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Fruit of the Spirit, If Not of the Womb

As I come to describing my experience of infertility in the current year, it gets harder to be concise. In an attempt to focus, I'll approach this topically rather than chronologically.

Physical/Medical Aspects
In January, I had more preliminary blood-work done by my OB-GYN, to check my progesterone levels. I was concerned those would be low, based on personal observations of my cycles, but I was told the results were normal. At that point, Aaron & I decided to wait before pursuing further medical options, as tests started to get more invasive and we did not feel ready to take those steps yet. At an annual check-up in March, I discovered that my progesterone levels, although technically within the generic normal range by one-tenth of the measurement unit, were significantly low for post-ovulatory testing. My OB-GYN referred us to a fertility specialist, and we had our first consultation there in May. Some details of tests & treatments since then are already on this blog; more are forthcoming (including a summary of my diagnosis and our medical plan).

God's Word
In January, a guest speaker at our church gave a message on God's word. As he spoke, I realized with gratitude how precious the truths of the Bible have become to me through this trial. It could have been just the opposite; suffering could have turned me away from God's word, but instead it has drawn me further into it. I read Psalm 119 around this time, and I was astonished to realize that this long psalm is not just about God's word, but about how God's word applies and comforts and sustains His people in the midst of affliction and trouble. People's words will be imperfect and inadequate at time, but God's word will never fail me.

Jealousy & Self-Pity
These have definitely been my two besetting sins during this season. By God's grace, I have finally started to see some fruit born in the fight against these sins over recent months. I was greatly helped at a women's retreat with Carolyn Mahaney, through her messages (which can be downloaded here, here, here, and here) and through the time she kindly took to speak with me and a friend personally about the struggles of infertility. She encouraged me to pray for those of whom I am tempted to feel jealous, and she also suggested reading materials on the topic of suffering (through which I am gradually working my way). A couple posts on envy from the GirlTalk blog also helped me to gain conviction and equipped me for the battle against sin. I still sin in jealousy and self-pity frequently, but through God I am seeing my sin as more serious than my suffering, putting those sins to death, and putting on love and kindness in their place.

Desire for Children
The Lord has definitely refined my desire for children over the past two-and-a-half years. My initial yearnings for children were probably more characterized by selfishness: wishing to have a cute baby to cuddle, to share the experience of pregnancy with friends, to have a share in the conversation with other mothers, to have funny kid stories to share, to prove what good parents Aaron & I would be. Those wishes still crop up occasionally, but mostly they have been replaced by the desire to see God's faithfulness shown to the next generation, the hope of raising children to know Him, to be transformed by the gospel, and to bring glory to the Savior. I have also come to see this time of waiting for the blessing of children as an opportunity for prayer and to see the Lord work. My eyes have been opened to see how God delights to work through barrenness; look to scripture's record of how many great servants of God were born to barren women! Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist... This is not to say these men were perfect, and it certainly does not mean that children who are easily conceived are less special or less likely to bring glory to God. But infertility does mean I have time to invest a lot more prayer into my unborn children than I would if we conceived right away. And I think infertility also leads me to realize more fully that any children we conceive belong to the Lord, and not to us.

I still have plenty of thoughts buzzing around, but I think I'll end my summary of the road into the valley of infertility here. I've brought things up to date, reminded myself of what God has done and is doing through this trial, and now I feel ready to just keep sharing what I am currently experiencing and learning. I'll give an update on medical plans soon, since the Rubella vaccine should be out of my system and we're gearing up to start the first round of treatment.

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