I knew it was around the time — maybe a few days before. I couldn’t remember the exact date that I was standing in Joann’s and received the call from my doctor. I’ve been waiting for those early blog posts to pop up in my Facebook memories. It will still be a few more days. It took awhile before I knew how to express my feelings without being forthright about the issue.
On Tuesday I saw a post in which a former youth was announcing that she and her husband are expecting their first child this spring. That same day I saw that Amy Schumer is pregnant. A few days before that I saw that the the Prince and Duchess are expecting. Not that the second two really matter that much in my life, but still… they are pregnant and I’m not. In response to this, I posted an image on Instagram with this quote: “Grief is like an earthquake. The first one hits you and the world falls apart. Even after you put the world together again there are aftershocks, and you never really know when those will come.”
After arriving to the location of the conference I was attending, I checked my phone and saw I had a DM on Instagram. It was from the former youth — I hesitated to open it. I hope I didn’t upset her — I hope she didn’t feel my post was directed at her. But, when I opened her message I was blown away by her compassion, love and consideration. In her times of celebration and anticipation, she’s been remembering me. I could hardly believe it. I felt deeply connected to her. I felt incredibly grateful.
Over lunch I heard one of my new friends say something about a theology professor in Dallas who focuses on infertility and miscarriage. I wasn’t part of the conversation but my ears perked up and I jumped in, What’s his name? Who is this? David Schones. I immediately googled his name and when I have time I will do more research about his work. Maybe this is what I’ve been searching for. I don’t know why this friend mentioned his name or knew about his work. I never got a chance to ask her, but I will eventually. I have a feeling there’s more to her story, or perhaps the story of someone she cares for.
After lunch our guest speaker of the day brought a lot of energy into the room. Loud music that inspired movement and joy. Deep breathing and full body stretches. Genuine appreciation for the group and his presence with us. I was excited to hear what he had for us. And then. He shared a picture of his daughter — the one he and his wife never expected to have. They struggled with infertility for 8 years and were living in the ashes of what wouldn’t be… until it was and they named this child Phoenix, one who rose from the ashes.
Why? Why did this story need to be told today, to this group, to me? He asked us to close our eyes and listen to God — what word did we hear? Comfort, I heard. My eyes were beginning to water, but I held it together. Until. He asked us to turn to a partner and share the word we heard. I looked over at my new friend Clarence and the tears began to fall. He reached out his hand for mine and held my hand while I tried to speak the words in my mouth.
I don’t know why he had to tell that story, I said. Infertility is my story too. And it was two years ago, almost to the day that I found out from my doctor. I don’t know why this is happening today. Clarence listened intently, as did Tamario who was sitting at the end of the table. There were no words of assurance or suggestions for what to do — they just listened. More than anything, I need people to listen. And they did that perfectly.
We spent much of the afternoon outside exploring Houston. I needed that, space with the group but on my own. I had time to breathe. I needed time to breathe.
Another new friend invited a few of us to attend a group that her church hosts every Wednesday evening. I had no idea what to expect, but over the week I decided to “yes” more and watch where it leads. As soon as we arrived I saw her — a beautiful little girl, maybe 18 months old. Her name is Emerald. I kept waiting for her grandmother to take her home or something. She was walking around as we were reading scripture. She was being noisy while we were talking. She has an inviting smile — it’s hard to ignore her even though I desperately wanted to ignore her. At one point she started grabbing people’s hands and doing a little dance. Skip me, skip me. Instead she skipped the woman next to me and walked over and grabbed my hands. She looked me right in the eyes and held my hands while she wiggled her diaper-padded behind. She smiled at me. I think her eyes were sparkling, like a shiny Emerald. I couldn’t say no, I couldn’t ignore her outreached hands.
Finally, after a long, exhausting day, I got back to the Airbnb only to discover that my period was starting. One last reminder, just in case I hadn’t picked up any of the others…
I fell into bed. Out of curiosity, I looked at my calendar. October 2016, toward the end of the month. I was looking for “Nanny” on the calendar because I was with her at Joann’s that day. Monday, October 24, 2016. It was two years ago to the day.
One or two of those things on this day, perhaps a coincidence? All of them? No way. The message on Instagram, the mention of a professor, the personal story of infertility, the little girl, my body… there’s no way all of these came together on this very specific day randomly.
I don’t know the message. Perhaps to be reminded that this journey isn’t over. Perhaps to be reminded of how far I’ve come. Maybe the message is that I’m not alone. Maybe the message is I am loved, fully and deeply.