Who does Mary like more, infertiles or mothers?

I wrote this first part when I was pregnant…and never got around to publishing it.  Finished it up with some more thoughts.

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The title is joke.  Sort of.  I was asked a question two weeks ago that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Mostly because it seemed like such a simple question but I hadn’t even considered it.  Which naturally, made me feel like a bad Catholic.  I was talking with a family member (on my husband’s side) about faith and getting through tough situations and how just like our fertility issues, “there would always be some difficulty to get past in life and if you have faith, you’ll see how it was always meant to be and for the best” (which always makes me grit my teeth a little because of course there is some truth to that but it’s not total truth and fertility issues are really unique, especially primary infertility, some situations will only make sense in Heaven and since you can only have a conversation like this after you know someone can get pregnant, right? WHEW.).  It was then that the question came

“When I was pregnant, I just felt so close to Mary.  Because, you know, she was pregnant with Jesus just like I was pregnant and having that commonalty was just so special.  Have you felt that this pregnancy?”

Short answer:  No.  Not at all.

Bad Catholic?

I’m still trying to figure that one out.  Maybe part of it is my Protestant background, maybe some of it is my relationship with my own mother, but I think a bigger part is that Mary and I had to come to an understanding when I was in the depths of it, and that experience is still pretty fresh.  I can’t remember if I’ve written this story here, but I’ll retell it anyway.

I will first say that my husband, like most Catholics, does have a special place in his heart for Mary.  He would encourage me to ask her to pray for us and appreciates the beauty of the statues of Mary and usually stops to say a prayer at whatever church we’re at.  I always struggled with this because almost every image of Mary has her holding a baby Jesus.  Depicted as the ultimate Mother, she was something I could only dream of and on the superficial level, it seemed we had nothing in common.  Why would she want to listen to me let alone ask the Creator of the Universe to answer my prayers?

It was after mass one time when the tears had been flowing and it had been a rough couple of weeks that my husband motioned that we should just go lay it all out to our Mother Mary and really ask for her prayers and comfort.  We were heading over to the corner of the church to pray, with the candles and kneelers, literally walking directly towards it down the aisle and were like 5 feet away from the kneelers when out of nowhere this pregnant girl literally cut us off and knelt down, taking up all the space.  I think I immediately had tears streaming down my cheeks.  It might seem melodramatic, but that really was how the situation happened.  It was as if my worst fears about Mary having no need to hear my pleas was confirmed true.  Of course, this pregnant woman’s requests were much more to her liking, I was just this penitential child upset by what I didn’t have and there was all the physical proof I needed.  Mary just said “let it be done to me”, she didn’t know and had no reason to know what it was like to beg for the gift of being a mother.  Getting a miracle pregnancy vs. trying really hard and it not happening aren’t exactly the same situation.  I left church almost hysterical and my poor husband didn’t have any clue what was going on until I could gather the emotions to tell him how that was the pinnacle act of what I had always feared in my heart which means my fears must be true.

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I don’t remember when it happened exactly, but probably somewhere in there due to my husband’s chiding of course (I don’t come to these things on my own usually) I knew I had to stop being mad at Mary for something that was clearly in my own head.  The Mother of God couldn’t, wouldn’t, DIDN’T love me less because of that pregnant girl I saw.  I don’t know why it took  me so long, but I had (finally) had a vision of Mary at the Passion.   I had even played this role in a Passion play several years before this, but I guess I just forget things quickly.  I realized that the image we see of Mary, possibly more often than her holding baby Jesus, is of her holding Jesus after the crucifixion:

Mary holding her son, her dead son.  Knowing grief is central to Mary.  I don’t know how I missed it before.   A very wise friend of mine told me once after her miscarriage that she realized she couldn’t protect her child from the one final thing in this world, death.  Infertility itself is like watching your child die every month …(miscarriage being that in reality)…Mary understands infertiles very, very well.  She knows the pain of being helpless and of grieving a child taken for reasons beyond your control.  I guess this is how I made peace with Mary.  And I realize that sounds absurd, “making peace with Mary”, but our experiences have a profound way of shaping us.

So its not a ‘competition’ as I have oft to make things.  Or an ‘either or’.  Mother Mary is there for us in different phases of our lives, we just have to ask for her help.

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Disappearing symptoms

I’ve tried to keep quiet about my fears over here.  It was hard for me to read about people worrying about their pregnancies when for so long it seemed like they were worrying about not getting pregnant.  But, I guess I am the same.  Pregnancy brought up a huge range of emotions and concerns that have no outlet either.  Well, at least not when you just moved to a new area and your new doctor doesn’t realize you went through 2 years to get here and refuses to see you before 9 weeks.

I did just want to say that I was feeling nauseous last week and I was grateful, but also expected it to get worse.  This past Monday everything disappeared.  No more sore breasts, no more nausea, I’m just really hungry.  But I really feel great.  I don’t think that change was good.  And then today I hear from PPVI that my progesterone dropped to 18 (it was 24.6 or 26.4 before…I forgot where I wrote it down).  Apparently it can zigzag and according to the chart I’m still in Zone 2 at 8 weeks, but this test was taken on Saturday and I’ve since lost my symptoms.  I know its possible to not be sick during the first trimester, I just didn’t believe it.

I know there is nothing else I can do.  We are doing 200mL’s of progesterone 2x a week and I’m thanking God for every day with this little one who still seems like a dream.  We are giving it all we got and the rest is out of our hands.  Could you spare a few more prayers for us though?

And if you have any stories about nausea-free pregnancies that ended up OK, please share!

 

And if you want to comment on how lucky I am…please spare those until after the birth….thanks!

Accepting steadfast love

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),

to gives one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not reject for ever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.”

-Lamentations 3:21-33

I am thankful for these days of uncomplicated peace.  No trying to figure it out, no unsettled feeling, no fear of the future.  I am grateful I can enjoy these days and pray before I fall asleep, Thank you for today, Lord.  Today was a great gift, no matter what transpired and really, truly mean it.  A friend sent me this verse and it fits these days perfectly.  This may not be the happy ending I imagined but this clearing of grace is a beautiful, refreshing view along this journey.

My marriage/faith/fertility time-line

I compiled this nice little time-line of my marriage/faith/fertility a while ago and never published it.  I guess I will now, just to share.  Its way more detailed in terms of life events than a treatment history but, maybe understanding where I’ve been will help you understand where I’m coming from and serve as a reference on this blog.  Enjoy learning more about me than you ever cared to!

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April 2012 – After being on progesterone shots and suppositories for 36 weeks, we gave birth to our healthy son, Samuel, at home!  God is good!

August 2011 – Get chastised for not taking my temp 4x’s a day to increase my T3 dosage (still at 7.5 mcgs – which is funny, considering someone once told me Dr. H won’t even look at temperatures?) Parlodel, both 2x a day.  HCG on peak +3, 5, 7 and whoops, ran out of it on day 9.  Order it for next month.  Did  my blood draw, took a pregnancy test on August 15th – peak + 12 and nothing.  Waited for the cramps to bring the flood but they didn’t.  August 21st – peak + 18 took another test.  Positive – we have conceived for the first time!  First full cycle after antibiotics + surgery combo!  Wow.

July 2011 – Finished up antibiotics.  Did HCG on peak +5,7, and 9.  Noticed increased irritability, anger, and strong emotional reactions, but luteal phase was 14 days.  Symptom review from Hilgers comes back and makes me a candidate for new thyroid study.  Started T3 on next CD1

June 2011 – Visit Omaha for a week to complete: laproscopy, selective HSG, endometrial cultures, and ultrasound series.  Some endometriosis is removed from pelvic lining and left ovary, tubes are open and with good pressure, and ovulation occurs on day after peak with 2.6 cm follicle.  Diagnosis of chronic endometritis of the uterus.  Culture results come back positive 2 weeks later and start 5 weeks of antibiotics.  I guess I’m in “treatment” now.

March 2011 – Perform and send in to Omaha a month long blood draw panel for thyroid and other hormone testing.

February 2011 – Finally send in new patient forms to Dr. Hilgers after finding out he’s covered by our insurance starting Jan.1st.  Increasing folic acid amount (from 400 to 1200mcgs), starting loaded veggie diet with (intentionally) limited meat and no low-fat dairy.

November 2010 – Miss a cycle for the first time in over a year due to distance from husband.  Wow, it feels good not to wonder if I’m pregnant.

October 2010 – Receive referral back from Hilgers.  My cycles are “functionally abnormal”.  Now what.  Stop taking magnesium, messes my stomach up too much.  Wait.

August 2010 – Send in our 2 months of charts to Dr. Hilgers and move to Mexico.  Per practitioner’s recommendation, now taking  magnesium and vitamin D3 in addition to B-vitamin, flaxseed oil, folic acid.  Tired of peeing bright yellow already.

July 2010 – HSG shows slightly tilted uterus with two open tubes.  Pain feels similar to my period and self-proclaim that I’m a hoss…maybe I got lucky or maybe those period cramps are pretty painful after all…

June 2010 – Meet the Creighton practitioner, begin classes and begin charting.

May 2010 – Appointment with doctor on day 28 of my cycle. Charges me $50 to tell me I’m not pregnant.  Blood test for Progesterone and CA-125 (indicator of endometriosis):  Progesterone comes back low (get period next day) and CA-125 is low too, indicating no endo? (not entirely conclusive).   Go back two weeks later for ultrasound of my follicles.   I guessed which follicle I thought was maturing based on pain and was wrong.  That’s not right.  Despite that, great follicle growth and post-coital test reveal all systems go on day12, 12 hours after the deed.  Email Sew (yes, she made my timeline) after reading about her history involving ovulation pain.  She strongly recommends Creighton (surprised?).  I sign up for classes that day. Decide to learn Creighton to see what the hype is about and to practice charting when we move to Mexico, because oh yeah, we’re moving to Mexico.

April 2010 – Husband receives grant in Mexico.  Actually toy with the idea of going.  Make a doctor’s appointment to see what’s up.

January 2010 (also) – Have a chance to talk to an NFP-only family practitioner at an NFP training course and she mentions that my ovulation pain (still present, some months much stronger than others) and irregular temperatures in the luteal phase may indicate a hormone issue that might be helped with certain vitamins.  I eat healthily but it’s a good place to start anyway.  Begin taking evening primose/flaxseed oil and continue with the Optivite (which I was also on due to PMS symptoms.  Also was already taking folic acid).

January 2010 – Famous misread pregnancy test incident (2nd I’d ever used – from a 2-pack). Think I’m pregnant and am delusion-ally happy for a full 20 min. before my period starts.  I had never understood those commercials that said 1 in 4 women misread pregnancy tests, but afterward understood how one could “will” themselves to see two lines.  Develop deep contempt of my 17 day luteal phases and pregnancy tests and upon husband’s advising, vow to never take another test again.

September 2009 – Husband applies for grant in Mexico for 2010 year while I’m in China.  Attend retreat and have unintentional spiritual guidance (is spiritual guidance ever intentional?) regarding starting our family.  Realize that now all of our personal reasons for postponing are non-existent, unfortunately for the study.  We know we need to change something.   Take a leap of faith and decide to leave the study after 8 months (which we were told would not affect the statistics) and stop using NFP to avoid.

Summer 2009 – Gnawing feeling that this study is not what we should be doing.  Talk about how having a child before graduation might actually be more flexible/speed-up graduation.  Discuss with husband and decide that we will not back out on our commitment for the year.

Spring 2009 – Begin to realize that reasons to postpone children should come from within rather than outside forces (read: a study).

February 2009 – Finish NFP certification process and begin teaching classes jointly.  With each passing month, will and reasons to postpone feel weaker.  Decide to enter an NFP study for  a year to recommit ourselves to postponing pregnancy for another year, since we do feel like a unique couple who would love children but would probably be best to wait (We did note that there is an option to leave the study if intentional).

November 2008 – After some prompting, begin the process to become NFP teachers.  Think “Who is going to listen to teachers who have only been married for a few months?!” (fortunately, this girl did) but quickly realize that before we have children is a great time to get trained, if anything to ease the load of the teachers with kids.

October 2008 – Get married.  We are both still 2 years from graduating and live far from family, so we decide that will use NFP to avoid pregnancy until I’m closer to graduation (he’s ahead of me – so we thought probably in 1-2 years).

January 2008 – He proposes, I say yes :)  We get stuck in an elevator for New Year’s/our engagement.  Go to mass at the L.A. cathedral the next day.

Summer 2007 – Curious about this NFP thing.  Order kit and start charting, just to see if it’s possible.  Surprised at the ease and fall in love with the data. Nerd.

Easter 2007 – Confirmed in the Catholic Church and the boyfriend’s whole family flies out for the big day and my parents/brother come too. Good times.

October 2006 – Went to doc for increasing pain around my abdomen around the middle of my cycle (later realize it’s probably ovulation pain, but something’s off – it really, really hurts for up to 4 days of my cycle).  Get one ultrasound done and am supposed to come back in two weeks to get the other.  Pain goes away and I don’t go back, to “save money”.  Stupid (grad) student.

Summer 2006 – Entered RCIA classes to “learn more”.  Famous last words :)  Also started strong acne medicine that requires you be on birth control.  Convince my doctor that I do not need birth control because I will not be having sex.  Hard sell, but she lets me sign a waiver (and the rights to sue her).

Spring 2006 – Learn about NFP (and call my now-husband crazy, as he is the first person I’ve met in my life who doesn’t want to use contraception in their marriage) and later, Catholicism. (much more detailed version of my conversion here)

January 2006 – Get off the pill on a whim, 2 months after meeting my boyfriend (now-husband) mostly to help us commit to a chaste relationship, a change for both of us.  Normal cycle returns soon after.

Only a matter of time

I was ecstatic when I found out in December that A Complicated Life was chosen by a birth mother to adopt a baby.  My mouth dropped to the floor when I found out another month later that the adoption was dissolved because she was pregnant.

After how many years?  Nothing short of a miracle.

What was my husband’s response, when I told him what had transpired?

When are you going to realize its only a matter of time?

I had no response.

The month went on to reveal that both girls that I have been in more personal contact with over these last months, and who have been trying for the same amounts of time as I have, are also pregnant.  Women who would help me get through those particularly hard months through lovely emails of understanding.  I selfishly wonder what I’ll do without them.  The latter woman just started her own blog and I was all prepared to announce her publicly, in order to get her a nice friendly welcome :)  It turned out she’s now accompanied by a tiny little growing baby as well, so please go say hi to Katie still!

So, when am I going to realize that it’s only a matter of time? My husband is the one that famously said, the more time that goes by, the closer we are to our family!  Huh?  My head wants to know this and I guess some days I do.  I know it, that’s why I try to use the word sub-fertility, even when my heart screams No its impossible, you will never get pregnant, because I know that it is still possible. I know eventually a day will come when this will all seem like the distant past, whether through birth/foster care/adoption we will have our family or our understanding of what else we will do and we will know with certainty that it was only a matter of time.  Because that time will have passed.  It will kind of be like cheating, ha!

But now, that is not what I feel.  My emotions follow hope up and down on a roller coaster to the point where they can’t tell which way was up and what direction I should be facing.  What I feel after a failed month is that I am foolish for hoping, for believing that I could do the same thing and expect an entirely different result.

I often find it funny that I was given this cross of ‘difficult feelings’, something that I’ve more recently tried to discount and run away from in my adult years.  Reason and rationality are the things that make this world go around, that make results appear in the world.  Emotions are the things of little girls and silly women, that made me cry when my siblings would taunt me and that made my college roommates pine after boys that would never love them.  Reactions that perpetuated endless teasing, foolishness and false hope.  Feelings aren’t based in truth, but in subjectivity by design.  But adults, they are beyond feelings.  I was once (still am?) the harshest critic of someone who didn’t feel like doing something.  Buck up, do it anyway. Feelings are that, abstract and clearly not necessarily based in reality nor truth.  I didn’t understand these feelings that could be so paralyzing, so all consuming.

I do now.  I guess I now understand what I dished out against, even if I only ever thought those things.  It comes full circle.  But just because I have these feelings, I still know it doesn’t make them right.  Perhaps this is why this is so hard for me.  I’m still fighting the reality of what I’ve become.

And now I’m trying hard to discount my own feelings, to push them down and out when they’re bursting at my seams, begging from some release.  To have my head understand and rule my thoughts over my heart’s fickleness.

And to truly know and believe with my whole being that it is only a matter of time.

Even if I know half the time, its that other half that always gets me. 

Advent Reveal

This advent I had the pleasure of praying for the sweet and thoughtful writer of a blog I’ve read for a while now and have often cited here on my own blog, which made this season feel that much more personal.  When I received the email I admit I was a bit nervous, knowing what a spiritual dry spell she had been going through lately – but I took that as a challenge to pray harder!  And then when I read on her blog that she was going on a blog fast, although I was a little sad I’d have less to read, I knew things would be  getting better for her soon.  Blog fasts do that.

Crazy enough, two days later she heard about her first potential adoption situation for a baby to be born in February and I got to add 3 more people to my prayer list!  I’m glad she popped back in a few times to let us know how it was going with meeting the birth parents and other things related to life, although I know how refreshing a blog fast can be too.  I particularly liked her spiritual adviser’s advice to shift the focus from suffering to thankfulness for a new perspective and I’ve been trying to apply that to my life.

I got to pray for….A Complicated Life!

I prayed for her daily the St. Andrew’s novena with the intention of “peace in her life and a baby”.  I also prayed the novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe (after recently visiting the Basilica!) and whenever I attended Mass this advent season for her.  I also prayed for her birth parents – they now have names! D and E – after the St. Andrew’s novena each day that they would make the best decision for this new little baby.  You have no idea how excited I was to add them to my prayers!

I hope you felt these gifts of prayer and I’m happy to continue praying for your family!

Only say the word

Yesterday marked the start of Advent, the period of preparation preceding the Christmas and the birth of Christ.  We wait in preparation of what glory is to come.  I’ve been waiting to wait for this.  Does that make sense?  It seems that waiting is my natural state these days, so it only seems natural that we’d have a world-wide recognized liturgical season to make it feel more like a group effort :)

One of my favorite lines during the the Mass is after the Rite of communion, before the congregation is invited to come up to receive the Eucharist.

Fr: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Happy are those who are called to his supper.

Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

How simple and beautiful.  The definition of humility.  I feel like I could ponder this line forever.  Today I am struck by what a great mystery the Eucharist is and how we are all so unworthy.  No one is ever “holy” enough to literally receive the Lord, now into their body  or once upon a time, into their home.  How could we be!  It is only through pure faith, only by His will, that it is or was even permissible.

So beautiful.


In other news, Advent Prayer Buddies started up again.  I don’t know if its possible to have such amazing results as last time, but I know I can pray for my buddy with more faith than I had then.  Maybe God will surprise us all.  

What does your Catholic world look like?

Sometimes I find that reading blogs is a bit like opening up a random book to the 9th chapter and trying to understand what the story is about.  Oftentimes, if I don’t know who the writer is, what their faith formation is like, what they’re about, then their blog will have no context and I’ll often be confused by the things they write about.  Context is key.  I’m always seeking to know why and I believe that many why questions can be answered by understanding where the person is coming from.  I’m assuming the same thing could happen to someone stumbling upon my blog, so I thought I’d give a little context about the “Catholic world” that my husband and I are from so that you may understand our experiences and faith formation a little better.  Maybe some of my writings will make more sense.  Maybe I’ll just confuse you even more.  There is a lot more to my faith world in particular, but I’ll stick with the Catholic one for now.  Either way, here’s a glimpse into the  “Catholic worlds” we live in:

The Catholic world we grew up in:

– For me, was non-existent.  The only things I heard about Catholics were short quips from my Grandma or Mom, that weren’t “friendly” to put it nicely.  I heard about these people who left the Catholic church (like my Godmother) and who felt so “free”.   I once went to mass with a neighbor friend  after a sleepover and thought it was funny that they called it “Mass”, like “weight” (I was science nerdy from the get go).  A statue at a local Church (I think the same one I went to with my friend) got the stigmata and I didn’t understand why that would happen, or why people would care.    (We were raised Lutheran and attended services for most of my childhood, which I recall being eerily similar to Mass when I finally went).

– For my husband, was ubiquitous with his culture.  Everyone was Catholic in his family even if no one went to Church or received the sacraments regularly, although his immediate family did make an effort to go most Sundays, missing a few here and there.  His parents worked multiple jobs to afford to send the kids to Catholic private school in an area where cost of living was very expensive.  He remembers singing songs and bringing flowers to Mary during school, having Priests coach his sports teams, and influential ethics teachers that challenged him to follow his thoughts to their logical end in order to determine their validity.  His family still doesn’t understand what this “NFP” class is that we teach.

Catholic world of our young-adulthood

– In grad school we both went to a very Catholic retreat series, called Awakening. Although I was not Catholic when I went and I do not attribute going to my conversion (I wanted to leave at times and the really religious people scared me), it was a profound experience in my life that helped me realize that it was OK to ask these questions that I was wondering about.

– I eventually start RCIA several months later to learn more from the source, since my books won’t talk back to me.  I make many good friends with the older students who are converting.  Many couples wanting to get married are in my class and at times I feel I’m the only one asking questions.  In spite of that, we have great discussions regarding the Trinity, morality, end of days, and the real presence in the Eucharist.  At the final retreat 2 weeks before Easter we play Pictionary with Catholic themes and I choose “Natural Family Planning” and no one guesses it.  I have to explain what it is after time is up.

– Through Awakening we met a large, active young adult group who was strongly catechized and on fire about their faith.  Coming from a background where I never saw this, these fellow adults were a great inspiration to me to see others actually living their Catholic faith.  Have never felt so open talking about these things with people and give a talk on Faith at one retreat.  There are several religious vocations that come out of this group and others that seriously discern a vocation but end up returning.  Many couples go on to marry and have kids.  A few later divorce.  Many of our friends wear scapulars, veils, attend daily mass, know the histories and prayers of many saints, and generally pursue these sorts of very Catholic activities that were very foreign to me at one time.

– During my RCIA process I am told by Catholic friends and Mike’s family that sometimes he can be “too strict” about Catholic rules and if I want another opinion, to just ask them.

– Once we were engaged, many Catholic couples came up to me and told me how great the marriage prep classes were, except for that horrible NFP class they had to take.  We usually tried to stop the conversation there by saying how excited we were about that class.

– We had to combat much resistance from the University Student Center in order to teach our NFP classes there.

– In our NFP classes, minus most of the Awakening friends that we advertise too, about 90% of the other couples turn in their application listing only one address and refer to their pets during the class.  Most have never heard of NFP before and take the class for requirement.  However, getting married in the church is very important to them and we are surprised by the number of positive comments after our classes.

–  We have made great friends with the NFP teaching crowd who has really brought us under their wing and mentored us during these earlier years in our marriage, teaching us that being “open to life” means so much more than just having children.

– Our priest who witnessed our marriage is very active in our lives and has had a couple dinners with us and several other couples who have been trying unsuccessfully for years to have kids.  He is a blessing in our lives.

– Sometimes my non-Catholic family goes to Mass with us, but most times they don’t.  When we’re in town, most times we go to Mass with my husband’s family, but if we all wake up to late or there’s something else scheduled on Sunday, we go by ourselves.

In short, my Catholic world is what I consider “normal”, but it may not be what you consider normal.  I like reading other Catholic blogs sometimes because I feel a solidarity that there are other people who really believe this stuff, instead of going through the motions.  While I know the Catholic Church teaches the same thing everywhere, sometimes the extent to which the parish follows and encourages each other can vary greatly.  So I ask, what does your Catholic world look like?  Not to point fingers, but to understand a little better where we came from and who you all are.

You can answer in the comments if you like or in your own blog post :)  Just let me know if you write one so I can be sure to read it!

And I don’t mean to be exclusionary of reader’s with other faiths, I have just been thinking about this issue as it relates to Catholics for a while now and wanted to pose the question.  Please feel free to answer if you want to and you’re not Catholic too!

Confidence and Fertility…and how I lack both

So I tried not to mention fertility when I wrote that last post on humility and self-confidence, but you all had to know that it was lurking back there somewhere.  Its always lurking back there somewhere.

I had some really good suggestions and comments from people but the one that struck me was the one from Leila.  She said:

I think that TRUE humility (as opposed to false humility) goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence. If one is truly humble (meaning, one knows his place in the world and his place with God), then there is great confidence going forward. There is little chance that the truly humble would think that their talents and gifts, etc. came from anyone but God. So, they can be confident, because they can take credit for nothing. It’s all God’s doing, and God’s gifts.

I think there-in lies the problem.  I often wonder if I’m alone in this, but I’ve realized that my fertility (or lack thereof) has really taken a toll on my confidence more recently.  When I converted to Catholicism, I finally gained that confidence that I had previously been lacking through my faith.  I understood the greater plan for life, our purpose for being here, what happens when we die, and had an incredible peace about life.  However, trials in life test your faith and this is a big trial.  If faith is tested, confidence will shake too.

Going first to the obvious, to put it bluntly, I can’t perform a seemingly normal function that is the basis for the continuation of life.  For whatever reason, its become apparent that I’m “not good” at having children.  This makes me feel like less of woman.  Less female. To someone who already had body image insecurities (who doesn’t?), that maybe I didn’t look as “feminine” as others to begin with, the fact that my body isn’t cooperating in the reproductive realm seems to really seal the deal that somehow I’m less female.  That really messes with your confidence.

Of course, one could argue that it doesn’t take one female to make a baby but that three are involved.  So then together, my husband, God, and I are not good at creating children, so I shouldn’t take it so personally, but I’ve found that coming to that conclusion is only possible after first pondering my own lack of femininity.  In other words, this still has an effect on my confidence and who I am, whether I want it to or not.  Kind of like a automatic reflex.

If one is truly humble (meaning, one knows his place in the world and his place with God), then there is great confidence going forward.

I think that’s where the dichotomy lies. In realizing my sub-fertility over this past year, I’ve truly questioned my “place in this world” and with God.  Who will I be if not a mother?  Its not something I had considered.  It was something I had taken for granted would just happen.  Even though I thought I had no plans for my life, the semblance of what was there has been replaced with a giant question mark.  Of course I can have no humility OR confidence because I have had the foundation for who I will be severely shaken.  I do not know my place in this world.  Also, part of me doesn’t want to accept that God gave this to me, after all, why would He?  That would be too cruel.  What if its something I’m doing.  If I could just eat healthier, do more yoga, pray more, love my husband more, stop being so resentful, then maybe I would get pregnant.

The key to having confidence in my current situation (and hand-in-hand, humility) is to truly accept that God gave me this trial of sub-fertility purposefully, even if I don’t understand why.

A series of moments

“Just take it one day at a time.”

I’m at such a stage in the grieving process where I realize that I’m young and healthy enough to reasonably convince myself on a good day that if I want to pursue parenthood I will at some point eventually be able to get there.  Maybe biologically, but if not then through foster care/adoption.  The point is there are options out there somewhere, and although many, many moments come crashing down around me where I can’t see beyond the immediate future, in general I do have faith that someday this will end.

My problem is how to deal with today when its not yet over.  I liken it to asking what techniques does a person in solitary confinement do to not go crazy?  Telling him to relax is useless.  He still has to deal with his current situation.  Telling him that one day he’ll be free is also not very comforting, especially when you’re looking at potentially years more of staring at bare white walls.  Physically and mentally, what does he do right now to keep his mind off what is so blatantly around and enclosing him in?  He needs like, little games to keep him busy or shiny objects to distract himself or something, right?

This is why the advice “Take one day at a time” originally pissed me off.  It seemed hollow.  Empty words that sound good but still leave you with nothing tangible.  But then there was that whole, this-advice-came-from-a-woman-who-hasn’t-been-able-to-have-kids-either-but-for-much-longer-time-than-I-have-been-trying thing.  Maybe there was something to it.

That day I was leaving my husband in Mexico, staring out the airplane window at the ever-expansive gray city, growing smaller and smaller below me, I realized how it just felt like yesterday that I was landing, excited to be starting our Mexican adventure together.  Now there I sat, leaving the adventure and my husband, only able to take in that single moment of being on the plane, with those weeks of past adventures just a memory yet with the knowledge that before I knew it I’d be back on a plane again to visit him again.  I think about how after our third month of trying I literally begged God that we not have infertility, because I had seen and read about it and I knew I was not strong enough to handle that type of pain.  Now that moment seems like so long ago.  I think about how when I look back and consider a month, it always seems like the moments of trying/waiting/hoping/sadness blur into whatever day I’m experiencing at that moment, because that’s all I’m ever to take in at one time.

It struck me that all we’re ever able to experience are single moments at a time.  In that sense, it lends itself that life can only be lived little moments at a time whether we want to or not.  In fact, our life is just little moments strung together to make a whole.  The only thing I ever can do and have to do is make it through today.  And that’s a little comforting to know that when the big picture is terrifying, you don’t have to look at it.

Maybe it sounds like I’m in denial.  But I realize that there’s nothing I can really do at this point besides make it through today.  And the better time that I have while doing that, well, the better for me and my husband because we have to go through it anyways.  This is not to belittle the pain that sub/infertility brings.  This waiting out an unknown sentence is precisely what starts the madness and while I do believe that everyone can enter and play the “pain Olympics”, the pain that accompanies “waiting on motherhood” is unique.  This waiting on something, someone who is so, so important, who will supposedly teach me the true meaning of life and love, but who may never come is terrifying beyond belief and it is likely that unless you’ve been a person’s exact shoes, you don’t know the pain.

If only I can make it through today though, I will be that much closer to seeing it through.