“Infertility. I hate the word, the label for my “condition.” I hate that it oozes and creeps into every corner of my world, its fingers gripping my heart with a crushing force without a moment’s warning. I hate that this is our reality. That one word – its oily blackness – creeping, oozing down the walls, changing everything. And not just for me. Oh how I wish that were the case, but it has changed things for all of us. That one word – the reality of it all – has forever altered every member of this family.” – an entry from my journal May 2006
As I lay beside my girls while they slept on Thanksgiving Day, I was overwhelmed by how the Lord has blessed me. Of course, they are so peaceful when they are asleep, those feelings of thankfulness aren’t always quite so readily accessible when they are awake. But seriously, I lay awake as they slept, watching their precious faces and reminiscing over the journey that brought me here.
I have longed to be a mother for as long as I can remember. Like many little girls I played with dolls constantly, imitating my own mother’s tender smile, sweet baby talk, and of course, the occasional stern reprimand. (Isn’t it interesting when we see our parenting through the eyes of the one being parented?) Anyways, you get the picture. I loved being a “mom.”
When I was 11, I remember feeling that distinct tug on my soul. My sister, Susan, was a baby – and oh how I wished she was mine. I remember being at a party, all the kids were playing outside, we were at the house of a boy I had a huge crush on – I think his name was Jason. But that night all I wanted to do was to hold that baby. She fell asleep in my arms – oh I was so proud of myself. She was so peaceful as I cradled her against my body, so tiny, so trusting. She was completely dependent on me as I slowly rocked her, shhing and whispering to her when she’d stir. I didn’t want to, I couldn’t, let her go. The echoes of laughter tumbling through the air as all the other kids played tag and caught lightning bugs. But I barely noticed, I was lost in a world, in a dream, where I was a mom and this soft, warm, trusting beautiful creature belonged to me, belonged here, sleeping in my arms, our hearts beating against one another, her breath, soft on my shoulder, mine on her cheek, whispering kisses into her hair. Do you wonder as you think about that little girl of 11 with such big hopes and dreams – what is this world we live in? Who is this God she places her hopes in, who she believes in, that He would put this desire in her so deep, so deep, only to hold it always out of reach? I know I did.
When my youngest sister Amanda was born I was 16. I loved it when people assumed she was mine. I remember strangers asking how old my baby was. I remember the pride that welled up inside of me as I would tell them her age, purposefully leaving out the part about her not belonging to me.
I never doubted that I would be a mom. Not until it didn’t happen as I had planned. For many years we waited and prayed. I begged and pleaded, I bargained with God. I made promises impossible to keep if He would just give us a baby. I eventually came to the understanding that He had different plans than I did. His picture of our family would be very different than what I had pictured. I came to realize that God has already handpicked each and every one of our children. Some of them would come from other wombs, and I hoped that some of them would come from mine. But even in the middle of speaking that truth with conviction, my heart was breaking. My hope would wax and wane. I hated the label that I had become.
Damien and Angel came to live with us in June of 2003. They were 2 and 3 respectively. Ten months later we got a phone call that a baby girl had been born just south of here and the Department of Social Services wondered if we would be willing to take a third child. We had one hour to decide. A decision that we could not have guessed the impact of, and we made it in one hour. That little girl was our precious Robyn. And three years after her birth – to the day – we were able to finally call her our very own. When Robyn was two and a half, we received another call from DSS. This time a little boy needed a family. As soon as I looked into his eyes my heart belonged to him. His name was Zachary. I had the joy of being his mother for eight precious months. I wouldn’t trade those eight months for anything. Not even for eight years of fertility.
In the summer of 2007 God made it clear that In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was our next step. Through thousands of prayers, many of them yours, and tens of thousands of dollars, again, many of them yours, we were able to conceive. We will never be able to even begin to explain our gratitude for your sacrifice. What a true picture of the verse that says, (I am paraphrasing) there is no greater love than this that a man lay down his life for another. Without your sacrifice, we wouldn’t have Finley. We can never thank you enough. Finley was born on August 12, 2008. What a joyous occasion. Her bright eyes sparkled as we looked at one another for the first time. She is so much like Charles. Happy and easygoing, and she rarely complains. These are traits she did not inherit from me. And lucky for her she got his nose as well. (Shepherds have big noses if you hadn’t noticed.) Hopefully she will have my sense of style and SAT scores! She is amazing. We are madly in love.
It is mind boggling to comprehend – but I know that Finley was born of one specific embryo – one specific egg and one specific sperm. If we had gotten pregnant eight years ago, would we have ever known this child? Would there have ever been a Finley? I wonder about Damien and Angel. God only knows what lies in their future. Did we make a difference? I believe so. I believe that their lives would not be the same without the year and a half with us. I think of what Robyn’s life might have been. What it would have been if I hadn’t been labeled “infertile.” Where would she be? Would she be as precocious as she is like me? Would she have a loud raucous laugh like Charles? Would she be super girly and love shoes more than toys if she weren’t MY daughter? And my little Zachary. I know that he won’t ever remember those months with us. But is he changed, is he different? Is his life altered? I don’t know. All I do know is that infertility, that one ugly word that I have so despised, that word that has haunted me for so long, and will forever haunt me in many ways, that word is the reason that I am a mother to five beautiful children. That word is the reason that I am luckier than most, I get the chance to love larger than I ever dreamt.
And for that I will forever be grateful.
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