I should probably change the title of this before anyone calls child protective services, but it just flows so well; let me explain. If you stumbled on this post and don’t know how I got to this place, I’ll give you some backstory. In December of 2014, we decided that if we became parents, we wouldn’t be upset about it, so we started out the way I imagine a lot of adorable couples do, excited but unsure of the future, with the “not, not-trying” method. In true Ryan + Olivia fashion, we moved to the “officially trying” stage within a month or two – we’re never patient, never. By May, I made an appointment with my doctor – not because we weren’t pregnant yet, but because I wasn’t ovulating.. at all. No monthly cycle. No signs of life in there… ha, I wrote that trying to be funny, but it’s also kind of true. The 16 months that have followed that appointment have been a rollercoaster ride… but mainly just the kind where you’re going downhill.
There’s no good time to start a new paragraph, so I chose this spot right here – mainly because I feel like I’m holding my breathe the entire time I’m typing. How can I turn 16+ months of the same few thoughts playing over and over again in my head into anything other than a run-on sentence? Following grammar rules has never been a strength of mine, but I’ll try.
After many failed attempts at fertility cocktails, we moved to the trigger shot, which also failed. There were lots of physical side effects, but nothing I couldn’t endure. The mental side effects of this process are another story. I have been one of those “strong women” as long as I can remember – I’m tough. Struggling with infertility is not for the faint of heart, and my heart (along with my ovaries) failed. Another attempt at being funny – and another play on words that might lead some of you to be concerned; my heart is fine. But my mindset has been the real problem.
I’ve never really been faced with something that I couldn’t find a way to control or manipulate. I try to think outside of the box – if a square peg doesn’t fit in a round hole, I make my way to Home Depot, rent a saw, watch a Youtube clip, and take those edges right off. It might not be a perfect fit, but I WILL get it in there. This is the first time in my life that all the manipulating and re-evaluating, the brain dumps and brain storms, the temper tantrums (yes, really) and tears, even the prayers, didn’t produce the result I was looking for.
Which leads me to the topic of prayer, the main reason for this post and this new journey. Every relationship with God is different, unique, and perfect (can I get an amen?) so what I’m about to say isn’t an reflection of my views on fertility treatments, Christianity, or the combination of the two. However, it is the truth about my story and my relationship with my sweet Savior.
A few months ago, after yet another exhausting round of 4 different fertility meds, a super painful trigger injection (I’m pretty sure I was way too rough with it), and lots of symptoms I had never experienced before – I had convinced myself that we were pregnant. It wasn’t the first time that I started to believe it, but it was different than any other time. I did all the things that make me cringe when I think about them; those things that if you were watching this as a movie, but you already knew the ending, you would make that “awe, poor girl” face… you know the one. I told one of my good photographer friends that I might need her to come shoot a surprise announcement to hubby that weekend, then I told hubby that I thought this time was different (totally ruining the surprise I was planning – I’ve got to learn to keep a secret). I looked at baby names, I created a nursery board on Pinterest, I did exactly what I vowed not to do; I set expectations. No less than 24 hours later, I got a phone call from the nurse regarding my post-injection lab work; the shot didn’t work. Not only was I not pregnant, I hadn’t even ovulated from the injection. So, I did what all normal girls do who thought they were pregnant and then found out they aren’t; got super drunk. Like too drunk to be cute. Like I’m too old to recover from that kind of drunk. But the worst part is that I wasn’t drunk enough to forget what I said to my husband at some point during that afternoon (yes, it was day-drinking drunk.. are you judging me more now than you were a few minutes ago?). I said the words “I hate God”.
I had never said that before. Okay, correction, I had said that MANY times before I was a Christian, but never in my “new life”. I loved Jesus with all of my heart, and up until that point, I felt like we had this adorable, best friend kind of relationship, but that all came to a screeching halt (I was the one screeching) from 1 single phone call. Something just finally broke and the breakdown was in full force. Eventually, the hangover went away, and the injection site in my stomach healed, and I even started a new round of fertility treatments – but I couldn’t shake that conversation (by conversation, I mean me, yelling and crying and my sweet husband staring at me, unsure if I was going to pass out, throw up, or hyperventilate) – that phrase I said stuck with me.
It took me weeks to come back to God – why do we do that silly thing where we think we can hide from Him? Like when you have a fight with a friend and you don’t go to the same grocery store incase you happen to look over and see her in the ice cream aisle? That’s what I did. But as most Christians know, once you’re His, it’s way too hard to stay away. But before I could “come back” – I felt like I had to take steps to make sure this didn’t happen again. What was going on in my brain that this struggle became God’s doing? And it took me a few more weeks of prayer and being angry and so many tears to stumble on the problem, or at least one of them. The answer was buried in the book of all answers; The Bible. Exodus 20:3 revealed to me where I had gone wrong in this journey, and so many other times before; “You must have no other gods before me.”
So basic, right? Everyone knows that verse, or some version of it. When I think of that verse, I make a mental note to never become a rain-dancer or visit a temple in a far away lands with statues to rub. But I quickly realized that anything can become my god. Anything that comes before GOD himself has become my god, many times before. There’s an amazing story in the book of Genesis, where God asks Abraham to give his only son as a sacrifice, and Abraham listens – what?!! He goes through all the steps to sacrifice his son, only to be stopped right before by God, who was testing him to see if ANYTHING was more important than his relationship with Him. Can you imagine that? Not unlike our story, Abraham and his wife struggled to get pregnant. How hard that must have been to wait your whole life for a child – and then be asked to sacrifice him? But Abraham was willing to do that, because He loved God more than anything else.
So I had to stop controlling and putting my desires above my love for God. I had to bring myself back to a place where God is good and His will and plan are perfect. I had to allow my faith to start working for me again. I had to believe that God would fight for me. We prayed about it and talked about it and cried about it, and the only answer I felt like I had was that I needed to give up the physical control. I stopped the medication in the middle of the cycle. I don’t know what the future for our family will hold. Our prayer right now is that we’ll be able to get pregnant naturally, in God’s time, and that’s what we’re going to continue to pray until He directs us somewhere different.
But what about the boarding passes? Righttttt… that’s the second half of this story. Not long after that decision to stop treatment (like days), we had a conversation about traveling more. If I’m being honest, one of the only hesitations I’ve ever had about being a parent is losing the ability to just pick up and go – to travel as much as we’d like. Naturally, since we just made a major decision to not have kids (not really, but you know what I mean) I was eager to get back to a place where I’m just a real person, instead of putting my life on hold like I had been the last year and a half. Because I don’t like to do things small, I started listing off all the places I wanted to go, and Ryan uttered this phrase: “Babe, we aren’t college kids. We either sell everything we have and live in hostels or we take normal family vacations a few times a year. You can’t just have it all.”
…and the wheels started to spin.
He was wrong, right? He had to be wrong. There was no way that the choice to be home-owners, pet parents, and have things like jobs and real furniture meant that we couldn’t wander. He loves stability, and I love chaos. But there are also times that I love stability and he loves chaos. We’re the perfect mis-match. There isn’t a single area of our lives where we’re the same – If I’m up, he’s down, if I’m comfortable, he’s not, if I’m cold (always), he’s hot (always)… except for dogs, we both love dogs. So why not use this time that God has given us to see more of his creation, responsibly? I love reading the stories and blogs about people who sell everything they have to travel the world. But, that’s not us. We like our life, our house, our dogs, our sectional. Just like that, a vision was created. It wasn’t a plan, I can’t call it a plan because it came out of left-field. So, what’s the vision? To travel as much as humanly possible while still maintaining all the things that come together to build our life.
What does that look like? Uncertain security. Controlled chaos. Unstable stability.
It looks like juggling vacation days around holiday weekends, doing work on airplanes, and most importantly, enjoying the time that we have, together. Tomorrow, we’re celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, and our 9 year dating anniversary. It’s easy to lose yourself during that time, and it’s even easier to lose your spouse. Not physically lose them, but forget who they are. It’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t planning for the future, when sex wasn’t timed by a pill or injection, when we were just us. Life happens and other things become our gods – babies, money, security, control.
In this moment, I’ve never wanted anything more than to grow together with God and fulfill His purpose for us. For the first time in as long as I can remember, maybe even ever, this is going to be about seeing the world through Him, through what He reveals to us, who we can help, where we’re supposed to be. It’s not about running away, but about finding Him, and ourselves.
So… we’re embarking on a new journey of Ryan + Olivia. It’s not the journey we thought we were taking, it’s not what we would have planned for a year ago, but it’s perfect, because I honestly believe that God is LEADING us through it instead of us driving the bus and turning around half way through because we realized we forgot to bring Him along.
Here’s the cool part; we’re documenting all of it through a separate blog, which will launch in just a few weeks. Because we’re so different, we want to be able to showcase what this journey is doing for each of us. How is it improving our marriage? How is it making us better spouses? What have we learned about ourselves, each other, and God’s creation? Who have we helped and who’s helped us? What locations did we love? Which ones made us even more grateful to return to our our stable lives and which ones made us consider selling it all to live there (just kidding!)?
Having and raising a baby is a beautiful project for 2 people to work on together, and it’s one that I hope we can someday experience. Until then, this is our project. We’ve learned of so many couples who wake up one day and realize that they’ve lost who they are because of the struggle of infertility, hardship, or just life. We want to help and share. And we don’t have a plan on how to do that, but I’m more sure now than I’ve ever been that God does. When it’s time, He’ll transition us from travel bags to diaper bags, but right now, He’s using us for something else.
“…go and travel around the land, write about it, and return to me.” Joshua 18:8