“Did you hear the news?” John asked me as he shut the back door to our kitchen. He’d just come back from playing basketball and I had noticed he and his brother Josh parked in the driveway, just sitting and talking as the rain poured down.
Immediately I knew. My younger sister was pregnant again for the fourth time.
“Adrienne’s pregnant?” I asked with dread in my voice. Unaware of my reaction, John triumphantly responded, “Yup!” He then proceeded to take care of his basketball gear, while I continued to wash the dishes piled on the counter.
I wanted to be elated. After all, she was my sister and this meant another beloved nephew or niece. But I couldn’t be. Immediately at the news, I burst into tears. As much as I’d like to say they were tears of joy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I felt jealousy, grief, and brokenness.
For the first 5 years of my marriage I was unable to even try to conceive due to Chronic Lyme Disease treatment. But since putting that behind me, we had been trying for 7 months to get pregnant, to no avail. I wanted nothing more than to be a mother and it seemed like a God-given desire, so why was God ignoring my pleas?
Rewind to a few months back… I began charting my fertility signs in August of 2016. My closest friends and family began praying with us right away, including two of my little nephews.
November 17, 2016
At Prayer Meeting one evening, my nephew JJ prayed aloud: “Please help Clare have a baby soon, Amen.” When he finished praying, his younger brother Reimer looked up at me and said matter-of-factly, “You have bee-bee.” Nearly everybody chuckled despite ourselves. I am confident God heard the honest and genuine prayer of a 5-year-old that night.
Apparently both boys prayed regularly that God would give me a baby, but one night Reimer stopped praying mid-sentence and looked up at my sister and asked, “Can I pray for two bee-bees for ‘Plare’?” She chuckled and said yes. Weeks later she found out the reasoning behind his request: “One bee-bee for ‘Plare’, and one bee-bee for Unca John.”
Due to the bold prayers of these two precious boys, word quickly spread within our church family that John and I were finally able to start a family, and I know they began to pray fervently with us, as well.
As I described earlier, when I first discovered my sister was pregnant again, I was devastated. Five minutes later I was burying my head in John’s chest, weeping. It wasn’t fair. She already had three toddlers and felt overwhelmed- she wasn’t even trying to get pregnant! And here I was, 18 months older than her, seven months into trying to conceive my first child, without any spark of hope. Every month… every period… became more and more difficult, and this news sent a knife right through my heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my sister and absolutely adore her three little boys, but somehow the news of her pregnancy affected me more and was less bearable than the countless pregnancy announcements I encountered weekly on Facebook. I wanted to be happy for her, but it took a few days until I could get to that point.
I’d become obsessed with tracking my fertility signs and every month around my period I’d interpret every little thing as a possible pregnancy symptom. I knew it was putting a strain on my marriage and I hated how miserable I became after every negative pregnancy test, but I wanted a child so badly and was allowing it to consume me.
At Bible study one night I requested prayer because of my struggle with childlessness while my sister was pregnant (actually, I couldn’t get the words out without bursting into tears, so my mom made the request for me). When my mom explained that my sister was pregnant again, somebody piped up, “Again! Uh oh… it’s going around again… you better watch out,” as she nudged another mother of four, insinuating she’d be the next to get pregnant. (The previous year there had been 6 babies born in our church within 8 months, so everyone joked that it was in the water). This comment made many laugh, but caused the hurt within me to pour forth in the form of bitter tears.
At the end of April of 2017 I got a vaginal yeast infection and had to take an over-the-counter remedy for a week or so. It so happened to be right around the time I knew I’d be fertile, so I took it as an opportunity to just take a break from trying to conceive during the month of May. I stopped taking my waking temperature every day and tried to ignore all other fertility signs. I’d resigned myself to the fact I just wasn’t going to get pregnant in May and I was okay with it (mostly because it meant I wouldn’t be disappointed or surprised when my period came once again).
Well, God’s timing is perfect. My yeast infection literally cleared up a day before I ovulated. Though I wasn’t tracking the signs, I’d learned within the past 7 months how to listen to my body and knew I was fertile on the 8th of May. A day later I texted my sisters and told them to pray hard that I’d conceive- I knew it was in God’s hands.
The weeks of waiting were agony, but I prayed hard and often that this would be it. I remember vividly crying out to God (literally) as I knelt on my living room floor, my head buried in my arms on our couch one day. I reminded God of Hannah and how He’d faithfully answered her prayers and pleaded with Him to hear me, too. I told Him I’d accept from His hand a difficult pregnancy without complaint if that was His will. I appealed to His character, explaining that He had only to gain by giving me a child because everyone would know it was in answer to prayer.
That week at prayer meeting I prayed out loud- not something I do frequently, but felt compelled to do this particular time. When I started out I thought I’d be able to ask God to give me the desire of my heart without becoming emotional, but I was wrong. In the middle of my prayer I began to cry, once again.
And of course, Mothers’ Day this past year was the most difficult I’ve had to endure. When mothers were asked to stand, I just wanted to melt into the floor. I just kept telling myself over and over, “It’s okay… you’re okay… you’re going to make it through…” But as soon as my mother-in-law lovingly put her hands on my shoulders and whispered for me to stand with her, I couldn’t hold in the tears any longer.
I now know that in the very moments I was crying out to God, He was knitting my child within my womb.
God is so good. I’ve had to wait longer than many for my first child, but God has molded me in ways that never would have been possible apart from this pruning period in my life. This child is truly an answer to many many prayers and such a beautiful gift from God. My desire is to remember God’s grace and faithfulness to answer prayer every time I look at her.
This is why we have decided to name our baby girl Marian Eliana which means “Grace; My God has answered”. She arrived January 31, 2018 at 4:53am and was 6lbs, 7oz and 19.5 inches.
Will you join us in praising God for this miracle?