Waiting and Waving the White Flag

I’m in a period of waiting. Still.  And I don’t like to wait.  After I had posted earlier about
pushing ahead with a few more rounds of IUIs and fertility drugs, J and I changed our minds. We are tired of hormone shots, drugs, and ultrasounds.  Of artificial insemination — such an awkward, at times embarrassing way of (not) making a baby. Of the heightened hope and defeat that visits every month as we cycle through another IUI attempt only to have it fail.

And again, a large chunk of the following writing is me still working out what I want to say to a group of church folks a week from now about this journey.  I think it’s going to look more like the material below than what I previously posted on Job and Infertility.

For now, I find myself reaching for the white flag of surrender.  I cannot plan my way to baby. I am unable to medicate my way to baby.  Heck, I’m unable to know medically why I haven’t been able to carry a full-term pregnancy. My body is mysterious, and I do not understand it. At times, I resent it for this. And now, I yield to it.  I cannot make it produce a baby.  Instead of trying to control, to scold it into doing what I want–I am surrendering.  And maybe, just maybe seeking ways to offer myself compassion and grace. The white flag is raised.  Well, at least for now, who knows what tomorrow brings?

This new wayside in the journey is what I’ve feared.  It’s the possibility of this moment that kept me delaying doctor involvement in the fertility process until last year.  This space is where medicine ceases to offer hope, where adoption is not yet a feasible reality, and I am stymied. I’m feeling the ambiguity of my situation — where I do not know what tomorrow brings and feel mired in the muddiness of my present. Can’t go backward. Can’t go forward.  Just wait.  You’d think after 7 years, I’d be better at waiting.

And as I was processing this part of my journey sitting in the library yesterday morning, I also started reflecting a bit more on my post from earlier this week and trying to unpack my response. My brain finally pieced a few things together and I was able to see more deeply why some things I’ve read recently hit me the wrong way (beyond just emotionally anemic writing or bad biblical interpretation).  I’m noticing that many of the materials I’m encountering are written from a point where the author has a certain degree of movement down the road from me (typically an eventual successful pregnancy or adoption; rarely, do I see things from people who have no children).  That which I’ve read tends to include or focus on the hope/closure rather than the journey.  I am not far enough in the journey to be able to dwell healthily on the end result; right now, for me focusing on the end result feels like grasping frantically for a life raft only to realize I grabbed and got tangled in a sinking anchor instead.

Ironically, while reading is currently a mixed bag of helpful and harmful, hearing real voices helps.  In the past few months,  I’ve found healing through several people further down this journey from me unexpectedly sharing bits of their own journey with me. What a balm it is to not be the sole weird infertile woman or couple! To not feel crazy at naming experiences of my journey. To not be the only person who has walked here.  To be able to laugh at the social awkwardness of infertility, and swap stories of crazy things people have said to us.  (And also, I want to give credit and thanks to my community of friends and family have also been incredible to me in this journey, particularly through the highs and lows of the past year.)

I wait in a state of complexity. The journey can be hard, with its monthly cycle of hope/fear and dejection.  Fear is a new element since the ectopic pregnancy. While I still hope for a pregnancy, now I simultaneously fear the possibility of another ectopic. This is not always a forlorn space of waiting. Hope isn’t dead, neither is joy. I have good days too.  I just really, really hate prolonged waiting.  I want to arrive at a destination, not dwell in the journey to get there.

There are days when I continue to ask God, “Why have You forgotten me?” or “Where are you in this?” But, like the writers of Psalms, I also feel an invitation from God to not just wait in sadness, but in expectant hope that God is faithful.

This part is not easy for me! It is not particularly natural for this angry skeptic. I am not a paragon of strength or virtue.  I do not deny the sadness or the grief or the sense that God has forgotten me or is angry with me, but I place these before God with the recognition of the ways that God has steadfastly carried me through other dark nights. I anchor myself in the knowledge that the same God who wooed me and carried me through the loss of my mother at 12, who healed my father’s tongue cancer several years ago, that same God is able to bring me through this even when I feel forgotten and don’t have a map indicating where my road will end.

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