What to Do When Everyone is Pregnant But You
By: Heidi Charalambous
Nine years ago, I sat in pre-marital counseling and explained to one of our pastors that I was not called to have kids. It wasn’t that I was young and hadn’t met the right guy yet.
I had never been interested in kids. I didn’t enjoy babysitting growing up, and I wasn’t itching to hold newborns like most of my friends. Some women were called to be moms, and I was confident I wasn’t one of them.
But four years into our marriage, something strange happened. I started to notice kids. I became increasingly captivated by what they were thinking and how they see the world. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to ask if I could hold a baby, and when I told a friend later, she nearly choked on her sweet tea.
The more I was around kids, the more I felt the desire to be a mom. For a year I wrestled with these new desires. I read my Bible, I prayed, and finally, I had to confess to my husband: I could not picture our future without a family.
We stopped using birth control in 2011, and when we weren’t pregnant after a year, we went to see our doctors. Three and half years later, we have learned that sterility isn’t a permanent condition, that you only need one open fallopian tube for pregnancy to occur, and that the miracle of childbirth is just that — a miracle.
As much as I’ve learned about the human body, our journey with infertility has challenged my understanding of faith even more.
You can feel two conflicting emotions at the same time.
At least once a month (and sometimes once a week), as I’m scrolling through status updates about what my friends ate for dinner, who’s dating who, and where a co-worker went on vacation, I’ll spot a picture announcing a couple’s new bundle of joy.
I love my friends, and I’m happy for them. But I still feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut every time a birth announcement appears in my news feed. Good, God-fearing women warned me that this might happen. But it didn’t stop the doubt, insecurity, and lies that flooded my mind in these moments.
What’s wrong with me, God? I am a terrible person. I should be happy for them. I am happy for them. I want this for them. Then why do I want to cry right now? Why can’t I jump up and down and celebrate like everyone else?
I felt crazy until I learned that joy and longing can coexist.
David — a king on the run and a man after God’s own heart — wrote 73 of the 150 psalms recorded in the Bible. In this collection of songs and prayers, David pours out his heart to God. He asks for help (and sometimes vengeance), he begs for mercy and expresses gratitude, he celebrates God’s greatness and he remembers God’s faithfulness.
And sometimes, David runs through all of these emotions in one psalm.
God doesn’t ask us to pretend everything is OK when it isn’t. If we’ll be honest about how we’re feeling, He’ll give us the ability to work through the pain.
It’s OK to not be OK, but it’s not OK to stay that way.
I’ve thrown baby showers, gone to baby showers, and welcomed my first godchild since my husband and I started trying for family of our own. Some days were easier than others. But it took fighting through the hard days to learn that my ability to love my friends is not dependent on my emotions. My ability to love people is the result of God’s love for me.
My ability to love my friends is not dependent on my emotions. My ability to love people is the result of God’s love for me.
In John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” Jesus makes this plea at the end of a speech about remaining in God’s love and before re-enforcing the command to love one another. This wasn’t a rambling thought. Jesus knew that loving one another is easy when we’re happy. But what about when we’re not? What keeps us loving each other when we just don’t feel like it?
We don’t know how capable we are of getting outside of ourselves until we take the opportunity to try. In four years, God has never let me down when I’ve obeyed the crazy prompting that says, “Get up and go anyway.”
Every time I listen to the small, still voice that tells me to put on real clothes when I want to hide under the covers, I give God the opportunity to show me that His love is enough to carry me through the awkward conversations about child rearing and the questions about when my husband and I will have kids.
Joy is made full when we let God break down the walls of a neatly compartmentalized heart. Being happy for my friends doesn’t mean I have to shut off the part of me that longs to have a child of my own. God’s love is enough, has been enough, and will be enough to carry me through my longing.