Updated: Oct 27, 2020
October 26th, 2020 | Broken People
I strongly dislike the word “maybe”. Few words are more irritating to me- not “no”, not “never”, not even “moist”. Maybe. This is my “maybe” story.
For the large majority of my life, I had almost no desire to be pregnant. At most, a mild curiosity about it, but never a strong urge towards it. The thing never appealed to me much- managing all the stress and changes pregnancy can bring, having my body get all puffy and saggy in all the wrong places, dealing with the tearing and the leaking and the inexplicable mood swings, all in order to have a teeny screaming human that depends on you to help it not die and ideally become a relatively healthy person. Plus, I told myself, there are SOOO many kids in the world that need loving homes, and my passion for adoption always superseded any desire to bring a new child into the world. I never imagined I would some day really want to be pregnant.
However, my spouse super-duper wanted to try to have at least one biological kid. And I super-duper love him. So, being the egalitarian spouse I am, and not being a Kardashian who can afford to pay a surrogate, and not being a huge personal fan of polygamy, I decided to open my mind to the possibility of being pregnant. And what happened was a Pandora’s box of a mess… Or a beautiful, restorative journey. Same diff.
Before I began to consider trying to get pregnant, I worried deeply about codependency being a factor in my decision making process. I asked things like: “Am I thinking about doing this just to make my husband happy, or could I actually want it too? Is it okay for it to be a little of both? How much is even okay for him to ask of me and my body in order to make his dreams come true? What if I never get to a place where I want to be pregnant- will he still love me? Would he resent me if I decided to 'close up shop’ and told him I didn’t want to give him his life-long dream of producing offspring? What if living my truth means having to hurt the person I love most in the world? What if he grows to hate me for never giving him babies, and leaves me for a younger, hotter woman who wants to have a million beautiful babies with him, while I grow old and alone and all my cats eat my dead body because I have no children to come check on me!?!?!?"
YIKES. Deep breath. Buckle up folks. We’re just getting started.
A little about me. I lost my own mother suddenly and traumatically when I was 18. I quickly realized that, if I was going to even consider having a baby of my own, or becoming a mother at all, I would have to come to grips with aspects of her death that I had not yet grieved. A wise therapist once told me that grief comes in waves, and that every season of life brings about fresh ways of realizing the scope of the loss of the person from your life. I recognized this phase as a new wave, and I dove in.
I thought about all the things my mom would never get to see and experience if I became a mother, and all the new ways that I would miss her. I mourned the loss of her never meeting my future kiddos. She would never read with them, or bake cookies with them, or snuggle them close, or teach them hilarious puns, or crouch down, arms wide open, while they run into her arms shouting “Grandma!”. She would never get to disagree with me about my parenting techniques, or be exasperated about being asked to babysit too often. She will never give me advice on what to do when I am tempted to just leave those GD kids on the side of the road, or celebrate with me while I watch my babies reach all their milestones. She’d never get to hear me say, “Now that I’m a mom too, I understand why...” Every time I think about these things, it reminds me how unfair life can be. Before considering pregnancy, I needed to grieve for the seeming injustice that my mom, and so many in this world, didn’t get to live to a ripe old age, and experience all that the scope of a human life can offer.
Frankly, I’m not done grieving this loss, and a part of me mourns every day. I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop- I’m not even sure I’m meant to. But I also have more adaptive coping skills and a wonderful support system, which have helped me accept this process in a way I hadn’t, or couldn’t, before. This part sucks, and that’s okay.
(I just want to add, for the record, that whatever kids we have will still have two fantastic women to call “Grandma”, and for them, I am blessed.)
Back to processing… Because of my past trauma, I was also terrified of the complete and utter vulnerability that motherhood brings. People say the pain of losing a child is the worst pain imaginable. Having experienced great loss and pain already, I was deeply afraid of voluntarily putting myself in a position to lose someone again, someone who’s loss could be even worse than what I already experienced. The death of my mom nearly broke me- how could I open myself to an even deeper loss than that?
On top of all that, I had to deal with all the regular parenting stuff. The normal-people problems that ask questions like: “I love my life the way it is- do I want to give it up? Do I want things to change so drastically?” “Can I handle the pressure of never not being a mother ever again?” “Am I maybe just too selfish to be a parent?” “Am I capable of being a reliable mother, when I feel like I barely manage my regular adult responsibilities?” “What about my job? Will I have to quit doing something I worked so hard for, a job I am good at and passionate about?” “Could I be capable of being a working mom? Do I want to pay a bajillion dollars for daycare?” and, the cherry on top, “If I do this, HOW WILL I EVER GET ENOUGH SLEEP?”
As you may have been able to tell, my anxiety was in full force about this subject. After almost a year of prayering, journaling, counseling, discussing my questions and thoughts with friends and family, and crying (so. much. crying.), I was surprised to find myself in a place where the possibility of me getting pregnant didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. I found peace about it, and even a desire for it. Not for anyone else- just for me. I found myself realizing that none of these fears would ever go away entirely, but if I could get to the point where I was more excited to have a baby than I was scared of having one, I felt at peace with trying to get pregnant.
I walked away from that experience feeling confident in a few things: 1. God is the unlimited source of everything I would need to be a good mom. 2. The fear of loss shouldn’t stop me from living- my mom would not have wanted that. 3. My husband is a very kind, patient, and understanding human being, and a really good life partner. 4. I was actually really looking forward to growing a human being in my body. I felt ready enough to be a mommy.
BUT THE STORY ISN'T FINISHED.
I was finally in a place where we could start trying to get pregnant, so we tried. First, we “pulled the goalie”, as they say. A few months went by, aaaand… nothing. No late periods, no nothing. Which is normal. Because we were getting a little antsy, we decided to start using ovulation predictor kits to time things a little more accurately. I took prenatal vitamins, and exercised more regularly, and watched my diet (kind of)… still, nothing. So I went to my OBGYN, and my hubby and I gave a few samples of our fluids… still, nothing. So we went to the fertility clinic, and did a few more tests, and were told that everything looks normal. In fact, better than normal! Thanks Doc! There is no clear reason why pregnancy wasn’t occurring. So I took more pills, and even gave myself an injection... and STILL, NAH-THING.
Leading me to ask God: “WHAT THE HECK, DUDE?!?”
What a world. To go through all that junk, all that pain, all that emotional juggling and baggage-sorting, to finally decide to want something, and be told by experts that it SHOULD be possible, and then be given, not even a hard “no”, just a “maybe”. That stupid word. It is the enemy of my anxieties. It’s the enemy of my ability to be confident enough in my plans that I can keep from going a little batty. It tries my patience. And this "maybe" feels like a real kick in the crotch.
So here’s where I’m at today... I wish I could say I have a resolution to this story. As in any hard time, I’m forced to ask myself two questions my mom taught me to ask:
-“In this season, what can I learn, and how do I define success?”-
My inclination is to describe success in my fertility journey as: “I worked through and overcame all this trauma and baggage, and decided to trust God enough to provide for me, like God asks me to. I went through the fire and decided to trust God, so God gave me what I wanted- a baby.” Woman struggles; Woman learns to let go and trust God; God rewards woman with what she asks for. Simple, elegant, quaint. Everyone gets what they want, win-win-win… Right?
What I’m coming to realize is that the real definition of success in this season may not be so simple. What I’m coming to realize is how transactional that old definition sounds, and how self-absorbed. If God is all-powerful, and all-knowing, and gives me every blessing and breath I breathe, the scales will never be even. God owes me nothing. Literally. Nothing. If I believe that God created the universe, then how arrogant I was to think I was entitled to have God bend to my will? Don’t get me wrong; I know there are examples of God changing God’s mind when people ask God to. God has discussions with people all the time in the Old Testament- remembering, discussing, even bargaining for the desires of men and women throughout history. And I think, more than anything, God wants those conversations, not for God's good, but for OURS. I think God wants us to share the deepest desires of our hearts, just to talk and process and wonder, if only to bring clarity and peace to ourselves and our place in the universe.
Ultimately, God gets to do whatever God knows is good, just like the creation story of Genesis. God gets to decide if my body is going to create a baby or not. God knows me better than I know me. While I think I’m ready to be a mom, perhaps I’m just not quite there yet. While I think this is the perfect timing for a baby by my worldly standards, maybe God knows it’s not time yet. While I think God wants us to have a biological child, maybe God has a better idea.
Maybe God has a purpose for this whole convoluted mess. Maybe one day I’ll understand part of that purpose. Maybe I’ll look back and see that, this whole time, God has been calmly, gently holding me, caring for me perfectly, with the divine knowledge that, though this feels like a mess to me, it’s all going to be okay. Maybe even better than okay.
Daughter, Wife, Therapist, Child of God