Over the twenty-one months we tried and failed to get pregnant, I had a lot of opportunity to think about God’s timing.
After five months of trying and failing to get pregnant, I got to perform in a show that meant the world to me. The rehearsal and performance schedule was grueling on top of my day job and it would have been hard to keep up if I was also dealing with that first trimester exhaustion, but the experience was so creatively fulfilling that it kept me powered up for months. “OK,” I thought. “This must be why we don’t have a baby yet.” God was giving me this chance to realize a dream of mine, even if it meant postponing a dream I had for our family.
I was offered a job at a new school after nine months of trying and failing to get pregnant. It was a leap I couldn’t have made if we were pregnant already, and it was one I felt like I really needed to take. “OK,” I thought. “This must be why we don’t have a baby yet.” God was pushing me towards a learning opportunity that could help us build a better future for our family, even if it meant waiting longer for that family to grow.
We had been trying and failing to get pregnant for 17 months when some oral surgery I had been avoiding for a year suddenly became imperative. I’d procrastinated scheduling the procedure, sure every month that I would be pregnant and the surgery would have to be canceled anyway. “OK,” I thought. “This must be why we don’t have a baby yet.” God knew I needed to address this dental issue and had made space to make sure I took care of myself.
And now, almost a full two years after we started trying for a second child, I am finally, and with great joy, and with great relief, pregnant.
It happened during a month when I thought it was absolutely not possible. I never had a positive ovulation test, I thought we missed our window, I hadn’t been as careful about tracking as I thought I needed to be.
But lo and behold, a few weeks later I found myself dozing off at odd moments and shooting eye daggers at anyone who dared eat fish in my general vicinity. And here we are, almost 11 weeks in to a new adventure that I was starting to despair we would never get to go on.
I find myself wondering, though – why now?
Maybe God was waiting for me to surrender. The good news came less than 48 hours before our first appointment with an IVF specialist. I was truly done expecting that our family was going to grow without medical intervention.
Maybe God knew this was just the right time. If so, his ways continue to be pretty freaking mysterious, since we found out we were pregnant less than a week after buying a new house in a new town on total impulse. But maybe God knew growing a new life in the midst of this chaos was exactly what we needed to do.
Deep down, I suspect both of these explanations might be true, but they really serve to drive home a bigger lesson, the biggest lesson I have learned from parenting Ella, the only piece of advice I can ever offer expectant parents:
We Are Not In Charge.
I had a lot of expectations, heading into motherhood the first time around. I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to cloth diaper and make my own baby food. I pictured myself with my angelic offspring, zen-filled, doing Mommy & Me yoga in total bliss.
But Ella had other ideas.
She would not, or possibly could not, nurse. My supply never caught up from having to supplement right at the beginning, and soon enough we were loading up on Enfamil at $35 per tub.
The cloth diapers couldn’t handle the hard water at our apartment and consistently leaked where Ella’s tiny thighs didn’t fill the leg holes.
She refused to eat any purees I made myself, immediately recognizing the packaging as imposter.
And yoga class could truly not have been any less blissful, with Ella attempting to scale the fountain shrine during the 30 seconds it took me to roll out our mat. She spent the rest of the class shouting at people and repeatedly retrieving our coats. “Home,” she said, as in “We go there now.”
I’m not the mother I thought I was going to be. Ella is not the person I expected. And this journey to grow our family has not been what I hoped for.
But different isn’t better, or worse. It’s just different, and so much of my work as a mom has been to accept, understand, and cherish the ways our reality is different than what I anticipated. That knowledge is one of the greater gifts motherhood has given me.
I don’t know that God would have put us through the difficulty of the last two years of trying and failing to get pregnant just to remind me that I am not in charge.
But I do know that the reminder is appreciated, as we prepare for a new reality that will change our family forever and wait in anticipation to meet a brand new human, who will have ideas of his or her own about that reality.
We are not in charge, and that’s kind of beautiful.