For 2 years, I’ve had a bag sitting in our basement. At first, it had 2 or 3 things in it, but as time went on, it started filling up. In fact, the original bag wasn’t this big. I had to switch to a new bag – one that was bigger. Eventually, I realized that I would need a sturdier bag – one that could withstand a longer wait. And then I stopped adding to the bag, and got put away, hidden in a corner.
As some of you may already know, 3.5 years ago, I began a journey of getting healthier – losing weight, learning to love myself, developing a good relationship with food, and replacing old clothes with new ones that fit my healthy body. And there were dozens of donations to Goodwill. But I kept some of the clothes that no longer fit – not because I intended to gain back the weight or the beer belly – but because I imagined growing a different kind of belly.
Jeans and fancy dresses didn’t make the cut – but comfy shorts, leggings, sweat pants, and t-shirts that didn’t fit my new body all went into a bag for the future. A future that seemed so easy to embark on and was full of so much hope. It held a naivety and innocence that I often pray to have back.
When I started filling that original bag, we had just begun our journey of growing our family. We had no clue what was ahead of us, and I can still hear us saying things like “will this date still work if we’re pregnant?” when discussing an upcoming vacation. I can still feel the tub of Burt’s Bees belly butter in my hand at Target when I picked it up on clearance, thinking that I would need it sooner rather than later, so why not?
As time passed, I continued to collect things and put them in the bag; reminding myself that it doesn’t always happen overnight. But as we progressed through medications and treatments, stomach injections and ultrasounds, my desire to fill the bag began to dwindle, and my heart started to hurt when I saw it. My belief that I would ever need the contents in that bag became shaky, until one day, it was gone altogether. The bag got moved to the basement, the countless ovulation tests and pregnancy tests expired, and the batteries in the basal body thermometer died.
For nearly a year, I haven’t looked in that bag. It’s grabbed my attention when I put away another season’s holiday decorations, and it taunts me when I catch it’s reflection in the mirror while I’m working out. I’ve never really known what ironic means, but seeing a bag of clothes that you’ve been saving because your body won’t work while exercising to be healthy feels like what ironic should mean.
Spring cleaning has me in another “minimalist hurricane”, as I roam the house, pulling down all the things we don’t use/wear/want/need and dropping them into a box or bag that’s headed to thrift store, which is when I saw a pair of sweatpants. We all have those clothes that we’re pretty sure we’ll never wear, but because we like the brand/style/idea, we keep putting them back in our closet, justifying a time we might just want to pull them out. These sweatpants are that – super cozy, heather grey sweatpants from Target. I loved them when I bought them, but they became too big. I finally accepted their fate and carried them toward the donation box, but somewhere on that walk, I realized that they would make pretty great pregnancy sweatpants, so I folded them up, brought them down to the basement, dug out the bag, and dropped them inside – almost instinctively.
Do you guys know that space of utter confusion? I’m at a place where I’ve never been more conflicted. Every thought contradicts the last, and certainly won’t be cohesive with the next. Have you ever wanted to cling to something while wanting to get as far away from it as possible?
Putting those pants in that bag made me realize that I’ve been lying to myself about being done with the infertility struggle. That I’m not “okay” if we never have a family. That the strong walls I thought I was building are really made out of jello and will eventually come down, but not in a “planned city development project kind of way”, more in a chaotic earthquake that the weather channel never prepared us for.
While I was building my jello wall, I “turned off” those feelings, and it’s been easier to navigate my life. I don’t find myself sobbing at every diaper commercial, roaming aimlessly through the baby aisles at Target, or hating every person on Facebook who shares their pregnancy announcement. Turning off the baby feelings has allowed me to live a normal life; one that isn’t consumed by emotion. I have yet to find the place between acceptance and determination, between grace and justice, between faith and fear.
I can’t hear God. I was angry with Him for a long time, and I’ve moved away from that anger and toward trust, but I haven’t made it the whole way there. I’m afraid to fall backward, to stumble again over this giant circumstance on my faith journey. And the most truthful thing I can muster is that I don’t know what I want. I want all of it and none of it.
And this isn’t a post that has some sort of guidance for those in a similar situation – in fact, I think it’s the opposite of that. It’s a transparency that isn’t always apparent. It’s a giant billboard, with block lettering, screaming the truth; I’m struggling. I don’t have it figured out. I love God, and there’s not a bone in my body that questions whether He loves me, but my faith is shaky at best sometimes. My desire to know all and control all get in my way daily. I keep promising to trust Him with this, and I keep taking it back. And in these moments, all I can really be is thankful that His grace, power, and goodness aren’t conditional on what I do, or don’t do.
While I have no idea what this journey holds, and I’m confident that there will be more struggles, bigger questions, and harder choices, I keep going back to Him. I keep searching for the grace that he wants to give and that I want to accept. It’s really all I can do. And I will be forever humbled by this piece of our story, which may be the point. At 27 years old, I’ve finally met my match. I’ve found the first situation that I couldn’t control and manipulate; earning all the credit for the outcome. If and when our family grows, it will only be because of God’s endless mercy and goodness.
So for now, I’ll ask Him what to do with this bag. And I’ll be patient while I listen for a response. And I’ll cry when I feel like it, and I’ll complain to Him. I’ll question Him, and apologize for it, and I’ll do it all over again. And He’ll love me anyway.