I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since a little bit of urine caused a double line that signaled the break in the waiting. Three and a half years of waiting, longing, crying, begging, praying, followed by monthly heartbreaks. We had been blessed with one daughter, but we wished and hoped and dreamed for her to have a sibling. Yet, our bodies protested.
Secondary infertility is often a quiet and lonely road to travel. How can I complain if we already have one kid? There are so many couples who would do anything for just one biological kid. No. I must be content. I must not lament.
I shoved those feelings deep inside. I congratulated my dear friends on the birth of their third child. I squealed with delight when my sister-in-law called to share the news they were pregnant again. I followed all the social norms of delighting over new babies. I only cried behind closed doors. Then promptly felt guilty for not finding full satisfaction with our beautiful family of three.
We waited over 3 years to see a fertility doctor. Partly because we did an international move in that time. I recommend that – an international move. It’s a good distraction. Anyways, we also struggled a bit with the ethics of it all. How far were we willing to go down the road of fertility treatments when so many orphaned children are in need of loving families? And also … were we playing God with our family planning?
Isn’t family planning draining? I mean, most of us have or have had a plan mapped out – by such-and-such time we’ll have X number of kids who will be spaced Y number of years apart. Carry the one and take the square root of the answer and what do you get? Well, some are lucky enough to get the “right” answer. For many others, the results are not what we expected.
After a handful of tests and a few appointments with our fertility doctor, we opted for intrauterine insemination (IUI). The day of the procedure has been etched into my brain. Dave and I boarded the train for the 45-minute journey from our little brick house outside of London to The Harley Street Fertility Clinic … disembark at the Liverpool Street station … board the Tube to the Great Portland Street stop … up the stairs and through the turnstile … walk past the street housing the Spanish restaurant with the fabulous cured-meat sandwiches … make mental note to return there when finished … enter the brightly colored blue door into a building that looks more like William Thacker’s flat in Notting Hill than it does a hospital or a clinic.
After a nurse made sure we had paid up front, we were led down to a basement examination room. It was dark, but clean. A gruff man entered the room along with an assistant holding a vial containing sperm we hoped was from Dave. The man, who turned out to be the doctor, said only a few words, but I will never forget what he said as I prostrated myself to him on the frigid examination table, “I don’t know why the hell your fertility doctor recommended IUI. Based on your numbers, it’s not going to work.” (He is winning no awards in bedside manners)
I lay there for the recommended time following the procedure with tears flowing. Dave wiped them as best as he could, but the tears warmed my temples and wet my hair and served as building blocks to the burial chamber that would house my hopes for ever bearing a child again.
After returning to my street clothes, we left the clinic. In silence we walked past the street housing the Spanish restaurant with the fabulous cured-meat sandwiches. Not hungry all of the sudden. I felt violated and misled. We rode the Tube. Then the train. In silence. Me biting my quivering lip and occasionally wiping the escaping tears. Dave looking at me with concern and empathy.
Because life goes on whether you like it or not, Dave went back to work that day and I later went to pick up our one beautiful daughter at school. I was in the midst of grieving, yet also grateful. So sad, yet couldn’t help but smile when my daughter ran to me … backpack swaying, pigtails bouncing.
Life is a paradox. We live in massive contradictory situations … often times on a daily basis. And we are always waiting. Waiting for things to change. For something to happen. Or not happen. Hugging my daughter that day injected a small amount of hope. I thought it had all been extinguished on the trip home from the fertility clinic. But embers burned beneath the surface.
Hope. It’s what keeps us going some days. We’re in the midst of the Christian season of Advent. A season of waiting. Anticipation. Of hope. Renewed confidence in God’s promises. It’s hard when we’re dealing with the acute pain of an injury, an injustice, or a horrible diagnosis to see the eternal beauty of life. I’m grateful for those around me who remind me to continue to hope. To keep looking forward. Expecting good things on the horizon.
When a few weeks later, I cultivated a detectable amount of human chorionic gonadotropin made by the cells of the placenta attached to my uterus that would nourish our second daughter for 9 months, I wanted to take the positive pee-laden piece of plastic pregnancy test and shove it in the face of that doctor and say …
Well, you know what I wanted to say. I’ll leave it at that.
Hannah was so distraught – “crushed in soul” – about being childless that she was accused of being drunk while crying out to God in church. Rachel begged, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Isaac pleaded on the behalf of his wife, Rebekah, because she was unable to have children. And Sarah, in her ripe old age, laughed when she heard she would have a son. Because it was preposterous, of course. Unless we hope. And have faith.
This of course doesn’t mean that whatever we hope for will come to fruition. Let’s face it. I probably shouldn’t have had either of my two kids. My body hates being pregnant and wants to kill itself. I survived both times by the grace of God. And I’m most thankful that my kids did as well without harm. However, I wonder sometimes if God meant to keep me in a season of hope for a little bit longer than I had orchestrated myself.
If you’re in a season of waiting. Anticipating. Know that you are not alone. You are loved. You are not forgotten.