Dear Infertility (Part 6)

Dear Infertility,

Remember me?  Maybe, maybe not.  I remember you, though.  I still think of you, often.  You forced me to walk in a wasteland.  My footsteps were not padded with softness.  I was not welcomed.  There was zero comfort in my journey.  My experience through your vast wilderness left me bewildered, frustrated, and deeply heart-broken.

I do not know why I keep thinking of you.  Honestly, you are not worthy of my thoughts.  You are not a friend I want to keep, but gosh, in random moments, I still think of you.

Perhaps, it is not just you I think about.  Perhaps, it is the whole life experience I have walked that involves you, my medical struggles, and my children.  Perhaps, just perhaps, without you, I would not be able to understand what it is to be at a low place, at a place of complete joy, or somewhere in between.

I do not like you at all, you know.  I wish you had no substance at all.  I wish more than anything that others had no idea of who you are, what you mean, and what you might possibly be able to take away.

Do you know what you do to people?  Do you even care?  You cause the faithful to question their faith, the hopeful to lose hope, and the joyful to watch their joy dissipate.

Dear Infertility,

Despite all of these things, I wonder if I would be who I am without you.  Would I wonder about others who are exploring your place in their lives?  Would I carry an ounce of empathy towards the plight of others who are experiencing medical problems?  Would I have a heart for foster children and orphans in the world? Could I call myself “Mamma” to three amazing children that were adopted into my life?

It is ironic, you know.  With you, I carry a bit of sadness, but without you, I cannot imagine the incredible gift of parenting.

You invaded me from the inside out.  Sure, I was physically impacted by my illness, but I was also spiritually and emotionally impacted as well.  It is crazy that you came into my life many years ago, and here I am still thinking about you.

Here’s the difference, though.  I no longer allow you to consume me like you used to.  I no longer feel you are a heartbreak.  I do not carry the same burden about you like I used to.  Instead, I think of you and my Heavenly Father, and I know that through His mighty grace, I have conquered you.  You are overcome.  You stand no chance when being met head-on by the faithfulness of our Father.

Dear Infertility,

It is true.  I do still think of you.  How can I not?  You have tried desperately to declare yourself as the author of my life.  Well, you are most definitely not.  You may be a character in my story line, but the author of my life is the Author of life itself.

You might be a part of who I was created to be, but you are not the whole of who I am.

More importantly, you will never define who I am in Him.  

Dear Infertility (Part 5)

Dear Infertility,

I caught myself thinking about you the other day.  I mean, honestly, how can I not think about you when I’m surrounded by the gift of adoption?  It seems odd, you know.  I used to suppress you, ignore that you found me so young in life, and try with every ounce of my being to not allow myself to believe that you were a big deal.

But, here’s the truth.  You were a big deal.  Through a random illness and subsequent surgery, you changed my course of life.  I entered into a world of barrenness that not too many seemed to understand at the time.  I was just a child, and of course, did not understand it, either.

How dare you push your way into my life.  

I did not invite you.  I did not ask for you to happen, and yet, my life had to be saved.  It is ironic, isn’t it?  The surgery to save my life rendered me unable to give life.

I found myself wondering about what my birth children would have looked like.  I also thought about what their personalities would be like, and if they would struggle with the same challenges that my children have.  I also thought about what it would have felt like to carry my children in my body, to nourish them, to provide them with all that they needed for a healthy development, and to hold them close to my chest after delivering them into this complex and amazing God-created world.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  My life is now built on a solid foundation of faith and love.  You, however, are like quicksand.  A foot-hold cannot be found in you.  You suffocate, swallow, and take…just take.  That is all you seem to know how to do.

And then, I thought about all of the others (far too many to even count) that are in the throes of trying to stand up in your quicksand.  I thought about the ones who are just learning of you.  They had their life planned out.  They desire to have a family, but you seemed to slither your way into their lives.

How dare you.  How dare you push your way into their lives.

It is funny, you know.  My life is no longer determined by you.  And, I have the hope that you will no longer determine the lives of countless others.  Oh, you will keep on trying, won’t you?  You will keep on kicking and screaming until they surrender.

However, I need to fill you in on something.  That something is called the ‘human spirit’.  You see, giving in does not come easy for most of us.  Throwing in the towel, surrendering, and giving up does not feel good, and it certainly is not a trait that we embrace.  If anything, it goes against the very core of our existence.

Dear Infertility,

So here’s the deal.  Why don’t you take a backseat for a while?  For over thirty-two years, I have carried you, and no offense, but you are kind of heavy.  You are also far too heavy for the ones who are just discovering you.

My children, you know, the ones I thought I would never be a Mamma to, are just as exquisite, unique, and loved as I thought they would be.  You did not dictate my life, despite your efforts.  You did not win.  Oh, I know how you must hate that.

I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  

And, just to make you feel as small as I once felt, I celebrate, CELEBRATE, every single adoption that occurs when couples, who have you hanging on to them, take the courageous step and become parents.

Dear Infertility,

I thought of you the other day.  I thought about how different my life might be if you were not in it.  Do you want to know something?

Without you, I would not be able to encourage others who find themselves on the same journey.  Without you, I would not be able to embrace how God had it all in His hands.  Without you, I would not be the mother of three amazingly challenging, and precious children.

Dear Infertility,

Why don’t you dwell on that for a while?

Dear Infertility (Part 4)

Dear Infertility,

I was reminded of you today.  I was out picking up Christmas presents for my children.  You know…

the ones you swore I would never have.

As I was waiting outside to pick up a big package, a kind gentleman began boasting about the love he has for his little girls.  I concurred with him that girls really are quite special.  I love hearing Father’s speak kindness about their daughters.  He spoke about their ages, and that he would not trade them for anything in the world.

Dear Infertility, I agreed with him.  I would not trade my daughter for anything in the world either.

As the conversation progressed, he mentioned that in just a few short years, things will be different with his daughters.  Their bodies will be changing, and he is concerned that he will not fully understand what they are going through.  He pointed out that he would “Send them to their mother” for answers.

“You know what I mean, right?”  he asked me.

I was caught in a moment of not being sure what to say.  The cold wind whipped around me as if it knew it would not take a lot to push me off of my feet.  I nodded at him, and then said,

“Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”

Dear Infertility, the truth is, I do not know all that he meant.  You changed my life as a girl.  Well, maybe not just you.  My illness, my hysterectomy, and the aftermath that followed, all played intricate parts in the unfolding drama of this life.  All of you took away that unique experience that makes up life in a female body.  The normal path I was born to take came to an abrupt dead-end.  In its place, a new path emerged that diverted from the one taken by every other girl I knew.

Thinking about you feels as though I’m watching you from a rear-view mirror.  You are in the distance, slightly distorted, and not as close as you once were.  I can only see parts of you, but you are still there.  Looking back causes my body to ache just a bit, as if it remembers the pain it once carried.  It winces.  It freezes up.  It will not forget.

Dear Infertility, it appears as though I will never be fully free of you.  Just when I have let you go, or do not feel you anymore, you come raging back at me.  You come up behind me so quickly that I coil back into that girl who once wondered what the heck life was going to be like living as a girl, growing into a woman, and being forced to meander through a baby-bearing world.

As my daughter grows up, I will face you again, and again.  I will have to admit that I do not understand what she is going through as her body starts to change.  I will have to ask for help in explaining it all to her, or better yet, so that I can understand it as well.

Do you know how much that actually frightens me?

Dear Infertility, I will keep my eye on you.  I will continue looking back in that rear-view mirror just to make sure you have not snuck-up on me again.  I will especially watch you as my daughter draws nearer to the age where her God-given body starts to fulfill the experience of life as a female.

I was honest when I replied to the gentleman that, “Yes, girls are awfully interesting.”  It is true.  Girls are interesting in so many ways.

Dear Infertility, because of you, my life as a girl has been very interesting, indeed.

Related Posts:  Dear Infertility 

                         Dear Infertility (Part 2)

                         Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Dear Infertility (Part 3)

Dear infertility,

I ran into you the other day.  You’ve changed.  I hardly recognize you anymore. I’m sure you could say the same thing about me.

Do you remember the first time we met?  I was young and sick.  I was vulnerable, and innocent in so many ways.  I didn’t understand you at all, and you did nothing to help me understand you.  Instead, you covered me like tar.  I tried to shake you off, but you stuck.  Even worse, as I grew up, you became harder to remove from my skin, my thoughts, and my heart.

You stalked me.  You ridiculed me, and you made me believe false things about myself, and about my future.  I was forced to wear you like some uncomfortable skin.  Everywhere I looked, I saw you.  I could not look at a child, and not think of you.  I heard you hissing painful reminders to me, and I felt you pound on my heart each time I tried to picture myself as a mother.

Oh, you met me where I was at alright.  You confronted me in each vulnerable moment of my life.  You chose to mix me up.  You twisted my thoughts, and tore at me.  You even tried to make me believe that I was half the female my friends were. You made me question my design, my worth, and my purpose.  You did your very best to take me down….didn’t you?

Infertility…you are not bigger than you think you are.  You have claimed power in so many people’s lives, but, you are only powerful when preying on people’s weaknesses and insecurities.

Infertility…you are despicable. 

Can I tell you something?  I felt you tremble a little when I was confronted with the love and the hope of Christ.  My Father met me where I was at, but unlike you, He wrapped a blanket of hope, forgiveness, and shelter for the future.  My regrets slid off of my skin when I encountered Him.

One day, I will stand before my Father in Heaven, and you will not be standing there next to me.  You will not be my sidekick, my story, or my painful moment of life.  You will be gone…gone…gone!  

I used to think that when I got to Heaven, I would ask about you.  I wanted to have a deep discussion about why you came at me like you did.  I do not need this conversation anymore.  I have my answer….I HAVE MY ANSWER.  My answer is a blue-eyed, Tomboy who loves her daddy, a blonde-haired charmer who is always one step ahead of me, and a little brown-eyed babe who loves to cuddle.

My answer is the redemption I found in the unstoppable, unfailing love of Christ, and in the unfolding chapters that have been written for my life.  You did not write my future out.  You did not dictate how my life would go, even though you thought you would. You were wrong.  You were so very wrong.

Dear infertility, I ran into you the other day.  You look different from what you used to look like.  I hardly recognize you anymore, and you feel so different now.  You are lighter…barely even noticeable.  You seem so small and weak compared to how you used to be.

Funny thing is….I must look different too….I must feel different to you.

Truth is….I AM different from the person I used to be, and, praise God for that.

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Related Posts:

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility (Part 2)

Dear Infertility (Part # 2)

Dear infertility,

It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. Funny how I carried you around for so many years, and now I don’t think of you on a day-to-day basis like I used to. I swore I would never forget you or even get over you, but look at me now. You do not consume me anymore.

You made me feel as though I was being punished. If children are a reward from the Lord, then I must have done something pretty awful not to be rewarded with children…right? You made me feel this way. You spoke these lies to me. You made me feel as though I was less important to the Creator of my beginning and Script-Writer of my future.

You made me think that I would never experience the same type of happiness that those around me were experiencing. You forced me to wallow in my own despair, and yet, you never consoled me. You never wiped my tears. You never told me anything hopeful. Instead, you shouted at me. You screamed pain to me and never promised a happy ending.

Dear infertility – You made me feel like a victim, and at times, you made me feel as though I deserved what happened to me in my youth. I’m here to tell you, I didn’t deserve it. I was not a victim, and never will be. The Lord was not punishing me. He was not withholding His blessings of children. He did not forget my name. I was never less important to Him, or to the world He created. You hate hearing that, don’t you?

My Creator, my Comforter, my Healer, and my Hope remembers me. He remembers the tears I cried because of you. Not only does He remember them, but He also carries them. He does not leave me feeling like a victim as you did. He did not punish me. What happened to me was an accident, a life-changing mistake that led to a tragic illness that even He mourned over.

He heard the deepest cry from the most secret place of my heart, and He listened. He did not ignore me as you did. He answered me with the opening of doors, the closing of others, and the humbling moments that led me to be a parent. He rewarded me with the gift of children. He charged me with the care of some very special little ones that mean more to Him than I can ever imagine. You, however, would have never promised me this. You never would have told me to continue hoping for the fulfillment of my heart.

I barely remember you, even though I will never forget you. I will never forget the way you made me feel, the isolation brought to my life and the agony of not knowing if my prayers would be answered. I can’t ever forget being told that you would always be with me. That scene is forever sewn into my memory. I was a child myself, and yet, I was forced to learn about you. You stuck to me like glue but I didn’t want you. I didn’t need you, and I certainly didn’t understand you.

Dear infertility – remember me? I am not the same person I used to be. I am no longer the sickly girl, a confused teen, and an anguished woman. I don’t doubt how incredible the Lord is, or even who He is. I no longer feel like I am on the outside looking in on a life that would never be fully lived. I am whole. Complete. Fulfilled. I am living a life fully lived and am certainly not what you want me to be.

You even tried to damage those who loved me. My parents and family members grieved over what you did to me. My grandparents went to their grave never knowing that you would not dictate my future. My parents will not forget what you did, but they too are busy with the joy of grandchildren to think about you anymore.

I suppose you will always be with me, although, I don’t listen to you anymore. The truth is, I will never listen to you again. I am too busy listening to the laughter of my children, and the love of my Lord. I am too busy getting up in the middle of the night changing diapers, fixing school lunches, planning parties, and living a life full of the reward of children.

Dear infertility – I thought of you today while I was holding a little one and praising my Lord. I thought of how you must feel now that I have moved on from you. Can I ask you one thing? Can I ask you to only remind me of you when I start to take my life for granted? It is not that I don’t recall you from time-to-time. When I scan over the memories of life and what all the Mighty Lord has done, you enter my mind.

I remember laying in the hospital bed clinging to life and learning about you. I remember trying to wrap my young mind and heart around you, even though, I had no idea who you were. I recall being a teenager and feeling like I was so different from the other girls. I remember crying into my pillow as I watched others being rewarded with children.

Dear infertility – it’s been a while since we’ve spoken; since your name has crossed my mind. It surely has been a while since the tears flowing from my eyes were filled with you. I may still call on you from time-to-time, but for now, I’m going to tuck you back into my heart again.

Goodbye for now. Goodbye.

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility,

Hello, it’s me again. You know…the little girl you once made to feel inadequate, the teenager you once strived to isolate, and the adult you almost accomplished stealing joy from. Well, I’m here to tell you what you cannot do.

You cannot diminish moments of laughter that echo in my mind for days following. You won’t determine my capacity to love other people and children. You no longer make me feel less of a female or parent or anything else you once tried to convince me of.

You don’t stalk me like you used to. I don’t think of you when I see babies anymore. I actually enjoy going to baby showers now. You used to tag along uninvited just to make me feel uncomfortable.  You are not invited, anymore.

You no longer cause a wedge between me and the loving Father I believe in. You used to do that, you know. I used you as an excuse to not listen to Him. He is bigger than you will ever be.  He reminds me what His plans are for my life, not yours.

You cannot take away forgiveness. You do not replace hope. You obviously offer very little grace, but I do not look to you for it anyway.

For the most part, you were one of my darkest secrets. I hid you away for so long.  Funny thing now is that I’m exposing you to the world. You have become my motivation to write, to reach out, and to love.

At one time, I was incomplete. You filled an ever-growing void with even more sorrow, but not anymore. I will never use you again as a way to justify my lack of purpose or meaning in this life.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. I can still use you to be a more passionate person. I can still reminisce of you as a reminder to try and love my children more each day than I did the day before. I see you trying to pull others down and I recognize you right away. I use this as motivation for being a more genuine and empathetic listener. The tears I cry now are not for me, but for those of whom you are trying to take over.

Dear infertility…you have not stolen my ability to have a bountiful life. I have a full, rich life that involves children despite your attempt at taking that away. My life is no longer barren. You did not create a wasteland in me. Oh, I won’t forget you. How can I really? You have traveled with me the vast majority of my life, but you are not my life. Ironically, you have caused me to view life as being precious.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. This is me saying hello to all the things that you will never be.

When Infertility Makes You Feel Inadequate as a Woman {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding infertility and the feelings of inadequacy.  This topic is so near and dear to my heart.  I know too many (including myself) who have struggled, or are struggling with insecurities about themselves based on the confusing and conflicting feelings that infertility and barrenness can bring to one’s life.

Dear friend, if you are struggling with the feelings of inadequacy, please know that you are not alone, and you are far from inadequate.

Click on the link to read the article:  https://adoption.com/when-infertility-makes-you-feel-inadequate-as-a-woman

 

 

Barrenness Hit Me Today

Barrenness hit me today. I glanced up towards the beverage coolers of the grocery store and noticed a pregnant woman walking by. Her skin was glowing, belly round and full, and she was beautiful. I  noticed the woman in front of me noticing her as well.

In my head, I thought, “Pregnant women really are beautiful. I bet she is so happy to be carrying her baby. I wish I could have carried mine.” 

Yep. Right there as I’m checking out, answering the cashier about my choice of a paper or plastic, barrenness hit me today.

I don’t think about it all of the time. Honestly, barrenness doesn’t knock on my door like it used to. Most days, it never even crosses my mind…most days.

Today, it did. Perhaps, it is because this week has been filled with teaching others about trauma that can occur in the womb. Maybe, it is due to explaining to teachers, who don’t know my children that well (yet), about their challenges. Or, it could be that both worry and sadness have visited me this week.

As soon as I got home from the store, I packed the groceries into their allotted space in our kitchen and headed back to our safe spot where we put meaningful items that belong to our family. I dug through the paperwork and pictures and found a copy of a letter that I had sent to a former pastor of mine many years ago.

I wrote it on the eve of my husband and I filing our adoption petition for our oldest son in 2008. The image above is just one section of a one-and-a-half page letter to my pastor. I’m not sure why I kept it but am glad that I did.

Life has a funny way of kicking us around a time or two, doesn’t it? Hard experiences like to sneak their way around our hearts a bit. They lay dormant for a while and then, BOOM, there they are. There.They.Are.

I’ve heard that, sometimes, you have to look back at where you were to appreciate where you are. I’m finding myself doing this more often than not; especially on days where barrenness seems to smack me upside the head.

With regard to the letter, I read it again and felt as though I was typing it for the first time; my eyes filled up, my hands trembled a bit, and I exhaled deeply. I needed to visit the elation, promise and revelation, even in barrenness, that I found through the Lord ten years ago. I needed to take a step back and remember all of it.

I am 46-years-old and have known for thirty-five years that I would never have a biological child. You would think by now that I would be “over it”. In many ways, I’m so over it – like bye-bye. Yet, in other times, it seeks me out, dances around me, and teases me like a school-yard bully. It ticks me off, makes me feel insecure, and breaks my heart time and again.

I still look at pregnant women with awe but a sliver of jealousy. I still wonder what it would have felt like to announce our pregnancy to my husband and our parents. I imagine the feeling of my children growing inside of me and the passion I would have carried to give them the best in utero experience possible.

Yes, sometimes, you have to look back at where you were to appreciate where you are. For me, looking back at the empty space of barrenness and then recapturing the feelings of going through the motions of adoption, does my heart good. It does it so good.

Barrenness hit me today. It sucker-punched me at the grocery store when I was least expecting it. I didn’t have my boxing gloves on. There wasn’t a coach in the corner telling me how to handle it. Nope. None of that. It’s not that I have ever had that to begin with, though. Instead, I revisited a moment in time that has carried me through these past several years.

To recall the feelings of hope and love, to dwell for just a moment in the silence of gratitude, and to revel in understanding that comes from the Lord is by far, the best defense when hard experiences try to find a way to slither back into our lives.

No one is the keeper of our past, present and future like the Lord is. No one can turn devastation or despair into goodness like the Lord can. True peace and understanding comes from the Lord. It always has and it always will.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

No, Adoption is Not Second Best

Adoption is a distinguished road not for the faint-of-heart but for the faithful one.I remember it as if it happened yesterday.  After our adoption of our daughter in 2010, family and friends gathered a local Starbucks to celebrate.  It was obvious that we were a happy bunch by the joy and laughter going on.

The barista behind the counter asked, “Are you celebrating something?”  I said, “Yes.  We just adopted our second child.”  He then said, “That’s great.  Are you going to have children of your own, too?”

Hit the brakes.  Inner Mama Bear rising up (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about).  Deep breath.  Tender smile.

Pause…bless his twenty-something, hipster little heart…

I responded with, “Our children are our own.”  “Oh,” he said.  “Well, congratulations.”

I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to questions about foster care, adoption, and infertility.  I really do.  I’ve heard some doozies over the course of my lifetime of barrenness; ones that just ripped right into my heart.  Yet, I try my best to respond in a manner that is both respectful and educational.  After all, if we (foster/adoptive parents) want respect, we need to show it.  Plus, knowledge really is a powerful tool in helping to expand someone’s worldview.

Children who enter our lives, often through the tragedy of brokenness, are not replacements or an after-thought.  These precious souls are each born with their unique talents, challenges, and personalities.  Their histories are sometimes scarred but their futures are limitless.  The tapestries of their lives are weaved with love, loss and that incredibly soul-inspiring notion that there is always hope.

Adoption is beautiful and heart-breaking.  It is humbling and faith-building.  It is joy and laughter and tears all wrapped up in one.  It is a whole lot of things but it will never be second-best.  It is the path to parenthood that many families facing infertility choose to walk down.  It is a choice.  It is not easy and can be wrought with many unknowns.  Yet, each step is padded with the firm belief that adoption is a distinguished road not for the faint-of-heart but for the faithful one.

When following the command to care for orphans and the least-of-these, we should also look in the mirror and know that we, too, were orphans.  The Lord said, “I chose you”.  Not only are we chosen, we are cherished and known to our Father in Heaven.  I believe that Jesus had you and me on His mind when He carried that burdensome cross up the hill towards our salvation.  If I thought for one minute that adoption is second-best, I fear the glory and humbling essence of belonging to our Heavenly Father would be trivialized.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  -Galatians 4:4-5

Each child in need of adoption is a treasure to the Lord; worth more than gold or the greatest riches on Earth.  To Him, they are not second-best.  When I look into the eyes of my children, I do not see a secondary option.  No.  I see a longing fulfilled, redemption and the scripting of life without the borders that humans like to establish.  I see children who are worth it.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. -Luke 12:7

Is adoption second best to having a biological child?  I don’t think so.  Instead, I believe that adoption is a predestination lovingly anointed with the mystery and power of the Lord.   When I hear people comment about adoption being less than giving birth to a child or just a fallback plan, I cringe.  Friends, these thoughts are the whispers of the enemy trying to sabotage what our Father holds so dear.  The Enemy wants to destroy families.  He wants to bind children.  He wants to remind us of our own loss.  He wants to complicate the calling on our lives to care for orphans.

However, the voice of the Lord is stronger and more powerful.  He calls us upon the seas.  He asks us to tread where others fear to go.  He seeks the willing.  He equips the courageous.  He does this in the name of love.  If we believe in this, then how can we ever accept adoption as second best?

To the hipster dude at Starbucks, it’s okay.  I’ve long forgiven you for questioning whether I would have my “own” children.  Just know that my children – the ones who the Lord declared and prepared for my life – are mine.  They are not second-best.  They never have been.  They never will be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. -Psalm 139:13-16

Note:  This was written as a guest post featured on the blog, Mess Into a Message Blog and can be viewed there along with other thought-provoking posts by the author of “Mess Into a Message”.