In August of 2003, I was excited. Bryan and I had discerned and decided that we were no longer justified in trying to avoid conception, so... we were going to have a baby! At least the way I saw it, we were. I mean, that's the way the whole thing works, right?
Not so much, it turned out. But we did eventually have a baby, and for the past two years I've been able to fit right in with the people for whom the whole baby-making process looks like simple cause and effect instead of what it really is, a big ol' crap shoot. It was nice to live in that world for a while.
But now it's February of 2008 and we're four whole cycles out of the nursing-induced safety territory. Many, many people would consider four normal cycles that didn't result in conception to be a cause for alarm. Of course I'm not one of them, and actually I'm enjoying the fact that four conception-free cycles is still well within the realms of normal fertility. Hey, look at that: I'm Normal!
However, being in the Land of Conception-Technically-Possible is forcing me to face reality. Facing reality can be overwhelming and cause a lot of feelings to surface, as is evidenced by the fact that I have a 1200-word rambling shipwreck of a post sitting in my drafts folder right now. I've been working on it for weeks. But as I've pondered and written and rewritten all the things I have to say on the topic, I've come to the conclusion that while the details are important, the distillation is more important right now. I need a mission statement, a Manifesto for Baby Wait #2, so that in the future if my feelings overwhelm me (which they inevitably will if I don't get pregnant fast) I can steady myself with the Things I Know.
Manifesto for Baby Wait #2
1. Don't borrow trouble.
Since I started cycling again, I've noticed that the physical signs of an imminent new cycle bring on an involuntary response that feels a lot like panic. I know it's involuntary because in contrast to the panic, my real emotional response to the discovery that I'm not pregnant is actually relief. We have a high-needs child. Bryan and I don't feel that her needs constitute a grave reason for us to try to avoid conception right now (if the thought of deliberately "avoiding" conception didn't feel incredibly farcical anyway, which of course it does), but we are still a little stretched, and the idea of a while longer to recover from our long-term sleep deprivation and learn to be better parents is appealing. Not getting pregnant at this exact moment is really a blessing in many ways.
There's also the fact that we have no actual data about the physical aspects of our reproductive situation, and thus have no guarantees that we will experience a longer-than-average wait for our next child. There's really no way of knowing what we will happen. Given that and the above-mentioned ambivalence about the timing, throwing myself into an emotional frenzy just because a couple of my friends are pregnant and I'm not is ludicrous. I'm happy where I am right now, and I need to remember that.
2. Count my blessings.
We really, really want more children. Even if we aren't necessarily ready to bring them home in 2008, we'd love to have a big family and before the curveball of Baby Wait #1, we always expected we would. However, while having two children is better than having one child and having three children is better than having two, the gap of Goodness between having one child and having no children is the biggest gap of the group. Having one child is infinitely better than childlessness. No matter what happens, we've got Billa and that is a huge, enormous, mind-blowing blessing. If we do go through a long wait again, I don't ever want to get so caught up in the pain of not having another child that I forget the intrinsic, incredible value of the first one.
3. Be not afraid.
I'm not ashamed of the way I handled our fertility struggles the first time around. I think we discerned well and made the right decisions for our circumstances and particular spiritual calling. I have no big regrets about anything we did during that time.
But last time, I spent a lot of time being afraid. Afraid of what was coming, and afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle it. It was natural but it was unnecessary, as God patiently showed me. He wasn't asking me to console myself or find peace or figure out what we should do. He was just asking me to let Him do those things for me, and that is nothing of which to be afraid.
I have seen His faithfulness in the gift of my beautiful daughter, but it is still dawning on me that the time of waiting for her was a sign of His faithfulness too. Countless good things have resulted from that time, first and foremost my understanding of His love for me and my ability to trust Him in a way I never did before. Had it been up to me, I would have chosen to have our first child as soon as we thought ourselves ready for her, but if that had happened we would have missed out on a huge amount of grace. That is why God is in charge, because He knows what He's doing.
Now I look back on the past four-and-a-half years and see clearly that His faithfulness has never wavered. It was only my understanding that failed. And this is why, despite my strong desire for more children and my apprehension about reentering a time of waiting and uncertainty, I am determined to eschew fear this time. I can't do it on my own, of course: only by God's grace will I manage it. But isn't that true of everything?