It’s a long title, but it sums up (with a Disney touch) the many emotions of this past week. I suppose it sums up specific feelings that have been present several of the last years.
As a member of the female population, once you reach about 16 years old, you begin to become familiar with the custom of showering a beautiful, glowing, mother-to-be with a pastel-themed celebration of her first-born child. Being the youngest of many female cousins, this was a tradition I grew up around with great frequency. Entering the teaching profession (especially in early childhood; which in my experience seems to be comprised of mostly female educators of childbearing age) only increased the amount of baby showers and celebrations that occurred around me.
Every shower was exciting. Excitement was shared among all in attendance for the mother to be. Babies are exciting! Additionally, as a young woman, I was often excited for “future me.” (Ladies, remember when you went to your first wedding and thought “Gosh, someday that will be me!” Same type of thing.).
It was exciting. Until it wasn’t.
Baby Showers are no longer exciting when you struggle to get pregnant. They are no longer exciting after you have gotten pregnant, but miscarried. And they certainly are no longer exciting when you combine both of the above together.
In fact, baby showers become a nightmare.
Last year, I lived that ongoing nightmare, at work, among family, and socially among my friends. The biggest impact, however, were those pregnant women/showers occurring at work. I mean, socially or with family one can easily excuse themselves, “hide” things on Facebook, or begin a new conversation. At work… you are stuck.
As I’ve written briefly about in the past, last year, four women in our early childhood school building were pregnant/had children. FOUR. And there were FOUR baby showers. Three of the four were a surprise, one of the four (which, granted, was smaller in nature and I was not a part of due to it being a “classroom only” celebration for the expecting teacher) was set up during lunch in the staff lounge while many of us were eating. Stuck.
You might think, “Oh no big deal. It’s three days of your life over the entire school year.” And that’s true. But it’s so much more in the world of detailed-planning, perfectionist, teaching staff. It was three baby showers worth of secret “whole-staff-sans-the-mother-to-be” emails, autodialers, pot luck sign ups, collection envelopes, and general whispers in the hallways about if the expectant mother “knew it was coming” or not.
I found myself becoming angry. Very angry. And bitter.
I wasn’t sure to whom the anger was directed. The mother-to-be? No. It wasn’t her fault. God? I questioned God often and did have many “righteously angry conversations” with Him, but ultimately maintained my faith and trust in Him throughout the entire year. The staff at my school? From time to time, yes. But in the end I decided this too was not the fault of the staff. They were simply following a cultural response to the situations occurring around them. I was angry with our culture. And, I was angry with how STUCK I felt within that culture.
So I began to avoid. I avoided a lot of things, actually. Daily lunches, celebration luncheons… anything to be out of earshot of potentially baby-related conversations in order to save what little sanity I felt was left. And luckily for me, God placed another in nearly my exact situation right in front of me.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Or more often summarized, “God will not give you more than you can handle.”
My feelings of “stuck” were too much for me to handle. And while I strongly believe that God did not purposefully cause this coworker to have similar struggles to my own for my benefit, (as God does not cause hurricanes or tornados to happen), I do believe that He knew this struggle was too much for me to handle alone. And for that reason He shaped both my path, and my co-worker’s path in a way that would allow us to meet in the Red Apple EC setting. Together, we were not stuck. Or at least, not stuck ALONE. Together, we found some amount of comfort in each other, throughout what was certainly an uncomfortable, depressing, and trying time in our lives.
“Did you see we are throwing another surprise shower next month? This one is for ‘Jane’?” She would quietly whisper to me in the hallways, or send in a text message after school.
“Where should we go out to lunch that day?” Would always be my next response.
It didn’t stop the hurt from the autodialers, emails, pot-luck sign-ups, or collection envelopes, but it did stop me from breaking down into a puddle of tears in front of my co-workers on what was supposed to be a celebratory luncheon. For “surprise showers” #2 and #3, we took an “off campus” lunch away from it all. Instead of being forced into conversations about how the expectant mother was feeling, or due dates, or if the nursery was ready, we talked about Letrozole or Clomid doses, our experience with specific fertility clinics in the general area, and IUIs, or IVF strategies. We did something positive for our situations while also avoiding the inevitable hurt that would have occurred had we stayed back at school.
Was this running away from your problems? Maybe. It could be perceived that way. In fact, I felt a little guilty from time to time, so I would often email the mothers (post luncheon) and explain my absence. (Thankfully, when you are open about a miscarriage via public Facebook post you don’t need to say much in an email except, “I’m sorry I could not help you celebrate on Friday, but I’m so happy for your upcoming new addition. Congratulations.” ) Sure, I’d give to the collection envelope (or for non-school related Baby showers I’d find a friend who was going and give them my gift), sign the card, etc. But I could not be physically present. It was more than I could handle.
As time wore on two things happened. First, I realized I was not the only person at my school building who was overwhelmed with all the “showering” that occurred that school year. Turns out, too much showering makes everybody a little nuts! Secondly, my mindset began to change. I’m not sure why. Was it my relationship with my co-worker that gave me increased confidence? Was it just time passing in general? Unknown. But hiding off campus, avoiding lunches in the staff lounge, etc. had changed me in ways I did not enjoy. I realized that by not being a contributing member of the “cultural celebration,” I was still not back to being the “Old Hopeful Megan” that I had been before all the infertility struggles and miscarriage. I needed to have an ACTIVE faith in God. I needed to ACTIVELY trust Him. I needed to be proactive. (That’s kind of a Megan thing… for those that don’t know me well. My classroom needs a SmartBoard? Raise money to buy one. Emotionally can’t handle life? Begin a blog to witness/make yourself emotionally more stable. Still not a mom? Research the poop out of every infertility option and make it happen. Upset about the nature of “staff showering?” Join a committee to make a needed change…. etc.)
At an end of the year staff meeting last school year the need for a committee with set rules on staff celebrations was discussed. A survey went out from administration to all staff asking for input on how staff celebrations should be celebrated in the future. Additionally, it asked which staff members might be willing to help run this new committee consistent with the overwhelming majority of responses.
Well, you guessed it. I signed up.
While Faith and Trust in God are all fine and dandy on their own, a living Faith and a living Trust is active. One of the most important things I learned from Pastor Luchterhand at Lutheran High School was this exact notion. He would say something like, “If you ask God for patience, He’s not going to just POOF! give it to you. What do you think God is a wizard? That He’s Harry Potter? No! He’s going to give you opportunities to learn to be patient. For example, Megan thinks her little brother is annoying. And he is! But God won’t just make him “less annoying.” He’ll give Megan opportunities to be patient with his antics. But never more than she can handle.”
(Side note: Oh, how I miss theology classes with Pastor Luchterhand. Always knew how to hit the point home while making us all laugh… The sign of a great teacher.)
I was ready to get back to “Old Megan,” and in the best way I knew how – by being in charge. HA! Not “in charge,” I should say, but proactively involved.
Now, this step was scary. I knew the 2017/2018 school year would include baby showers. I mean, we had four pregnant people last year (and ironically, we have four again this year! I told you, early childhood is filled with pregnancies!) I would be putting myself into situations that I not only avoided like the plague all of last year, but that I would need to be 100% involved in. But with God’s help, I was ready to handle it. I was putting a lot of faith and trust in Him.
“Dear Lord, I’m going to do this to get back to “Old Megan.” Please, Please, help me be able to handle this.”
Friday of this week was our first “double baby shower.” And I was a mess.
One. Big. Hot. Mess.
#1: I’m pregnant!
God does not give you more than you can handle.
#2: One of the two women we showered was my “escape partner” co-worker from last year. (It should be noted that this is a HAPPY emotional statement. Who’d have thought this could ever be last year sitting at the Yardarm talking infertility action plans?!)
God does not give you more than you can handle.
#3: I’m emotionally overjoyed for both women we showered today. Something I knew was the “right thing” to feel last year, but was not an emotional response I could force my mind to take. At all. But this year, it is REAL! “Old Megan” is making a come back!
God does not give you more than you can handle.
It’s overwhelming to see, right in front of you, God’s miraculous grace. No, things did not happen on “my time.” Yes, there was/is pain. Deep pain. No, I do not have a baby in my arms just yet. But the promise of my growing bump, akin to the promise of salvation through Christ, is a blessing God bestows on me each and every day. I’m emotionally shaken to my core with awe at how God has blessed me this year. I actively put my faith and trust in Him, and He has blessed my life richly. I mean, to top it off, a dear friend even asked me earlier this week, “Can we start talking about your baby shower yet?” I mean…. WHAT?!?!!?!??!!? We are at that point now! It’s happening this time. It’s happening.
Now how about some cute baby shower pictures?!