On barrenness

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I just finished reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. (He also wrote “The Kite Runner” if any of you are familiar with it.) The book was amazing and it touched my heart on so many levels. It is an absolute “must read” in my opinion. It is hard to pinpoint all of the poignant things about this novel, but there is one issue in particular that especially struck a chord with me that I would like to share with you …barrenness.

I am sure most of you reading this know that getting pregnant was not easy for me. I was not one of those women lucky enough to have their husband look in their direction and whammo blammo we made a baby. We never have truly understood the nature of why conception was so slow in coming for us. The doctors never found anything wrong with us and it seems like it was just a matter of time, a long time for us. I think if I had a window into the future and knew with absolute certainty that I would eventually conceive, maybe the waiting would not have been so difficult. But I didn’t have a window and the waiting was difficult. Painful. And heartbreaking.

I told Michael the other day, after reading about Mariam in the book and her own cycle of infertility, that I still feel very much like a barren woman. I think for some reason I identify more with that heart, than one of a woman whose quiver is full. After reading late into the night, just as I was going to bed, Ephraim woke up and so I decided to feed him. As he laid there in my arms, my heart became overwhelmed and the dam of emotions I have been carrying broke and I wept. My tears fell onto his face as he continued to nurse and I thanked God for this miracle in my life. It was a sweet moment, but I do not feel as though I have recovered from it yet.

In the few days since this moment, I have become aware of the struggles of several couples (some we know, some we don’t) to have children. Some of these women can’t seem t get pregnant. Other get pregnant, but lose the baby shortly there after. In both cases it is a heart wrenching battle. For these women, I know, feel as though their bodies are betraying them and they have failed in some way. I felt that way too.

In addition to the physical ache and longing for a child, there is the emotional saga as well. As Proverbs states so perfectly, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. Before you know it, your heart has become consumed by an emotional battle so entangling and suffocating that death might seem a relief. For myself, I turned so far inward that what I found was scary and lonely and selfish.

I sought prayer and counsel from others, but it still ate away at my heart. Finally, after meeting with a dear friend from church she gave me words that unlocked the death-grip of grief on my heart. She said I had to make a choice and the choice was this, “REJOICE with those who rejoice and MOURN with those who mourn.” She was right. I had to stop making it about me.

You see every time someone I knew got pregnant, especially if it was easy for them, I went into an emotional tailspin. I wanted to be happy for them and a part of me really and truly was, but eventually the question came …”But what about me God?” I felt forgotten and unloved. I wondered if I had committed some sin that was punishable by withholding a child. I reasoned that that could not be the case because it would unfairly punish Michael as well. So what then? Why? When?

I made a decision the day that advice was given and I chose to rejoice. During this time both my sister and sister-in-law had become pregnant within a week of each other and had due dates days apart. I was book-ended by impending birth, swollen bellies, and proud papas. I am not going to lie. It was one of the hardest thigs I have ever walked through. I tried my best to hold my head high and celebrate with these women the blessings that were soon to arrive. I gladly hosted baby showers and listened with real excitement and joy about sonogram reports and feeling the babies move. I was happy for them. And when those babies arrived 6 days apart I held those bundles of joy, I snuggled them, and smelled their sweet smell. I drank it all in and waited, in faith, hoping for the day when this experience would be my own. I rejoiced, inwardly and outwardly. 

Along the way though this journey I began reading a book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. In the book, she chronicles her own struggle to conceive and carry a child to term, for she had been told she would never be able to do either. She now has four children and with three of them experienced pain free childbirth. The reason I read the book was because she researched and wrote about every promise of God in the Bible concerning conception and pregnancy. I never knew there were promises about getting pregnant. Or not miscarrying. But there are. Lots of them. So daily I began reading through these scriptures and confessing them over my womb. One really stuck out. 

No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:26 NKJV

A pocket of revelation began to open up in me that this barrenness was not God’s will or plan for me at all. His plan was established thousands of years ago when these words were written. No longer did I have to question His heart on this issue. It was there, written in black and white.

About two years before I got pregnant I read this:

Oh! Ephraim is my dear son, my child in whom I take pleasure! Everytime I mention his name, my heart bursts with longing for him! Everything in me cries out for him. Softly and tenderly I wait for Him. God’s Decree. Jeremiah 31:20

When I read it I felt like God was telling me, you will someday have a son and when you do, name him Ephraim. I thought, okay. Name is kinda different, but cool. Whatever.

On June 18, 2006 something happened. At church, i received a word from a man named Troy that my womb was being healed. I had similar words given in the past, but this was different. Troy is affectionately known as the “baby prophet” at our church, MORE, because he has prophesied several children, especially to barren mothers. It was the gift of faith I had been praying for. So we continued to wait. And wait some more. Whenever I was given over to doubt or despair, I would cling to the promise Troy had spoken and I prayed.

On June 18, 2007 I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. One year to the day the word was given. On my birthday I found out I was carrying a boy. A son, and we named him Ephraim. It was only then that I looked up the meaning of the name. When I read those words I laughed through my tears for Ephraim means “Fruitful, Fertile and Productive”. To thin that for two years I had been telling people that if I had a son I would name him Ephraim all the while speaking fruitfulness and fertility over my empty womb. Talk about calling things that be not as though they were ….

On February 18 of this year our little miracle and promise arrived (on Troy the Baby Prophets birthday no less!) at 6:54 pm. He was breathtaking and the sound of his first cry made the journey and the struggle worth it all.

So here I am, nine months later writing all of this down for who knows to read and the pain still feels as real as it did then. The struggle is over, but still seems so real. I am reminded of the scripture in revelation that says “we overcome by the blood of the lamb and word of our testimony”. I guess these are the words of my testimony and I hope in some way, by sharing them they will find there way to someone else who needs a gift of faith. I think maybe when we go through something difficult, perhaps God allows us to remember some of that pain so we never forget and are able to bear one anothers burdens. I am not trying to make theology out of that, I am just saying that if this remembering must be bittersweet than hopefully it is so I can help someone else who is in the midst of the battle right now.

If you or someone you know is walking this difficult path right now, please leave me a comment or email me (neagler@gmail.com) so that I can pray with you for healing and deliverance.

Also, here are some recent pics!

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About rachaelneagle

I am a 39 year old wife and mother.I have two children, ages 5 and 2. I am passionate about my family, God and getting healthy. I love to learn as much as I can about health and wellness and share that information with others.

One response »

  1. Hi Rachael. I’m a friend of Lex’s, but just wanted to say thanks for sharing all of this. I have several friends grappling for vaired reasons in the grief of barrenness. This was particularly insightful and encouraging. So, thank you. -bethany

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