I asked God for a baby

I tried to calm my nerves as I sat in the hard plastic chair at the OB/GYN office. The doctor returned with my chart and started talking. From the moment she said the word infertility, I wanted her to take it back. It was the word I was dreading to hear and she had just said it, all matter of fact. The doctor kept talking, but I couldn’t hear her anymore. My brain had tuned her out. I was crushed. I felt alone. I was in a new club that I never wanted to join.

I found myself crying in all sorts of places in the days that followed. It’s weird how a small shift in awareness can cause us to see everything just a little bit differently. I cried as I walked past the infant clothes in Target, while watching a commercial with a mom bathing her newborn, and when my period arrived abruptly to mark another month that we were not pregnant.

I asked God for a baby. Others asked God to give us a baby too.

But no baby came.

My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for 18 months when we received the infertility diagnosis. We had been attending a new church for about the same length of time. We were leading a small group for young married couples without kids, just like us. That community became our safe space. We learned how to be real and vulnerable with these friends. It was the first place we would share our story of infertility.  

I looked at this time of waiting as a season that would eventually end, so I thought I would find something to do in the meantime. One night at a party, a friend asked me to volunteer with the teens at our church. I told him I already helped with the babies in the nursery. My friend joked, “Sometimes the teens act like babies.” We laughed and I shrugged it off. Teenagers intimidated me in high school, and my irrational fear hadn’t gone away in my twenties.

A couple months later, another friend asked me to seriously consider joining the youth team. I told her I didn’t know why she was asking me. She said there were kids that were shy and quiet like me and she terrified them because she’s loud and outgoing. She told me I had the unique opportunity to connect with those kids. That stuck. I considered it and soon I was a youth leader, and my husband joined the team, too.

We worked with the teens together, but separately. He did the loud, wild and crazy Wednesday nights leading small groups with the guys. I helped lead the slower Sunday mornings where we asked real questions and allowed each other to struggle for answers. We were making connections with the same students in different ways, and I loved it.

Somewhere along the line, one of the guys made a joke about my husband being old (to a teen anything near 30 is ancient) and the student began to jokingly call him “Dad.” My husband didn’t miss a beat and he called the teen “Son.” Somehow it stuck and this went on for more than two years.

I’ve been on mission trips and weekend retreats with these students. I’ve watched them grow in height, confidence, and maturity. We’ve had girls nights where we’ve baked, played spoons for hours, and laughed until our cheeks hurt. I’ve been able to cheer on teens at their band concerts, musicals, one-act plays, dance performances, and cheer-leading competitions. We’ve paddled around in canoes talking about life, sang Disney songs at the top of our lungs, and hugged and cried in public restrooms when necessary.

My life didn’t turn out the way I imagined. We still don’t have kids of our own running around. But there are over 100 teens that I was given the privilege to get to know, and they all have a special place in my heart. They wiggled their way right in. I think I was ready. I was open. And I had some extra love to give.  

One Mother’s Day I woke up to a text from the teen who called my husband “Dad.” It simply said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” And my heart burst wide open.

No one had ever called me that before.

I asked God for a baby, and He gave me teenagers.

 

**This post was originally written for and entered in a writer’s contest here. Voting is over now, but your votes bumped me up to the number 18 spot out of 115 submissions- thank you!

Advertisements

This is infertility

When I first went off birth control I was hopeful and naive. I assumed we would get pregnant immediately. I counted out nine months and started wondering how I would tell Andy the news, and then how we would surprise different members of our family. I am a sucker for both planning and surprises.

When we didn’t get pregnant the first month, I figured we would the second, then the third. I kept this up for eight months before I started to wonder if maybe something could be wrong. I had a friend who was in the midst of infertility and I thought it couldn’t hurt to see a doctor.

The Doctor didn’t seem too concerned about my questions and said we hadn’t been trying long enough to worry. She told me it was perfectly normal for someone in their late twenties to take 6-9 months to get pregnant. I mentioned I had recently bought a book on charting to get a better idea of my cycle, ovulation, etc. She encouraged me to use it for a while and start our 6-9 month clock over, now that we were what she called, “actively trying.”

One year later I had 12 pages detailing my daily basal body temperature, date of ovulation, how many days after ovulation my body temp was raised and when it dropped back to normal again to indicate no pregnancy. 

In that year I became all consumed with controlling every aspect I could, in an effort to increase our chances for pregnancy. And I was becoming torn up from the inside out. I lived my life in two week cycles. We were either trying to get pregnant, or waiting to see if we were pregnant. I wasn’t carefree and optimistic anymore. I was a control freak.

Add to that the fact that we had been married for a few years and everyone and their brother was asking us when we were going to have kids. We finally landed on an answer that was honest but not too vulnerable, “We’d like to, we’ll see!”

When I finally went back to the doctor we were diagnosed with infertility because we had been trying for more than a year without a pregnancy. I hated that word. I felt branded. I pictured a big scarlet letter on my chest, but it was an I for infertility. I didn’t want anyone to see it.

Each new pregnancy announcement I heard felt like a personal blow. It didn’t matter if the pregnancy was announced from a co-worker, friend, family member or celebrity. In fact, even pregnant strangers on the street stood out like sore thumbs of what I wasn’t able to get my body to do.

I was becoming bitter and angry and I didn’t know how to stop it. I added jealous and resentful too, for good measure. Each month that my period came I would sob in the bathroom. I felt like a failure. Women had been getting pregnant and delivering babies for thousands of years and I couldn’t figure out the secret. I felt alone.

Fast forward 7 plus years and we’re still not pregnant and never have been (as far as I know). We’ve done several unsuccessful rounds of IUI. I’ve taken various meds, shots, ultrasounds and tests. Our chances of getting pregnant without medical assistance are significantly lower than the average “normal” couple.

And with all that, I still have this stubborn faith that knows God could start a little life in my womb, any day of the week if He so desired. Somehow I’ve moved past the anger and bitterness. Time has helped with that. The first four years of infertility were hands down the hardest. But the good news is, it didn’t stay that way. Day to day life got better. I’m not all dark and twisty over the infertility anymore. It’s a part of my story, even if I didn’t want it. But I’m learning to live with it.

The things that used to be so soul crushing in the beginning, I barely flinch at anymore. When my period comes, I don’t shed a tear over it. It’s just annoying.

When I hear that someone is pregnant now, there’s usually a brief blip of a “really!?!” moment between me and God. But it is short lived, honestly a minute to have that quick feeling expressed and then life moves forward. I don’t dwell or mope about it like I did in the first days of infertility.

One thing I’ve learned in all of this, is delivering a baby is really hard to do! There are so many things that could go wrong, even in just the getting to the “pregnancy” part, let alone having a baby grow in the womb and come out on the other side alive.

I have a deeper happiness and genuine excitement now when people in my world have babies. And that feeling grows exponentially for the ones who have had seasons of infertility and loss first. I’m over the moon for them. I usually cry tears of relief when their babies are born. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

I still love kids and yes, I’d be thrilled if one landed in our laps one day. And there is this other side that’s growing in me too. It’s a little sprig of contentment with our life, as is.

This is infertility.