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It's so nice to finally meet you.

Infertility. That word meant nothing to me when I looked into David’s eyes over nine years ago and said I would be his forever. In our premarital counseling, I remember saying whimsically, “If we can’t have our own kids, we’ll just adopt. I don’t think I will feel like I HAVE to have biological children since we want to adopt anyway! But don’t worry, I’m super healthy and there’s no reason we’ll have a hard time… it’s not going to be an issue.”

Ha. If there’s one thing I’m not, apparently it’s a prophet.

David and I have been trying for seven years. We have actually been off birth control for over nine years. In those early years of marriage, while we weren’t “trying”, the many, many times I thought I was pregnant were still suspenseful and exciting. I always knew that I wanted to reveal a pregnancy to him by giving him a wrapped box, with a little white bib inside that said, “I love Daddy” in blue thread. One of the first times I was late, I raced to the store to pick up a pregnancy test and bought a bib that said that very thing. That bib has remained hidden in my sock drawer for nine years. I still long to emerge from the bathroom one morning after seeing two lines on a plastic stick and give it to him with tears of joy in my eyes.

I am not writing these words from a place of answers, on the other side of this great mystery I will label as my past someday. I write this even now from a place of questions and wondering and vulnerability -- with tears that still fall as I contemplate the unknown. After my fourth specialist and second surgery, my doctor discovered and removed endometriosis that I had no idea was plaguing my body. Is that what it was this whole time? Has it damaged my ovaries irreparably? Will this surgery even help? Can I be hopeful again? Dude, your guess is as good as mine.

I look back at these years of trying, and wondering, and unexplained infertility and I’m bewildered. It makes me wish I could encourage the younger me to somehow experience it all differently than I did. I wish I could take the pain away that suspense and unmet expectations gave me. If I’d just known that month after month would yield nothing but one line on a test I could have taken so much emotion and pressure off my shoulders. Too bad me now couldn’t have told me then not to hold my breath so long and so hard. But that’s not how it works. And there is no shame in it.

I will say unswervingly that God Almighty has done a work in me. He has continued to form my heart through His Philippians 1:6 promise that He began when I was four and prayed on my knees with my mother. I invited Him to be my Lord and Savior and pledged my life and allegiance, heart, mind, soul, body to Him. “Do with me what you will. Show me the way everlasting.” I forgot to add the part about making sure it didn’t hurt this bad. Turns out we don’t get to put conditions on total surrender.

Even in the brokenness that I have faced, He continues to pursue my refinement. And I have come to understand that the purpose of the refiner’s fire is not just to craft a tool or a vessel. I am not going through this so I can somehow be more useful to Him. I know now that even in this anguish He has purposed to pursue ME for his own pleasure as a treasured child, even when I stumble and fall.

But before anyone thinks I have it all together or that there’s a pretty little bow wrapped around my story, let me invite you to see into the moments that have formed my heart over these years. I have been so very hurt and so very angry and scorned words like faith, hope, and trust because it felt like people said them to me so tritely and without understanding the mountain of bitterness that I’ve carried. Pregnant with emptiness.

I am so blessed to have these amazing friends that God has graciously given, spanning the many years of this journey I’m on. They all have unique stories with the common thread of barrenness. This thread at times feels like it has stitched us together and helped to make us who we are and sometimes feels like it has wrapped itself around our necks trying to choke our life away. But here we are, together, a collective of women who have felt this pain and continued to walk (or sometimes crawl) forward.If you’re reading this, I assume you’re “trying” and that it hasn’t gone according to plan. I ache for you. I fully realize that most likely scrolling through this blog is perhaps the last thing you ever wanted to do. Maybe someone sent the link to you and you rejected the thought at first. Thanks, but no thanks. Wherever you are, I hope you are encouraged to go with us “further up and further in”, as C.S. Lewis would put it.

We want to invite you to sit in a room with us so we can talk. We want to mourn together, ask questions together, and more than anything tell you that you’re not alone. You’re not alone in the things you’ve thought or the emotions you’ve felt or the words you’ve said. We want to offer comfort and compassion to you in the same way we have received it from each other. There are traps and pitfalls and thought processes that lead to defeat and despair. We’ve been there. Maybe we can begin to help shed a little light in the darkest of places?

We know this isn’t a polished work. None of us are professional writers. We’re not pastors or theology professors and certainly are NOT perfect. But we long to share our experiences with you if it will help. We want to say that you’re welcome to sit in this room with us as we contemplate where we’ve been and what God has done in us.

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©2017 BY EMILY GENTILES - TRYING COLLECTIVE