In my last blog post I desired to encourage the men out there who may be a co-struggler in the burden for childlessness. At that point in my life, it seemed like all the treatments weren’t getting any where. Well, last week our medical providers advised that we stop treatments, and that we try something different. Before I get to that part, I think it is pertinent to share how the news impacted me.
The Bad News
At first, I didn’t think anything of it. At some point, you just get numb to disappointment and you sort of expect it. But then, as my day progressed, there were moments where I was deeply saddened. At work, my expression of grief was limited. Also, when I got home, it just seemed like my wife and I were a bit too busy to express our feelings about the whole thing. Privately though, I cried out to God. And my wife and I eventually talked, but I wondered if this is it? Was this the end of the road? Thankfully, it still isn’t. But it didn’t take away from the sting that there is a possibility that we won’t have biological children. But here is some good news.
A Baby Girl
Since I last wrote my article, we have been blessed with a beautiful foster child. She has been a delight to have in our home, and she is a stark reminder that we should expect God to bless us often, but not in a way we would often expect. She came right on the heels of a season of discouragement. And the funny thing is, we were actually praying that God would give us a baby girl! Since this little one has been delivered into our care, she has allowed us to express love and nurturing that we desire to express for our own biological children. So that’s one praiseworthy providence of God.
Another good thing is that our doctor revealed to us some alternate means that might suit our convictions to have children. He first asked if we were willing to do traditional IVF?* We expressed our disagreement to fertilizing eggs with left over embryos possibly being killed. Thankfully, he understood. I don’t know if he was a believer, but he was very accommodating. Hard to find these days. Nevertheless, he told us about a newer method of IVF that would basically freeze a certain amount of unfertilized eggs, and when we are ready, we can get them fertilized in a lab and implanted that day. We don’t have all the details yet, but I remember the doctor letting us know that this could be a cheaper option than traditional IVF. And we don’t have to compromise our convictions! We’re still looking at thousands to spend, but we know that if this is a possibility, God’s providence will make a way. If not, we will remain content with His will for us.
But there is one more option I’d like to share that perhaps not many know about. This one can be a little different from what people are used to, but embryo adoption is an alternative that has been catching attention. Basically, it is adopting a fertilized egg(s) and having them implanted in the womb. In essence, as you would adopt a born child, you are doing so for a little one that you can carry in the womb. I know, it sounds strange. When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Nevertheless, a child is possibly rescued from being destroyed in a lab. This is indeed a testimony of how far we have come in our scientific endeavors that this is even a possibility. But if your conscience is not at all clear or informed about this, or any other alternative, I would not suggest embracing it until you have solidified your convictions on it.
As we continue to plod along after 14 years of waiting to birth our own children, it makes me wonder how many other Christian men are finding it hard to trust the LORD in this kind of trial. It is expected for women to experience grief and sorrow over fertility, but I won’t make the mistake to think that men don’t process this issue in any way. Whether it is the sorrow we feel vicariously through our spouse, or how we ourselves feel (or both), it is my prayer that we men will hunt down contentment in Christ. I know what it is like sitting in a church pew, on your couch, or wherever you may be to yourself and your thoughts, thinking about why *I* have to be the one? Why my wife? Why me? And this is not an easy question. But if we have given eternal life, and we know Christ, we have been given the greatest gift we will ever receive.
The Good News
Christ is a great comforter and High Priest who sympathizes with our weakness and human frailty (Hebrews 4:26). He knows we are burdened and saddened by this. He has been there in every doctor’s appointment, in every miscarriage, in every negative pregnancy test, and has been extremely gracious and faithful to provide encouragement and blessings that we needed (not wanted) whenever the time came. So while I understand the discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and sometimes anger, we can feel inside as men about all of this. Remember that God has been infinitely gracious and loving toward you through His gospel, and your salvation. He has been gracious, and will continue to be gracious by giving you more than you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and giving you far less than what your iniquity deserves (Psalm 103:10). This is our hope – Jesus Christ. He is the anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:9), and the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Trust him even when you’re disillusioned. Through the pain of childlessness do not let any root of bitterness take hold upon your soul (Hebrews 12:15). God has promised to fulfill His will and glorify Himself using you. Yes, even in this. And as men, we don’t have to necessarily “man up” by sucking it up or pretending it to be numb to it. But by embracing God’s will and leading our wives, and perhaps other brothers and sisters, in prayer and faith to trust God’s sovereignty.
Grieve if you need to. Call out in bewilderment to God, and truly express your grief through your own heart’s psalm. But while you do it, remember God’s goodness toward you. Don’t ever forget it. While the lashing whip of childlessness cracks against your soul, I pray the truth of the gospel and the healing balm of the Spirit will forever be your great and marvelous consolation.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
– Until we go home
*(In Vitro Fertilization – this is where number of eggs are fertilized, and then a certain amount are implanted in the womb. Meanwhile, the rest are frozen or eliminated later on).
** For more information on embryo adoption, you can go here.