Tea ~ White Silk Earl Grey
Greg & Sarah sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love. Check. Then comes marriage. Check.
Then comes the baby in a baby carriage.
I think I’ve always thought that if I play by all the rules and do all the right things, that nothing bad could ever happen to me. No one could touch me because I would be so ahead of everyone else that it wouldn’t matter. I march to the beat of my own drum regardless of what other people think of me. Rarely, if ever, have I given in to peer pressure. Never smoked, never been drunk, never did drugs. Instead was the designated driver. Graduated high school and college in the top of my class, played division 1 volleyball on scholarship. I did all the right things and said all the right things. I married a man that gives of himself, who is strong where I am weak and who is constantly reminding me that my worth is so much more than what I do. I love Jesus and His love for me is more real today than ever before.
In July of 2011, as we were packing up our house to put it on the market and make the move up to Chicago, we wanted to obtain more knowledge of adoption. God had put adoption on both of our hearts long before we met. It was the only thing we were sure of, we weren’t sure if we wanted our own children or not. So I found the National Adoption Conference in Washington D.C. and thought it would be both informative and a fun getaway for us, especially since Greg had been “commuting” up to Chicago during the week with his new position for 3-4 weeks already and we only saw each other on weekends. I sent him my flight itinerary to get into D.C. around the same time and he took care of reserving our rental car. I had to wait about an hour for his flight to land around 9:30pm, so I found a seat at a table at the Dunkin Donuts in the airport right outside his terminal. Then my phone rang.
Greg – “Hey, where are you?”
Me – “Sitting at the Dunkin’ Donuts outside your terminal.”
Greg – “What Dunkin Donuts? I’m getting on the train.”
Me – “What train? There’s a long hallway here, but no train.” The realization set in…”Wait, what airport are you at?”
Greg – “Dulles.”
Me – “I’m at Reagan.”
Greg – [nervous laughter] “Oh no! I’ll get the car and come get you.”
By this point, all of the restaurants at Reagan had closed while I was waiting for Greg so we could get a bite to eat together. I was hangry (a term we’ve lovingly coined to describe my hunger-induced anger and tendency to blow situations out of proportion that normally would not bother me) and would be waiting for at least another hour before eating, probably more and I had already eaten all of my snacks. When he finally arrived (even that was an ordeal with the confusing signs around the airport), he apologized and was truly sorry, but I couldn’t speak, nor did I want to for fear of saying something I’d regret. Instead, I just started bawling. “I’m so hungry! And so tired!” Maybe in that moment, a slight mistake on Greg’s part with a detail like which airport to fly into somehow made me feel unloved…completely ridiculous, of course. I said we weren’t allowed to talk until I was stuffing my face with a double quarter pounder with cheese. Then, I was fine. We still laugh about this story.
While at the adoption conference, we arrived earlier than the prospective parents to get a little more information with the process of adoption that was intended for social workers and agencies. This ended up being our favorite day because of the glimpse into the world that these agencies and social workers see on a daily basis. The next day, we felt like pros. We waltz into the session all excited to be there and something felt…different. Heavy. The expressions on the faces of some of the couples (especially the prospective fathers) was not one of excitement and joy, but of disillusionment. Maybe even entrapment. I looked at Greg and asked “Do you feel that?” “Yeah, what is that?” “Infertility,” I said. I couldn’t imagine some of the roads these couples had been down to be at this conference. The losses, the doctors visits, the hormone treatments.
Little did we know, we’d be starting down our own road of infertility a month later. With unexplained amenorrhea for nearly a year and now numerous doctors visits and specialists, the frustration has set in. My body is failing me…us. What’s it like being a 29 year old in menopause? Well, you don’t get the hormonal ups and downs and no pms, which is nice until you know that it means your body isn’t functioning properly. And with that your sex drive plummets and you start to think it’s your fault and that you’re not trying very hard. Then the doctors ask questions that don’t seem insensitive to a “normal” person (even to other women struggling with infertility whether from loss or just not being able to get pregnant for whatever reason) like, “How long have you been trying?” What is considered “trying?” They restate the question in a different way that is more offensive than the first, “you know, how long have you been trying to have a baby?” I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if you are not menstruating at all that you won’t be able to get pregnant.
I used to be one of those people who would ask a married couple, “So when are you going to have kids?” And I’ve been asked that question dozens of times by friends and family, especially now that our 6 year wedding anniversary is coming up on May 25th. But now I know how insensitive that question can be. Not just for the couples struggling with infertility, but for a God who created us to seek the fullness of Christ. As if the answer to that question should define us and define our worth as human beings. As if we are not whole or complete without children in our homes and lives. Children can be idols just as much as career, money or relationships. Those things in and of themselves are good, until our lives would no longer be complete and we would be devastated without them. That is the threshold of an idol. A substitute for God.
So where am I? Trying to wait patiently for the Lord. If it’s not in the cards for us, that’s ok. We will go back to what we do know and adopt or foster a child. Do I want a baby that has Greg’s rugged good looks, compassion and intellect and my athleticism and heart for the lost? If God wills it, we will welcome that child with open arms. What I want more is for my body to function properly and for these hurtful symptoms to go away and to bring glory to Jesus in the process. What have we been thankful for during this 1.5 years of trial? I am thankful for a marriage that gets stronger everyday and for a husband that is more understanding and encouraging than I could have ever imagined. I am thankful for friends and family who try to be supportive (even with unsolicited advice, their intentions are good) and may not have any idea how to do that. I am thankful that my worth is not defined by being a parent, or not, and that God is still working things for my good. I can trust in that.