That first year of marriage was a blur. We were sort of in a “first year daze” consumed by each other. We didn’t go out much and were hardly without one another; attached at the hip. We took a camping trip a few months into our new marriage and went skiing in Colorado where Joe showed me where he used to cut down trees on the mountain and made snow. Give me my man and give me Colorado. I was a simple girl; easy to please.
In the summer I joined an all male rock band and wrote the lyrics to all their songs per their request. (Think LONG 15 min songs with no chorus, no repetition whatsoever. It was difficult!) This was quite a feat for me since I was still petrified by singing in front of people, let alone coming up with lyrics for such difficult songs that were more like jam sessions. When the bass player and drummer saw that the lead guitarist and I bonded well and wrote songs together, the rest of the band fired me while he wasn’t looking, stating that their band mate only wanted me around for his ulterior motives, which I knew to be a lie.
The lead guitarist (Jon) and I would get together to play his slower songs that I matched with my poetry. These songs didn’t have long drum or bass solos that the others felt were so important.. Jon would have liked to have had more story telling music in the band but he was out numbered. Ego’s flared. The guys didn’t want him to change their vibe they had created over the years. Even though that vibe prevented them from ever having a lead singer.
One time Jon asked me to put my voice to the song he had written for his daughter. It was a beautiful song he had written to the child he would never meet. He asked her what her name was and that he was sorry for what happened to her and that he was to blame. It had been years but the guilt was still there for him. He had accompanied her mother to the abortion clinic where her life was ended. And I sang his story about her.
Although I was “no longer in the band” Jon and I met seperately at my house, with my husband laying on the floor usually falling asleep, and played music together. That eventually phased out and nothing came of it. I was pretty deflated.
For my birthday a couple of months later Joseph gave me a guitar. He knew I didn’t think I was coordinated enough to sing and play at the same time. Seeing my confusion he said, “Babe, I bought the guitar for me so that I could learn to play for you. You write the songs and I’ll be your guitarist.” I pretty much felt like the luckiest woman in the world. Joseph worked 2 jobs and the reality of the situation was, self taught, he learned how to play: “Michael Row your Boat Ashore” and then it was no more. The gesture was never forgotten. And if we had more time to devote to it, maybe he would’ve taken serious lessons. But alas, we lived in the real world, both of us working. To date, that was my favorite present of all time.
We eventually moved into a rental house within the year after we got married. We thought we were so liberated moving out of apartment life to this dated 70’s house barely bigger than our apartment. But alas we had a garage for Joe’s mowing business and all his tools. The landlord “let us” strip the wallpaper and paint the inside. My appeal was telling him we’d raise the value of the house by doing that and he agreed- also not raising our rent later becasue of the “renovations”. I had a little art studio in a tiny corner in the basement. The house was enough.
I had been off my antidepressants since the wedding because we knew if I was to get pregnant it wouldn’t be good for the baby. I did pretty well depression wise that first year, although I did notice some issues around “my lady” times, which I’d always been told was normal.
I was in the thick of Natural Family Planning which helped us to identify within that first year that I had hormonal infertility issues.
NFP is the process of learning your fertility signs and using avoidance to not get pregnant but also learning to identify when you ovulate to achieve a pregnancy when you wanted. Being newly weds and ideally wanting to abstain from children for at least a couple of years, we failed following the rules. Meaning: we never avoided or used abstinence during fertile times. Zero self control, but we knew that and didn’t mind. Yet we didn’t get pregnant… My charting was a red flag that I had underlying issues. Thank God we used NFP! After major hormone fluctuations noted by numerous blood draws and an ultrasound, we found out that I had PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which, in a nutshell means you do not ovulate, or the egg released cannot get past the ovary. Birth control pills is the norm for this treatment but it doesn’t fix the actual problem. We are problem solvers and wanted to get to the bottom of it.
I was blessed to be a patient at a prominent fertility care center… I remember the day that my OBGYN doctor told me that there was a chance I may not get pregnant. He asked how many children I wanted and I said maybe 5? (Even though Joe thought 3 was a good number- haha) And he said: “You have youth on your side. It could take you 4 years to pregnant with this condition. Or if you are lucky 4 months. But you’re 22, you have time.” I knew it was time to talk to my husband about our baby timeline.
I tried to talk Joseph into adoption because I was certain my fate was infertility- this was probably the “bad thing” looming over me that I had always felt in my gut. But he said “Babe, lets just try the drug they suggested for a year and go from there. If it doesn’t work after a year, we can cross that bridge when we get there.” He was on board, almost as giddy as I was to actually try for a baby. This was go time. It was exciting and terrifying. What if it didn’t work? What if it did? Were we ready? I knew my heart was ready…
During this same time I recall speaking to a friend of mine who was single. She thought she may be pregnant and if she was, she was going to abort her baby. It was such an extreme opposite of what I was going through. I felt pretty alone in my plight. I was sort of the anomaly in my circles. I got married at 21 and was ready to be a wife and hopefully a mother soon. I’d been waiting my whole life to grow up. All my siblings were years older than me and I spent most of my childhood watching them adult. I couldn’t wrap my head around how desperately I wanted to be a mom and how heartbreaking it was that one of my friends, was considering ending her baby’s life because it was inconvenient for her at the time… I was heart-sick. I would have adopted her baby. Thank God it ended up being a false alarm, but it stuck with me how incredibility different we both were and that I couldn’t relate to her anymore.
Here I was married to the love of my life and now I was told my body didn’t work and I may never have children. I was scheduled to start a drug that could help me ovulate while also taking natural progesterone shots to keep my hormones balanced. If this didn’t work, surgery was next. Slicing wedges into my ovaries? Don’t quote me, I can’t remember. Then options of more invasive surgeries to make my body work properly; to make it presentable for a baby to live there.
I remember some late nights when I’d pour my heart out to Joseph about what kind of mom I wanted to be. I had like 21 Cabbage Patch Kid dolls growing up. I loved my “babies” and always knew I wanted to have gobs of my own one day. I took impecable care of those dolls! I once gave Joseph an hour-long foot massage (best wife ever) just talking and painting a metaphorical picture of this life I wanted for us and what it would be like. We talked a lot about our own childhoods; what we liked and what we’d do differently. We talked about our marriage and how we’d always want to stay close to each other and put one another first.
Like, who was I, that God would even answer my prayers if I should so choose to beg him with every fiber of my being for children? Joseph and I hadn’t stepped foot into a church since we were married. I surely didn’t deserve a wonderful gift of a child. But I decided to put it out there. In an actual handwritten letter…. to God.
Here’s the gist…
I lamented to God my desires for a child. I felt he was the only one I could cry out to. I didn’t want to bother my mother for fear of worrying her. I envied how easy it was for some women to get pregnant. I felt like a failure that I may never give my husband a baby. I felt so exhausted. I asked God how I could grow closer to him? I asked “do I just let all my doubt fade away and just believe no matter what?” Even though I felt like I was just trying to fool myself? Joseph always said he has enough faith for the both of us, but I still didn’t think that was enough. I needed faith of my own. He couldn’t be my 24 hour reassurance man. Because that’s how often I thought I needed reassurance. I felt like I was fooling myself every time I dreamt about what our children would be like. Why did I feel like it was impossible to conceive? I’d been ready for this my whole life. I would be a natural. Motherhood was my thing. Super simple. Not overly poignant. It was my way of giving over control.
**….And I left it at that. I put the letter away somewhere and didn’t remember I wrote it until I found it 10 years later. We had moved at least 3 times during that period and I found the folded letter in a box of art supplies and bawled my eyes out when I saw the date.**
After producing that tiny mustard seed of faith (like, half a mustard seed), I got pregnant a couple of weeks later, (the same month I wrote the letter) with my first child.
The second time in my life I reached out to God, with all I had (which wasn’t much), He delivered. Again. First with Joseph, and then with my first-born child.
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