For every photo of a smiling family, there is a story.
You might look at our family of four and think, Picture perfect. They’re so blessed. And I wouldn’t argue with you—God has been good to us. Two healthy little girls, nearly six years apart, one favoring my hubby and the other favoring me (depending on who you ask).
But a photograph doesn’t tell you about the journey to this moment. It doesn’t tell you about the years of longing, about the negative pregnancy tests, about the envy, about the long conversations, about the prayers, or about the loss.
Our story, simply stated, is that pregnancy has never come easily.
Early in our marriage, I watched women around me become pregnant and families begin to grow, the news of each new life delivering a stinging blow to my heart. I dreamed of being called Mom. I wanted to say I was happy for others and mean it. One year went by, then two, then three. I chose ignorance over going to the doctor for a diagnosis, secretly deeply afraid I just wasn’t able to conceive and carry a child. The desire in my heart never faded, even as I busied and distracted myself with long hours at an editorial assistant job and reminded myself to savor the days of just the two of us.
Looking back, the three years of struggling were nothing but a drop in the bucket—I know this now. At the time, they felt endless. Pain in the waiting is real, whether it lasts one year or fifteen.
One cool November day, that season of my life ended and another began. The pregnancy curveballs started early and kept on coming. First, severe morning sickness followed by kidney stones, then a traumatic labor and finally an emergency c-section. God was teaching me lesson after lesson about adjusting my expectations.
Then perhaps the biggest shock, ten months after Evelyn’s birth: Upon waking from another emergency surgery—this time to remove a benign yet rapidly growing tumor—I listened, still groggy from anesthesia, as the doctor standing by my bed explained how they had removed a good portion of my reproductive organs. But don’t worry, he had said. One ovary should do the job of two.
Did he say “should”? Doesn’t he know how long it took to conceive the last baby, when I had two ovaries? What if all my eggs were literally in one basket? What if that was my “good side,” and now it’s gone?
I felt robbed. The whole thing had been so sudden. My feelings of loss were wrapped around dreams of babies that didn’t even exist, but I grieved. I felt my body had not only let me down, but it had let my husband down, too. What about his family dreams? Together we slowly released our future to God and moved on, focusing all of our attention on our little girl. Even as I clung to faith to sustain me, this wasn’t at all what I had in mind.
I needed to believe with my whole being that God’s plan for my family was better than anything I could dream up on my own.
For the next four years I hovered in a confusing place of wondering whether I was even capable of conceiving another child. If it was medically impossible, I didn’t want to know. When you start marking years off the calendar, you begin to assume the worst. Learning about secondary infertility* from an article online was the catalyst for me to let go of my dreams. It was a self-diagnosis, but it was enough. We enrolled Evelyn in preschool; I went back to work. We dipped our toes into adoption research. Life just… moved on. Then, just as we settled into a new normal, we discovered I was pregnant. After all those years of silence from the womb, there was life.
The nervousness, excitement, and complete shock gave way to grief when I miscarried several weeks later.
Sadness swallowed us whole for a while. When I came up for air, my logical side won out, and I reduced the entire horrible experience to a big, flashing sign from God that we weren’t meant to grow our family further—we had a child already, and we needed to be content.
But God would soon remind me, once again, that He was the one writing the story, not me. He had more chapters coming, and His narrative is infinitely better than anything I could write.
Our second daughter, Daisy, turned three in April.
In this story, the chapter about the flood was followed by the part about the rainbow.
You who are in a season of wondering and waiting, I see you. You who have received a diagnosis, who are wading through the adoption process, who are undergoing procedures, who are grieving loss, asking why—you are not alone.
If you have walked through the dark days and broken through to light on the other side, whether it be through a child you carried, a child brought into your forever home, or simply peace in the uncertainty, praise God! Share your stories and yell hallelujahs for the miracles. But don’t forget those who are in the thick of it. They need you. Be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Offer hope. Reach out. Squeeze a hand. Pray.
People love to ask why we spaced our girls so far apart. I laugh because we had nothing to do with it—and I’m grateful it wasn’t up to us. They also love to ask if we’re going to have more kids. Knowing the twists and turns of this journey so far, I’d never assume to know the answer to that question. The story of our family is in the hands of the Author.
He writes the best stories.
*Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children, and can be the result of a variety of factors. A diagnosis of secondary infertility might apply if: a couple who has already given birth without the use of medical support or fertility medications is unable to get pregnant or experiences miscarriages after trying for one year if the woman is under 35, or after trying for 6 months if the woman is older than 35. Source and more info: The National Infertility Association (resolve.org)
Rebekah Crosby is a former copy editor who traded in her red pen to chase her kids around all day and share stories over at Write the Rough Draft. Wife of a woodworker and mom of two daughters, her hobbies include photography, reading too many books at a time, and jotting down ideas she hopes to write about when she has a free minute. Rebekah is co-founder of The Drafting Desk, an email newsletter for those longing for freedom over perfection, and she shares slices of life on Instagram at @writetheroughdraft.