My husband and I had already been through a whirlwind of good and bad when we finally got married ten and a half years ago. In fact, as I write this, today is the thirteenth anniversary of our very first date -- the 'safe lunch date' (ala When Harry Met Sally) at Ponderosa where we showed each other the very best of ourselves and each hoped the other would like them enough to see it through to the next date. Once we showed the very worse of ourselves to each other and still made it through, we made the commitment to be together forever. We got custody of his boys (our boys!) less than a year later and, another couple of years down the road, his daughter (our daughter!) too.
We worked together for seven of those years in a high-stress environment but never forgot what a great team we made. We acted in and directed theatre productions together, doing our very best to put on a show we were proud to give our audiences. It seemed that everything we did together succeeded in the end -- great shows, happy customers, smart kids -- but one thing we tried never seemed to work.
When you're a teenager in health class in high school, you're under the impression that having sex one time without a condom will get you pregnant. And that can very well be true, kids, so... ya know. Wear one. But when you're a committed couple making the decision to have a baby of your own together, so much anticipation goes into it. Each month, you hope for a positive pregnancy test. And it certainly doesn't always happen the first month. Or two. Or three.
The medical definition of 'infertility' is going without birth control for an entire year and failing to get pregnant. It's an ugly word, but it doesn't necessarily mean you can NEVER get pregnant. There are hundreds of options, of course. But let me tell you that when one year becomes two, and two becomes five, and five becomes ten -- sometimes you second guess yourself.
Who am I kidding? You stop second guessing yourself somewhere around year two. Then you begin to be filled with fear and anxiety, despair and depression. Every happy person who has conceived, whether they are your friend or not, starts to become your enemy. No matter how joyful you want to be for the bun in their oven, you find yourself looking for excuses to blow off their phone calls, busy yourself with work and/or new projects, and sit in your bathroom in tears wondering, "WHAT is wrong with me?" while you beg God, over and over, every day, every hour, to give you the thing you feel like you want more than anything in the world.
Thoughts like, "______ doesn't even WANT a baby! Why is she pregnant and not me?" "______ will be a terrible father! How could he get his girlfriend pregnant, and I'm still waiting?" Horrific judgments about people you like in 'real life' seep into your brain. In addition to the guilt you feel over that, you also begin to blame yourself. "If I hadn't done _________ when I was ____ years old, maybe I wouldn't be being punished right now." "This is happening because I _________ a few years back, and I probably deserve it."
Like a death, you go through the stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression...
This isn't happening to me.
I'm SO angry that this is happening to me and I can't do anything about it.
God, I will give absolutely ANYTHING if you let me have what I want.
I just want to crawl in a hole and die because this is happening to me.
The last stage of grief is acceptance, but I found that, with infertility, there's a secondary stage of this. False acceptance. On the surface, I did a great job of appearing like everything was all right. I could go through the motions of baby showers, big smiles, holding little kiddos in my arms. When people asked, I could say the right words: "It will happen if it's meant to, and if it's not, then I will be the best auntie ever!" "God has a plan, and I'm just trusting in whatever that is." "Of COURSE I'm happy for you! This is wonderful news!"
But, month after month, I would hold my depression inside, pee on a stick, fail again, sob again, hide my real feelings from everyone including my husband, and think to myself, all the time... it's never going to happen. I'm past my prime. There aren't enough eggs left. We don't have money for fertility treatments.
Somewhere during that stage, I began to spend a great deal of time focusing on changing my attitude for real. I went from saying that God has a plan to really believing that God has a plan. I went from praying that He would give me what I want to praying that He would give me the strength to accept and rejoice in what He wanted. I went from making it my only focus, to making it my main focus, to making it peripheral in my brain, to finally actually coming to a place of acceptance that God is in control, I am not, and whatever He has in store for me is a hundred times better than what I could have envisioned for myself.
Our sons grew up, graduated, and went off to do their own thing. Our daughter is a senior in high school, accepted to her dream college, and leaving in August. My husband is fulfilling his dream and God's path of getting his degree by going to school full time and he's absolutely thriving. I have gone from working a string of jobs that sounded right on the surface (but really weren't) to working for myself and making a living that supports all of us by doing what I love and not being beholden to be at a certain place at a certain time -- all on my own schedule with none of the drama of an office, or a boss, or even an early morning alarm clock. I am healthier emotionally and spiritually than I've ever been in my life, and I thank God for that every day when I wake up, have my cup of coffee, read my devotional book and my bible, and snuggle my dogs because I get to work from home.
I have learned to let go of my agenda, to seek the kingdom first, and -- as the bible says -- He has added the rest of the things I've wanted once I got my priorities straight.
With no fertility treatments, with no IVF, with no trips back and forth to a doctor to frazzle my nerves, OUR nerves, my husband and I began the year 2015 by very quickly finding out that we were, indeed, going to have our first baby together.
The most joyous feeling came upon me in the middle of my bedtime prayers one night in early January -- like, my insides just jumped for joy, the feeling you get when you fall in love for the first time, and part of me just knew, that even if I wasn't right then, I was going to be pregnant this year. This was it. And a few weeks later, all of the signs of early pregnancy popped up, we did our home test, and, for once, I cried not because it was negative but because it was positive.
It was POSITIVE.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to the doctor together for my first prenatal appointment, answered a million questions, and we heard our baby's heartbeat. He laughed with excitement, I cried with joy and then laughed at my own crying, and every nurse, nurse practitioner, doctor, receptionist, phlebotomist, and financial counselor that we saw was filled with joy when we told them how long we'd waited and about the miracle that had come into our lives.
One hundred and twenty-four months is a very, very long time. But it was GOD'S time, not mine, and I have to believe that it's the right time, the perfect time. I can work from home, I can be with my baby and earn a living at the same time... our older children are all raised and self-sufficient and wouldn't it have been tremendously difficult to raise a baby and three teenagers all at once? God knew what He was doing.
I was waiting on Him, but He was waiting on me.
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth, I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. --Psalm 89:1
I want to thank every one of you who has prayed for us throughout our journey.
This is only the beginning.
All praise and all glory be to God. I will say, or feel, or know this deep in my bones every day of my life.