Life is too short to hide from each other
I have something to confess.
I've been hiding something.
It's not something bad. In fact, it's the opposite of bad. And if you've seen me in person within the past few months, you already know what I'm going to say.
Against all odds, God has enabled Thomas and me to conceive our first child.
(Translation: I'm pregnant.)
Admittedly, He did so back in October 2017, but I've been a giant coward and haven't publicly announced anything for a multitude of reasons (some very stupid) I'm about to detail below.
Now that our son is due to make his appearance in a little over a month, and I want to (finally) give the glory to God.
A word before the happy stuff
I will admit that this is uncomfortable.
It feels wrong to announce my pregnancy when I know others are still struggling to conceive. It feels especially wrong to write about our pregnancy on the heels of the news that 10 families in Santa Fe, TX violently lost their children in yet another school shooting. It all feels wrong.
But it also reminds me that life is too short for me to not do what I can.
And what can I do? Not much, admittedly.
But I can share my story, and pray that my experiences and occasional attempts at humor can bring some light to others.
Weren't you just having trouble getting pregnant? What happened?
About a month after I shared my struggle with infertility, my period had yet to make an appearance. Par the course. Although I wasn't taking any fertility medication, I was religiously taking my temperature every morning to see if my basal body temperature indicated I had ovulated.
(For those fortunate enough to be uninitiated to the world of basal body temping, when a woman ovulates, her basal body temperature rises noticeably. Simply put, when you release an egg, you get hotter. In more ways than one. )
It was day 35 or so of my cycle, and I had yet to see a spike in temperature. Really, I should have seen it in the middle of my cycle if it were going to show up at all, not at the end. I chalked it up to mean I was in the midst of an anovulatory (infertile) cycle.
So, like the trooper I am, I completely gave up on taking my temperature. Why am I doing this? I thought. I don't need to remind myself every single morning that my body isn't working.
For about a week afterward, I just lived. I still wanted a baby, of course. But by not temping every morning, that desire wasn't the focus of my day from the get-go. Thomas and I worked, relaxed, enjoyed each others' company, and were even lucky enough to go to ACL.
We listened to a lot of great music, drank a lot of water (and a splash of white wine), and were generally very sweaty and happy.
After that week, I felt rejuvenated. I felt ready to hop back on the TTC (Trying to Conceive) bandwagon.
The next morning rolled around. I popped the thermometer back in my mouth and sat there for forever. (Really it takes around a minute or so, but I am impatient, even first thing in the morning.)
It finally beeped and I glanced at the screen. My temp was a little elevated.
I assumed it was a fluke. I must be out of practice taking my temp, I thought.
The next day, it was high again.
I allowed a little ray of hope to shine through. Maybe, just maybe, I had indeed ovulated. But I had no idea when in that week, nor whether the "romantic activities" I happened to have with Thomas matched up with the ovulation window. So I preemptively tried to dash my hopes against the rocks and looked for my temperature to go down, which would alert me to my period arriving.
But my temperature didn't drop. It stayed elevated.
I was confused. I took a pregnancy test, and it came back negative. Sigh. Commence the re-dashing of hopes.
Three days later, my temp still hadn't dropped, so I decided to test again.
I was working from home that day, and actually forgot about the test. Hours later, when I re-entered the bathroom, I checked the test and started walking it over to the trash can out of habit.
That's when I saw a very, very faint second line.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I pulled the negative test from three days ago out of the trashcan to compare, not pausing to think about how that was actually kinda a gross thing to do. I stuck the two tests next to each other and stared.
I was pregnant.
It's hard to describe how I felt right after it hit me. I was overjoyed and relieved, but seconds later, my joy morphed into caution and fear. Instead of shouting God's blessing and provision from the rooftops to all of the people who I had shared my story with, I withdrew. I didn't want anyone else to know.
Why I hid my pregnancy
Looking back, it's obvious to me now that I allowed myself to be driven by two powerful factors: Fear and guilt. Yes, despite my belief that Christ has freed me from both fear and guilt with His sacrifice on the cross, I willingly slipped their chains back on.
I was afraid that if I announced my pregnancy too boldly, loudly, or joyously, it might be taken away from me, since some studies have shown that women with PCOS have higher rates of miscarriage. (Though obviously the studies show no correlation between miscarriage and how many people you tell about your pregnancy.)
I was also afraid to look stupid. After all, I had just poured out my heart about how much struggling to conceive had hurt me, and seemingly moments later, I was pregnant. "All that whining for nothing," I could imagine someone thinking. "What a drama queen."
Then there was the guilt. Part of me felt immensely guilty. I know women who have been trying to conceive for longer than I had been, beautiful souls who have gone through much harder trials in their journey, and still have not conceived. Yet here I was, staring at a positive pregnancy test, completely undeserving of it.
I knew that sharing my pregnancy could hurt others who are silently struggling with infertility, especially if I didn't put the proper context around it. And even then, when I was in the infertility dark place, it was so hard to receive others' good news and not feel that deep, aching pain in my heart.
So I decided to keep quiet.
Why I think hiding was the wrong thing to do
Not everyone feels called to tell others what they're going through, but I am a sharer by nature. The fact I refused to share my pregnancy was a reflection of the fact that I was only thinking about myself. I intentionally left in the dark people who had invested in my journey because I thought it would somehow make the pregnancy stick.
What's worse, I was silent when I could have been giving the glory to God, testifying to His goodness and blessing in my life, not just with the pregnancy, but with the whole journey.
God did indeed make my painful season of infertility beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11.) He used it to bring me closer to so many others in my life. In fact, He's still doing this now, and I'm so grateful for that painful season. It pried open my heart. It changed me deeply. It made me a better person. (Though I still have a long way to go.)
My hiding my pregnancy was an outward indication that although I had trusted God through my infertility, once God had blessed me with a baby, I withdrew my trust in Him.
Instead of thanking Him, I ran away from Him, and from everyone else. I was so afraid to lose the gift He had given me that I couldn't fully embrace or enjoy it with the people He's so lovingly placed in my life.
What happens now
To be honest, I'm still afraid.
I'm afraid that by going public about my pregnancy, I'm somehow opening the door for tragedy to strike, even though that makes zero sense. I know that means that part of me is still clinging to the idol of motherhood. Part of me still believes it could be the thing to fill that unfillable void.
But I know in my heart that only my relationship with God can do that.
Whatever happens in this life, it's all in God's plan. It's not my job to try and predict the future, hedging my bets and assuming something wonderful and beautiful is going to be destroyed before its time. As Matthew 6:34 says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
What should I do instead, then?
I believe I should continue deepening my relationship with God, and my relationships with the people in my life who He's blessed me with. I cannot become the best version of myself if I only trust God in the good times, or only trust God in the bad times. I need to trust Him in both, and let others in.
If you're still waiting
I distinctly remember both the happiness and the bitterness I would feel reading other women's infertility success stories. I felt like there was no way these women could understand me anymore now that they had been given the one thing I wanted most.
If you feel that way, I completely understand. Finding someone who's suffering alongside you is both sad and comforting. When paths diverge, it hurts.
However, something I've learned is that finding someone who can suffer alongside you doesn't necessarily mean finding someone in midst of your same pain at the same time (though that does help).
Going back to my example, the pain these women felt who were previously infertile was very real, and they still remember it. Their hearts would have still hurt for me, and they likely would have strived to nurture and love me had I opened up to them.
Another thing I learned: Don't write anyone off.
I leaned on many wonderful women for support during my struggle with infertility, but looking back, one of my confidantes strikes me as particularly unique.
Kelle is a friend of mine. She's a beautiful and wildly hilarious woman, with a career in public health, a Masters degree under her belt, and an adorable shih tzu in her apartment.
She hasn't started a family yet. But she always made me feel so heard when I talked to her about my infertility problems. She never tried to downplay my feelings, question me, or hand me a half-hearted, quick-fix to my problems and send me on my way out of frustration at my lack of progress. She just sat with me in my sadness, and offered her unwavering love and support. At first blush, she may not seem like the kind of person who would understand where I was coming from, but her love and support helped me immensely nonetheless.
So if you're in a waiting season, please consider sharing your story with someone. They may be living through your same pain right now, have lived through it in the past, or lack any experience with your pain but love you so much that they'll manage to ease your pain anyway. Waiting sucks, but your people will make it suck a lot less.
In closing out this ridiculous wall of text, I'll say this: Life is too short for us to hide from each other. You are loved, and you are not alone.