Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Peace vs. Two Week Wait

Maintaining peace with children is... difficult. Yesterday my toddler finished her banana bread and drank some water, and then I noticed her gigantic chipmunk cheeks and asked, “Do you have something in your mouth?” She looked at me, sputtered, and then projectile spit the mud-like mixture she'd been swirling in her mouth. It splattered all over the window, her clothing, and the floor—just as we were about to leave the house to borrow Around the Year with the Trapp Family from the library. Home: a sanctuary.

So I'm no stranger to the struggle. Children have a way of making you realize just how selfish and clean you really are. But add to that the dreaded 2WW obsessed over in TTC forums, and you arrive at a whole new level of striving for holiness.

A friend is currently trying for another baby, and we were talking about how she feels during her two week wait. I told her that during my round of infertility I felt pregnant every single month. There were always “symptoms” even on months when there weren't many tell-tale signs of pregnancy, because not having symptoms can also be a symptom of pregnancy. It's diabolical.

I've said more than once that I would just like to know how many children I will have. Just see a tiny sliver of the future, maybe a table set for Easter lunch and how many little people are at that table. Is there a surprise pregnancy at 40 in store for me? Do my dreams of adoption work out?

Instead, I'm forced to accept the fact that if I'm not nursing, I'm going to be trying. And if I'm trying, I'm going to be aware of every twinge in my abdomen—is it because of the leftovers I had for lunch, or is it new life burrowing in? The twinges are coming from both sides—twins? We will definitely need a new vehicle, and how will I make dinner again, ever?

Birth control makes it harder for some women, because once they have “decided” to get pregnant, they expect it to happen in the same way that “deciding” to go to law school happens, or “deciding” to get married happens. And fertility isn't like that.

But I'm not stopping something from happening and then turning on the green light, I'm always and forever eager for it, waiting, praying for new life for six years running, whether I'm trying to conceive, pregnant, or up all night with a newborn. In many ways this is harder, because there's not a time when I'm able to get pregnant and not getting pregnant and okay with that.

The only way to be “in control” of birth is to avoid it. You can tie your tubes, sterilize your husband, and have peace. You will not be pregnant. You will not have that two week wait—the one where you're terrified because you don't want the baby, or the one where you're praying that the vague nauseous feeling will stick around and become infinitely worse in the weeks to come.

Being pro-life means leaving a lot of things up to God. Not just how many children you have, but how many children you might not have. It means trusting God in a very active sense, through that two week wait every month. It means relinquishing that sense of power over your life and body. It's easier to shut that down, implant the IUD, and think about something else, like plane tickets to Mexico and graduate programs.

I'm choosing the less sure path, the one where I feel every ache and pain, praying they multiply as the days pass. The only thing harder would be looking back and accepting the babies that might have been, recognizing the impact of my lack of faith. Being pro-life is choosing patience, grace, suffering, and frustration. It's climbing the path of on-going sanctification. It's choosing the pursuit of eternal life for the mother—in two week increments.