Over an excruciating four years, my husband and I battled infertility. During those years I experienced emotional turmoil I never imagined possible.
After repeated failures, we finally saw a positive pregnancy test, and we were elated! I recall the delight I felt in nesting and nurturing our baby. I could not believe that our dream was finally coming to fruition.
That excitement was almost immediately crushed with miscarriage. Feelings of emptiness, isolation, frustration, and despair filled my heart. I sobbed every. single. day. for months. Though I would not wish such an experience on an enemy, I am grateful for that season of life. The years we muddled through infertility were formative ones.
In 2012, our battle with infertility finally ended when our quadruplets were born; and at that moment, we began an entirely new journey, one of raising multiples. Each day I reflect upon the gifts of infertility and miscarriage, and they remind me of why such painful experiences were necessary in my life.
Because family building did not happen as quickly as we anticipated, George and I were given time for our marriage. We seized the opportunity to enjoy experiences we knew would be difficult after children. We traveled far and wide, joined a gym and took up kickboxing, rescued a Yorkie puppy, prepared gourmet meals together, savored time with our friends, and explored our city. In an otherwise painful time, we found there was joy.
For the most part, I suffered the road of infertility silently. Only a few close friends and family members were aware, and even those I let in, didn’t know until the final year.
On the exterior, both George and I appeared healthy and happy. On the inside, I was a wreck. Each time I saw another pregnancy announcement on Facebook or heard of a coworker’s pregnancy, I wept. I was happy for these families, but remembered my own failures, and it hurt deeply.
With my own inner war, I began to realize that many others have their own source of pain. Some struggle with emotional pain or mental health issues, others experience trauma or family discord, while others have invisible physical ailments. This thought remains in the forefront of my mind as I interact with others. Perhaps the coworker who was snippy in the break room is grieving a loss. Maybe friends who repeatedly decline our dinner invitation are experiencing financial stress. I realize I cannot ever fully understand another’s circumstance because it is theirs alone, but I can lift them in prayer, offer patience, and kind words.
I found friendships in others experiencing similar struggles via support groups and forums. In time, realized I was not alone in my struggle, and many others understood my plight. They helped me find hope when I felt hopeless and normalized my emotions. Without infertility and miscarriage, I may not know some of my dearest friends and their families.
In addition to forming new friendships, I found many of my longtime friends were at my side. Even if they couldn’t relate to me, they lifted my spirits and drew my attention away from my sorrows.
Raising quadruplets is likely one of the greatest challenges of my life. Like many parents, I struggle to keep up with mountains of laundry, prepare healthy fresh meals, enrich my children, and keep my marriage strong. There are days when the children are particularly disobedient, grating at my patience and bringing me to my knees. In those moments, I remember the time when I yearned for each of these things. I take a moment to thank God for our children and the opportunity to raise them, and I recognize the miracle of their very existence.
While dealing with infertility, my faith grew exponentially. I felt more in touch with God than ever before, and I felt His presence with me in the moments I felt weakest. I began listening intently to His purpose for my life, and I obeyed in ways I had not in the years prior. For the first time in my life, I let go of what I could not control and let Him guide me.
When our infertility journey began, I never could have dreamt that our first family photo would look like this….
Infertility and miscarriage may not be the crosses you bear, but other life experiences may be your opportunity for growth. When you struggle, I challenge you to reflect upon your situation and find the ways it is shaping you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing infertility or miscarriage, here are a few helpful articles:
Infertility Myths & Facts
Managing Infertility Stress
How to Support a Friend After Miscarriage
Amber Shawver resides in Fort Worth with her husband, George, and their three-year old quadruplets, Rylin, Harper, Sydney, and Mason. In an effort to maintain professional skills and a stitch of sanity, Amber continues to practice school psychology part-time. She finds that her professional training and experience are often handy managing the quads at home. In her spare time, Amber chronicles life raising quadruplets on her blog, Four to Adore. You’ll also find Four to Adore on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!