I woke up quickly. A rude awakening, for sure. I felt a stabbing, searing pain below my abdomen — like my insides were a washcloth violently wringing. I stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. This pain was familiar. Too familiar. In the harsh and blinding light of the bathroom, my half-formed suspicions were validated. Blood. Familiar blood.

I held myself tight and trekked back into the bedroom, seeking a rice sock and some ibuprofen. I threw the rice sock into the microwave. Thank goodness for unnaturally quick heat. With my steaming rice sock bandage, I shuffled back into bed.

By this time, Jeff had noticed my rummaging. I whined out my pain and broadcasted my dismay that I was unable to find the ibuprofen. Thankfully, Jeff was able to find a few safely stored away in a ziplock bag. A quick slice of bread, glass of water and a couple pills later… I knew from past experience that the pain would soon subside.

Except, there is another pain. One that is not diminished so easily. It’s the pain that asks why.

Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome). Along with a host of rather unpleasant symptoms, I may not be able to bear my own children. In reality, in this life, motherhood may not happen for me. I’ve now experienced 21 months (but who’s counting?) of familiar, and unwelcome, blood — 12 of those knowing how I am broken.

But still I hoped. And this month I felt especially hopeful. I prayed in a way that reminded me what it means to “pray always.” I was in constant conversation with my Heavenly Father. “Heavenly Father, I know you can make a miracle in me. Please make a miracle in me.” “Heavenly Father, I know you can heal me, please bless us with a baby.” And on more difficult days, “Father, I believe you can heal me. Help thou mine unbelief.”

And I felt hope. And peace. And like the timing was right and good and soon. I felt trusted and blessed. And above all, I hoped.

But then. Familiar blood.

It is hard to pick up pieces of a broken heart and a broken hope. It is hard to remember belief when it is viewed through tears and hurt and questions. But, as always, I have a choice to make. And I choose to continue hoping and believing — even (and especially) through my brokenness.

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)