Posted in Infertility, parenting

We Are Not In Charge

in the wind

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.


Posted in Infertility, parenting

Sharing is Caring – and a little bit more


With a three year old in the house, I spend a lot of time thinking about sharing. I guess when I went back to work after maternity leave, I assumed one of the benefits of having Ella in daycare full time from the very beginning was that she would be used to sharing with other kids by the time we gave her a sibling.

Imagine my surprise when all that socializing actually produced territoriality instead of generosity! Turns out spending most of her days with kids who are also learning boundaries has made my Junebug a bit fierce about what’s hers.

She loses her mind when one of the cats sits in her favorite spot on the couch. She hoards her toys and treats around younger cousins. And God help anyone who dares to use her special rainbow bath towel.

“Think about how your friend feels,” we tell her. “Sharing makes our friends happy.”

I’m slowly realizing that this is possibly the wrong way to approach it – that our sharing makes other people happy is really only half the story.

I’m a pretty private person, by nature, so it took a lot for me to start sharing my stories online. Then, last fall, I wrote something about my experience of 9/11 and, in a moment of uncharacteristic bravery, shared it.

The response blew me away – not so much the number of views, although that was pretty terrifying to watch, but really the number of people who thanked me for sharing what they’d never been able to, and the number of people who then were inspired to share their own story.

That one little post, written in a frenzy after more wine than usual and shared without much thought for the possible consequences, gave me enough confidence that this sharing idea was maybe a good one. So, when my husband and I reached an unspoken milestone in our effort to have a second child, I felt like maybe, just maybe, sharing that journey was a worthwhile endeavor.

Even though I am private, especially about body stuff. Even though it made me feel pretty squirmy inside to put this out in the world. Even though I wasn’t sure how I would feel about talking, in real life, to real people, about what we were going through.

You guys. The sharing. It is the best thing.

Not only because it lifted a burden I didn’t even really know I was carrying, and not only because people have been so kind in their feedback about my writing.

But because me sharing has made other people share, too. I have been completely humbled by the women who have read my sharing and reached out with their own – in the comments here and elsewhere, over e-mail, in private messages, over coffee.

Things get so heavy when we carry them on our own. Maybe more sharing is really the right idea.

So, I’m pleased as punch that a story I published over at Coffee + Crumbs last week is being shared today at For Every Mom. Welcome to anyone who clicked over from there. I’m so happy to share a little bit of my life with you.