“I’m happy with just you,” he whispered into my ear as I lay wrapped in his arms that day.
My amazing husband and co-pilot on this journey of infertility reassures me daily of his love for me. However, his words on this day traveled even deeper into my heart, into who I am as a woman, and my identity as a wife.
I lay there allowing myself to receive his words knowing that our recent decision to discontinue infertility treatment did not affect me alone. I was asking God for the grace of acceptance and peace that He’d already given my husband.
I have shared in past posts about our journey through infertility treatment including five years of different Natural Family Planning doctors, testing, blood work, ultrasounds, medication, hormone treatment, etc. We were blessed for the past two years with an amazing local NFP doctor who gave us more treatment options. Over the course of the past year, we had decided to go through three “rounds” of this particular treatment, even though she had recommended up to six!
It was a blessing that after one round of treatment, we met our health insurance out-of-pocket maximum so everything else was essentially “free.” Due to the timing of schedules we were only able to do three cycles over the course of nine months. While the first two were relatively peaceful experiences, the last was particularly difficult. On top of my husband and I battling horrible two-week long colds, I suffered a flare up of sciatica pain. Because my husband is chronically ill, any sickness really knocks him out. He had also just started a new job, and that transition coupled with our carpooling to work, and his bringing me to early morning appointments, created even more stress.
In the end, none of the three cycles of treatments ended in pregnancy. My doctor, however, said she believed that I had finally ovulated, which was encouraging. I was dreading the next appointment, however, because I knew she would ask me if we would like to move forward to another round.
I know that we are not the only ones faced with this fork in the road, whether to keep going or not. How am I supposed to decide this? I don’t want to play God. What does my husband think? How do I know the long term effects of medications on my body? There were too many unknowns. Further questions emerged: if we stop treatment, do we pursue adoption? Or are we not called to raise children at all? How do we discern this process as a couple?
“I’m happy with just you.” I perceived those words my husband has said to me over and over again were now being said by our Lord to me. “I’m happy with just you, my child. You do not need to be a mother in this way for me to be proud of you.”
For us, there were some clear confirmations of our decision to end our treatment and not pursue adoption. I want to emphasize here that there is no one way to discern and that everyone’s decision is personal. Our discernment took into consideration our finances, our emotional, physical and mental health, and what God was speaking to us in prayer. We were careful not to invite in too many outside voices, if any at all (this can be tricky because the more you disclose with your loved ones, often times the more opinions they have about it).
The best book on life discernment that I have ever read is called What Does God Want? By Fr. Michael Scanlan (past president of the Franciscan University of Steubenville). The book helped lead me into prayer. I was recently reflecting on the scripture from Luke about asking:
“And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 God never says to us, Ask for want you want and if you seek it out, I will grant your request. He just says, “…it will be opened,” (or in some translations, “…the door will be opened.”) He does not say which door will open or what will be received. He only promises us that we will receive something.
For most of my life, this scripture had translated to, ask God for what you want, seek it out, then it will be given to you. But…not in this situation. I had been asking for years for God to grant us children, but they have not appeared behind any doors. However, during this recent prayer time He revealed something different to me: God never promises to give us everything we want. Rather, He promises that if we ask, He will give us what He knows we need.
I realized that day that God does have good things in store for us. What He has planned may not be exactly what we had been asking for, but perhaps God just wanted us to ask. Maybe that is what I had been misinterpreting all along. The focus wasn’t on the gift, but on the asking. Because in asking for something, I am encouraged me to trust the Giver. In asking, I have to first acknowledge that I am in need, then know what I need, and then how to ask for it.
I realized that God had been asking me to trust Him to give me good things.
This brought me back to that moment with my husband. I was able to ask God for the grace to accept. This was the final step in our discernment. To accept that this is what God has for us.
And if God is not providing for us here, where is He providing? Where is He leading? Where is He making space? These questions are still being answered in my life. It is an overwhelming feeling to be able to better receive what God has for me and where God is leading me, instead of clinging to what I want for my life.
“Jesus, I desire to grow in trust of your deeper care for me. By asking you, I trust You will provide even though it may not be what I want, but more what I need. Amen.”
Andrea Mahoney is a lifelong practicing Roman Catholic who dwells in central Pennsylvania with her husband of four years. You can find more about her here.