I have a love-hate relationship with country music. I go through phases when I love it (I took my best friends to a country concert for my 14th birthday party), and I have phases when I think it is the corniest thing in the world.
In my opinion, the key characteristic of country music that makes it both awesome and ridiculous is that most songs tell a story. Each verse builds and adds another layer to the singer's story. Some of those stories are over-the-top, while some of those stories are truly touching (at least when you're in a certain mood).
Sometimes I feel like my life is a country song, with different yet related moments, some of them decades apart, stacking on top of each other to tell my story.
I remember the first time I found out that it would be difficult for me to get pregnant. I was about 17. My OBGYN had run all sorts of tests and scans, and he sat down with me and my mom to tell us the results. He was a kind, elderly gentleman, and he looked me in the eyes when he told me the name of my condition. Then he continued: "This doesn't necessarily mean that you will never be able to get pregnant; it just means that it will take some work and some time."
Even at 17, I knew that would be hard.
And so, as a teenager, I started thinking about adoption. I decided that I never wanted to sit around feeling sad and sorry if I couldn't have a baby--because lots of kids in the world need parents. I also decided that adoption would never be my last resort because I didn't want my adopted child to think, "Mom and Dad tried everything to get their own child, and after years and years of heartache and desperation, they gave up and decided to settle on me." (Now, of course that's not how adoptive parents actually feel about their babies, but it's something I thought about as a teen.)
Fast forward ten years, and, as my OBGYN once predicted, it is indeed taking time and work for me to get pregnant. And as I myself predicted, it is sometimes very hard. Will I one day get pregnant and have a baby? I certainly hope so. But I have no guarantees (I guess no one does) and after a year of seeing a fertility specialist, I am trying not to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I am doing what I can to open every door for God to bless us with a baby--including applying for adoption. I feel totally excited about adopting, as does Ryan. It just feels right.
And yet, there are still emotionally difficult moments. I will admit that I feel a twinge inside (of what, I'm not sure) when my friends tell me that they are pregnant. I am so happy for them--but still a little sad for me. And when I see girls whose babies are due in October, I can't help but wonder what I would be feeling if my pregnancy in January had not been ectopic. I would have a cute "baby bump" too--or maybe a not-so-cute "baby bump," knowing my luck, but a "baby bump" just the same.
So now, we get back to country music.
Ten years ago, shortly after the doctor told me that it was going to be difficult for me to get pregnant someday, I was driving down the street and a country song by Jeff Carson came onto the radio.
It was one of those "story songs." As I listened to the first verse, I chuckled a little because it was about a dog. The narrator described how difficult it was when his first dog died, and the chorus said:
"I never was the same again,
from that moment on, real life began."
Oh brother, I thought. Real life began after his dog died? (I will admit that I must be getting soft in my old age because that verse brings a tear to my eye now, but back then it just made me roll my eyes a bit...I never had a dog growing up, so I really didn't get it.)
The next verse, though, caught my attention. He talked about how much his life changed after he met his wife. Now that is cute, especially to a teenage girl. He "never was the same again" after meeting her and his "real life began"...yeah, I can support that.
I didn't expect what was coming next (though I probably should have), so I wasn't emotionally prepared to hear the third verse:
"By your side, scared to death, felt the pain you were fighting--
Placed my palm on your head, spoke your name, 'Just keep trying.'
And then you closed your eyes and took one last breath,
and when it was over, you looked up,
and I laid our baby across your chest.
And I never was the same again,
from that moment on real life began."
As I listened to the words of the song, my lungs felt like they were closing up--I couldn't breathe. I pulled over to the side of the road, put my head in my hands, and cried. I was only 17; I had no idea what marriage was like or what it felt like to ache for a child. Yet, even then, I knew that I wanted to have that moment with my husband. More than anything, I wanted my husband to say that he "never was the same again" after he and I experienced the birth of our child together. I wanted to give my husband that gift, and I was afraid that I would never be able to.
How do memories like that stay with us forever? A moment driving when I was 17 years old--I've never forgotten it.
But life changes us. And it doesn't turn out the way that we plan. I do think that I will someday experience that moment with Ryan--but if I don't, and in the mean time, I know that other moments can and will be just as beautiful.
A friend recently emailed me to tell me that she had a biological daughter and then adopted two boys. She said that when she held her sons for the first time, she felt the same sense of total love and awe that she did when she held her daughter for the first time. With her daughter, it was a sense of "This beautiful child grew inside of me, and now she is mine to cherish forever," while with her sons, it was a sense of "God brought this beautiful child into my life, and now he is mine to cherish forever." Different situations--similar inexplicable emotions.
Our life is kind of an adventure right now: We don't know if Ryan will be accepted to a pediatric speciality program; we don't know in which state or even region of the USA we will be living next year; and we don't know when we will get a baby--or if it will be biological or adopted.
It's all part of my story, and a lot of the verses are still being written.