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In July of this year I married my incredible husband B. Yesterday we celebrated four whole months of wedded bliss. (YAY!) It has been a wonderful journey so far and God has place on my heart to share the real story and not just the fun parts. So, I need to confess that I have struggled with bitterness, anger, and frustration during this time because of an issue of an intensely personal variety.
A few weeks after B and I got married, I realized I hadn’t had my menstrual cycle yet that month. Upon realizing this, my heart dropped. B and I have a plan! Having children now is not a part of it! I was supposed to have three years to learn how to be a good mother, to become worthy of being a parent. In fact, I had taken steps to make sure that I would have that time. Before getting married I did careful research and read several books about birth control options. B and I talked about and prayed about it. I talked to my doctor and they put me on a birth control pill a little over a month prior to the wedding.
By the end of our first month of marriage there was still no sign of my cycle. I bought a pregnancy test (ok, four of them) and the result was negative. I called my doctor in Dallas he said to give it two weeks and test again. I did and it was negative, six weeks since my last cycle. My old doctor advised me to go in to my new primary care physician here and have them do a blood test. I called for an appointment at the end of August. The earliest they could get me in was at the end of September. I took the appointment and during this wait, I prayed long and hard. I asked God to forgive me for not wanting this child because of my own fear of becoming like my parental authorities. I asked God to help me to love this child that had entered my life so expectantly, and to soften my heart.
And He did.
I went in to the doctor’s office that morning strangely hopeful and excited. The doctor wanted to do a urine test, a blood test, and an ultrasound. Sitting in the chair at the doctor’s office I got to see… nothing. My uterus was completely empty. I am not a crier. I don’t do big emotional scenes, or even little ones for that matter. And yet sitting there looking at a dream (one I didn’t even realize I had) fade away, my heart broke. I cried hard.
The ultrasound tech left the room; the nurse patted my shoulder and backed away slowly. I cleaned myself up, retouched my makeup and walked down the hall to the lab where they took the samples they needed. The doctor confirmed that I was not pregnant and prescribed a much lower dose birth control to begin taking immediately. I got in my car and headed to my ladies’ Bible study like I was supposed to. This was at the end of September, and I had missed three full cycles.
The month of October was extremely hard for me. I cried more that month that I have in the rest of my entire life. I cried for that child that didn’t exist. Laura Bush has a great quote that sums up my feelings pretty accurately in her book Spoken from the Heart. She writes:
“The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?”
The longer that I went without a cycle the more I cried. If I wasn’t pregnant, then something is wrong. I did Internet research and came up with everything from cancer to early onset menopause. I allowed fear to creep into my heart and take up residence there. The emotional and spiritual toll of these issues really began to get to me. I became hostile and aggressive. I couldn’t understand why God would take away my fertility. Why He would let me marry a wonderful man like B (who would make an excellent father!) and then take away my menstrual cycles? I began to pull away from B, and to pick fights with him over the littlest things. I became short with my friends and family. I was not consistent in my quiet time and my prayer time. I was in a very dark place. But through it all my home was spotless, my meals were made from scratch and my appearance was always put together.
Yesterday marked day 118 since my last menstrual cycle, 4 cycles total missed.
Yesterday also marks the first time I lied to my husband. When he got home from work he asked how my day was. I replied that the day had been good and told him about all the good things I had done. I did not tell him about the hour I spent crying on our bed after I got an email from a relative in which she teasingly asked when B and I were going to start our family. When I told him I had a headache I said that it must be from the allergies, not the hour spent facedown crying into my pillow. I didn’t want him to know the pain I have been in, or the struggle I am having with the absence of my cycle. I didn’t realize how much I looked to my menstrual cycle each month. It is a sign of fertility, femininity, and that my body works the way it is supposed to. How could he possibly understand that?
Today in my friend Celine and I talked about the issue pretty extensively, mainly because I can’t hide it any longer. The cracks are beginning to be too much to cover up. Celine told me to write what I am feeling, just write it down. So I did. Here is what I came up with:
I am angry at the doctors who told me repeatedly that this was caused by my anemia, stress levels, hormone levels, and intense physical training schedule.
I am angry at the women in my life that complain about their children as though they are burdens. The woman who couldn’t look up from her cell phone while her daughter was trying to talk to her in Walmart today brought me to tears. These women wish for a moment to themselves, and I am praying for a chance.
I am angry at the relatives who keep asking if B and I are expecting yet. I know that they mean well, but every time they ask the cut gets a little bit deeper.
I am angry at my very masculine twenty-five year old husband for not immediately understanding the emotional turmoil that this has caused his brand-new twenty-four year old wife.
I am angry at my own body. I am furious that I cannot force myself to pull it together and fix the problem.
I am angry at God for allowing all of this.
After I wrote those things in my prayer journal, I closed my eyes and prayed silently. I asked God to reveal to me his will. When I said that I realized what I meant was, “reveal to me that you are going to do what I asked you to do”. Being willing to follow God’s plan is easy until you realize His plan may not match your own. God is protecting me in this time from my own sinful nature. Reading it in the Bible isn’t enough, having people tell it to me did not get through either. God has stopped my cycle for his purpose, though I may not see it yet. My heavenly father has not abandoned me, or forgotten me. He is doing what is best for me, right now. I believe that right now God is pruning my life. As defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, pruning is “to trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, esp. to increase fruitfulness and growth.” God has cut away my pride, my overconfidence, and my own selfish plans while He is teaching me humility and grace.
Psalm 127:3-5 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior's hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” Does that mean my menstrual cycle will come back? Yes, if that is God’s plan. If it is not God’s plan, and he has decided for me to be barren, do I have a servant’s heart? Am I willing to say, “Yes Lord” and praise Him for his mercies, even if they are not the ones that I want?
That is up for me to decide. That is the lesson I am learning.