Infertility

Infertility.
Strange for a Mommy blog.  Even stranger for a Mommy who writes about having two kids in three years of marriage.

Eleven years ago, I sat in a doctor’s office and listened as he told me that I would probably never have children, or if I did, that they would be hard-won through fertility treatments.Ten months ago, after two children conceived through those drugs, the same doctor told me that while I could, potentially, conceive again, my uterus was badly damaged and another baby would result in a high risk pregnancy and preterm c-section.  No fertility doctor in their right mind would ever again accept me as a patient and prescribe the drugs I needed to conceive.

In other words, I was once again a member of an elite group…women who want children and can’t have them.

Secondary infertility is a funny thing.  We feel that we can’t call ourselves infertile, since we’ve proven that we can, after all, have babies.  We are stuck between the women who are suffering from primary infertility and women who seem to be able to get pregnant whenever they feel like it.  We love our children dearly, but yet wonder what the next one would have looked like.  Would she have had blond hair like her brother, brown eyes like her sister?  Whenever we dare to mention it, someone, inevitably, tells us that we should feel blessed–after all, we were able to have one or two or three children when so many women can have none.
(And if we, too, suffered primary infertility, that particular sentence levels a heavy blow, because it brings back all the sleepless, painful nights when we wondered through tears if it would ever be our turn for a baby)

And I am blessed.
And it is still okay to grieve what won’t be.
To feel a pang of sadness when those around you seem to get pregnant by just thinking about it, when you are surrounded by babies who aren’t yours.
It’s still okay to blink back tears when your son asks you for a baby brother, and you whisper to him, “You will have to talk to God about that.”
It’s okay to wonder if your next child would have had your son’s blue eyes, your daughter’s brown hair.
It’s okay to ask someone else to come box up the baby clothes you will never use again.

The truth is, we’re in pretty good company, we-who-can’t-have-babies.  The Bible is filled with women who were barren and then, miraculously, had a child–and then, at least for some, could not have any more.  Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Samson’s mother, Elizabeth.  Women who begged God for a child, women who desperately wanted to feel that baby stir in them.  Women who hurt over infertility.
And yet they were women who were part of a plan, women who had faith, even when God appeared to be saying no, even when they did not understand the purpose of their heartbreak.

If the Bible is to be believed, then God has a habit of using infertile women to do and to bear great things.  Perhaps it is miraculous conception of many children, perhaps it is the birth of only one or two, maybe it is–in the cases of Deborah, Priscilla, and Dorcas, whom scholars believe to have had no children–to serve God in ways other than motherhood.

None of this, of course, helps when you want to see two lines on a pregnancy test and don’t.  The knowledge that God has great things for you doesn’t lessen the pain when desires are dashed.  You can know God and trust God, and still hurt.

Hannah did.
Hannah begged God for a child so desperately the priest thought she was drunk or crazy or both.  And, when other Christians find out that you are struggling with infertility, they will tell you this story, and tell you the words of Eli the priest to Hannah–may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.

And yet we forget the first words Eli spoke to Hannah after he finally understood her request.
Go in peace.
Even when it hurts.
Go in peace.
When you don’t understand why.
Go in peace.
When you wonder if God hears your request.
Go in peace.

And here is what I love–Hannah got up, and left.  She ate.
And then she worshiped.
Not knowing whether or not her request would be granted, Hannah knew that God had heard her prayer–and that was enough.  Hannah was at peace, and she worshiped.
Still hurt.
Still wondering.
Still unsure,
Hannah worshiped God.

I would love one more baby. Or two, or three, or four.
But that won’t happen.  They tell me one more baby would be safe, but that the fertility treatments and hormones associated with them wouldn’t be.  Unless we have a miracle, there are no more babies here.
And even when I wonder, and even when it hurts, there is peace.
And, like Hannah, still I worship.

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Grace for the journey

I want a Saturday.
I want a day to sleep in, watch television, eat pancakes.  I want a day to do what I want to do.

Instead, I have a nine-month-old who is wide awake at 7 am.  I have at least six loads of laundry to do, another sink of dishes to wash, a two-year-old that needs a bath…which reminds me, the bathrooms really need to be scrubbed.  I then need to run to Walmart to buy a pair of stockings for tonight–my sisters are dancing in a ballet that I’m attending.  Or at least I’m attending part of it, because I will have to leave to drive an hour to work, where I will be until eight tomorrow morning.
And then I will come home and do it all over again.

Oh, and did I mention my husband is on a thirty three hour shift starting this morning?

Moms don’t get Saturdays or vacations or holidays.  We get laundry and dishes and a baby that wants to be held all day long and a toddler who follows after us, leaving chaos in his wake.
And it can get so tiring.  The never ending to-do list that seems to be on an endless loop of repeating can become so wearying if we let it.  Especially when our husbands work away or work long hours and all those mothering tasks fall solely on our shoulders.  It can easily become overwhelming.

So I start at the beginning.  I do one thing–a load of laundry–and move onto the next, not letting my mind wander to what else needs to be done.  When the two-year-old desperately needs some attention, I mentally put the list aside.  I can come back to it, I can do it later. When the baby needs some cuddling, I put it aside again and pick her up.  I stop letting the list rule my life and overwhelm me as it so easily could.

I probably won’t get everything done today that I need to.  But this season of life, this season with small children, is a season of grace.  Grace given to exhausted, weary, overwhelmed me–grace that says, it’s okay to fail here.  It’s okay if those dishes stay in the sink.  It’s okay if the upstairs bathroom doesn’t get scrubbed.
It’s okay if the little ones need cuddling instead of chores getting done.

This motherhood stuff–it’s not a race, it’s a journey.  We’ll all get to the end at one point or another, far more haggard and worn out than when we started.
And for that journey, I wish you grace.

This is linked at http://www.hopeforthewearymom.com.  I couldn’t nab the button, but this is a great site for encouragement when you need it most.

 

Mommy blogs

I don’t read Mommy blogs.  I have two or three blogs that I regularly read, and that is because I know those people in real life.  Very occasionally, though, when I have some extra time, I start clicking through and reading these delightfully decorated, always updated blogs.
And I laugh at them.

I read about how wonderful their homeschooling is, how clean and nicely decorated their house is, and in between all of this writing, they managed to put up 274 quarts of applesauce, handpicked from apple trees in their backyard that they fertilize with the special organic fertilizer they make in their kitchen. While their five year old is doing algebra at the dining room table and their fourteen year old daughter is busy sewing a complete fall wardrobe for the entire family.
Truthfully?  I suspect that their kids are watching Sesame Street and flooding the toilet.

I laugh because not only do I not believe the public image they present, but also because it is so far from the ideal for my life.  My ideal is spending lots of time with my kids, making messes, playing in the mud, fingerpainting on the kitchen floor.  My ideal is not the spotless house or the fresh eggs in the backyard or the widely read blog–good things, to be sure, but what would I have to give up for them?  Would I be giving up listening to my son’s giggles as he throws rocks into the creek?  Would I be missing out on watching him chase bubbles down the sidewalk, or twirling in the living room?  I could bake all our own bread, but what would I be missing out on while I did that?  I could have world’s spotless house, but what kind of message would it give my son?  Would it tell him that having a super clean house is more important than the train track he just built on the living room floor?

The bottom line to me is that if my son grows up and remembers a spotless house, organic-from-scratch-grown-in-our-garden food, but doesn’t remember me ever reading to him, I have failed as a mother.

My point isn’t that one should have a messy house or feed their kids a diet of sugary, processed foods. Of course not.  Those are good things–but are they always the best things?  My point is that there is a balance.  One can have a picked up, relatively hygenic household and pot roast with homemade mashed potatoes for dinner without neglecting all those special moments that make up a childhood.  My point is that as a mom, my goal is to never sacrifice the best for the good.  I never want to sacrifice missing my son’s giggles because I am doing something that some Mommy blogger out there told me I should be doing.  Maybe it works for their family, but in the end, I don’t need someone else’s approval on my parenting. 
So this afternoon, we’re skipping out on the dishes, and dinner very likely will be Burger King tonight.  You see, it’s a warm spring day, and I’m taking my little boy to the park.   Not too many days from now, not nearly as many as it seems, my little boy is going to get into his car and drive off to college.  And then I will have all the time in the world to clean and bake bread and write, but I won’t have my little boy kisses.
And I don’t want to miss a thing.