Give Them Grace
Today started off rough. Nothing specific or massive that made it that way. Just a lot of little things put together, loaded on top of a long night (e.g. six months, thank you pregnancy) of very little sleep. I fought back tears as I navigated traffic to run errands, not really understanding where the tears were even stemming from. To be completely honest, there have been a lot of days like this recently. Then at the bank the wonderfully kind and very social teller asked how many kids I had. I told her one perfect boy and another little man on the way. Her next words were the tipping point of all that had been piling up.
“Will you guys keep trying for more until you get a girl?”
I’m not sure if the pause that followed was actually as long and awkward as it felt, but I paused. I paused because I had to hold my breath in order to not have a complete breakdown right there at the counter. I paused because I needed my brain to be quicker than my mouth. I needed to evaluate before spilling a mound of truth onto her. Because I knew she didn’t mean to be anything but friendly. But my heart was devastated in that moment.
What I wanted to say?
No, we won’t keep trying for a girl. If we were to keep trying, it would be for a child.
No, we won’t keep trying for a girl. My pregnancies to babies ratio is not a glamorous statistic, and my body and heart can only handle so much.
No, we won’t keep trying for a girl. In just over four years of marriage I have been pregnant nearly three years. Most of that time has been physically and emotionally difficult, and not just for me. My husband and child sacrifice endlessly through my complicated pregnancies and when we suffer a loss.
No, we won’t keep trying for a girl. We won’t keep trying because the risks are too great.
And my heart is broken over that. My heart is broken because I want more children to love. My heart is broken because I’m not ready to be done with pregnancy. My heart is broken because I feel so called to mother.
I am grateful to be a mom to Lincoln and this growing boy who will be with us soon. I do NOT underestimate the gift that they are to our lives; they are miracle babies and mean more to me than anything in the world. It's hard to share this, knowing there are women out there yearning to be mothers who might think me ungrateful. But that's not what this is. My heartbreak is in no way a reflection of ungratefulness. It’s just real, honest truth.
Of course, I didn’t say any of the above to the gal at the bank.
I simply smiled and said, “I think we are good with two.” We are. We are so good, we are so blessed and we are so grateful.
Then I went home, and I cried. I let the grief and guilt, the joy and indescribable thankfulness, and the anger and frustration and pure helplessness take over and I cried. Yep. All those emotions at once.
The reality is that it is possible to grieve and celebrate simultaneously. It is possible to be overwhelmed with gratefulness for what you have and yearn for what you don’t. It is okay to cry tears of sorrow and tears of joy in the same day.
It’s exhausting to feel all of those things at once, and I’m tired. Sometimes I even add fear and shame to the mix. Fear that if I tell people I’m hurting while simultaneously growing a child, they’ll think I’m ungrateful. Selfish. Unappreciative. Fear that God will think I don’t appreciate his blessings when he’s poured them over me so generously. And then I laugh at myself. Because I know the Lord does not misinterpret my emotions. He knows the deepest parts of my soul. And even then, He loves me.
Yet I know I’m not alone. I know that there are other women out there who experience triggers like this one every day. I know there are women like me who struggle to define (or understand) their emotional state when they are overflowing with the most extreme joy and untamed pain at the same time. I know there are lots of women out there who were set off by people like my bank teller. (Or the well-meaning grocery shopper three days ago, or the unknowing parent of a past-student yesterday, or...)
But ladies, give her (and all of them) grace. Give her grace because she doesn’t have the personal experiences to understand why her question was inappropriate, and I’m thankful she doesn’t. Heaven knows I wish all women had only uncomplicated, normal pregnancy experiences to form their understandings around. Give her grace, and then give yourself some; to be angry, to cry, to accept the gamut of emotions you feel instead of smothering or fighting them.
Today my heart is joyfully celebrating and deeply aching. It's a hard place to be and even harder to express or explain. I hope that in sharing my inner conflict, the weight I've been feeling will be lightened. And maybe if you are a woman who has been struggling with something similar, you can find some solace knowing you're not the only one who is neck-deep in this whirlpool of emotion. Give yourself some grace.