This week’s writing challenge with the Daily Post is called “The Sound of Silence.”
I am choosing to approach the topic from the perspective of breaking the silence on a topic. One that I have been very reluctant to talk about on here, with most of my friends or family and until recently, God. And yet, I have been toying with a post on the topic for ages (I did kind of address the issue a bit here).
My silence comes from a place of privacy. Because people don’t need to know all of my business.
But moreso it comes from a place of shame and jealousy, both of which are sin.
In our current small group, we share what we call redemption stories – stories of how God is redeeming our lives for Him. This was the topic of my redemption story.
Fertility issues and pregnancy loss are getting more attention these days. But, still they are little talked about. Even in medicine.
Although before the last year I could tell you that it is not worth investigating the absence of conception with couples having appropriately timed intercourse until they have been at it for a year (if they are under 35). I also could have told you that it is very common for pregnancy to end in miscarriage, sometimes even before a woman knows she is pregnant.
Then, I lived it.
The plan was always to have a baby in my PGY2 year. It is the best year in my program to do this. More flexibility, you aren’t into the swing of being “on service” all that stuff.
My plan failed.
Because it was my plan. Not God’s plan. Not even Patrick’s plan (although he was game for it, he was cool with kids before I was). The best laid plans can fall apart. And mine did.
We have existed through month after month of disappointment. I didn’t know I could experience such disappointment. It seems not that long ago that we were first married and pregnancy seemed one of the worst things that could happen.
I would sit and church and hear about our all loving and knowing God and how He only wants good in my life and I would wonder where my good was. I would hear baby announcements and be happy and crushed all at the same time. I would politely smile and answer an obligatory some day when people would ask when we were having kids.
I know all the textbook answers (okay, not all of them, I haven’t done any obstetrics outside of LMCC studying since Med 3). I know that I have some family history of fertility struggles. I also know that there is likely nothing wrong with me to cause this “delay” (it doesn’t change my thinking that there is 50 times per day).
I know miscarriages are common. That didn’t change the hearbreak I felt when I realized that I had a chemical pregnancy and that my body clearly did not want to house that tiny collection of cells for whatever reason.
I felt alone and defective.
And really, I wasn’t.
I mean, lots of people go through this. Tons. In fact, it is perfectly normal to not have a kid first go around, or second or even tenth. It is also perfectly normal to lose a pregnancy. It is our body’s amazing way of cleaning up genetic mistakes.
Heck, even Sarah in the Bible had these kinds of struggles and she ended up being huge in history.
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11
I have friends and a family who I could have shared this with, but I chose to keep it a secret. I tried to keep much of this grief from Patrick too, but that is nearly impossible.
I did this partly because I am selfish and human and wanted to keep my pain just for me. Partly because I was angry at God. And mostly because I blamed myself and felt mind boggling shame.
I’d love to say that one day a light turned on and I felt better about it. But really, that would be a lie.
God has been working me through it.
I have met people in different phases of the journey. They are great encouragements. One person said to me that really, we shouldn’t be ashamed. It isn’t our story. It is God’s story. And He isn’t ashamed. We just don’t see the whole picture.
I have heard someone say that shame is often the devil trying to draw you away from God. Or that shame is a form of selfishness. For me, it acted as both. Shame and selfishness begets more shame and selfishness. It is a vicious cycle that can draw you away from all kinds of good. When you get caught up in it, you can only see your own hurt and not the good and rational in the world.
In church, we talked about the difference between fundamental joy and joy that we derive from other things. I am generally a joyful person. I find great joy in God and in simple things in life. In Jesus, we have fundamental joy. I still felt that joy, but felt like a piece was starting to be missing. I was trying to (and still am much of the time) derive joy from something I didn’t have. That isn’t fair to me or God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13
I hate the cliché when people say you need to be satisfied in God before thing X will come about. But, I think this has been a huge lesson in that. Especially as someone who has had a pretty darn good life, I have come to realize that I need to be satisfied in God in the times where I feel crummy or am unhappy, not just when stuff is going well.
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. -Isaiah 58:11
I have been reminded countless times that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It doesn’t always feel like that, but in conversation with a friend this past weekend, I was reminded that the human body is amazing creation that we often just take for granted. It made me remember that includes my body, so maybe I shouldn’t give it such a hard time.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. -Psalm 139: 13-16
But more importantly, I am coming to realize that this situation is because of our fallen world and that God is still in it with me.
God is still working me through my sin around these struggles and my shame both when coming to Him and telling others. But, at least I talk to Him about it now instead of just stewing to myself in my head.
Also, I see purpose in the whole thing. My growth both emotionally and spiritually has been slow, but significant. I now have a new empathy for people without kids or coping with loss. I have learned a boatload about what people deal with trying to conceive that could one day help friends or patients.
And one day, maybe soon, we will have a kid and that will be super cool and awesome and I can tell this story and show how huge God was in all of it. Because really, that is what it is all about (cue musical interlude).
I am a work in progress. That is what makes us human.
I just hope that this glimpse of my humanness, this break of silence will make a difference for someone else caught up in the web of shame, guilt and worry. It was a big step for me, at least.