We arrived in Oregon and I had applied for a job at local Head Start, but didn’t hear back right away. Still in my “plan everything to the death” mode, I fretted. Nevermind, we had our move completely paid for and my husband was making more money than he did back in Nebraska. I wanted to contribute.
The Head Start was a little unorganized that particular year in figuring out where they were going to put me. I was one credit shy of being a qualified teacher, so they were going to place me as a teacher’s aide in … of all places … the teen center. The center where the unwed teen mothers brought their children. I nearly collapsed. I needed a job, but the tears were flowing. I knew I couldn’t possibly do this and survive each day. Oh my gosh. Me, the one who had tried for now 3 years to conceive and been through a battery of tests…one where the OB did an ultrasound of my ovaries to reveal tons of tiny cysts (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease/Syndrome)…and they wanted me to work with these mothers who, in my mind at the time, did not deserve the very gifts they were given. For heaven’s sake! I was much more fit to be a mother than they! (or was I?)
Talk about entering depression. Oh. My. Gosh. Several weeks later they called and were putting me in a different position of Early Head Start Health Coordinator because of my nursing background. I would be doing sight, hearing and other evaluations on the little ones rather than seeing their parents every day. Or, so I thought. Attached to my job description was five at-risk families that I was to home visit and provide education to. In the 10 months I worked there, 3 of those families had their children taken away at some point, 1 was already a foster family and 1 was a family I really enjoyed visiting.
This job was hell for me, but on the lighter side of things, proved to be my saving grace. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to change.
I remember sitting in the lunch room and co-workers asking if I had children. This, after the standard questions of, “Where did you move from?” “Where do you live now?” “What’s your husband do?” “How long have you been married?” (then an infertile person braces themselves because we know what’s next…) “Do you have children?” At this time in my life, I would feel panic in my chest and answer with, “No, we can’t have children.” No one had ever told me point blank we couldn’t, but obviously, it wasn’t working out. Usually that comment from my lips stopped any further discussion, because yes, I have considered adoption and IVF and all those other things, thank you very much.
The panic and anxiety grew and grew. I don’t know how my husband survived.
I remember we had a doctor (MD) visit our youth group in our Nebraska town who talked to them about STD’s and such. He was making a point about STD’s and how they can cause infertility and many couples don’t know they are infertile until they get into it (i.e. “trying”). He didn’t know our story. I do remember some of his words and how I squeezed Jeff’s hand that night. He said, “Very few marriages survive infertility, but if you can survive that, you can survive anything.” Sometimes looking back, I honestly don’t know how we survived it.
So Oregon brought me more and more heart ache. I cried…a lot. I dwelt on it…a lot. I longed for children…all the time. I hated my job. I hated the people I worked with. I hated everything. My heart hurt. My soul was tired. I trusted in God and I loved him, but I didn’t know what he was doing to me. Torturous God? Loving? Why in the world can we not have children?
My dear, wonderful supervisor called me aside (she was my age and I’m sure was at a loss for words, but she knew it was tearing me up). She suggested I see a counselor. It was paid for by the office. It was also covered by my husband’s new and awesome health insurance. I made an appointment. This was the first time in my life I had sought professional help. I was embarrassed, relieved and ready for help.
At that first meeting, my counselor asked me what I wanted out of her session(s). I told her I just wanted to be happy. We went through all the infertility stuff and she gave me some homework. She had me write things down in three columns. “What people say to me.” “Why I believe it’s true.” and then…”Prove it wrong.” WOW! This covered 28 years of anxiety for me and after 9 visits this infertile woman could hold her hands up in church and worship a Great Big God! She could answer those questions and not freak out on the inside!
She even started accepting infertility and moving on with life. Not the life she planned…but a life she was given.