Emotional Surplus: Navigating the Many Emotions of Infertility, Foster Care, and Pregnancy

Since we found out I was pregnant in late January, I have been navigating an overwhelming surplus of emotions. Amid wrestling sheer disbelief in what my eyes and body were telling me, I also struggled with an immense amount of guilt that is embarrassing to even admit given the fact that we had just received such a precious gift that we’d never believed we’d get to experience in this lifetime.

After spending the last three years learning to cope with the grief of infertility, learning to be content with where we were in life, and working toward accepting the reality of our circumstances—that we would likely never get to experience pregnancy—we had suddenly been thrust into a blessing so great and unexpected that I almost felt I could have drowned in it.

Our chances of pregnancy had always been slim, as after the first time I visited the doctor, he revealed to me the possibility that I didn’t ovulate at all. Those slim chances seemed to thin out with each failed round of treatment. But in late November, we also discovered that my body wasn’t the only factor in our inability to get pregnant; after going through another round of tests, and this time, having my husband visit the doctor as well, we learned that he appeared to have issues as well, significant enough to bring our chances down from slim to none.

Receiving this news was like reliving the nightmare of my diagnosis all over again, with all the progress we’d made toward acceptance completely diminished. We found ourselves right back where we were at the very beginning—crying out to God and questioning, wondering what His plan and purpose in the situation could possibly be, pleading to Him for answers.

One month before that, we were making plans to bring a sweet little boy into our home through foster care. Our journey into foster care was a bit of a roller coaster, a broken, but beautiful road that had been opened to us through the pain and grief of infertility. We’d chosen to explore this option of parenthood after aching for a child for two and a half years, and though it didn’t come without its challenges, we were able to experience something we’d been desperately longing for—an opportunity to love on sweet children. This was how we met C, a little boy who changed everything for us.

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We met C in July, after having him as a short-term placement. Although we knew our situation with him wasn’t permanent, with each passing day that we had him, we felt our hearts aching to keep him more and more, as we fell into a quickly manageable routine, as we learned his likes and dislikes, and we surprised ourselves with how natural it all became—we could see ourselves as a family. C was everything I had ever imagined in a child, and the goodbye was heartbreaking. From that moment on, he was all I could imagine for our family.

After saying goodbye to C, he consumed our thoughts. We couldn’t get him out of our minds, and I couldn’t help but believe he had made such a deep impression for a reason. I couldn’t help but wonder why I felt so strongly about him if we weren’t supposed to see him again. In October, we were called and asked to take him long-term, and in my mind, the months of questioning finally made sense. He was meant to be ours.

We dove head-first into this new dream, a dream of not only finally becoming a family of three, but a family of three with a little boy who seemed to fit so perfectly in our lives. I pushed the reality of the impermanence of foster placements to the back of my mind, because in my heart I believed that this was how we were meant to become parents. That impermanence hit me hard in the face when the placement fell through within 48 hours, hours in which we’d spent the vast majority of our time preparing to bring C into our home. [The Time We Were Almost a Family of Three]

November and December were months of mourning for us. Not only did we mourn the loss of C along with the vision of our family that we had been so close to finally grabbing hold of, but our grief over losing C was what had prompted us to revisit our doctor to explore our options of pregnancy again. Not only were we greeted with more bad news, but we were shocked with a new reality that our chances of pregnancy were even slimmer than we’d ever thought.

It was a season of suffering so much loss, of feeling as though we were being knocked down over and over, as nothing we were doing seemed to be working. It was a season that prompted us to make the decision to step back from pursuing parenthood altogether, at least for the time being, in order to give ourselves time to heal and regain our perspective, to remember all the blessings that God had given us instead of focusing on the things we didn’t have. Throughout these months of pain, my prayers had shifted. My prayer life had been consumed by asking God to allow us to finally be parents, and I had prayed for months for one specific child to be ours and had come so close to seeing that prayer become a reality. But now, I chose to focus on a prayer I’d never wanted to pray to begin with—after spending months asking God to grant our desires, I finally began praying that he would allow my heart to accept our present reality, not as a mother awaiting a child, but as someone who was willing to rejoice in what my life was in this present moment. [New Year, New Perspective]

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I can say without hesitation that God answered this prayer, as we entered the new year with hearts full of the kind of peace and gratitude that we hadn’t known for three full years. Little did we know, though, that this renewed perspective wasn’t the only thing we had been given to start the new year with. I was already pregnant when the new year began.

In late January, Sheldon and I visited a specialist to find out what our chances of pregnancy were with medical assistance, understanding that based on what our doctors had already told us, we shouldn’t expect to get pregnant on our own. We went in with the sole purpose of gaining closure and understanding over a situation that had caused us so much grief and confusion. We talked of options of insemination, and the specialist gave us at most a thirty percent chance of success if everything went according to plan. We agreed to try it, if anything, for an opportunity to finally close a door we’d left cracked open for far too long, and I scheduled an appointment to come back in. A week later, after days of feeling horribly sick and tired, and going against my mind reminding me never to be hopeful, I took a home pregnancy test, and it immediately turned positive. I had already been pregnant during our visit to the clinic.

Pregnancy for me has been an overwhelming flood of sweet moments that are constantly being clouded by questioning. As we experience everything I never believed possible, things I stayed up late at night dreaming about as I held my hands to my belly after treatments and prayed to God that this time would be our time for a miracle, I have to constantly remind myself to rejoice in these moments and push away that underlying questioning that surfaces of whether or not I deserve to have this kind of happiness. Only in my wildest dreams could I have pictured coming to my husband with a positive pregnancy test and seeing that look of complete surprise and joy come over him—or conversations spent playfully arguing over names and planning the ways in which we’d tell our parents and siblings about the baby, or the moment I’d look at my profile in the mirror and see the tiny bump that was keeping my pants from buttoning, or watching my husband talk to my belly and promising to love that tiny human inside me forever. With each new, otherworldly experience that comes with pregnancy, I quietly wonder to myself what I could have possibly done to deserve this.

And as I wonder, I know what the answer is. I feel the irony as memories of myself in a different position sneak up on me and I remember all those days I spent curled up in our bed staring out our window and crying out that same question—what could I have possibly done to deserve this? What was it that I was being punished for? What was it about us that made us unfit to be parents? And just as I could never find that hidden correct answer before, I cannot find it now. I’ve done nothing to deserve this. I’ve done nothing right to deserve this kind of blessing.

Often, my mind moves to C, the sweet boy that was almost ours to love, and I wonder why he wasn’t chosen to be ours. As this tiny child inside me continues to grow, I become more and more aware of how deeply she will be loved, how much she’s loved already even from within my womb. And I think of our precious C, and I cry for how unfair his life has been in his short six years of life, and for how tragic it is that while I know our little one growing inside me will never have to question whether or not she is loved, C may have to feel unloved and unwanted for years, and we weren’t able to change that for him. I cry for the children we can’t bring into our home to love while we prepare our only spare bedroom for our precious daughter. I wonder what’s wrong with me, when the most beautiful thing to ever happen to us could also sometimes make me sad.

But what I keep coming back to—we have been given so much. Before we’d even realized it, we were being given so much to hold onto, so much to take with us now that our rocky journey to parenthood seems to finally be coming to a close. With every tiny poke and kick I feel from our tiny miracle living inside me, I remember those times while attempting fertility treatment where I felt like my body was attacking me and fighting against my desire for a baby, and I hold my hand to belly with even more awe as she reassures me that she’s there. With every morning that my husband says good morning to both me and our baby, I remember those days that I’d look at his face and cry for what I couldn’t give him, and I swear to never take these moments for granted. I remember every prayer, every plea, every aching sob for what we may have never gotten to experience, and I promise to do my best to live my life worthy of this gift we have been given.

And as I pass by those pictures of us and C that I’ve had pinned to our fridge since we’d first been given the chance to love him, I thank God for those years of pain that brought us to the decision to open our home to foster care. Had we gotten pregnant right away, we may never have had our eyes open to this broken world that exists and is often overlooked. We may never have recognized that our hearts have been made to love these children. We may never have gotten the chance to love C. We never wanted to treat foster care as a last resort, and now that we have taken a step back to prepare for our new baby, I dream for the day we begin fostering again just as I’d dreamt so many times before of the opportunity to carry a child inside me. I dream of the chance to give a sweet child like C the kind of life he has always deserved.

And I say a prayer.

For C and every child like him who feels unloved or abandoned, for the children God may place in our path to love in the future, and for our future family—in whatever form or fashion God chooses to grow it.

For every person struggling with the grief of infertility and pregnancy loss, those enduring painful rounds of treatments in an effort to conceive, and those painfully waiting for their children to come to them through adoption or foster care.

For my husband and me, that we will live our lives as best as we can to be worthy of the sweet miracle inside me, that we will raise our children in truth and light to someday be the kind of kindness and love this world is missing.

And for our beautiful daughter, our light that came to us in a time of darkness, our daily reminder that God did not abandon us in our grief, despite our wavering faith and moments of questioning. I thank God for the precious gift of life, and I pray that I will never lose sight of how truly wonderful it is.


“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

-Ephesians 3:19-20

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