Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Womanhood: How Miscarriage Changed My View of Control

*Disclaimer - I am going to be brutally honest about some topics people are not usually brutally honest about.  If you don't want to read about sex and hormones and birth and death, you probably should stop here.

When my husband and I were engaged, we talked extensively about our desire for children someday - both biological and adopted.  We knew the someday would come when we were ready for such a feat, but we knew the "someday" was not as newlyweds.

I mean, I was in the middle of graduate school.
My husband was relocating to live with me in an apartment the size of our current living room.
My husband didn't have a job and I was a graduate assistant.

This was not the time.  We both knew it.

So, a couple months before getting married, I talked to a doctor about the best ways to prevent pregnancy once we were married.  The doctor gave me her advice (the Nuva Ring), and told me to try it before the wedding, so my body would be ready.

And I did.
Phew, that was a rough patch in our soon-to-be-married relationship, because I. Was. Hormonally. Crazy.

Throw-the-scrambled-eggs-across-the-room-because-they-made-me-angry CRAZY.  Yes, that did happen.

My fiance gently said, "Honey, do you think maybe you should try something else?"

It scared me how much that drug controlled me, when in fact, I was using it to control me.  That is what birth control does.  You think you are controlling baby-making, but really it is controlling you and your cycle and your emotions and your life and your relationship.

Long story short, we made the decision to just do barrier method for pregnancy prevention.

Something had always sort of seemed wrong to me about using "barrier methods," but I didn't exactly know why I felt that way.  As a woman who waited until marriage to have sex with my husband, it just seemed WAY more "I have sex with lots of people so I don't want their body to touch me" than I was really wanting in a marriage.  It seemed cold and distant...and sort of a passion buzzkill, right?

But, alas, I wasn't doing any hormone drugs and I was determined to not have babies yet, so barrier it was.

My husband found a job.  I graduated with my master's degree.  He was accepted to seminary.  We moved to a real adult-sized apartment.  I got a real adult-sized job.

WE decided it was time.  We had always talked about adopting before having biological children.  So, we started down the foster care/adoption road (or more like a dirt path with humongous potholes and giant hills).  We did the classes.  We did the homestudies.  We did the paperwork.  We got approved.

. . . . . . .

Yep. . . just waiting here . . .

All the while, barrier method it was.  We were in control of the situation.  We were trying to adopt a child who needed a family.  We were being good people...doing good things for the world.  And we were controlling the pregnancy situation.

And we were still waiting.  The system is broken.  Adoption is a hard road.  There is so much heartache involved.  But gloriously, then it happened.  A young girl, 13 months old, Hispanic, beautiful.  She was going to be ours.

But, did I mention the system is broken?  She ended up somewhere else.

Insert tears.  Lots of tears here.  The system may have been broken, but it was not as broken as me.

After the shock wore off, my husband and I decided it was time.  We were taking control of the situation, and we were going to get pregnant.  The system can't take away our conceived baby like it took away what we thought was our baby.

One month later, I was with child.  See, we were in control.  We stopped preventing and it happened.  In our minds, that is how birth control worked.

We told our families.  We prepared our lives.  We ate the right foods.  We visited the doctor to confirm.  We took the right prenatal vitamins.  We were a family of three.  It was awesome.

We walked into that first ultrasound (approximately 10 weeks pregnant) holding hands and smiling.  I had played the whole scene in my head.  I knew enough pregnant ladies and I had seen enough movies to know what to expect here.  A black and white screen.  A round circle with a budding little human.  A heartbeat visible with little lines.  The kiss and smile from the husband.  The "Oh, that is our baby!"  The tears.  The whole thing.  I knew.

Except that wasn't what happened.  Well, there was the black and white screen.  Then.

Well, then there was silence.
And then there was the kiss from the husband, but no smile attached.
And then there were the tears.
This.  This I did not expect.  This I did not know.

The apologies.  The explanations.  The planned surgery.  It was all a blur after that black and white screen.
I was no longer in control of the situation.

Little did I know at the time, but I had never been in control of the situation.  We are led to believe in this "obviously everyone uses some sort of birth control world" that we are in control.  The fact is, the only control we have is the control to prevent or end a pregnancy.  That isn't control.

Our miscarriage made my whole worldview get flipped.  We did it by the book.  We waited until we were married.  We waited until we were "ready."  Then, our baby dies.  Let me say it again, THAT is NOT control.

So, why don't we prevent pregnancy anymore?  Well, there are a lot of reasons.  The biggest reason is because birth control and barrier methods made us sin against the first commandment.  We were not loving and trusting God above all else when we were "controlling" the situation.  We were creating our own god of the family we wanted and when we wanted it.  Every reason we had for preventing pregnancy was selfish.  Do I believe there are circumstances in some marriages which necessitate preventing pregnancy?  Yes.  Most certainly.  But we don't have any of those and we never have.  All we had were excuses for a lack of trust.

We have now been blessed with three more children (one through adoption shortly after our miscarriage and two biological).  They are all three and under.  I get the usual, "You're done now, right?  You have had your girl now.  Three is enough.  Your hands are full." comments.  I smile and say, "We will see what God decides."

Behind that smile and statement is a WHOLE LOT OF FEAR...

How can I buckle ANOTHER one into a carseat?
Who will help me in church?
What if I am sick for the first 35 weeks of another pregnancy?

I am not without those thoughts.  I live with them daily.  Obeying the first commandment is not something I am very good at.

As a breastfeeding mom who has not gotten her period back, I make it a policy to take one pregnancy test every month.  Breastfeeding and postpartum hormones will get you to believing you are pregnant everyday.  It is crazy what we can make ourselves believe about symptoms.  So, once a month, I wait those three-five minutes.  I go in thinking, "Oh. My. Goodness.  Please be negative.  I need some sleep.  I need a shower.  I need to be able to pee by myself."  Then, the one line shows up and tells me I am not pregnant.

Something strange happens in that moment.  I feel sadness.  I feel a sense of loss.  And then I know.  I know another carseat will fit in that van.  I know a friend will join me in church.  I know my husband will hold my hair back during first trimester puking.  I know if God so chooses, I will be overjoyed to welcome another life into this family.

Being in control is terrible.  Actually, no - thinking you are in control when you really aren't is terrible.

So, even though I was never able to meet our first child, Jovi still taught me as much as my other children have.  Jovi changed my view of control.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Womanhood: I am Praying FOR You.

There are situations and circumstances in life which leave me painfully thoughtless.  I don't mean rude or uncaring.  Although, I suppose I can be both of those sometimes, as well.  I mean literally without a thought, and certainly without words to actually speak.

When I am thoughtless, I have a tendency to be prayless, too.  Yes, I made up a word.  I can do that.  This is my blog.  So, prayless.  I don't think I need to define it.  It is pretty self-explanatory.
But just in case it isn't totally clear -

I am talking about times when I do not want to talk to God.
I am talking about times when I do not think I need to talk to God.
I am talking about times when I am angry with God and decide giving him the silent treatment is my only course of action.
I am talking about times when I hurt too much to think.
I am talking about times when I think God is too busy for little ol' me.
I am talking about times when I forget God died FOR me, so He certainly cares for me.

And that is when I need you.  Yes, you.  You reading this screen right now.  My fellow sisters in Christ.  I need you to pray FOR me, because I can't.
Pray what you know I can't say.
Pray what you know my sinful heart will not utter.
The very words which should be coming out of my mouth are just eaten up within me.
You, however, YOU can say them.

It is easy to say, "I am praying for you."  It is wonderful to say, "I am praying for you."  But what does it mean?

I put you on "my list?"  It's a long one...
I sent caring vibes your way?  Not sure how that will help you.
I am thinking about you?  Well, I am quite certain my thoughts have nothing to do with your life being better.

Sometimes all we have is those words, though...I am praying for you.  And believe me, there is power in them.  The power of legions of angels.  The power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.  The power of the cross and the Man who hung there FOR you.  The power of the Father who has adopted us as His own.  That is power.

It is also the power of a community of Christians.  For when my lips are silent, I have you praying FOR me.
In my stead.
I pray without ceasing when you are praying FOR me.

But, ladies, don't just pray for ME.
Pray FOR your children.
Pray FOR your husbands.
Pray FOR your friends.
Pray FOR your pastor.
Pray FOR your neighbors.
Pray FOR your fellow congregation members.

We all need prayers sent up when our hearts are too hardened to utter a word.

And when you fail to pray FOR all these people and when you fail to pray FOR yourself,
know that the Man who hung on that cross was praying FOR you then and He still is today.
He's got this.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Womanhood: It Sucks

I grew up in a home where the phrase "it sucks" was not allowed.  My mom believes it to be vulgar and disgusting.  She is right.  It is.  My parents lovingly taught me not to cuss, not even the non-cuss cussing - no sucks, crap, or gosh in my house! I actually feel bad just typing them.

When you use words like these often, they lose their power.  If I went around cussing or non-cussing ALL the time, no one would think the title of this post would be anything more than normal.

But, no.  This is not normal.

I am sorry, Mom.  I didn't want to say it, but sometimes it is fitting.  It sucks.

So, what is so bad for me to use such a vulgar and disgusting phrase?

The pain of childbearing.  That's what.
Or equally -
The pain of the LACK of childbearing.  That's what.

Read THIS.

The pain sucks.  Sometimes is sucks so bad that our faith is shaken.  We fall.  The very consequence we were given as women following the first fall continues to aid our falling today.

And then God goes and does something amazing.  He uses the very outcome of childbearing (the child) to show us faith - to tell us who we are to Him - to remind us of His nature.

Read THIS.

Our five-month-old daughter searches a room for me.  As soon as she is out of my arms, her head flies around until I move into her view and we make eye contact. Then, her world is realigned.  She knows from where her help comes.

And why does she do this?  Because I have been feeding her when she wanted it, changing her when she needed it, and holding her most every other moment.  I do this through my vocation as her mother, only with the help of God.

Only through Christ am I good to my children.

Christ is working through me, veiled inside this sinful body of mine.  Our daughter scans the room looking for her help, looking for her Christ in me.  Why do little children come to Jesus?  Because they know, much better than we, from whence their help comes.

When it sucks...
When the world is spinning and I can't find my equilibrium...
When I have pain in childbearing...
When I have pain in the lack of childbearing...

From where does my help come?

I feel as though I am an infant snatched from the arms of my Christ.  I am searching.  My head spinning around the room.  But then it happens.  Instead of me finding my Christ's eyes to lock onto, He finds mine.  There I am, crying and lost as a little child.  There He is, picking me up, spinning my head around and pointing my eyes right towards Him.

And most amazingly, my Christ knows better than anyone how bad...
how very bad it sucks.

So, He will never tell me, His little child, to just suck it up.

He will keep searching for me until He finds my eyes and my world realigns.