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Granules of grace in a painful place

It was indeed midnight before I crawled into bed beside my sleeping husband after my last post. I had more tears, even then. They began as sniffs that turned into those little gulps, which became bigger gulps as Rob reached for me, and then full-on sobs. 

Wednesday night was the beginning. Friday, our next-door neighbors brought their newborn home from the hospital. Saturday I inflicted my own pain by watching the beautifully-done newborn slideshow they e-mailed to friends. Sunday we gathered with Rob’s family for Easter, and I wondered if the baby announcement would come before we could leave. Monday, my body confirmed that I am not pregnant.

But this is not the whole story.

Though the pain is true and real and worthy of telling, the pain alone is not a fair telling. Because I have experienced grace in this painful place. It is good for me to remember; good for me to tell.

» One month ago, my sister-in-law and I finally talked about the “what if” of them getting pregnant first. The vulnerability of such a talk had plagued me for months. How could I ask her for what I needed, without seeming to control how they shared their news? I was embarrassed. I was hurting. As it turned out, we were in the grocery store, picking up items for a spontaneous dinner together, when the conversation turned. “We pray every night that you’ll get pregnant first,” she told me. Her words were a balm; I knew she “got” my awkward, painful spot in relation to her. And I understood her awkward juxtaposition of desires for herself and for me. She gave me that opening to tell her that the best thing she could do for me is to let me know—whenever it happened—before she made a public announcement with me present. The evening made the possibility of her pregnancy seem bearable.

» Several weeks later, I finally wrote a thank-you note to her. And I told her, in case it had not come through clearly before, that we will be happy for them. My note arrived the afternoon she returned from her first doctor’s visit, where she saw the heartbeat that confirmed her home test results. She’d been afraid to tell me…she opened the note, cried, and gave me a call.

» I felt no envy. I’ve fought that monster before on this journey, and know what it looks like burrowed in my heart. By God’s grace, I did not need to fight it now.

» After going to sleep feeling passed over and rejected for God’s favor, I awoke with two phrases of a song in my head; a song I’d heard once, several days earlier. At work, I googled those phrases and found this song by Casting Crowns:

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the voice of truth says “this is for my glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth 

Grace does not remove the reality of my painful circumstance. It doesn’t answer my questions. Sometimes it even raises new questions.

But these pieces…these granules of grace…remind me that I am seen. I am not forgotten.

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Posted by on March 26, 2008 in grace, infertility

 

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Pain of infertility

He rubbed my leg. Back and forth, back and forth. Wanting to comfort me.

“Rubbing my leg doesn’t help,” I whispered. “I know you’re trying to help.”

Rob immediately withdrew his hand, but not himself, seated a foot away on our bed.

I didn’t know this would be so hard.  A miscarriage at eight weeks.  Fifteen months of trying since then.  Tonight, a call from my sister-in-law who loves me enough to let me know ahead of the family gathering on Sunday that she is pregnant.  New life is in her this Easter.  And in me…nothing.

Rob left the room to call and congratulate his brother.  That’s when I sobbed.  I’d kept count the first year after the miscarriage of how many people close to me—family, friends, Bible study—God blessed with a baby.  I think I got to seven, and have lost count since then.  I developed the analogy of those team games at recess in elementary and middle school, when my dread grew with every person chosen for teams, as I continued to shuffle and look unaffected.  That’s what it was like as person after person was chosen for parenthood.  Tonight, I decided, the teams are chosen.  I’m not on them.  A new wave of hopefuls will surround me, but it’s for the next game.  I’ve missed this one entirely, and God didn’t pick me.

Off the phone, Rob came up behind me in the bathroom, where I’d decided to wash the mascara off my face.  “Anything I can do?” he asked, putting his hands on my shoulders.

“I’d like to blog,” I said, knowing he’d planned to use the computer.

“OK.” He left again, and I again went into the bedroom and sobbed. Sobbed because I was hurting and he did not—could not—know how to help.

A couple sentences into this entry, he showed up at the office door. Leaned against the doorframe.

“Are you still planning to paint the bathroom tonight?”

I’d previously been too tired. Now I said, “Yes. I’m probably going to be up until midnight.” My eyes and jaw took the combative stance; I knew I sounded like I was mad at him. I thought about saying I wasn’t…

“OK. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I looked at him…and shrugged. “I guess not.” Then silently willed him to come to me.  Kiss me.  Tell me he loves me.  And he did.  He came to me, bent over and kissed me.

“I love you. We’re still the same.  It’s still us.”

“I know,” I said, tears crowding again. “I’m just convinced God doesn’t like me.  ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.’  It isn’t the stork knocking.”

Rob looked at me.  And then started laughing.  “Didn’t see that one coming.”  I didn’t want to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. 

He sleeps now, untroubled by this pain.  I wish he could feel it with me…be in it with me.  I know he’s doing what he can.

As for me…I sit with red, scratchy eyes, a stomach of tears, and a blank wall in my mind with no dreams to splash across it.  So I’ll occupy my hands and distract my heart with what I do have: a bathroom wall waiting for stripes to be painted upon it.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2008 in infertility, miscarriage

 

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Yes–my husband knows

I conceived the idea for this blog six months ago, but gave birth only this evening while Rob was at a meeting. When he arrived home I shooed him out of the office until I could complete the “about” page…and then unveiled it for my writer-husband.

He laughed as he read along, so that was good. 

“Do you mind?” I asked, hanging about his neck & kissing him.

“No; you need a creative outlet,” he said, laughing (was it somewhat ruefully?) “…for the entire world to see.” 

I reminded him this was better than my earlier idea, hatched in our first six months of marriage: a book called Coffeetalk About Virgin Honeymoons. Only a soft shell on that egg, so it went no further than talks with girlfriends recently married who also had chosen to remain virgin until the wedding night–and discovered life just isn’t like the movies.  A topic that deserves conversation for the unsuspecting and relates well through heavy doses of humor. That title probably would have been published under a pseudonym.

I did ask Rob if I could relate that last paragraph.  He was fine with this, because I never actually wrote the book.

Later he said something about…he should have known better than to marry a writer.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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