The Journey of Childlessness
My gynecologist's certainty gave me confidence: In a booming voice, incongruously deep for his small stature, he assured me that my baby was well, and I needn't be worried over an earlier miscarriage. So my husband, Clay, and I joyfully celebrated the three-month milestone marking the pregnancy as safe.
It seemed life was unfolding just as we'd hoped: We'd married, Clay had completed seminary, and soon after his graduation, he was offered an associate pastorate. With a baby on the way, we once again had reason to celebrate.
A week after that prenatal visit, we headed to a beach-front hotel for a church staff conference. After a laughter-filled dinner full of excited chatter and congratulations over expecting our first child, I excused myself and sleepily returned to the hotel room. There, sitting in a stark white bathroom, I stared in shock at a bright red streak.
No, no—this couldn't be happening.
The unfamiliar room, with its too perfectly arranged furniture and jarringly cheerful seascapes, amplified my disbelief. Mechanically, I crawled into the strange bed. I tugged at the cold sheet and foreign blanket, desperate for any bit of comfort, then pulled my Bible near.
"God, you know I've begged you to protect this baby," I prayed. "God, please! I can't cope with another miscarriage. Please heal my body and stop the bleeding. Please, don't let me lose my baby."
A couple hours later, Clay came in. He saw the anxiety in my expression and wrapped me in warm arms.
In the morning, we quietly drove home. By evening, labor began and I fought with everything in me to stop it. But by daylight, the battle was lost.
Difficult years followed, as my dream of motherhood shifted from joyous hope, to desperate pleading, to the grief of impossibility—and finally, to settled acceptance that it wasn't to be. Looking back, I can see that contentment with childlessness was a journey with four major milestones. It began with changing what I mistakenly believed was a faith-filled response to difficulties.
Milestone 1: Developing an "open-eyed" faith
Like many Christians, I'd memorized verses such as "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28) and "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When bad things happened, I'd quote these verses, express my gratitude that God would eventually make everything right, and push away my questions. Trying to trust God, I did something akin to closing my eyes, putting my hands over my ears, and saying, "Lalalala—just have faith—lalalala."