By Sarah Rodriguez Rhodes
At first it was fun, trying for a baby that is. I kept a stash of pregnancy tests under my bathroom cabinet and would test constantly through the month. I just knew it would happen at any time. My mom got pregnant with me on her honeymoon, accidentally. If my Mom was a Fertile-Myrtle I figured I would be too. I had no reason to believe otherwise.
Trying for a baby is an interesting thing. For many people in the first few years of marriage, the only thing you are trying to do is “prevent” until you deem yourself ready. Then once you decide the time is right, you expect your body to obey on command.
Only mine didn’t.
The first months were filled with optimism, daydreaming of what was to come. Yet as each month slowly ticked by, I began to worry. What was taking so long? What was wrong with my body? What was wrong…with me?
The worry gave way to frustration, even anger. I was in my late twenties. Nearly all of my friends were pregnant, or already had kids of their own. Why wasn’t my body doing what it was created to do? I went to baby shower after baby shower, genuinely happy for my friends, while also completely devastated for myself.
People would innocently ask me “Come on Sarah, you’re not getting any younger, when are you going to have a little bundle of your own?” I would smile and shrug, thinking If only they knew I am already 2 fertility specialists and many years into the process.
The worst part was no one had any answers. The doctors called it “unexplained infertility” which was not helpful at all. 3 years in I felt burnt out, hopeless.
It was around that time I felt a leading within my heart to build a baby nursery. Strange, huh. Was God trying to tell me something? It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Build a nursery, when we weren’t even pregnant? Yet, I still couldn’t shake the feeling this nursery needed to happen. So we build it we did.
We went all the way. Bought a dresser, a changing table, a rocker, and a crib. We found gender-neutral bedding and painted the walls a soft green. Above the bed I posted a verse “For this child I have prayed and the Lord has given us the desires of our hearts.” (1 Sam. 1:27)
At first it seemed silly. Why was I wasting a perfectly good room in my house for no reason? Surely it could be a guest room, a gym, an extra closet – something!
One night I came home, exhausted from a long day at work and despondent over yet another bad doctor’s report. For some reason I felt drawn to the nursery. So I went in alone and sat in the rocker, slowly rocking back and forth taking in my surroundings. It was then I started to weep.
Weep in frustration.
Weep in disappointment.
Weep in anger.
I poured out my heart before Him. Everything I’d kept buried deeply inside. I was honest, maybe for the first time, about how I believed He had left me.
It was in that moment I felt like He really spoke, telling me He had placed the desire within my heart to be a mother, and He would make it come to pass. It may not be how I thought it would be, in the timing I desired. It may not even look like what I thought it would look like, but it would come to pass.
From that moment forward the nursery became a sanctuary for me. It was my place I would go for peace. For comfort. For stillness in my soul. To pray. To fight. To believe. To hope.
In that nursery He was building something within me I didn’t understand at the time. He was taking me to deep places with Him. He was telling me things might not always be easy, but never would He leave. He was asking me to trust Him with my heart, my deepest desires. Through tears, I came to the place where I said yes – I would trust.
I needed those moments with Him. I needed that foundation of trust. I needed to remember He was with me always. I needed it when I lost one of my IVF babies. When I almost lost my daughter to meningitis after her birth. And I needed it, most deeply, when I lost my husband Joel to cancer at only 35 years of age.
Despite the pain, the darkness, He would always remind me of those sacred times together. In an empty nursery, where He would whisper to my heart “you are never alone.”
We don’t always understand the reasons He chooses not to answer what we ask of Him, when we ask. We don’t always understand why our journey has to be so difficult, when it comes easily for others around us. Even in my own story, I don’t understand all of the “whys.” I just know, not for one moment, did I ever walk alone.
My story now is one of redemption. That very first crib we bought? It ended up being used for my beautiful baby boy. I am remarried, to my high school sweetheart and first love. Together we have a blended family of five children. Yes, five! And I am overflowing with joy, happiness, and too many kid activities to count. I am a Mama, many times over.
He gave me the desire of my heart. And you know what? He was right. It didn’t come when I thought it would and it sure doesn’t look like I imagined it would. Yet that’s the beauty of it. His story that He weaved is even greater than what I imagined. Even the broken pieces were combined to create a work of art.
It all started with a rocker, and an empty crib, yet lead me to more goodness than ever my arms could hold.
Sarah Rodriguez Rhodes is an author, speaker, vlogger and blogger at www.journeyofsarah.com and the Huffington Post. Her first memoir From Depths We Rise we recently released. She is the founder of the Choose Joy Project, a “random acts of kindness” initiative. Sarah is married to her high school sweetheart and together they have 5 amazing children. Sarah is a one-time NYC transplant who now makes her home in Oklahoma, where the best sunsets on earth are found.