Disclaimer: For those of you I know in real life I’m not 100% ready for the whole world to know about my husband’s surgery.
The strangest thing happened today.
Picking up my daughter from school today I saw a woman with five children. They were waiting for one more. I asked her if they were all hers and they weren’t: she baby sat three of the girls. The oldest was mischievous, she was six, I think, and she was sucking on her toes like her little sister. The woman held a little baby, she could hold her head up but was only three months old. The whole situation looked like a lot of fun.
But walking away to get my own, only child, I noticed my feelings had changed. I was so happy for them. I loved that there were so many girls and they seemed to have a very sweet caregiver. I loved that she wrangled them all on foot to pick up her son. Everything about them looked like a whole lot of work but delightful work.
Even a month ago I would not have felt that way. I would have either cried or ruminated on the sad state of my own family. We have one and now are almost 99% certain we won’t have more. My husband had a vasectomy Wednesday and the doctor who performed it has a 100% success rate. I worked through it, but I have been working through it for two years. After I came to pick him up, I was resolved. We are finished.
It may be because I made the appointments. It wasn’t coercion that did it, it was a decision based on facts. Every single health care professional told us no more babies. Family members told us no more babies. We prayed; we talked to others; we processed what it meant. And we decided, of our own accord, that we would not having more babies. It was not their decision, and it felt like it was before. It was our decision. My husband decided years ago he would have one. I decided a week and a half ago. I think God chose to totally change my heart, but he chose to do it slowly. It wasn’t a flash in the pan miracle, it needed time to fully develop and grow. I needed this part of my journey to learn to be a more compassionate woman. I hurt so much during this part of my life, but I don’t hurt any more than I needed to for this part of my walk.
I’m trying to find the verse in the Bible where Jesus speaks about us in heaven. He compares our earthly bodies to seeds and our glorified bodies like trees. We have no idea what kind of tree we are going to be or how large we will grow, but we know he will change us significantly. I know this is “taking this a little out of context, but the spirit remains the same. I still don’t know what God will do with our only child, or with the life he will give my husband and I because of our small family. I don’t know what kind of person she will become, or who we can minister because of our “change of plans”. For us, a change of plans really is what it is. Before I saw it as a “loss” and it is a loss, a disappointment and a mini-tragedy. It can be more than that, though. I can experience these emotions freely, just as I can experience the idea this is a new fork in the road. I’m learning to consider the consequences of my thoughts. It is true that this is a disappointment. It took me a very long time to heal from that idea. Philippians says, ”
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
There our consequences to our thoughts. Here is an example. My friend, and you know who you are, becomes unexpectedly pregnant. My response was to politely dismiss myself and go to the bathroom to sob. I am hopelessly jealous. After about a half an hour I come back and the man next to me asked if I heard the good news. It was all I could do to stop myself from bursting out into tears again. I avoided this woman, a good friend, for months and months. I thought bad things about this precious sister and did not respond to her invitations or emails. Ultimately she left as a missionary.
What were the consequences of my thoughts? Sadly, I missed out on time I could have spent with my friend just enjoying her wonderful personality and compassion. She was one of the people who came to visit me in the hospital and brought me lots of tasty treats. I was unable to show thanks for that. I missed out on spending time with her terrific kids. I didn’t get to be with her as she dealt with her mothers illness. Although we were able to help support them (with a laughingly low amount) we did not pray for her family like we knew we should. None of my thoughts were honorable, right or pure and they led to disruption in my life, struggle and selfishness.
I needed that time though, and God gave it to me. I do not recommend skipping over the mourning period – be gentle with yoourself – now is not the time to call yourself names (like selfish) punish yourself for the imperfections that are making you childless, or have secondary infertility or some other kind of pain (as if God only gives children to perfect people). You are not “wallowing in self-pity” and you have my permission to pop anyone who says that to you in the nose. Mourning is an important part of life. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The Bible also says “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” “God cares about those who mourn and provides them with comfort.” (eHow). Lastly, when ministering to a hurting person, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
But I think my mourning is over. I had planned to have three children; that’s not going to happen. I had planned to die in our little shack in Oakland; that’s not going to happen. I had thought the best thing for me was to get away from my mom and her influence. That didn’t happen either. I think I will have little sad feelings in my heart sometimes as I miss the children I wanted to badly, but it is not going to be too painful for me to lose the ability to function. It will continue to teach me empathy, and move forward.