Tuesday, August 13, 2013

He will restore

Satan is attacking my marriage on all fronts. Even our Christian therapist seems to have succumb to the influence of the evil one.  He agreed 6 months ago to read a book that summarizes the Catholic understanding of human sexuality.  He still hasn't read it. I expressed my concern about his lack of follow through and lack of knowledge regarding the basics of my dearly held beliefs (an essential aspect of doing good pyschotherapy).  He said, "I don't have an in-depth understanding of Catholicism nor do I desire to." I gave him a chance to correct his blunder. "Help me understand what you meant by that," I said. And he responded, "I do not have an in-depth understanding of Catholicism nor do I desire to."
That is an absolutely absurd and unprofessional response from a mental health "professional".  He needed to acknowledge my concern and address it directly. His desire or lack thereof to do anything has no place in our therapy. He is supposed to be the professional and decent professionals make an effort to be culturally competent- meaning they educate themselves on their clients' beliefs and culture. No one is asking him to study the Cathechism. He just needs to know a couple basics that are essential to the issues we are working on in therapy. After 7 months of not feeling heard by this person I am paying big money to just listen to me, I have made the scary decision to terminate our couple's work with him and find a new therapist. This was a huge leap of faith because it took an act of God to get my husband to agree to therapy in the first place. "Starting over" with someone else is going to mean a lot more work for us. I'm trying to pray for the grace to forgive this therapist. I feel so angry and let down right now.

The devil wants me to focus on the problem- to continue to obsess about this person's unprofessionalism, wasted time and money, hurt, etc but this just detracts from my focus on my marriage and the Lord's desire to bring us healing.

 This is what's speaking to my heart today.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Through the darkness

Written February 2013 I prayed fervently on the drive to work this morning. I asked God to give me His strength. I told Him that I feel the aching reality of my humanity- of my limits. I am in the trenches and He seems to have withdrawn His consolation. The devil however, has reared his ugly head quite a bit lately.  

I received some particularly challenging news about my health this Tuesday.  I've been having quite a bit of pain along with other weird symptoms.  An ultrasound confirmed that I had 2 complex ovarian cysts and my ovary was enlarged to almost 3 times what it should be. I have a significant family history of ovarian cancer and the doctor was quick to inform me they would normally be quite concerned about cancer with something like this, but because I just had surgery it just can't be (apparently it doesn't grow that fast).  He did say that we need to repeat an ultrasound in 3 weeks and if things aren't looking better surgery will likely be necessary.  This would mean my 4th surgery within a year's time. I can honestly say that another surgery doesn't scare me all that much.  It would likely be a quick procedure and pale in comparison to the long long surgery I had in December.  What does scare me is that we will be in this state of limbo forever.  I had a knee-jerk reaction when he mentioned surgery. I told him to just "take everything" so we can be done with this and my husband will come to terms with the fact that we'll never have biological kids and we can finally move forward with adoption! 

Of course I didn't completely mean what I said.  If there is no medical reason necessitating the removal of "everything" then I would, of course, never pursue such a drastic procedure. The part I did mean was the part about adoption. I am so ready to adopt.  I feel like I have been ready to adopt my whole life.  Ever since I learned there were children without loving homes- and before I understood where babies came from- I reasoned that people shouldn't have anymore babies if there were babies without homes. I promise I was not a mini secular humanist, it was just my childlike mind trying to address the reality of suffering children. My husband is not opposed to adoption but is not ready to consider it at this time.  I have to respect where he is at.  I cannot pressure him to move forward with a life-changing decision he is not open to making.  God has put adoption on my heart and I have to trust that he will open my husband's heart to this miracle if it is His will for our family. It would however be "easier" if I could move the process along by "forcing" my husband to come to terms with our infertility- say through the dramatic loss of my reproductive system. There is just something so painful about ambiguity.  I grieve and then hope. Grieve and then hope. Grieve and hope. There never seems to be a moving forward- a moving beyond. 

And so this news from the doctor left me feeling pretty raw.  I was sad, discouraged and confused.  The rest of the day, for whatever reason, the raw hideousness and heart-wrenching evil of abortion was made clear to me multiple times throughout the day through various random and seemingly unrelated events.  It truly felt as though Satan was taunting me. The cruel irony of having my infertility weighing so heavy on me while also being bombarded by the cruel reality of "unwanted" babies being slaughtered.  I had already been feeling ill-equipped to serve the clients at my work since returning after my 6 week recovery.  I had been feeling brain-dead and incoherent.  Now I was feeling like God was allowing me to see in a profound way the dark reality of abortion.  He was allowing me to feel the weight of my cross, that of struggling with infertility and being surrounded by women who are pregnant with babies they don't want. 

I prayed fervently on the drive home from work today.  I told Him how tired I am.  I told Him how scared I am.  I told Him I just don't know if I can do it anymore.  

In many of the trials of life we are told by well-meaning people to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.  Infertility doesn't seem to be a situation where that kind of advice is helpful.  There is no "getting through" this because there may never be an "end" to this trial.  We may never become pregnant.  We may never know that we will never become pregnant.  We may never adopt. We may never know that we will never adopt. There is no amount of work we can do that can bring this dream to fruition and there is little reason to expect the ambiguity we wade through at this time will be miraculously parted like the Red Sea.  I just don't know but perhaps that's what God is asking of me now. To sit in the uncertainty, like He did in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying, "Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me."  Even though Christ knew he was called to suffer for humanity, He experienced ambiguity in the garden. He had to sit in the uncertainty of God's will, while his closest friends simply fell asleep. I have to believe that this unknowing- this being stuck in the land of uncertainty is part of a call to union with Christ. There's something a little bit easier about knowing what pain is coming your way- it's the anxiety associated with the unknown that I find the most debilitating. If Christ was called to suffer this anxiety, than why not me?  

Even the greatest works of art can look like a hot mess from the wrong angle

Today is our 3rd Anniversary. We are dealing with several very difficult issues- the evil one attacking our marriage in many ways- beyond infertility. I have been doubting, doubting, doubting God's plan for my life. Today, I spoke with a nurse practitioner at PPVI and learned that I had not one but 2 LUFs this cycle. This makes for at least 6 cycles of LUFs out of my 8 months post-surgery. The NP made it quite clear to me that this situation is quite "rare" even in the IF world and that the only treatments left to try cost thousands a month. I just wanted to share that I cried hysterically following my phone call with the NP but surprisingly even upon reflection, I don't think I cried out of sadness. Of course, there was some grief behind my tears, but more than anything, I think I cried from a place of awe, wonder and humility.

I've alluded to this before, but at the beginning of our IF journey God made it very clear to me we would be parents, first, through adoption. At this time our Reproductive Endocrinologist was telling us, I was healthy and we would conceive naturally within a year. I had every "rational" reason to be hopeful that we would soon be biological parents.

I told my spiritual director that I felt like I was getting so many signs from God about adoption, but I worried I was reading too much into things. He reminded me that God is always speaking to us but often our hearts are too hard to hear what he is saying. He encouraged me to be sensitive to the signs I was perceiving. Immediately following our meeting, I heard one of my favorite programs on our local Catholic radio station. Perhaps some of you have heard 'Glen's Story Corner' on Relevant Radio. I seldom get to hear it live because I'm usually at work when it airs. But this day was different. As I heard the usual intro tune, I quickly thanked God for the gift of hearing this delightful program that morning and said aloud, "this is my sign, if this is about parenting, infertility, anything... this is my sign... just let me know what our next steps are God." (Glen's story corner is a 2-3 minute program that tells parables that can be about literally anything). The story that day was about a little boy in an orphanage. I began to sob. God was telling me adoption was our next step, but it made no rational sense at the time.

Tonight I weep, because I am in awe of the perfect and beautiful "sense" God always makes. Today I got to experience the sensation of catching just a tiny glimpse of God's plan. Two years ago everyone thought I was crazy when I said adoption was the route for us. I see now with new clarity just why this is His plan for us and fall to my knees in wonder that He has revealed just a hint of the gorgeous masterpiece that is His plan for our lives. Thank you Jesus, for reminding me, again, that your plans are better than my dreams.