Barren was the name given me at birth
(Named after Hannah in the Bible)
And by the fertility doctors
(Unexplained causes)
So many voices
(Where is mine?)
So I waited
For 5 years of trying
With only failure to show for it
All happening inside my body
The same one God says He lives in.
Time filled with every emotion
Until one 24 hours happened
And IVF made me a mom of 4 embryos.
Our son was born
Followed by our daughter a few years later
All while two embryos freeze and continue to live.
God dances over each of our lives
From conception.
(Even if some of that time is in a lab)
I pray for all my kids
And yearn to be together
Still experiencing other forms of barrenness inside-
A waiting to be filled with new life
That just isn’t here yet
God tilts my story downward
(A hard year)
A decade of severe wrestling
Ends in a shift of opponents-
Finally, I turn to God with my misplaced fury.
He smiles and draws near to all of me
(The trying and not trying parts)
Gives others dreams and visions of us
And initiates in a stranger a prayer for my womb
Healing the exact space of physical lacking
And places a miracle in the emptiness-
(Our third pregnancy and first natural baby)
This baby has never seen a lab
And is younger than our other four
(Two born and two unborn)
I am the mother to 5 miracle children
(One for every year we tried)
My name is Hannah
The one whose pain isn’t wasted
Whose many wounds have been healed
(I have more in common with Jesus than I knew)
And in more ways than one
He has traded me barrenness for joy.


Hannah Umphress lives outside Denver, Colorado with her husband and two children. She enjoys finding and contributing to the beauty around her in the form of authentic poetry, a meaningful conversation or a well-placed joke. She believes God might be a giggler and that it’s good for the soul to have inside jokes with Him.