I recently stumbled across this quote on my Facebook feed:
“What God is doing in you during this season of waiting is equally as important as the very thing you are waiting for.” -Sean Feucht
In life’s journey, it is easy to look to the goal and get so fixated on the desired outcome that you completely forget about the present reality.
About this time last year, my husband and I had made the decision to begin taking fertility drugs. I had previously undergone surgery, tried every “natural” supplement, and made loads of annoying diet changes to support my health with the secondary motive of increasing chances of conceiving with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). After exhausting those efforts and with my husband’s prompting, we decided that we would try the ovulation-inducing drugs recommended by my doctor. Phil and I had already been married a few years and recently settled into our first house. Even though I knew it would be more difficult to conceive with my PCOS, we had always thought that we would already be pregnant by this time. Even though it was not our fault, it seemed as though not having a child by this point was almost ungenerous or selfish. I found myself worried about what other people would think or say. We were supposed to be changing diapers, exhausted from sleepless nights, and chasing kiddos by now.
We had no reason to doubt that we could get pregnant. People unfamiliar with my condition told me that my PCOS symptoms were no big deal and that they went through similar things in their adolescence, but they still got pregnant just fine. My doctor’s office is one of the best practices in the area for infertility and they were so encouraging. People drive literally hours to come for appointments with the practice.
We dove head-first into this baby-making project. I ordered new books on PCOS and fertility. I went to the gym more consistently than ever. I was eating super healthy, even though I already ate pretty healthy before. My husband had tests done and he started taking supplements. I remember feeling like I was doing my part of the work, so of course God would take care of His end of the deal. I had no reason to doubt that God would show up eventually and everything would fall into place.
However, after many months, much grief, and loads of appointments later, I remember the nurse at my OBGYN’s office first suggesting that we “take a break” from our fertility drug treatments. Tears welled up in my eyes. My mind panicked, I can’t let everyone down. I tried to convince myself: I’ve got this. I am strong. Other people take breaks, but not us, no. We’ve got this whole thing under control. I was convicted that I could keep going. Taking breaks are for the emotionally weak.
When I decided to be honest with myself, I realized that I was so ready for a break. I was taking a fertility drug that for most women did not cause side effects, but I had all of them: hot flashes, muscle aches, night sweats, mood swings, stiffness, nausea, headache, depression, you name it. After the first month of treatment, my doctor suggested that I just had a virus, but I confirmed with the pharmacist that my issues were the side effects of the drug. Then, with each failed month, my doctor increased the dose, sending me deeper into this dreaded pit. With all of the appointments, ultrasounds, tests, medications, charting, timed intercourse, I was beginning to feel like a human science project.
Relief from this “experimental” existence finally came when my family practice doctor suggested that I temporarily take a Category B drug for another health issue. It was a drug that is not safe during pregnancy. I finally had my justification for taking a break from the ovulation inducing drugs. Thanks be to God! I was far too stubborn and prideful to make the decision to take a break from the fertility drugs on my own accord, so I was thankful that I finally had an excuse to escape this cycle of pills and tests.
Although life seemed to calm down when the side effects mellowed and the doctor appointments lessened, I still felt very disheartened. The first month or two of our “break” from fertility drugs was emotionally excruciating. I had to find peace with myself and give up on my timeline. When I finally quit counting my age and comparing my experiences, I began to find joy in my journey. During this time is when Springs in the Desert found me and I wrote my first piece about my husband, Finding Fatherhood in Infertility. Writing my first blog post post prompted in me a new way of contemplating my experience of infertility. It has redirected my focus to see what God is doing in our lives during this period of waiting and my contemplating continues with each subsequent blog article I write.
Recognizing the importance of this “season of waiting” has given me the time to focus on and ask God for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. It is one of the first times in my life that I have ever really asked God with my whole heart for healing. Being open to healing has pushed me to trust deeper than I ever imagined that I could. I have come face to face with the question: “Do you really believe that God can do anything?” I had no idea how inadequate my concept and practice of the virtues of faith and hope were until I was faced with this strife, which is still unbearably painful at times, but seems so small of a struggle when gazing upon the cross. Spiritual wounds have surfaced in the sacrament of Confession of which I had no previous realization. In this “season of waiting,” God has been lavishly generous in pouring his grace upon me. He has spared no expense. He just asks me to be open to healing. He wants me to be whole.
I’ve come to realize that I am not waiting on God, He is waiting on me. He is shaping me, forming me, and molding me. Allowing God to do this is not without pain, but this work that God is doing in my “waiting” each day is so critical to who He wants me to become. I know that He is preparing me for something amazing. He is asking me to trust in Him radically. He is asking me for more than I am capable of and He is showering me with the grace that it takes to endure, as long as I am open to it.
Stacey Huneck lives in Indiana with her husband, Phil. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in Theology from the University of Notre Dame while serving as a high school Youth Minister.
Meet the Springs in the Desert team December 7, 2019 in Philadelphia at our Seasons of Infertility one-day retreat for women. More information on our Retreat page, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org