The Trying Game

I watched my sister (in-law) give birth to a perfect baby girl on Wednesday August 17th 2016. It was a wonderful experience and since I was already hoping to have a baby the following year, I asked my husband if we could start trying a month early. The original plan was to start trying in October because I planned to finish my degree in late June (2017) and could give birth any time after that. I figured a month early wouldn’t hurt, even if we did fall pregnant straight away. I only had 1.3 subjects left to complete (the 0.3 referring to a compulsory subject that extends over the life of the 3 year course). If necessary, I could finish my assignments early or get extensions to finish them a little late. I started taking prenatal vitamins a month or two before my niece was born and stopped drinking alcohol in July (at least temporarily).

So we started trying for a baby in September. All that meant was that we stopped using condoms during sex. I had never taken the pill or other precautions. In fact I monitored my cycle and I knew that there were only two weeks of the month that we needed to use condoms and two weeks that we could have unprotected sex without the likelihood of falling pregnant. That method worked for a year and a half.

I don’t know why I got my hopes up in September. I guess I just never really expected falling pregnant to be difficult. I have a very regular cycle. My mum conceived four children easily and had no known miscarriages. My sister-in-law had just had baby number five and all of her children were conceived within a month or so of trying. But when I took a pregnancy test a week before my next period was due and it was negative, I was disappointed and few days later, I cried.

October came around and I was determined to be positive. I spoke to my body every day. I told my uterus that it was forming a healthy lining for my baby. I told my egg that it was going to meet the sperm and implant in my uterus. I also monitored my basal cell temperature after I ovulated to see if it was high as high temperatures could mean that I was pregnant. I misinterpreted the results and thought that my faith had paid off. But the pregnancy test said negative again. And I cried again.

Some friends told me that it takes about three months to fall pregnant. Others told me that I needed to try for 6-12 months before I started to worry. This goes sorely against my personality. As a child I was a pessimist. Even though I have become less pessimistic as an adult, I still have bouts of anxiety and telling me not to worry is not really helpful.

I had another period at the end of October which began our third cycle of trying. All three months we had sex regularly during the ovulation window. In fact we have always had pretty regular sex. But this third month was when I started to feel concerned that one of the main reasons I hadn’t conceived was because I don’t orgasm every time we have sex. I made sure that I masturbated-to-orgasm a few times after sex when JD had orgasmed and I hadn’t. We even used a pornographic video once or twice to help me orgasm during sex. I also went to see an acupuncturist that month, hoping that acupuncture would stimulate the area.

My Pastor prayed for us to conceive a baby while in America, but I decided to play it cool and not really get my hopes up. My period came a day after Thanksgiving (the week we arrived in America) signalling the end of the 3rd cycle and beginning of the 4th. Sex in America was interrupted a few times by family and I orgasmed very little. I ate crappy food and consumed alcohol a few times (for the first time since July) on occasions that I was certain I was not pregnant. I counted the days of my cycle and I could tell that I had PMS the week leading up to Christmas. I was fairly confident that I was not pregnant. Confident enough not to bother taking a pregnancy test. I got a little excited on Christmas Eve when my period was 3 days late, but then that haughty gift, all wrapped in red, arrived on my vaginal doorstep and announced: “You’re not pregnant: merry Christmas to you!”

Despite not getting my hopes up I still cried to my husband. “I had plans! I wanted to be able to tell my students that I would only be teaching for the next 6 months. Everybody is looking at me, waiting for me to announce that I’m going to have a baby because I’ve told people my plans. This is so embarrassing!”

We flew out of America a week later. My period had recently ended and I was about to ovulate again. The idea occurred to me that if I conceived a baby in January it could be born on my husband’s birthday in early October, or even 55 years to the day after my mother’s birthday in late September. That got me excited. I wondered if God and my deceased Mum had concocted a plan that this would be the month I would conceive.

A friend had advised me to keep my legs elevated for 10 minutes after sex. And we had great sex after arriving home from America. We were still on holidays from work (summer holidays in Australia). So we had sex 8 times in 6 days and I orgasmed 7 of those times—a first for me! I elevated my legs for 10 minutes after sex all 8 times and it was very clearly my ovulation window. I felt a sense of peaceful, spiritual hope.

Nonetheless, my hopes were dashed the other day when a doctor revealed the results of my blood test. NEGATIVE. Five months trying and still not pregnant. Mum isn’t sending me a baby to be born on her birthday and I am angry at God because I feel like this is a repeat of what happened with my desire to get married. I dreamed of getting married and having kids since I was nine years old, yet it took until the age of 30 to find the right man for me. I resented the wait. I cried to God so many times, complaining that I wanted and needed a husband, month after month, year after year. No amount of hysterics on my part brought my husband to me any sooner.

Now I am 34. I am pushing the boundaries of a healthy age to have children. I would have liked to have had them in my twenties. My body feels a lot older and tireder now and I don’t think I could handle as many children at this age as I could have handled if I were younger. Plus, if I’d known it would take so long to fall pregnant I would have started at least six months earlier! To be honest, I am feeling very resentful.

Why am I experiencing essentially the same emotions I felt when I was single? Fear that it will never happen. Impatience in the waiting. Feeling robbed of my plans, hopes and dreams. I’m getting exactly the same advice from people: “If you just stop caring it will happen.” “The more you think about it, the less likely it will happen.” “Surrender / relax and if it is meant to be, it will be.” I must not have learned my spiritual lesson the first time because I feel only anger and bitterness when I hear remarks like this.

I am a passionate person! Passionate people don’t give up. Passionate people don’t say “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.” Passionate people don’t just lie back and let life take its course. Passionate people take the bull by the horns and try to make something of their lives. We work hard. We pursue our dreams. Even though I complained about being single, I achieved a heck of a lot in my single years. I wrote and published 3 novels. I took 8th grade and certificate of performance piano examinations which required hours and hours of practise. I recorded songs. I built my own business as a piano teacher. I cared for my sick mother. I did volunteer work and church ministry. I studied. I read. I wrote controversial blogs…

My life is still not where I wanted it to be in terms of a writing career. Nor in terms of becoming a mother. So, do I just throw my hands up in the air and “let it go?” When Elsa let it go, it meant surrendering to who she actually was, not giving up on what she wanted and who she was.

And yet I feel this spiritual pull to relax more. To open my hand and let things come and go with a bit less control and planning on my part. Life is so complicated. I am walking a fine line between holding on to my passion—who I am and what I want out of life—and embracing a more “que sera, sera” attitude.

I feel that this is a battle I must fight on my own. I may be liable to choke the next person who tells me to “just relax” and “let it go,”—even if it’s my husband! If that is what I am meant to do, then it is going to take a concerted effort on God’s part and mine to renew my mind, changing the way that I think and approach life.

So that is where I am at. Frustrated and resentful. Disappointed and sad. Balancing passion and relaxation. Taking my vitamins. Visiting the naturopath. Back to a low sugar diet. Exercising regularly. I’ve already lost 1 kilo / 2 pounds since coming back from America. No alcohol. No coffee. I have a gynaecology appointment at the end of the month: the beginning of cycle 6. Debating whether to have acupuncture or do yoga or something.

Trying to have a baby.

Follow Your Heart

This year I have been thinking a lot about the concept of following my heart.

When I was younger I thought that the advice, “follow your heart,” was ridiculous! As far as I was concerned my head and my heart were equally dominant and although they fought, they generally worked together and I essentially followed whatever conclusion they came to.

I was using the word “head” to refer to my thoughts or rationale; and the word “heart” to refer to my feelings or emotions. I basically thought we should try to balance our “heads” and “hearts,” not follow one or the other.

Now, I have come to realise that following our hearts has nothing to do with the war between our thoughts and our feelings, or choosing to follow our emotions over our rationale. Our true hearts are much deeper than our most conscious thoughts, feelings and perceptions.

Our true hearts are peaceful. They are not persuaded by thoughts of how to behave in socially acceptable ways so as to gain others’ love and support. Nor are they motivated by our feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, guilt or even self-righteousness. They follow the path of love and peace.

While the heart acknowledges our thoughts, feelings and perceptions and allows them space to exist, they are quieted by this very acknowledgement. The heart fully accepts that I might feel afraid, and says, “It’s okay to be afraid.” The heart hears the question, “What if I’m doing the wrong thing?” and responds, “You are, always have been and always will be loved.”

That love–the love coming from your true heart or inner self–is actually the love of God for you. In fact I believe that the voice of the heart is the spirit of God within you.

Another thing I have been discovering is that following your heart means being/becoming yourself. It means doing the things that feel healthiest for you. It means being much more honest and therefore breaking down our own facades.

I had a revelation recently that when God revealed himself to Moses from the burning bush and Moses asked him who he was, God said “I AM who I AM.” He didn’t give Moses a name, because if he had, Moses’ perception of God would be limited by whatever name he gave. God essentially said to Moses:


God is not limited to Moses’ perception of him. And no matter how much BS we project onto God, God will always be HIMSELF. God is the truest being. He is always true to himself. He always follows his heart.

He is the heart.

Permission to be Happy

I’m taking a subject at Bible College called “Theological Reflection,” which involves pondering where I am at in my life theologically, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.

Partly because of this subject, I’ve actually had to think a lot about how happy I am in my life right now … and how scary that is.

I was a pessimist growing up, with a deeply serious, melancholy personality. I often felt that my friendships were shallow and that most people didn’t know the real me. In fact, I didn’t know the real me. I was constantly trying to run away from the guilt and shame of my past imperfections. I even picked up and moved interstate as a young adult, in an attempt to make myself feel better, only to learn that all my problems came with me.

I suffered from depression for the first 4 years of adulthood. I didn’t think that my dreams would ever come true, that I would ever get married, that I would have the deep relationships I craved, or that I could actually be my true self. I was torn between wearing a façade of being a near-perfect, Christian woman, trapped in guilt and legalism; and the inherent belief that God’s love and grace has to be bigger than my failure, and for that matter, everyone else’s failures.

Then my mum got sick when I was 24, and I was still trying to find my feet as an adult in this world. No longer depressed per se, but still struggling with my dreams and my identity, with being single, and with trying to be a good Christian. Mum was sick for 4 years before she passed away and I spent those years caring for her, meanwhile working as hard as I could toward my dreams, writing books, trying to find the perfect guy to marry, building a piano teaching business, leading worship at church and pulling up the ranks of the worship team. Mum and I rubbed up against each other (as iron sharpens iron), and both started to deal with unresolved childhood issues. This in turn challenged what we believed about God and we both started to accept deep down that God is all-loving and all-forgiving.

Mum passed away when I was 28 and things in my life changed monumentally again. I not only lost my mum, but my entire theological foundation shifted as I became a Universalist-Christian. I changed churches and lost too many friends to count, including some that I never thought I would ever lose and still grieve over today. I failed a piano exam, and decided to prioritise my writing dreams over my musical aspirations. And I challenged myself to start writing publically about what I believe. Needless to say, my twenties were filled with struggle, grief, singleness and loneliness.

But then I hit thirty and I started to feel very secure in myself. I was no longer fighting who I really was, I was breaking down the facades. I met a man and started building a healthy relationship with him. I got married. My friends expanded to include my family-in-law and so many new relationships.

So here I am: content. And it scares me. I know what it’s like to be depressed and anxious. I know what it’s like to feel lonely and endlessly single. I know what it is like to grieve death. I know that things can change very suddenly for better or worse. Being happy, healthy, hopeful and content are fairly new to me and I’m somewhat afraid of losing these feelings. But I don’t want to live in fear, because it taints the blessings I have right now.

I also struggle with guilt. I feel guilty that not everyone is going through a season of happiness and contentment right now. I feel guilty for flaunting it, but I also feel as though I might burst if I don’t share it. Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn’t make my mum’s life happier. As her oldest child I felt responsible for her happiness and often blamed myself if she was unhappy. So it is difficult to feel happy in light of the suffering that I saw in my Mum’s life at different stages – this I struggle with the most.

That’s why I need to give myself permission to be happy. Permission to bask in this season of contentment. Permission to pause and say thank you. Thank you to God for bringing me here. Thank you to my husband for loving me. Thank you to my family for accepting me. Thank you to the friends who have been around through so much of this, and to the newer ones who enrich my life.

And thank you to myself. For not dying. For not giving up. For pushing against the chains that bound me so that I could break free and become more truly myself. But even as I thank myself, I know I am really thanking God–the universal love–who lives in me.

Grateful For My Marriage

I just came home from the cinema where I saw, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” There was a scene in the movie where three generations of couples were kissing: the grandparents, the parents, and the daughter with her prom date.

I found myself crying because I felt so grateful to be married to a man that I love, who loves me. 5-10 years ago, the exact same scene would have had me in tears for the completely opposite reason. I would have felt a lonely longing for a spouse.

I was single for 30 years before I met JD. I went on my fair share of dates, but no one stuck. I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I was warned about my desire for marriage being the sin of idolatry, told that I wanted it too much and should be content in my singleness. I was also told, “If you can’t be happy without it, you’ll never be happy with it,” and that marriage wouldn’t make me happier.

Well, the (mostly married) people who told me these things were, in my opinion, wrong. I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been in 33 years of life. Marriage has greatly added to my sense of contentment, and admittedly, to my sanity. I’m not obsessed with figuring out what is wrong with me. I’m not constantly looking around at all the single males and wondering, “Could this be the one?” I no longer feel the same level of loneliness and as though I am missing out. And I finally have a sex life!

I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude walking to my car tonight, that I thought to myself:
“If I cried a river of tears
My heart would still hurt
With the immense gratitude I feel
Being married to you, Joseph Daniel.”

To all my single friends out there, I know what it is like to feel lonely. I know what it’s like to want and wait for a spouse. There is nothing wrong with your desire or your emotions. They are totally valid. Be honest about where you are at and I pray that God will give you the desires of your hearts.