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Infertility does not define who I am. It is a journey I have traveled through a large portion of my life, however it is not me.
The bizarre thing is that living with IF is a process unto itself. It’s not just about the discovery, diagnosis and then the medical process. Or if you have chosen to engage in all the requirements of adoption, the paperwork, interviews and waiting involved. Infertility has been a journey that has brought me full face to myself.
You see, in the past I have struggled with the full need to be in control. I have needed to know the information in advance, (inquiring minds need to know). I needed to understand how things work and why they do, or why they do not. I needed to know the implication of every decision and then decide accordingly. I need to control so I could change a deep unhappiness inside me.
When IF came into my world at nineteen, I still had a lot of wait left in me. I had to wait to be married for at least 21 years so the frustration of my body not working properly seemed difficult, but I had time. Yet as I aged I always felt as though I was running out of time. Just before I was married I had looked at medical options and hoped for a healing. When I actually married I thought surely I would get pregnant on my honeymoon. I actually had maternity clothing and baby clothes. Furnishings came later in my wait.
The longing for a child was insatiable. In all my praying and waiting, and testing I didn’t find any peace. I had time, I thought. After all I was only 41, 42, 43, etc. The frustration mounted as I fought with the issues of being unable to control what my body wasn’t doing regardless of how much I’d command it to change. I certainly knew I wasn’t in control. One could almost hear the clock ticking softly.
My personal “clock” stopped ticking suddenly, the day I discovered I could not qualify for IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatments. I had to be ushered into a side examination room in order to gain emotional control. I had to stay in control. When that avenue closed I threw myself into painful prayer. If I prayed exactly right and prayed the right scriptures repeatedly, then God would ‘owe’ me a baby. I would pace and pray, speak aloud to God EXACTLY what I expected Him to do.
After a full year of this futility of unbelieving prayer, I called the adoption agency and we began what was an eight year process. My renewed hope that surely this was the reason we couldn’t have children. We were called to adopt! The enthusiasm didn’t last long when after only a year of paperwork and meetings we were put on hold. In a few years we would be called to begin the process of classes and Home Study, but there was time for that. We waited. More hoops and we waited again.
When spring came, a new announcement from the adoption agency brought me into a place of renewed strength and a determination that this time I could take control by surrender. We could decide when enough was enough.
Keyboard and page cannot possibly put down all that my husband and I have invested and after years of this emotional and physical and pain-filled attempt to conceive or adopt a child. I was exhausted and ready to let the dream completely go. I was ready to surrender, not just the dream, but my need to control. I was ready to let God take over.
He did! I have found in letting go, I have found a new sense of peace. It has been an incredible relief to be free of the torment. No I haven’t found a baby on my doorstep or snatched a toddler at the mall. I am learning and living free. Child-Friendly Free. Knowing that I am already a mother in the lives of many little ones, I can rest in that knowing I am walking in God’s design for ‘a mother in place of another’.
From the time of diagnosis at age 19 to the day of surrender, I have been trading time and effort in a bargain with God. He patiently waited and gave me the time to discover that He has always been in control. This for me was a moment of release.
This journey may not be over, I do not know what tomorrow will bring or what the future will hold. This is a journey I’ve traveled. It’s not who I am.