Jacob and Rachel, via
I have been thinking a lot about infertility.
Brandon and I started our "Summer Project" in June of 2008. Oh, we had high hopes. And then somehow Summer turned to Fall, and then to Winter, and by early Spring I was ready to crawl into a hole and die.
There is a certain kind of sting in the failure of the body to perform what for most species is its most basic function. While it has never bothered me that I can't really do long division, or that I don't know how to sail, or that I can't do the splits, this failure to conceive somehow made me doubt myself so much. It completely broke my heart.
I consulted friends and loved ones for advice and always heard the same thing: Relax. Don't stress out. Go on vacation. Try some red wine. Lay off the caffeine. Try this doctor. Eat more avocados. Just stop trying! Trust the Lord's timing!
But every night as I prayed I heard something else: Keep Looking.
I saw doctor after doctor after doctor. Two OB/GYNs, one naturopath, one highly specialized and highly expensive Reproductive Specialist, they all told me the same thing. Your body is healthy. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything works. Just wait it out. Try to be patient.
Still I received the same prompting, the same feeling. Keep Looking, it said. Over and over I heard it. Keep Looking.
The prominent women of the book of Genesis are as follows: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel. Of these prominent women in the book of Genesis, there is only one who does not suffer from infertility: Eve.
Eve was the cursed one, isn't that right?
Genesis is full of God's chosen women suffering from a want of children. In each case, she is a woman whom God directed a prophet to find and marry. She is a woman who was promised that her seed would bear rulers and kings. She is a woman who was loved by God.
When I started the book of Genesis in January I was reading with the eyes of the infertile, and I hated these stories. I hated these women for their struggle, and I hated them for their success. As I wrote about the stories I purposefully avoided the topic. I didn't care and I didn't want to care. I wanted to be over it.
But let's just go there, shall we? Okay then.
First there is Sarah. Sarah is the wife of Abraham, the eventual mother of Isaac. Sarah is easily the most severe of the Infertile Myrtles. At the age of 90 she has yet to conceive and is menopausal (Gen 18:10). As Abraham prays considering an eventual heir, God tells him that Sarah will conceive. And every time, Abraham and Sarah laugh. Ha-ha-ha.
Genesis 17:16-17 I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations, kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?Genesis 18:10 . . . and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age, and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself.
In Genesis 18:14, the Lord's messengers rebuke Sarah, saying, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
This was the question which kept me up at night for months and months and months. Surely nothing is too hard for the Lord. But how much can I expect from Him when I pray? Could I ask for a miracle, and would I receive? Could I ask for guidance, specific and direct, like a road map? Should I just ask for comfort? Is that the "faithful" thing to do?
I thought a lot of my cyberfriend Courtney, and the specific counsel she received when she inquired. I started to feel that I could ask, and that maybe I too would receive . . . something.
So, I asked. I was told to Keep Looking.
I had to look for a really long time.
When Rebekah, wife of Isaac and eventual mother of Esau and Jacob (twins!), was experiencing infertility, Isaac went to the Lord and demanded answers on her behalf. Rebekah had been blessed to be the mother of thousands of millions, so why was nothing happening?
Genesis 25:21 And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, becasue she was barren, and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Like Rebekah, I had been blessed to know that my life's calling would be found in motherhood (although at the time I remember feeling entirely disgusted about it). So what was the hold up?
As I prayed I felt inspired to ask my husband for a blessing.
I was blessed with patience.
I was blessed that I would learn to love others more than I loved myself.
He was blessed that I didn't smack him right there on the spot. That was so not what I was going for, but thanks anyway.
Further reflection and prayer on my part led me to know what I always knew. That I was to Keep Looking. Keep Asking. Sometimes we are blessed with miracles. That wasn't my path.
I think Rachel, wife of Jacob and eventual mother of Joseph, is the woman in Genesis I relate to the most. If you remember, Rachel is the daughter of a proud and sneaky man, who tells Jacob he can marry her after seven years hard labor, and then pulls a trick by slipping Leah in at the wedding instead. Rachel is who Jacob loves, and for Rachel he continues to work for his father-in-law. When Leah has children easily and Rachel cannot . . .
Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.It was in my second November of wanting that I started to feel like Rachel. Give me children, or else I die. It was also around November that I decided to throw myself into fertility charting. After just two cycles I knew exactly my problem: My Luteal Phase was precisely one day too short. One day. I showed my doctor the results and by the end of the appointment I held a tiny little pill that promised to sort me all out.
I asked Brandon if he would give me another blessing.
This time I was blessed to know that I would get pregnant soon.
That my body would be able to receive a spirit child of God's.
That I would have a healthy pregnancy.
That month the pregnancy test blinked a word at me that was so foreign it nearly took me off my feet and I needed a minute before I could even tell if it was in English.
People keep telling me that these things are all on the Lord's schedule. When I told an older lady in the ward I was "finally" expecting, she screwed up her mouth at me and said, "Now, don't go insulting the Lord, this was his timing after all." I believe her, of course, but also I don't. There has to be so much more to it.
The thing is, I've talked with Him, pleaded with Him, listened for Him for far too long to really think I was a just passive participant faithfully awaiting my time. Those long months when I poured my soul out in prayer, the Lord whispered back that this was in my hands, that with faith and obedience He would lead me to my baby, but that I would have to do the work. It was such a teeny tiny small thing, how could I have found that on my own? We figured it out together. That was my path to this baby. I believe the Lord wanted me know that I had power with Him, that He heard my prayers, and that together we would make it work. Alone I would be left to struggle. Perhaps I needed to learn this now in order to properly mother this person that I am growing. I am so very much closer to my Heavenly Father as a result of these years of endless fasting and prayer. I think He had that in mind for me, too.
I never gave up.
I never stopped trying.
Going on vacation never did nothing,
And not once did I ever relax.
(Just wanted to put that out there.)
What I take from Genesis is thus: If you work with God, God will work with you. It is like a crazy cheat sheet. We can be co-creators with our God. We can create our lives with Him, if we let Him show us the path he means for us to blaze. All we have to do is ask.
Genesis 30:22 And God remembered Rachel.
Thanks to my new favorite blog
for helping me make better sense
of all of these thoughts in my head.