They adore John and Ainsley. Well, to be strictly accurate, Tim adores John and Ainsley. Kolbe adores Ainsley and (mostly) tolerates John. Except when he doesn't. Anyway. They are anxious for another. As we were loading up the van the other morning, Kolbe raised the issue.
"We have to keep up with the Balduccis," he said. "Aunt Rachel has six kids, and she's younger than you!"
I thanked Kolbe for pointing out my advanced maternal age, but mentioned two facts:
1. This is not a competition.
2. Aunt Rachel is younger than I am.
Naturally with kids, older is better; older means more capable. They don't quite grasp that the rules are a little different when it comes to fertility, i.e. older means less capable. I pointed out this article to them. Ainsley really is a rarity. Women don't readily conceive at 44 and 46 and 48.
"Seven in ten thousand women have a baby at 45," I told them. "We just happen to know all seven."
It's true - we do know about seven women who have had babies past 45. Our friend and neighbor had her tenth at 49.
They are sure that I am covetous of Aunt Rachel and her proven ability to be fruitful and multiply. I need to explain to them that yes, indeed, I am covetous of Aunt Rachel, but my jealousy has nothing to do with such weighty matters as bringing forth eternal souls. No, no, my envy stems from two unrelated but well established facts:
1. Her house is less cluttered than mine.
2. Her daughter tolerates hair accessories.
Shallow, I know, very shallow. I avoid covetousness when more ponderous issues are involved.
As I have shared before, we grappled with secondary infertility followed by a long season of sub-fertility and repeat miscarriage. These experiences helped me come to grips with the fact that this is not a competition. Children are eternal souls not trophies or merit badges. They are not given to the deserving. We need only glance at the newspapers to realize that many, many wretched human beings conceive and bear and mistreat children. Conversely, I need only look through our backyard to see the home of a woman who would make a better mother than I, but instead bears the lonely cross of infertility.
Children are a gift. Fertility is a gift.
As we exchanged vows fourteen years ago, Dave and I promised to accept children lovingly from God. We could not have imagined the joys or the trials that we would encounter on what turned out to be a rather strange and winding road. Through it all, we have attempted to leave the door open for God to move as He wills. We haven't slammed and bolted the door. When it appeared to be closed, we didn't grab a crow bar and start prying.
Someday I might write about the anguish I experienced when my infertility specialists would pelt me with technique after procedure they well knew I would not pursue. We're going to make you a baby, darn it! I miscarried and miscarried and miscarried and in the midst of it all felt I had to justify why I wouldn't use condoms while hormones built up in my system or choose selective termination should fertility drugs work a little too well. When I found myself cramping, anemic, and overwrought in every sense - physically, emotionally, spiritually - I needed comfort, not controversy. Truly it was a walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I can vividly recall two times when the thought of being pregnant unnerved me to the core. During the agonizing three hours I spent pushing one Timothy Lyle into the world, I distinctly remember thinking that I could not possibly, ever, ever, ever put myself in the same predicament again. Never. It was as lucid and absolute a thought as I have ever had. It was also one I reversed about two minutes after delivery.
I had a similar though not as vehement thought when Ainsley was about six weeks old, and I felt that I had one nostril barely above water. My thinking was something along the lines of: Bahhhhhhhh! I could get pregnant!
By any measure we are nearing the end of my child-bearing years. I can truly say I am content (except for the fact that my house is cluttered and Ainsley won't wear hair bows). The door is open. May God move as He wills.