- Patty Riera
The Dream and Reality
We always desired to have many kids. On our first date we told each other we wanted to have five children, and to adopt about two or three of them… yes, we are those crazy people who talk about these kinds of things on a first date! We dreamed about a big dining table with lots of children around it enjoying the food and conversations, knowing that they're all ours... that this is our family.
A year and a half into our marriage we decided to try for our first child. We got pregnant with Philippe within the first week we tried. It was an easy pregnancy and a pretty easy delivery too. When he was six months old we moved from Holland to Dubai. Life was good with one child. I went back to work quite quickly. So, when Philippe was just over a year old we decided it was time to try for a second child. Since our first experience with getting pregnant was fairly smooth, I was certain that the second would be the same. The first month passed… nothing… second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eight… and still nothing. “What’s wrong with me?” was constantly on replay in my mind. I visited the doctor, and the results? “Nothing's wrong… maybe take some hormones, it might help.” And so, I did… a year and half passed… I was sick and felt like I was a different person.
Ernesto knew we would have a second child. He knew it would happen. I, on the other hand, knew it too but I found myself somehow being completely fine if we didn’t get pregnant again. I thought this was probably due to us already having one child and because of my desire to adopt. I found myself hoping but at the same time saying, “it’s okay God, your will be done.” I did blame myself for it though, I wonder what I was doing wrong or if there was something physically wrong with me.
We didn’t tell people we were trying so not many people asked about it apart from the family members who constantly ask, “when is the second one coming?” ––you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?
One day, I shared how tough our journey was with a lady. She said to me, “ah… I just assumed you didn’t want to have a second one because you are so career-oriented and travel all the time.” … And that broke me. It added blame to all of it. I started asking God, “really, is it because of my desire, ambition, and drive?”
About two years into this journey, Ernesto found out he had a condition and that he would need surgery for it. This was also one of the reasons why we could not get pregnant. Within a month, he had his operation. The same year, a few months later, we had our Scarlet Ladies conference. Alex Seeley prayed at the end for women who wanted to have kids and can’t. So, I made my way to the front… I did not know how to pray this prayer again… I prayed so much already… what words can I use to make it different, or better? I felt in my spirit that it’s time not to ask, but to proclaim it over my life… so I said, with tears in my eyes, “I proclaim this baby is already in me… I am already pregnant!”
The doctor told us that if the surgery was successful, we could take some tests six months later to see if we were able to get pregnant again. Well… we did not have to take those tests because we were already pregnant!!! Three weeks after the ladies conference, I was four weeks pregnant.
There were no words to describe the joy and happiness… I could not believe it, and Ernesto said: “of course!”
Strengths and Learnings
When we look back on this journey, the first thing that comes to our minds is the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13, “…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Trusting that God loves us and surrendering to His will in times like these was easy. How do you keep that balance between trusting, hoping, and praying, and still say, “I surrender, let your will be done”? That was really hard for both Ernesto and me.
1. Surrender: Let go in order to get what you hope for
God's way of seeing and doing things is very different from our own. Often in these situations, it goes against our nature to humble ourselves and say, “God, take control.” We are afraid of losing or missing out on something if we don't control the situation. God promised that when we surrender, He will bless us in abundance, but that abundance may not be what we think, it might look different.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10 (NIV)
2. Having kids or not does not define who you are!
This, personally, has been a journey about identity. I had to dig deep to understand who I am in Him, who I am as His daughter. It was a process of learning how to hear people’s questions, comments, and opinions but not allowing them to take over my heart and doubt who I am. At some point, I started to look at this trial with thoughts of regret over my dreams, career, passions. The learning that I've gained from it was so much bigger. He has created me this way and none of this should impact the belief of who I am in Him. I finally understand that if I rest in God's care and allow him to work in my life to the fullest, then I will discover that He has tremendous blessings waiting for me. I will grow to be more like Him and be a testimony of His grace and hope to this world.
3. Two became one
This is not a women's challenge or a women's journey. Two became one and that’s why it’s one journey. Even though we were in this together, we experienced it differently, at different times, because we were not always honest about what’s going on inside, and that’s one thing we took away from our experience as a couple. With more honesty, transparency, and vulnerability, there would be more acceptance and less blame on each side. I know I blamed myself in the beginning, but I did not blame Ernesto when he was diagnosed. He didn't blame me in the beginning, but he did blame himself after his diagnosis. Blame is not the solution. Love is. I now know that our marriage is stronger, more honest, more transparent, and more vulnerable than it was before.
I hope this story is an encouragement to you. An encouragement of hope to have a child and to see that there is a blessing, strength, and learning in everything you go through. I pray for whatever situation you are in, however hopeful or helpless it may feel, that you know there is faith, hope, and love… but the greatest of all is love… His love.