Nov 12, 2018 | Claire Chisholm
I think it was on my honeymoon that I started pleading my case to start a family. My husband, the ever reasonable man that he is, calmly told me over and over again that it was important for us to be young and spontaneous and enjoy our freedom. So we did. We went out for dinners, went on trips at the last minute, stayed out late and slept in on the weekends. We had time to learn about each other, to grow together and to enjoy young married life. One Sunday afternoon, my husband sat down on the couch next to me and said, “Babe, I reckon we should have a baby.” It was truly one of the happiest moments of my life. I was rich with hope and anticipation, we were young and healthy, my mum had got pregnant super easily… I was sure we were going to be one of those couples that got pregnant immediately.
Well, the first month rolled around. Devastation. Utter devastation. The second month, the third month, a year, two years… we were referred to a fertility specialist and even then I thought, ‘Well, this is okay! We will come and they will help us get pregnant and we will be back on course.’ Another year passed. Prayer after prayer. Those years were filled with hope and disappointment and then honestly, not much hope anymore. I wondered if God had different plans for me. If I was going to a woman who never held her own baby. I tried to pray, “Not my will but yours, Lord,” but I honestly never meant it. I just wanted a child. I wanted a precious baby that was half me and half the person I loved. I would beg God, “Please, I promise I will do a good job. Give me a chance and I’ll show you.”
Eventually I started to avoid spending time with friends and family who had babies. There were people who had started trying well after us and were onto their second or third child. I blocked people on Facebook who had babies because I just couldn’t see it everyday. I was sad and angry. Those years were filled with appointment after appointment, blood test after blood test, injection after injection. Hope dashed. I did not want to imagine a future without a house full of little people, and noise, and school drop-offs and cuddles.
I didn’t tell a lot of people what was going on, but I did tell a few. Most of the people I loved would say to me, “Don’t worry. It’ll happen. God’s got it.” They would say, “All in God’s timing.” Or, “You are going to look back one day and this will be a blip in time.” I should mention that my friends and family are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet and that everyone had the best intentions, but what I don’t think they realised is that in those moments I was sensitive, raw and totally undone. I knew God had a plan for my life. To be real, this was what scared me the most - that his plan may not include little people. I didn’t want to be told not to worry. I did worry. Constantly. All day, everyday. Eventually I stopped talking to people. In those moments all I felt was dismissed. I felt like I was a bad Christian for feeling discouraged and disappointed. I felt totally misunderstood.
I have a cousin who walked a similar path of infertility beside me. She was my person. She never offered clichés or advice. She listened, she cried with me and she loved me in the mess. I called her when I was jealous or hurt or cross or hormonal. I messaged her when I was scared or overwhelmed. It was in those moments that I got a glimpse of my heavenly Father. You see, God doesn’t ask us to come to him in a certain way. He is there with outstretched arms regardless of how we feel. He doesn’t get cross at us for losing hope or having doubts. He created us and knows us better than anyone. I believe that He can handle our big emotions - sadness, disappointment, anger (even when it is directed at Him), hopelessness…and not only is He there, but He wants us to come to Him to be comforted. It is just being in God’s presence that heals and strengthens us, being overwhelmed by His extravagant and unconditional love.
When I read the Bible, I see a God who does more than He talks. I learn more about who God is through his actions and the way He loves people and I think that if we truly want to mirror our creator we need to do less talking and more listening and loving. In 1 Corinthians 12 it says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” In Romans 12 we are told to, “rejoice with those who rejoice; and mourn with those who mourn.” I never got more of an insight into God’s love than when people around me did just that.
Infertility is common. Married Christian women start getting asked about children as soon as they return from their honeymoon. The question is asked innocently, but if you happen to be asked on the day your period comes or the afternoon of a disappointing doctor’s appointment, it can sting. Let’s be careful with our words and our questions. Slow to speak and quick to listen.
Well, finally, on a warm September afternoon I got a phone call. I was in the middle of teaching my Year 6 class, so I had a friend cover my class as I walked down to the oval. “Hi Claire, can you please confirm your date of birth and address?” And so I did and at the same time I told myself over and over again, ‘It’s not going to have worked. Don’t worry about it, you’ll be fine.’
“Well, congratulations Claire. You are pregnant. Everything is where it needs to be. It all went perfectly.”
And on May 4th, 2018, Oscar Chisholm entered our lives, and it was like the doors of heaven opened just a crack, and I got a glimpse of the powerful, ferocious and completely unconditional love that is waiting for us on the other side.
So, to those women whose hearts ache for a baby. I don’t know what you are going through. I have some insight into yearning for a child of your own, but I have not walked your journey. I do not know all the intricacies of your story. I don’t know what happens to your heart when you walk through the shopping centre and feel like all you see is babies, or when your friend calls to tell you they are pregnant, or when someone asks, “When are you going to have kids? Better get cracking!” I don’t know how you feel every Mother’s Day or birthday or Christmas. I may have been through a similar journey, but it is not the same and I do not understand. No one does. I can’t fix it or offer you advice or tell you anything you don’t already know, but I can love you. I can pour you a cup of tea. I can listen to you. We all can. Just like Jesus.