I read a blog post written by Dr. Nicholas Jenner. http://njpsychdoc.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/to-whoever-you-may-be-to-our-unborn-child/ I was touched by the loving words of this father, written to his unborn child. It reminded me of a letter I wrote to my own unborn child, 15 years ago.
First some background…
I suffered infertility for 7 long years until my husband and I achieved pregnancy. This was, by far, the most difficult time in my life because we had to seek medical treatment. That doesn’t sound difficult unless you are a survivor of sexual abuse and the conversations with people you don’t know involve vaginal mucus, basal temperatures, ovulation, intercourse, semen, etc. You get the idea. It was very difficult to separate from my confused self-image around my sexuality and try to be pragmatic about the whole ordeal. (I thank my parents for giving me the intellectual skill to fake my way through anything.)
What I hid pretty well was I was a nervous wreck every time I saw a doctor or nurse regarding this very personal issue. Infertility patients become human pin cushions with all the blood draws nurses must do to monitor hormone levels. I also had to put up with frequent speculum insertions and even more invasive surgical procedures, such as laparoscopy, hysteroscopy and ultimately IVF that required hyper-stimulation of the ovaries, egg retrieval (under sedation) and ultimately the final piece – a procedure called embryo transfer. None of this was easy for me. I cried, isolated myself and believed I was being punished for my promiscuity when I was a younger woman.
I grew up within a family that attended church regularly. I went along (of course) but never felt strongly one way or the other about what religion means to me, except receiving Christmas presents and candy from The Easter Bunny.
Once infertility struck my life, I was angry at God and believed he must be unjust. Six ears into the struggle, I visited my 90-year-old grandmother on a vacation to Florida (USA). She took me, on a Wednesday, to her church, to a small side chapel within a massive sanctuary, for a “healing service.” I don’t recall what others were praying for, but we were each given an opportunity to pray for the healing of someone else or for ourselves. I had no words for my pain so I sat silently. Then, Grandmother prayed aloud for me to conceive a child and I wept like a baby. I had no idea Grandmother wanted me to go for my own healing. The flood gates opened and I cried through the entire service. I felt embarrassed I didn’t have a tissue to wipe my eyes as frequently as a tear fell. Grandmother handed me a few tissues but, I think she held back on my ability to wipe away my distress (on purpose), allowing me to fully express my pain. I never have cried so hard in front of other people, then or now.
The minister approached me and Grandmother after the service. He was personable and friendly and talked as if people cry their hearts out to him in that little sanctuary every day. He casually told me he and his wife are infertile but every couple he has prayed for has become pregnant. I left feeling lighter than air for having released so much angst but I didn’t believe I would become pregnant.
Well, I didn’t get pregnant for another year but my attitude about fertility treatments did an about-face. Rather than be angry at God, I put my faith in believing He would give me the strength to endure the procedures for a while longer. I let go of the anxiety and self-hate and put my faith in God.
Truth be told — I’ve fallen out of religion again and if anything, I’ve become more focused on living a life of compassion, for myself and others. But, I don’t negate that Grandmother and God got me through a tough time in my life.
You may open the link to read the letter I wrote to my son, who is now 14 years old. Please excuse the messy, child-like writing. It is not my neatest!