Editor’s Note: This post was written at my request by my sweet sister, Jessie Payne. I have seen her struggle with unnecessary guilt through her pregnancy and desire to build her own family. She and her husband, Drew, care so much for Brett and me and have been sensitive to us through every step in our journey.
This is a must read!
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I did not expect to be the first one to get pregnant. I was the big sister who had gotten married second, the one with corporate aspirations and a five-year plan. The one with a haphazard bodily cycle, who enviously watched her sister mark Day 28 on the calendar every single month.
I had grown up hearing horror stories of sterility, pregnancy nightmares and devastating miscarriages from my mother, aunts and cousins, and sternly reminded the part of my brain that longed for a tiny baby of my own that infertility was in my blood. I sympathized with my sister as she took negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, reassuring her that we were undoubtedly in the same boat.
“Should we try to have a baby?” The question asked of my husband again, after three years of marriage, as we sat on the sofa together eating dinner. “It took mom five years to have me. I’ll be 30 by the time we have our first.”
A baby was not part of our five-year plan. But watching others’ struggles scared me – even more than the thought of childbirth. So we decided to throw caution to the wind and “try,” even though my faith was very small.
Then two pink lines appeared. On the first try.
“I have to call my sister.” I had been there when friends and family members innocently and excitedly proclaimed their pregnancies to Alyssa, unaware of her ongoing fertility struggles and the pain inside that escalated with each baby announcement. I knew what the smile looked like that she bravely wore as she congratulated each one, while her heart was breaking inside. I had cried with her as months turned into years without a realization of her most precious desire.
After we celebrated and prayed together, my husband and I prepared to go our separate ways for the evening, he to his boys’ night and I to my TV shows, bursting at the seams with A Secret. “Let’s wait to tell anyone until you see a doctor,” he said, and kissed me goodbye. Ten minutes later, he phoned from the car. “You’d better call your sister.”
As I dialed the phone, my stomach slowly climbed into my throat and I felt guilt settle on my shoulders. With a pang, I thought of my earlier dance through the house, pink-and-white stick in hand. I rebuked myself for my excitement, because what was happening just wasn’t fair.
“Life isn’t divided into four equal parts,” my mother reminded my siblings and me time and time again, as we squabbled over toys or treats. But it should be, I thought to myself while I waited for my sister to pick up the phone. Life should have given her – the one everyone knew would actually be the World’s Greatest Mother – a baby a long time ago. It wasn’t my turn. Not yet.
“Don’t be mad at me” were the first words out of my mouth when she picked up the phone. I would not have blamed her for hating me at that moment; for resenting me on so many levels.
“Why would I be mad at you?” she asked, after I shakily explained my new and surprising diagnosis – and then we cried together on the phone. But her tears were not tears of sadness. Nobody else in the world was as happy for me and for the little baby that would grow into my precious Logan than my sister. I was amazed at her strength and her ability to see past her own struggles and take hold of the Bible verse that commands us to rejoice with those who rejoice.
Yes, if we lived in a perfect world, my sister would already have four or five babies making a mess of her home. If life was fair, she would have been the first in our family to make The Announcement to our parents and present them with their first grandchild. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a fallen world, one that is full of sin and disappointments.
There were many times during my pregnancy that I looked at my growing belly in the mirror and felt the heavy hand of guilt all over again, or cried to my husband, “It’s just not fair.” I don’t know why God let me have it “easy” and sent Brett and Alyssa on a longer pregnancy journey, one with so many struggles and frustrations. But I do know for certain that they have both been strengthened in their spiritual journey because of this experience, and that they have truly learned what it means to rely only on God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” None of us would have ever chosen this path for Brett and Alyssa. But God – who loves them more than we ever could – did, and through it, has allowed them to be a blessing to so many people who have been touched by their story.
Alyssa was with me every step of the way during labor and delivery, as a coach, cheerleader and photographer. She walked the hospital halls with me, taking turns being the one to give me massages through my back labor and braiding my hair during a break between contractions. Even as I prepared to meet my brand-new baby, I couldn’t stop thinking of the immense sacrifice she was making just being in that hospital room – all the while wishing she could trade places with me, contractions, swollen feet, IVs and all.
I hope – more than I could ever express – that her turn comes quickly. But I know that whatever happens, she believes that God knows what is best for her and for Brett. What a beautiful example is being set here – a couple able to rejoice while in the midst of such a trial. They have grown closer together and closer to God through their pain, and have truly been able to thank Him for allowing them to suffer, because he is using their situation for His glory.
Please join with me in praying for them as they begin their IVF journey. While many may believe that their hope for a child is now in the hands of a doctor, we know better.
“But God can do what seems impossible;
God controls eternity.
My mind can never comprehend it,
But God in heaven cares for me.”