A big welcome to Shannon Ketchum, this week’s #BeBoldGirl, as she shares her story about infertility and her support ministry for women who are struggling with shattered dreams of having children. Welcome, Shannon.
I dreamed the same thing that all little girls dream – to meet my prince charming, get married, have babies and live in house with the white picket fence. Maybe you dreamed it, too?
Some things in our lives rarely turn out the way we expect. And, this turned out to be my case. I met prince charming and we got married. But babies … that was a whole different story. I pretty much knew right away after getting married, that something was wrong, as I was having extreme pain to the point of screaming, tears during intimacy and on my cycles, which we later learned was a pelvic spasming condition. I was also diagnosed with endometriosis, PCOS and hypothyroidism. All of these conditions contribute to infertility, or delayed fertility as I like to call it. We have decided, for us that we want to keep trying to get pregnant naturally.
Little Girls Don’t Dream of Infertility
Clearly, when we were little girls we never thought of or imagined that infertility could play a part in our journey to marriage and family. Would Cinderella ever have dealt with infertility? I doubt it! I know I never would have thought that it would be my story and I certainly didn’t know what infertility was.
I’ve been through so many stages on my fertility journey. I started off in denial … nothing’s wrong to this isn’t infertility to how can this be my reality. After about eight years, it was apparent that I could no longer deny that I was dealing with infertility.
If you’ve never dealt with infertility, then you’re probably not aware that there are several triggers that bring you into a state of brokenness and despair – things like baby showers and pregnancy announcements. A pregnancy announcement from a family member was one of those triggers that sent me into a tailspin of feeling broken, a state of despair, anger and frustration. So much so that I blocked everyone and everything from me for about a week or so. I didn’t answer texts or calls, didn’t go to church, stopped praying and just laid in bed crying. Eventually, I got out of bed, but I definitely still lived in a state of despair. I became so angry and stopped believing that I was ever going to have children.
God Has Not Forgotten You
After about a year, I said “enough is enough! I can’t live like this anymore. I have to do something.” So I started seeking help and answers. God began to show me He hadn’t forgotten me or the promises He made to me. And that He still had a good plan for my family. It was in that space that I finally started to embrace that for my life again. God kept giving me the word “brave”. He said, “you are brave.” I never really thought of myself in that way, but I began to accept it.
Shortly after that, I knew I had to use this word He gave me and do something with it, and not just acknowledge that I was brave because of everything I had been through and overcome. That’s when Embrace Bravery was born, my ministry of infertility support for women. I never thought this was something I could or would ever do, but in order to keep living out this bravery thing, I too had to start embracing it. Next month, Embrace Bravery will be a year old. In this one year of ministry I launched a local support group in the Atlanta, GA area, started a blog on “Infertility, marriage, brokenness and trusting God through it all”, began organizing gift exchanges across this country and internationally, organized events and doing speaking engagements.
That dream I mentioned earlier that all little girls have … while mine didn’t turn out the way I imagined, but now my dream has changed. I’m still dreaming of my future miracle children that I believe are on the way for my husband and I, but now my dream includes dreaming about my future of Embrace Bravery and where it will go. I never imagined this is where I would end up, but I can honestly now say, I wouldn’t change this crazy journey. I’m embracing my story and my new future.
What about you? Can you get bold today? Can you start dreaming again? What can you begin to embrace for your life?
Shannon Ketchum is a wife of nearly 15 years, fur mom, sister, introvert, and most importantly in love with Jesus! She has been dealing with infertility for 15 years due to endometriosis, hypothyroidism, PCOS and a pelvic spasm condition. She’s believing God for her promised miracle children! Shannon is the founder of Embrace Bravery, a support ministry for women with infertility. Embrace Bravery includes a local support group in Sugar Hill, GA, an online Facebook support group, a blog, speaking engagements and events. She is passionate for women to break free from the brokenness of infertility and experience Jesus in a whole new way.