Thursday, 10 January 2019

Hope crushed... Again!

I'm going to let you in on a secret. I thought I was pregnant this month. It was the first month in many we had even been intimate at all and the first in probably a year and a half that we had been intimate at the right time to conceive. We only did it once and (to be graphic) my medical condition meant things were only where they needed to be for seconds but we had the tiniest of chances. We had more of a chance than we have had in years. So we prayed. We prayed for a miracle. We prayed like we've never prayed before.

Over the years I've lost hope to pray for a baby. With each miscarriage, loss, and heartbreak my hope that God would come through on this for us would chip off until there was virtually nothing there. When we started the adoption process hope stated to creep back in and I began to pray that God would give us a child this way. When it was abruptly brought to an end my hope, and faith, was completely shattered. I have slowly been building my faith and hope back up. Before Christmas my family received since miraculous healing news which really helped me to realise God does answer my prayers for others. It's meant I've been able to start praying for myself for little things and things unrelated to babies. As some of them have been answered I've been able to slowly start praying for my desire to be mummy. When I realised that we had a slim chance of conceiving this month I thought it was the perfect opportunity to exercise my faith and progress to God answering the biggest desire of my heart.

I'm not pregnant. My body is very painfully reminding me today that I'm not pregnant. I'm drowning in disappointment again. I'm not sure what this has done for my faith and hope. I'm trying to remember everything else God has done for me and others I've prayed for. I'm trying to thank God rather than be angry that he's not worked a miracle again. 

We've just been to a church prayer meeting where people were talking and praying about how we can bring people into the church community who are part of it but feel on the outside. I realised that, during this, seemingly never ending trial I often feel on the outside of the church community. You wouldn't know it though. I'm on various serving and ministry teams, go to prayer meetings and midweek groups. But, a lot of the time, I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. I feel like I'm isolated by my struggles. I'm not sure what to do about this feeling, or if I need to do anything at all. Maybe I'll always feel like I'm on the outside looking in. Maybe that's ok. I don't know.

I'm hoping that I can continue to pray for myself and, maybe even pray for a baby next month. Maybe I should be praying that God will give me peace whatever happens with baby stuff. I'm not ready to give up on being mummy one day, maybe.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Goodbye 2018

You began with such hope that we would become parents.
You progressed with solidarity and education as we meet other prospective adoptive parents and learnt about our potential.
You encouraged me at work with opportunities to develop my teaching skills.
You gave us nice times together and with family and friends.
Then March and April happened.
We were forced to move out of the flat we thought would be the home to bring home our child.
We were dealt a blow from the adoption agency that would plunge us into depths of heartbreak we didn't know existed.
We would not become parents this year.
We don't know if we will ever become parents.
We struggled in our marriage and in our relationships with friends and family.
Work started to be a struggle- teaching opportunities were taken away as quickly as they came, people were mean.
We struggled to come to terms with all that happened.
There were good things.
We found a great flat to move to and were blessed with friends to help.
I had a job created for me where I can exercise my mother heart everyday.
We discovered the blessing of a retreat holiday that refreshed our relationships with God.
I embraced my fundraising challenge and raised£2000 for 12 different charities.
We found ways to revitalise our relationship.
But then you got hard again.
Family health issues heightened.
My new job was threatened with change which plunged me into depths of work stress I've never faced.
I had to deal with difficult people without much support.
Memories of the failed adoption plagued my mind and took over.
Our relationship suffered hugely again.
I was plunged into darkness.
It has ended with little glimmers of light in the darkness, some bright flashes of hope.
My biggest stress at work is over and my job is safe again.
My family received some miraculous health news.
Our relationship has benefited hugely from some rest and time away.
We have had lovely times with family.
People have reacted with love and support since I opened up about my struggles and darkness.
We know it's not god's will for us to adopt and I'm ok with that (sometimes!).
I have hope to pray for my miracle again.
I have realised that this year has been a year where I have deepened friendships and relied on people and, most importantly for me, helped people.
You were not the year I thought you would be. You were hard, impossibly so at times. But I am coming out of you stronger than I was at the start.
Goodbye 2018.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

A whole mess of stuff!

I'm writing this post in the midst of Christmas celebrations and stress. This morning I attended and took part in our churches Nativity service. It was full of children dressed up and enjoying Christmas, as it should be. For me however it was incredibly hard. We normally avoid the Nativity service but this year there was a signed sing and the special needs groups I help in were part of it so I had to be there. This time last year we had just submitted our adoption paperwork and had our date come through for our preparation course. We were thinking that we would be bringing our own little shepherd or donkey to the Nativity service this year. However, in April our adoption process came to an abrupt end. In recent weeks we have come to the decision that adoption is not god's plan for us. The reasons behind that decision are for another post but it's a hard one to come to terms with especially at Christmas.
Several of the couple's who were on the adoption preparation course with us now have their little ones home with them and we don't. It hurts. I'm struggling largely because I feel like we're old news. Oh look that childless couple are finding Christmas hard... Again! I feel like I want to run away and hide.
I'm under an awful lot of pressure at work at the moment which doesn't help things but I feel like I live in a permanent state of stress and sadness. My relationship with my husband is tense and my relationship with God is just holding on by a thread. I'm praying for a miracle (a baby) but I have absolutely no belief that God answers my prayers for myself. I can't really pray for others either. I know God is there and loves me and wants to comfort me but I don't understand why he never comes through. Have I done something wrong? Am I not praying right? I try and try and get stress at work and nowhere with my fertility. I'm trying to have a relationship with God but I don't really know how to when I feel like this. If I'm honest I feel very alone in all this and don't know where to turn. There are counseling services, support groups and online forums for people going through miscarriage but I've found nothing for people going through failed adoption. Every time I've mentioned it in online support groups people have just told me not to give up and try another agency. But that's not where we're at, I just want support. This is hard, especially at Christmas when children and happiness are all around me.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Advent- Hannah 1

her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why are you crying? Why won’t you eat? Why are you so sad? You have me. Isn’t that better than having even ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:8 ERV

This verse demonstrates the dilemma every infertile person faces- how to be happy with the blessings you have in life when you don't have the one thing you overwhelming desire- a child. I'm not sure I have any wise words on this topic as it's something I'm particularly struggling with at the moment. We're in a place now where we've decided to pray for a miracle whilst also finding ways to live as a family of two. Essentially we've stopped trying. I'm under an awful lot of stress at work just now which has exasperated my anxiety which in turn has made me more susceptible to feelings of bitterness and jealousy when I see pregnant people and young families. I feel the longing to have a child of my own ever so strongly just now and am struggling to be thankful for all the wonderful blessings in my life. It's hard to see the good things when all I see is what I long for but haven't got. This is also a tough area for me right now because I'm having a major wobble in my faith so struggle to see things as blessings from God. I'm finding it hard to pray to a God who I no longer think answers my prayers. I guess this is a work in progress for me.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Advent- Rebekah

I've not posted on here much this year, it's been quite a year. We thought we'd end this year as parents but instead we're ending it coming to terms with the fact that we are likely to never be parents. To help focus my mind and sort out my headspace I've decided to write a blog post each day in advent. The posts will be based around a different infertility themed Bible verse or character.

Day 1-Rebekah
Genesis 25:21
Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.

If I'm honest I struggle with this verse. Lots of people, including my husband have prayed for me because I am childless and I've not become pregnant, or I've lost the babies I have carried. I used to find hope in this verse and others like it but 7 years in I now find it tough. Did we not pray right or well enough? So we not have enough faith? I guess what this verse does for me now is remind me that God's timing is not ours, His ways are not our ways. It may be His will for us to wait years and then have a baby, it may be His will for us to never have children of our own but to act in a parental role to other people's children. We don't know. But I do know that, despite it feeling like God has let us down, he hasn't and he never does. In all this suffering He is still good, still God and still on His throne in control.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Everything's changing but...

I'm struggling today. In fact I've been struggling for quite a few days now. From the outside you'd think I should be happy and excited as the are lots of new things happening in my life. We moved into a lovely new flat a month or so ago, I started an evening course on Tuesday to train as a pastry chef and next week I start a new job. Everything is changing but we still don't have children. I don't know if we will ever have children. I thought I was ok with being a family of two but I just seem to be fighting back the tears all the time these days.
This morning Neil and I were helping out with the group for special needs kids at church. Seeing Neil running around and interacting with the kids was heartbreaking. We should have been getting ready to adopt our own child who would quite likely have had special needs. For some reason I've had that awful meeting playing over in my head all week. Everything's just painful again.
I'm excited for all the new stuff in my life it's just overwhelming.
I was standing in church this morning watching all the families with their children, babies and baby bumps and just felt like everyone was moving forward and I was standing still. All I wanted was a hug. I'm really struggling to be grateful for what I have got and not just be devastated that we haven't got a child.
Neil is going away for two nights tonight for work and I'm really sad that that will leave just me in the flat. I'm sure I'll enjoy time to myself but it's not where I thought I'd be at 35.
We're trying naturally at the moment and not getting anywhere, life is just hard sometimes!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

A Mother's Heart

We have recently returned from camping with others from our church and churches from across the UK and beyond at the Catalyst festival. It was a valuable few days for both Neil and I but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it. We faced many challenges, not least having to bail water out of our tent in our pyjamas for an hour before we could start our day on the first full day there. We were tested as a couple and as individuals but we came through stronger than we started. For me personally I think God was speaking to me about three things.

My dreams will wait: I need to grieve first.

Since finding out, about a month ago, that we would not be able to adopt and consequently I am likely to never be 'Mummy' I have resurrected another dream I have held nearly as long as the dream to have a child. My dream is to open a cake or chocolate shop or cafe and use it to employ people with a learning disability and teach them to make all sorts of items well and let them use their creativity and learn business skills. Almost immediately after I found out I wouldn't be a Mum I started researching how I can make this dream come to fruition. I am hoping to enrol in a year long college evening course in patisserie and confectionery and am looking into options and locations to start up my business once I have done my course. We both feel like we need a fresh start so we are looking at a complete relocation. At the Catalyst festival I went to a seminar about turning your creative talent into a business. It was delivered by a lady who had started a creative business following a lengthy and traumatic health trial. I got lots of helpful practical tips from the seminar but it also made me realise that I need to straighten out my priorities right now. The lady in the seminar had used her creative gifting and skills to help distract her from her health troubles but she still dealt with them. I realised I was not doing that. I was approaching the whole thing with an attitude of replacement - I can't have a baby so this business will be my baby, I'll start up a cafe instead. God has highlighted to me that this attitude is not healthy. I can still dream, I can still do things like my course to help my dreams come true but I need to grieve as well. Having a business, becoming a professional baker or confectioner will not replace the children I will never have. I need to grieve, heal and recover at the same time as moving towards my new goals. I also think it is healthy to pause the progress of my creative dreams to allow me time to back track and grieve. I can still do the course but I need to make sure I am dealing with what has happened to me as well. This means it may be more than a year before we move away. I have paused my mindset and reset to allow me to grieve and process. That has meant lots of tears and questions already!

I have a God given mother's heart.

As the name of this blog reflects I believe I am made to nurture. Until recently I thought I was made to nurture my own biological or adopted children. I thought I was made to nurture children in my own home and family. Now it looks like I will not meet my own children in this life I am starting to realise that God can and is honouring my mother's heart in other ways. I nurture and mother the students I encounter every day at work and I have a heart to reach out to people with learning disabilities and love to meet their needs. At the Catalyst festival I felt God encouraging me through other people's children. I found myself more than once with little ones seeking me out and coming to me for cuddles and entertainment. I realised that me spending time valuing and loving their children blessed my friends who were the children's parents. I can outwork my mother's heart by loving other people's children. I'm currently praying this through and trying to work out how I can best love my friends by loving their children whilst also looking after my own heart. I have had a recurring picture during worship times of me surrounded by pre-school aged children but knowing that none of them are mine. This is both encouraging and painful. I found when I was running around with, colouring with, having cuddles with and spending time with these little ones who sought me out my heart was both heavy and healing. It encouraged me that there are children (and their parents) who benefit from and are blessed by my love and care even if the adoption agency wont let us continue. However I had to give these children back and say goodbye, I had to go back to a child free tent, come home to a child free flat. This really pulls at my emotions. In reference to my previous post I am also going back in my emotions to process and grieve the potential children we could have had. This meant there was one very messy afternoon at the Catalyst festival where I dissolved in tears while cooking dinner. It was the start of a process that needed to happen but it wasn't comfortable. The evening meeting after that tearful dinner was spent, for a bit, with a lovely little girl in my arms which was lovely and difficult at the same time. Processing emotions around not being able to have my own children while loving on other people's children is both messy and beautiful. I also found it really hard when the children I was spending time with were tired or hurt - they only wanted their parents. It really hurts that I will never be that comforting, fulfilling presence that a child longs for from a parent when they need it most.

I am a child of the living God.

Through everything that has been going on recently I have really been struggling with my identity, I didn't know who I was. I also couldn't sing worship songs that talked about God being good or that he would never let us down. I felt completely defined by the fact that I can't have children and we can't adopt. I could not reconcile our unmet desire to be parents and our failed natural attempts, fertility treatments, IVF and adoption attempt with a good God who doesn't let us down. When I had my messy meltdown while cooking dinner a good, trusted friend who is also an elder in our church was at our tent talking to Neil. He had to pick up the pieces (and stir our dinner to prevent it from burning!) He told me, among other things, that I was a child of the living God and asked me to repeat it. I couldn't repeat it. It was like something was physically stopping those words from coming out of my mouth and stopping the truth of those words from penetrating my heart. All I could think and say was how much of a horrible person I was, I couldn't see the truth and felt like a failure. Then our friend said something that made my thinking start to change. He said that Jesus promised in the Bible that he would never leave us and that he gave good gifts to his children. I heard this but didn't really believe it. He then said that Jesus also promised in the Bible that he would rise from the dead and that as we know that is true we can trust that all the other promises in the Bible are true. That was when my thinking changed. I know Jesus kept his promise to rise from the dead so I know he will keep the other promises too. I may never understand why all this has happened this side of heaven but I know Jesus will never leave me and that he is good and will not let me down. I can't really remember much more of the conversation but by the end of it I was tentitavly able to say 'I am a child of the living God'. This truth was repeated in the evening worship and I was able to receive it, I even wrote it in my journal in big bubble writing! This morning, at church we sang a song that talked about God being good and that he will never let us down. I was able to sing it this morning.
I spent some time serving on the team working with adults with learning disabilities at the festival. There was a moment where I made a connection with a young lady who was questioning her future and whether God really loved and valued her. I made eye contact with her while singing and signing 'the Father Himself loves you' and I knew she knew that God valued her and loved her for who she is. In that moment I knew that to be true for me too. God uses broken people to serve broken people.

I am slowly healing from the trauma of trying and not suceeding to have children but have slowed down my moving on to ensure I grieve and recover fully. I have readjusted my thinking to view myself as a mother. I have realigned my emotions and feelings to allow myself to love other people's children. I am starting to plan how I can practically love our friends' children whilst also healing my own heart. That's what I got from this year's Catalyst festival.