Chapter Two: This I Know
Did you know that when a female is conceived, she is granted all the eggs she will ever need for her entire lifetime? I’m serious—I read it online, and the Internet never lies. They number around seven million, and immediately start to die. By the time she is born, they number around one million. When she hits puberty, around age thirteen, she possesses right around 300,000 eggs. That’s an incredible downward spike from seven million to 300,000. If you do a little non-exponential math, and figure twelve fertile months from age thirteen to age forty, that leaves a girl roughly 925.925 eggs per month to work with until she’s all dried up. Of course, you have to take into consideration that she’s probably going to be dropping more eggs around age thirteen than at age forty…really, by age forty, she’s probably only going to be dropping maybe three or four eggs at a time, whereas at age thirteen she’s no doubt dropping three or four thousand eggs at a time.
I think about my eggs all the time. I wonder how many I have left. I wonder how many are still healthy and viable. I google ways to make them more healthy and viable. (Green tea, people. And acai berry, I’m sure—I’m pretty certain these are the miracle foods of the millennium.) I stopped taking my ADD medication and my migraine medication, just in case they were doing something ugly to my eggs. I started taking massive doses of folic acid to make them as beautiful as possible.
I discourse with myself in the mirror concerning these eggs, and tell myself to just shut up and stop stressing, that I’m making me crazy. And probably my eggs as well. If I ever do get pregnant, I’ll have a crazy child.
I’m exhausted. And hungry. And I have a perpetual zit on my chin. His name is Fred.
I want a baby—I think I established that. I’m over thirty-five, I already have two children, and my husband thinks that should be plenty. And yet it’s not. And so I’m teetering a little on the edge—the edge of what, I’m not sure. Maybe the edge of yes and no and a ticking screaming biological clock.
But that’s not fair to me, and if nothing else, I am going to be fair. This is not all about biology.
This is about so many things. It’s about feelings that started five years ago, when I was thirty and my youngest was still a baby himself, two at the time and full of dimples and chubby legs and graceless sticky hugs. It’s about a longing to do what I never could do with my first two children: stay home and mother, and not be torn apart by the demands and pressures of work.
It’s about the knowledge that despite my longings, I have tried and tried over the last five years to make my spirit line up with that of my husband. I believe that if God intended for me to be successful, I would have been successful. I have prayed diligently, with tears tracking my cheeks, for God to change my heart, since my husband’s didn’t seem so open to change. I have tried to give it up, going so far as to tell Duane that it was gone, that he could get himself clipped with my blessing.
It was hard to do that. I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t resentful even as I murmured the words, “you win. I’m done.” I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t dissolve into a snotty puddle at random times over the next several days. I didn’t want to talk to him, hardly wanted to share the same space.
It was my choice, but it was one that tasted sourly of bitterness and regret. Each night I prayed for it to taste sweetly of peace instead.
Three days later we sat side by side in our sunny Sunday School classroom, flipping pages as our teacher led us from passage to passage. And then, there it was. I don’t even recall what the verse was that we were supposed to be looking at—it was the inset in my Women’s Study Bible that held my suddenly riveted gaze. “Susannah: A Faithful Servant.”
I elbowed Duane and drew his attention to the inset. “You see that?” I whispered.
He shrugged, eyebrow quirked impatiently, questioningly. I was distracting him from the lesson. He didn’t get it, didn’t see what to me was a message from God. It may as well have been spotlighted with a beam of sunshine from the heavens outside the window, dancing motes of dust screaming “look this way! Look at me! Don’t give up on me yet!”
“Susannah” was the name I had chosen and spoken of often in the past five years as the name I wanted if we were to ever be blessed with another little girl. It had started with my friend Kim. She had dibs on Savannah, which I had always kind of liked. Since she’d picked it first though, I had to come up with something else. Susannah, seen one day in a movie, struck a chord with me.
And so there it was staring up at me from the pages of Luke: the name of the child I had just renounced. I bent my head and used my hair to shield my face, because tears were suddenly threatening.
Crazy coincidence? Perhaps. I do know that God speaks to us in many ways, though, especially when we ask for his wisdom and his peace. His response to me seemed pretty clear as I sat in that Sunday School classroom, humbled by own miserable attempt to steer my own path.
Perhaps I’m wasn’t done just yet.