The Weight of Waiting

For the first few days after the transfer I am instructed by the clinic to take it easy – avoid hot showers, hot water bottles, no heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, nothing that will cause my body to overheat or experience extreme environments.  I try not to over-analyse every action and every mouthful of food, but cannot sleep for wondering whether it’s safe to be lying on my front and whether I will accidentally push the embryos out despite the scan picture we have brought home which shows how well nestled they have the potential to become. I settle down to wait and pray that our buds of hope are settling into their new environment. We pray over their development and the natural instincts that we hope they are exercising. We ask the One who holds the keys to life to bring forth the miracle and the new season of our family.

He is planting.

He is knitting.

The dawn is rising on your family. Tears may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

The trees are bearing fruit again.

The years the locusts have eaten are being restored.

We shall not fear or dread; we shall know peace and joy and fulfilment in our mighty Saviour.

Valued praying friends speak life into this future that we are holding open for our God to weave His creation story.  Fearfully and wonderfully made I know now, as I consider these embryos inside me, that I was built for this – to conceive, to nurture, to implant.  Like my embryos, it’s as if this physical function has also lain dormant for the last 45 months and I have waited for my body to spring fully into life.

I do my best to keep my fighting fists down and let God’s rest and provision lead us.  Our own exercising of patience mirrors the season of advent; the meaning, the wondering and the hoping is not lost on us.  As we count down each day with our advent candle we consider the marvellous majesty and mystery of the Messiah’s imminent arrival.  We contemplate Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, who was far too old to conceive and yet Father God chose her as a carrier of His message.  We consider faithful Mary whose obedience and faith saw the greatest honour bestowed upon her home.  We remember Sarah and Abraham who were given the wonderful gift of parenthood when all earthly options had run out.  We anticipate the fulfilment of so many promises as we consider our own.

And yet there is such weightiness in the waiting.  As the days go by, and I begin to ponder that any control over this situation has fully been taken from me, the fear and the doubts begin to creep their slimey little thoughts back into my mind.  I continue to worship my way through the days, but find it harder to stay encouraged.  When I start to feel myself being pulled in all directions by the ‘what ifs’ again I reach out to my friends, relying on their faith, their voices speaking the word of God back into my thoughts.

I am reminded by a wise friend to actively ask God for a daily encouragement and find that revelations do indeed trickle each day into my anxious mind.  One day as I drive to work with the worship music blaring, I hear His voice share a thought like a bolt of lightning lighting up a pitch black sky, “Helena, there is not one sentence in the whole of the Bible which speaks of Jesus or the Father ever disappointing or letting someone down”.  I consider this statement further and run through familiar stories in the Bible: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, David, Elizabeth, Esther, Jehoshaphat, Jericho, Joseph, the woman with the issue of blood, Peter, the lepers, the blind men, and on and on…..an inventory of victories too numerous to count.  It’s true – at no point does the Bible say that God was unable to fulfil a promise, or that someone left Jesus’ presence disappointed by him.  There might be delay or an unexpected turn of events, but nothing but transformation, redemption, miracle or healing unfolds.

And with this revelation I see a spotlight shining on the squirming little lie that I had been believing and I am transported to the tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden: “God is not enough for you”.  Straight from the pit of hell, I recognise the voice of the deceiver and I declare God’s truth and Jesus’s name in the face of the Enemy: God is more than enough and He never disappoints us.  In my mind I see a picture of my husband and I standing on a mountain of words that God has spoken over us over the last few years: fertile, fruitful, promise, faith-filled, pioneers, hope, nothing is impossible with God…..the words and verses pile up and up and I see that THIS is our foundation, our heritage and our inheritance.  This is what we stand on now.  And this is what our children are being born into.

The doubts still come in bursts and I wrestle on the battlefield of my mind to keep them prisoner.  For every negative voice I hear the counter-argument and attack, but it is wearying work and I cry out to God that I am tired of this life and wonder when He will release me into our new season.  If faith is the only key to unlocking this miracle, then I have been a poor performer, unsteady and unstable on my feet.  I ask for grace and I beg for the landscape to change once and for all.  I find solace in reading and speaking aloud passages from my Bible which cheer my heart.  So often I am a reluctant scholar and do not hurry to open the pages, but in the waiting I am greedy to absorb peace and promise.

And we wait again – always the waiting – for the outcome to unfold, for our family to arrive. 

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Our God is Well Able

The time comes……A time we have waited long, long days for.  Embryo transfer month.  Over our year of visiting the clinic I have watched so many women disappear into theatre to have their tiny buds of hope planted back into the safety of their wombs. With each fresh delay that has occurred along our personal pathway I have carefully collected together the letters detailing our precious brood of embryos, reading and re-reading their details and learning their constitutions.  Every journey home has taken me away from them, even though each is little more than a few cells carefully preserved in a laboratory. I ask God to hover Genesis-like over their potential in my absence. I am grateful that he is present everywhere.

But then our turn comes and I am Doubting Thomas as I hold my breath to see whether it will really happen this time.  Unlike our treatment cycles I don’t have to give myself any injections and the relief is great. I am allowed to pass through the month like any other normal month, with occasional monitoring scans to check that all is well.  It is and we are able to arrange most scans around our weekends so my husband can accompany me. We see His hand upon the details.

I determine from the very first day of this cycle that I will set the tone with worship and I dedicate time every day to at least one fully-present moment of praise to Him for who He is regardless of what comes.  Worship is my song of love to Him. Worship is the dedication of my life to His service. Worship is my faith cry that He is well able to do what He has promised. Worship is my recognition that He is to be honoured and glorified. Worship is my battle cry that the impossible will come to pass. Worship is the daily commitment that He has my heart and my focus.

In return we see God’s fingerprints all over our days.  We read verse after verse of encouragement and are aware of His presence on so many occasions. After one appointment we head across London to enjoy the sight-seeing events of the season. For a change we make the unusual decision to head to Somerset House to watch the ice-skating that appears on television every year.  We wander through the shopping arcade and enjoy watching the varying displays of confidence as tourists try their feet on the ice.

fullsizerenderIt’s as we turn to leave that we are both suddenly rooted to the spot. I shouldn’t be surprised by now and yet I still am.  Our verse – the verse that has followed us from place to place over the last four years – is inscribed right there in front of us on the wall of a fountain, “He is like a tree planted beside the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose leaves shall not fade, in all that he does he prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

He’s here. Right in the midst of us. It’s as though God is stood with us in this very place, smiling His love and kindness upon us, reassuring us that He is IN this, in the fabric of the days we’re living, in our coming and going, walking beside us. We will prosper in every season – in this time. He is here.

As though we were on a travelator at an airport, we move smoothly through the rest of the waiting time and our destination draws nearer.  I ovulate and begin the pessaries (reality check – they are messy and seem to produce the worst flatulence known to mankind let alone womankind!).  I clear the decks of impending stress and enjoy the goodness of His provision through the friends we are able to stay with in London and regular input from my precious prayer buddies.  We navigate the medical decisions we have to make, the topical television programme analysing the agenda of fertility clinics (by choosing not to watch it!) and the phone call updates about the outcome of the defrosting process.  I still loathe how often waiting for the telephone to ring is part of this season.

The day of transfer itself is a cause for celebration as we arrive at a moment that we have never experienced before. And although the transfer process itself is about as clinical and as far removed as one can get from the normal baby-making process, we are excited and in awe of the medics who allow us to share their ultrasound screen as they carefully place our future back into our hands (well, my womb!). In the stillness which follows the transfer, we praise and pray and invite God to hover and breathe His life over this amazing moment and the two tiny bundles that have been welcomed home.

The trees are bearing fruit again.