Tuesday, May 30th, 2017.
I finished teaching my last violin lesson of the morning and loaded up my stuff into the car. My stomach flipped as I pulled out my phone—I had heard the buzzing while I taught. Was it the call I was waiting for so impatiently?
It was. My whole body tensed up. I was still new to the smartphone thing, so I couldn’t help but read the transcribed voicemail before I tapped play.
“Hi this is Dr _____ the tally just letting you know that your progesterone levels was 0.15 which they need to be greater than 10 for us to consider them positive for ovulation so if you can call me back…”
No. No, no, no. That couldn’t be right. Obviously the transcription was faulty—it had had no clue what to do with my doctor’s name, so maybe the numbers were wrong too.
Fingers shaking, I pressed play. My doctor’s voice—educated, confident, and rather unemotional—rang out of my phone’s speakers while I sat in my car stunned, broken, unable to think. I played it again.
Your progesterone levels were 0.15 … they need to be greater than 10 …
Tears started pooling in the corner of my eyes. “Why, God?” I whispered. No other words would come. I was still sitting in the parking lot of the church where I taught violin, and I knew I needed to get out before someone strolled past and saw me, still sitting in my car, crying uncontrollably. I blinked back the tears as hard as I could while I drove out. When I was safely alone on the roads I let them flow.
I prayed as I drove, the broken, raw kind of prayer that doesn’t happen during church services.
“God, I don’t understand. I thought this would work … why didn’t this work … help me, help me, please, please help me …”
The phone call was in response to the blood draw I had had two days prior. Three weeks ago, I started my very first round of ovulation-inducing medicine. As a woman with PCOS, both my doctor and I were fairly confident I was never ovulating on my own—which is a pretty big problem, especially when you want babies. But the drug was supposed to fix me, at least for one cycle, and though I knew that many healthy people take more than one cycle to actually make a baby, I had faith. I believed that the odds didn’t matter. This would work; this would be our baby. Sometime between our winter birthdays, we would be visiting the birth center and bringing home our twins. Yes, twins. We have to work extra hard for kids, so why not make it a two-for-one deal? We prayed together, and I prayed alone, and I quoted all the verses that talk about God answering prayer, and I believed He would give me what I asked for.
And then—The Voicemail. Not only was I not pregnant (twins or otherwise), my body had not even responded to the medication. I didn’t understand—I had been tracking my symptoms, positive I felt the classic mittelschmerz of ovulation. Logan and I had talked about “if it doesn’t work,” but even those discussions assumed “not working” just meant “not pregnant.” I hadn’t let myself consider what would happen if my body simply … didn’t respond.
But that’s where I was now. When I finally got home, I tried to sniff the tearfulness out of my voice before I called the doctor back. I don’t remember who I called first, Logan or the doctor. Probably Logan, though I doubt he would have been able to answer at work. I remember talking to him on his lunch break—I was curled up on the couch, crying, by myself, and all he could do was say “I’m sorry, I love you, it will be ok.”
The doctor, while nice enough, wasn’t quite as tender to my raw heart. She explained what I already understood—my body was so broken that the meds couldn’t get it working. She said we’d try again and sent me a prescription for a bumped-up dosage. My heart sank even further when she told me we were skipping the middle level and going straight to full strength. That means she’s not very hopeful about this.
Neither am I.
That one brief voicemail was enough to strip me of my simple faith. Did I still believe God would answer my prayers? Yes. But it wasn’t a brightly optimistic belief like at the first … now I was paying attention to statistics, obsessively reading success (and failure) stories, preparing my heart for the possibility that this time might fail, too. I couldn’t recapture the innocent faith I had before, where I just thought if I believed hard enough, God would do as I asked.
I knew now, somehow, that our fertility journey would not be as simple as I had hoped. The miraculous healing I hoped for probably wouldn’t come. We may only be able to afford one pregnancy instead of the dozen kids I had always dreamed of.
Today is the anniversary of that loss of “naive faith.” I can’t say that it was a bad thing to lose. We’ve had to work to replace it with a pushy faith, a faith that chooses when odds look grim. A faith that understands God may not answer how I want. A faith that acknowledges He is still good. A faith that refuses to give in to the pessimism, the despair, the statistics. A faith that says, “God, if You let my heart get broken again, I believe You will somehow carry me through that, too.”
“Lord, I believe, only help my unbelief!”