When life gives you lemons

Black Hole, part 8

I work in retail. Any time we leave the building we have to do a bag check. Since I’m in the office, I have the privilege of scanning people’s bags. The insides of bags can be fascinating, though I have yet to make an earnest study of them. The other day I scanned a purse and saw a bunch of lemons. So, I made a comment about whiskey sours to which my young coworker said, “Not likely, I’m pregnant!” She’s only about ten weeks along and hasn’t announced anything. But in that moment, when it was just us looking into the contents of her purse, I provided the perfect set up for her to share the good news.

Recently I’ve been preoccupied with grad school rejection letters, needing to prepare a presentation, and trying to figure out if the acceptance with partial funding is viable. Yes, I received one enthusiastic acceptance to a PhD program, which makes me smile. Yet that one acceptance pulls on a tangle of decisions the likes of which, in all my years of knitting, I have never seen such a mess. My smile quickly fades. There is a possibility that grad school won’t work out, taking me to yet a new level of barrenness. There is a possibility that I will try and fail. There is a possibility that my husband will let go of a good thing here for something mediocre there. What is the next faithful step when staying is good for one and leaving good for the other?

What does not factor into our decisions is the thought that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be surprised by a bundle of joy. As I approach my 40th birthday, limitations of mortality significantly reign in any such hope. Our hearts have given up. To be honest, we simply cannot give any consideration to the ‘what if’ of children. Perhaps that sounds like an excuse, yet sometimes I am relieved that I have not had to subject a little person to my emotional shortcomings. Speaking with my future advisor, she asked if we have children and I said, no. Her next comment about that making a move simpler is true, albeit that much more painful. Sometimes I wonder what life would look like if we were parents. I must admit, it would certainly be more complicated. Sometimes I almost start to think it’s nearing time to take measures to avoid an “accidental” pregnancy. But that’s another level, and neither I nor my husband are there. Not yet.

But before the relief of a simpler life settles in, I feel the backlash of conflicting emotions. Becoming a parent is taken for granted in social discourse. Of course it will happen…eventually. Even the few infertility bloggers I started following in the last year have since become pregnant, along with so many acquaintances ten years (plus) my junior. I have hidden various Facebook friends and try to limit my interaction there to simply once or twice a week. Sometimes the voyeur gets the better of me, though, which usually results in getting smacked in the face with a baby announcement or newborn picture at the top of my news feed. Pregnant women are everywhere. The shopping center where I work is a maternity mecca. There is no escape. And so I am faced with two choices: bitterness or a deep dive into grieving that leads..somewhere.

Giving up is the very thing Americans are taught to never do. But for my health and sanity, it is time for me to give up on the wish for getting pregnant and having children of my own. Since we have already decided assisted reproductive technologies are beyond our means, the next faithful step through the black hole of infertility is just that: through it. Grieving, giving up, finding a new hope, God willing. Death is an essential element in new life; I am reminded of this especially as we draw near to Good Friday.

And so we have this hope: that God our Creator will form in the rubble of our hearts seeds that, with tears from grieving, will sprout and grow something new and wonderful. May it be so, and may it be soon.


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