Our Secret

(I am going to preface this post by stating this will probably be the most personal and real thing I ever publish on this website. I’ve debated on this for some time, mostly because I like to keep the lid on my personal life tightly sealed in the public world. But, over time I’ve come to understand that we aren’t alone, and a lot of people deal with what I am about to talk about, and because the way I process a lot of emotions is through the written word, I guess I felt it was time. I do have really GOOD news to share with you all, and I will, next post, I promise!)
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Jordan and I don’t have kids. This is not a secret. Walk into our house and it becomes very evident that we don’t have kids. There aren’t toys littered across the living room floor, or stray binkies dotted along the counters. Our walls aren’t touched by random, involuntary acts of plagiarism sponsored by Crayola, and our guest rooms are equipped with adult-sized beds that are perpetually made. We don’t have kids. This is not a secret.

Most people see us as the couple who doesn’t want kids. I can see why. We’ve made no moves, purchases, or held any conversations of substantial length about our desire or plan to have kids. We’ve been together since 2005 and haven’t given any signal that children are on the way or even in the lineup. I love books. Jordan loves John Deere. I want to be a writer. Jordan wants to be CEO of the world. We love each other very much. Everyone knows this. But here’s the thing: we’ve been trying to have kids since the end of last year.

This is our secret.

In the beginning, it was all very new to me. Almost every decision we made since we were 18 was based on one single fact. We wanted to finish high school, and then college. We had plans for specific careers. These were our decisions. We didn’t want to get pregnant.

And we didn’t.

We got married, moved States, and started our jobs. I knew we would have kids somewhere down the line, but we wanted to wait until we felt like we were ready. It was our decision and we were happy. We didn’t want to get pregnant.

And we didn’t.

Time went by and a series of events and emotions unfolded that sent signals alerting us we were ready. I am not sure how or why this happened. I can’t say I woke up one morning and the decision was written on the wall, but gradually I had this increase in comfort and excitement over the possibility of children. I knew it was time. So, being the couple we are in that no decision is made hastily, we talked about it. A lot. We prayed about it. A lot. Then we took the steps to try and have kids. It was our decision and we were happy. We wanted to get pregnant.

And then we didn’t.

In the beginning, it was all very surprising  to me. Almost everything I had been told and believed would happen since puberty didn’t exactly fit the bill. I was thrown off course from the get-go. My “plans” went out the window the very first day. I adapted. I would be okay. I thought about it some more and did additional planning and changes to the calendar. My timeline was now tentative, but never canceled. So it was going to take longer than originally anticipated. No problem. I had the upmost confidence that we would get pregnant soon.

And then we didn’t.

No one prepares you for this. How can they? They’re too busy marching through every middle school and high school classroom barking the phrase, “if you have sex, you WILL get pregnant.” They scared you as a kid because they made it sound so easy, and why not? I had every reason to believe it would be. I am a practicing Catholic. My mother conceived and bore 8 children. Everything I had known and read, and was even taught in Sunday School, was that having kids was a part of our natural lives as human beings. To prevent it or even dismiss it was deviant behavior. I accepted this, and I took the simplicity of the matter for granted. It was going to be so easy, I thought. All I had to do was wait until the time was right for me and my husband, and then it would happen when we planned. Maybe not right away, but eventually. I never anticipated the situation that turned out to be the exact opposite of everything I believed. It wasn’t our decision and we were confused. We wanted to get pregnant.

And we couldn’t.

Before, I had watched friends and close family members struggle with infertility. I felt bad for them. I prayed for them. I had no idea what it felt like to want something as deeply as they did and be denied it over and over. I didn’t need to. It wasn’t me. And then one day, all at once, it was. I started doing the usual things. I bought an assortment of tests and loaded calendars on my iPad and computer for tracking purposes. I measured things. I timed things. And not once did the line turn blue, or the damn screen show a smiley face. Every week and every morning I woke up with new hope, telling myself over and over this would finally be the day. It tore me apart. Month after month, day after day, the emptiness on the tests speared my insides. Each negative result broke down the protective barrier I had built for myself until eventually there was nothing left. I couldn’t do it anymore. I threw away the tests. I quit trying. It was my decision and I was sad. All I wanted was to get pregnant.

And I didn’t.

My husband was stronger than me. His faith had no weakness. He remained positive, an unfailing hope and confidence that what will be will be. I couldn’t say the same. I wondered if it was easier for him because he wasn’t the one who had to deal with the rampant signs of dysfunction and failure every day. He wasn’t the one crouched in the bathroom shut off from the world waiting for yet another test to say if today was finally the day we’ve been praying for, or if it’s going into the trash with the others. Maybe he was stronger because he hadn’t dealt with the aches and nausea that give you hope only to have it all taken away in a single trip to the restroom. Still, whatever the reason for his positivity, I didn’t hold it against him. I couldn’t. We wouldn’t survive if I did such a thing. We are on the same team, in the end.

In the past, I’ve leaned on my faith to get me through a lot of stuff. It’s always worked, especially during one of the hardest times of my life, but this felt different. This was a new challenge. I had already been praying for so long, and I even accepted at one point that my prayers had been answered, but one day almost three months ago, almost all of it was ripped away. I broke down. I was angry. I was sad. I felt betrayed. I no longer understood what God was asking me to do. I didn’t know if I could do it.

I used to have a lot of questions. I used to wonder what would happen. I had an appointment with my doctor scheduled. She confirmed my issues and then gave me my options, and though medically they made absolute sense, in my gut I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. I left and drove the two hours home. It was the most thinking I had ever done in that span of time, and I’m a writer.

Jordan came home with cupcakes on my worst day. Remember his positivity? It saved me. I’m only the Christian I am because of my husband. He embodies everything I strive to be. Did he have all the answers? Of course not. Do I have them now? No, but he reminded me of a lot of things, and probably the most important thing. We aren’t supposed to know why certain things turn out in certain ways, and maybe we’ll never know, but I had to keep my trust. I had to find a way to not let the dark moments win.

I refused to feel defeated. On the drive to the doctor, it poured. Lightning, thunder, and wind. The whole enchilada. On the way home? Sunshine and a rainbow. Yes, it was extremely cliché, but familiarity was what I needed in a world where I felt abandoned. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I was comforted.

Do I understand everything yet? No, but I am happy. I am in love with where I am in my current life, and I love my husband more than ever, and I think that’s what God wants from me right now. To trust him, to keep putting my worries in His hands, and to be the best I can be.

Is this the answer for everyone struggling with these issues? No. Everyone’s march down this confusing, and at times, cruel path is different. We all start at different places, take different turns, and maybe even jump off the tracks and then hop back on every now and then, but I think we all end up in the same place in the end, one way or another. At least, that’s my hope.

Jordan and I don’t have kids. This is not a secret. Jordan and I tried to start a family and it didn’t work out the way we planned. This is no longer a secret. This was not our decision, but it’s okay. We don’t believe it’s ours to make, at least not yet. I have occasional moments where my heart still catches in my throat, but I remind myself the dark moments are never His plan. Is there a battle ahead of us? Maybe, but I believe where we are now as a couple, celebrating five years of marriage this weekend, we’ve already won.

 

– S.A. Dees

2 comments

  1. Dear Shirley, reading this is more painful than being sucker punched. What a brave and full of love couple you and Jordan are. Blessed with faith, hope and love, you have beautifully [albeit painfully] articulated the cries and pains of infertility. God has blessed you with the art of words for sure [and with Jordan as your top cheerleader and support – what a gift!]
    I write to offer hope, for there is hope – and the Doctors are learning more and more – but the future is now with Fertility Awareness that is not [yet] being taught on a wide spread basis, but the truth and the knowledge and hope is here. Napro Technology/Woman’s healthcare is 100% moral, 100% natural, 100% hormone free, and it is bring hope and knowledge where there once was none. Here is hope and info to read when you wish: and here are Fertility care centers in Iowa. These are 100% moral, 100% supported by Catholic church, 100% hormone free. The Creighton model as taught by the FertilityCare Centers educate you about your body, so you [and all women] can monitor their biomarkers, naturally, without interference. Sent with love, faith and hope. Aunt Ann
    Uncle Rodney is a fertility care practitioner and is available for all questions, phone calls, etc.
    http://www.naprotechnology.com/
    http://www.naprotechnology.com/infertility.htm

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