Looking back I wish that I had taken more pictures of me, massive me, pregnant. I was trying to find a picture the other day that showed just how massive I was, but honestly I didn’t take many. Infertility took such a toll on me emotionally that I didn’t really want pictures of me pregnant. I had spent the last couple of years aching every time I saw a picture of a pregnant woman. I was really mindful about posting pregnant pictures because it hurt knowing that I was pregnant but so many others still weren’t. I also don’t know how to fully explain the dangers and risks involved while carrying 3 babies. Each week was hard, and each week brought new risks and questions. Derek especially carried a lot of this uncertainty. I tried not to think about what could go wrong and to stay as calm as possible. I stayed off of google and refused to look up “what if” stories. The TV show “This is Us” became a big hit, but we had to stay far away from it because the reality of something going wrong with 1 or all 3 of our babies was so real. I had dreams about something happening to them and even dreamt about the 3rd blastocyst splitting into a 4th.
Derek felt really isolated because he didn’t want to stress me out, and he couldn’t talk about the real possibilities of losing one baby (or all) to many people. While for most couples doctors’ visits are fun and exciting, for us each time we went we were sick to our stomachs wondering what might possibly happen. Now don’t get me wrong, we rejoiced and were thankful everyday for our blessing of 3 babies, but we were also all to familiar with the pain of knowing that sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go. Infertility and my ectopic pregnancy and a failed IVF created this predisposition that something could and probably would go wrong at any moment. For this same reason, we decided not to do a maternity photo shoot. We didn’t do a gender reveal. We didn’t post monthly bump pictures. When we did post our birth announcement, it was with carefully chosen words that spoke about the pain of infertility. We were just so nervous and broken. Thankfully we had a wonderful community and support through this experience. We had so many people speaking and praying truth and hope when we were unable to. I really think though that Derek was skipped over a lot with how much of a weight he had to carry. I got asked how I was doing regularly, but Derek rarely got asked. I got to feel the reassurance of the babies moving because I was carrying them, so I felt confident that we were doing everything we could physically do to take care of them. Derek just had to watch. He watched and worried and encouraged. He fed me so much food!! But it was really hard on him to watch me in pain and know that there was little to nothing that he could do. Thankfully, everything that could have gone right did. We are very lucky. Yes, God had his hand all over this pregnancy, but He also has his hand on the many babies that are born too early and in the lives of those that lose their little ones.
Now looking back, I’m realizing that in those months of scary pregnancy, in those months of so many unknowns, in the months of feeling alone, I was still very angry at God for our infertility (even though I was pregnant). Ok, real truth, Im still angry at God sometimes. I am angry at God for what we went through with infertility and also angry that even when we did get pregnant it was different and hard and terrifying the whole time. I was and am afraid to pray because I didn’t see how it would help. I figured whatever was going to happen, was just going to happen, so why ask God to fix it.
After processing, I have realized that it’s not prayer in general that I’m struggling with. I still love thanksgiving and praise in prayer. Even in the darkest days, I did have things to prayerfully be thankful for. I understand and find purpose in meditative prayer and centering prayer. I think prayer is good when seeking forgiveness and confession. I even see the beauty in praying for gifts of the spirit to come more fully (give me peace and kindness, etc). The place that I am struggling is in intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is when I ask God to heal, fix, save, change, take away, etc. Often when asking people for prayer requests, this is the type of prayer that is being used. Heal my sick Grandma. Help me to get this job. Take away this pain that I am suffering through. Heal a relationship. These are all forms of intercessory prayer. I know now that I had believed the purpose of this type of prayer to be straightforward – God do these things for me. I wanted Him to take away my pain. That was the point. But if that is the point of intercessory prayer then at some point in your life, if it hasn’t happened already, God will say No and the pain will remain. The person will die or you will still lose the job. So if the point of intercessory prayer is for God to fix things, then He isn’t doing a very good job. I know that God is good and keeps His promises so He must not promise to do what we ask. There must be a different and better purpose. These verses messed me up. Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
But here’s the deal…I was not getting the desires of my heart met. Whatever I was asking for in prayer, wasn’t mine. Things did not look like they were being worked for good. And yes there is an argument to be made for the fact that my beautiful triplets are here and amazing and healthy, and I love them so much, BUT what about the thousands of children dying in Africa from diarrhea because they don’t have clean water? What about the family that is homeless after countless efforts to find shelter and a job? What about the refugees that are dying every day as they are doing everything in their power to find safety? What about the triplets that I see everyday on my Facebook group that lose one or all of them or even just have major complications? I could go on and on. As a white American these verses seem to mean, pray and you will get what you want because most of the time, we get what we want. But if you look beyond yourself and look into the pain of someone that is suffering, someone that is doing everything “right” but the situation is not working for good, you have to question. Is there more to intercessory prayer than a genie granting wishes? What do these verses really mean?
Now don’t get me wrong, I do think that sometimes God says YES and he does fix, heal, save, and change. God is so powerful and we should rejoice when healing comes! But if that is our only goal in intercessory prayer than we are missing something HUGE. We are missing the main point. The point is not for God to give us what we want, but for him to know our hearts and for us to know his. As Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver grow up, I hope that they tell me about the bully at school. I hope that they tell me about the huge chemistry test that they are scared about and the teacher that makes them nervous. I hope that they share their fears. I hope that they tell me when they struggle with lust or with self worth. I hope that they ask me to take care of them when they get hurt. I hope that they call me when they are in uncomfortable situations. I hope that they ask me to be a part of their problems. BUT I won’t be able to fix or heal or change everything, and I don’t want to. I hope that they learn that my job is not to bulldoze away their problems. My job is not to make all of their pain disappear. But I still want them to tell me. I still want them to lay their head on my shoulder, to cry, and to share their deepest fears, even if I can’t make them go away. Because in sharing, in voicing the pain and the fear, there is comfort. I know that there is a difference between me as a mom and God the Father. God has the power to fix anything while I do not, but the question still remains, should He? A lot of this falls into the topic of theodicy which is a whole other post that either Derek or I will write sometime. My conclusion today though is that the beauty of prayer is not in the answer but in the conversation. Sometimes I will jump up in action when my kids ask me to do something, but other times I will just sit and listen and talk with them and hold them. One of those is not greater than the other. The desire of my heart cannot be for God to take away my pain. The desire of my heart should be for God to sit with me in the highs and lows and let me rest on his shoulder. My burden is heavy, and I’m ready to find rest for my soul.
I strongly believe that my babies are not healthy because I deserve it or did something right, but it is a beautiful part of this crazy wonderful story. I am very thankful for all the people that carried Derek and I through those 32 weeks and 5 days. I am the most thankful for Derek who went above and beyond to help me feel comfortable and loved and at peace every step of the way. God is good. All the time.
sidenote: I did take a few pictures of my belly because both my mom and Derek’s mom begged us for them which I am now thankful for.