We generally accept the word “flux” to mean flow or fluctuation. Did you know that it is also defined as a substance that can be used to combine with impurities in metals so that they can be more easily removed? Or that flux is necessary to make the solder stick in the joints of stained glass, and without enough flux, the solder will be unmanageable and the joints too weak or too sloppy to make a stained glass design.
I’d say flux is an apt description of my current state of being. We had the follow-up appointment with the fertility specialist, who largely had no new news for us. Next time we get pregnant, I will have lovenox (a blood thinner) injections, and I will be extremely closely monitored. Although we have had no real indication of tubal pregnancies, the doctor said he is “always suspicious” of very early miscarriages actually being tubal pregnancies that stop developing before they run into complications. If that is our problem (as opposed to a blood clotting indicator “of dubious significance”), then lovenox could be really dangerous if there is an ectopic pregnancy, as I could bleed internally if there is a complication. So, I will be extensively poked, prodded, bled and sonographed whenever we get pregnant again. Should the lovenox also turn out to be a non-starter, or if there is distinct evidence of a tubal pregnancy, it seems the next step will likely be IVF. Given the stress involved in that scenario, I’m hoping we don’t have to try that route. Although, with our previous experience, I have a feeling that we’ll end up trying and failing there, too. I know I shouldn’t already be expecting disappointment, but I have no physical reason to hope for anything more. I’ve actually heard therapists refer to that type of thinking as “protective pessimism,” so I’m going to indulge my self-pity for a little while longer, until I need to be hopeful and optimistic about prospective pregnancies again, which will be about three or four more months.
Given the approaching holidays and the challenges Christmas will provide this year, I decided I needed a break from having to worry every month about whether or not I’m pregnant. (Should I switch to completely decaf coffee, am I working out when I should be resting, should I order my steak well done…) So, I am going back on the pill for three months so that we don’t have to think about it for a while. I can focus on shedding some weight, and I can drink fully caffeinated coffee without feeling guilty. (There is a bright side to everything, and my silver linings almost always involve no small amount of coffee and/or chocolate.) I can also enter the half marathon (most of which I will walk) coming up in February without having to back out or stop training for months at a time. It’s nice to make a plan that I can follow through on, and the only real contingency is injury. I don’t think I will miss the hypochondriac routine at the end of each cycle – I haven’t started my period yet, and I feel kind of nauseated, but the pregnancy test is negative… Three months off will be nice.
It gives me time to apply flux to my mental metal and try to remove some of the dross bits. I found a few of them Sunday, but I’m not really sure how to get rid of them yet. Sunday was our niece’s baby dedication. I had planned to stay for the whole service, but I couldn’t make myself stay. My brain stopped and lasered in on a single phrase spoken by the pastor about the baby being a blessing of youth. I couldn’t get past that point, and then I couldn’t stop crying. There were plenty of other tears on the faces of family and church members, but they were crying out of joy, and I wasn’t. I couldn’t stay there and sob in grief and pain and frustration and taint an otherwise joyful event for the rest of the family. I know they wouldn’t have cared, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I don’t know what to do with this question – if children are the blessing of youth and righteousness (and that’s repeated more than a few times in the Bible), does that mean I’m cursed? I’m not perfect, and there are any number of things that God for which God might curse me or punish me, but in my feebly human view, it would be enough of a curse to just not ever get pregnant. Why go the extra mile of repeated miscarriages? All of which runs right into the other brick wall I ran into at full speed Sunday.
We had our Christmas choir concert Sunday night, and it was beautiful (and glittery, for my fellow choir members who might be reading this :)). Sunday afternoon, we had our final rehearsal with the guest musicians, and we opened the rehearsal with prayer. Again, my brain lasered in on a single phrase and refused to drop it no matter how hard I tried. One of the people praying said (this is the nutshell version) that things only happen because God wants them to. It’s hard enough to find purpose at all in this kind of loss, but to believe that God wants me to have miscarriage after miscarriage? It’s unfathomable. It does not jibe with the God that I think I know, and the idea that God wants us to suffer is rather jarring. To clarify a bit of theology here, I do believe that we must suffer because we live in a fallen world and because we are incapable of being perfect and pure apart from God. To that end, suffering is a point of identification with Christ, and its purpose is to demonstrate our sin to us and to draw us to God. And I also realize that I took this point slightly out of context, as the speaker was identifying that God was in control of the concert and desired for people to hear his message in the music that we were singing. But, how can that statement (everything happens because God wants it to) apply to the proper functioning of sound equipment and voices but not to everything else? Is it possible that nothing happens without God’s say-so, but some of those things may not be what he wants? Is there really any difference between permissive will and perfect will?
That was what was running through my head while I was trying to sing Christmas music that is all about the birth of a baby and while there are these beautiful (baby-filled) videos playing along with the music we were singing. More than once I cried and considered running as far and as fast as I could. And once rehearsal was over, and I went home to rest for a while and change clothes, I wondered if I could just skip the performance. Who needs a weepy mess on the front row, and who would really miss my voice if I wasn’t there, anyway? But I couldn’t miss something I had committed to, and I didn’t want to miss the music and the worship and the choir. If you have never sung in a choir, it is a wholly different experience than just listening to a group of people sing. It is a beautiful demonstration of how a sum can be greater than all its parts. One voice can be beautiful, but many voices singing different parts at the same time is like a musical body of Christ, or a mosaic with hundreds of tiles that only makes sense when you can see all of the pieces as a whole. So I didn’t want to miss that experience, but I really didn’t trust myself to both sing and worship without falling apart. In the end, I think I mostly sang and enjoyed the beauty of the music without letting myself think too much about its meaning. I’m not sure that was the right thing to do since I wasn’t really thinking about honoring God through the music, but it was all I could manage.
I have a feeling that will be how I get through the rest of the holiday season with any shred of sanity. The mysterious “they” say that the time six to eight weeks after a miscarriage can be the hardest to cope with, and in my experience, they are right. So, I am groping my way through the grief of losing two pregnancies in two months that somehow managed to whack me on the back of the head in last few weeks, and I’m trying to sort out how I feel about Christmas in general. I still have no idea if what I feel about my niece is jealousy or just sadness at not having my own bundle of joy to share Christmas with. I have no idea how to process a holiday that is entirely a celebration of a baby’s birth. And I hate the frustration and powerless feeling that leaves me with. All my life, I’ve been taught that you have to do something – act in some way – to effect change. But what do you do when there is nothing actionable to do? More dross, and not enough flux to draw it out; definitely not enough flux for the solder to neatly hold a stained glass pattern together.