Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Worth the Wait"

(N.B. No part of this post should be considered a criticism of those who have used this phrase. It is simply intended as an opinion of someone whose wait may not end.)

Last month I turned 38. We've been TTC for 4 years and 3 months. I have no clue if my eggs are any good or if they were ever any good; there simply isn't any way to tell. More than 2 months after our last doctor's appointment, I'm still fighting to get everything I need to send our records to PPVI. Our FCP is rarely answering my e-mails, and then only after a significant delay. (I understand that she's busy, but she's also the one that convinced us that sending everything to PPVI was what we should do.) I spent the weekend before last waiting for her to call and not having the phone ring. Quite frankly, I feel like I am waiting for Godot.

Meanwhile, I've been seeing the phrase "worth the wait" turn up in a number of blog posts. It's reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a little more than a year ago about how it's easy to say that it's worth the wait if the end result is having a child or an adoption that goes well, but can you say it's "worth the wait" if the wait doesn't end or ends with a heartbreaking result? She planned to write a post on it, but I don't think she ever did, and now she's pregnant. So this is my opinion on "worth the wait." 

Looking back, from a position of having gained what you wanted, how easy is it discount the wait, the pain, the exhaustion, the suffering? Or from a different angle, if you knew, absolutely, that at a certain time you would gain your heart's desire, wouldn't it be much easier to use the intervening time productively, preparing yourself to receive it? We have no window to the future, no crystal ball. (And trying to know the future always ends badly - just ask Macbeth.)

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." The Man in Black, The Princess Bride
Lately I can't help but agree with with the Man in Black. For all my hopes and optimism this month, it turns out that my blood work was again horrible. Estradiol was only about 1/3 of that desired; progesterone was only half. I've had plenty of months of great P+7 blood work, with nothing to show for it. What am I waiting for? For paperwork, for answers? I don't know if I care about answers anymore. Most particularly, for a different answer? I want the answer to be "Yes" but expect it to stay "No." If the wait never ends, can it be worth the wait? 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Do They Pray for Parents?

Julie Davis' book, Happy Catholic, is a staple in my Eucharistic Adoration bag. I love just flipping to a random page, opening it up, and reading one or more of her reflections. In recent months, I keep ending up on page 85. I don't know whether that page has simply been worn open or if He is trying to tell me something.

God Doesn't Hand Out Cash
Damian: I thought it was from God. Who else would have that kind of money?
Ronnie: It's not really His think, is it, handing out cash.   -Millions 
Truer words were never spoken. However much we might wish to the contrary, God doesn't hand out cash.  
God tends to use created things to answer prayers. Things, for example, like us. 
Even as far back as Genesis, we see God creating the world and "seeing that it was good." He didn't wish Adam and Eve into being from thin air but used earth and spirit, and also a rib. Jesus used mud and spit to heal the blind. There is copious evidence that, having made all that is around us, God expects us to use it.
That is what makes it all-important that we act on it and step up to do our part. Because using us to answer prayer, whether we may realize it or not at the time, is his thing.
This past weekend was the celebration of my grandmother's 90th birthday. While there, I couldn't help but be struck by how much my cousin's daughter looks like she did at that age. You could stick her daughter's picture in with pictures of my cousin and I and you would think it was my cousin.  It has had me reflecting on how much we naturally hunger to see parts of ourselves reflected in our children. Does she have your eyes? Your husband's curly hair? Who will he or she take after in temperament? When you adopt you can hope that your child(ren) will reflect your values and morals, but in appearance or personality you have no hope that they will be a blend of you and your spouse.

As a biochemist with some training in genetics, I have really struggled with questions about adoption. Not only genetics but prenatal environment are proving to be so important in determining who a child is. And recent evidence from children born via third-party assisted reproduction is showing how much children long for their biological parents. Knowing these things has made considering adoption very difficult for me. I spent much of my childhood feeling second-best, like I had to earn my family's love, so the thought of being considered second-best by a child or children who we have gone to all the trouble to adopt and raise is worrisome. I've been wondering, contemplating, do the children in orphanages dream of and pray for their biological parents to come back for them or do they simply dream of and pray for loving parents? Is God trying to use me, to use us, to answer their prayer?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

An Experiment in Veiling

Though I knew a few women who veil, it wasn't something I had given much thought to, until I saw Rebecca's post and her FB RSVP for Wear the Veil Day back in November. It got me started digging, trying to find out more about this custom and why some women choose to follow it. Following link after link both made me curious and brought me into the fever swamps. For the most part, advocates of women covering their heads referred to it as an expression of humility before God. Most of them advocated veiling as a deliberate choice, something they hoped women would try, rather than something that must be done. (Though if you follow enough links, eventually you find someone saying that it's really still mandatory, despite the fact that it's so uncommonly done. Mixed in you also start finding arguments about women being submissive to their husbands in ways that I'm not completely comfortable with, as well as arguments against Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Ahh, the internet.)

Despite not being completely convinced by the theological arguments, I finally decided that it would be worth trying, an experiment, if you will. I decided on an Infinity Scarf Mantilla; that way if I decided veiling wasn't for me, I would at least still have a scarf I might wear. One Sunday in between ordering the veil and receiving it I saw a woman at Mass wearing a veil; this was the first time that I had seen someone doing so at our parish. Afterwards I complimented her on it, asking where she had gotten it. This conversation was the first Husbandido heard of my newfound interest in veiling; it took him completely by surprise. That veil that lady was wearing was one that had belonged to her mother, but her utter assurance that it was worth doing (and should never have been done away with) helped me be more confident in my experiment. 

My veil didn't arrive by December 8, so I missed Wear the Veil Day. I was nervous about conducting this experiment at our parish; I put it off until we went to Arizona for Christmas. With Christmas, Sunday Mass, and the feast of Mary, the Mother of God all happening while we were out of town, it seemed like a great opportunity to experiment without any potentially awkward questions. (We attended Mass alone; my parents, brother and his family did not join us.) I was nervous and felt weird wearing my veil walking into Mass on Christmas. Then I looked around at the stained glass windows; all the female saints except St. Kateri had their heads covered; I no longer felt alone. Before Mass started, I looked around; there were a few other women with their heads covered, which was reassuring. As Mass started, I found that my mind no longer drifted; it was easier to focus. The next two Masses where I wore my veil I also felt calmer and less distracted. The only comment I received was when I was talking to the head usher while Husbandido took pictures; he assumed that we regularly attended an Extraordinary Form parish. I didn't correct his assumption, though I found it ironic, as I have never attended an Extraordinary Form Mass. (I would like to at some point, though.)

After we returned home, it took me a week or two to make the leap into wearing my veil at our parish. Being on pastoral council, I wondered what assumptions people would make; I didn't want to give the wrong impression. I'm not trying to be "holier than thou" or push for any kind of return to "old ways." It's simply a personal expression of faith and humility. The first many weeks I wore my veil at our parish I was relieved that it was our temporary parochial vicar presiding, not the pastor (who knows me). The first time our pastor saw me wearing my veil I was incredibly nervous, as I was the first few times I saw other members of pastoral council at the Mass we attend. I was very surprised that no one said anything or asked any questions. I even skipped wearing my veil for Easter since we were attending Mass in the parish hall, where there would be fewer people. (Our parish is large enough that it is easy to feel semi-anonymous in sanctuary.) 

Before Easter I decided that I needed a lighter color veil for spring, so after much indecision (this time with Husbandido's input), I ordered this in sky blue. It's taken a little more to get used to wearing; the infinity scarf mantilla is definitely easier to wear. I now found myself planning my outfits for Mass to go with my veil, which also has me considering adding to veil wardrobe. Currently under consideration are this (though spelled differently,  Brigid is my confirmation name), this (blue is my favorite color), this (green is Husbandido's favorite color and my second favorite), or this (in black and brown, black and green, or black and blue). (I might just have a problem here... But they're so pretty!) Feel free to weigh in with what you think I should get next.

I was surprised by the comments I received on my veil at the Healing Mass we attended. Several women commented on how beautiful it is, as well as remarking that it isn't something you see very often. The only person at our parish who has said anything was a lady from the Dominican Republic, who I knew from Bible Study and who was taking the Catholicism series I was running this spring; she wanted to know where I had gotten my veil because she loved it and wanted to go back to veiling. 

Wearing a veil helps me separate the sacred from the profane; it keeps me focused on God during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. My experiment in veiling won me over; I hope you will consider conducting your own experiment.