In light of National Infertility Awareness Week, my friend Shawna is here to share her story. Her outlook on life and helping others through the pain she’s experienced (and even her great sense of humor!) consistently encourages women through her writing and ministry. I’m so honored to have her here. If this is part of your journey too, Shawna has a number of resources and articles you can find on her website (her link is at the bottom of this post). We pray that you know you’re not alone.
This is Shawna’s Freedom Story.
I grew up in the church. My grandfather was a deacon, my father was an usher, and my mother sang in the church choir. I don’t think I understood that some people didn’t believe in God until I was well into my teens. I was surrounded by people of faith.
I was handed my share of trials throughout my teen and young adult years, but I never questioned that God loved me. I may not have had a money tree growing in my backyard, but I had a family that loved me, a work ethic that allowed me to work my way through college, and dear friends that I still have to this day.
I never questioned God. Not until Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
I have a crazy story of infertility and loss. I have been pregnant 11 times. I am so very blessed to have two precious boys with me here, but I also have a football team in Heaven.
You see, I am a bit jacked up. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and a Balanced Translocation. The PCOS makes it difficult for me to get pregnant, and the Balanced Translocation makes it difficult for me to stay pregnant. A double whammy of fun, unfortunately!
We got pregnant with our first little man after about a year of infertility treatments. Harlan was our first pregnancy, and although we knew the issues against us, we never truly understood what was to come. Harlan was SUCH a little blessing, and we couldn’t wait to grow our family.
Unfortunately, however, by the time we had our precious Jackson, I had miscarried FIVE times. One time was twin girls, we had already seen their heartbeats, and my husband had already started to refer to them as “his girls”. To say that took me to my knees is an understatement. Lots of tears. Lots of praying for understanding. It was a hard time.
But, the week “our girls” were supposed to be born, we discovered that we were pregnant with Jackson. It was such a blessing. He was my 7th pregnancy! And, when I held him in my arms, I knew two things:
- Our family was complete.
- All is in God’s perfect timing. If I had had my babies in the time frame that I felt was best, I never would have had Jackson’s smile and laugh in my life on a daily basis.
Life moved on with our family complete. We tried a couple more times to grow our family through infertility, but it was so obvious that that door was closing, and we needed to move on with our current blessings. It was rough to walk through that door, but we prayed our way through it.
Then 2017 happened.
On March 6, 2017, after being told for years that I would never get pregnant on my own, I got a positive pregnancy test.
My main emotion was PANIC! What the heck, God? Hadn’t you already closed this door? We already cried through BOXES of tissues over this issue, and now here we are again?
My second emotion was FEAR! My odds of miscarrying were extremely high, and I was not in the mood to revisit the heartbreak. Especially with a nine-year old and a six-year old along for the ride.
While Reid spent several weeks in bubbling excitement, I spent the time full of anxiety and knee deep in prayer.
Weeks flew by, and suddenly we made it to the second trimester with zero issues. We were pregnant with a baby girl, and she was 100% healthy! Perfect DNA, no issues. Sophie Caroline Beucler. The little sister to two VERY excited little boys. And, the perfect surprise ending to our very tumultuous journey of infertility and loss.
On June 13th, at my five-month appointment, we discovered that Sophie had died within twelve hours of my walking into my OB’s office. I had felt her kick the night before, and now she was dead. We had to break the news to our boys and hold them as they grieved. We had to donate a crib, maternity clothes, and baby gifts that we could no longer bear to see. And, we had to prepare my body to deliver our little girl.
I questioned God. No, I didn’t question God. I screamed at him. I sat on my bathroom floor, banging the ground and screamed at him. There was so much anger. So much heartbreak. Not only was He putting me through this, but now I had two young boys hysterical over the loss of their sister. Why would He even allow me to be pregnant if He was only going to allow this to happen? I questioned God. It was the beginning of the lowest point in my life.
On June 16th, I checked into Labor and Delivery along with the other very pregnant women about to meet their newest additions. Instead of a smile, my face held heartbreak as I was escorted into the room. As I was getting my epidural, I told my nurse that I was being punished. I didn’t know why, but the Lord was punishing me.
This is when the Lord knocked down my door. He had been holding my hand all week, but I wanted nothing to do with Him. I was mad at Him. Angry. But, at this moment, he knocked down the door and sat down on that couch in my L&D room. Here is how I know . . .
- My nurse had experienced a miscarriage at five-months as well. It had happened ten years ago, but she held my hand and prayed over me. She ministered to me in a way that no other nurse could have done. She was such a blessing to me.
- My friends signed up for thirty minute slots to pray for me while I was in the hospital. I could not pray, I didn’t have the words. But my friends and family became the hands and feet of Jesus and prayed for me.
- I was able to hold my baby girl before giving her back to the doctor. That is a memory I will hold with me always. I got to hold her.
Y’all, this was the hardest thing that I have ever gone through. Grief is a hard thing. Loss is a hard thing. But, let me tell you what is not a hard thing: God’s love for you. I spent weeks not speaking to friends, hiding out with my boys, and rolling my eyes at the Bible verses people were texting my on a regular basis. It took me time to heal, time to grieve. And, I didn’t knock down the door to look for God. He came looking for me. I was the one sheep that walked away, and He came to find me.
After we lost Sophie, I spent a long time asking WHY. What was the WHY in this situation. I had to share my experience to at least open up the conversation about infertility and loss. To allow people to feel the freedom of sharing their stories, and in turn, hopefully building a community of women that don’t have to feel ashamed or lonely. To allow us to heal together, to grieve together.
No matter what circumstance changed your intended life plan, we have all sat by ourselves wondering what steps to take next. It doesn’t have to be infertility. It doesn’t have to be experiencing a miscarriage. It can be anything important to you that made you stop in your tracks and take a deep breath. That moment can be lonely. That moment can make you question God.
Listen, I am a work in progress. I feel that our God can handle our anger. I was SO VERY ANGRY WITH GOD when we lost Sophie. At the time, I wasn’t worried if He could handle it. But, He can. God can handle us any way we are. Even if our heart beats with anger over a tragic heartbreak.
At one point during my journey of infertility and loss, I found a quote in a devotional that has always stayed with me: “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.” That became my mantra. Through tears, I said this quote over, and over, and over again through my decade long journey to grow my family. This sweet little quote is proof that God is with me. Sometimes it may not feel like it. But He is.
If you are currently going through a struggle of infertility or loss right now, please let someone know. Reach out to me! I would love to pray for you. I have been given the blessing of being on the other side of my grief and being free to share my story. I pray that this gives at least some of you the freedom to share yours. We are all in this together.
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Shawna is the founder of Lunchbox Babies, a lifestyle blog that is geared towards those women that are currently walking, or have walked, the road of infertility and loss. After experiencing eleven pregnancies, and nine miscarriages, Shawna felt compelled to share her story with others and help people heal through hope, humor, and faith. She has also published articles with Moms Encouraging Moms, Do Say Give, Life Abundant Blog, and Heather Lobe’s Freedom Stories. Shawna can also be heard on the popular Don’t Mom Alone and Blossoming Mommy and Baby podcasts. When not working with the Lunchbox Babies community, Shawna is a mom to two miracle boys, she runs around chasing two crazy dogs, and is blessed to share this story with a very patient and understanding husband!
You can also connect with Shawna on Instagram.
P.S. Want to read more Freedom Stories of hope and encouragement? Check out 30 other stories about finding freedom through Christ and authentic community here.