Black Hole, part 4
I am a person of faith. When life is hell, in theory and in practice, I can lean into the hand of the God of the universe, and sometimes I do. Other times I just want kick and scratch that hand out of anger, like a raging punk-ass Thumbelina in the hand of a giant. Right now, I am exhausted.
What I have learned after 29 months of disappointments is that my body simply doesn’t want to conceive naturally. The water is bitter, or at least bereft of necessary nutrients to support new life. Perhaps years of hope deferred have left their tailings in an empty womb. Perhaps some of us weren’t meant to be mothers. I have learned there are many women of various ages who feel that last sentiment acutely. Motherhood and the desire for it are not definitive for femininity, are they? I would like to think that not being a mother does not compromise my identity as a woman, in fact. While this is a recent and fairly privileged idea, I would like to think that it is none the less true. I can be–and am, really–fully female without having a child of my own. So then, why are we so suspicious of women without children (and spouses, to roll it back a notch)? Come to think of it, why does society continue to invest only partially in young women pursuing careers?
We are wrestling with a still new phenomenon of women and work–public work, visible-to-society work. The consequences of which (I suspect) have spurred on the fertility industry. We never think we’ll need help, until we do. Then we are suddenly reliant upon half-caring professionals who, with vague understanding, begin to try first one thing, then another, without having any idea what might actually work. Of course, for many of us, we hadn’t even started thinking about children until our mid-30s because we wanted something like a career, or we waited to get married (a corrective from our parents’ divorce-happy generation), or we weren’t even certain we wanted kids. But, after a while, everyone else started doing it, so we figure we’re supposed to as well. Then, all of a sudden, nothing happens. We’re too stressed, too overworked–too old–to conceive naturally. The job that was a symbol of ‘making it’ casts its shadow. We hear stories of women continuing in their careers after having children, and it sounds great, just like having two cakes and one fork. And we hear stories of women taking time away when their income went solely to childcare. Both are searingly complicated.
In her book, Infertility Cure, Randine Lewis made a point about children for couples after infertility being absolutely desired and adored–and that made me sad, even as I sensed a deep truth to that statement. Why is it that we would need to be deprived of something (someone)? What happens in that time of unfulfillment? This question haunts me. In fact it has followed me through the library doors and into my theological study.
As Christians, we live in a time of unfulfillment:
Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.
We anticipate a Now/Not Yet Kingdom filled by the light of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But we have no idea what to expect, really. ….It’s a bit like infertility.