Red

I remember very clearly how I felt, walking along a sunny side-street in Ravenna, Italy, when I felt the first mild cramping that signaled the beginning of my period.

I told Taylor we needed to head back to our hotel so I could lay down and take some pain meds, and he held my hand the whole way there. When we got to the room I took my medicine and then we sat down on the couch together. I sat close to Taylor and he put his arms around me while I wept softly into his shoulder.

No honeymoon baby.

Perhaps I can’t describe it for women who don’t know the feeling, but menstruation each month is particularly sorrowful for those struggling to conceive. Each month is a little death. Not the woman’s death, and not the death of a conceived child, clearly. It is the death of a could-have-been, a longing. Vital life support for a child-who-wasn’t-conceived, leaving my body alone again. That takes a toll on Hope.

Taylor and I so very much wanted children, I thought for sure God would readily accept our willingness and bless us with an abundance of family, and soon. Even though we had only been married five weeks that day in Ravenna, that’s plenty of time for conception, I thought, just by the numbers.

But five years later, we still wait.

So, I have had much time to think about what it means to be happily and wonderfully married, to want children, and to be childless.

Lately, I remember Hannah and her husband, Elkanah. [1 Sam 1]

Elkanah loved his wife, but they had no children, despite their intense longing for a family. Hannah would weep openly at her misfortune, “Because the Lord had closed her womb.”

Elkanah, who loved her dearly, asked her, “Hannah, why do you weep? …Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

How often I have wept, as the tangible evidence of my non-motherhood makes its appearance right on schedule each month. I know those tears that Hannah shed. I know her longing, her solitude.

But Elkanah–I too often forget him in the story. His part takes me very much out of myself, out of my own struggle and longing and loss.

As the priest told me during the vows at my wedding: “Look at him.” Look at your husband, I hear him tell me. See the goodness and the Love God has given you in him. Is he not worth more than your vision, than your plans?

You see, it’s not that a husband or wife is more important than a child–there is no hierarchy. But the spousal relationship is primary. It came first. Taylor loved me before any of my sons and daughters will. In many ways, he loves me more than our children will.

And as fiercely as I do desire them, I do not want children except to have them with Taylor. I do not want motherhood without Taylor’s fatherhood. It would not be full for me without him. And in that way, he truly is worth more to me than ten sons. I never cried when I started my period before I was married to Taylor. That time of the month meant nothing to me before he loved me as his wife.

And so I am learning, that even the suffering that comes with marriage–indeed, with any relationship–is still the more enriched and strengthened by Love.

I have come to understand that I wouldn’t even want to cry in any one else’s arms.

๏ปฟ

15 comments

  1. Caitlin E. wrote:

    Beautiful and so very true. Blessings on both of you

  2. Jen wrote:

    So beautiful, Anne. The beautiful thing is that Taylor CHOSE you, and you him, and no matter what else happens, you both have that forever. You are lucky and blessed to have such a good and godly man by your side to hold you in his arms and share in your triumphs AND your tears.

  3. Shelley wrote:

    Anne,
    I find myself ever more in love with the fantastic woman that you are. Your writing, your thoughts, your photography, your witness…. I admire you so very much. In the quiet of this night, as I read your intense and brilliant (in all senses of the word) words, I find myself comforted in the way that only a cozy cuddle under a warm blanket on a cold night can give. All these miles, all this time, you’re still astoundingly you.

    I pray for you and Taylor throughout my day, begging for you both to become parents. But beyond that, I pray that you realize how much you already are. Your wisdom, your grace, your example. When you hold your future child in your arms, I hope that you will have a tangible experience of what you already are: an ideal. Mother. Woman. Anne.

    • kelley wrote:

      hi anne, i just read your post. what a writer you are! anyway, your post gave me so much hope and peace about marriage. even though i know you and taylor are facing this difficult situation, your strength as a couple is truly something else. thanks for sharing and for setting such an incredible example of a holy, generous, and wonderful marriage.

    • renidemus wrote:

      Shelley, you are such a blessing in my life ๐Ÿ™‚ all these miles, you can hug me still!

    • renidemus wrote:

      And Kelly–marriage only gets better with age! So excited for you two ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Viv wrote:

    wonderfully put seester. i always love reading your blogs because you not only write from the heart, but with your soul. your immortal, god-given soul. you and taylor are such an amazing example to me on how a married couple should be. i love you both. keep faith seester, god has a plan. lagbv.

  5. Caitlin C wrote:

    Though I only really knew you by face at Gonzaga, I find myself reading your blog because of your honesty. You write beautifully and share openly, and faithfully. The way your faith empowers your life through joy and sorrows is inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing.

    • renidemus wrote:

      Thank you for visiting, Caitlin! I am encouraged by your words–as I always am by the love of our friends ๐Ÿ™‚ come back soon!

  6. Summer wrote:

    you are named aptly my dear seester. Anne = grace, Michelle = who resembles God. His grace, beauty and indeed his son’s suffering shine through you seester. God bless!
    Summer

  7. Theresa wrote:

    I agree strongly with all the above comments, and wish I had more to add. Sending prayers and a big hug!