The lady without a baby has one now

The lady without a baby has one now

Not everyone gets a baby. For a long time, that was me. The lady not getting a baby. I had to try and wrap my mind around the unfairness of it all. Why them? Why her? Why not us? Were our prayers being heard? I knew they were. But that didn’t make the wait any easier. I knew my tears and pleas weren’t going unnoticed. But that didn’t make it any easier. God’s silence was real. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t there. That didn’t mean he didn’t see, know, care, and work continually behind the scenes on our behalf.
Would God still be good if he never, ever gave us a baby? Of course we were hit hard with that question over the years. It was one we handled often through four IVF treatments, and losses, and years of not knowing the outcome. The answer was yes. God would still be good if he never, ever gave us a baby. Our earthly view and our circumstances never change his goodness and his character. Man, that was a tough one to wrestle with.

I felt a form of survivor’s guilt when my belly started to grow with Noella. I wanted to scream everywhere we went, “I waited TWELVE YEARS for this. We worked hard for this! It took about 1500 needles to get us to this point! This didn’t come easy! Etc.” just in case there was someone like (former) me, looking with sad, semi-judgmental eyes thinking, “Well that must be nice.” And to be honest, I really wasn’t (always) so harsh with pregnant women, because deep down inside I still hoped to be in their shoes one day, so I was usually happy for them. But when it was a stranger, I just assumed it was a quick and easy dream come true for them.

Another form of survivor’s guilt was knowing my prayers were (finally) being answered in the way we wanted, but what about those who weren’t seeing that come to pass, and may not ever see that come to pass? I spent a lot of time feeling sad for them. I would wonder if they had the capacity to trust God, to keep trusting God, even when the window to a baby was closed. Could I have kept trusting God? Would I have kept trusting God? Would anyone care for them, and be sensitive to their situation?
When we were in the middle of this infertility battle, there was no end in sight. All roads led to no baby, so my mind had to live with the heavy realization that there was probably not going to be a baby. But then there was! And then there was another one on the way! In my state of happiness, I couldn’t dwell on their suffering. But I kind of felt pulled to. It was a weird place to be, leaving that place, the ability to relate, and moving over to the side where you get to hold your own baby, or wear the daily physical sign that one is growing right this minute. I had to let my faith be my own right where I was, and let God handle their hearts, their situation, their devastation, just as he did for us, when we were in the thick of it.

I’m so thankful that for whatever reason, God saw fit to give us a baby (babies!!). We thank him often. We also thank him that he didn’t forget about us during the times when it felt like we were all alone, and when it was me sitting there wondering if I’ll be the woman who would never get a baby. Man, those emotions are still so real to me and hopefully they always will be. Because in remembering how that felt, I can both appreciate where I am now even more, and I can love the woman who wonders how her story will end. Let me just remind you of this, my friend, if you trust a faithful God, the story will have a really, really good ending.





Sweet because of you

Sweet because of you

And finally, there you were. Your eyes were wide open from the very first moment I saw you. We made eye contact, and time froze. It was love. It was love from the moment we knew you were on the way.
You were new here, but I could tell you felt right at home the first time you were in your daddy’s arms, a safe and warm place to be. He cried looking at you. I filed that moment away in my memory one million times, so that I would never forget it.
August 24th became one of the sweetest days of all time.
And this whole past year has been one of the sweetest years we could have imagined. It’s been sweet because of you, Noella Pearl.
Happy FIRST birthday.

Is this a mom blog now? Don’t put a label on me.

Is this a mom blog now? Don’t put a label on me.

Some days we sit on the back porch and watch Weller scarf down his dog food in a frenzy. Well, she’s watching him, I’m watching her. Her cheeks are chubby and her eyes so wide. Her hair, which I still can’t pinpoint a color for, is growing over her little ears. She’s caught off guard when he chokes on a piece of dog food and she laughs really hard. Oh no, did she inherit my sense of humor where she laughs when people find themselves in a state of misfortune, get hurt, or fall? *Awkwardly backs out of the room, not making eye contact with anyone.*

I thought maybe I’d get Cabin Fever being a SAHM. It’s all new to me. I had no idea what to expect. Would I get bored? Miss all day adult human interaction? Miss the routine of leaving the house in the morning? Would I be a slave to clean floors since I was home all day?

As is life, things have come in phases, and that’s been my favorite part of being a SAHM. And good gosh, don’t look at my floors because if I’ve done anything with my time at home, it hasn’t been to scrub them floors. Is it bad that I give Noella her treasured Puffs in a little pile on the floor, like a puppy? Don’t answer that. Plus, God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt. Boom.

The first few months were all about learning to fly solo during the day. Feed baby around the clock, make sure Shawn has at least one clean pair of dress socks for tomorrow. If your to-do list contains one thing and it’s “make sure there’s at least one clean pair of socks for tomorrow”, and you accomplish that task, you’ve won the day! Do cheer for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up that there was just that one small thing on the list. Sometimes we start small, and build from there.

I’ve loved being home with my baby over this past year. I found a strong sense of pride in caring for her, even in the little every day things, and in caring for our home. But those feelings didn’t just fall on my lap. It was a supportive teammate doing his part to keep me home. It was Shawn reminding me that I’m behind every sale he makes at work, and that caring for our daughter lets him do what he does. All the while knowing that it was him working hard day in and day out that kept me at home taking on the greatest role I’ve ever had.

It doesn’t mean every day is a sunshine cake walk. Just about 45 minutes ago, I literally screamed, “No! Don’t eat that!!!” as I watched in shock and horror as Noella picked up some poop from her in-crib diaper explosion. SO. yeah. Life. It’s messy. Even when it’ sweet. Like anything, it’s work and it can be exhausting. More so lately because she’s getting more mobile, and screams when she doesn’t feel like having her diaper changed (“Lay still for 45 seconds?! FORGET IT. I have a life to LIVE, mom.”), or wants the donut of the man sitting next to us. And we want to guide her, and lead her the way that God would have us lead her. So it’s a learning curve, no doubt. Our culture says to just let babies and kids be. Not us, we want to ask for wisdom in this venture. We want to talk to parents who have done a good job. We want to end the day exhausted, but knowing we gave it our all. Even if that means someone has to learn they can’t have the stranger’s donut. (Looking at you, Jenn. Geez. Control yourself.)

Texting Shawn about the day…

I’m so thankful for people like Kathleen Nelson who send me resources on raising kids. Because she’s done it (X8). And done it well. I’m thankful for people to look up to, and older friends to help guide us. Cause this is our first rodeo. And come January it’ll be our second rodeo. Whoop!! (Guess I can break out my “This ain’t my first rodeo” shirt.) It’s a privilege. And as sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet as the newborn, and first few months are, the work shifts from loving and cuddling, to training in love. To asking God for extra patience, because *someone* just threw the remote at your face and it may or may not be bleeding. (Looking at you, Shawn. Geez. Control yourself.)

It’s true, some days can feel mundane. And I wonder if I’m “doing” enough, if it matters, and if anyone even noticed I killed the 75 spiders on the windowsill.

But with a teammate on my side, and my identity set in Christ, and not what I accomplish in a day, I’m reminded of my worth. I’m reminded that I have nothing to prove. I am loved, accepted, and a daughter of the King, no matter how society views SAHMs. No matter what a day holds.

From day 1 I felt the hugeness of this job: to shape and mold and influence. May God give me what I need, what we need, as parents. As teammates. And for crying out lout, will that stranger just share some of his dang donut already?!?!

I see Africa

I see Africa

I see a baobab tree on my walk.

I see Africa here sometimes. When I’m on a walk and there’s a gravel road with wide open spaces and just a few trees here and there, growing up out of the dry ground. There are no leaves or anything, just mesquite bones reaching for the sky. They remind me of baobab trees, but of course not nearly as tall and majestic, or as ancient as kings.
I’m told to watch for rattlesnakes here (by people who have lived here their whole lives), so my eyes dart left and right the whole time, always on the lookout for snakes. Only here I’m on pavement most of the time, so looking for snakes is much easier. And there are no land mines, so that’s a plus.

The wind is hot, and summer is about six months long, so it feels like Africa when I’m outside. I feel like wearing skirts and tank tops and a thick headband to hold my already short hair back. But AC exists here, making denim shorts and a shirt with a cami, and even jewelry, doable. Speaking of shorts, you can show your legs here in America! If you want to. Knees and thighs aren’t nearly as sexual as they are in West Africa where they must remain covered, preferably under a fun patterned wax print. Although on the flip side, I have yet to drive downtown or by a field in Texas and see a topless woman. But then again, we’ve only been here a year and a half. (Fun fact: In Guinea Shawn coined the acronym ATBO “Air Them Babies Out” because of how many old topless grannies we encountered.)

There’s one really chipper guy at church who asks more than just, “How are y’all?” He asks about the week, baby, and if she’s teething yet. I feel like I’m in Africa with a greeting like that. And I like it. I’m chilly during the service though (that AC thing again), and the service wraps up before 2pm, so I’m reminded that I’m not, in fact, in Africa. Although things I miss also remind me I’m not in Africa. I miss the spontaneous testimonies where someone just has to get up and declare that God is good because this happened during the week. I miss the over-the-top energetic, give-it-your-all clapping (with a triple beat), and the dancing because we can’t hold still with the joy we’ve got.

I feel sad sometimes, thinking about the world, the globe, and the need that spreads wide throughout. It’s hard to have seen it, lived with it, and not think often of it. Maybe that’s why I see Africa here.
Africa is one of my home away from homes. It was for six years. So I like to find things here that remind me of there. I’ve always been that way with my various homes. When I was living in Cap Skiring, or Quebec, I found little things that reminded me of Colorado, or that cool mountain (lacking in oxygen) air.
A friendly smile, a goat on the loose (it happened in our neighborhood recently), a power outage, a hot afternoon where I dream of fall, a tree growing on the horizon, I see Africa there. I miss seeing babies on backs, eating mafé (although Shawn made some last year and froze it, and I discovered it in the freezer yesterday, so it’s on our near-future menu), seeing kids run out to greet us when we arrive in a village, hearing drums, or cheers when someone scores a soccer goal… but living here in West Texas I’ll take the little reminders I can get of one of my home away from homes: L’Afrique.

I see the familiar silhouette of huts.
I see Joine, or Ziguinchor, or Velingara in our neighborhood sometimes.
Gerbera daisies, pork chops, and such

Gerbera daisies, pork chops, and such

When Noella was just about 15 hours old, Shawn surprised me with three pink gerbera daisies. One for each of us, a family of three. It was such a sweet gesture that made me cry in the midst of an already emotional and unforgettable high in our lives.

I had gerbera daisies in my ‘wildflower’ wedding bouquet. I’ve always loved them.

As soon as we leave church on Sundays Shawn has to go to work until about 5 or 6. I’m not a fan of that, but c’est la vie in the world of retail. And yay for hard working husbands! It just has a tendency to feel a little like the Monday morning grind with dishes and baby nap schedules, even though it’s the weekend. Meanwhile, I assume everyone else (in all of the United States) is fishing, hanging out with family at grandma’s house, sitting on some patio with friends, etc. So I was just being lazy, and feeling a little sorry for myself that it was a blah weekend. Shawn texted me and we decided to grill pork shops for dinner and he asked what sides I’d want. I said how about we grill some of those long green things with tree tops? (Pregnancy brain could not be more real. They’re called asparagus, guys. It’s not hard. You can only imagine how Shawn proceeded to mock me for the rest of the night.) And I’d roast some brussel sprouts (in wild orange olive oil, thank you very much. Yes I will host my own Food Network show. That’s not a problem for me if that’s what you want. Says the girl who can cook about six entrees and about four decent sides. But I’m getting there!).

I realized my outfit, my hair, and our house were looking a little “blah it’s Sunday and the whole world is having a potluck without me”, so I put on my Lady A Pandora station, cleaned speedy fast, put on a new shirt that was longer and less “pot belly”, and more “15 weeks pregnant”, some bright red lipstick (holla), and my red leather earrings (because at that point baby was in bed and there was no risk of her yanking them through my earlobe, causing me to need emergency surgery before my pork chop).

I was ready and committed to make it a fun Sunday night “date night in” together. It’s amazing what some red lipstick can do for your attitude. Seriously! Try it sometime. Make your bed, light a candle in the living room, put on some lipstick, and you’re unstoppable.

Shawn came in the door (I love his “coming home from work” look with that tie undone… and that white undershirt and dress pants…) and he had FOUR BRIGHT RED GERBRA DAISIES for me. (Flowers are not something he brings me very often. Unfortunately, that’s my own fault because I was a brat once and shot myself in the foot when he surprised me with a giiiinormous bouquet in front of my friends and it was so over the top huge that I acted weird and embarrassed and later said I didn’t even like flowers that much. I know! I’m a jerk! But good grief, that was like 11 years ago. I love flowers now! Can we move on? And ps- when I say that bouquet was huge, it was like three feet tall. There were birds of paradise! Those aren’t dainty. Gah, I know it’s silly that I cared. Any girl should be so lucky. But it was too much for me. Kind of like ordering the sizzling fajitas in a restaurant. I can’t do it. Too much attention. Too much “look at me”. Anyway, I’ve changed. I’ve grown. I’ve matured. Bring me all the extravagant flowers!)

Anyway, the daisies…

“Four”? I asked with a grin. “One for each of us” He said.

It was the sweetest surprise. And how perfectly in line for our spontaneous Sunday night date night he didn’t even know we were having!

I walk by those four flowers which I’ve placed on our kitchen table, and I just smile.

I’ll take a vase full, whenever and however, if that’s what God has planned. There were just two daisies in that vase for a long time. The wait is the hardest because you feel like you’re in the dark, and that maybe God forgot about you, your prayer, your request, your plea. “He certainly didn’t forget about everyone else!” You think to yourself.

I love that there are four daisies in there now.
And we’ve loved more than words the three daisies in that vase, and we continue to soak up this time we have as three.
And I love the memories of just the two of us for thirteen years. So many memories. So many adventures. I would never trade that time we had together.

The pork chops were good, by the way. The red gerbera daisies were the perfect centerpiece for our Sunday date night in.

Here’s to miracle #2

Here’s to miracle #2

Pour yourself a glass of Sprite with lime, or a glass of Blanton’s from our blue cabinet. I’d like to make a toast – to us!

Here’s to back-to-back miracles.

Here’s to a different kind of miracle.

Here’s to God working behind the scenes when we had no idea.

Here’s to praying big, honest prayers.

Here’s to many years of prayers being answered.

Here’s to a little gummy bear up on the screen, moving its arms and legs.

Here’s to baby Noella becoming a big sister.

Here’s to me running into the kitchen in my pink and white whale pjs yelling, “WELL! I’M PREGNANT!”

Here’s to two under two. Go big or go home.

Here’s to not knowing the gender from day 1 this time, and counting down the days until we can find out.

Here’s to Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal sounding like God’s gift to humanity.

Here’s to the best kept secret.

Here’s to telling the world.

Here’s to hoping our story offers you hope in your wait, in your story, in your longing, in your questioning, on the road you’re on.

Here’s to surprising our doctors and nurses in two different states.

Here’s to God’s goodness in our lives.

Here’s to BABY #2!

“Wrap your arms around me”

“Wrap your arms around me”

Journal entry from April 2011:

1 week in Cap Skirring:
-Trying to unpack (with no closets and minimal furniture)
-Cockroaches everywhere
-Trying to find a place for everything
-Dealing with Roxy peeing in the house, not eating, killing someone’s chickens
-Piles of moldy clothes on the bed, everything needing to be washed by hand
-I don’t speak Wolof
-I don’t speak Jola
-Muddy tiles, no mop
-Mosquitoes, risk of malaria
-Visitors and neighbors stopping by
-No running water
-Here for the unforeseen future

I won’t ever forget those days, especially those initial days, of living in the village. It was hard, lonely, isolating, and I wrote in my journal, this list of struggles, and a prayer where I asked God to wrap his arms around me and give me his strength. So many times I’ve prayed that same prayer. It’s my go-to when I don’t know what else to pray. It’s a picture I have in my mind of God: never far, always listening, stable and dependable, strong, working on my behalf even when I lose sight of hope, even when I make God seem small. It’s my go-to prayer when I’m overwhelmed and feel like I’m by myself out at sea, on a little boat, being tossed around, riding out the situation while holding my breath and hoping I don’t drown in circumstances that are beyond me.

I prayed that same prayer, that God would wrap his arms around me and give me strength, every day of the IVF treatments we did, and even more so through the last one. It was our fourth and final attempt, our last chance at having a baby, and this was after we had already exhausted all of our resources. Humanly speaking, that is. God works best beyond the realm of the possible. But when you’re going through it, and you have no idea what the outcome will be this time, it’s easy to forget that he’s the God of a million miracles. Miracles we havent’t even seen or experienced- or even dreamt of yet. But man it’s in the waiting where I needed God’s presence, that reminder that he’s stable when my thoughts and emotions are all over – tempted to fear, tempted to question, and tempted to doubt.

“I’m weak, God! I need you. I can’t see you. I can’t hear you. But I know you’re there. Show me. Let me feel your presence in a time where I’m desperate for your presence.” It’s that familiar plea I’ve prayed in so many situations. As a new arrival in the daunting village, when riots broke out in the capital and tear gas blew into our home, when the turbulence was more than I thought I could handle, when we lost another embryo, when another move and another transition felt like too much, when we were setting sail to our new home in the Casamance, and the thought of capsizing (as one ferry had done on the same route) tortured me, when I was about to be put under for my first egg retrieval surgery. “I’m weak, God! I need you. I can’t see you. I can’t hear you. But I know you’re there. Show me. Let me feel your presence in a time where I’m desperate for your presence.”

It’s interesting to me how different these situations are from each other, but nevertheless I had a need for God and he didn’t ignore me. He didn’t belittle me for my fears or concerns or yell at me for acting childish and not having more faith, even though he’s proved himself time and time again.

When I pleaded for him to come near, he did. He always did.

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” George Mueller

Unapologetically loving it

Unapologetically loving it

It’s around 10 am, and it’s coffee for me and second breakfast for her. She’s grunting with glee after every bite of oatmeal.
I’m purposefully trying not to think ahead, because the moment to enjoy is now. The moment where she’s rolling around, not quite able to reach the toy she wants. She’s not crawling, but thinking about it. She’s taking a bath in the sink. She’s sitting in her stroller wearing her sun hat, watching as we plant a garden (and hope that even so much as one cherry tomato grows).
I freeze about 1000 moments a day in my mind, and sometimes with my camera. Her chubby baby hand, the way she’s starting to laugh with excitement when she sees and recognizes things she likes: the spoon full of squash coming at her, Weller at the window, one of us walking into the room.
Maybe it was the long wait, or the struggle to get here, or maybe it’s because God gifted us with a really sweet baby, but I’m absolutely loving every day with this girl in our lives, and in our family.
Sometimes I feel like I’m up against a “mommin’ ain’t easy” culture and one of my requirements is to cry about the lack of sleep, list of chores, need for caffeine, and the stains on my shirt (or something along those lines). I feel weird, or braggy, or something if I gush too much about how I’m LOVING LIFE RIGHT NOW. This is the moment we’ve prayed for. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. This is the moment we’ve been hoping for.
I get it, she’s our first, and she’s little. “Just wait!” You say. “These are the good days. Wait until she’s crawling! Just wait until she’s two! Just wait until she won’t stop talking! Just wait until she’s a (*gasp*) teenager! Then you’ll be wishing for these days when she was sweet and little. THEN you’ll be begging for more caffeine and a ten-minute bathroom break where you can close the door and be alone.” These are the kinds of things people tell me, things my culture forewarns me of. I get that things change, and the level of chaos changes with it, and that various stages present various challenges. I was once a nanny for a family in Milwaukee with twin three-month-olds, a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and a six-year-old. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I’m not naïve to chaos, tantrums, and the desperate need for quiet.
But I’m going to love it. I’m going to love it all, and be thankful through every life stage because it’s what God has so so generously given us.
Blowouts, messes, and nap-fighting afternoons too. I’m not going to pretend every single day for the rest of my life is a walk in the park, but I am going to celebrate that I’m in the park! We’re where we prayed to be.
I’m going to love the here and now, and celebrate each little milestone rather than cry because she’s growing up. I want to choose to embrace it all – the sweetest days, and the more challenging days, because the dream has become a reality, and the only way to fully appreciate it is with gratitude.
Mommin’, like marriage, like life, is what you make it. It can be beautiful, fun, and an adventure unlike any other. Let’s not be ashamed to be vocal about the good in our lives, in our marriages, in the sweet season of holding a baby, because when we highlight it (including the pain or the hardship from which we’ve come), we highlight the goodness, the grace, and the redemptive power of our God and King.

Back porch dates

Back porch dates

We’ve been having back porch dates lately because they’re free, and the monitor is our babysitter, and Texas evenings in March and April are glorious.
Weller is excited to have the company. We’re trying to teach him to lay down, and he just sits there. At least he can do that.
I wrap up in a quilt because it’s just chilly enough, and I know that won’t last long. It’s the quilt that used to be on the guest bed, but I decided to use the black and white one we had instead. At least for now. I’m hoping to paint the guest room one of these days. And then who knows what bedspread I’ll end up with.
I crack up every time I think about where I got this quilt. First of all, it’s way too country for my usual taste. I like the individual colors, but combined, it’s a little too “Pioneer Woman started a line of sheets, bedspreads, shams, quilts and throw pillows”. Anyway, it cracks me up because I got it at the Portsmouth Kroger for like $15. Yes, I occasionally buy quilts at Kroger. And pink velvet shirts from Sam’s, apparently. (The shirt is cute, and it was cheap, but it sheds like an animal. Like, when I wear it it leaves little velvet pieces on the back of my seatbelt and the next time I’m in the car, the shirt I’m currently wearing now has little velvet pieces on it. It may end up in the Goodwill pile if it doesn’t get its act together here shortly.)
Shawn packs his pipe with Francesca, and her sweet scent swirls around the porch as I sit wrapped in the Kroger quilt, and Weller rests his head on my lap. I ask Shawn why he has a nail, and he tells me that it’s a tamper. “I learn something new every day around you”, I say.
Weller leaves my lap for a moment to chase smoke rings (in the dark).
Shawn leans against the post of the porch, still wearing his dress shoes, dress pants, and undershirt, his work shirt and tie are inside on the kitchen table. They come off almost as soon as the garage door opens.
Shawn poured me a sampling of Sazerac Rye from his collection. I held onto the glass tightly, because it’s a fancy one. And that concrete isn’t very forgiving.
Even though we have the sound monitor with us, we love to peak in on baby girl as often as we can. We watch her roll around the crib, from one end to the other, finding her thumb with each move, and falling back asleep. Man are we blessed with a sweet baby.
Shawn told me his tales from his day at work, and how he called the landscaping company boss and told him the guys had been slacking. They were there first thing in the morning, revamping the place like they should have been all along. I tell him he’s a good manager, and good at dealing with people because of our time managing the guesthouse. We had to learn that fine line between nice and friendly, and “get this done, son.”
Somehow we started talking about when I had Malaria and Shawn was so scared he didn’t know what to do, so he called his mom. Oh that’s how we got to talking about that. We didn’t have WiFi in our apartment in Guinea, and we had to go to a Cyber Café to connect to the internet. And because we didn’t have WiFi it was so expensive to make a phone call from our house. But when I was sick, Shawn didn’t care how much it would cost. He wanted to talk to his mom. He knew that if anyone would hit their knees and pray, she would. And he knew that she would tell everyone to pray. And she did.
We look at the cam again and see that baby has rolled over again.
Weller’s back to not wanting to lay down, but we settle on him resting his face on my lap. And I didn’t even break my fancy glass. It was a good night.

No vaccine for Baby Fever

No vaccine for Baby Fever

For twelve years this was our reality. And even now, one mention of someone having Baby Fever, and it all comes rushing back.

I know we’re not supposed to feel like anything is “wrong” with us. But sometimes, on the hard days, I feel like I’m living my life in isolation from this incurable disease. Not every day, but times when my body feels the sharp reminder that it’s unable to create life. It feels so harsh, and so unfair. I know we’re supposed to remember that it’s all in God’s hands, but why aren’t his hands allowing this dream to come to pass? I lay on my bed in the fetal position, wincing the day away. I lay there feeling like any distant cry of a baby, or a pregnancy test commercial is going to send me over the edge of the bed into a pile of sobs. Shawn will ache with me, in his own way. He will wish, more than anything, that he could change things.

There’s no cure for infertility. There’s no cure for the heartache and the reminder that something just isn’t right. Your heart aches. Your body aches. You try another treatment. You suffer another loss. There’s no explanation. We pray, not because it necessarily feels natural, or easy, but because we don’t really know what else to do. And because even in the pain we know that God still hears us and is working on our behalf. And because we know that faith, in its very nature and by its very definition, is trusting God when we don’t understand. When we can’t see. When we don’t know how to trust, or when we don’t feel like trusting.

So you can understand why I still feel a small pinch of jealousy when I see a pregnancy announcement. I know, I know, we have a baby now. It doesn’t make sense. But for so many years everyone else was getting pregnant, and I wasn’t. Old habits die hard, I guess. Our reality has changed, but our connection to those raw emotions, and our ability to relate hasn’t.

So you can understand why I feel slightly dizzy when someone sees Noella in her cute bow and gasps, “Gah! She’s giving me Baby Fever!” It’s one of those phrases that used to sting. Because 9 times out of 10, when someone says they have Baby Fever, it’s coming from someone who knows up close and personally how sweet babies are. How they change and grow, and when you get the privilege of raising them, you get a front row seat to that. And when someone says they have Baby Fever, they say it nonchalantly like they have the cure, like they’re suddenly up against the life decision of whether or not they should have one, or have more. And that’s a life choice we’ve never had the luxury of making. Have you ever heard a grandma say that she has Baby Fever? Nope. Because the shop’s shut down and therefore, the Fever is no more. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t still adore babies, think they’re cute, and want to cuddle them for days on end. The women who have The Fever have the option or the choice to have a baby, to expand their family, to procreate if and when they want to.

Imagine having all the symptoms of Baby Fever and not being able to do anything about it. Imagine not even being able to go on and on and gush about how much you yourself would love to have a baby. Instead, you hid that enthusiasm behind a “What a cute baby!” smile, because it was too much pain and too socially awkward for you to bring up those strong desires. And you certainly weren’t in a place to welcome everyone’s tips, ideas, “Take more folic acid”, “Just relax and it will happen”, or “My aunt Sharon adopted and then she got pregnant with quadruplets” comments on a given Tuesday in aisle 7 of the grocery store.

In the past, struggling with unexplained infertility, I thought, “If you have Baby Fever, I must be in quarantine.” Your “fever” must not be very strong because you have one kid over there eating grass, one strapped to your front, and one on the way. Apparently there’s no vaccine for Baby Fever. Saying you have Baby Fever around someone who doesn’t have any kids (and wants them), while you have two and one on the way, is like telling someone laying on the cold tile, suffering from Malaria, that you thiiiiiiink you might have a mosquito bite.

I get it! Babies are so so so so so cute and sweet. They really are! I’ve loved babies all my life. Imagine loving them and not being able to have one. Noella must be contagious because sure enough, I hear all the time that people in our vicinity have contracted Baby Fever. “Welcome to my world” I want to mutter under my breath, remembering how it felt to hear that, and to have no cure.

And don’t even get me started on how some people say that their ovaries hurt when they see a baby. I wanted to (and sometimes still do) throat punch those people (in love, of course). For twelve years my ovaries hurt. Literally! Not to mention the poking and the prodding and the injections of four IVF treatments.

When you’re standing there with a “Z for Zade” necklace around your neck, and I’m standing there with no initial around my neck, and a cute baby comes in the room, and you say that you have Baby Fever, or that your ovaries hurt, it’s unfair and cruel and it brings my pain to an even more personal, and literal level.

I don’t take for granted this time in our life. Not for one second! And I get that I’m now “the one with a baby”. But I also try to always be aware of who’s sitting at my table on Wednesday night. Or who’s within ear shot. Their ovaries may literally be hurting, and they may be suffering in silence.

So I pray for guidance as I interact with people. And I look for ways to hear their stories, and to listen to what their time in quarantine was like, and to always welcome them into the group. There may be no vaccine for baby fever, BUT THERE IS A GOD WHO WORKS MIRACLES WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT.