility is painful, stressful, and exhausting. I have good days and bad days. I have no idea what the days, weeks, months, and years ahead hold for us. I know that the sadness, anger, doubt, and jealousy will probably rear their ugly heads once again, but I am not afraid. I am more confident than ever that the Lord is more powerful than those feelings and that His plans are truly more wonderful than I know.
So humbled to be a part of the Scarlet & Gold #GiveGrace movement. It has been a long & difficult journey facing infertility. Months and months of testing, pills, shots, doctor's appointments, bad news, disappointment, frustration, jealousy, sadness, brokenness, heartache and tears. It has been physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting. But I am so confident that that in it all, the Lord is in control. What does #GivingGrace mean to me? It means that it's ok to be sad, to cry, to hurt. It's ok that I can't always be the wife, daughter, and friend that I want to be, all the time. Friends and family give me grace by loving me through it all and allowing me to be who I am during the most difficult days. Giving Grace means knowing through it all that God is in this. He knows my heartache, He hears my prayers, He has great plans for my life. And those plans are truly better than I could ever imagine.
We want YOU to join our Give Grace movement! If you'd like to share, email us your name and mailing address and we will send you our Give Grace tattoos. We are asking you to share a picture wearing the tattoo and telling people what grace means to you + how they can get involved. You can also help raise money for families' journey to a baby by purchasing one of ourGive Grace prints. Look for the + sign to know which ones give back.