Monday, October 22, 2007

An Alternate Plan

Yesterday, on the way home from church, Wes and I talked about a troubled teen who has a response of violence any time things don't go his way. In fact, Wes had been pulled aside by the teen's mother and told "don't make him mad, he gets really angry." Naturally this raised concerns about working with a teen who is prone to violence. In the middle of the conversation, my mind went in all kinds of directions and I stopped and told Wes that I was about to sound like a selfish brat and then asked, "how is it that I can't have children?" The question was lost on us, but I felt the frustration in me rise. I couldn't understand why a home with people who would raise a child in Christ would be denied children and yet homes in which violence abounds have one or more children. Later yesterday I told Wes that I would love to have a boy and a girl, but I would just be happy with one. One.

And then last night happened. We have three guinea pigs who are on a special diet to prevent & combat bladder stones. One had surgery about a month ago and needs another surgery. He takes medicine five times a day. For the most part he has been good about taking his medicine, but the last couple of days I have had to semi-force the syringe in his mouth. Last night was one of those moments and it broke my heart when he squirmed and squeaked, trying to get away. Every few minutes, I hear cries of pain as he tries to use the bathroom. Today my heart dropped when I couldn't see him breathing and too afraid to touch him, I called out his name in a panicking tone. At the second call of his name, he perked up his head, eyes half open from being woken from a deep sleep (something he hasn't done in a long time). Immediately tears flowed out from my eyes as a wave of emotion came over me as I felt both scared and relieved.

This little one to the left and hanging out in the pumpkin is Eggnog. He has two brothers, Mocha and Coconut. He is also the one who is struggling with bladder stones. As I sat here trying to convince myself of how much more deserving of children I am than other people, God reminded me of this precious animal. And a realization came over me....
I am not responsible for the life of a child right now and I may never be. But I am responsible for the life of Eggnog and the lives of his brothers. They depend on me for their survival. They know me, they know my voice...they trust me. They know I will not harm them. They know if they get scared, they can bury their face under my chin and I will protect them. They know I will bind their wounds when they bleed, I will cradle them when they whimper, and I will comfort them when they mourn. I shudder to think of what would have happened to these beautiful creatures had they wound up being some child's "starter pet" (the idea of a starter pet truly upsets me). Would they know to rub Mocha in that special way that makes him purr or what way to hold him that makes him feel safe? Would they know how to watch Coconut's body language since he's a pretty quiet piggy or that he likes to be rubbed under his chin? Would Eggnog get the proper care he needs for his bladder stones and would they know his most favorite treat is watermelon? I'm grateful that I know them to know all of these things.

I held Eggnog in the bed today and we laid down together. He laid on a towel as he has been having trouble controlling his bladder. A few minutes into our quiet time (known as "Mama & Eggnog time"), he stiffened up and began to cry in pain. I knew this meant he was peeing. I gently rubbed his back and softly told him that it was ok, that I was right here. A few seconds later the crying stopped and he walked a couple of inches over to my face and licked my lips a few times. My heart swelled.

I can't honestly say that I am content in our no-children situation right now. But as I look into the faces of these beautiful animals who depend on me, I can't help but think that God has set aside this time for me to take care of them. Right now, they need me.

When I am tempted to ask why, I see this big hand pointing towards their cage and a voice that says, "Because."

Photo by Mary King (me)


david mcmahon said...

Nothing selfish about your question, Mary. I understand perfectly.

A good friend of ours went through the same situation until she nad her husband discussed IVF with doctors. She then conceived normally and now has two healthy teenagers.

The medical fraternity says this is not unusual, apparently.

Mary said...

IVF was something we said we'd never do. Aside from the ethics of it, it is crazy expensive. Here in the States, it's about $15,000 per round, and doctors usually recommend around 3 rounds. Yikes! I'm glad she didn't have to go through that and that she was able to conceive normally!

Unfortunately for us, there's not much we can do in terms of treatment as even the "smallest" treatment (fertility drugs) makes my endometriosis flare up. I pray that I am able to conceive naturally, though I do have to face reality that my chances are not that high. It's a work in progress as I'm trying to be at peace with where God has me.

david mcmahon said...

Mary, I'm amazed at the cost. But I pray that you and Wes are blessed in the way we have been.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I appreciate what you're doing. God cares for these animals, and we're his stewards to carry that out.

I will seek to be remembering to pray for you and Wes, that God will bless your household with children.

david mcmahon said...

I second Ted's sentiments.

Mary said...

Ted and David, your words have blessed me so much. There is much comfort when I realize how God is working and how He lifts me up when I have people who have never even met me praying for me. Thank you both!!

david mcmahon said...

It's a judicious combination of faith and friendship.

Aslan'sApprentice said...

Hi Mary! I just happened upon your website while googling lyrics to Rob Thomas' song 'little moments'. "God fearer. Happy wife" caught my eye and I read a few of your posts. "an alternate plan" reminded me of feelings I was having several years ago as I have also asked in exasperation, "how is it that I can't have children?"

In my struggle, God brought me to the realization that 'giving birth' is completely different than 'parenting'. The desire to give birth can sometimes have self-centered roots to it while parenting has a sense of self-giving. While--like you--I cared for our orphaned cat and dog, God helped me see that His answer to my question was, "you CAN have children...but because you try to love like my Son, I'm going to give you my special ones...they don't need birthing, they need PARENTING! We have since adopted one child and are in process for a second. Adoption is a true calling from God. It is Biblical to 'take care of orphans in their distress' and you sound like a possible adoptive parent in the making!

Whatever you and your husband decide, follow God's lead. Don't let people's adoption 'horror stories' or the financial mountains stand in your way. (We had no idea where the money was going to come from, but we stepped out in faith and watched God lead us in some pretty amazing ways!)

Great book on the subject: Moments for Couples Who Long for Children, by Ginger Garrett

Mary said...

Hi, Aslan's Apprentice, welcome!

Trust me, we know all the options available to infertile couples. While adoption is always a "solution", I think it's also important to remember the need for a time of grieving over the loss of a biological child. We still want that little me & little Wes and there's nothing wrong with that and it's been so important for me to remember that while everyone wants us to go this way or that way, God is perfectly ok with us wondering what's going on. That said, we have considered adoption and have already suffered one adoption loss. And while I am blessed by your encouragement, financial situations ARE something that have to be seriously fact it's the reason why we suffered our loss. No bank is willing to help a couple with a sizable student loan and who don't even own a's not considered a secure loan, and hence, we were denied...and generally all adoption grants/loans are only offered AFTER the homestudy is completed, which can only be done after the homestudy is paid for...which is why we applied for a bank loan, and hence the cycle....

For now, this is where God wants us...without children. I won't pretend to know why, even though I catch glimpses sometimes. But I do know that I need to be at peace with that, I need to be at peace with the alternate plan. Just because things aren't going MY way doesn't mean they aren't going God's way. And God's way, for the time being, is that it's just me, Wes...and our furbabies. :)