We had been praying fervently for three years to conceive a child. Throughout that time we lived through the stages of infertility: denial, acceptance, hope, despair, treatments, doctors, prayers, awkward conversations, baby showers, birthday parties. If you’ve lived it, you know. If you haven’t, you know someone who has.
Life wasn’t without big changes during those three years. We moved states, started new jobs, bought a house, and family stresses ebbed and flowed. And then my husband decided he was leaving the church we so loved to become Catholic.
“As if my life wasn’t stressful enough,” I thought. We were protestant. We were reformed. We were PCA. This was our identity. We couldn’t just leave everything our marriage was built on for Catholicism. I mean, we were from The Bible Belt. They practically burn Catholic converts at the stake around here (the South).
“But what about the promise you gave your husband before your engagement? The one where you tearfully promised to follow him wherever he went and to trust the leadership of our family? The one where you both clearly felt God so present in that moment?” Those questions played in my mind like a broken record for months. But as our Lord would have it, in time he softened my heart and gave me the courage and strength to join my husband on the conversion journey.
Study and prayer filled our home. We were searching, arguing, and debating what we believed. It was hard, but good. It brought about uncomfortable soul-searching that pushed us and expanded us to places we had never experienced. We were fighting battles that exhausted and at times greatly discouraged us, but we had so much more in store for our relationship with Christ. This Catholic journey was only beginning, but God was going to show up big.
Through a Catholic contact, we were introduced to an outstanding fertility doctor who identified our problem pretty immediately. The proper treatment was readily available and I started right away. To say that the first few unsuccessful cycles weren’t disappointing wouldn’t be accurate, but their story is important. Because the cycle that was successful? It was the most remarkable of all.
As an educator, I was scheduled to attend a Christian homeschooling conference in-the-middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. I booked a little bed and breakfast walking distance from the conference, and headed up for the weekend. As soon as I checked into my room, I was unpacking and settling down for the evening when I saw it. Another unsuccessful fertility cycle. Distraught was an understatement. I collapsed onto the bed in tears, crying out to God. I couldn’t bare it anymore. I begged him to take the desire for children once and for all, and I fell asleep.
I awoke the next morning with tear stained eyes and headed to the first class of the conference. Being a homeschooling conference, I was surrounded with more breastfeeding mothers than you could imagine. “How many children do you have?” was the favorite conversation starter. The desire certainly hadn’t gone anywhere, and holding back tears could have won me an Olympic medal.
By the last day of the conference, though my teacher heart was encouraged from all the amazing ladies rocking the Charlotte Mason education life, my infertile heart was grieving. As I was leaving the closing conference gathering, I stopped to say goodbye to our former Presbyterian minister’s wife. She is a dear friend and had introduced me to the conference years before, bringing me under her wing during a difficult time in my teaching career. We hadn’t been able to talk much over the years (as we had moved away) and she knew little to nothing of my fertility struggle or our decision to become Catholic, but as we were turning to leave, she said, “Laura, I want you to meet someone. This is my friend who works closely with NaPro (a Catholic fertility awareness program).” And with that, the new acquaintance put her hand on my stomach and said, “I know that the Lord has plans for you”. Tears began streaming down my face uncontrollably as I said my goodbyes. My heart was officially exhausted and confused.
After finally composing myself, I headed back home to my husband. It was Sunday and Father’s day.
I relayed all the events of the conference with Sam, and also mentioned that what I thought was the ending of my fertility cycle had slowed to a stop. It was probably nothing- irregular cycles and unpredictable bleeding wasn’t unusual for me. But Sam was curious. “Just take a test,” he suggested. “It can’t hurt”. I rolled my eyes. I had taken hundreds of tests and they were always negative. Whatever, what was one more.
And then, just like that, there they were. The most beautiful two pink lines you’ve ever seen appeared with Christ’s perfect timing.
It wasn’t a coincidence. But then again, it never is.
Paul’s first close-up at 6 weeks
Have you experienced God in a way you’ll never forget? I’d love to hear about it!