It was a Tuesday I think. I was in the shower and Tim was getting ready to bike the 13 miles to his office. The kids were sleeping, the dog was sprawled on our white linen bedspread, staring at us longingly. My always analyzing and deep feeling heart had been churning over deep life thoughts for a number of weeks. This random Tuesday morning seemed the time to voice them.
“Babe. Do you want to have another baby?” No hesitation, no pause…”Yes.”
That was it. No further words were spoken. Those 9 words were loud and heavy enough for one day. We each digested that abbreviated conversation for 3 days. In very different ways. On Friday night we sat on the deck of neighbor friends and as the couple went inside to make drinks, I asked,
Our friends entered the scene with much appreciated Moscow Mules. Copper mugs to mouth. Again, no more words were spoken that night. These seemed even weightier than the last round.
When we walked away from infertility treatments 10 years ago, I had no plans of revisiting that world. It haunted us on so many levels. For 2 years we poked and prodded and prayed and hoped and mourned. We assumed dreams that didn’t come true. We planned pregnancy announcements that didn’t happen. We had sex more often than even God ordained necessary. We grew numb and hopeless and started forming new dreams that didn’t involve my body’s participation. We walked away before attempting IVF, which was our last frontier. The thought of IVF was too much to take on and so we claimed “defeat.” That’s how our doctor would have put it. We saw it as the entry to a new path. Our path. It brought us our littles and there was no “defeat” in that. Our path wasn’t a backup. It was ordained and sweet in the midst of all the brokenness. Our brokenness, our kids’ brokenness, their birth moms’ brokenness…so much brokenness all merged with restoration of family and love.
As beautiful as the merging is, the brokenness remains. It lives in the margins for all of us. Our kids process their origins on a weekly basis it seems. Our daughter especially. They verbally and emotionally explore their stories and we allow space and grace for all those conversations. We normalize all of it and allow our daughter to call her first mom “mom.” Her birth mom walks around with a clock tattoo displaying the time of her birth. With tree roots she adds to every year on our daughter’s birthday. She wears the “R” charm necklace we share every day, touching her heart space. Our daughter – her daughter – is in her flesh and near her heart. The brokenness runs deep and lives in the margins. And then there’s us. The pain of infertility lives in the margins – deep margins most days, but it resides there with permanence. I can’t look at a pregnant woman in the eyes. I only see the life growing in them, reminding me of my brokenness. Baby showers are events I have to breathe through and numb any feelings I carry on birth and life and who looks like who. Or I just don’t go. Tim turns away and hardens at the announcement of pregnancies. He has to dig up happiness for even the best of friends.
As we walked home from dinner that Friday night, after 3 or 4 Moscow Mules, something in me settled. The idea of IVF drew hope and eagerness rather than all the years of dread and defeat. I found myself standing tall at the thought of calling one of the world’s best IVF clinics right here in Denver home. I felt God telling me he had us and would cushion us through this once again. It took a week of letting this mutually agreed upon path settle into our margins, but we both mentally reverted back to all the things we daydreamed about 10 years prior. We considered due dates and what that would look like for vacation plans and work schedules. I started looking pregnant women in the eyes. I saw myself in them. We laid in bed, face to face, and said, “Are we really doing this????” And we would fall asleep content and filled. IVF was our last resort and we were confident that we would get our miracle through bypassing my broken body’s condition. These doctors were gifted at growing babies and with God’s blessing, we felt hope.
A few weeks later, after a battery of testing that I actually found joy in, after thousands of dollars billed and elevated spirits, we sat across from our doctor.
When I saw the look in his eyes, I stiffened my 5’10” frame and numbed immediately.
He wasn’t there to walk us through a plan. He wasn’t there to talk us through next steps. He was there to gently inform us that he couldn’t justify a recommendation to move forward. Not with the broken state of my hormones and my uterus and my insufficient eggs count. Not with my age and the damage done from the endometriosis. It would be $50K just for what would be a feeble attempt. He was kind and considerate and honest. Tim and I went through the motions with business formality and I walked out of there a professional working woman with no contract. We had taken separate cars, which enabled the silence that would ensue. When we got home I curled myself into a chair in the privacy of our bedroom and wept. I hadn’t cried tears like these before. They were new. They were final and wounded. Tim took the kids outside and stood on the sidewalk watching them ride bikes. He didn’t stand so tall. His mind was far away and he remained in that neutral space for a long time. I took on his neutral space and chose to not feel much of anything for a time.
We forged ahead, most of the time, as if none of it happened. As if it wasn’t our story to unwrap. It’s not an update we shared with our people. We allowed it to fall back into our margins. The thing is, those margins are so much closer to the surface again with this newness having moved in. The margins aren’t so deep anymore and that brokenness creeps in when it chooses to. Like when I’m in our closet picking out clothes for the day and find myself thinking about baby girl names. Or when our neighbor baby girl snuggles her head into my chest and I allow my heart to feel the longing to call that nuzzle my own. I’m back to avoiding the eyes of pregnant women. “The chosen women” as I tend to think of them. In these flashes of time, I allow myself to fall apart for a moment and move on. We’ve been down this road before and yet it hits us as if it’s brand new territory. We’re just better at numbing the terrain.
We can move on – we are moving on. In so much brokenness for all God’s children, we move on. Our margins get deeper once again and we breathe. The dust settles and we all allow our brokenness to find its way to the margins. 10 years later and 10 years from now, our particular brokenness will creep up and bury and creep up. The creeping can’t be a daily pain. God wouldn’t allow for that. It’s why He grants us the gift of our margins. The burying and the creeping is our cycle on so many levels and one we continue to learn to find peace with. Without God’s role in all of this, the brokenness would see no redemption. We wouldn’t feel healed or new or able to walk through the creeping days. Thank you Jesus for margins and your role in walking us through them. His plan for our family is just that. His plan. It’s broken and stunning and we don’t feel that it’s complete. Whatever that means and whatever path He chooses to lead us down, we’ll trust. For now, we are a beautifully complicated family that extends from our blessed house in Colorado to an apartment in Seattle to another apartment in Wyoming. My womb had nothing to do with all that and 99% of the time, that’s as it should be.
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