Have you ever heard anyone say, in explanation for some plight that had befallen them, "Everything happens for a reason"? I have. They are always right, because everything does happen for a reason . . . sometimes the reason is that you're stupid. And sometimes the reason is beyond control and comprehension and, well, reason.
I once knew someone who slept through class and flunked out of school. He shook his head, dumbfounded at his terrible "luck", and said, "Everything happens for a reason." The implication was clear: he was not responsible for the failure and he expected God to show him the right path to success since studying and paying attention in very expensive graduate school were obviously not part of the plan.
It goes both ways. It took us seven years to have children, and even then, at the very moment of conception, there were six other people in the room. In vitro fertilization is like that. I remember well-meaning individuals who, learning of our "plight", would pat me on the arm and spout the same empty platitude: Everything happens for a reason. The implication here is less clear. Please explain. Does that mean I have brought this on myself, and the reason my body has failed to be fertile is because I haven't been righteous enough? Or does it mean that I am simply not in on the joke, and in time, I will learn what I should have done in the first place to avoid the problem altogether?
The story of our infertility had a happy ending: after three cancelled cycles of IVF and a lovely surgery called ovarian drilling, we (in a true group effort) conceived the twins. They were born healthy, strong and huge at 37 weeks -- 6lb 7oz and 7lb 1oz. (Yes, I was huge -- although not as big as someone I know and love who also had twins but shall remain nameless.)
I was warned about the possibility of heightened fertility after the twins were born, but I felt wrong about preventing something that we had wanted for so long -- especially if there was any possibility that it might happen the old-fashioned way, and thus, cost a whole lot less than the expensive procedures we endured the first time around.
Imagine my shock/surprise/outright horror (let's be honest) when shortly after the twins' first birthday, I found out I was pregnant. I was in such denial at the possibility that I was nearly 10 weeks along before I finally took a test (at MommyJ's urging) that would have come up positive even if all I did was breathe on it.
I know I'm long-winded here, so I'll get to the point.
Everything does happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason already happened: illness, genetic disorders with no remedy, bad choices. Sometimes the reason is beyond our understanding and only becomes clear in retrospect: had things happened when we wanted them to in the first place, we would be in a very different place right now. And sometimes it's a combination of both: biology and destiny team up to create a sense of timing that seems like a bad joke.
Now, when I look back on the course of our lives, I wouldn't change the timing of our family by even a day. In the midst of it, I wouldn't have wished it on my worst enemy. I still wouldn't. It is a particular and exquisitely unique pain to want something with every fiber of your being, to yearn for something on every level: spiritual, physical, biological, emotional, social. And to feel betrayed by yourself, the very essence and expression of you in the physical world: your body.
Long before we had children, I came to terms with the likelihood that we would never have any. I didn't like it, but it was reality, just as it's reality that we probably won't have any more kids. I stopped being angry at God, and hating my body for failing to function as it was intended. I decided that what's most important is that no matter what, I maintain my relationship with my Savior and continue in the things that bring me closer to God. I learned that the baby game is not based on merit. I developed a relationship with my Heavenly Father that is not based on the barometer of happy events in my life. And I learned applications of Gospel principles that I have since found essential in coping with other trials. I would not trade these lessons for all the money in the world.
There are many whose stories have not resolved as mine did. They are still experiencing the disappointment and desertion that are such a difficult part of dealing with infertility, or miscarriage, or loss or whatever they are going through that feels bigger than they can handle. I pray that their hurt may be healed through the Savior as mine was, regardless of the outcome, and that they may find hope in the possibilities of what may come.
P.S. Talk about stream of consciousness. I started this post writing about my happy discovery in the shower this morning: should I ever lose the use of my left hand, I will still be able to shave under my right arm. Yes, I am that flexible.