After two years of infertility, my husband and I are quite miraculously going to have a baby. We discovered this shatteringly joyous news during my pre-operative physical, because I was supposed to have my thyroid removed due to a small case of cancer. That is a crazy-ass story, and I cannot frame it. I can’t pull a simple moral out of it, or force it into any kind of cohesive sense. Some helpful friends have offered to frame it for me, which leads to conversations like this.
Me: I’m pregnant!
Them: That’s great! Did you decide to stop trying and just let it happen when it happens?
Me: Not really. I got cancer, though.
The truth is that I despaired that it would ever happen. Facing thyroid cancer, throat surgery, and a possible radioactive treatment that would prohibit us even trying to get pregnant for an entire year, I put my face in my pillow and sobbed. When a good friend expressed that she was having some stress with her pregnancy, I cruelly replied that everything would be okay and my tumor would keep me company.
The truth is too that when my doctor told me that I was pregnant, I went into panicked hysterics, imagining doctors pressuring me to terminate the pregnancy or dying of cancer because I chose to carry the baby. Even after that, there was the next-day ultrasound where the tech couldn’t see anything in my uterus, and my doctor telling me later that day that I might have an etopic pregnancy, in which case we’d have to “get rid of it” or it could kill me. There was my husband saying, “that’s an abortion pill” about four or five times that night.
All of this stress eventually fell away, because the pregnancy was caught very early and they just couldn’t see the little bud yet. We’ve since had a successful ultrasound where we saw the pregnancy in the right place and a tiny tripping heartbeat.
Real life stories don’t frame up very well. There are too many factors, and any simple frame job leaves out very essential elements and feels dishonest. Real life stories don’t frame well because they aren’t finite. Life keeps going, the plot keeps thickening, and very few things come to a firm conclusion. I don’t think I can pull one moral out of this story, because it has too much stuff in it. If I look at just one piece at a time, just one factor, I can come up with a few different vignettes, like these.
A lot of people told me that I just needed to relax to get pregnant, but apparently, I needed to increase my stress level. The crushing weight of having cancer sent a shock of stress throughout my whole body, and one of my very smartest eggs said, “I have to get out of here!”
After my last negative pregnancy test, I cried out to God for some help with my despair. I read the story of Hannah in the bible, a woman who was infertile and was blessed with many children, the first of which was Samuel the prophet. She went to the temple to pray for children, and the priest there told her that God would grant her request. It says she went home happy. Even before she was pregnant, she was happy. I asked God if I could have that too, if I could be happy even before it happened. He gently told me that Hannah was happy because she believed the promise, and I didn’t. I prayed and asked for others to pray for me that I would be able to believe the promise too, but I couldn’t bring myself to embrace it. I want children so badly, the very idea of actually having them brings me to tears. God didn’t wait until I was able to fully believe his promise, he gave me a baby anyway. I think that God is showing me that he isn’t going to wait until I’m all cleaned up and perfect before he’ll bless me. He loves me just like I am right now.
The same day we found out that I have cancer, we also learned that a dear friend of ours died the night before. This friend had taken it upon himself to pray for Ben and I to have children. He prayed for us whenever he saw us at church, and told us that he prayed often for us on his own. He gave me a powerful prophetic word that God had children for us, and he held my hand during the hardest part of the Mother’s Day service. I fully believe that after God had healed all of this dear friend’s wounds and brought him into health and fullness, this friend continued to petition God on our behalf. I can see him smiling and saying, “could you take care of this now?”
That’s what I can glean from this crazy, wonderful, unbelievable period of my life. I don’t know what will happen next or what kind of story this might become. I know there is more to this than I can understand, and I think I can live with that.