Staring at a blank screen, wondering where to begin. There's a lot in my head. Church today. I wasn't going to go. It's been a really tough week and I just didn't feel up to it. But as is so often the way, I was nudged to go and felt challenged when I got there.
It was a difficult start. The vicar's wife has recently given birth to their third child. As he stood proudly with his baby daughter at the front of church and everyone applauded, I sat with tears brimming and tried not to make a scene. Why do we do that? Why do we applaud a new baby? It's like we're saying, well done, you made a human! Isn't that an amazing achievement! What kind of message does that send to the couple who have been unable to "achieve" a family. The same at weddings, the same when we wax lyrical about the many "blessings" God has given us. What then is the person who has not been "blessed" with the things you have to feel? Doesn't God feel they are deserving of these blessings too? It is hard enough not to compare ourselves to others who have the things we so desperately long for, harder still when as a congregation or society we cheer/approve/celebrate/applaud these things in each other. It can leave the person who does not do, or have, or achieve the same things, (but wants to), feeling inadequate, undeserving or sidelined.
I didn't applaud. Not because I'm not happy for them, not even because I am jealous. Because I was hurting for myself and because it was all I could do not to walk out the door right there and then.
I am glad I didn't. We were looking at Judges 6, in which Gideon is asked by an angel of the Lord to "go in your might and deliver Isreal from the hand of Midian". When Gideon questions how he can do that, saying he is the lowest of the low in his clan, he is told "I (God) will be with you and you shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them". Today's speaker interpreted this to mean that God is always with us, and with God we are stronger than we believe. She encouraged us not to focus on our problems and anxieties, but to focus on God. Stop telling God how big our problems are, and start telling our problems how big our God is.
Wow. I felt the words were ones God wanted me to hear this week. It's been a week of severe pain and anxiety, after finding out our second IVF transfer attempt failed. I've been feeling pretty hopeless, to be honest. And very anxiuos over our next step. We have two more embryos, and I am incredibly torn over whether to transfer both together for our next go. On the one hand, I don't believe either of them are going to produce a viable pregnancy- afterall we started with five "high quality" embryos, and so far have lost three of them. On the other hand, transferring two does carry the risk of twins, which with my history of premature birth is very scary. This, mixed with the feelings of sadness, pain, fear of never being a mummy.....the feeling that life is on hold for us whilst everyone else moves forward, getting pregnant, delivering healthy babies, celebrating birthdays as those children grow up.....it's been a hot mess of fear and pain and over-thinking and tears. Lots of tears.
We are approaching our fourth anniversary of Bertie's birth and death, and we still are no closer to bringing home a baby brother or sister. The pain is not lessening, the fear is growing. Its a lonely road and it's awful. The strain on our marriage is huge. When I stop and reflect on what we have faced as a couple...we have buried a child and now faced years of infertility. Either one of those blows is enough to break many marriages apart, and we have faced both...continue to face both. It's incredible that we are not only still standing, but standing firm together.
I heard God's words today, and I will try to heed them, but, this problem is so huge, all consuming really and it has been going on for so very long now.....it isn't easy. I don't know that I am as strong as God believes me to be. But I will continue on, with gratefulness for my husband and the tiny grain of hope that remains that we will be able to parent a living child, one day. One day WILL arrive. Won't it?