There are many things Uganda changed in me, but of all the things this one is perhaps the most life-altering.
It flipped my baby switch to “on.”
If you are a long-time reader, you know that I have been slowly working my way through my fears of becoming a mom. The year I got married, I declared No Babies ’til 2015. I was Staving Off the Baby Rabies. And earlier this year, I admitted to the Trepidation of Urban Motherhood.
Last year I would walk to work every day and pass moms and nannies pushing strollers. I would ask myself: would I enjoy that more? Would I find it more meaningful? Am I ready to take responsibility for a little life? I did not feel ready to take that leap, but the question loomed in the forefront of my mind, all day, every day.
After talking to God about this for a good 10 months, I went to Uganda. I experienced Him in the little things in Africa – in the hard work of the mothers with entrepreneurial spirits, in the sweet faces of the children and the joy of their laughter. Spending time in Uganda stirred up dreams and renewed my passions. It made me ask, “What is it I was put on this earth to do?”
I came home with the renewed desire to pursue the things I know I am made for: to be a writer, a wife, and a mother. After years of continual consideration of the pros and cons of parenting, and wrestling with desire matched with fear of equal weight, I finally had a breakthrough. Certainly there were practical arguments, but at this point in the journey, almost three years into marriage, I recognized that my largest excuse was that I was afraid – of the unknown, of failure, of change.
I was still scared, but I was ready.
I sat on my newfound desire for motherhood for two months before ever mentioning it to Nick. I did not want to get his hopes up. Terrified it was a false start, I was sure that I would soon revert back to my questions.
But it did not fade. It only grew stronger. At Christmas, I found myself thinking: Wouldn’t our family gatherings be even more delightful with a little one?
Last December we decided we were open to the idea of having kids, but we were not going to obsess over trying right away. Then three months passed without any suspicious signs of pregnancy. I decided to become more proactive. I started charting my temperature and taking ovulation tests.
Three more months passed.
I finally went to see the doctor for my annual exam this summer and told him where we were in the process. Going into the appointment, I felt level-headed. I was ready to hear what I thought was the standard, “Well give it until you have been trying for a year and at that point we will begin running some tests.”
Instead what I heard made me feel like I had the wind knocked out of my lungs.
After hearing that my husband and I were both 29 and had been trying in some capacity to get pregnant since January, he told me the fact that were not yet was “concerning.”
Nick had always told me he wanted to start trying for kids at 28 in case we had trouble. And here I am at 29 realizing that maybe he was right.
This was not my plan.
I know that not everyone gets pregnant quickly, but the statistics are as follows (according to babyzone.com):
- 30 percent get pregnant within the first cycle (about one month)
- 59 percent get pregnant within three cycles (about three months)
- 80 percent get pregnant within six cycles (about six months)
- 85 percent get pregnant within 12 cycles (about one year)
My logic goes like this: My maternal grandmother had four kids from one fallopian tube after a tubal pregnancy burst her other one. My mother got pregnant with her three kids on the first try nearly every time. Nick is the youngest of four brothers. If family history was an indicator, we should have had no problem.
I know that we are still young, and I know we still have time. But I made no room for waiting in my formula for my family life.
In the first three years of my marriage, I wanted us to have time alone, and I wanted to work through my hang-ups before diving into motherhood. I tried to do things the right way, the way I had peace about, and now, instead of being rewarded for taking things slowly and prayerfully, I feel like I am being punished for waiting. I am embarrassed that I am not taking this with more grace. I honestly thought I would be fine, even if we found out we could not have children biologically.
On the best days, I smile and try to practice gratitude for this season of life.
On the worst of days it seems like a cruel joke.
I know that is not the character of God – just like he does not give spouses as a reward for good behavior, neither does he bestow children to people once they have earned enough potential parenting points. But I put in the hard emotional work, and now I want the payoff.
As humans, waiting is not our strength.
With whatever it is you are waiting for, you tell yourself you are fine with waiting, until each month that passes comes with more questions, then you realize the time you have been waiting is beginning to feel substantial.
You begin to wonder if you are waiting in vain.
You talk to God, you voice your frustrations. You tell him you trust Him, and you do. But you are terrified if His plans for you turn out to be vastly different from the ones you had for yourself.
You laugh at your former five-year plans, knowing life has headed in an alternate trajectory from it did five years ago, and will look even more different five years to come. Nothing is as you thought it would be, and you are wrestling with whether that is good, bad, or just is.
What if you find out your life’s ambition is no longer possible?
Do you have to start over? Dream new dreams?
What if you always planned on playing a specific role in life and you discover it is a longer, more difficult process than you imagined?
My well-laid plans are dissolving. Everything is slipping through my fingers and I am desperately trying to hang on. After what seems like endless waiting, how do you hold on to hope that soon things will be different?
I hesitated to write about something so personal for a variety of reasons (the largest of which is just plain FEAR) but…