At least, according to someone who’s sub-fertile*.
Seriously, if you stick with me this might possibly be the best “just relax” story ever, if merely because it occurred over two languages. Or, actually, just one, albeit one very butchered language.
So, its no surprise we’re taking Spanish classes over here and because we’re at different levels (read: I chose to learn languages from the other side of the world and Mike’s grandparents are from Mexico so he’s a cheater), we’re also in different classes. Although we’re not in the same class, we’ll have the same teachers throughout the day since the teachers rotate around each level for different classes during the day (one for grammar, one for pronunciation, one for conversation, etc.). Its good because we get to meet and talk with different teachers. Its also great because it leads to funny stories, like this one!
Ok, now that I’ve built it up too much…
It basically begins with class yesterday morning, with Mike’s teacher asking if we want kids and when. So now I mentioned before that Mike had already learned how to say “When God gives us kids” (to a different teacher), but he learned yesterday that he was actually using the wrong tense to say it and instead needed to use the subjunctive (random fact for the next time you’re in Mexico!). His teacher corrected him and then she asked “Are you Catholic?” It turns out, ladies, that if you get asked this and you don’t know how to respond but subtly want to hint that yes, you want children but its-not-going-as-easily-as-everyone-thinks-it-does, answer with that! Its like secret code language for people of faith! Brilliant, really. So back to the story, Mike replied in the affirmative and then went on to say “Its complicated for us to have children”. He said the teacher looked at him with a sort of puzzled look (as did the other student in the class). I can’t even imagine what they thought with that response (like that we didn’t understand how sex works?!) but they moved on.
Flash forward to the afternoon, when I had the same teacher for a private class on conversation.
Please tell me you see where this is going.
After thoroughly going through how to pronounce “g”, she dives right in there. She starts talking about how stress affects different parts of the body. Yes people, she went there. And she kept going there. We had a long involved conversation about how stress affects all parts of the body and causes diseases like cancer and others. She even offered to bring in a book she had about it to share with me. And this was the first time I had class with this woman! It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening, and I thought Huh, this is random. This lady is talking to me about stress hurting your body of all things! What a strange class. And before I knew it we went on to the rest of the regularly scheduled class.
Keep in mind, that Mike and I had not talked about what had happened in his class earlier. In fact, it wasn’t until the walk home that we put all the pieces together. To make the story more hilarious, we had made a pact earlier this week to only speak Spanish to each other this week, so it took wayyyy longer than necessary to explain to each other what had actually transpired in our separate classes. He told his part first and when I put the pieces together it took me for-ev-er to explain my side (but I did it! in Spanish!), like we were moving in slow motion or something, but eventually we were both on the page and laughing hysterically. (which I’ve heard laughing relaxes you by the way…)
To make the story better, today my teacher actually brought in the book. I was literally stifling laughter while I was reading out loud, the whole time imagining a candid camera would pop out and say “Gotcha!”
Maybe I’m taking all of that too personally. Maybe it was all just a random coincidence. But seriously, the day before I’m reading about Diego Rivera and the next day, after finding about our inability to conceive, I’m reading about relaxing to cure the body of diseases? If that’s a coincidence, then that’s the most timely coincidence I’ve ever had.
Ok, just to have something positive (dare I say helpful?) with this post, I wanted to post what the book actually said. I think any sub-fertile detests getting this advice, all scientific proof of relaxing causing ferility aside, as if “relaxing” is just a flip of a switch. While relaxing and being relaxed is in many cases the ideal, it is often in stressful situations that people have difficulty relaxing (hence, why we have the reaction of stress in the first place – a natural reaction to get us through those difficult situations!). Difficult situations that might cause stress are, oh I don’t know, not conceiving for a year or more. In situations of stress, it doesn’t help someone relax to just tell someone to relax (in fact, this is often stress-inducing), what helps is helping them relax. So with regards to this, I do appreciate that my teacher, if she was really trying to help me and not just a random coincidence, didn’t just say “go relax” but actually offered other (somewhat) helpful advice by bringing in her book.
The book basically described life as an analogy to water in a river. Water will stay clean and pure if when it hits a rock, it keeps moving. If it stops when it hits a rock or embankment, the water will stagnate and become rotten, gross. I totally understand this analogy. We need to overcome obstacles in life! I get that! However, the hardest part I’ve found about this sub-fertile journey is how do we keep moving? Your life is like Groundhog Day and that rock of sub-fertility crushes your immediate goals and still has the potential to totally smash any semblance of what you thought life would be like month, after month, after month. Like you’re swirling in a cesspool. Mentally processing everything that comes with such a completely changed life, not only from what you thought it would be but also from the vast majority of what’s ‘normal’, takes time. Maybe I needed to dream more and have B, C and D plans.
Literally, what do you do to keep moving?
I’ve talked to several other sub-fertile couples in real life (all of who have been dealing with this much longer than I have) and while everyone agrees that relaxing is “good”, rarely do people really have advice for how to really relax or to keep moving. The best advice I’ve gotten is to take “one day at a time”, so for now, I’m trying to go with that. I’ve also heard that opportunities that keep your mind busy and help you serve your vocation in other ways is another great way to still realize you have a purpose and that as disciples we need to be moving and not standing still. I’m trying to work on this and do find that NFP teaching is one outlet for us, but I think I can find more.
What other helpful (or not so helpful) advice have your received?
And did I over hype my story? Maybe you just had to be there.
*and no, I’m not in denial. I’m just trying not to be fatalistic.