Dear Waiting for Baby Bird,
My question is, what age is the right time to give up trying to conceive? As much as I know that nothing is impossible with our God, and we are still praying that He will bless us with fertility, being pregnant at 50 in today’s world isn’t ideal. My husband is 40, and I’m 38. While I know there is still time, I can’t help but worry what if I’m not pregnant by the time I’m 45. Adoption isn’t something God has put in our hearts, and we are solely relying on God to fall pregnant, despite the odds stacked against us.
What If I’m Not Pregnant by 45
Dear What If I’m Not Pregnant by 45,
My mind has gone in a thousand different directions since reading your question. There is so much I want to say, yet so much I don’t want to say as to offend. I’m also 38, so of course, your concerns are not new to me or my thoughts. It’s often something I think about and take to the Lord. I’m constantly asking Him, “Is this desire from you? Because if it is, then I know you will help me accomplish it. I know You will fulfill.” Each time I ask, I get the same confirmation in my spirit that it is from Him and to keep believing. Which, I guess, is my answer to you. If this desire is from Him, and this is His will for your life to keep persevering in the wait until fulfillment, then no age is the right age to give up.
No age is the right age to say, “I no longer believe in the impossible.”
No age is the right age to say, “Lord, I still want this, and I know You still want this, but I’m done. I can’t hope in You anymore.”
Not everyone will agree with me on that, and that’s okay. However, I don’t think it’s wise to put expiration dates on the dreams and visions God has placed on our lives; only He is allowed to say when it’s time to stop. He knows us best.
For some, continuing is just too hard, and I understand this too. Therefore, my advice would be to go back to the Father. Tell Him how you feel. Tell Him your thoughts. If it’s weariness, ask Him for strength. If it’s unbelief or hopelessness, ask Him to help you through a renewal of faith. If you need to take a break, know that He will help you rest. God will never push or rush you. He’ll never make you do anything you don’t want to do. He is a loving Father, not a dictator.
In your question, you mentioned that being pregnant at 50 is not ideal in today’s world. You also said that despite being age 38, you are afraid not to be pregnant by age 45, and this is where my mind starts to go in a thousand different directions. This is where I have so much to say and so many thoughts which seem jumbled that I’m not sure how to share them. But maybe bullet points will help? Let’s try.
- Try Not to Misuse Your Imagination
What do I mean by this? I don’t want to brag or anything, but I used to be an Olympic Gold medalist in worrying. It’s true. And I come from a long line of Olympic Gold medalists who also took the sport of worrying. Therefore, whenever I would win at it, I would tell others how it runs in the family. However, one day, someone called me out on it and said, “You know what worrying is, don’t ya?” Me, sitting there and thinking…uh…before finally answering very slowly, “what is it?” She then smirks at me and says, “It’s misusing your imagination. A gift that God has given you to use for good.” With her wise words, I sat there stunned. How had I never thought of this? God has given us this incredible gift called our imagination to use for our good, to be able to dream and to help us live in a realm of hope—which by biblical definition, hope is having a joyful and confident expectation of good things to come. But far too often, we use it to expect the worst and create something that we don’t want. We misuse it by taking a situation we are going through and exaggerating the potential outcome. We worry about our age, or what if this happens or that happens, when God wants us to live in TODAY, thinking about TODAY. A popular scripture found in Matthew 6:34 says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” So my advice? Stop misusing your imagination to create scenarios in her head about “what if” you aren’t pregnant by age 45. Live in the hope that you have today with the imaginative power of “what if”
What if I am pregnant this time next month?
What if I have a baby on my hip next year?
I often say that the day before your miracle happens will feel like any ordinary day. What if today is your last ordinary day? Just think…what if? And then let yourself imagine just like God created and intended for your mind to do.
- Surrender Your Idea of the Perfect Time
I know, this is easier said than done. But in your question, you mentioned that having a child at the age of 50 isn’t ideal in this world, and up until a few years ago, I would have agreed. Maybe even waved a white hankie in the air as I shouted, “AMEN TO THAT!” Because who wants to raise a child at that age? I know some do and might, but it’s not easy. Your joints feel different. Your energy level might be lower. The signup forms to AARP might be starting to trickle in the mail. No one wants to be the mother with the grandmother face. But do you know what has changed my mind? My own Grandma. Before she passed away several years ago, I sat on her front porch telling her about our fertility struggles and the hassle of IVF. I didn’t expect her to understand. I assumed she would give me a lesson on how to “let go and let God.” But instead, she sat there for several minutes in silence as she stared at the floor. Eventually, the awkward silence ended when she said,
“Let me tell you my story.”
I’m not sure how I never put two and two together, but my Uncle Ronnie was 20 years older than my mom. While there wasn’t a term for secondary infertility in the 1940s, looking back, that’s what it was. She went on to say that shortly after my Uncle was born, my Grandad went to war, and when he returned, they tried for baby #2; but baby #2 never came. Even despite the tests and limited procedures offered to her during that time, she never could conceive. As a result, she thought her dream had expired. However, in her mid-40s and while undergoing menopause, she surprisingly became pregnant. With tears in her eyes, she told me that she was so angry with God. “Why now?!” she would scream. But then feel shame cover her as this was an answer to a once desperate prayer. She says, looking back, it all makes sense.
You see, my Uncle Ronnie had passed away a decade earlier from diabetes; my Grandad was also gone. This left only my mother to care for her. She went on to say that if she had conceived her when she wanted, my mom would be in her 70’s trying to care for her, a 93-year-old woman. About that time, my Grandma looked over at me and said, “Your mom is my angel—a true gift from God. He knew what He was doing when He gave me a child at such a late age in life.” She then looked down and, in her nervousness, ran her fingers along the seams of her polyester pants before finally looking back over at me and saying,
“I couldn’t understand God’s timing then, but I can see it now.”
Sweet friend, together (because I am in this with you), let’s not put time limits on God or our own capabilities. Let’s not believe the lie that we can’t raise a child after a certain age. Will it be more challenging? I’m sure. But I’m also sure of the fact that God knows what He is doing and will give us the grace to do it in His strength. I believe that if pregnancy does come later for us in life (later than it already is), we will meet God on a new level. We will seek His face, not His hand, as we rely on Him more, and to me, that type of closeness would be a gift all on its own.
My last bullet point is this:
- Make Space for Him
Like you, I also don’t feel God has led us to pursue adoption. We have an adoptive 11-year old little girl through foster care, but since the finalization of us becoming Kearns party of three in 2017, it has not been laid on our hearts to adopt another. Neither is it on our hearts to pursue medical treatment again. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t made space in my heart for God to change His direction or path. It goes back to surrender. Not just surrendering my when, as mentioned earlier, but also my how. Who knows, He may place adoption or foster care strongly on your hearts this time next year. If so, make sure your heart and your hands are open to receive it.
As I close, I feel it is important to reiterate, every person is different, and every situation is even more different. With that, every person and every situation will have different stopping points. This is why I said at the beginning of my reply that there is so much I know I shouldn’t say as to offend. But also, so much I know I should because there is hope. And there is a plan. While our plan is good, His plan is far greater. So, after you read this, ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you should take away from my answer and what you should leave behind. As I mentioned in my last Q & A regarding the “morality” of IVF, 6 + 4 = 10. But so does 5 + 5.
What you feel called to do to bring ultimate fulfillment and happiness to your life can and will be different from mine. That is why if someone says they need to “quit trying,” I will never argue. But if they come to me wanting to continue but are just feeling exhausted or at a loss for hope, then I will do my best to encourage, uplift, and point them to Jesus. He is the joy of our strength and the hope we hold tight.
I pray that something from this message has gripped your heart with either hope or how best to imagine your future, surrender to His plan, or make space for Him to move in your life and situation. Please know that I’m praying for you. Getting older without your desires fulfilled is hard. But I trust God to carry us through.
He is good. He is faithful. And His plans for us bring hope and a future.
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)
With all my love,
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