Thursday, May 24, 2012


I sat in a small office yesterday afternoon crunching very large numbers with a financial counselor.  For a moment my eyes wandered past her, to the framed art hanging on her wall.  It was so strange I couldn't look away.  

The artist depicted a mother and baby floating in a pool of rippling forest green water (yes, forest green).  The oddly-proportioned mother's arms and hands encircle her child, and then... another pair of gigantic, disembodied, very hairy hands emerge from the water around them.  These giant hands looked as if they are scooping her up.  I'm sure they are meant to be God's nurturing hands, but to me they look like the hands of an irritated old man about to slap an unsuspecting fly.  Fertility clinic Rorschach test?  Perhaps. 

I was snapped back from my psychoanalytical art critique by the following sentence:

For the price of $17,500 you get three fresh, three frozen, and the guarantee of a take-home baby, or your money back.

Suddenly, I felt as if I was about to order an extra-value meal.  I'll take three fresh, three frozen, and one take-home baby, to go... 

It was at this point that I realized what a strange world I am entering.  A world of test tubes and vials.  A world of frozen babies.  A world in which I can get pregnant even if my husband is out of town.  It is a world I hoped to avoid, but it is quickly becoming my new reality.

I have already added to my new reality that I am a childless mother, who carries a rare genetic disorder.  I have a 50% chance of passing this disorder onto my children.  I am trying to accept that wanting a healthy baby is not a rejection of my only and very special child.  I am trying to accept that I am a paradox; a young woman who is fully capable of having a healthy pregnancy, yet I spent my afternoon discussing egg retrieval, and hormone injections, and payment plans.

I held it together, and felt pretty good through the appointment.  I tried to stay focused through the financial consultation.  I even laughed as Jordan and I filled out some of the very personal paperwork.  But as the day progressed I began to feel angry.  I felt angry that losing my sweet child is not enough of a trial.  Angry that others around me seem to be so quickly and abundantly blessed with children. Angry that I have to grieve and navigate incredibly difficult moral and financial decisions.

By early evening I felt like ripping whatever was in my hands.  I was tempted by the cathartic motion of smashing dishes on the kitchen floor.  An irritation and anguish rose inside of me that I could not fully voice or silence.  My anger was a whirlwind of intense frustration combined with heartache. 

I tried to tell God that all I wanted was to be a mother to Jonah.  Doesn't He know that I would have been so content just to care for this sweet boy?

Unfortunately I am far too disciplined and peaceful to destroy my possessions in a fit of rage.  And anytime I try to scream, it comes out so pathetic that I resolve never to do it again.  But last night I chose to sit with my anger for awhile; to really feel it; to let it burn instead of dowsing it immediately with gratitude or tears.

This morning my anger has mellowed into the soft heat of burned out coals, and the tears have have helped to dowse it.  I can feel the love of God again, instead of feeling like a fly on the water.  I can recognize my gratitude for the technology that is available to help us.  And I feel like my anger has cleared a place for my new reality to settle in. 

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. 
Maya Angelou


  1. I love your previous post about perfection and what that means in relationship to our bodies. Sometimes I have felt so betrayed by my body, this glorious gift that God has given me, which refuses to hold babies long enough to live. I am so sorry that wanting to be a mother means so much heartache for you. It is not fair.

    I love you. Remember that there is nothing wrong with loving your perfectly imperfect Jonah and also wanting to give more children the gift of life with a little less physical pain.

    Sigh. I miss that little man.

  2. (((Julie))). I wish there was a magic wand to wave and resolve some of these challenges. I have thought of you during this pregnancy often and wished I could make it not part of your pain. I don't have much of any value to say, only that you are so often in my thoughts and prayers. I know that life isn't fair, but that doesn't help me like that reality any more.

  3. Another mountain to climb. It is hard, and I'm sorry. I do like the guarantee of "a take-home baby" though. I wonder what might be in a year from now.

  4. Having had 9 miscarriages in my time, I know that consumption of anger and unfair pain, the looking around me and seeing all these women - girls, even! - having babies left and right. Just wanting so badly to be a mother, and to be a mother in that simple and natural way I thought my body was supposed to experience.

    For sure, life is hard. But I'm just as sure you are a woman who can do hard things.

  5. I, too, underwent 2 years of tests, surgeries, procedures, etc. to finally get pregnant with my 2 boys. After all of this, I thought our difficult path to children was through and then my boys came at 24 weeks. My Jonah is now my special needs baby. I understand your frustrations and anger and am amazed at your ability to heal and move forward with resolution. If you ever need to talk about the process you can find me on Facebook. God bless.

  6. Julie, our love is every with you. Z & G