My Faith Journey
The first inkling I had that I would struggle to have children was in the slightest nuance of a prayer prayed over Andrew and me before we got married. It was the faintest whisper; one that I did my best to ignore and push to the back of my mind and heart. That wasn’t my journey. I wanted nothing to do with it.
The second ‘whisper’ came when I visited the doctor for a check up and to discuss our desire to start a family. We had been married for 3 years and I was 29. It was another faint whisper, that sat in my heart as month after month, turning into those first years of trying, that became a dreaded voice in my head. It was in these years that we moved from Durban to Cape Town to start the church we still lead today.
Now in a new city we found a new doctor, this time a fertility specialist, who found very little to indicate our struggle. Other than a few relatively insignificant issues there was no real medical reason for my not having fallen pregnant yet. I learned that up to 30% of infertility cases are
medically inexplicable. This didn’t necessarily make it easier, but gave us some understanding. The feeling of being so out of control was hard for me and the pain of repeated disappointment took its toll. I exercised to keep myself busy, setting fitness goals to give me a different focus, and from time to time I treated myself to a new item of clothing in the hope that I could trick my heart into wanting to fit into a new pair of jeans and that being pregnant would get in the way of this.
I remember reading Proverbs 13:12,
’Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.’
It caused me consternation as I found it to be true of me. I was living with much ‘hope deferred’ and my heart was struggling. I desperately wanted to live in the second portion of this scripture, ‘but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life’. My heart longed, but I also knew it was becoming sick with disappointment. Proverbs 4:23 gave me the answer I needed.
‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything else flows from it (or ‘for from it flow the springs of life.’
Managing my heart in this season was a matter of life and death for me spiritually. Choosing to not take offence when a friend or acquaintance said something that hurt was vital, having the courage and grace to recognise that there was no intension of unkindness, but simply a lack of understanding. It was a fight, often daily, to keep my heart, to guard it above all else, from bitterness and anger and self-pity; from the onslaught of why’s and why me’s.
At this point we had been married for 10 years and trying to have a baby for around 7. The months that lay ahead were filled with intensity. God brought different people into my life, some for a short period, some for longer, to act as ‘angels’ who came with the right advice, committed
themselves to pray and some who simply stopped me from going insane. I am so grateful to them all and to a very kind Father in heaven who was watching over me.
Psalm 113:9 became my daily prayer for years. I wrote it out and stuck in to my mirror.
‘He settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children.’
I circled different words in different colours and prayed into each one, over and over again.
Then something happened. Out of the blue. Two pink stripes appeared on the test stick before our eyes. After 8 years of waiting and weeping there it was. But the feelings of elation and joyful relief turned to anxiety and panic after 5 short weeks as the signs of miscarriage appeared. More than ever I needed to cling to the promise I felt God had given me, and more than ever I needed to guard my heart, to manage my soul and the feelings of desperation. For some, the fact that a pregnancy had occurred after no sign of anything for so long was an encouragement, and yet I was grieving and processing. My head was attached to my heart and separating the two was impossible for me.
Our extended church family in Durban took our situation before the throne of heaven and prayed with the fervour we lacked as a result of feeling overwhelmed with exhaustion and despair. Six months later I was pregnant again and nine months after that we held our precious daughter in our arms. We named her with the name we had chosen for our daughter 10 years before she was born.
Psalm 113:9 speaks of ‘children’. I had always wanted more than one child, a family of children. Was I in a position to expect this or demand? Before our daughter was born Andrew felt God speak to him about the son he was going to have. This was enough for us to expect that God
wanted to bless us with a second child. A son was still to be born.
Our daughter, Jemma, was 2 years old. It was a good time to trust for our son. That year was a blur of anticipation and desperation, confusion and depletion, both emotionally and physically, as I fell pregnant and miscarried twice in 10 months. I clung to the promise of a son, of a second child. Again God brought people to me who would carry me through those anxious, desperate months. A prayer group in another city prayed for me, and messages were sent, sometimes daily to encourage me and hold me. Another, a friend and faithful pray-er, prayed Isaiah 54:11-12 over my life.
‘Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli, I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.’
How I clung to this scripture! I was in the ‘danger’ age for having children, medically speaking yet I held on to what God was speaking. My doctor was gentle and kind and when I fell pregnant for the third time that year he rushed me for blood tests and put me onto Clexane, a blood thinning injection which I would use every day for the next ten months. It was not difficult; every injection I administered gladly as it held our precious son in my body until full term, until the day he was
born. What a joyful day that was! He settled me, once barren, desperate and almost hopeless, in my home, as the very happy mother of my children, our beautiful daughter and our beautiful son.