"How do you feel?" I asked as I drove him home from the doctor's office.
"Fine, it's numb right now," he replied.
The ever-stoic Chad with the ever-rumbling Justine; thank God we both choose to do the work to be complementary in our differences.
"That's good," I replied. "Are you sad at all?"
He looked at me with love in his eyes, with what I assume is that part of him that knows I want more from him, for him to feel even just a smidge of what I am feeling and in the way I am feeling it.
As I have learned through the years, he simply feels it all very differently than me.
"I mean, it's done." I continued. "I know it was done before, but this is for sure and permanent, we aren't having kids. Our genes will never live on."
"I suppose we can always reverse it if we want," he joked back. “You remembered to get frozen peas, right?”
Chad and I are 6 years out of our failed infertility journey - a journey that included tens of thousands of dollars, even more tears, countless injections, a surrogate, and three lost babies.
In the last six years, we have advocated for the infertility and loss community, published books, created our legacy and our happy, and I finally chose Jesus back.
It has been six years of fighting for, creating, and receiving this incredible life, of doing the work to make it all a gift.
We love our childless-not-by-choice life and we will always have lifelong wonders and grief.
Still, I was so over using condoms as a 39-year-old woman, preventing something that had the smallest hell-freezing-over chance of ever happening. As a woman, I had been the one responsible for birth control for much of my life, even if it was only to help my cycle or clear up my skin. Still, I had to take the pill or endure the IUD, for years! Plus, there is nothing like pumping your body full of synthetic hormones to try to have a baby that makes you want to never have synthetic hormones in your body ever again.
Hence, a vasectomy for a couple who can't have kids.
Should be simple, right?
Except, a decision, one as permanent as this, is the kind of thing that triggers that lifelong grief.
Then, on top of that bubbled up pain, we often judge it - it feels dumb and frustrating.
Damn it, I am sad.
This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with the lifelong sadness is the thing that many people have difficulty understanding when they stand across from me and my pain.
Simple: You’re sad. Fix it and figure out how to have the baby.
I get this a lot still, even 6 years out, especially in the faith community.
“I am praying for a miracle baby for you guys.”
“Just try another round.”
When we stand across from someone and their pain, many of us will have the undeniable urge to take away that pain or fix it with what we think are simple solutions. We do this out of both love and our fear of vulnerability, because, the thought of feeling the sadness with someone is something that is often too scary.
This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with lifelong sadness is much easier, albeit not comfortable, to understand when you sit beside me with my pain.
Complicated: loving my childless-not-by-choice life and the forever yearning.
Because the thing is, I don’t want a baby now.
I want my three babies who would be six this year.
I want those babies.
So we made a decision to prevent pregnancy once and for all.
It is freeing and shitty.
It is exciting and sad.
It is another reminder that this journey will never leave us.
It is The And.
I am a forever grieving mother and a woman who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.
So, I speak this truth because then I honor my three, I glorify Him, and I serve the world.
And, as always, I ask you to simply sit beside me and not across from me.
Right this minute though, feeling the yearning for my three, I gotta grab Chad a fresh bag of frozen peas.