This past April, when I eight months pregnant, I braved Walmart with my then three small children. By the time we turned into a checkout line I had threatened and bribed everyone within an inch of their lives. I frantically threw stuff onto the belt as Dominic slunk out of his seat. I grabbed him and held his thrashing body to my hip while I hollered at Bernadette to stop digging in the candy there in the checkout lane. Meanwhile Gus hung from the side of the cart screaming that I was, in fact, the “worst mom ever”.
And there I stood, ready to burst with the next little criminal. I sighed and shook my head at the cashier, smiling that, “Lord help me” kind of smile.
The cashier, a women in her 50’s, didn’t smile back. Instead she mumbled under her breath, “you know, there’s a pill for that,” as she ran a bag of frozen broccoli over the scanner. Her eyes flicked to mine and she quickly added, “Just kidding,” before returning to the groceries.
It was an ugly lie of a comment, I know that. But despite that, it made me feel very small. It made me feel like a fool.
Seen through the eyes of others, the choice to use NFP, to have big families, to try for more babies after devastating losses or long periods of painful infertility, seems foolish. Why leave ourselves open to that kind of pain? Why risk getting our hopes up only to be crushed, overwhelmed or let down again?
To say that it’s worth it is obvious. To say that it’s easy–well that’s a completely untrue.
The decision to use NFP is a tough one. The decision to leave the door open to life or endure periods of abstinence as a married couple, it’s all rough stuff.
A few weeks back I asked you guys to take another survey for me and, just like before, you came through. 400 people took a few minutes to respond. Thank you! I asked you to share with me the elements that have been part of your fertility journey. Here are the results:
Looking over the survey results actually made me really sad. Nearly 50% of those that responded have suffered a miscarriage. 25% suffered through periods of infertility and many, many endured difficult pregnancies, dangerous deliveries or tiny babies in need of the NICU–some all of the above. And of those that didn’t go through these obvious sufferings, many wrote about being overwhelmed with too many little children, struggling to agree with a spouse about the method of birth control and lowered sex drives.
These years of fertility bring with them so much hurt. In fact, that seems to be the only universal I could find. We all suffer, struggle and are challenged in some way. We all have a story.
Of course, the story, usually, is not just suffering. There are heaps of joy: baby giggles, full vans, happy marriages, and beautiful families.
Even still, these years of fertility are treacherous to navigate. Each month my husband and I have big decisions to make: Are we ready for another baby? Is our marriage thriving–or is it overwhelmed with the demands of kids/abstinence/work/illness? And, most importantly, are we allowing God create the family He desires us to have?
And let’s not make light of these decisions. The creation and care for our families is the most important work we will ever do. The world might look at us as fools. Fools for leaving the door open to God. Fools for hoping for children after loss. Fools for buying big vans and enduring yet another horrific pregnancy. And that’s fine. Let them think that.
For we know that what they see as foolishness is actually something very simple: trust.
Trust that God has a plan. Trust that each and every baby we conceive is a gift and trust that our marriages are strong enough to endure anything, even periods of abstinence.
At this point in our lives there is no greater issue demanding our attention than that of our fertility. For this reason Nell, Laura and I decided to focus our newest Waiting in the Word study on Fertility. And, after so much work, the study is finally ready.
I can’t explain just how excited I am about this study. It might just be the most important thing I have ever been part of creating.
Unlike our other studies, this one is intended for couples. It is our deepest hope that this study give couples an opportunity to talk about these sometimes painful topics. We pulled together several voices for each of the four weeks of the study–including reflections written by our husbands!–all offering reflections on their own personal fertility journey because it is so important that we talk about, write about and claim our own stories. In fact, the journal element of this study does just that. It asks you to work through your story and actually write it out. The study is once again lectio divina based, but all of this prayer, reflection and writing leads up to a spousal meeting each week–for which we have created an agenda.
We will once again be discussing the study and sharing our own stories in our closed Facebook Group.
The study is on pre-sale this week for $9. The price will increase to $11 next week, and the study will start (that’s right, we’ll be doing it together!) on Monday October 16th!
I really hope that you will join us for this study and that your husband will join you in working through these important issues.
Because even though the world might see us as foolish, we know better.
Thanks for being here,
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