WARNING: PROCEED WITH CAUTION. THE AUTHOR DOES NOT FULLY CONDONE HER OWN BITTERNESS BUBBLING FORTH FROM THIS POST. BUT HEY-HO. SOMETIMES, SUCH IS LIFE..
Infertility is not for the faint of heart.
There, I said it in writing. A word encompassing what has probably been my worst nightmare scenario since I can’t remember when, and a word which defines this season my husband and I find ourselves in now, at nearly 30, and aching to start a family.
It’s been 15 months of “trying”, as they say. When I count it up that way, it only takes 3 hands. Between us, we still have a spare one, after all. It’s only a little over a year, I tell myself. Calm down. 15 is not a huge number. But the 15 cycles of grief might as well be 15 tons of weight for how they crush the spirit.
Whoever invented English forgot to think up words to describe this excruciating ache. Damn them.
There just aren’t words for this. This terribly private grief. This awkward pain that flares out like flash-fire every time another friend makes that beautiful announcement and you desperately want to feel ONLY happy for them, but instead the agony you try to live with quietly rises so sharply that it sucks out all the air, and you’re afraid it might obliterate you and everyone else in the room. Or possibly on the block. Or the planet.
There aren’t words for an ache this big.
And if you’re like us, you-know-that-you-know-that-you-know that God is good, and that He loves you, and that He is weaving together this masterful plan and cannot act outside of His love for you, and you can trust Him. But what if that masterful plan involves you living with this ache every single day for the rest of your life? Watching everyone around you falling pregnant if they’re looked at in the right way, and bringing beautiful, squishy, little people into the world (and, hey, you don’t have kids so you can’t be busy– could you babysit?) that you can’t help but love because, I mean, look at them, but oh, that ache– that endlessly throbbing ache in your heart, your soul, your eyes, your smile, your frown, your arms, your lips, your every single pore, and your curse’d ovaries.
You can’t help it. You just can’t. You beg the Master-weaver to help you to trust no matter what in one breath, and in the next breath, you’re asking, “Why not me, Abba?”
Why not me?
We know we are members of an earth that is going to hell in hand-basket for all the years of crap we’ve poured into it, out of it, and all over it. We know we’re part of a breaking down system, breaking down bodies and all that jazz. That the general sin of us all affects everything, even our delicate hormonal balance which dictates our baby-making abilities. It’s not like God is just cruelly holding us back from parenthood. We know that. So, we try to be conscientious citizens of the planet, conscientious souls inhabiting these bodies, and get ourselves in the best physical form we can be to make our little mini-me, looking longingly at coffee, bread, and in my husband’s case, a bottle of beer (even while that Mom of 5 I know is chugging her Diet Coke, and handing out donuts to the littles like they were the apples of my childhood snacks…), and yet still, a.n.o.t.h.e.r. month goes by. And another couple makes the BFP announcement. (Why didn’t the breaking down nature of the earth get in their way, God?)
And then there is that pregnant mama I know whose husband is cheating on her and they’re breaking up months before the kid makes its grand entrance. Welcome to the world, sweetie-pie, now for the custody battle. Meanwhile, with the cautionary tale the hubs and I have with having neither of our parents still together, we have been careful to grow together with purpose from the get-go, tenderly cultivating (and curling up safe in) the space we’ve made for our love, with God’s grace; to create a marriage where our little ones could thrive in security we didn’t have…
And still, despite every possible effort– memorizing ovulation calendars, keeping fertility charts, taking basal body temps, taking blood tests, and spending fortunes on all the right supplements– we are still waiting.
God, why not us?
And you look around yourself at the horror in the world, the incredible losses loved ones are enduring, the fiery flames families all over the world are walking through, and you think, “I have no right to feel this horrible. It could be so much worse.” Or even, “Lord, maybe in not giving us a child, you’re protecting us from an even greater pain?” But then someone walks by with a chubby baby tied to their chest and, it feels like you can’t breathe and can’t tear your eyes away. And suddenly, you’re enduring the fiery flame of this very WORST– and all by yourselves.
Lord Jesus, why not us?
Infertility is lonely, because all you see around you are families– often expanding ones. And even the people you trust enough to let into your inner circle don’t really know the burning ache of this particular pain. The well-intended encouragement they give month after month is clumsy, it rubs places already raw. Far worse, though are the well-intentioned friends and family and strangers OUTSIDE of your inner circle who tell you how you’re not getting any younger, wink, wink, and ask when you’re going to start having babies. (Has anyone else been known to burst into tears on the spot and have to try to somehow cover it over or just pour out everything to the totally unsuspecting person in front of you while trying not to foster a bitter hatred towards them for being so obtuse and insensitive and, albeit totally-un-deliberately, mean?) We could just not keep it private, I suppose, but it’s not an easy one to share with every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there. It’s not an easy one to process with just yourself and your husband.
Because every single day you are, as Jane Austen wrote, “Half-agony, half-hope” — teetering on that razor-edge of, “I don’t want to get my hopes up, because maybe then it won’t be so kill-me-now devastating if they’re dashed AGAIN.” But you live and breathe and have your being wrapped up in the arms of your life-giving, creator God of the Universe who holds this and every day in His might. Hope is part of what it means to know Him. Hopeless and impossible and redemption in Jesus Christ don’t mix. So you beg Him to help you to trust Him, no matter what comes (or doesn’t– like the little pink line of your dreams).
And you keep telling yourself, “Next month is another chance.” “Stay positive.” “Don’t stress.”
But sometimes when the bleeding starts again, you wonder if it might just be your soul bleeding dry…
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” — Psalm 43:5