Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Surrendering control

Lately, when I have a moment to actually let my mind wander (which isn't often, thankfully, at least in this case), I have been lamenting the fact that I can't conceive at will. And that I may not (probably won't) ever be pregnant again.

Thank God that I don't lose any sleep over this any more, or allow it to send me into a tailspin of despair. I have had enough of that over the years and it's no longer a part of my life, no thanks to me or anything I did or any higher spiritual plane that I am on, of course. I simply have three babies who keep me busy and fill my home and heart with joy.

It's easy to not be sad with the miracles I have been given.

But that control thing. It gets me every time. Despite my blessings, I sometimes do get a tad bit sad, and jealous, and all the emotions that come along with infertility (just much more muted now). I want more kids and I can't just make that happen. I don't want the baby years to be over. I want a big family. I want to be able to decide how many we have. I want a second positive test. In the words of Veruca Salt, I want what I want and I want it now!

Of course, I know there are lessons to be learned. I'm not in control, none of us are. Even the ones who decide how many babies to have, when to stop.. they're not in control either. I know this. And I also know that, if I were fertile, I'd totally be one of those women who would just be so proud of my big, Catholic, NFP-using family. Too proud. I just know I'd be.

Thankfully, God is saving me from myself. So there's that.

This morning I had a little mini-awakening on this very topic. There's this statue of Our Lady in the front yard of a home near us that we pass almost every day. I have the kids trained to say a Hail Mary as we drive by and then pray for any intentions they may have.

Today, on our way from story hour to the gym, we passed it and we were all reminded by Clara that we needed to pray. After the kids asked God to bless their several in-utero cousins, I asked, "what about for another baby for us?" (they've been praying for that almost their whole lives at this point), to which Clara replied, "But Mama, we already have a baby and her name is Essie."


Not stopping there, I went on to ask, "But don't you want us to have another?" To which she answered, "We'll have another baby later, Mama."

Not surprisingly, the crazy in me took this to be a sign, like God speaking through my three-year-old. But that's not the point here. The point is that Clara was exactly right. We do have a baby. And her name is Essie.

What am I doing getting all worked up about wanting another so soon?

And I don't just have a baby. I have the most unbelievable little package of sweetness there ever was.

And she's only nine months. She's still technically, medically-speaking, a BABY. (Even if she is eating more than Luke at this point.)

But, that brings me back to my original point. It's really not about a baby. It's about control. (Okay, so it's a little about babies. And the strange [at least in some circles] desire to need a passenger van.) And I need only look at my three little miracles to see what God is capable of when you hand him over the reigns. Not that I actually willingly handed Him anything, let's get that straight. I was forced to have no control by my infertility. It would be a bit of an exaggeration to call it surrendering. I'd say more like it was ripped from my hands as I hung on with all my might. And then, as is bound to happen once you suddenly lose your grip, I was forcefully catupulted backwards. Into a brick wall. Or at least that's what it felt like at the time.

But maybe now, because it's a lot easier this time around with my kids and all, I can work on that surrendering thing. Every time I'm encountered with pregnancy envy, I can say something like this: "Lord, I surrender my fertility to you. You are in control. You know what's best for me and my family and you have showed me that in abundance."

And that's an understatement. I have been given more blessings than should be legal.

So why do I still struggle with this? It's only human, I suppose. We actually have so little control of everything that we grasp where we (think we) can get some. And it'd be nice to plan your family. Convenient. It would make life easier. But I can't. So I won't.

It might happen, "later," like Clara said. And it may not. But right now I'm going to hug my baby (and my two big ones) tight and try my best to work on being okay with the "may not." 

Because, God, you've got this. Just help me to remember that.


  1. I've been following your posts, but this is my first time to comment. Thank you so much for reminding me as I'm having my old controlling issue these days.

  2. Your way of surrendering and my way are similar - kicking and screaming the whole way! I have three absolutely handsome, gorgeous, funny, sharp, smart sons - and yet, I still mourn the fact, from time to time that I did not give birth to a baby. No one looks like me ... wah, wah, wah! But - perhaps that is a good thing - I know it is definitely a God-thing!

    My kicking and screaming in so many areas of my life has resulted in bruised heels and sore, at 61, I choose to be more of the serenity type of surrendering ... or so I think!

    You are blessed - and you will continue to be blessed (as am I). Thank you for sharing your wonderful family with me and the many blog readers that follow you.

  3. Well written! God is with you always!!

  4. I won't sugar coat, my immediate and gut-wrenching reaction to this was visceral. It is difficult for me to relate to, I suppose, and when we don't understand something is when it is the most dangerous (in that it threatens to steal our peace and joy).
    However at the root of it I realize my reaction is a perfect way to offer prayer and sacrifice. I cannot understand your cross, just as you likely cannot understand mine - yet we can still help each other to carry those crosses. (And that is a major lesson for MY pride, which I struggle with every day.) Because in the end, there is a big similarity in those crosses, of wanting to love and nurture as many children God grants to our family... and in ultimately trusting that He knows best. Letting go, and letting Him do His thing :) Living in the moment and not worrying about the future is a powerful exercise in trust - particularly when "the moment" is so dark and void - but it is in those moments when true joy can be found.
    Praying for your joy :)

    1. Oh, Amy, it breaks my heart to think this post upset you in any way. I'm so sorry. I hope it didn't come off as me complaining about not being able to have a fourth child because it was meant to be about admitting I'm a totally weak sinner who sometimes deals with envy and control issues, even when I have no reason to be anything but eternally grateful. I am praying for you, as always :)

  5. Oh I love this! I was having similar emailed thoughts to a good friend today, and she sent me to your blog. I love your blog. I just spent my lunch break pouring over your infertility and adoption stories and had to stop periodically to keep from getting all choked up and tearful. Beautiful writing, beautiful stories. And OH MY, WHAT BEAUTIFUL BABIES YOU HAVE!!! :)

  6. K, I totally agree! I am the same way. Especially about having pride in the big NFP family. Oh well. God definitely uses His way to teach us He is in charge and that is what it is all about. God bless you!

  7. Beautiful.... thank you. My thoughts often... you just had a wonderful way of putting a positive spin on it!

  8. Thank you so so much for this honest, real post. I'm at a similar place-i have been blessed in abundance with my two healthy babies, but was recently told by my OB that i have a pretty slim to none chance of having more. But I'm surrounded by what you describe-women who can just conceive and have these big see-we-welcome-life-and -it's-awesome families. I don't want the baby years to be over yet either. I love your surrender prayer and will start praying that!

  9. How do you always pinpoint how I feel? I often (foolishly) think I am alone in my Catholic infertility sadness. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone...again.

  10. Man, this hit home for me. Thank you for the post!

  11. Wanted to echo one point in particular: I would have been INSUFFERABLE if I had been able to have the twelve children I was planning on. And being married at 23, had I been fertile, I would be well on my way by now (since I'm 31). I would have been smart enough to realize that people who CAN'T have children are not closed to life, but I would have believed that God gave me so many because He believed I would do a specially good job with them. I would have abandoned all the other people in the world who needed me and concentrated on teaching all my kids to read at 3, and having them better catechized than every other kid in church. I would have learned to live with less (and less), sewed everything we needed, made every bite from scratch, dressed like a rag bag, and flaunted my affected poverty. In short, I would have been intolerable, driving other Catholics to unhappiness and non-Catholics to atheism. I'm not saying I'm any picnic now, but maybe a cross I never wanted was one I needed, after all.

  12. Amen sister...I totally hear you! I could've written this post! I don't think you should feel bad about wanting another one even with Essie so young...because when three kids are as insanely adorable as yours, it's bound to make you want even more. Seriously, I look at pics of your kids and go, "Okay, Clara is the cutest. No wait, Luke. Nope, Essie." So I have decided they are tied for the three cutest kids of all time.

  13. I am finally starting to appreciate this whole not being able to plan my family thing! It's all about letting Christ be our everything and giving him our everything in return. Whether its zero, one, two, or ten kids, He is most concerned in the way we love. That's all that matters.

  14. I struggled with fertility problems too and thankfully have a sweet 2 year old. I would like to point out that if you were in complete control, you might have planned yourself out of awesome surprise blessings like Clara and Essie :). Sometimes it's great to not have a say when such wonderfulness is just around the corner :)!

  15. Surrendering control is soooooo hard. Hubby and I are realizing the need to abandon ourselves to God's will come what may, definitely easier said than done.

  16. ADORABLE, ADORABLE, ADORABLE!!! I just love your family photo! God is SO good!