Three months ago, I wrote about my experiences on both sides of the fertility fence. In that moment, I was hopeful that my time on the infertile/subfertile side of the fence would be short-lived. You see, we finally found the answer, we thought, to our fertility struggles. I was diagnosed with very low progesterone and given a prescription for 4 HCG shots, timed specifically to induce my body to create the required progesterone. A blood test the next month revealed that the hormones were responding exactly as they should. Our doctor told us to expect to be pregnant within three months.
Except now it's month 4. Which, I realize in the grand scheme of times that people have waited for things isn't really that long. But I've already waited 8 years plus 4 months....and that seems plenty long enough to me.
It is difficult to live in a place that hopes for a child, but does not grow jealousy; that longs for a child, but does not cast away the hope after months and years of waiting. There is a delicate tension that is so easy to lose hold of between waiting and quitting; hoping and turning away.
As much as we long for more children, there are those moments where I think it would be best and easiest to just never try again; to completely remove ourselves from the game by stopping the charting and waiting game. To just be. To live with our two children without the hope or effort of more. To go to Disneyworld like everyone else and stuff our disposable income into having fun and ignoring that gaping hole of the family we thought we'd have. To remove ourselves from the pain of hearing "no" everyone month by stopping the asking.
If I, the sullen child, stomp off declaring, "Fine then! I don't want another one anyway!" then it's me that gets to be back in control, if only in my delusion. Because in my fallen nature, I want nothing so much as to be in control. I want the injections I've taken for four months to be predictable and work exactly as they should. I want 2+2 to equal 4. But children are nothing if not illogical. Why should the getting of them be logical?
I think the place I should stay is right in between throwing my hands up in disgust and pining the day away. Cari wrote so beautifully about the cross we carry when we struggle with infertility.
I have yet to find a way to balance on the tightrope between what I want and what I have. I struggle to quiet the longing long enough to find the blessing in my day.
This has been more apparent lately as the school year gets started and activities increase with our wonderful homeschool community. As I sat in a meeting last night with other families planning our activities and logistics for the coming year, I'm pretty sure every mother under the age of 40 was expecting...and a couple over 40 were as well (this is probably the exaggeration of my id, but it seemed to be the case!). One woman I sat near recently had a hysterectomy, so I'm fairly confident there were at least the two of us not in the family way.
I was surrounded by the culture of life in all its beauty, sacrifice, and joy, and I almost choked on it. This is where the faking it til you make it that I've talked about comes in. Mostly when I was surrounded by those women expecting their sixth, seventh, eighth, or more, I just wanted to cry. But not necessarily for the reasons you would think. While we deeply desire to grow our family, I do find joy in this news from my friends. Sometimes I have those moments where I think, "really? Why can't I have another one?" But that's most certainly not directed at taking anything from another. It's more of a "why can't it be me too?" instead of a "why can't it be me instead?" that I feel.
What stings is when I feel shielded from the news. When I feel like everyone has known and shared in the joy, but they felt to guard it from me to spare me. That is a compassionate thought, but I'm sure to discover the news at some point, and it only serves to isolate me when it isn't shared. It is likely I will have very little of this joyful news of my own to share, sharing in yours is a gift.
There are so many ways I feel like I don't belong in this world of abundant-fertility homeschooling families. I've seen close friends cringe as they share their news. That holding back is a reminder of the divide that stands between us. A divide that doesn't need to be.
Many of those women who were expecting have dealt with incredible hardships in the having of children. They have lost many children through miscarriage, they have suffered with health problems that have made the child they carry a much longed-for and long-awaited blessing, they might even be risking their life to bring that child into the world. That knowledge brings us together. We might have different numbers in our cars, but there is so much more the same between us than different.
We've both lost children, we've both had medical complications, we've both known the struggles of breastfeeding or potty training. We are both the same in so many more ways than we're different. If I turned away every time it was hard to be me, I never would have known that, and I never would have had the blessing of these beautiful women in my life.
To those women I say, please share your joy. It gives me something to hope for. Please share your excitement, it reminds me this struggle is worth it. Please trust me to be gracious with your news, and forgive me if I'm not. You are so dearly loved, and I'm so thankful to share in your life.