Very likely, one of the rockiest climbs of my spiritual growth was the journey to motherhood.
Some may not know that I was diagnosed with infertility as a teenager. By the time I reached the spring of my senior year in high school, there had been no visit from Aunt Flo. My mother, concerned that something might be wrong, took me to a doctor that lead to a specialist, that lead to a surgical procedure and a dire diagnosis. I had no eggs. As the doctor said, "You have all the parts for the machine to work, just no product to work with. No eggs. No Babies." I remember that. I remember so much about that day as awkward, the least of which was his explanation. There I sat, absorbing the news that I would never have children of my own. All of my childhood cradling dolls and pretending to be a mommy had been for naught! But my inner fighter wound up quick and determined that I would simply devote my life to teaching and being a child advocate for those without a mom in their life.
As my relationship with Israel grew, I remember being terrified that he would dump me when he found out that I was infertile. Yet, true to form, his answer was quick and wise and the exact opposite of all my doomsday predictions. We did marry and we thought our life was to be ministering to children. We served with several mission groups in Mexico and in the Navajo Nation. It wasn't always easy to see and serve so many little ones longing for mommies when all I wanted was to be a mommy. That season, yearning to be a mother and praying for a miracle was in some ways the darkest days and in other ways the most brightly grace filled days of my life. I remember laying prostrate for days on end crying out to God to either take the desire for motherhood away from me or to send me a child, I assumed, through adoption. We prayed for a miracle, we went before the Elders and Deacons for prayer, but we still did not see the report of the Lord.
I was teaching Kindergarten at that time. And what no one really tells you is that Kinder teachers are really nothing more than human Kleenex. A classroom full of littles that share their runny noses and germs freely. So, it became routine that I would get some sort of viral attack at the start of every school year. I assumed, it was my body's way of acclimating to the new batch of germs. In a regular, no different from any other fall, I thought I had caught a really bad case of stomach flu that just wouldn't go away. I mean school started in August and it was already October kind of stuck in the yuck. Everyday I was just so sick. I was so exhausted. So, I did the logical thing. I went to see my mother. I laid on her couch. She fussed over me a bit. She gave me some warm Sprite. I let myself whine a bit and she listened and loved me. Then I went back home because we had an early AM church work day scheduled.
As I look back, this is where the story gets really funny. Next morning, I get up too early because I'm sick. Again. And now I'm grumpy too. I decide to just get ready for the day and go to grab my old grubby fat pants. Except there is a big problem. Those elastic waisted pants no longer seem to go around my belly. I bust into tears and yell from the closet, "Israel! Not only am I sick as a dog, but now I'm fat too!" (Please add as much passion, despair, and fury to those typed words as you can possibly imagine.) And then I'm crying. Like total break down, wailing, ugly crying. And Israel's response? Still in bed, he rolled over, shielded his head with a pillow, took shelter under the covers and said absolutely nothing. Which of course, is the only proper response.
Believe it or not, I was still clueless. Medically, I had been told that I would never have children. Physically, I had never had a cycle and I had been married for almost 3 years with no babies to confirm the diagnosis. Pregnancy was just not an option for me. But, as it says in the Bible, His mercies are new every morning. I did my day. I went to sleep. And at some point in the middle of the night, I realized that I might be pregnant. I just woke up with this knowledge. Not really a dream. Not really a voice. Just a knowing. I was afraid to tell Israel. While he never really said anything, it had been hard for him just as it was for me. We had a history of praying, hoping, wanting, testing, and failing so many times. It was a torturous path to follow. And the cost was so high that we had decided months ago to no longer walk that way. We were trying our best to move on and let God do whatever He wanted with us. I did not want to broach that subject without some sort of real confirmation. So I secretly scheduled a doctor appointment that afternoon.
I made my doctor laugh. This man was the father of seven and a medical doctor. I've been seeing him since I was a teen and he knows my history as well as he knows biology. I tell him my symptoms and ask him for medicine to help me get over this bug. His advice, though he is pretty sure of the diagnosis, is to do a blood test to confirm his suspicions. Like an addle brained, hormone ruled, sleep deprived woman, I agree, The nurse takes her sanguinary sample and they both scurry off, leaving me dangling my feet off the cold, paper covered table. Mere moments later, a knock on the door and my doctor walks in with a smile. "Tina, the test result is positive. You are pregnant."
If you expected rejoicing, I apologize. Because in that moment, a thousand doubts rushed at me and I numbly replied, "Okay, but are your tests accurate?"
It took me a moment to calibrate, but my doctor and I shared a moment of miraculous revelation. And then I was set on the fast track of the pre-natal care gauntlet. He and his staff shuttled me across the hall to an OB-Gyn and we established that not only was I pregnant, I was in my 2nd Trimester. The doctors were both men of faith and this is when the rejoicing really kicked in. My mind was reeling. I had to tell Israel!
As I drove to find and tell Israel the news, I remembered that at one point someone had described me as a woman with a dead womb while she prayed for me. She meant well, but that hurt deeply. And that wounded part of my soul was rising up. In a defensive measure, I rolled down my window and shouted into the brisk sunshine, "Overly and abundantly. More than I could ever think or imagine!" because the same Jesus that had risen from a tomb, had put life in my womb.
I went straight to Israel's boss who happened to be a old friend, and asked if we could use a company conference room. Since we were in an office environment, we were very quiet and standing close to each other when I told him. I was forced to be unusually reserved. Israel seemed less shocked than I was at the news. He later told me that he had been getting visions of us walking with a child in hand for several weeks but was afraid to tell me. We clung to each other with this bump in the middle. It was a moment full of the awesome wonder that only comes from God. We humbly praised our Lord together and prayed to welcome our blessing.
Some of my favorite words in the Bible are, "But God" because if the story ended there, it is a great testimony. But it goes on even today. After that day, I had a child, almost like clock work, every two years, until my fourth child was born. They each have their own story and you can read their stories on the next blog.
Like all precious jewels, I have many facets. There are stories from my life that I find I share over and over. They say you should never talk about politics and religion. Well, those are my two favorite subjects. Consider yourself warned. I invite you to my heart and heartaches, my laughs and rants, and everything in between.