First of all, thanks to all of you for your kind, supportive, and encouraging comments on my last post. I have successfully stayed away from Google and am trying to embrace the moments of peace and joy when they find me. I am still terrified, but taking this all one day (or one minute) at a time.
But instead of writing yet another ten or twenty paragraphs about how hard and scary these early weeks are (because we all know there will be plenty more to come!), I want to talk about the church service I attended in January. It seems a little silly to write about this now with a BFP in my back pocket (so to speak), but I want to do it anyways because it was an amazing and horrible experience, all wrapped into one. It was like nothing I had experienced before and I think it deserves an honest discussion.
On January 27, I attended a service at a local church (“local” being about 45 minutes north of us). It was the last Sunday of January, which meant it was time for their annual Presentation Sunday — a prayer service for couples struggling with infertility. I had never been before, but when I read an article about it last year just as we had started trying for another baby, I told my husband that, should we still be TTC in 2013, I wanted to go. Of course, I didn’t really think we would be stuck in this same place a year down the road. But I guess the joke was on me, because we were and we went.
A little background: This was their 25th annual Presentation Sunday. They have had people from all over the country fly in to be prayed for. And there have been many, many successes. They stopped keeping track when they reached 500 babies born post-Presentation Sunday some years ago. Some of these babies were born nine months after the prayer service and some were born much later. Also, the pastor and his wife are one of us…that is, they suffered 11 miscarriages/losses (one of them at six months) before they were able to have their son.
Now, let me be clear…I did not go there expecting a miracle. I thoroughly believe in the power of prayer, but I know that we don’t always get what we pray for. It’s not a case of “ask and you shall receive.” Sometimes, what we want is just not in the cards, or God’s plan, for us. I am realistic about this. But I guess, in my heart of hearts, I hoped that this type of service would have some mystical powers or really speak to God and voila! A baby would be conceived and born. But at the very least, I felt it might be powerful to be surrounded by couples who were facing our same set of circumstances, and understood the pain and fear that arises from that. Not to mention, any amount of prayer usually brings peace into my heart. I may not get what I am yearning for, but it’s easier to go forward with that sense of peace.
So that was the good part of the service. Hearing the testimony and success stories. Hearing the pastor’s sermon about how you need only the smallest amount of faith, something the size of a mustard seed, to get a miracle. Seeing the women around me weeping and knowing I’m not alone. Feeling that kinship. But then along came the problematic part…
Towards the end of the service, my daughter started to get restless. Two years old, listening to “old” people ramble…who can blame her? We had toys, snacks, and books for her, but she was tired of sitting still, and especially tired of sitting still quietly. So my husband took her into the hall. I had told him before the service that, should this happen, I needed him to come back into the sanctuary when it was time to be prayed for. And when he left with Cupcake, I reminded him, “Stay close.” Do you see where this is going?
When it was time to go the front to kneel before the stage and have others lay their hands on us and be prayed for, Honey still had not returned, so I went alone. Alongside lots of other couples. Because I was the “single” woman up there (and therefore not aligned with their belief that married couples should be blessed with children), I was ignored. Never mind that I was wearing a wedding ring or that this sort of ostracizing is so far from what Christianity is about, but no one touched me and no one prayed for me. I was sobbing (which was okay, because so was everyone else), but not because of my infertility. Instead, I felt utterly alone, abandoned by my husband, enraged, and singled out. Eventually, a woman did ask if I was praying for myself and when I told her my husband was in the hall with our daughter, she prayed for me, and so did several others. It was a weird experience, because the church I regularly attend is very conservative and doesn’t speak in tongues or lay hands upon others, or do anything remotely like this. And I couldn’t even focus on the prayer, because I was still so upset over being there without Honey and being treated like an outcast. So I just cried while they prayed and that was that.
After the time of prayer, the service ended, my husband and daughter returned, and we left the church with me completely distraught. I am ashamed of how mad I was at Honey for abandoning me. And how devastated I felt. I know it’s silly, but in those moments, I felt as if we blown it. Ruined some magic formula to getting the pregnancy and baby that I so very much longed for. After some time, and quiet thought, and a long phone conversation with my mama, I started to calm down and realize how ridiculous I was being. But still…it was a hard thing to handle. I wanted to leave that service feeling such a strong sense of peace and hope, knowing I had done everything I could to try to have another baby, and instead I felt devastated. Not exactly how I imagined it.
Of course, now that I got my BFP, just two days after that service, I waffle between:
- Wow, that prayer service really worked!
- Hahaha, I didn’t need you guys after all! Take your judgmental Christianity somewhere else please!
In the end, this service didn’t matter at all. I didn’t need it. But I’m still glad I went. And I can’t say that, if this pregnancy doesn’t work out and we are still standing still next January, that I wouldn’t go again. Because I would. I do think I would.