Thursday, April 29, 2010

Patience, grasshopper

After nearly two years of trying to conceive our firstborn son, my husband and I ended up at the Duke Infertility Clinic. We arrived on a cold January morning after a holiday season during which I vowed to put my hopes for conceiving a child on the shelf and just enjoy the season.

That morning we strolled down wide corridors lined with open waiting rooms, all brightly lit. As we winded our way through the clinics, the corridors became grayer, narrower, more harshly lit. We navigated the maze-like hallways until we, literally, reached the end of the line. The narrow, cramped waiting room, the only one in that bank of clinics to have a door, was depressing.

We tried a fertility treatment and it failed. We decided to try again in a few months instead of subjecting ourselves monthly to a regimen of expensive drugs and procedures. Now, instead of feeling like my body had let me down once again, I felt like my body was letting my husband and our bank account down. It was the most horrible feeling in the world. But it was the beginning of my acceptance, for real, that getting pregnant was something that would happen in God's time, not mine. It was the beginning of learning to be still and know, for real, that someone with a far bigger imagination and far better plans for my life was in control. Until then, I faked those feelings in the hope that they would become real.

The next month, we got pregnant on our own. And a year later to the day that we walked into that clinic, our son had his first pediatrician visit.

A friend once told me that I should never pray for patience. Why? I asked. You'll get pregnant, she laughed.

How right she was.

I say that moment of failure four years ago was the beginning of acceptance and, ultimately, a greater patience because it prepared me for what was ahead. I'm still learning that forcing something to happen is more painful than waiting for events to unfold naturally, whether waiting for the kids to grow into or out of certain stages or waiting for a pregnancy to begin or end or waiting for the next step to become clear.

As much as I'd like to be holding our baby in my arms and not my belly right now, waiting seems easier than forcing this child into the world before it's ready. It has taken me years to realize this one truth: the easier, softer way is usually the way that appears harder at first. It may seem difficult to continue being pregnant while taking care of two small children, but it would be harder in the long run to recover from an induced, more painful delivery that could very well end in a C-section.

My midwife stopped by earlier this week. The baby is doing well - its heart rate and position are the same as last week. I'm doing well - my blood pressure and measurements are the same as last week. I nonchalantly asked her what is the longest she's ever seen anyone go over their estimated due date.

She raised her eyebrows, looked me in the eye and asked "Do you really want to know?" (By the way, this is one of the reasons I like her. She believes in the mind-body connection as much as I do. She was asking me to think about how this information might affect me.)

I thought it over and said, "Sure. Hit me."

"Four weeks," she replied.

Four weeks overdue would be a long time. Four weeks overdue would certainly test the limits of my patience. Four weeks overdue would certainly test the patience of everyone around us. And four weeks overdue would certainly make some question our judgment. But God knows this child's birthday and soon we will, too.

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