Posted by: laughing4heir | February 8, 2011

Are you there, God? It’s me, Laughing.

Ha ha! You thought I had gone! But you’re wrong. I’d only submerged. Happy 2011, all.  I hope this new year is filled with blessings for you and your family.

When I began this blog, I included “faith” in the title, because my personal faith in God is important to me and, though I’m reluctant to  be demonstrative about it, I do tend to discuss it in writing.  I’ve begun wondering what I mean by faith in God, though.  And what affect the journey of five miscarriages and a perilous successful pregnancy has had on my faith, if any.

A friend of mine spent the better part of last year in misery.  It turns out she had contracted Lyme’s disease.  On top of that, though, she had a pinched nerve on top of her stomach which made eating painful.  She lost a lot of weight because of both.  And she’s been battling fatigue and general pain because of Lyme’s disease, too.  She emailed recently saying that her illnesses this last year had really tested her faith.  I haven’t followed up on that thread yet, but I was curious what she meant by that.  How had her faith been tested?  How has it been changed?  But then it got me thinking about my own struggle.  Five miscarriages, including an ectopic pregnancy, two emergency surgeries, two potentially fatal pre-natal complications (one super-fatal, if there is such a thing), two months on hospital lock-down and a delivery wherein I was not even conscious.  That should have rattled my faith, right?  As a believer in God and as a faithful Christian, shouldn’t my response have been to feel abandoned by God?  To feel like God is letting me down?  It wasn’t.  I didn’t feel that way.  And I wonder, what’s wrong with me?

A treasured college friend of mine who is now a minister edited a book of essays called Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! , of  young adults writing about sexuality and Christianity.  (It’s a good read .) Among the essays is a story from a woman who had troubles with infertility.  She and her husband eventually went the IVF route and have a little boy.  The way she describes her prayer life (or at least, how I remember she writes about it) is similar to how I would typify mine:  ask for God’s will to be done.  But then she goes on to say that for the first time in years, as she and her husband went through the emotional and physical trial of infertility and IVF, she started praying for specifics:  “God, grant us a child,” as it were.  She allowed herself to request of God’s will; to expect.  And this is where she and I depart.  I don’t recall ever directly asking God in prayer for a successful pregnancy.

Actually, that’s not true.  The few times I knew I was pregnant before I knew I was miscarrying (pregnancies 2 & 5, essentially), I think I asked God to let it live.  In the second pregnancy, I was so stunned to have gotten pregnant again so quickly after the first loss – literally weeks – that I probably just prayed it and let it go.  By pregnancy number five, I’m sure I was not in formal “prayer,” but more the mantra “please, God! please, God! please, God!”  All the while thinking:  “If it doesn’t happen God, please let me be okay.”  I gave God an out.  And while I was pregnant with Giggle Girl, I did pray, constantly, for the success of the pregnancy.  Particularly after the complications emerged and endangered us.  But as I prayed for those successes, I kept in the back of my mind that the successes may not come.  Vasa Previa carries a 50% infant morbidity rate, on the low end of estimation.  Though I didn’t know, at the time, how high the morbidity rate was, I knew it was uncomfortably high, so I knew there was a chance our child would perish in delivery.  Why should I expect of God to let me be one of the mothers whose babies lived?  Just because I request it?  Embedded in all this was also probably my notion that even if my pregnancy with my daughter resulted in a stillbirth, which would indeed be an unimaginable loss, I somehow found comfort – however cold and bizarre – in knowing that I could carry a pregnancy not only past 6 weeks, but to birth … ish.

I guess where I’m going with this is:  during my pregnancy and my losses, really I relied on God more as a comforter than as intercessor.  Does that make me spiritually stunted?  Shouldn’t I have demanded God make these pregnancies work?  Shouldn’t I have been furious with God that they didn’t?  Shouldn’t I have railed at God when my only successful pregnancy turned out to be so precarious?  That I didn’t, does that mean I don’t really believe in God?

I do. At least I think I do. In as much as anyone can believe in anything that cannot be quantified or empirically proven.  (Like love or hope, say.) Ultimately, my image of God as creator is not divergent from my image of God as parent and comforter, it’s just different.  While I do believe he watches me, because he watches the sparrow, and I indulge in the belief that humans are favored among creation, I find it difficult to submit to the notion that because I am the top of the foodchain, I should get special preference in the laws of nature.  Or because I’m a believer. Or a Christian.  Or a tither.  Or, or, or …

I kept miscarrying, to the best of the medical knowledge available to us, because I have a strain of MTHFR that effectively aborts the pregnancy at 5 to 6 weeks. Those are the rules of the condition. Those are the rules of how that aspect of creation works.  God set creation in motion with the rules of physics and biology.  Who am I to tell him he needs to tweak them for me, as opposed to for everybody?  We beat those rules with other rules:  blood-thinners and progesterone, and hormones and, and, and … and it was still part of God’s creation.  I developed vasa previa because the rules of pregnancy as God created it is that sometimes – it’s freakish, and we may not have the medical understanding yet to explain it or prevent it – it just happens.  I developed placenta previa because the placenta implanted low, and because it’s more likely to happen in women who’ve had previous uterine surgeries.  Those are the rules of God’s creation as they relate to biology.  I prayed for a trouble-free pregnancy.  I didn’t get it.  But I didn’t lose faith in God, either.

Laughing4Heir is not immune to the rules of creation and nature just because she’s had a hard go of it.  Or because she’s hilarious. Or because she was saved at age 7.  A fundamentalist aunt of mine once lamented to me that she thought Christians were supposed to be spared sorrow; she was upset that she wasn’t.  I don’t remember my reply, but I do remember my thought:  “Jesus Christ himself wasn’t spared sorrow and anguish!  What the hell makes me think I won’t be or that I shouldn’t be?!  If Jesus can’t get a free ride through life, why should I think I will?”

What it comes down to is this:  I don’t see my relationship with God as a tit-for-tat deal.  I don’t think it’s one-sided on my part, either.  I feel amazingly blessed.  I have love.  I revel in the beauty of God’s natural world.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I even hear his still small voice.  I am not without sorrow, but neither am I without blessings.  Even if I never had a baby, I have been blessed.  If nothing else, blessed with the ability to seek blessings – which is something I strive for in myself, and envy in others.  (Damn that pesky envy!)  I don’t know that my faith was strengthened any, but I don’t feel it was tried much either.  I dunno.  Maybe I’m far less spiritually mature than I already imagined. (And frankly, I imagine myself to be a spiritual pubescent!)  Or maybe I just feel guilty that I don’t look at God the way others do and I wonder if I’m missing something by not feeling like I’m missing anything from God.

… of course, I also haven’t read my own blog in over a year.  In all likelihood I’ve just contradicted myself in this post 100 times over.  Now how’s that for a laugh?


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