Jared and I did something kind of crazy to close out 2018. Something that we couldn’t believe we were actively choosing to do in December – the month of Christmas parties and countless social events!
We fasted from alcohol!
Yep, you read that right. We attended three Christmas parties, ate a delicious beef tenderloin for Christmas lunch, wrapped tons of presents, decorated and undecorated the whole house, watched Clemson beat Notre Dame, watched the clock strike 2019…all without a single sip of the sweet stuff. We fully expected people to look at us like we were absolutely insane and to question why in the world we’d choose not to have even one glass wine or a beer for 31 straight days. But ya know what happened? We were the ones who were shocked. Shocked that every single person we told reacted with genuine excitement and encouragement. We weren’t met with a single raised-eyebrow or “uh huh, sure, ooookkkk” nod! Instead we got lots of “Wow! That’s amazing!” and genuinely impressed/proud smiles.
So why? In the era of drinking for literally ev.er.y.thing. Why did we take a step back? Well, (annnnd this is probably the place where I lose several of you) to put it simply:
LET ME BACK UP A LITTLE …
Last January we went to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Scratch that, we went to see the best Reproductive Endocrinologist. He thoroughly explained to us the process (he used the analogy of steps up a ladder) we’d be moving through under his care. It started with checking us both out and medicating me. A low dose of a medicine that would help my (already functioning) ovaries to produce more healthy eggs each month. If that didn’t work, we’d move to a procedure called IUI. I wish there was some southern-belle glamorous way to explain what this is, but there’s not. It’s insemination, people. Not a far cry from what you saw Mike Rowe do that time on that one episode of “Dirty Jobs.” If that didn’t work we’d move on to IVF. You know, the Big Kahuna of fertility. The big, scary, insanely expensive thing your best friend’s cousin had to do to have her triplets. Yeah. That. In our follow-up consultation, our Godsend of an RE told us that he didn’t see any reason why we’d have to do IVF based on our tests. That we may be looking at moving up the ladder to IUI but that there weren’t any major indicators signaling IVF.
We were both relieved. IVF was a super scary monster. It was THE thing I said I did NOT want to have to do to have a baby. Fast-forward to November. Up until then we’d just done medicated cycles (that first step on the ladder I described above) and we felt the Lord nudging us to do an IUI. The procedure would fall on our anniversary weekend, our RE happened to be on call doing the procedures that weekend, and we were planning a little getaway to Charlottesville, VA: all signs pointing us toward taking the next step. We went in that Sunday morning full of hope and belief that “this was it.” Well, during the procedure we got some unexpected news that felt like a gut punch. News that we knew was going to make it difficult to get pregnant on our own, IUI or not. Regardless, we left with faith that God was bigger than this and that He was ultimately the One in control. We took off for Charlottesville and enjoyed a weekend of relaxation. At Thanksgiving I found out the IUI didn’t work, and I can’t explain it, but I had this overwhelming feeling that our next step would be IVF. J and I discussed it, he told me not to get ahead of myself, and we decided to reach out to our RE and ask his advice.
There was a small window of about a week between this conversation and me reaching out to our RE’s office, but in that window God moved. He had already pressed on me to not drink during the “two week wait” (the time between ovulation and my next cycle). There’s lots of research that says that it’s no big deal, so I was making the decision more out of blind faith than any kind of scientific data. Well, somewhere in there my mother-in-law and I had some one-on-one time and she told me that the Lord had told her that Jared AND I should fast from alcohol through December. I talked to my mom a couple of days later and she expressed that she’d felt Him say the same thing. When two of the most powerful prayer warriors I have in my life told me the Lord had told them the exact same thing, I knew it was time to listen. Instead of just taking a break during the TWW, we decided to take the whole month off. And now here I sit, cuddled up on the couch on New Year’s Eve reflecting on this month, and I have to say it’s been pretty incredible.
PEACE, CLARITY, & HOPE
When we started our fast, we prayed together one night. I asked for clarity and committed to continuing to take blind steps forward in faith. After I reached out to our RE’s office, the nurse confirmed one evening that our doctor did think that we needed to plan to do IVF. Had we not decided to fast I would have read the email to J, had some light discussion about it, poured a glass or two of wine, and gone to bed. Instead of suppressing my feelings, I faced them. I went to bed crying that night and we prayed together. We met with our doctor a few days later and I cannot begin to put into words the peace that washed over me. IVF is not that scary. It’s nowhere near the monster people make it out to be and the cost was a fraction of what’d we’d heard through the grapevine (aka Google). For the first time in our two and a half year journey toward parenthood I had peace. Peace that this was our path. Peace that this will work. Peace that it really was all going to be ok. I was more relaxed than I’d been since we started trying to grow our family. I no longer felt like I was running toward something. I was able to just be still and be present.
We’ve made it to church every Sunday morning in December, and we feel more connected to the Lord as a unit than we have since we moved to Greenville. We did another IUI in December, and the issue that was present at the first one was COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY HEALED at this one. What?! Yes! I still get chills every time I say that out loud. We’re still headed toward IVF, but we now have peace knowing this is part of God’s plan. The epiphany was: this has been part of the plan all along, He’s just been prepping our hearts for it so that we were ready. As I think back on this journey, if we’d run up the ladder we would have done things before we were ready. Instead, we prayerfully considered each step. We didn’t do an IUI until our hearts and spirits felt ready. We set our minds (and hearts) to this fast blindly trusting that the Lord would move in us through it, and we have come out the other side absolutely amazed at the growth and clarity we’ve been given.
Was it a cakewalk? Not at all! I could have seriously enjoyed a glass of wine after wrapping 47018 gifts (or after 3 days of un-decorating our house). I know J would have loved to have a few beers during the Clemson semi-final game and on his “social Fridays” at work. But one of his coworkers said it best: fasts aren’t supposed to be easy. They’re supposed to cause you to rely on the Lord for strength instead of whatever you’re fasting from, and that it did. He gave us the strength we needed to face the IVF news head on. He reminded us at Christmas that even though we don’t have a baby of our own, that He sent us His baby. A baby that is the source of our hope, our strength, our peace, and the reason we don’t have to face this winter alone. A baby that is the fulfillment of the promises that God has made to us. Promises to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). Promises to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). Promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
STEPPING INTO 2019 LIKE …
Waiting to take our next steps meant that when they didn’t work, we weren’t disappointed. So much of an infertility journey is disappointment. You can find countless women who have completely given in to disappointment and have lost all hope of ever having children of their own. They’re riddled with bitterness and completely lack joy. That is not my story. And it’s not meant to be yours either. Regardless of the battle you’re facing, when disappointment wins and hope is lost the enemy wins. Satan’s already doing his best to harm us and harden our hearts by placing this battle in our paths, there’s no way I’m giving in and letting him take it all for his glory. And you shouldn’t either, friend. The Lord is bigger than this. He is the Ultimate Healer. He is victorious. (and quite possibly best of all) He is FOR us. He gets the glory, always. So as we wrap up the season of babies, engagements and look-at-how-in-love-we-are photos, new cars/houses/phones/stuff, and allllll the other “highlight reel” moments that fill our social feeds, remember winter doesn’t last forever. Just because you don’t have that thing your heart so desperately desires right now, doesn’t mean spring isn’t ever coming.
As we enter into a New Year, I highly encourage you to prayerfully consider a fast. It doesn’t have to be from alcohol and it doesn’t have to be for an entire month. Just ask God to reveal to you what’s a crutch in your life, what’s distracting you from clearly hearing His voice, what you can do to be more connected to Him in 2019. He’ll answer and I’m willing to bet it’ll leave you feeling refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready. Cheers to a new year, friend! I can’t wait to see what blessings are in store for you!
Lord, thank you. Thank you for going before me and fighting my battles for me. Thank you for sending your Son so that the winters of life don’t have to be lonely and hopeless. Thank you for showing up and reminding me that You are for me. Thank you for new beginnings; for another year to grow closer to You. Please reveal to me areas in my life where I can fast for Your glory. I’m excited to take on 2019 together with You! Amen!
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THE NEW YEAR
- Isaiah 40:30-31
- Deuteronomy 7:13
- Proverbs 23:18
- Ezekiel 11:19