People closest to us know that my husband and I have been wishing, hoping, thinking, and praying for a baby pretty much since the day we were married. Infertility never crossed our minds. My husband is one of 7 kids and pretty much all the women in my family get pregnant if you look at them longingly. We decided to wait about 8 months before truly trying for a baby, but we were always open to it. We wanted to get finances prepped and to build a “home”; besides we were adjusting to being married and with each other all the time and I have a son from another relationship that needed that time, too.
So here we are, nearly three years after our marriage and two years after officially “trying” for a baby…y nada. I have had many moments of doubt and shame. I have had my heart swell up into my throat at the sight of the (many) pregnant women I know or see. My blood almost boils every time I see a new facebook post announcing a pregnancy. I have cried at the mere sight of an infant at Mass or in the grocery store and have had to clasp my hands together to keep from reaching out to touch random babies. The monthly roller coaster of hope and then absolute despair is almost more than I can take. My husband is also sad, but he does not feel the pain they way I do, I know it (after all, his hormones don’t fluctuate as much), so I try to keep my tears hidden from him, except this morning when he woke me up from a sound sleep in which I was dreaming we had a 3 month old baby boy with his dimples and brown eyes…
I have tried every old wives’ tale and swallowed bottles of pre-natal vitamins. I pray almost incessantly and write my prayer request in the book at every church I visit. When we went to Mexico this summer, we visited several churches a day (Puebla has 365 Catholic churches, 1 for every day of the year) and we both knelt and prayed, tied prayer ribbons to the poles outside in the courtyards, walked on our knees to the altar. I have been to see a holistic medicine lady who gave me a ton of herbs which I dutifully took in various forms. We have tried charts galore and also have thrown them out for spontaneity’s sake. I have lost 40 pounds and started working out more and doing yoga. I have tied to forget about it, but there is no quench for that longing. There are no known defects for my husband or myself…this is truly, truly an Act of God.
I have sobbed to God. “Why me?” or rather, “Why NOT me? We are financially stable, we have a loving home, we can provide for a baby and we WANT one so much!” God doesn’t work like that. His will is not subject to my demands. I have tried bargaining with Him, which is even worse. Although I will probably never understand why babies are born to people that do not want them or cannot care for them, and I will never presume that God loves certain people more than others, I do know that the De Lara family is exactly where God intends us to be right now, so long as we do not attempt to thwart His will by following our own. What I mean by this isn’t necessarily attempting fertility treatments—although there are some treatments that are just too excessive and despite their intention, are not sacred to the right to life. What I mean to say is there are reasons why we are here and if I put my Mary glasses on, I can see them.
First, there is obviously a lesson in faith and patience. I just keep praying for God to reveal His will for us, whatever it may be, and trust God does indeed have a plan—which He does. His will could be “not right now, my child” and He is giving us “extra” time to prepare. We have been using this time to pay off our house early, remodel, and build savings. We have certainly been trying to grow spiritually. Perhaps the improvement in our financial situation will enable me to be a stay at home mom and homeschool, or be able to afford Catholic school. Perhaps it will enable us to afford adoption. I DO have faith that His plan, even if it isn’t what I would have chosen, will be what is BEST for us and it will be greater than anything we could have hoped for ourselves.
His will could be “you have a different path, my child” and God will give us the financial security to travel and do mission work. Maybe we are meant to help children in some other way, such as becoming foster parents, become volunteers with children’s groups, or the like. I have a an elderly friend at church was unable to have children, but she and her husband were able to travel the world and she helped out with Girl Scouts and Faith Formation with kids. Certainly my teenage pregnancy story could perhaps be useful in helping me help others, and I am meant to do more with young girls making their way in the world.
There is another element. I have a condition that causes my blood to coagulate when there is excess estrogen in my body, which means pregnancy can potentially cause blood clots or aneurisms for me. I have only known of 3 other people with something similar—though it is actually not terribly uncommon—and 2 of them are fake: Jennifer Fulweiler at Conversion Diary, Juliette Barnes on Nashville, and Jennifer Lopez’s character in Jersey Girl. Their stories are scary enough, and I already had a pulmonary embolism at the age of 23 (not brought on by pregnancy, but rather from birth control, which is supposed to mimic pregnancy) and I am not keen to repeat the event. I would need daily shots of very expensive medication throughout my entire pregnancy. I have a diabetic friend that I have seen stab herself with needles almost daily at work, but I dunno if it is something I could get used to. I take shots pretty well, but I haven’t had the occasion to stab myself. Because pregnancy can be so much more dangerous for me than most women, maybe God is actually sparing me, especially for the sake of my husband and son.
Which brings me to my last point. God could (also) be saying “I have given you the family you were meant to have”. I have a son from a previous relationship. Although I would have (and should have) had him later in life, he has been a source of profound blessings and a channel through which I have received God’s unending grace. I would dearly love to have another baby for any number of reasons (to give Jack a sibling, to give my husband the chance to be a father from the beginning, because I just plain want one), but God has not excluded me from anything. He has already given me so much and I have the hope and promise of His love and grace, and His grace is sufficient. My cup runneth over…and yet, here am I, banging on His door.
Our parish priest did a blessing for expectant mothers this weekend and I kept a stiff upper lip, but my husband squeezed my hand because he knew I was only just holding it together. Some of my friends glanced back at me and gave encouraging smiles. Inwardly I was just a mess. It is a difficult thing to explain to women that have never suffered through this problem and worse still to women that don’t have kids by choice or because they are unmarried. Fertile mothers know what it is to love their babies so much you almost cannot stand it, and they can try to imagine what life is like without them, but they cannot really imagine what it is like to have an almost all-consuming desire for them and have a dwindling hope that they will actually have them. Women that do not have kids by choice don’t have the all-consuming desire for them right now, so it is difficult for them to understand it. Young women that are not yet married have rosy hopes and rainbows that they will someday have them. Most people do sympathize, but no one truly understands it unless they have gone through it. It is hard to hear well-meaning people come up to us and say maybe we are trying too hard, or I am too stressed about it so I am not getting pregnant, or maybe if I lose more weight, get in better shape, or the like. Or, my favorite, “when you decide to adopt, you will get pregnant.”
I am eternally grateful that I haven’t suffered any miscarriages that I am aware of, though I did read on some medical website that something like 25% of women suffer from one a year without knowing it because it was such an early miscarriage. No, as far as I know it is a timing and/or plumbing issue, but no real tragedy, which makes me feel guilty for being sad. Because I did have one baby 13 years ago, I feel even more guilty feeling upset about this because there are many more infertile couples who do not even have that much. I am so in love with my son and I don’t regret him at all, but the timing was sure off and we both suffered for it. I am now in an actual perfect time in my life to have a child, in my mind…which is key, “MY” mind. God is working overtime to smash that word from my vocabulary, it seems. It is so hard to let go and let Him do His thing, and I must be pretty hard-headed in learning this lesson, because it sure is taking forever.
I don’t really have advice for anyone going through this, because Lord knows I have some pretty bad days of it and I just am not in a position to give it out. The only thing I am qualified to say is God’s will WILL be exactly what you need. I have to repeat this daily, several times, myself. I am also qualified to offer you my most sincerest, heartfelt prayers.