After our second miscarriage (ectopic), I really struggled. I was in survival mode at school….my poor students. I was an adequate teacher and did my job. I met deadlines and followed lesson plans, but I was not the fantastic teacher I had been in years past. Having to traipse to work surrounded by children who had horrific home-lives compounded my sadness. I cried every single morning. I cried every single night. And every single day I slept until the last possible minute. I constantly begged Adam to let me quit. And this went on for months. My sweet beautiful husband was more patient than any spouse should ever have to be. He indulged my laziness and he never suggested that I was crazy. We both knew that things weren’t normal…but how is infertility normal? There were many times Adam considered suggesting that I “get help,” but he never pressured me. He was wise enough to trust that I would find a way to work through my sadness. As the doctors began to run some basic tests, I began to experience anger and bitterness!
I was so very (secretly) angry. I was angry because everyone around me seemed to keep their babies in their bellies, and I couldn’t. Hello! What was wrong with this world? I hated free agency and I hated myself for continuing to lose life. I would like to say that I kept faith, that I was strong and steadfast. Maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself, but I really did feel faithless. I didn’t pray much. My scriptures gathered dust. I avoided friends’ children as much as I could without drawing suspicion.
Toward the end of 2005 we actively start trying for the third time. I still hated my job, I hated church, I hated interacting with our families. I don’t remember what I was doing ‘that day’–probably coming home from work or the temple–but I remember having the thought…”this is your trial, stop feeling sorry for yourself!” Oh my gosh, an instant switch was flipped. I had never thought about it in those terms before. What seems so elementary to me now was a completely foreign concept back then. I mean, it had crossed my mind that we were running a string of bad luck and I needed to be more faithful. I figured it was just a matter of patience. But no, I had the distinct impression that this was to be my cross (at least one of them anyway) and it wasn’t going away any time soon. I sat in my car by myself and I cried and cried and cried. I cried for the babies I had lost. I cried for the babies I would continue to lose. I cried for the babies I might never have. I cried for the self-serving pity I had shown myself for so long. And I continued to cry.
Why did I keep crying? Because I was mature enough to know that ‘when you know better, you do better.’ Let’s be honest, I did not WANT to do better. I wanted to stay selfish. I now “knew” and God knew that I knew. And there was the rub! I wanted the world to revolve around me so badly. I wanted a baby. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to be included. I wanted to feel competent in this part of my life. I wanted to…..(fill in the blank). Me, me, me! Life might not be as fulfilling when you blame your hurt on everyone else, but it sure is easier, isn’t it? Instead of reasoning and working my way through my problems, I wanted to stay in my emotions and feel angry, hurt, and betrayed. Feeling doesn’t require any work, which is why the long-term payoff is so much less than what we are capable of. I was reminded as time was suspended for a moment that me not having a baby did not mean I had to be less than. And, in that moment, I refused to be less than!
The false sense of entitlement that we are all plagued with in today’s society truly hampers our spiritual awareness. I am a really good wife, sister, daughter and friend. I kept my first estate. I honor my temple covenants. And I do what is asked of me. But even after all that–I am not entitled to a baby! I “should” have one, I even “deserve” one. But I am not entitled to one until God says so. And the hard truth is that I might not have a baby in this life.
I made a decision in that small moment of clarity…if this was my trial, I would not waste the time spent in the thick of it in pity and bitterness. I set out clearly in my mind what I did and did not want to have happen. I did not want to play the victim card. I did not want to be seen in pity. I did not want to waste my child-rearing years paralyzed in fear. And above all, I did not want the Savior’s sacrifice on my behalf to be in vain.
I asked myself what did I want? I wanted to honor the babies I lost. I wanted to be a mom no matter how I got there. I wanted Heavenly Father to be proud of me. I wanted to stop crying and stop eating ice cream. I wanted my trial to mean something…and that meant forcing myself into introspection and into real-life action. I wanted mostly to walk with grace.
I feel like I’ve been given a profound opportunity with this trial of infertility. Not all trials are this enduring. Not all trials are hand-picked by the Lord. This trial did notcome from poor choices on my part or from a consequence of someone else’s actions. This trial was given to me! Although I sometimes loathe the thought of talking about it one more time or passing one more pregnancy, I have been given this trial for a reason. I really am grateful for that. I am not grateful that I do not have an infant in my arms–but I am grateful that I have gone through, and not around, the experience.
I am still working on perfecting my lists! My friends know that I have occasional relapses. I have selfish moments still, but as I have worked on walking straight through this trial for a few years now, those moments are fewer and farther between. I still want the world to revolve around me, but it doesn’t and it never will. This trial is nobody’s fault–least of all mine. When God says it is done, I want to be richer for the experience. And, we all know that even when it is done–it’s not really. This experience helps define me and will stay with me into the eternities…that is why I try to use reason instead of emotion to walk through this fire. It is arduous and refining. It is never-ending and always enduring. It is harrowing and rewarding. It is simply, and always, a part of me.