Desire and Fear

As I sit here, watching it snow…again, I feel the urge to write about something that’s been in my heart for quite some time. I’ve pushed the bounds of self-disclosure here before, and I’m certain that there are people who might read my little piece of the blog-o-sphere and think I share too much, but I take a confessional view toward life. My life has been changed, my faith strengthened, by hearing the stories of others struggling and how God has helped them. So I share my heart, knowing I risk the loss of my pride (which is an illusion to begin with).

At any given time, I have two competing feelings inside me. (1) I want a baby. Now. (2) I am terrified of having a baby. There, I said it. Everyone who knows me, knows I want to have a baby. It’s been nearly a year since we lost Michael, and I haven’t been pregnant again. I thought for certain, in my arrogance, that I would be pregnant by fall. Then by Christmas. Now, I’m just hoping that maybe I’ll get pregnant sometime this year.

But what most people who know me don’t know is that I am 100% terrified of being pregnant and having a baby. Well, maybe 90%. When I was pregnant last year, my first thought after reading the test was, “What? How?” followed closely by “Oh.My.God. I don’t know if I can do this.” It was only after about an hour or so of internally freaking out on a Chicago city bus that I felt happy. Then I felt excited, elated. Then I felt terrified again.

Anytime I have thought of being pregnant since then, I have felt this overwhelming sense of fear, mixed with a smaller amount of happiness.

At first I thought that my feelings of fear and panic about being pregnant (or even thinking I might be pregnant) stemmed from losing Michael. That was such a traumatic experience for me, that of course, if I thought I was pregnant again, I would feel afraid of losing that baby too. The more I think about it, the more I doubt this. Losing Michael was a very traumatic experience for me, maybe even more than Atticus understands. I know that some of you who have miscarried understand what I mean.

But I was terrified of being pregnant and having a baby before I ever miscarried; during those weeks when I assumed that everything in this pregnancy would be fine. Before. I was the walking definition of ‘ignorance is bliss’ during those weeks.

My fear has to come from somewhere else, though I’m sure having miscarried has exacerbated it.

Last night, I was sitting in Adoration and Jesus hit me with the truth about my fear (no, not literally!), but He knows I need it sometimes. I think my fear comes from two places:

(1) I have a chronic illness (diabetes) that makes any pregnancy I have a high-risk one.

(2) My mother had a chronic illness (kidney disease), conceived me, had a high-risk pregnancy, and died seven years later.

Now, I am not saying I think I killed my mother or any such thing. There are plenty of women who have high-risk pregnancies and go on to have another, or just to have happy, long lives.

What I am saying is that I am haunted by her specter. I am haunted by the specter of having a pregnancy that might take such a toll on my body that it could shorten my life. I am frightened of passing on my genetic faults (diabetes and PCOS) to any future child (especially a daughter).

I am terrified of what being pregnant might do to my body. And I am not talking stretch marks here. For one thing, I would have to go off Metformin and onto two different types of Insulin (five injections daily). Blood sugar must be monitored with Nazi-like precision. Diabetic women who get pregnant have increased risk of kidney problems (tell that to the daughter of a woman who died from kidney disease), blindness, and advanced gum disease.

Despite all this, I’m not saying I don’t ever want to be pregnant. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be worth all these risks just to bring a child into the world. I am saying that it terrifies me because my mother died young, so I know that it is possible. And I know that being pregnant could put my health in a precarious position.

I also wonder how I could ever really love a child. Being a parent is such an awesome responsibility, how could I ever really live up to it? I am too demanding, too rigid. I get frustrated easily, I am often very spiritually lazy. How can I bring a child to Christ when I often feel like I have a hard enough time finding Him myself?

My deepest fear is that God knows these things, knows that my fears are not unfounded, and that is why I haven’t gotten pregnant.

All of this doubt crowds my mind. Then I catch the eye of a little one in Church, and he smiles at me, and the desire for a baby is so thick in my heart you could cut it with a knife.

I don’t have any resolution here, really. I guess I don’t need to. Maybe it’s enough just to put it out here; maybe that’s the first step in confronting the fear.

Have you ever wanted something, but was terrified to have it? Did you overcome your fear? How?

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20 thoughts on “Desire and Fear

  1. Sarah – (((Hugs))) Your honesty is overwhelmingly refreshing…and as I began to read your post, your fears seemed to be wrapped in love…stepping with care because of the wonder that God would entrust you with raising a child. It’s really a beautiful perspective to have that kind of fear – the fear that Moses had as he reproached the Lord, “Who am I that I should bring the Hebrews out of Egypt?

    Reading further, I just wanted to say that your health and wellbeing are always in the hands of our loving Father. Not having a chronic illness, I have to jolt myself awake sometimes that today could be my last day…or that I need to be ready for whenever God has planned to call me home.

    “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:15-16

    Know of my prayers. 🙂

  2. You have my prayers! I have known fear, but perhaps not that the very thing that I fear is also the thing that I most desire. My fear tends to run along the lines that there really is something wrong with me or undesirable about me and that’s why I’m still single.

    Anyway, overcoming fear (to some extent, though it can still come at me sometimes) came largely from actively working to trust God. For me that meant letting go of everything and placing it in God’s hands every time fear came up to choke me. It came from resting in the truth of God’s love and grace even when I didn’t really feel that trustful.

    Also, as to those failings that we all have, I remind myself of what Mother Theresa said “God doesn’t ask us to be successful, He asks us to be faithful.” I think it’s great to have a healthy concern of being good parents (or whatever God is calling us to at the moment), but it’s also important to realize that ultimately it’s all in God’s hands.

    Sorry, that’s really long and all I really wanted to say is that I’m praying for you! 🙂

  3. Oh Sarah, I wish I could give you a great big hug right now!

    I’m not sure I can offer any good advice… so far Katie and CM have offered amazing words of comfort.

    As far as the medical obstacles you face, just remember that modern-day medicine is amazing and developing everyday. You will have challenges, yes; but there are many high-risk pregnancies being conceived everyday and the care provided for these women result in healthy babies AND healthy mothers.

    I know that you know in your heart that this is an issue for you to put all your trust in God. That’s easier said than done, I know… since I have trouble trusting that God will provide. But we both know that He will provide and that His will is divine.

    You can rest assured that your friends and family will be flooding the heavens with prayers for you and your husband. Feel free to email me if you ever need to chat or vent!

  4. Sarah-

    You don’t know me, but you knew my husband, Dan, when you attended Mt. St. Mary’s. He found your blog through facebook and I have been reading it ever since.

    Many times your words have brought tears to my eyes. I do not know the pain of miscarriage, but I lost my mother when I was 9. I am now a mother myself (at the same age my mother had me) and constantly, in the back of my mind, I wonder if I will leave my daughter in just 8.5 years. Sometimes the terror is overwhelming. But I know that God has a plan, and I know you know that too.

    I’ve been praying for you, that you might know the joy (and nausea, lol) of pregnancy. I don’t think God uses our fears against us, and I can say as a mother of a 5 month old, the fears never really go away. There is always something to worry about if you let yourself!

  5. My deepest fear is that God knows these things, knows that my fears are not unfounded, and that is why I haven’t gotten pregnant.

    No, dear, if you haven’t become pregnant it is become God has other plans for you right now. Not because you are not worthy. None of us are worthy of God’s blessings. He gives them to us as He sees fit and you can trust that He knows what you need and gifts you accordingly.

    On a side note, I have a girlfriend with the same diabetic issue. She has had three healthy babies but yes, she had to be hyper vigilant with her medical care, as you mentioned.

    Infertility is not something I’ve struggled with but I know what it’s like to long and crave for something that you are sure is right and good only to be painfully denied it time after time. ((hugs))

    Thank you for your honesty. I, too, take a “confessional view toward life” for the same reasons you mentioned.

  6. Hugs Sarah! I am praying for your fears to be lessened.
    Your honesty/openness are a good thing – of this I am sure. Many times your words have brought tears to my eyes because your words are similar to what mine could be. And today, your words once again ring so true for me.
    Though, while I do not have medical conditions, I too am petrified of being pregnant.
    In fact, for a long time, my fear of being pregnant kept me closed to the idea of ever even wanting children.
    The fear grips me to the point of nausea and light headedness.
    Please know that you and Atticus are in my thoughts and prayers. May God show himself to you in your moments of fear and give you peace.
    I know it is easier said than done to just trust God so I will specifically pray for this for you.

  7. “My deepest fear is that God knows these things, knows that my fears are not unfounded, and that is why I haven’t gotten pregnant.”

    You know, the first time I read this from a woman trying to conceive I did not understand how she could possibly make that connection, for exactly the same reason that Dawn just mentioned. I literally thought, “Wow, that makes no sense! I can think of many moms that weren’t worthy!” yet here I am, several months into trying myself and I find in my worst moments thinking the same thing. Maybe God knows my hesitance, my secret fear that I’ll fail miserably, that I’m too selfish to be a mother, and so He’s trying to make me better, make me go through this fire to prove I want it. That juxtaposition in reasoning snaps me awake and makes me realize I’m just loosing my patience and my fears are taking over.
    Ultimately, I have no idea what His plan is. I’m at a good place right now (most likely due to where I’m at in the month) but I can finally see that the best I can do is be open to life. It seems my married vocation would be best fulfilled by having (many) children, but God could very well have an entirely different plan for my husband and I to serve others in another way. Others without my eyes and his hair. As long as I’m open to His plan I can’t fault myself and it will all fall into place, right? I can’t control any of it.
    I think the harder part will be for me when/if we have to decide to do any type of treatments. At that point I guess we go from “accepting God’s plan” to “pursuing our desires”. But on the other hand I’m thankful for having moral guidelines laid out before me….
    Eessh, that probably wasn’t helpful but you are still in my prayers.

  8. I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your anxiety and fear.

    I lost a baby, Paul Joshua, in December of 2008 and have not been able to get pregnant since then. I am so anxious to get pregnant and struggle with trying not to be jealous of my friends and sisters-in-laws who are pregnant.

    I have twice thought that I might be pregnant again and was shocked by my own mixed up feelings. Though I was over joyed and over anxious (since I wasn’t actually) to be pregnant, I also had mini-panic attacks about, not my health, but what I’d be passing on to my child. Both my family and my husband’s have family histories of depression. I also struggle with the fear of my child being passed on the generational sins of our families (namely my own past craziness/sinfulness).

    I discussed these worries with my husband and, with prayer, we decided to that we need to make a concious commitment to trusting and accepting God’s will and grace not only for our lives, but for our children. One of the ways we are DOING (I am a planner/do-er and need to feel as though I am working towards a goal. yay- totally OCD! :D)something is by taking time to pray for all of our future children, grandchildren, etc. to be open to receiving the grace of God to overcome any generational sins and, that if it is God’s Will, they won’t be passed on at all. Hubby and I pray over eachother that we will be healed of chemical imbalances that cause depression and that that too will not be passed down to our children.

    It is still hard sometimes, but it helps me feel as though I am being proactive and helping to train my mind to be in line with the faith in my heart.

    Other times I just realize that I can’t control much of anything and that the Lord is just going to have to deal with my doubts and fears by carrying me no matter how much I struggle. My heart knows that He only wants to do what is best for me (which totally freaks me out if I think that maybe that is my not being able to get pregnant again!) and, as they say, “Let go and let God”…

    Sorry. I didn’t plan on writing a book here, I just want you to know that you’re not alone or crazy. You are in my prayers. Please pray for me as well.

    God bless and comfort you!

  9. Also, an encouraging story from this past month, an IRL friend just recently found out she’s pregnant, completely unexpectedly, after 3.5 years of marriage (and trying). She’s had PCOS from a young age, had an ectopic miscarriage, and adopted a son during that time. As long as we’re open to God’s plan and life, it will all fall into place, right?
    Her blog is at ourtxadoption.blogspot.com.

  10. I admire your courage in facing this issue and being willing to talk/write about it.

    Thank God for Adoration and your ability to take comfort and understanding from it.

  11. Dearest Sarah, I love your honesty. While I can’t empathize with the exact feelings you have, I identify with what Dawn mentioned that I have wanted something badly and feared it at the same time…

    You have received many wise words here already.

    Please know that you are in my prayers. I pray that God will show you His way and that His time becomes your time.

    God bless,
    michelle

  12. Sarah –

    Your honesty is refreshing and beautiful! While I do not know God’s hidden reasons for not having you conceive again to this point, I do know for certain that its NOT because he doubts your ability… if that were the case, none of us women would ever conceive! I mean, who is TRULY worthy to be a participant in the creation of life and then, the long term care giver for it? Aside from the Blessed Mother? None of us.

    What I also know for certain is that when God puts something on our hearts for a long time (and this sounds like its been an on-going struggle for you) its because he is trying to get our attention. Perhaps you are called to be a mother through adoption? Perhaps you are called to be a spiritual mother – and give of your time, talents and treasure – before he wants you to be a physical mother?

    Fear, uncertainty and questioning are not a bad things if we use them to seek God’s will; but don’t let your doubts frighten you… that is just the devil trying to distract you from searching out God’s plan! The devil, above all of us, knows that God has tremendous things in store for you and that, through your suffering, doubts and trials, you can bring about tremendous graces to the rest of the world, and he doesn’t want to see that happen. So, I will pray for your perserverance as you try to figure this thing out and I know that God wil reveal His peace as you need it.

    As far as your question goes about wanting something and not wanting it at the same time… if you want so more brutal honestly, here it is….

    You know my story of Elayna and having a special needs child. Well, when she was first born – although I was not able to admit this for years after her birth – the truth of the matter was, as much as I loved her, I wanted God to take her home to heaven instead of having me take her home.

    I was scared to death to enter the world of special needs parenting and overwhelmed with fear. The only way I got through it was by a) relying on other people to pray for me when I could not pray for myself and b) slowing allowing myself to accept God’s will, which then opened my eyes to the TREMENDOUS blessings that Elayna was bringing into my life. Blessings that, had I kept my heart closed, I would have completely missed.

    Further, had I viewed my situation through the eyes of the world, it WOULD have been hopeless and depressing. I mean, from a worldy perspective, who wants a disabled, broken child to taken home? I had to focus on changing my perspective and really trying to see things from God’s eyes, not the worlds, to see that there was so much joy hidden behind the physical problems.

    And, I don’t want to make this all sound like roses… my heart was not opened overnight. But, a few years into the process of raising a special needs child, I am truly, 100% able to say that I am thankful for Elayna, that she has changed my life for the better, and that God used Elayna – a situation I was scared to death of – to bring amazing graces to me and my family.

    So, in a nutshell, my advice is: pray for the ability to see things with the eyes of God, rather than with the eyes of the world. It will bring you “God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding.” 🙂

    My prayers will be with you!

  13. Oh Sarah, thank you so much for sharing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be afraid of having a baby, because as someone else commented, that shows how seriously you are taking the responsibility. And I don’t think it’s selfish to worry that your own life would be shortened, because I have a hunch that you worry more about leaving your husband and child(ren) behind than getting to heaven sooner.

    I wonder if there’s any type of novena or something that you could do to pray for this throughout Lent? Just a thought. I’m praying for you, and have been, and will continue to!

  14. It worked, so now I will leave a longer comment.

    Dear Sarah,

    As I said in my one other blog, I did not do much thinking when I was your age.
    To be honest, I do not think I worried about anything before or during my pregnancies. Atticus can tell you that I have changed, and now do my fair share of worrying. This is to the annoyance of my children. It made me say “no” to some things they wanted to do. Even now I have to tell myself, “I cannot put my children in little safe boxes.”
    I will worry about grandchildren. And I will try to keep my mouth shut.

    But now I want to address your concerns in a more personal and immediate way.

    I know that you will be a wonderful mother– That Atticus pursued you and asked you to be his wife is proof of that.

    1. Your family is here for you. We will support you in any way that we can. If my presence in Indianapolis during a pregnancy or following a pregnancy would be helpful, I would take a leave of absence from my job. I could stay in your guest room and help out in anyway that you would ask.
    After a baby is born the mother usually just wants time with the baby. I could stay with you to do the chores of keeping the house, doing errands, doing laundry, cooking, etc. so that you could focus on being a mom. And, mothers need some time away from the baby. I could send you out to lunch and take care of the baby. I could babysit in the evening so you and Atticus can go out. I wished that I had had a family member living closer when I had infants. It would have been nice to have a sister close by or a mother close by. My parents were in Arkansas and my sisters in Texas and Oregon. So I would want to offer that support. Charlie will be supportive of my involvement.
    2. The medical angle– I am not a medical person. Get good information from them to know what to expect about your care of yourself.
    3. I’m sure that other young women have some of your worries.
    4. Look to your faith for answers.
    5. Longer down the road– Janice and Karen are your sisters. They will be committed aunts. None of us knows how long we will live. But I do know that this family will take care of its own. And I know that you and Eric will support them and help through any adversity that they might suffer.
    6. As I sometimes tell children at my schools, “Most people live to be old.”
    7. I, too, wish that I could give you a hug. And give you and Atticus a group hug.
    8. It is good that you wrote the blog.
    9. I have a board game that I use with students, mostly with the older students. It’s called the Coping Skills Game. The nine skills are as follows:
    1. Name your feelings and express them in appropriate ways.
    2. Adjust your attitude by thinking of the good side of things.
    3. Discover your choices by seeing what can and can’t be changed.
    4. Accept imperfection by reminding yourself that no one and nothing is perfect.
    5. Take a relaxation break when you are stressed.
    6. Do things in order of importance.
    7. Recognize your needs and find ways to fulfill them. (That is not the exact wording.)
    8. Plan ahead so that you have the time, energy, and supplies that you need.
    9. Ask for help when you need it.

    10. There is no right way to do a family. You could decide to adopt. You could decide to have foster children. You could decide to go to graduate school and let nature take its course. Becoming very busy again might be of help to you. If you don’t have a pregnancy by the summer of 2011, you could start planning to adopt.
    11. There are childless couples who are very happy and who lead very fulfilling lives. There are women who have been “mothers” to other women, who have been “mothers” to institutions of worth, to social movements, to other people’s children.
    12. The Bible would say, “Trust in the Lord.” “Do not worry”. (easier said than done)
    13. What has been helpful to you in the past when you have had worries? Do what has been helpful in the past.
    14. What resources at your church could be of help?

    I offer this mixed bag above with all the love in my heart. I wish I had a magic wand to make everything nice and easy. But I don’t. But you have your heart, your faith, your head, your husband, your friends, Sirius– and together they are magic wands.

    Love, Pat

  15. Sarah,

    I just wanted you to know that a dear friend of mine has diabetes as well and has had it since childhood. She has a tendency of “going low” a lot in addition to all of the other issues with it, and the prospect of pregnancy brought understandable concerns. But her heart wanted a family, and despite the trials of her particular situation, God has blessed her with two babes so far…it wasn’t easy, but with the help of her husband, a lovely and understanding and diligent doctor, and a network of other support, it was and continues to be possible. I don’t know why you don’t have a child yet and my heart breaks for you (trust me), but God does…and when he does decide it’s time he will give you what you need to get through the fears. Big hugs.

    Jaime

  16. I don’t think it’s bad to be scared. I think it means you’re normal. I’m sorry that there are things to be scared of and I’m glad there are good things to hope for. Thank you for sharing all of this.

  17. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Alena

    http://ovarianpain.net

  18. Sarah –

    I was just skimming your blog for the first time and came across this post. I just thought I’d share, for the sake of observation (without too much accompanying reflection!), that although I’d been waiting and waiting for my husband’s marriage proposal and the advent of family life, and although I do not have any chronic health problems, I had the EXACT same reaction to my pregnancy with my son as you describe above with yours (fear/elation/fear/etc!). I think that though some women might just smoothly slide into joyful preparation, many more feel some terror along with the joy of learning we are now responsible for a tiny little person/body/soul!

    I love your “about me” section and the veil debate too.

    Hope to read more soon…

    Lauren

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