While I was babysitting the daughter of my good friends Jeremy & Jennifer I got a chance to read some of Miroslav Volf's new book Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities. It was a special treat and Jeremy left it out just for me (thanks Jer!) to read while she napped.
It is a book of short essays so I skipped around and sampled lots. The one that made the most impact on me was his piece on infertility. I don't have the book with me, so I can't quote it - but he wrote of the 9 years of infertility that he and his wife endured before the adoption of their first son. It resonated deeply with me as it was 9 years of trying before our beautiful Alinea came along. He used the term "100 months" and it made cry immediately. 100 months is a very long time - each and every month hating my body and feeling like a total failure, those months were the most excruciating I have ever endured.
Celebrating mothers day without a mom and without children is nearly impossible. I can remember refusing the lame carnation that was being handed out at the door to all of the mums in church that day. I could have punched out the man to tried to shove it in my hands like a consolation prize when I rejected it. Biting the inside of my cheek so I didn't yell at him or begin to break down in the foyer.
Today my Alinea is 14 years old and Jacob 12 - I can hardly remember the deep pain of those months because the joy of their arrival erased them from my active memory. Re-reading that essay brought back some of the emotion. I would encourage you to be gentle to those around you tomorrow - please don't increase their pain or their struggle with lame words that make you feel better, not them. Infertility is a horrible master and there are no words that can stem the pain.
I told my daughter yesterday about the 100 months of preperation we had for her arrival - and how that those times of lack made me a much stronger person and more ready to mother her when she arrived. I will never say that it was a gift or that learning could not have come in other ways - but I can look at that time now and realize that I am a better woman and mother because of it.