12.19.2013

Advent and Infertility: Wait or Prepare?

This Advent has been tough, in lots of ways. There is the usual sadness and dread that has accompanied all major (and minor) holidays for the last 3 years, for sure. Yet, this year there has been the ultrasound series and blood work coupled with a busier work schedule than I anticipated. There is also this: Christmas Day will be P+15 of an unmedicated cycle. I have a very strict "no testing" rule. I've only broken it once and that served as a good reminder why I don't test.

But.

To sneak downstairs to start the water for The Man's coffee and on my way past the mantel slip a test with two lines on it into The Man's stocking that hangs there. That, my friends, would be the best way I could possibly imagine to spend Christmas morning.

But.

To take that test and see only one line? To truly put to test my Advent prayer of "God is the same no matter what" on Christmas morning. Do I even dare risk it?

I will have to make a decision before Christmas morning as there are no tests in our house.

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When I was at Mass last weekend, you know, Gaudete Sunday? The one I've had a love/hate relationship with over the last couple of years? Yep, that one. Well, I thought I was safe because it was a small Mass for couples preparing for marriage and I trusted the priest would do a homily on, well, marriage. He did not disappoint, only he also stirred something in me that I have been reflecting on ever since.

So often we talk about Advent as a season of waiting. Those of us who are infertile often feel that this is the only part of the seasons of Advent and Christmas we can relate to, this waiting for a baby (both a physical baby for us and for the Baby Jesus). Father, in speaking to the engaged couples, focused instead on preparing. Of course this made perfect sense as engaged couples are certainly preparing for their wedding days and their marriages. But something stirred within me, a question that was almost like my soul whispering to itself: Have I been waiting or preparing over these past years?

On a practical sense, I have been doing both. Preparing for pregnancy and motherhood both prayerfully and physically. Waiting for my prayer to be answered in the way that *I* want. Each cycle my body prepares to ovulate and then I wait to see if conception occurred.

And spiritually, I have done both as well. There are times when I have actively prepared by seeking out spiritual direction or increasing my prayer life. But there have been times when I have waited. When I have sat back and said "I'm here, God. I'm waiting for You." I've been waiting for Him to let me know He does indeed see this pain I'm in; waiting for Him to work His miracle and allow us to conceive; waiting for Him to explain why we must all go through this.

And then, I started to think about that big question of "What if God Says No?" So many of you commented so kindly on my post about how this question is so much bigger than just related to infertility. That there are so many things in our lives that we ask this question about. And I started to wonder if during this time that has felt mostly like waiting, waiting for a child, waiting for motherhood, if maybe He hasn't been preparing me, and all of us, for something more?

I realized of course He has been. We are all created for something more than this life. We are created for God, for heaven. This whole life is preparation for that life. We have a choice to only sit back and wait or to only step forward and prepare, but we also have a choice to do both. To take our time where we sit back, we reflect, we mourn, we wait for Him to move in our lives but to also do our part, to step out in faith and to prepare for Him.

Infertility can teach us how to do this. How to both prepare and wait all at the same time. I've often lamented this piece of the journey, about how difficult it is to plan for one life while trying to live another. It is not for the faint of heart, of that I am sure. And yet, as I've heard the word "prepare" echo in my heart and mind over the past few days, the whisper of "wait" has been there too. Isn't this what we are all doing with this whole existence? Are we not preparing for heaven, preparing to meet God, preparing for that which we are created while waiting for it to happen?

The key, I think, to doing this is being open to this two-fold process of preparation and waiting. Of activity and passivity all rolled into one. I am struck again at how our Catholic faith so beautifully teaches us to embrace both/and over either/or.

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So, what will I do on Christmas morning?

Well, if I am to take my own reflection seriously, I must first prepare, so I will make sure there are tests in the house.

I will then wait.

I can't promise I will test, that will be a decision I suspect I can only make when I wake up on Christmas morning.

Yes, this Advent has been tough in a lot of ways, but I am learning to trust and believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Regardless of my Christmas morning, He has come. We are redeemed. We have Hope. He will come again.

Infertility is teaching me how to prepare and to wait in that Hope, despite the sorrows of this life.

14 comments:

  1. Beautiful reflection. I will be praying for you on Christmas morning. Such courage is needed to both prepare while we wait!

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  2. Yes.

    And everything Amazing Life said. :-)

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  3. Love this, the importance of doing the work to prepare and then to have the faith to wait upon God's will. Prayers for you and your family Christmas morning and always!

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  4. IF really is such a sorrowful journey, most I think because we lose what *we* want and accept what He wants. You are so right, this life is a preparation for the next and that is what matters. It is more active to prepare than wait. And there is something more peaceful in that.

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  5. Christmas will be P+12 for me... and I've had the same thoughts of "should I test that morning?" For me, I've decided not to. I've decided to enjoy the hope that day of "maybe I could be pregnant this time..." To celebrate that day without the sadness of only seeing one pink line. To try to relax into God and trust that His miracle WILL come someday for us, too. It's so tempting to test.... (and I LOVE the idea of putting a positive test in the hubby's stocking!!) .... but, for me -- the gift this year will be that of hope.

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    1. If it were P+12, I wouldn't be testing. I usually barely make it to P+14 on unmedicated cycles, so if I actually make it to P+15 I will have a huge decision to make. I really only think I will be a to make it in the moment, I can "what if" and "plan" all I want, but I also need to make sure I can enjoy the day with our family.

      I love your perspective as well - and the gift of hope is so so important!

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  6. I would go so far as to say that I think that waiting is not and should not be merely a passive thing. I think that there are moments that we are called to be still in the midst of the wait, but I think that there is a lot that is a very active process; like choosing to be faithful in the midst of it, discerning what- if any- are the right steps to proceed at any given moment, and so forth. Praying for you these last few days of Advent!

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  7. Truly there is a need both to prepare, to be active, and to wait, to be quiet and listen. I'm slowly getting better at being quiet and waiting; preparing is much more in my nature - let me *do* something. In the early days of our TTC, we started collecting things we would need for when we had our first child; I don't want to think about quite how much baby stuff we have accumulated. For now my preparations are more focused on making sure I will have the needed medications and prescription for P+7 blood work, as well as trying to make sure that I will be as calm, relaxed, and receptive for the actual trying.

    I'll be at the opposite end of my cycle at Christmas - it should be around peak day. I can only imagine the circle of thoughts that may be going round and round in your head as you try to decide whether or not to test. I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs!

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  8. I'll be P+5 for Christmas, so that means my second ever HCG injection for me. How fun! I get to stick myself with a needle on Christmas morn. :)

    Praying for you. I'm really, truly hoping you make it to P+15 and beyond this time around. As for the testing - I'm totally with you. There's got to be a reeeeeeally good reason for me to get one of my old sticks out and test. Hopefully you'll have that good reason come this Wednesday. But enjoying the holiday without thinking of IF at all and just holding off testing 'til the next day would be a good way to go too. That way if it's negative, it won't have ruined Christmas and if it's positive, you'll look back and remember it as though you had the best Christmas gift ever, even if you didn't know it 'til the day after Christmas. Anyway, you'll know what's right for you guys when the time comes. Hugs and prayers to you as you wait and prepare!

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  9. I love your reflection on waiting/preparing! It made me realize that I've been thinking about waiting as just "doing nothing" and it's never just that - Scripture makes that really clear at least! How can I prepare for motherhood (if that's God's plan) or being a better wife, or just getting to heaven... =) That makes the waiting a little more bearable.

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  10. This Advent has been crazy for me too. Too crazy. I love your thoughts on preparing. How true that our whole life is preparing for Heaven, why is it so hard to remember at times?!?! Our Advent speaker at our ladies tea this year gave a talk on "Actively Waiting" and it was very good. Hope you have an amazing and peace-filled Christmas, test or no test.

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  11. p.s. I might use this for our January IF group, I think preparing could be a good theme, especially in the new year. Would you mind?

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  12. Josh and I are praying a novena to St Anne to conceive after he returns from deployment, and each day when I pray it I also pray for you and The Man. No matter the outcome or when/if you decide to test, may God's grace carry you through it, bring you and your husband closer than ever, and ultimately closer to our Lord Jesus. Prayers and love to you!

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  13. Hey, Rebecca! I'm with the Couple to Couple League, an NFP educator, and we'd like to republish this article for Advent. I'd message you privately, but I can't find an option for that.

    You can check out our other stuff here https://ccli.org/blog/, to give you some peace of mind about who we are. If you'll give us permission to republish this gem, please contact my boss Ann Gundlach from the connect with us page, linked here: https://ccli.org/sign-ups/. (I'm not going to publish my email so that I don't wind up getting junk mail)

    Please let me know!

    God Bless

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