In High School, I had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of my English class. I knew nothing of Jesus at the time, but I was drawn to Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken.” In case you are not familiar with it, here it is:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
I have always had two warring desires within me: the desire to fit in, and the rebellious desire to not conform. As I have gotten older, I am realizing that the rebellious non-conformist is the one I get most excited about. It is the side that stirs my heart most, yet it is difficult, and often lonely to be different.
As Todd and I have been on this journey involving infertility, we have been the only ones of our friends who have not gotten pregnant from merely looking at each other. Although our oldest is the same age or older than the eldest child of our friends, we only have two children, whereas the majority of our friends have 3 or more. We are running a 2:1 ratio. We have had one child for every 2 that our friends have had. That has been tough for a lot of reasons. It has been tough, at times, to celebrate when the celebration involves a constant reminder that they have what you do not. It has also been tough because our friends have had a lot more to contend with in the same short amount of time. They have been naturally more busy and have had a little more chaos in their lives than we have. With kids that are 4 years apart, it is a lot more peaceful than when they are only 2 years apart. It is not better or worse, it is just different. And different can be tough.
Yet, I am drawn to the last line of Robert Frost’s poem, “I took the road less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Long before I would choose the “narrow” path that Jesus speaks of, I was drawn to the road less travelled. I am drawn to adventure. There is something extremely alluring about a road that not many have travelled, that is, if I get to choose that path.
The thing about infertility is that it is not a path anyone would choose. Some choose not to have children, but no one willingly chooses to really want something and then walk a path that makes it really hard for them to have that thing. Most of the time, I have felt like I have been pushed down the path less travelled, and long to be on the other path with everyone else.
Usually, once I start to long for the path that looks easier, I realize that each of us is forced to walk roads that we do not ask to walk. For me, it is infertility, for another it might be the death of a loved one or the path marked addiction. They are different paths with different pain, but pain nonetheless. Some of us walk similar paths or even the same ones for a while, but each of us has a unique journey. No two life maps looks identical, and no life map is without struggle.
We are currently on month two of taking a break from medicine due to having too many cysts on my ovaries. It has been nice to not have so many reminders of our deep desire. We have been able to just BE. I have not had several doctor appointments nor had to give myself shots for 8 consecutive days. It has been nice to not be distracted by and constantly reminded of the hope for a child.
At the same time, I do not know what our next step will be if we are forced to choose. We have been told that the best option for us would be to save up for IVF and not put any more money toward the other treatments. The problem is, we have no way of saving any money on our limited income. So while that is advice we would love to have as an option, the reality is that it would take us well into menopause to be able to save for IVF at this rate. The second option is to keep putting money into treatments that have no guarantee of working (there is no guarantee with any treatment). The third option is to stop treatment. Those are the roads marked out for us. If I stand and gaze down any of them, the first path seems blocked off. The second path seems somewhat hopeless (or boring) because we have been on that path for almost a year now. If I were to choose the third path, I have a harder time moving forward unless I know where the path is leading. All three paths could lead to the same place in the end, but there is something more difficult about walking the third path without purpose.
What is the purpose of the third path? God, what is your purpose for us? Do you want us to have another child or do you want us to embrace a different season of life? If I could know the answer to that question, then I feel like I could walk that path with purpose.
The purposes of the first two paths are clear: pursue pregnancy (which I believe is in alignment with the heart of God). In choosing those paths, there still needs to be an unwavering hope and trust in the Maker of all things (in the event that the outcome is not the initially desired outcome). But this third path, that one is tougher for me.
I typically do not have a difficult time making decisions. I can usually discern the best choice, and I go with it and do not worry about making the wrong choice. In this case, I do not understand much. I know that God is pro-children, and I know that the desire to have more children is a godly desire. I know that God has a plan for how many children He wants us to have. Beyond that, I just do not know.
And that is where I am at. I have no neat package to tie everything together. I stand at the crossroads and wait for direction…
God’s promise remains…“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Trust the Guide.