Barrenness in the Midst of Creation

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By Anne Moman Brock | Instagram: anne_brock_ 

A birth announcement on Facebook. Weekly baby bump updates on Instagram. An email from a co-worker sharing the news that his wife is pregnant.

“I’m pregnant.”
“Do you have children?”
“Did you hear that so-and-so had a baby?”

I’m surrounded by new life but can’t create it myself. There’s no escaping new life because creation is the building block of this world.

I never noticed it before, but when a TV show is starting to lose its steam, one of the characters finds out she’s pregnant. It’s usually unplanned. It usually doesn’t involve tracking ovulation. I watch as if it doesn’t bother me. I watch because I want to feel the way I did before I thought about ovulating and tracking the days since my last period.

I can pick up a book, a seemingly harmless book, in which the main character finds herself surprised that her period hasn’t come in a few months. “How can she be so nonchalant about it?” I wonder. I keep reading because I want to lose myself in her story. I want to pretend that I am her and maybe the pregnancy test will look different for me this time too.

It’s not just TV shows or books; it’s my own body. I wake up with cramps. I don’t have enough eggs to create a life, but cramps I’ve got for days. There’s hardly blood to notice, but my face breaks out like I’m still in my teens. It’s one thing to be betrayed by Hollywood, but it’s another to be betrayed by your own body.

It’s been over two years now since I first found out. I keep thinking I won’t be bothered by the next birth announcement, that I’ve accepted my path. And then, out of the blue, while I’m sitting there responding to email, I’ll get a text. I have to remind myself to breathe. I feel a sinking feeling in my gut. I try to be happy for her—I really do. And, honestly, part of me is. I can be happy for her and completely devastated once again.

Heat rushes to my cheeks, my eyes begin to sting, and the tears start to flow. I have a wound that can never completely heal because there is no escape. There’s nowhere I can go and not be reminded of what I can’t create—not even my own body will let me forget. Month after month the scab gets ripped off. Each diaper commercial and stroller in the grocery store and update on Facebook keeps the wound from healing. If I could just get a bit of a reprieve, maybe the scab would slowly go away on its own, slough off naturally. Is there somewhere I can go where creation isn’t present? How long would I need to be apart from it all in order for the wound to become a scar, one that won’t open at the tiniest prick?

As much as I want to escape, I can’t imagine being apart from the creation of this world. Woodpeckers climbing up the tree outside my window. Leaves pushing their way up out of the cold, dark earth. My life-giving dogs that remind me to take naps and throw snow in the air and love unconditionally. I would be lost without creation, and at the same time creation pains me.

I know there are other options. However, despite my deep grief, I also trust immensely. I trust that my body is right. I trust that this is the path I am to take. I trust that my grief will lead to a different kind of creation, a different kind of birth. I trust that if I listen to and honor my grief, something new and beautiful will be born.

In the midst of my grief I look for moments of gratitude. My body can’t create a child, but that’s just one thing it can’t do. One big thing, but only one thing. There are many other things my body can create. Many beautiful things I can do that bring love and goodness and life to this world. It’s not what I anticipated. It’s not always easy. But, I want to find the good in the world. I want to find the good in me.

So, I cry and I celebrate. I grieve and I rejoice. I will make the baby quilt, but I won’t attend the shower. I’ll play with the toddler, but I’m not ready to hold the baby. I cherish the brief moments when I forget that I wanted to be a mom.

I will wait as God, Grief, and I ponder together how my life will become a new creation.

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About Anne:

I find myself in various states of creation throughout the day — quilting, running, yoga, writing, music, photography. My husband and I are doing our best to navigate a life we couldn’t have imagined, which turns out isn’t such a bad thing after all, especially when you add in a husky and chocolate lab to the family. You can find more of my explorations to pay attention to the ordinary and discover the extraordinary on Instagram and my website.

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