Almost a year ago, my husband and I sat on our sofa reading a letter from our hospital which confirmed that we couldn’t have children together. It wasn’t completely unexpected but it was completely devastating. We held eachother and wept. And wept. We reached out to our families and friends who had been on the journey with us then retreated. We retreated into the London Olympics and a world away from our pain. We were able to submerge ourselves in the many inspirational stories of athletes from around the world, cheer on our heroes and escape from the sadness which lingered in our home.
I began to grieve. Not a normal kind of grief for someone who you have known but for the children I had dreamt of since I knew my husband was the man for me. Vivid dreams of cheeky little boys with curly hair and dark brown eyes whose smile lit up my world. Of little girls gifted with their father’s musical ability and brains. I loved those children so much but would never know them. I would not mother them. They were not in God’s plan for us. It felt like God had forsaken us, that hope was gone. I was angry with hope and more importantly, with God. I sobbed, I pleaded, I begged God to make it right. But what is right? What would that look like?
Gradually, with time, hope began to rise. I read a wonderful book with an awful title, ‘When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden’. It challenged me to reconsider what I thought God wanted for us. We had ruled out using a third party to help us conceive (your dreams don’t tend to be of having a baby with a stranger). So as we packed up to move away, we were joined by hope. Our grief didn’t disappear, it is still here, it creeps up on me when I am least expecting it, but we are beginning to see that God is with us in the midst of our pain. At my lowest point, curled in the corner of my bedroom, rocking, wailing, I cried out to God and poured my heart out. And I believe he provided comfort. I believe this because I feel hopeful. My heart may be broken but it is full. Full of deep joy alongside deep sadness.
This year has been tough. The last one was pretty difficult too but I cannot wish that time away. I have learnt to grieve, be vulnerable and seek my God in the trials of life. A passage which has been a comfort and challenge to me recently is:
“…we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5
Since moving we have been overwhelmed by the love and understanding we have encountered. The gentle support we have received has soothed our weary hearts. We have been encouraged to dream again and to be given the space to continue grieving. And we will continue to grieve even though we are moving forward because our grief is giving us such an abundant appreciation for joy. And we are going to hold on tight to this growing hope and trust that if we loosen our grip on it, those around us will hold onto it for us until we can find the strength.
Beautifully written Sheila, we will journey with the two of you both in your joy and sadness and we will be a strength for each other in any trial you two and we may face, we love you both very much.
Thank you so much Len xxx
You are wonderful
As are you! xx
Thanks so much for being honest and sharing your pain and hope. This will really help others on their own journey. The Lord will bless you and provide hope and a future for you.
Thank you Jan. There is a certain amount of relief which comes with being honest about where you are at. Everyone’s responses have been so overwhelming and it is such an encouragement to us. xx
Well done you for sharing this. Im sure you’ll help others by doing so and I have every confidence you’ll be super happy and get to share your love with a family soon enough x
Thank you so much Mrs R! So lovely to hear from you xxx
In floods of tears here. Sharing your journey gives me such an appreciation for your immense strength and faith in God. Sheila, you are a ray of bright, shining sunlight in a grey sky! I hope we can all be inspired by you to put trust and faith in God and not to pretend we always understand his plan for us. We need to be real about our journey! Keep shining! Xx
Ah, thanks Rach. I think knowing we have so many wonderful friends and family holding us up as been incredibly important to us. You are a part of the journey too. xxx
Read that letter too. It is so hard, but not hopeless as you say. Thankyou for sharing your story, may you be blessed through sharing it.
Very powerful and moving for its nuanced hope and grief, honest sorrow and forward movement. xxx
I’m also in floods of tears. Beautifully written Sheila and very brave of you for sharing. God knows the desires of our hearts and he hasnt forsaken you and Elf, he’ll reveal his full plan to you soon enough. I’ll be praying for you.xx
You are so brave for sharing the pain you went through and continue to go through. Know that you are in my prayers. Much love x
Well written Sheila. I do understand the pain of not being able to conceive naturally. This angered me even more when I flew all the way to Barbados for Ivf using donor eggs and was unsuccessful. Am now at a better place and I do remain hopeful. God is good. Thank you so much for sharing your pain. You are not alone!
Mrs M you are a truly amazing person.
God puts us through these trials to test us and our faith in him. Be patient and God will bless you with an abundance of happiness.
Here’s a little something I came across last night…
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities (but he remains patient till Allah removes his difficulties.) And an impious wicked person is like a pine tree which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts (breaks) it down when He wishes.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 70 Hadith 547
You are that tender plant
A very powerful piece Sheila. Bless you for your honesty. With love, prayers and some tears R
Sheila, I have only seen the deep joy that you radiate all the time but I knew there was sadness too. It is lovely that you are able to quote Rom 5 and draw strength. Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing and the courage and hope that I see in you.
Hey lovely friend – this blog is amazing and humbling… Thank you for sharing – stumbling words will get in the way of how I feel for you and what I truly want to say, but I hope that you know that although I don’t get to see you much I think you (and Elis) are truly special friends and am proud to know you both. We continue to pray for you and thank Jesus for your courage and honesty. I won;t forget when Jon and I prayed for you last year on a walk in West Sussex surrounded by fields of yellow flowers – the overwhelming word I had in my head when I saw those flowers and thought of you was HOPE. xxx
Your husband played Jesus with such pathos in our passion play, I was struck by the depths he was able to go to and how well he seemed to understand Christ’s suffering, it makes sense reading your blog. I just remember a crowd of potentially sneering French school children being silenced into awe and wonder as they watched the death on cross scene. Thank you both for your openness. Look forward to seeing you again next term. Peace and love Helen