|Pregnant with Maddy.
Is it even possible to look back at a picture of yourself and be jealous?
It must be. Because that’s how I feel sometimes. I’d give anything to be her again.
She had no idea how good she had it.
I’m not sure what to make of my pregnancy history these days.
Before this season in life (aka loss and possible fertility issues), I had a very difficult pregnancy. At the time, I thought it was the worst pregnancy you could ask for.
Morning sickness for 9 months, a miscarriage scare, threatened premature labor, bed rest, preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, heart rate issues for baby, emergency c-section, symptoms of ptsd, postpartum depression + horrible acid reflux in baby = one stressed out momma.
Then 2012 happened.
I realize now that my pregnancy history really could have been worse. Much worse. I could have left my first pregnancy with empty arms. Or I could have not had the experience at all.
I could have not been a mother.
I could have been a mother by definition only — but be denied the very act of mothering my child.
Every memory in the last four years could have simply never been. Just like that.
Just. Like. That.
Before Olivia, I looked at my pregnancy with Madelyn and felt mostly fear. What if I had died? What if she had died?
Now I feel mostly shame.
I hadn’t wanted to be pregnant. Not yet. When the test came back positive, I cried like a baby, and blubbered some incoherent nonsense to Ryan. “We’re going to have a boy, I know it. He’ll grow up, and when he’s a teen, he’ll get a girl pregnant, and then we’ll have a teenage pregnancy on our hands. What in the world will we do then?!?”
Yes. Those were my real (oh-so-rational) words.
I didn’t understand why God chose me for this baby. Or more specifically, why God chose THIS baby for me at THIS particular time. When so many women were infertile — when more than anything they wanted a baby — why “bless” me with a pregnancy when it really wasn’t wanted?
I don’t relay my initial reaction to you with pride. Instead, I’m ashamed of how I felt.
I’m ashamed at the time I spent complaining instead of thanking God for His miracle. I hate that it all felt wrong because of the timing — never stopping to appreciate that Madelyn might have been my ONLY time to have a baby. I saw mostly the negative — and very little of the good.
And the shame shadows many more memories. All my complaints, all my ignorant comments. All along knowing other people had miscarriages — other people struggled with infertility. But I always acted in denial that said people could actually be my friends, my clients, or my coworkers.
I guess I assumed that if someone struggled with infertility or pregnancy loss, then I would know about it. Maybe I thought they’d announce it in the weekly staff meeting just as one announces a healthy pregnancy. Maybe I thought they’d wear t-shirts that said “I’m infertile. Be sensitive.” Maybe I just thought I’d have a sixth sense and just KNOW when I was around someone who struggled with pregnancy.
But they didn’t announce. They didn’t wear the t-shirt. And my sixth sense was nonsense.
The truth was, these people were an invisible people.
And until my loss, I never knew how many invisible people there truly were.
At my Arbonne parties, I was occasionally asked if I had tried our supplements. Before I became aware of these invisible people, I would quip, “Oh, I’m just awful at taking pills. That’s why I have a baby!”
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Usually people would laugh. Or at least smile. But now I wonder… How many of those laughs were simply out of courtesy? How many women smiled on the outside, inwardly holding in tears, raging anger, or the saddest sort of jealousy for me? How many of them excused themselves to the bathroom for some solitude? How many others fought the urge to flee the “in-your-faceness” of my fertility?
How many women stared at my belly as I complained about nausea, acne, sciatic pain, bed rest, contractions, awful medicine and so on . . . willing their bodies to trade places with mine just to have their very own child?
My most shameful memory happened at Christmas. A few girls and I got together to celebrate. I knew very well that the hostess who had organized the party had been trying for a few years for a baby. Well, in my most brilliant moment (absolute sarcasm there), I figured we should talk about pregnancy since having a baby was clearly on this girls’ mind.
Poor thing. I can only imagine how she must felt as we regaled our pregnancy histories and horror stories, all while she just sat there taking it all in.
I wonder now if she felt like a hostage in her own house. Sitting there silent while I imagine holding in a assault of emotions that batter her soul. And yet in her politeness and friendship, she said nothing.
If I had been in her shoes, I don’t know if I would have been as gracious as she was.
I have never asked how she endured the evening. I did, however, apologize once I was on the other side of (in)fertility and ask for her forgiveness. She was very gracious to grant it.
As a Christian, I know shame is not to be a part of my life. Repentance for wrongdoing — absolutely. But God does not call us to shame.
Nor does He call me to look back on all of my memories of my pregnancy wondering if, why, how and who, beating myself up for every hurt — real or imagined.
I wish I could take every insensitive word or action away . . . but I can’t. I wish I could have understood others’ pain without personally experiencing it . . . but I couldn’t. I want others to understand the deep sadness I feel, but they don’t. Not unless they have walked through infertility or loss. And I would never wish that on them.
I cannot be bitter at others for not getting it — because I didn’t get it. Neither should I make myself relive every moment of past insensitivity and pour condemnation on myself. God had intended my pregnancy to be one of His greatest gifts to me. And I must see it as such.
The only real solution, I’ve decided, is to offer and receive GRACE.
Offering grace to others always. Offering grace to the old me who at times was a letdown to the new me. Offering grace to this new me as I walk on a journey I never would have chosen, toward a destination I can’t yet see.
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.