Three years ago I went to a retreat for my bible study the day after we confirmed that we had lost our first pregnancy. God was so good to me that the experience there helped me grieve and start healing for the loss. This retreat occurs every three years. Fast forward to right now. Bob and I just attended the same retreat together in Southern California. This time it felt so different. First of all I had my husband with me and it is such a blessing that we serve in the same bible study organization. Second is that, we are in a vastly different position this time in terms of our fertility journey. Three years ago we just failed our first ever transfer with a chemical pregnancy. Our hearts were broken and we needed healing. This time, we went with the news of expecting twins. We don’t have the heaviness of waiting for something to happen. Things are happening. What a blessing it is to be here. Bob was treated like a rock star when many of my friends from my bible study group came by one after another to meet him. It was so precious for them to congratulate him on the babies. In my blog post about the last retreat three years ago I met a woman on the plane who experienced infertility and eventually adopted a little girl from China. I shared with this random stranger (but not so random as it was a divine appointment) about our struggles and she promised to pray for us. God has such a sense of humor (and it’s a small world). My husband has been the bible teacher for this same little girl in the past year and has developed a close relationship with this family. I bumped into this mother again at the retreat this time. She told me that she had been consistently praying for us which was super sweet because she has kept her promise. I thought that her husband would have shared with her our news of expecting twins (since my husband and her husband now serve in the same bible study) but he hadn’t. So she was so surprised and happy to know that we are finally expecting not one baby but two! Again, God is so compassionate and full of love. He allowed me to personally share this news with this lady. It feels like things have come in a full circle. I just feel redeemed that we are in such a sweet position to be able to experience the joy of this monumental change in our lives and finally have good news to share on this twisted journey. All I can say is that God is good and my heart is filled with gratitude for His provision.
God has the perfect timing. The retreat in San Diego was such a blessing. The things that I learned, the friends that I got to know better, and the random strangers that i encountered were all a blessing to me. This retreat couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. All the encounters with different people were divine appointments.
I was doing fine on Friday. When I arrived at the airport, I was still not in the mood to talk about myself. The whole world was a still little grim to me. But the Lord was good. I saw my friends there at the airport and shared with one of them about what had happened the day before. I was surprised that I could speak about it without tearing up or crying. Big step forward. I was quite late to get on the plane so there weren’t too many seats left. My three friends who got on way ahead of me pointed me to a middle seat across from them. I squeezed in and wasn’t planning on talking to anybody. The woman next to me asked me how to change her phone to the airplane mode. I still didn’t want to talk to her much. But once I saw what she was reading, I knew that she was going to the same retreat I was heading to. So I started striking up a conversation with her. We ended up chatting the whole hour and a half nonstop. Because we talked so much about my husband and her family, she asked if we were planning on having children. I somehow felt very connected to her and shared our sad news with her. That brought tears to her eyes. Then I found out that her oldest boy’s name is the same name that I will give to my boy in the future! I was very surprised by it because it’s not a common name. I bumped into her many times during the retreat as well as on the flight back to SFO. We talked about making plans to get together in the future since she lives about 15 minutes away from me. Praise God that my sad news didn’t put me in a cocoon and didn’t stop me from connecting with people.
Throughout the whole retreat, I met many people, heard many stories, went to many lectures, and learned many things. These experiences helped me put things in perspective that there are things that are so much bigger than me and my world. It somehow really helped me to begin the healing process of my loss. This was a retreat for about 3000 leaders for this bible study program in three states. Nineteen leaders of my group attended. We didn’t necessarily all stick together all the time. But I did bump into many of them in these three days. Whenever I saw one of the leaders from my group, I was often asked how I was doing. And I often shared about the pregnancy and the loss. I didn’t know that one of the ladies who is in her 60’s also went through infertility in her 30’s. She is currently widowed but is engaged to a wonderful man and is set to marry him in the summer. But she teared up when she heard my news and was sharing about the devastation at that time when she couldn’t get pregnant or keep a pregnancy and her late husband did not want to pursue adoption. It was a painful period of time for her but she finally had it resolved. She does not have any children. The power of the experience was great though as she was still emotional talking about it almost 30 years later.
Because I was very open about my loss, I talked about it over twenty times during these three days. The more I talked about it, the more at peace I felt. I was grateful that the Lord gave me this time to share and to help me mourn, grieve, and heal.
I was very surprised to bump into a friend of mine at the retreat. I didn’t know that she had also become a leader for this bible study program and she was also attending this retreat. I was so shocked when I saw her. I walked up to her and gave her a big hug. This was a couple of minutes before the morning lecture began. She asked me how I was doing. I told her right then and there about the pregnancy and the loss, and also that it was after our fourth IVF. Her first reaction was, I am so sorry about your loss. A little background about this friend: she got married at 38, got pregnant at 40, and gave birth at 41. She had a loss before her take home baby. Then she told me that she had two more losses after the birth of her daughter. The last one was just in November at 9 weeks. She then told me to think twice before I begin another IVF cycle and to pray about it because she got pregnant on her own and they were all natural conceptions. Unfortunately the lecture was about to start and I couldn’t “defend” myself and my decisions. I texted her later and asked if we could have lunch together.
I was frankly a bit bugged by her first reaction and her advice of what I should do or shouldn’t do in the future. Thank God that there was a whole lecture of 2.5 hours for me to calm down and to think from her perspective. I think people are just very quick to use their own experiences to give advice without having prior knowledge of what the other person has gone through. After praying about it and thinking more about it, I was not bugged anymore. Instead, I thought that she just needed a bit of education of my condition and our decision making process. At lunch, we sat down and had a great chat. We caught up on our lives and I told her clearly how we came to the conclusion of IVF (after a lot of prayers, seeking guidance from our pastor, and having peace in our hearts), how it had been difficult to conceive by ourselves, and how difficult the whole IVF process was. I am glad that I cleared up any myths in her head and the confusion that she must have had about this process. One thing that I stressed was that us taking the IVF path does not mean that we’re not depending on God. I don’t have any less faith than she does who tries naturally only. I am so glad that God gave me the courage to explain my standpoint to her without being defensive. It was done out of love. This friend and I hung out a few more times during this retreat. I am so thankful that the Lord put us together at an unexpected place during an unexpected time.
The last divine appointment was on the way back to SFO. I again was getting on the plane late so I had to go all the way to the back of the plane for a seat. The girl in front of me took the seat that i wanted so I went even farther back and scored myself an aisle seat next to two ladies. I recognized them. They were both bible study leaders that are from a class at a location 15 minutes away from my location. I hadn’t really met them but I had seen them around at the retreat. I sat down, said hi to them, and minded my own business. The whole time they were chatting about various things about church, about bible study, about home, and about their kids. I did my best to tune them out and just went on to read my own book. When the plane was almost going to land, the lady next to me asked what book I was reading. I showed her the title, she looked at it, and quickly pointed at her friend right next to her. She said, You should’ve talked to her. The book that I was reading was called “Moments for Couples who Long for Children”. If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it. It has helped me through many difficult moments. Anyhow, from what I gathered, the lady who sat at the window seat tried to get pregnant for 18 years. She went through four IVFs and numerous surgeries. She finally adopted a baby girl at 10 months and now the little girl is three years old. I shared my journey with her in the limited time that we had and how we experienced our first pregnancy and first loss. This news brought tears to her eyes. She asked for my name one more time, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I will definitely keep you in my prayers”. That was such a sincere response and such a sweet moment, from one fellow sister in Christ to another, who understands exactly what the other one is going through.
I am doing well in general. I get sad once in a while. I pray and I have peace. Bleeding started on Sunday, so at least my body is doing what it’s supposed to do instead of making me wait. After crying my eyes out on Thursday, I didn’t cry until last night when the thought of the possibility of never having our own biological children sent me to a place of sorrow and I had to cry it all out. That was good for my soul. My husband is absolutely the best. Each crisis we face together is a confirmation of the absolute best decision to marry him. The Lord has brought us closer together because of our journey together. That is my silver lining. I think we’re going to take a break from thinking about IVF. We just want to have a chance to grieve, mourn, and heal from this loss at this moment.