When I was a little girl, I would dress up baby dolls into clothes and push them around in a miniature shopping cart. I would cook them plastic food on my rainbow colored stove and wear little-house-on-the-prairie type outfits because I guess I thought that's what moms' wear.
I was convinced the most sacred occupation was to be a mother.
I was drawn to the simplistic beauty of pouring your life into shaping another's life, for the good. Something I saw modeled out in my own mother's life.
It was what I most wanted in the world.
It still is....
How to let the fear tight-fisted drain away…
Love casts out fear, it's said.
But I’m one who has to journey through the questions.
How to say all is grace, all is His goodness, when the tube is blocked solid and the pain of decreased chances of birthing new life, is real and threatening every struggle towards joy.
The fear clamors chokingly up my neck as they push the dye through and the pain pinches sharp, and the body trembles.
I already know what they will say.
Too much research already in my head, even though I can barely pronounce the name of my procedure.
The driving home is a blur. The days that follow, a numbness.
There are tests and more tests. Fifteen vials of blood.
At first, it seems ok, my chances only reduced by 25% and just as I get accustomed to this news, they strike me with another blow.
My AMH hormone is too low. It’s unlikely I’ll get pregnant naturally at all. They say words like IVF as I try to breathe over the phone. They refer me to a fertility clinic.
We don’t seem to talk openly about infertility or fertility struggles, just like we don’t seem to talk about ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages, or babies lost too early.
Yet 1 in 8 couples struggles with fertility. And these numbers seem to be rising. Maybe it’s time we started embracing one another through this process and listening more to our bodies.
One of the main reasons we left a home in Africa was to start a family. Because God told us and because it’s what we wanted, and it was too dangerous for us to do there. Not to mention what 6 years in Africa and multiple illnesses, and antibiotics, and toxins do to your body. For the last 9 months I've been in recovery mode.
After years of often sacrificing myself, health, and sometimes my husband, for ministry, I’d learned that nothing is more important than him and family trumps ministry or good deeds every time.
Love is more important than our job description.
Love for God, love for self, these are important principles. So important, that love for others can’t flow when we do not care for, and love ourselves. It’s been a long journey into the revelation that I am just as important to God as everyone else and taking care of myself, and my body is not a bad thing.
It’s part of how we worship Him. It's the door through which I'm truly able to love others.
For some of us “helpers” or “caretakers” this is harder to step into. We use giving as a way to gain love. But the truth is, we are already loved. Without condition.
Henri Nouwen says it better: “The greatest gift my friendship can give you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can only give that gift insofar as I have claimed it for myself.”
For those of us a bit hard headed, we sometimes have to get forced into taking care of ourselves.
It's more difficult than you think. To care for self as you would someone else, to be kind and speak life over yourself rather than criticism and negativity.
So I dug into all the research on taking care of my body full force, ordering so many books on Amazon that Tyson joked about closing my account.
I read so many online forums from women on what to do and what not to do. So many sad and hope-filled stories.
Every time Tyson would ask me if I was reading “those online forums again,” I would lie and say no. But secretly I was. I couldn't help myself.
I read about the serious linkages between fertility and diet and our ability to affect our hormones, and went all organic veggies and fruit, and plants, and protein and legumes. I read so much research they actually began to contradict each other.
Drink whole milk for fertility.
Don’t drink milk at all.
Eat complex grains.
Be gluten free.
Eat meat. Don’t eat meat.
It’s enough to drive you crazy. I gradually crossed so many foods off my list I would just stare at a menu trying to figure out what I could eat and what might kill my chances of being a mother.
I ordered vitex and maca root, and red raspberry leaf tea, royal jelly and every other herb known to man to make me more fertile.
And I literally talk to my body.
But I only do this at home.
I gave up caffeine and soft drinks and wine (ok this one, for the most part. I’m not a total saint)
I bought glass instead of plastic and non-toxic cleaning supplies.
I started acupuncture and drank really nasty herbal drinks, and even, get this….started meditating.
I envision my body being pregnant in my mind’s eye. I visualize it. I breathe.
I exercise. I run four, sometimes five miles a day.
And I’m supposed to do fertility yoga poses for blood circulation. I have no idea how stupid I’m going to look doing that, but it’s probably a close second to saying positive things to myself in the mirror.
But most importantly, I've tried to let go of stress and have had to slowly step back from stressful situations and learn how to manage my stress in healthy ways.
You will have to make tough decisions for the life that you want.
Over the last 2 months I’ve done everything right.
I prayed too, of course, I’m not a total heathen.
I ordered Supernatural Childbirth and listened to it over and over and prayed prayers over my belly.
It was a fight to have faith.
It was heavy to push past all the doctor’s words, and my own internal feelings, and choose to believe that I will be a mother. That God desires for me to get pregnant, and that I can do this naturally.
I believe I can.
It is always a fight to hold onto our promises, and the truth of what we know inside ourselves.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with IVF, or anyone who chooses it. It might come to that. But it’s just that I can’t make my body want to go through that yet. (not to mention, the costs)
I guess I’m still a Romantic. I still want to hold out for the miracle.
I still believe its possible, and while that hope lives inside me, I want to listen to it.
There is actually a lot of research that says that our intuition, our body, the Spirit living in us, already knows what is right for us, already knows what is possible.
There are countless women who trusted their instincts and were able to get pregnant the way they wanted.
We have to trust it.
But I already know a lot about holding on.
How to cling knuckle tight, and do more, and work harder, and fight longer, put nails to dirt, bent, to dig for any kind of treasure in the dark.
With hands clenched, white and grasping, the fear only gains momentum.
But like I learned in Uganda, there comes a point, when we’ve done everything we can, and holding on looks a lot like waiting, and a lot like exhale.
I go running on the trails up here in Marin. I go deep in the woods, and crest mountains. It’s beautiful. Last week, I stopped to stare at a view, and catch my breath (let’s be honest,) and I just said to God and to nature, and to the universe,
“I’ve done everything I can. It’s up to you now. I believe I can get pregnant. But I know I can’t control it. So I’m saying,
I’m still going to do my best, but I’m letting go.”
Sometimes there is silence, but often there is the nudging, ever so still and quiet, that God is going to take care of me. That what He has said is true.
What if this growth only comes the hard way, the surrender way?
What if God is teaching us about letting go
and resting in His assurances, those words He whispers in the dark
that He is good
and nothing can change that.
On all the online forums I read, one thing that struck me was the beauty of these women offering each other hope from their own experiences.
To those who had come out the other side…extending a hand to say that it’s possible, and to have faith in God and faith in their own bodies. To trust. Even despite what the doctors have said.
And while I haven’t come out the other side yet, I trust.
And hopefully that can inspire someone else to trust along with me.
For those seeking more resources:
On loving self:
Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Unconditional Love by Abi Strumvoll
Anything by Jack Frost
Understanding your personality and points for growth
The Fertility Diet
The Infertility Cure
The Fertile Female
Circle and Bloom Meditation
Restoring Fertility Yoga
And if you just need to process...I'm still learning myself...but you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or find a safe friend you can talk to---we all need help walking through the dark.
ps: Don't worry you don't have to keep your babies or baby news away from me. I've actually heard that smelling babies helps so just don't be offended if I start sniffing your baby like it's fresh baked bread