My Journey: A Personal Reflection

It’s time to talk about this. It’s time for me to talk about this here. With my husband’s blessing, I’m going to be very open and honest today, because I believe there are many others who may be helped by what I am about to share. So, I am going to bare my heart to you and tell you my – our – story.

I was the girl-next-door type who always believed she would fall in love in college, get married straight out of college, teach a couple of years, start our family and begin my life as a stay-at-home mom. My life didn’t unfold that way.

College was wonderful and I learned a lot, but I didn’t fall in love. I graduated still single and took my first call to teach in Milford, Ohio. I spent five years teaching at St. Mark’s and loved every minute of it – the staff, the students, the parents. It was a wonderful first call! While I was there, I completed my Masters which was never part of my initial plan. I decided to make the most of my single years and so I did. I dated some and eventually fell in love with a college classmate (years after we both graduated). After a whirlwind 18 months of long-distance dating and engagement, Andy and I were married in July 2009.

I was – and still am – so thankful for Andy. He was worth every minute of waiting. I simply had not expected to wait so long to get married. Still, God knew best and His timing was perfect.

I moved to Fort Wayne and accepted a call to teach at the same Lutheran school as my new husband. After a year of teaching together, Andy took a call across town to another Lutheran school. And we continued to teach. After we had been married a year, we had another conversation about when we would start our family. We decided to wait a little bit longer before actively trying, because we knew that once we started our family, we’d never have this time back as newlyweds.

After two years of marriage, we decided that we were ready to begin our family, and so the next page of our story began. I came from a large family – immediate and extended – and anticipated that we would quickly become pregnant. Little did I know how wrong I was.

Month after month, I was disappointed by negative pregnancy tests. Month after month, I would get my hopes up, only to have them dashed again. Month after month, we continued to pray that God would grant us a child. Month after month, we waited.

Soon, those months turned into a year and we realized that we were indeed infertile. It was a difficult realization, but now obvious. And so we started asking the difficult questions. What if we can never have a child? What if this is not God’s plan for us? Do we pursue infertility testing? Do we foster parent? Do we start adoption proceedings? What now and what next? Through it all, we continued to wait and pray.

There are many nights of tears and days of heartache. When one is trying to become pregnant, it seems like everyone around you is getting pregnant. My sister got pregnant. My fellow teacher friend got pregnant. College friends got pregnant. Cousins got pregnant. Everyone (or so it seemed) was pregnant – except for us.

We continued to try for a baby, and tried hard to be patient. We shared our struggles with a few close friends and our immediate family. Other than that, we tried to smile kindly when people asked us when we would start our family, and we continued living our lives.

Then, one year turned into two. There was tears and laughter, hurt and anger, disappointment and contentment – sometimes all in the same day! Andy and I didn’t have any clear answers, but we felt that we needed to wait. I made an appointment to talk with my doctor about our infertility again when we returned from our busy summer of travels. It was freeing to make that appointment, but then I didn’t think about it again for awhile.

Imagine our surprise when we returned home briefly in between our travels this July and discovered that after all these years of waiting, we were pregnant! It took three pregnancy tests for me to believe the news before I could share it with Andy. We were both shocked – and delighted. After all these years of waiting, God chose to answer our prayers with a yes. God answered our prayers for a baby!

This is what I want to share with you today. Infertility is not easy, and although our story now has a baby included in it, I know the heartache of waiting. I give thanks daily for this precious gift of life that is growing inside of me. I was almost to the point of hopelessness, but God saw fit to restore hope in my life. Once again, God knew best and His timing was perfect.

We know many people wait longer than two years – and sometimes their prayers for a baby are answered with a yes, and sometimes with a no. We don’t know why our prayers were answered with a yes, and others hear a no. We only know that now our family is growing – and it growing purely by God’s grace.

That is what I wanted to share with you. While we are rejoicing for our answered prayers, we continue to pray for those couples struggling with infertility because we know firsthand it can be a very lonely journey. We also continue to wait – because we have another 6 months before we meet this precious baby of ours!

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  1. We are on year 4! We started trying to have kids as soon as we got married. After a year my husband underwent some tests (He is a paraplegic). We found out that my he produced little to no sperm. The same week I lost my teaching job. We were devastated by both! We started IVF only to find out that it was too expensive. After another few months of continued failed attempts we decided to adopt. We found out my mom had cancer & had to wait another 6 months until she was finished with treatments & back to good health. We have been trying to adopt for well over a year with no luck. The amount keeps getting higher & higher & we can’t afford it now. The price to adopt has been between $30-$40K!!! We have most recently found out that I too have reproductive problems! I have been on different meds since February to force my body to ovulate & hold a pregnancy. We are currently using a sperm donor. We want a baby so badly, but are unsure of what God thinks about getting one this way. This month will be my second attempt to get pregnant. We have depleted our savings by spending (so far) over $15,000. Praying that this pregnancy takes so we will have a few dollars left to take care of this (what will be) miracle baby.

    1. Oh, Mell. My heart aches for you, and my prayers are with you! Infertility is such an emotional – and exhausting – road. We looked at adoption too, and even started taking classes on fostering to adopt. However, after a lot of prayer and reflection, it felt like God was telling us “Not now” on that front. Again, my prayers are with you and your husband…especially this month as you wait and pray for a baby.

  2. Aww, I can relate to so much of this! I thought I would get married after college too, but ended up never meeting “the one” and started my teaching career before I met my husband. Thank you for sharing your story. I know we are both beyond thrilled to be moms to our little guys, but wouldn’t change the waiting it took to become moms. 🙂

    1. Indeed. God’s plan is not ours, but I am continuing to learn how to be thankful for the unexpected “detours” He has for my life. It makes you realize how many others must struggle with infertility in their longing to be mothers. It does make me thankful for God’s Grace – and oh so thankful, that he chose to our answers our prayers with a yes and a baby. My heart still hurts for all those who are waiting. It’s another way infertility changed me. Giving thanks with you, Emily!

  3. This brings happy tears to my eyes! This is indeed an answer to countless prayers, and we continue to pray for many others who wait. May they also experience the joy that a baby brings, or the contentment in knowing God has different plans for their lives. Congratulations again!! We love you guys and can’t wait to meet baby Whirrett!

    1. Indeed, happy tears for this blessing! Thank you for praying along with me. It’s humbling to realize how many were truly praying along with – and for us – in this time. We look forward to introducing our baby to yours!

  4. What wonderful news, Kristen! God is so good. I’m so happy for you and your family. Children are such a gift, and being pregnant is such a joy…I loved every minute of it! Hope you are feeling well!

    1. Thank you, Sabrina! Our hearts rejoice as well. As I told Grace, as you celebrate Tony’s 14th birthday, I’m celebrating 14 weeks of life for my baby.

  5. Congratulations again Kristen and Andy! As you have said ,this was an answer to your prayers… but ours also. We and many we know, have been praying for this day for you also. The wait will only make that moment when you get to hear them cry for the first time and see that beautiful face even better. Instantaneous love. So glad your pregnancy has been easy so far and we hope the rest is too.

    1. The wait has made our journey all the sweeter. Your prayers have meant so much. Thank you for sharing in our joy at this special time!

  6. I am so happy for you. Babies are truly a blessing from God. I have three and they are mostly grown. You have a wonderful adventure ahead of you.

    1. Thank you! We are very thankful for this blessing. Thank you for sharing in our joy, as we anticipate the adventure that is ahead of us!

  7. As I read your post, I cried (happy tears) as I thought back to the years we were together at St. Mark’s. I remember talking about your plans and hopes for the future. I have prayed that I would read one day that your prayers for a baby would be answered. What a blessing – you will be a wonderful mommy! I am so happy for you!

    1. Oh, thank you, Debbie! Those conversations are cherished memories for me as well! Thank you so much for sharing in our joy – long distance!

  8. Congratulations, Kristen and Andy! Great news! We’ve been praying specifically for you for a lot of those years – so this is a day of answered prayer for us! Yes, as Lori said, happy tears! And we pray with our history that our wonderful gift of a daughter, Bethany, was the result of our fourth pregnancy, six years, three miscarriages, multiple tests, and one surgery. We learned a LOT of lessons along the way, developed character and empathy. AND, children as a gift from God? No question ever, but that truth was proved during that time with tears, trust, and finally great joy. God is awesome! And we’ll continue to pray for you! So JOY today!

    1. Congratulations to you both!!! I had been told, but kept things to myself as it was your story to tell! I can relate to this, but our Joshua is now 30 years old and they have 2 girls of their own. God does answer our prayers and there may be more than one answer to our prayers! I do remember thinking “everyone else is pregnant, why not me?” Difficult pregnancy, but so worth every single moment of it as anyone will tell you once they lay their eyes on that precious gift from God.

    2. Thank you, Pam! I didn’t know your history with Bethany. Once again, it shows that God is good even as we learn through those painful years. Thank you for sharing in our joy! It looks like there will be lots of little babies again at the Lehenbauer reunion this summer!

  9. Can’t tell you how very, very happy I am for you. I cried when our friend told me and have happy tears for you again this morning. (I can’t believe she kept your secret for so long!) You will be wonderful parents and your baby is blessed to be part of your loving family! Congratulations!

    1. Oh, thank you, Lori! I’m glad Tonya was able to tell you since I haven’t seen you in much too long! We are looking forward to this baby, and pray that we can, indeed, be as good of parents as everyone tells us we will be! 🙂

  10. I understand your heartache, but in a different way. My husband and I had a miscarriage last year. You wonder what you did wrong, or if there was anything you could have done differently. You wait to start trying again because you think you might again fail. You pray, and wait. But, we too are expecting our first child, in April 2014! I hope the first trimester treated you well, mine was pretty rough – good luck and congratulations!

    1. The heartache of longing for a baby is understood best by those who share it. I am so happy to hear that you, too, are expecting! My pregnancy, so far, has been very smooth – which is good since I teach preschool and need all my energy for those days! I hope the second trimester helps you feel better. It’s exciting to reach that milestone! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

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