infertility

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Grateful that I chose God – my surrender
Grateful that I chose God

I was raised Catholic…baptized as an infant, went to mass, said my prayers, believed in God. But I didn’t really KNOW Him until I was 36 years old. Up until then my life was normal, ups and downs, but God was always at a distance.

My husband and I had been trying to have our 1st baby for over 5 years, and I was depressed, obsessed, frustrated, and lost. I had put trying to have a baby before everything, even God. I was difficult to be around because I was sad, and became envious of my friends who were having babies.

My sister had recently become a Born Again Christian and was nudging me to accept Jesus. I had seen the positive changes in her life, but I was still resistant, I felt that I wasn’t ready because we had been sinning by doing IVF (a Catholic belief). I thought I wasn’t good enough. I thought I’ll wait until I get pregnant and get my life in order, then I’ll accept Jesus. Boy was I wrong! Jesus wants us to come to Him now, as we are, He loves us.

She asked me if I would follow God even if I never had a baby. I said Yes. This was my point of surrender.
So, finally I went to a Christian church with my sister and after the service prayed with the Pastor’s wife. It was very emotional for me, and the interesting thing that happened right away was that she said my husband’s name while praying…and I hadn’t told her what it was yet! The Holy Spirit was right there with us. She asked me if I would follow God even if I never had a baby. I said Yes. This was my point of surrender.

Then she prayed that He would give me the desire of my heart for a baby, and that I would dedicate him/her to Him. Of course, I would! I felt good afterwards but not too different. Still trying to get pregnant, still obsessed, but God was starting to change me with the Holy Spirit now in me. My sister gave me a Bible and I started reading it for the first time in my life.

Grateful that I chose God – my surrender

Summer’s dedication, at the same church where Diana gave her heart to Jesus.

Two weeks later we went on a trip to do another IVF cycle, this time with donor embryo, which we had started trying with 3 cycles before this (after 4 IVF’s of our own). I know now that God connected me with someone who introduced us to this wonderful option. I got pregnant with my daughter! We had little signs and miracles the whole way through, it was amazing. On our trip my bible fell out of my suitcase front pocket and we found it on the turnstile after all the luggage was picked up; our waitress at the hotel was named “Diana” and she was pregnant; the movie we saw after the procedure was called “Miracle” about the Olympic Hockey Team; there was a gorgeous sunset that night; I could go on and on. I still didn’t really know God, but He knew me, and was blessing us! I didn’t accept Jesus to get pregnant, in fact I was just so broken and needed more, and surrendered all to Him. It was an incredible surprise!

 

Grateful that I chose God – my surrender

Summer and Diana getting baptized on the same day, it was very special!

After my daughter was born, I was able to stay home and started attending a local church where I took bible studies, attended MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and grew spiritually.

I realized that by accepting Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior, my life changed. The Holy Spirit started transforming me for the better and I couldn’t be more grateful.

My journey continues with lots of ups and downs, and I am truly getting to know God more and more. He has carried me through more storms, and has given me joy and peace regardless of my circumstances, He is my rock. I am serving in my community and have hopes to do more, God willing.

 
The blessing of another child happened 4 years later, and now our family is complete. I couldn’t be more grateful.

But the biggest blessing is that I am a child of God, and will be with Him forever.

Victory Over Infertility
And The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt in our Household

VICTORY OVER INFERTILITY ISSUES

We were married in 1982. At 20 and 22 years of age, we weren’t real sure what direction we wanted our lives to go in, but one thing we knew for sure was that we wanted children.

Although we discussed the topic briefly, the question of whether we could have children or not never came up. There was no reason for it to come up. Having children was the natural progression of life for us….or so we thought.

In the beginning, there was no sense of urgency to get pregnant. We knew it would happen eventually. In the meantime, we enjoyed unwrapping this new gift of marriage that we both were complete novices at.

A year came and went fast. We were still enjoying our new marriage but in the back of our minds we were beginning to wonder why there hadn’t been any signs or symptoms of pregnancy.

At the start of year number 2, we decided to make getting pregnant a priority, although at the time I didn’t know (and still don’t know) what more we could have done on our own to make it happen.

6 more months went by. 2 ½ years into married life and a little sense of anxiety began to set in each month. And each month our disappointment grew more and more.

We both made appointments with our doctor to find out if there was something medically wrong that was prohibiting us from having children.

After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children.
After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children. To this day I don’t remember how or why he came to that conclusion. Maybe the explanation was given to us and we were in such a fog that we mentally checked out after his opening remarks. On a positive note, at least we knew indeed that there was some sort of medical reason for our failed attempts.

We both got the feeling that our doctor was tired of seeing us. It was almost as if he thought we would have given up on the issue of having kids over the months that he had been seeing us. It felt like we put him in the uncomfortable position of having to tell us that there was no hope, because we were too stupid to give up on our own.

We shook our doctor’s hand and thanked him for spending as much time on/with us as he had over the previous months. There wasn’t a lot said in the car on the way home after the appointment that afternoon.

My wife had been raised in the church. I on the other hand had been a Christian for less than a year. In most instances, spiritual immaturity when you’re heartbroken and disappointed over life taking you in a direction contrary to where you want to go can be devastating. For me, this “challenge” provided an adrenaline rush.

Looking back on it now, I can see that I had several things going in my favor.

  • I had an insatiable thirst for the Word of God.
  • I had not been “churched” yet. Meaning that I hadn’t been around enough Christians to tell me that simply believing what the Word of God says is no guarantee that prayer will be answered.
  • I had an amazing Pastor/mentor during this first major test of my faith.

When we got home from the doctor’s office we talked about what we were going to do. I knew what I wanted to do; I suppose I just needed to know what direction my wife wanted to go in.

Praise God we felt the same about the situation! While we believed in medical science, we knew that medical science isn’t always the last word. God placed the desire for children in our hearts. These feelings weren’t something we conjured up on our own. I knew in my heart that there was no way I was going to be denied the son that I had looked forward to having since before I was married.

First things first

During this time in my life I was working on a job with split shifts. My lunch break was 3 hours long. I spent my lunchtime alone at San Antonio Park in Long Beach, CA soaking up the Word of God each and every day. I was captivated by it. Not counting the time I spend at church in the Sunday services and in midweek bible studies, I was getting 15 hours per week of good solid bible teaching.

Before we went before the Lord, I knew we had to build a foundation upon which to build our prayer. If the foundation for prayer wasn’t laid clearly and correctly, the enemy could cause doubt to creep in later on.

We searched the scripture and found Deuteronomy 28:11 (And the Lord will cause you to abound in prosperity in the fruit of your body…) and Psalm 37:4 (Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall grant thee the desires of thy heart) and we used them as our foundational scriptures.

We took our prayer before the Lord and settled our faith using 1 John 5:14-15.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15

We left our prayer closet joyfully, knowing in our hearts that it was done.

Faith that Stands the Test of Time

1 year came and went. With each day, we thanked God for answered prayer, acknowledging that our son was on the way.

The 2nd year came and went. Still no signs of pregnancy. We shared our hopes and dreams with those around us. This was a big mistake. Those around us couldn’t see the vision we had of overcoming the challenge of infertility; therefore they inadvertently became more of a hindrance to our faith than allies of ours.

2 years and 6 months came and went. Now I’m beginning to get ticked off. My faith in God and His Word was growing by leaps and bounds. I knew that we were going to have a son and I was ticked off at the enemy for interfering with what I knew the will of God was for our lives.

Strictly as an act of rebellion, I remember coming home from work and proposing an idea to my wife. We first sat down and assessed where our fatigue level was, spiritually speaking. After all, it had been 2 1/2 years with no sign of answered prayer. I knew I was stronger now than I was when we began, but it was important for me to find out where her faith level was because I was about to take things to a new level.

delight-verse3I posed a series of questions to her first (so that she wouldn’t think that I was off my rocker!) I asked her, ”We prayed for a baby correct?” She replied yes. “We prayed for a son, correct?” She replied yes…

Well then if we can pray for a baby and believe, based on scripture that we will have one and if we can pray for a son and expect to receive one, then why can’t we pray and ask God for certain physical and personality traits that we want him to have?

What I meant was that if we can pray for the particular sex of the child, why can’t we pray and ask God for a certain complexion, eye color, personality trait etc.?

This type of prayer may seem presumptuous to some but you have to remember that all the time I was spending reading through God’s Word didn’t magnify what we can’t do. My eyes were focused on God’s Word and all I could find in there was what we could do. My focus was on scriptures like “All things are possible to he that believes, (Mark 9:23) and He that is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20).

I could tell that my wife was kinda skeptical, but after a few days of milling over the limitlessness of God, she excitedly got on board and we went before the Father with a modification request to our original prayer.

My wife and I prayed for our son to have hazel eyes. We prayed for him to have brown curly hair. We prayed for him to have a light caramel complexion. We prayed for him to have a calm, even demeanor. We prayed that there will be no “terrible two’s” in either our lives or his. We shielded him from birth with the protection of God that would follow him all the days of his life.

Please understand that this new updated prayer had nothing to do with us thinking that we wanted a “pretty” child or a kid that was striking in appearance to others. This new prayer had to do with a rebellious spirit aimed at the forces seeking to stop our blessing from reaching us. This new prayer was us snubbing our noses at the enemy and telling him that the more difficult he tries to make it on us, the bigger the testimony we were going to have at the end of this journey.

My wife and I asked for features in our son that are very difficult for two people with our physical attributes to produce. But at the end of the day, it is the Lord our God who would get the glory for doing what is impossible for man to do.

The 3rd year came and went. The 4th year came and went. The 5th year came and went. Then after 5 years and 6 months, my wife announced to me that she was pregnant. After having lived in anticipation of this moment for so long, the announcement seemed a little anti-climactic. I had lived in a state of expectancy to such a degree that when the day finally came, it seemed as though I had been through it already.

The pregnancy only lasted 8 months. During my wife’s 8th month checkup the doctor discovered the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. He said that if she tried to give birth to him naturally, there might be complications so she went in for a planned C-Section.

daddysgirl3Then on December 4th, 1989 the Word of God became flesh in our lives in the form of our son Jonathan Randle Winfield at just under 10 lbs.

The journey which was impossible according to man culminated 5 ½ years after it began and we now have a walking, talking, living testimony of what faith in the Word of God will produce.

And remember that prayer request update that we made at the 2 ½ year mark? Every single thing that we included in the updated prayer request was granted to us. Our handsome young man is now 26 years old with a 5 year old daughter of his own and his own son scheduled to arrive in August, 2015.

Is anything too hard for God?

I can say emphatically NO! The only limits that God has to contend with are those placed upon Him by us. The photo above is of the Word which became flesh in my life, Jonathan Winfield holding his daughter and my granddaughter, Kylie Winfield.

Thank you for allowing me to share this testimony with you. I pray that others will find inspiration and hope in the words they’ve read here.

Barren to Blessed

I was raised attending church, but not forced to attend.  At the age of nine while riding in the front seat of our old station wagon, I felt this urging and told my mom that I was ready to accept Christ as my Savior. Not too long after speaking with my pastor about it, I was baptized. This was an exciting day in my life.

Two years after my baptism I suddenly became gravely ill. An infection had spread throughout my abdomen, and the damage from it resulted in having a hysterectomy at the age of eleven. The surgery, and impact of it, was extremely difficult to wrap my head and heart around. I was barren, and would be for the remainder of my life.

In that one single moment, everything changed.  I went from believing in this giving; all-knowing Heavenly Father who I had been told created me with great purpose, to questioning what my purpose was.

I continued to believe in God but to be totally honest; I did not know how I could fully trust a loving Father who nearly allowed me to die from a rare bacterial infection. He also allowed my ability to have children to be taken away.

I did not stop believing in Him and was part of a Christian youth singing group for a few years after my surgery. However, as I became an adolescent, I strayed far away from what I once believed to be so important. Straying from my faith led to choices of which I am not proud of. I felt alone in my struggle, and knew that infertility was going to be a life-long road to which I would wander.

Questions like “What if I’m never a mom?” circled around in my mind for years.
In college, I continued to live as though I did not know the Lord, even though I continued to believe that God existed.  I just sort of saw God as this big “tool box in the sky”.  I sincerely believed that all religions were tools in the box that ultimately led to Him. I still had not found a good reason why the Lord would have allowed my illness to happen. Questions like, “Will I ever fall in love and get married?” “What if no one wants to marry me because I cannot have children?” and “What if I’m never a mom?” circled around in my mind for years.

I did meet a guy who accepted infertility. We had a wonderful relationship that was built upon friendship, trust, respect, and love. He proposed, and I eagerly accepted. However, about a year before I was married, I was really struggling with life in general. I had a great fiancé who treated me wonderfully, and was in graduate school working on my Master’s Degree. Things were pretty good for a twenty-something. Despite these things, it just seemed that I could not make out what was nagging at me, and the void I felt. I tried to fill it with friends, shopping, going-out, etc, but nothing worked.

Love Finally, my aunt asked if I wanted to go to church with her. I said, “Yes.”  The service was very casual with contemporary Christian music.  I was nearly overwhelmed with the warmth and love that I felt sitting in the chapel. It was as if I was the only person there. I felt as though the music and the message were surely written just for me.

I began recognizing God needed to be in control because I was clearly not. I was the person who always had a goal, always kept out of trouble, or at least did not get caught; always stayed loyal to my family and friends, and always presented with the “I’ve got it all together here” personality.

But the truth is, internally I was still that child who was deeply hurt, saddened, and longed for an answer.

I began to read my Bible more and listen to contemporary Christian music which provided a great ministry through lyrics. It became abundantly clear to me that God wanted me back. Or, better yet, He always wanted me. It was I who had turned away and chose to ignore. He still wanted me to walk through the pain, but this time, I needed to allow Him to numb it a little. I needed to let Him truly take over and start to put me back together again.

I began seeing Him in a different way. Instead of this loud controlling Father punishing me, I saw Him as this loving, worried Dad who wanted His daughter back.

In the book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes: 

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis

God was shouting to me through all of the pain of the years and for the first time I listened.

I sought forgiveness from Him. I felt as though I had been released from the burden of shame I had carried about various choices in life. This helped me to see the true grace of forgiveness. 

For the first time, I felt like I understood the concept of faith as being more than just a blind and immobile notion, but one that required full attention.

Perhaps it was maturity or perhaps it was desperation, but either way, I returned to the God that created me, loved me, and watched me through the years. I was that rebellious child that learned the hard way that it is always best when you really do follow what your parents’ say- especially your omniscient Heavenly Father.

It has been several years now since I nervously walked through the church doors with my aunt. I have not stopped attending church since, but it is not just about attending church.

It is about not stopping in the yearning for the Lord.  It is about not ceasing in praising Him.  It is about serving and loving others as He has asked us to do.  It will always be about living out a life that recognizes mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.

The Lord has not only revealed His love to me, He has fulfilled my heartfelt and desperate plea to be a parent. My faith in Him is what carried me through fostering my children, and it is what continues to carry me through parenting them.

Kids

Another piece of my story is that I work for a Christian child welfare agency that helps to put families back together. I am able to reach out to people who may be struggling with infertility or answering the call to be foster/adoptive parents.  I am truly blessed to have a job that is also a ministry.

My greatest struggle in life was barrenness. However, through the healing redemption of a loving Father, I am now a parent. I am also able to share my story and encourage others through my blog.

The truth is – I love Christ.

I need Christ. 

I am a work in progress…

but He’s okay with that.

photo credit: Randy OHC via Flickr cc