I want this blog to be a hopeful place, but I also want it to be an honest place. And IF I am being honest, sometimes the two don’t always get a long. As a Christian, I sometimes feel this pressure to end every journal entry or every post with an uplifting comment, as if to remind myself that I’m not allowed to be anything but hopeful, thankful, and perfect.
The thing is, I really do believe that Christ is my Hope. I really do believe He is bigger than my circumstances. I really do believe I am to be grateful, selfless, and joyous. I want that to be a natural outpouring of my heart. And there are days where that certainly occurs.
But there are certainly days where it doesn’t.
So many thing about infertility have surprised me. First of all, I am so surprised that I’m even struggling with it. I’m healthy. I don’t smoke, I’ve never done drugs. I exercise. I eat organic and local food, heavy on the greens, sweet potatoes, whole milk from grass-fed cows, and salmon, and abstain from anything that contains HFCS and MSG. Biologically, everything SEEMS fine for the most part. I have known lots of women who struggled to conceive. Never in one million years did I think I would be one of them. While I knew I always wanted kids, I wasn’t ever obsessed with the idea. I looked forward to the future but I never allowed myself to get worked up over daydreams or map out plans in my head, because, you know…you don’t want to jinx it.
And now two years into my present reality, that seems to be ALL I think about sometimes.
(and ahem, if you tell me “I just need to stop thinking about it and it will happen,” I might just want to shake you for a good bit).
But the isolation is what has surprised me the most.
And if I am being honest that is the worst part. I wasn’t prepared for any of that. I just happen to be in the age bracket where the majority of my friends and family have children and now I find myself the outsider looking in a life that I would so like to be a part of. You find that many times, you can no longer join in conversations. So you sit quietly and try to pretend that all the baby talk doesn’t hurt. You are happy for your friends, SO, SO happy. And you want to be there for them as they move into this all-encompassing, new chapter of life. I just wasn’t prepared for the way it would make me feel invisible. Conversations go on around you, not with you. There have been times when I felt like I could honestly leave a room and no one would notice.
It all sounds so melodramatic. But I think anyone that has experienced remaining in a stage of life when the people around them move on, understand. Regardless of the circumstance, whether it be a dream job, marriage,or some grand adventure, you don’t resent them for their happiness. You just wish for your own as well.
And with every new “we’re pregnant” announcement, I feel a rush of genuine happiness for them and stifle my own tears of hurt and longing. Because those moments are when the emptiness sits like lead in my womb.
Over two years ago, I was in a Bible study with three of my closest girlfriends and two of them found out they were pregnant on the exact same day. I remember I prayed to God that maybe this would be the month I would be pregnant as well. I started my . the next day.
Christmas of last year, I was absolutely sure I was pregnant. According to my calendar we should have conceived. I felt twinges of the early signs of pregnancy, so convinced that THIS month was different. And when my . didn’t come, I bought the cutest pair of baby booties to wrap and give to J for him to open. I waited to take a pregnancy test until that Christmas morning, so convinced that I was pregnant that I wanted the morning it was confirmed to be the best Christmas morning ever. I woke up at 3 am, unable to sleep anymore out of excitement and anticipation, and I snuck in the bathroom to take the test.
It was negative. Four hours later I started my .
The baby booties are still tucked away in the back of my sock drawer, a painful and embarrassing reminder of “that one time I thought I was pregnant.”
I barely held myself together as my family opened up gifts downstairs that morning and then I escaped to my bedroom and bawled my eyes out. The kind of tears where the sobs cascade one on top of the other, to the point where no sound escapes. Your body just shakes, nearly suffocating as your lungs gasp for breath and your stomach is one big knot. I had never before experienced that kind of hurt–it literally brought physical pain. Like a part of me was dying. (I can’t even begin to imagine the loss of a child through accident, sickness, or miscarriage. For those of you who have experienced that, my heart goes out to you in a way words can’t express.)
I have a hard time during family photos because J and I are the only ones that don’t have kids on his side. And I love those pics. They decorate my fridge. I’m so proud of those kiddos. I show them off to everyone that comes to the house. I just hope that one day we’ll have kids to add to that photo. It’s the same with my friends’ kids. I love those kids. I want to be in their lives. I don’t want to miss out just because it hurts to hold them sometimes. God has given me a heart to love and I refuse to let infertility destroy that.
I also wasn’t prepared for the mind games of infertility. How your body and brain betray you. The dream beckons like a lullaby and you interpret signs for things that really aren’t there. And you swear you aren’t going to fall for that again. And then you do. Time and time again. And you get angry at yourself. You feel stupid.
Heavy stuff, and I hope I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable as you’ve read this. I write these words because I think honesty is so important. I know so many others must have experienced this in their own stories and yet, we don’t talk about it. So we bury it deep, ashamed for the way we feel sometimes.
But you know what that does? When we continually bury the pain out of fear? We end up just presenting a polished, “churched up” version of ourselves, and we bleed from the inside out, in solitude, away from others. I don’t want that. And I really don’t think God wants that either.
So for honesty’s sake, here it goes:
Sometimes life is cruel. And sometimes it sucks. And it makes me mad. And sad. And frustrated. And hopeless. Sometimes I want to shut out the world, throw a blanket over my head, and lick my wounds. Sometimes I want to shout, rebel, and throw a fit. Sometimes I want my space. Sometimes I just want to hold my friends’ babies and rock them to sleep in my arms.
I’m not scared that God will reject me for these emotions. I’m not scared that He will leave me once I reveal to Him the “unpretty” side that secretly lurks underneath all of this. I think instead Jesus wants to pull me in tight so I can bang my fists against HIS chest and cry those heavy sobs that I don’t reveal to anyone else. He doesn’t chide me, or lecture me. He just lets me cry and when I am done, He whispers that He understands and He loves me.
And I believe Him.
For the longest time, I had a hard time being honest with both God and myself when it came to admitting I wanted to bear children. I’ve always been open to adoption and yet there was a significant moment well over two years ago where the protective layers around my heart shed themselves and I admitted that a small, little seed of longing had burrowed itself in my heart. I didn’t really talk about it with people. I didn’t even want to admit it to myself. I felt wrong for asking for something specific from God when He has already blessed me with so much. That revelation, that honesty, shattered me into a thousand pieces. But in a good way too. That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Because it did. It still does.
But love beckons honesty. It nutures it. And there, my friends, is where I have found my courage.
Journal entry: 14 Jun 2012
God, I confess my fear to You. I pray that it would not seize me. Yet so many times I feel paralyzed by it. I’m afraid to allow myself to want something and be honest about it, because that could mean there might be a chance I might not actually get it and I’ll have to face everything that means. So its easier, safer, to tuck myself in a protective little ball and just deal with my present reality.
And it’s a beautiful one. Despite what I secretly long for, I know You have given me a beautiful life and I have so much to be thankful for. I know that through our struggles You bring us closer to You and prune us in Your perfect way. But for some reason, the topic of “family” is something I am afraid to trust you with. There are so many questions, so many layers to this that seem impossible, so I push away the deep-seated longings instead of confronting them with You. It’s safer to tell myself I just need to wait and You’ll make it happen. And one day You could.
But deep down I can’t help but know this isn’t born of a pure spirit of complete submission. It’s glossing over the fact that I don’t trust You to be bigger than my hopes and the possible disappointment of those hopes unrealized. I can see that maybe You are waiting on me to be honest and admit what I know has been there all along.
You need my honesty, because more than anything, more than a family, you want us to trust You. And I can’t trust You if I’m not willing to share sacred dreams and hidden places and give them over to You.
Regardless of what happens, help me to be honest. And may I trust You are catching every word and holding them in Your hand.
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of growing up to be many things. An actress (okay, really it was Vanna White), a journalist, a teacher, a world-wide traveler, a small coffee shop/bookstore owner, and even a chiropractor. But always, always there was never any doubt that I would be a mom first and foremost.
For the first four years of marriage, I didn’t give pregnancy much thought. J and I were settling into life together and we were quite content with our adventures as a couple. We enjoyed our time together traveling, and doing all sorts of wonderful things young couples without children seem to do. But then, when we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary childless, I started to think something was wrong.
And now, two years later I’ve stopped answering the “Are you guys going to have kids?” question with a cheerful, confident, “Yep. Someday,” to “I’m not sure I can have kids.”
That was so hard at first. Hearing my own voice struggle to whisper those honest, but sacredly vulnerable words. You don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. But more than that, you don’t want to believe it yourself and to say it out loud calls that string of letters and syllables into being. Materializing it from nagging doubts and whispers into something so heavy and tangible it breaks your heart. Facing the truth is hard. Facing unanswered questions is even harder.
But I know I am not alone. I’ll be honest though, sometimes, I feel that way. Despite the fact so many women struggle with fertility, it can be very isolating at times. There are occasions when all I want to do is talk about it and let my heart spill over with everything it’s been trying to keep hidden. But then, there are other times when I find discussing it to be a huge trespass into the deepest sense of who I am. It’s easy to not go there with people. It would be easier not to write this blog and keep my vulnerability protected with a fake smile and nonchalant, ambivalent projection of “everything is alright, all the time.”
And yet I hear Jesus calling me to tell my story. To share my HOPE alongside my hurt so that I can share in the lives of others. To rejoice with others, to cry with others, to simply be honest and present amidst circumstances that threaten to destroy or at least unravel us.
You see, I cling to Hope. But I’m not talking about a Hope that is limited to “hoping” that I will have children one day. It is so much bigger than that. I have Hope that what is going on here is so.much.bigger. than answering this question of infertility. I want this road I am walking on to encourage others and let them know they are not alone. Good will come out of this. In fact, I think good is ALREADY coming out this. And it has nothing to do with me and my own spirit of gumption and positive outlook on life. It has everything to do with knowing that God is walking through this with me. He makes all things beautiful.
And that means me too. Barren womb and all.