No Children (Part 2) – The Bad News & Good News

Infertility-featured

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.

Untraditional IVF*

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.

Embryo Adoption

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.

Why Me?

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.

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No Children – Not Just a Burden for Women

wife-consoling-husband

“I’m spotting.” I had no idea how those simple words could pack such an emotional punch. Or how about this one – “It’s negative again.” Maybe you don’t know these words intimately. Maybe your bad news comes in the form of a sigh or disappointed grin as you ride the same nauseating roller coaster again, hoping that this next time is your last. But when you find out you’re not pregnant again, no matter what the package looks like, the contents are the same. And as much as you try to remain optimistic, hopeful, and thankful to God, your heart tends to migrate to the land of doubt, disbelief, and spiritual angst.

If you haven’t figured out by now, I am no stranger to the struggle of wanting children and not being given any. My wife and I have had a few diagnoses, and have accomplished corrective surgeries. We have a known condition that doesn’t make it impossible to have kids, but it does make it harder. We have been trying for 14 years now. We have experienced several miscarriages, including one ectopic pregnancy,  and one chemical pregnancy (that we know of). We have tried medical treatments and other strategies (never IVF though). And the more my wife and I endure doctor’s appointments and medications, the more my heart aches for her. But not only that, what was once something that burdened me vicariously through my wife has become mine to bear.

As a young believer, there were times I would cry out to God and ask why He hasn’t given us children. Was it my sin? Is this only supposed to last a few years? Should I expect to have children at a really old age like Sarah and Abraham? These questions came in waves. Now that I’m older, the tides have risen high enough in my soul where I now feel the depths of sorrow that my wife has probably felt all along. For some men, this kind of feeling may be foreign, or even short lived. But I know there are other men out there who may be facing this burden more immensely and are reluctant to share. I want to be the first to say, you’re not alone. I want everyone to know that, as men, we do deal with these kinds of emotions when it comes to children. It doesn’t mean we are less of a man if we do. And we should endeavor to seek the LORD and the prayers of our fellow man as we renew our minds through this kind of trial. We would be less of a [godly] man if we didn’t.

One thing that God has taught me in all this is to remain thankful for what He has given me, and not what He has not. I intend to write more details about some Scriptures and life lessons God has brought to my wife and I because of this prohibition to have children, but this initial blog is meant to bring out the fact that God has given me sooooooo much despite the one desire that feels like a throbbing, stubbed toe within my spirit. It might be painful, and it has the propensity to attract all of my attention when I’m not faithfully exercising thanksgiving unto God. However, it is also not the god of my life. It is a genuine desire, no doubt. And it has become an even greater desire as time passes. But when I look upon the gift(s) of my wonderful marriage, my occupation, my health, my finances, and above all, my eternal salvation, to not cry out “thank you!” to my God, who has taken me out of darkness and has adopted me as His child, would be more of curse to my soul than not having children.

This short blog may not sound encouraging, but I wanted the men out there who are struggling with the burden of not having any children to know that God has blessed you with so many things already. I know what it is like to want children. Bad! I share this burden with you. And whether you have been dealing with this burden for a few years or decades, I am placing my hand on your shoulder, asking you to pray and share with other men you trust your struggle. And while you do that, meditate upon the immeasurable riches of His kindness toward you (Ephesians 4:2-7), knowing that you deserved nothing good except hell, yet He gave the greatest He could give, Himself (Galatians 2:20). And He did so on your behalf so that you could receive something greater than children – fellowship with Him.

-Until we go home