I felt a little bad saying that, because I knew it implied that life with my wonderful husband could be a "bad dream"...I was in a dramatic mood, what can I say. But I do look back on other times in my life and they are like bad dreams: the time immediately after my boyfriend of four years broke up with me. That was a rough year and my heart really only started to heal after I did mission work for a summer and after he proposed to his new girlfriend. Totally bad dream material. You couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to that episode.
So when will we turn the corner? When will all of this IF struggle be but a bad dream, an experience that helped us grow but that - good riddance - is over?
And that got me thinking: wow, this is not a way to live a life...hoping for nothing more that time progresses faster already and the next phase of life comes. Of all the indignities that IF brings, I think this is the worst: the sense of disappointment about my life. The sense of incompleteness, of foreboding sadness, of the "siamese twin of suffering" (a phrase from a fellow IF sufferer).
So here's prayer #1: Dear God, please let IF not have such a grip on my life!
I really, really miss not going on the roller-coaster of hope and disappointment each month. I can barely remember what it was like pre-IF to get my period and not have an intense emotional reaction. It just was a fact of being female, nothing more or less.
If I'm perfectly honest with myself, I would definitely say that IF consumes a large amount of my waking thoughts. It's just always there, like my shadow. Does it define me? If so, I resent that. But I can't deny that IF has become a defining factor of our married life. We talk about it often - it's just always there.
I want to be free...to just live my life and not have to always be thinking about being childless, always fighting back against inner tendencies to be jealous, to sulk, to plead, to beg for a child.
And that brings me to prayer #2. This one is pretty standard, I guess: Dear God, please show me what you want me/us to do with our lives.
I wrote about it before: not having children really opens up options. Of course I know that it's enough to just live our marriage, witness to Christ through our love, do our jobs well, and be content. No question about that. And maybe that's what God will ask us to do: live a childless life, happy with each other, open to serving those in our families and neighborhood, living "the little way" that St. Therese talks about so beautifully.
But I can't shake the desire of my heart for something more. I can't shake the desire of my heart for motherhood. And this thought occurred to me recently: how wonderful it would be to have something to do that takes so much energy and is so worthwhile and fulfilling that I don't have the time or luxury of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and my childlessness!
For example, mission work. Mr. M and I have talked about this recently. I spent a summer on mission in Honduras, and I loved it tremendously. I felt so alive. It felt so worthwhile. I spent a LOT of time with little kids and loved every minute. Those experiences have been returning to my mind lately, and Mr. M (who has only done 2 weeks of overseas mission work) voiced the idea independently. He was actually the first one to bring it up as an actual possibility. "Maybe we could go to an orphanage and adopt all the children!!!" was the way he put it. Not sure that's legally possible, but I love his enthusiasm!
What if...and I know this probably sounds nuts, and I'm getting waaaaay ahead of myself...but what if we do go to an orphanage in a foreign country, and we serve there, and we love the children like they were our own, and we give them something of the father and mother they never had, and we serve together, and we live in peace and simplicity, and the knowledge of our infertility becomes less all-consuming and more like one detail of our lives among many more interesting ones.
Like I said, I'm in a day-dreamy mood...
This is why I need God's help to figure out what we should do! Maybe I'll get pregnant next cycle, and that would change things awesomely! Or maybe He will make it clear that we should pursue adoption now. But I'm now at the point where I want to think about what the Catechism calls "performing demanding services for others" (no. 2379) as something to which an infertile couple - us - might be called.
A plan of action
I'm a pretty practical day-dreamer, I guess =) I realized that it would be really cool if Mr. M and I could stand in readiness for whatever God calls us to next. He still needs to finish his dissertation - that's a given. That's at least a year. So over the next year (the Year of the Dissertation, as I'm thinking of it), there is so much we can do to be poised for our next task in the Kingdom. Such as:
- Prayer prayer prayer! I'd like to get back in the habit of doing a weekly holy hour and maybe even a daily rosary (I'm horrible at both).
- Spiritual direction: get the wisdom of our favorite priest to help guide us
- Investigate: explore options of adoption and mission work
- Simplicity (financial preparation): pay down our last loan, don't rack up debt, don't buy a bunch of stuff that we don't need, practice living simply
[Maybe this is clear "between the lines," but lately I've been feeling ambivalent about continuing medical treatment. I know we've done barely anything, and I know I can change my mind practically at any moment, but I don't feel excited about it and instead feel a real heaviness thinking about a major surgery and even doing an SA...I'll save that for another time, I guess.]
More than anything else, I pray to trust God that He will make His will clear! He will not leave us in the dark, but will guide us if we stay docile to the Spirit. Basically I want to ready our hearts to say "Yes" to whatever the Lord is asking of us. So far our marriage has looked quite different than so many of our friends - maybe that will be the case forever, maybe it won't. But I want to spend less time comparing my life to others' lives and much, much more time seeking my own destiny. =)
And a closing quote, paraphrased (I looooove this quote and idea):
Vocation is where your heart's deepest longing meets the world's deepest needs.
Jesus, I trust in You!