The Freeman's Story of Hope
It says in Proverbs that hope deferred makes the heart sick. I didn't understand what that meant when my wife and I were married on December 19th, 2005 in a small town in Western Pennsylvania (USA). I had just received my education degree and found a good job in a public school while my wife, Stephanie, was finishing her degree. We made the decision to wait a few years before we had children so that we could figure out what it means to be married to one another. Three years later, my wife and I were both teachers, and I had finished my Masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, so we prayed and talked about moving overseas for a year or two to see what it was like. We both landed jobs in Kuwait, gave our notices at our schools, sold most of our possessions and took the plunge.
Living in Kuwait had blessed and changed us, so we decided to try and have a baby, which we found out was not as fun and easy as it sounded. After trying for two years with no success, we decided to see a doctor about it. We found out that Stephanie had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which meant that we had infertility issues. In the months and years that followed, we saw many doctors, took many drugs, and spent a lot of money to try and fix the issue, but nothing seemed to be working. We believed that God had put this desire on our hearts to have children for a reason, but all the treatments and doctor's appointments were a real struggle. We decided to try even more invasive procedures, which included a lot of needle injections and pain for Stephanie. It was really challenging for me as the husband, seeing my wife go through all this trauma and difficulty and feeling totally powerless to help her.
"One of the worst aspects of infertility is the constant cycle of hope and despair."
One of the worst aspects of infertility is the constant cycle of hope and despair. We would try to do everything that doctors said by taking the medicine and injections at the just the right timing, then pray about it, wait and see if it worked, and return to the doctor to hear him say that it didn't work this month. Then we would wait and try it again. It was the death of hope that kept repeating itself, like a demonic merry-go-round, month after month, year after year. I remember vividly walking to the car, sobbing, after another doctor's visit where we were informed that we didn't get pregnant again. I asked Stephanie why this was so hard, and where was Jesus in all this pain. For the most part, people in my church and small group were supportive, but some people ended up exacerbating our struggles. Some people told us that we needed to have more faith, while others gave us advice on how and when to conceive. One woman even told us that God told her that if we tried to conceive that night, we would be successful and have a baby. That turned out not to be true, and ended up being more false hope.
Finally, after our fifth year trying to conceive in Kuwait, we decided to see a specialist in the USA. We went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which is one of the best hospitals in the world for infertility. Even though we didn't have insurance and it was expensive, we wanted to get another opinion. We brought all our medical charts and paperwork from the last five years. The doctor we saw did some more tests on us, examined the paperwork, and asked us questions. At the end of our visit, he told us that we had unexplained infertility and that there was nothing that can be done to help us. The force of this statement hit me like a punch in the gut, and it rendered me silent. He further said that we could try more treatments if we wanted, but he didn't see any reason why we should spend our time and money because he didn't think they would work. Up until this point, I always thought there was another step, another thing we could try, and if we just figured out the right combination of medicine and doctors, if we figured out the right formula, we would be able to conceive. I was dead wrong, and God used that doctor to make that clear to me. Again, I walked out of the hospital sobbing with my wife and it put a lot of questions into our minds. Should we try in vitro fertilization? Do we come back from Kuwait? Do we need to pursue adoption?
"What happened next was a miracle. Not the kind of miracle that exists in every day life, like the miracle of music or the changing of seasons, but a bona fide, God breaking in and bending the laws of nature, miracle."
What happened next was a miracle. Not the kind of miracle that exists in every day life, like the miracle of music or the changing of seasons, but a bona fide, God breaking in and bending the laws of nature, miracle. A few weeks after meeting with the doctor in the States, Stephanie told me she wasn't feeling herself, and wanted to get a pregnancy test, just to make sure. I thought that was a bad idea and another round of hope and despair, but she took it and it came out positive. I still didn't believe and thought it was a defective test, and that we should accept the fact that we are not going to have a baby. I said that we could do some more tests after the summer, but that we shouldn't get our hopes up, nor should we tell our friends and family so that there wouldn't be a false alarm. It turns out that within days of that terminal meeting with the doctor, we had conceived, despite the fact that there was no hope, nor did we try any more treatments, drugs, needles, or even correct timing of ovulation. Roughly 9 months later Stephanie would give birth to a brand new baby boy.
Upon our arrival to Kuwait, Stephanie was tested by a doctor and came out positive. We went through a pretty normal pregnancy, despite my battle with fear and lack of trust, and delivered a healthy baby boy. God had said yes to the hundreds of prayers that my pastors, my church, my life group, my family, and my wife and I had prayed over the years. One of the many things God taught us during our five years of infertility is to wholly depend on Him. God brought us to the point where medicine, doctors, and technology could no longer help us, and THEN he decided to intervene. If Jesus had allowed us to conceive immediately, or even after a couple years with treatments, we probably would have believed it was something that we were able to do with our own abilities or technology. Now as I sit here, playing with and looking at my son Elliot James Freeman, all those trials have begun to fade in light of this amazing gift God has blessed us with. I'm grateful to God that he gave us child to care for and steward, but I'm even more grateful that He used my son to show us that He is alive, active and working in the lives of all of His children. The proverb I initially shared above says that hope deferred makes the heart sick, BUT only now am I able to fully understand the rest of it that says “a desire fulfilled is a tree of life!”