Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2200 Miles of Change

Lately I've felt a transformation taking hold of me, and I've been fighting it, but taking our vacation really locked it in.  You see, for many of my years of prayers and yearning for a child, I've been too stubborn and afraid to pray for anything other than what I so desperately desire: "Please God, hear my prayer; bless us with a child."  Isn't that how Hannah prayed afterall?  And she just kept on prayin' until God granted her request.  I once fancied myself a modern-day Hannah and thought I'd just keep praying until God granted my request, too.  And I've poured my energy into doing everything I felt was within my power to help make that happen: medications, surgeries, diets, supplements, shots, exercise, physical therapy, castor oil, massaging, acupuncture.  But years of negative test after negative test have made me wonder if I am nothing more than like a fish who longs to fly.  "Please God, please hear my prayer: bless me with wings so I may fly."  But can a fish ever take flight?  Can a fish do anything to make itself fly?  Is God ignoring its prayer- surely if God can raise Lazarus from the dead, He can make a fish fly.  And yet doesn't.  Because a fish is a fish and was created to swim, not to fly.  The anxiety of wondering, "Am I just a silly fish who thinks if she prays hard enough God will let her fly?" has burdened me to the point of despair, though in waves that ebb and flow (probably with the fluctuations in my hormones if I had to put money on it...)  Slowly my prayers turned into, "God, if motherhood is what you want for me, give me an affirmation and I will continue to work for it."  Adoption and otherwise.  It wasn't easy to open myself up to the possibility that God might say "NO," but I prayed it anyway.  And do you know what happened when I prayed this prayer?  Cycle day one coincided with a pregnancy announcement from a houseguest who had arrived that very day.  OUCH.  I couldn't get my Femara, so had to take a cycle off of tracking and triggering ovulation.  OH THE FRUSTRATION.  And at the moment I felt lower than I can remember ever feeling, having spent the morning in tears, another miracle pregnancy announcement came.  CRUSHING.  All within three days.  I try not to read too much into circumstances and interpret them as signs from God, but the timing of these events on the heels of my prayer felt like a message was being sent, "These blessings are NOT for you.  This life is for OTHER people.  NOT FOR YOU."

So... what if that is the message?   Do I have the strength to sincerely pray, "God not my will but yours," if His will be that I am never a mother?  Well, until our vacation, I don't think I did.  But I might be ready to pray that prayer now.  Just maybe.

Last Sunday M and I returned from a mega road trip that took us down south through Memphis to New Orleans, and back through Chattanooga, Nashville, and Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.  That's roughly 2200 miles, more than 30 hours of driving, and I think the times we had exploring new streets, sights, sounds, and foods combined with countless hours of reflection while driving transformed me.  We toured the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, visited Graceland, sampled beignets and gumbo, heard incredible music, and packed more into seven days than we'd gotten in since we'd last taken a vacation.  It had been SIX YEARS since we'd taken a proper vacation.  Granted, we're lucky to be only a few hours from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so we do get away on occasion each summer for a weekend here and there.  But a weekend isn't long enough to forget your troubles, and we've had our share the past few years.  The opportunity to leave them behind for a WHOLE WEEK and see a new part of the world acted as a medicine to my increasingly bitter, worn-out heart.  One of the benefits of feeling like you're getting nowhere with your diets and medicines and tests and shots is: that's the perfect excuse to say, "FORGET THEM" for the dedicated time you have for fun.  So I did!  I ate whatever I wanted, I mostly took my medicine but didn't stress about that or my cycle, what day it was, etc.  And I enjoyed every minute of our trip.  

And I learned an important lesson.  There can be life without kids.  It's not my first choice.  But before vacation the thought seemed like the end of the world to me.  And after vacation?  The thought stings a little less.  Having a spontaneous adventure (we hardly planned a thing- finding hotels wherever we felt like staying, and finding different points on the map along the way) showed me what an alternative life could be like.  Not that we'd all of the sudden become gypsy travelers if we never were able to have children, but we'd certainly have freedom to realize some of the bigger adventures we've talked and dreamed about.  I liberated myself from the constraints of diets, charting, scheduled med intake and the like.  And yes, I secretly hoped I'd be one of the girls that magically became pregnant because she didn't give a crap one cycle.  But no.  Of course I'm going to continue my treatment regimen, for now.  I've gone through too much to stop outright- yet- But I'm starting to be more comfortable with entertaining the thought that maybe I won't have kids.  Maybe I won't work so hard to try to MAKE it happen.  Maybe I'll sit back for a while and see how life naturally unfolds.  Maybe the doors will never open for us to pursue adoption.  Maybe I'll never conceive.  Maybe my dogs will be the only 'babies' I'll ever have.  And maybe, just maybe, that will actually be okay.  Have you entertained the 'what if' thought?  If so, I'd love to hear how you handle it.