Living in a pit with a heavenly view

One year ago yesterday John and I met our embryo donors. I remember because it's Vacation Bible School week at our church and last year I taught VBS the morning before we met them.

We were blessed by our donors who gave us four embryos to transfer. Their gift filled us with hope and expectation. I felt as though our next child was so close. Like I could almost reach out and touch her, my fingers just barely grazing her skin.

Nine months- how ironic- after that warm June day all four embryos were gone. Dead. All four beat the odds to survive the IVF thawing process, at least one implanted in my womb.... but none survived. We never got to meet our baby.

It's been three months now since I miscarried that one who implanted inside me. When people ask me how I'm doing I like to use an analogy. Maybe it will help someone else name something they're going through so I'll share it here. (If I've learned one thing through infertility it's that none of my experiences are unique. They are shared. They are common. They're so common they'd be boring if they weren't so painful.)

Living with infertility feels like living in a pit.


Every cycle is like the sun rising and setting over the pit and with it my hopes. When it's daylight I think, "Maybe I can climb out of here!" or "Maybe someone will walk by and throw me a rope!" or "Maybe if I cry upwards loud enough, someone will hear me and rescue me!"

But every month, the sun sets on my pit. I have not found a way out. I am left in darkness. I sit down in the pit to weep and gather my strength to try again.

When I finally, FINALLY! found out I was pregnant last winter I climbed out of the pit into the glorious sun! I felt the warmth on my face, I lifted my hands to the heavens, I cried in victory and sheer relief!

Even as I stood in the sun, though, I knew I was just one small step away from the gaping mouth of the pit. Even in my joy, I could feel the greedy darkness lurking behind me. My biggest fear was that I would fall back inside.

The moment I lay on the ultrasound table as my doctor searched for a baby and then said, "I don't see anything" it was like someone pushed me, hard, right back into the pit.

I fell with a tremendous THUD. Initially it was all I could do to breathe. The wind was knocked right out of me. I lay gasping on the floor.  Then the shock wore off and the pain of my broken body set in. I writhed. I agonized.

It's been three months now and the agony has faded to a dull and constant ache. I broke a few bones in that fall; they're healing, but I don't think they all set exactly right. And... I'm still in the pit.

I've gone through all the stages of grief in this pit (and am still going through them). I've been angry, weepy, denial-y...

Something I've learned in the pit is how little there is to say about something like this and how good it is to be still before the LORD. At first I didn't really have anything to say because I was just so crushed. There were no words to express it. Then I didn't want to say anything because it would have just been a long string of angry expletives. I thought about bargaining with God to somehow coerce him into giving me a child, but I've been a Christian long enough to know that I'll never hold up any end of any deal I could ever make with him. Plus, what could I ever offer that he doesn't already have? And also: God doesn't work that way.

There is really so little to say about loss. It's not fair but what's fair? It's not right but it's happening. Let's just all say, "This is a nightmare. I hate everything. I'm going to go hide in the garage." (Anne Lamott, Stitches.)

Realizing how little there is to say about loss is quite difficult when you're a blogger and a talker and a general word-er. I kind of felt like I was shushed by God.

Thank God my faith starts with love. I know that shushing wasn't a sharp, "SHHH!" like a librarian scolding noisy kids between the book aisles. It was more like the way a mother scoops up and "shhhhhh"s her little child after a big tumble on the sidewalk and a skinned knee.

I'm still in the pit. I don't know when or how I'll ever climb out of it. But what I am learning is how to live here better than I have been. How to not be so angry about being here, how to accept sadness, how to embrace the idea that somehow living in the pit for however long is preparing me for something I can't see yet.

Truly, what can a person see from a pit? The sun. Clouds. Sometimes a patch of blue. Tiny stars in the night sky. The heavens. All you can see in the pit are the heavens.

Here I am. In the pit. All I can see are the heavens. All I can do is trust that my heavenly view is enough to sustain me for now.

"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens;
Who created these?
He brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
- Isaiah 40:26-31



  1. No words. Just love.

    1. Thank you anne. Your love is warmth to me.

  2. I know I'm in a different place than you, but I feel like I could have written this post myself two years ago. I can relate and remember and feel every single hurt and emotion that you are describing. You're not alone in this.

    I spent a lot of time praying and meditating over psalm 130 during my time of loss and waiting and hoping. Praying for you always, Jill.

    1. It means so much to have prayers from you, knowing that you know personally what this feels like. Thank you for praying.

  3. I know we all can't sit down there in the pit with you (because, for some reason, the pit is always a solitary confinement), but know that there are a lot of us up here sitting around the top of your pit with our hands lifted up and praying, praying, praying for you.

    1. That is one beautiful image Laure. Thank you.

  4. just got to read the article and I can completely relate me and my husband was trying for 2 years to have a baby you got pregnant at 11 weeks ultrasound or BB stop growing at 7 weeks. We had a very difficult DNC and it was very traumatic but we didn't let that stop us we knew God was going to provide took his 9 month got pregnant again love that baby after 5 week.

    finally got to a point where I just said ok God I guess its not your wheel told the Lord, that I was going to focus on him, my marriage my ministry and not go to think about children or anything just going to his timing is perfect. in November 2013 we got some news went to the doctor and we are pregnant but this time it was twin girls, God gave us back we lost and we never look back we always think God for them but the process of that we were just going through so much darkness and feeling like I was not going to ever be a mother had a bunch of people that cared about me but they would just give me a lot of negative his vice, such as adoption or just wait and all this other stuff. And God gave us twin girls born July 16th 2014, now here I am pregnant again and I think God for everything, but I think I realized that if I would have stayed in that dark pit I will never focus on God, my husband or marriage, my health, and realize that sometimes God says yes, sometimes he says no, and sometimes he says hold on.

    is not easy waiting for something, or you see everybody around you getting things without even trying, I would sit there and blame God, and thank God I understand you have these ladies are aborting these perfectly healthy babies or you have these women abusing their kids and I just want one healthy baby. after all of that, God said wait.

    thank you for writing this, I believe the one day you'll be writing a new story,and you will be holding your baby and think about the times you're in that be is thinking, I'm never going to have a child but one day soon you're going to be holding a miracle.

    1. I truly hope I will hold that miracle someday. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Jill, I love reading your blog because you always seem to describe how I am feeling so beautifully. I also had a miscarriage after IVF a short time ago and can relate to every word you wrote. Especially the THUD on the ultrasound table, that feeling was unlike anything I ever felt before. Thank you for being so open and so vulnerable with your words. It matters to others who are struggling in their own pit.

    1. That sense of connectedness is why I write Megan. Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  6. It is the biggest joy of Universe that a lady gets when she comes to know that she is pregnant and I have seen the joy when I saw my wife and her glooming face but I also used to take her to physiotherapist to provide her relief from her pains that she suffered during her pregnancy.

  7. Such a great analogy to describe the loss. It resonates with me all to well and I appreciate you sharing. I especially relate to the 'sh-ing' and the nothing-to-really-say about it part. Good words, well written. Thank you for this.

  8. Jill...

    As a person who has struggled with infertility for almost four years, I got teary-eyed reading your words. Thank you. Thank you for being honest about what it looks like, for the pit is definitely there and it is definitely dark. I was never able to find the right analogy to explain it to others, but I'm so glad that you were able to. I cannot say how I appreciate finding your blog and hearing you talk through the pain.

    Much heart.

  9. I found your blog through the mutual help BlogHer thread and I am so glad I did. I, too, suffer with infertility, and cling to Jesus to get me through it every day. I have a beautiful five-year-old daughter who was conceived with Clomid, Metformin, Novarel, and after several tests and failed cycles. We have yet to conceive again but we are pursuing Follistim + IUI next month. We have been trying to give our daughter a sibling for 3.5 years. I'm glad I came across your blog - I share my journey at LifeAbundant-Blog.com and it helps me tremendously to just open up and talk (err--write) about our journey. Thank you for your transparency. <3

    1. Messi thank you for your comment! I wish you the best on your next cycle and will follow along on your blog!

  10. Hi Jillian - Thank you so much for this post! I found it quite on accident. I am currently writing a website about miscarriage. I have a whole page about "losing control" in miscarriage and it's much like being at the bottom of a pit. When I went searching for images of a pit to put in my page, I found this one. I haven't struggled with infertility the same way (we've never had a problem getting pregnant, it's just staying pregnant that's hard for us).
    I'm wondering - when I find a good place on my website, can I link to yours? The page I'm currently working on (with the pit) is www.livingaftermiscarriage.com/keeping-the-faith-after-miscarriage. You're welcome to check it out...the website is slowly growing.

    1. Yes of course! I would love that. I think it is great you are making a resource for those who suffer infertility!


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