We received a phone call from the doctor’s office. “The test was negative.” In the medical world, that would typically elicit positive reactions – ranging from a huge sigh of relief, to a heartfelt prayer of gratitude, to bursting into tears of joy. However, this negative test did not elicit any of those reactions. This was a pregnancy test. And it was negative. After almost a year of painful fertility treatments, the agonizing process was over – yet without the anticipated excitement and joy. The test was negative and I was devastated.

At first, I couldn’t speak. I just heard the nurse’s voice replaying in my head. Negative… negative… negative. After all that?! All the medication and shots, appointments, procedures, blood work, discomfort and pain. And the test is negative?!

I’ve always believed that for all our wants and needs in life, we put in the effort and God helps us achieve them. What could be nobler than wanting to have a child – to bring a new soul into the world and raise him/her to be a good person?

For many people, the process of becoming a parent ‘just happens’.

The pat answer of "God did answer your prayer – He just said 'no'" was too painful to hear. Why would God say no to my dream of having a child? Why would He deny one's wish to attain an altruistic status of being a parent?

After about a month of tears and pain-filled moments, I began to ask myself some questions. What made me so desperate to become a parent that I was willing to undergo such pain and stress in the process?

Most people probably don’t ask this question. The process of becoming a parent often ‘just happens’ without a significant amount of trouble. Experiencing infertility forced me to think deeply about parenthood.

Emulating the Divine

Why do I want to have a child? Not simply because I’ve reached a certain stage in life and all my friends are doing it. Not only because I want to give joy to my parents. Digging deeper, I realized that the desire for parenthood was strongly connected to my desire for spiritual growth.

Parents give, give and give even more. Through the process of giving, we become less selfish, more compassionate and greater human beings. Through the act of giving we emulate God, who is our loving Parent and wants only our best, always. I want to do the same for children of my own!

So perhaps the most painful part of this experience has been the loss of potential for this spiritual opportunity, of being able to give in a significant way.

New Opportunities

With the passage of time, I realized that God did answer me. He said "no" to my desire for a child, but "yes" to my yearning for personal growth. Sometimes we want something noble and good, and we have a specific plan to achieve it. God is not against us achieving noble objectives. He wants what we want! We’re on the same team with shared goals. We just have different strategies of getting there.

I empathize with the pain and uncertainty of people's circumstances.

So while I may not have a new child to give to, there are many opportunities for me to give to others. I have since become a dedicated volunteer to the local "Bikur Cholim" group, both providing rides to and from doctor’s appointments and visiting bedridden individuals in their home. I am also involved in "matchmaking" – setting up singles and serving as a "dating coach."

These volunteer experiences have been both enjoyable and meaningful, creating a channel for my need to give. I am particularly able to empathize with the pain and uncertainty of people's circumstances – given the emotions I have faced throughout my infertility journey.

I began this process with the hope of becoming more giving, less selfish, more caring, less self-centered. That's what God wants for me. I hoped to achieve this through having a child. God has given me the opportunity to attain this by helping others who may be experiencing similar pain and loss. Same goal, different route.

The test was negative. Yet another ‘test’ yielded very positive results. A new life was created. My life.