photo credit: Ashley Wright Photography
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes … well, you know the rest.
It’s been beat into us as women that there is a natural progression to things: find man, make baby. But it’s not always that easy. Sometimes there’s stress involved – waiting, fees, fertility procedures. Or, if you’re like me, two miscarriages.
The struggle to create a family is often hard — often full of the unexpected — and if it doesn’t go as planned, society has told us to stay quiet about it. But I couldn’t disagree more. Staying silent keeps the pain present. We are women; how dare we be hushed. We need to release it, and we need to release it together. My husband is a great sounding board, but at times he’s an insufficient outlet. Men can be internal. Men can differ in communication and expression. Men didn’t expect to bear a child and find themselves bleeding instead.
But if you follow what breaks your heart, you’ll find your people, and I promise – you are not alone. I’ve stood witness to many women who have had difficulties getting pregnant and staying pregnant. They are out there and they are warriors — fighting for their children before they are even conceived. If you have the courage to open your mouth and share your struggles, I bet you’ll be met with an astounding number of “me too’s.” We are women hiding in plain sight and we need each other.
There will come a time when you are called to wait, to sit still and surrender, and this uncertain period lumped somewhere between our plan and His, shouldn’t be done alone. There is great power in finding someone who can say, “I get it” instead of “I can’t imagine,” and there are droves of women who can do just that.
I am one of them.
As a nurse, I was taught to never provide a patient with false reassurance. You are forbidden to tell them it will be OK, because what if it isn’t? But that is where my medical training and my spirituality conflict, because my God – amazing, awesome and always good— is a God of miracles and of assurance. He makes it OK. Always. He is full of abundance.
You may think I’m only saying this now because I eventually got my babies, but you’d be mistaken. My pregnancies were complicated: anxiety from the losses, 70 pound weight gain in spite of perfect exercise and nutrition, a 32-hour labor that resulted in an infected C-section, ending my ability to breastfeed – and that’s just my birth story. God also gave me children who have extra challenges and disabilities. He did not tie up my life in a neat little bow. The idea I had in my head of who I’d be and who they would be was taken from me as quickly as the miscarriages were. But that’s the lesson: trading expectation for appreciation. His plan is better than any birth plan I could ever come up with, and because of my losses I am well aware of just how much I have gained.
My season of waiting was preparation for the life I have now, I just didn’t know it at the time. So while you are waiting, be pregnant with possibility. It will all be revealed soon enough.
I can’t tell you that you’re going to get pregnant on your first try or your tenth. I can’t tell you that all the medical interventions in the world will even work, because sometimes they don’t. But what I know for sure is that with an incredible amount of pain comes an incredible amount of purpose, and if God can put a baby in Mary’s belly, he can impregnate you with a really full and beautiful life.
So hang on. It will be OK. It all gets better when you relinquish control.
And by the way, I believe your baby is on the way. And that’s not false reassurance.
It’s God’s abundance.
Stephanie Hanrahan is wife to a sick husband, mother to special needs kiddos and a woman who often unravels (then finds her footing again). Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she leaks nothing but the truth.