I have a question that may not have an answer…or at least not a satisfactory answer. Which is better; to have been pregnant and experienced at least some of what it has to offer and have miscarried or to have tried and tried and never have been pregnant at all? Can you compare pain to a satisfactory result? I think not. Still, I was listening to the 3/25/07 sermon podcast from Mars Hill and struggling through the latter half of the sermon. The topics during this Lenten season have been about leaving your personal Egypts as the Israelites left theirs so many eons ago.
The speaker, Brad Gray, spoke of leaving the Egypt of despair and entering a new promised land of hope. He shared his own experience with despair in that he and his wife lost their first baby to miscarriage last year on the same day his best friend’s wife delivered their first. As he spoke, I felt myself tearing up and choking back the great heaving sobs of anguish (since I was at work and all). Not only was I empathizing and feeling his pain and loss, I was certainly feeling the persistent poking into my own place of pain as he shared. At one point I felt myself getting angry and not at him or the pain or the circumstances that bring such pain and grief. No, I got angry because he mentioned that at Mars Hill, there are groups specifically formed to help those coping with miscarriage and infertility. Imagine that! A church who reaches out in love to those experiencing pain and loss, who would have thought?
I guess I am angry because after all this time of struggling and striving with our lack of pregnancy and children, no one in leadership in our church has ever suggested anything that might help me work through it. I have close friends that pray with me (all have their own kids) and who believe for me when I don’t have the strength. I know the church cannot be all things to all people or even all things to some people, but it’s not as if they don’t know this has been an issue for me. I’ve shared it at women’s meetings and retreats. I’ve written letters to the pastors. I’ve cried at the alter and prayed with the prayer team. Still, it seems to me (or at least feels to me) that there is an attitude of "maybe if we ignore it, it will go away". After all, there are approximately a dozen women in various stages of pregnancy in our church right now. All are due to deliver this year. All already have children and so are adding to their quiver. Yet we, after mover 5 years of trying, are still empty.
It’s not as if every day is painful and full of grief and tears. We enjoy our lives and we enjoy each other. We love sleeping late on weekends and just jumping in the van to go somewhere at the last minute. We like having disposable income to spend on cameras and eating out and putting into savings. We like that we can sleep in the nude because no one is there to walk in on us. We like making one meal per mealtime and not fighting with anyone to eat it. We like going to Target and just picking up what we went to get and not having to buy a million toys to appease someone out of a tantrum. We like doing 4 to 5 loads of laundry a week instead of 10-15. We like that we can take a vacation after school has started and drive almost 2,000 miles across the country without having to change diapers or answer "are we there yet" a million times.
Yet, we feel incomplete. We feel unfulfilled. We struggle with what to do with all the dreams and scenarios and what ifs we have stored up over the years involving children and parenthood. We don’t know what to do with the pain and the hurt and the emptiness except share it with those who love us from time to time. We don’t know how to come to understand the possibility that this could be the reality forever. We don’t know how to make peace with a childless life.
Part of what helps is knowing that others have struggled with this before us. What did they do? How did they cope? What helped them get through? I think this is why the apparent lack of compassion and answers from the leadership at my church has been so painful. This is why I struggle to go there every week. This is why their celebration of the family model of one bursting with progeny is so hard to cope with on my part. If only someone in leadership there would just come to me and say, Amy we know this is hard. We know you are really fighting through this and trying to make sense of it. We don’t have any answers, but we will stand by you and love you through it. And if it helps, we know of such-and-such group that might help you work through it more". Is that too much to ask? It’s not for Mars Hill, but they are in Grand Rapids, MI, not Minneapolis, MN.
On to other things. Bob is REALLY excited about our cross country vacation in September. We have a tentative itinerary. We will be leaving here and driving to Sioux Falls. There, we will be making a quick pass by of the college I attended for 3 years. We will also stop by Falls Park to see if they are as spectacular as I remember. From there, we may stop in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace, but eh. On to the Black Hills, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore. We will be spending the night (maybe 2) in Rapid City. We will leave there and travel to Wyoming where we will be stopping to see Devil’s Tower and then on to Yellowstone. We will be spending the night at Yellowstone. From there, we drive up through Montana, over the Rockies and into Idaho where we plan to spend another night in Coeur d’Alene, ID before making tracks to Seattle. Bob has never been west…at all. He thought South Dakota resembled the Grand Canyon. I had to Google Earth South Dakota to show him that the majority of the state is flat prairie until the Bad Lands. Still, he’s like a kid waiting for Christmas with all of this. Thankfully, we have 6 months to save up our shekels for all the gas money this trip is going to cost us. Of course, I will be taking photos along the way and I can’t wait!