Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What do I say?

A few weeks ago my lovely neighbor gave birth to her third child. Her oldest is my little guy's best buddy in town and, appropriately, he's had questions about the situation over the last few months. A sampler of our conversations is as follows:

Josh: "She's going to have a baby? Why?"
Me: "Um, because she and her husband love each other very much and sometimes when people love each other God gives them a baby."
Josh:"And it's in her belly?"
Me: "Yes. (cringing as I know what the logical next questions will be from my inquisitive 3-year-old)
Josh: "How did it get in there?"


Now, I'm a big proponent of honesty. When he asks me scientific questions, I do my best to answer him honestly and using real language, not dumbed down baby speak. After my son asked me why the air was clear we had a very long and drawn out conversation in which I tried to explain the concept of molecules. Right. Similar in an explanation of why it rains. Try hearing the words "water vapor" out of a preschoolers mouth. But I think he should really know why things happen.

However, I was unprepared to try to unpack the idea of sex for my 3 year-old so I confess, I chose the easy way out. "God put the baby there."

The problem with my answer is that it has led to many more questions, the least of which are coming from my son. Like him, I wonder how babies get in there. Yeah, I know the biological ins and outs, but the probability factor when you're doing everything "right", the role God plays, well, these things are a frustrating mystery to me.

For 19 months my son has been waiting in expectation alongside his parents. When we first started trying around his 2nd birthday, I exuberantly asked him if he wanted to be a big brother. He, not knowing what at all that actually meant, looked at me sweetly and said "Yes, Mommmy." Months went by with no result and I stopped being the one who brought it up. Sometimes we'd go weeks without talking about it and then, suddenly, in our prayer time before nap he'd say "Mom, I'd like to pray today for my little brother and sister. Will they be coming soon?" (I should add that despite all my best efforts he is convinced that if he ever does become a big brother, it will be to twins. Lord, help.)

For a number of months, I'd confidently answer that yes, God was going to make him a big brother really soon. Lately, though, I find myself hesitating. Am I lying to this child when I say that? What if it never happens? What if I just set him up for a big disappointment? Maybe he's meant to be an only child.

So, two days ago, after we had seen the new little baby next door, Josh looked up at me innocently and said "Is my baby brother coming soon, too?" And when I had to, finally, use those words I'd avoided and tell him that I didn't know if his baby brother was coming, he looked so crestfallen and confused. "Why, Mom?"

And this is what it comes down to. I've asked myself the same question a hundred, no a thousand times. People like to give you lots of answers for why you're struggling with infertility. "Maybe God is teaching you something. Maybe your body's waiting until the right moment. Maybe you will be used in other people's lives who struggle with this." And on and on. A lot of it feels like white noise. Like most people dealing with disappointment, I don't want potential excuses for why it's happening. I just want answers and, since those are in short supply, I'd just like not to feel so alone so much of the time. But wanting something so badly that you have no power to gain is a very isolating experience. Particularly when it feels the world around you is very fertile ground.

I find a lot of solace in my son. He asks the questions that I feel like I'm not supposed to ask if I have faith and trust that God only has good for me. Maybe I don't want to learn something new or maybe I think it's utter bull that my body isn't "ready" and that I should put on 10 pounds or that I think that God would be better off using somebody else to help other people dealing with infertility. But the bottom line for me is I just don't understand. I'm disappointed and I know that my "why" might never be answered.

So, for now, I'm not sure what I'll say the next time the question arises with little man. His optimism has helped me through many a sad moment, but at what point do I hurt him by letting him believe something will happen if it's not been promised to us? At what point does expectation become painful disappointment? I want to remain optimistic myself. I don't want to give up. I want to wait on the Lord.

But sometimes at night, when both my wonderful husband and sweet son are asleep, I quietly think to myself that maybe I already have my answer. And I know I should be content with what I've been given. But I ache inside for what I still want.