MY PLANS, that is not my life anymore!
NOT MY PLANS, BUT GOD’S PLANS.
After my 30th birthday, I promised myself that I would attempt to become Momma. That birthday came way too fast. So, on my 30th birthday, I partied like it was the last time I would ever party. I invited every single one of my friends out to the Illinois state fair. A Michael Jackson impersonator serenaded us that night and we drank a lot of beer, ate a few corn dogs, and hit up the bars late that night. That birthday was filled with a few of my favorite things: dancing, singing, eating, and laughing. A yellow cab ride home ended that night and I woke up the next day with an inability to remember much.
Although I could not remember much of the night, I did remember the graceful awakening and the timeline I had set to become Momma. A few weeks later, Brian and I went to see a fertility specialist. On appointment day I woke up so excited to see what becoming momma would entail. Thrilled about the future, we told our life group about our appointment with the fertility specialist. Our life group was a group of people we had just met through our church. We had recently joined the group and did not know many of them intimately, but we shared our journey openly. They prayed, encouraged, and loved us through the unknown.
We confided in our life group about what God was doing in our lives. God was calling us to have children. It was not easy to share our story with a group of people we did not know; especially, a group of “church” people, but we shared.
Brian and I had been through some stuff. Our stories were two stories that were long, chaotic, painful, and messy. Our stories were just emerging from their cocoons. It was not easy to explain our life to a general audience; therefore, we gave them enough pieces to hear what we were walking through at that time. Then we relied on God to fill in the gaps.
Brian and I had been married for about two years at this time in our lives. When we first really hanging out in 2006, I was pregnant with twins. I was on bed rest at the hospital where I worked. Brian would come by to check on me with all my other work buddies. I was big and pregnant and for a total of eight weeks I was told by the physicians to stay off my feet. I did as I was told, but in the end my babies died.
My body could not handle the stress of the divorce I was going through, the stress of the financial instability that was in front of me, and the stress of wondering how I would ever parent two babies alone.
I still sometimes wonder if I would have stayed in my first marriage, as unhealthy as it was, if my babies would still be alive. With that being said, God’s provision for our lives is more than we could ever imagine. I know that the things I often wonder about are not meant for me to beat myself up over. But, I am human and I do often wonder.
At the same time, I believe, that God makes good things happen through the hardest seasons we endure. Brian was the first person I called when I found out my daughters were dead in my womb. He was also an answered prayer of a righteous woman, a lady named Marge. Marge never knew me, but prayed for me to not be alone through the grief I would endure through the death of my daughters. Brian stood by me at my babies’ funeral. He loved me faithfully. In the midst of my tragic life, he could have ran, but instead he embraced. He was an answered prayer.
EMBRACING LIFE AFTER TRAGEDY
This is where I spill a bit too much information, but you are now one of my best friends so just listen and enjoy this funny, embarrassing, and awkward story of embracing life.
Brian has a vasectomy. Many years ago, prior to our dating life, Brian had a vasectomy. Consequently we started this Becoming Momma journey at the only place I knew that dealt with vasectomies. I guess I assumed there was no other way to become Momma. I thought the first step to Becoming Momma was at a fertility clinic.
Brian’s vasectomy had to be reversed. This was on my agenda. This was my plan. If God wanted us to have a baby then a reversal was the only way it was going to happen. That is what I thought anyways. I had an unrealistic expectation of what a fertility doctor appointment looked like. In my unrealistic expectation of our first fertility doctor appointment, I was going to walk out of that clinic pregnant. The appointment day was going to be the day of conception. One week after my 30th birthday was the day I was going to become Momma.
Do you ever have unrealistic expectations? Have you ever thought that you would be handed a gift? A gift that you thought would be the joy at the end of a tragic story? I thought that the fertility clinic was the answer. I thought “appointment day” would be a nicely wrapped gift with a big bow on top. I thought the fertility clinic was God’s gift to me. I just knew that the fertility clinic had to be part of God’s plans. Why else would I be there?
In my fantasy land of unrealistic expectations, I would be birthing a baby in just a short nine months after “appointment day.” The fertility specialist, this doctor I was about to go see, was going to put my calling into place. Becoming Momma was fully embraced and there was no turning back. I was ready, God just had to show up
Any appointment makes me anxious, but I was ready for this fertility clinic appointment. I had been waiting to become Momma for far too long since the death of my babies. I did my hair and make-up, picked out my outfit, and took a deep breath. I felt as if I was going to an interview.
As I ironed my favorite pair of beige flowy pants, I smiled because it felt like a joyous occasion. I paired my favorite beige pants with a flowy yellow top. The outfit felt just right. As I did a little side step and a little cupid shuffle to my jewelry box, I was feeling good. I found the perfect piece of jewelry to finish off my polished look for the day I was to become Momma. I was ready. I bent down to pet Dash’s head, I pointed to his cage stating, “go to your cage…” On one command he went to his cage. “I am gonna be a good momma,” I thought. Then I grabbed my purse; and walked out the front door with pure confidence.
Pure confidence is a battle. I walked out the front door and the humidity hit me like a gut punch. Have you ever gotten punched by the humidity? I got punched right in my face by the Illinois humidity as it tried to zap my confidence. The hot August temperatures tried to steal my joy. The humidity took my breath away while melting my make-up off my face. I rolled my eyes and said a few words under my breath.
But, like I always do, I remained faithful in the face of “gut-punching”. I pushed forward through the heat, through the confidence blow, through my make-up running off my face, and through the negative thoughts running through my head. I could not let a little rejection leave me feeling unable to follow God’s will in my life. I put my head down as if I was a bull and pushed forward. The adventure of Becoming Momma was well on its way.
Life likes to punch people in the face. Like a hot August Illinois day, life shows up and tries to zap our confidence and joy in the most unexpected ways. Sometimes the zap of confidence and joy is a sign that we might be on the wrong track. At other times the zap of confidence and joy is a sign that we are on the right track.
On appointment day, I walked out of my home ready to become Momma and my hair flattened, my armpits sweat, and I was no longer ready for my journey. My cute outfit was no longer cute and my make-up was no longer in its right place. The air conditioner in my blue fully loaded Nissan Altima could not keep up as the sun beat down through the sunroof. The leather seats burnt my legs; and I felt pure rejection.
But, I stuck my face close to the air vents and became dog-like as my hair blew backwards while I drove to the fertility clinic. I met Brian in the parking garage which eased my mind and we walked in side by side. There weren’t many words said as we walked in sync. My stomach hurt, but I kept moving forward.
The greeter smiled at us, the receptionist eased my nerves, and we made it to appointment day. Filling out the paperwork, we waited patiently to be called back. Like little school children on the playground waiting to be chosen, we sat. A nurse came through the clinic door. “Brian…” she stated, “you are next.” We got up and followed her back to the examining room. Upon reaching the room she had us sit in two chairs lined against the wall. Again like little school children on the playground waiting to be chosen, we sat. She took Brian’s blood pressure and wrote a few notes. She turned around as she left and said, “the doctor will be in.”
Our future was unknown as we waited once again. Nervous improv was being done between Brian and I. Improv is our favorite thing to do as we pass the time. Then there was a knock, “come in,” we chimed together. Two men walked in. “This is my student. Do you mind if he observes?” the doctor asked. Of course it is, I thought. “That’s not a problem,” Brian responded out loud before I could say um no. Brian and I, still sitting in the two chairs lined against the wall, looked at the two men. It was all awkward. We were there to get my husband’s man parts checked. And the energy in the room was uncomfortable. There were no jokes, there was no eye contact, and there was no small talk.
“Would you like me to sit on the table?” Brian broke the silence. Trying to break the awkwardness, he pointed to the examining table. “No, you are fine where you are,” the doctor mumbled. Both doctors must have known we were there for a reversal consultation because neither of them asked the question as to why we were there. Sitting down in a short rotating stool the supervising doctor wheeled himself over to us quickly like a cat pouncing on a mouse.
With his head down looking over his glasses without hesitation he said to Brian, “Stand up…” Brian stood up. My eyes got really wide. “Pull down your pants…” Brian pulled down his pants. Had I just entered an awkward game of Simon Says, I thought to myself. Placing both of his hands between my husband’s legs, the doctor said, “DAAAANG!”
Just kidding… he did not say DAAAANG! But he did feel around for several minutes while explaining to the student what he was doing. The student looked intently at what the doctor was doing. I could not handle the ball of laughter that was about to explode from my gut. But then he was done; and I managed to keep my laughter to myself.
“Bring me $12,000 dollars and I can get this done for you,” the doctor said. “Ummm what?” I stated out loud as I looked at him intensely. The doctor repeated himself (matter of factly) as if I did not hear him, “$12,000, I can reverse him, and you can have a baby.” He looked at me foolishly. I jumped out of my chair.
Not really but I felt like fighting. Say what? I thought, I ain’t no school-girl. I looked back at him with a non-school girl look as my lovely attitude shined. I spoke firmly as the questions poured out. Looking directly at this physician who pridefully played God when he directed us to bring him $12,000 to make us a baby. I squinted my eyes as I overwhelmed him with question after question.
“Wait a minute…what are the chances of pregnancy with reversal?”
“What if we decided not to reverse? Are there other ways?”
“What does the $12,000 include?”
“Is the surgery the only thing that is included in the $12,000 dollars?”
“What if there is no baby after the reversal?”
“Is there some sort of guarantee with this procedure?”
I felt like I was at a car dealership; and what this physician did not know about me is that my daddy taught me how to deal with car salesmen. This physician acted like he was the giver of life saying, “Bring me $12,000 I will get you a baby…” Well Dr. Baby Maker (and for all Dr. Baby Maker’s out there) YOU ARE NOT GOD and WE ARE NOT INTERESTED. Show me the door.
The truth was with the $12,000 reversal there was a 50% chance of us actually having a baby. $12,000 covered the reversal, nothing else. There was no guarantee for a baby with $12,000; however, there were other options (for more money) if the reversal did not work. Dr Baby Maker DID offer to artificially inseminate me (with my husband’s sperm); however, that would cost more money. Forbes predicts that the fertility industry will double by 2026 becoming a 41.6 billion dollar industry. I could not run out of that clinic fast enough.
Many people build families through fertility clinics. I know many people personally who have built a family with the help of a fertility specialist, but after what I saw for the brief moment I was in a fertility clinic, I pray often for those clinics. I pray that those clinics do not prey on the emotions of women who want to become Momma. Women who feel the desire to become momma and are having trouble doing so are vulnerable. Some women would become broke to fulfill the desires in their hearts to become Momma. And I have seen it happen where a fertility specialist keeps implanting, keeps blood drawing, and keeps attempting with no baby. For me, the fertility route was too much to deal with emotionally. It cost too much money. The doctor was too prideful. And let’s be honest there was way too much groping on my husbands’ man parts for my comfort.
We left and never returned. My heels clicked down the clinic hallway so fast. I was confident that we would not be back to that clinic for any reason. As soon as I turned the corner, I felt safe. But I was sad and I cried. I looked at Brian and said, “I am so sad,” as I kept my head held high. My beige flowy pants and yellow flowy top carried me through the corridors. But once I got to the parking lot I could not keep the tears from flowing. I opened my car door sobbing. Once I sat in my car, the tears gushed uncontrollably. For the entire ten-minute ride home. I blubbered through my prayers. “God please allow me to become Momma without my husband having surgery. God, becoming Momma is somehow part of YOUR plan for my life…so I am going to have to ask you for this to happen without my husband having surgery.”
Blinded by the sun blazing through some trees as I turned into our driveway, I called Brian. Through my tears I talked to my husband who is gentle and kind. He has a way of making me believe everything is going to be okay. He tenderly reminded me that this was just the beginning. As he spoke, I was reminded that graceful awakenings do not just happen. They are hard life lessons. Little by little we learn the lessons we are meant to learn. My dear husband said, “let’s just do the tests the doctors ordered, then we will wait.”
We would wait until another decision was in front of us. We would wait until the test results came back. We would wait until the doctor called and gave us the options. We would wait. This was hard to hear. “Appointment day” was the day I was supposed to become Momma. I heard what my husband said, but I was not happy about waiting (I mean who likes to wait?). I told Brian that I prayed we could have children without him having surgery. And God answered those prayers.
Although the prayer was exactly what God had planned for our lives and in the end we had children without my husband having surgery, I was angry. I found myself angry and annoyed that I was someone that had to even step foot in a fertility clinic. I was angry that I could not have a baby with my husband. I was chagrined because I had unrealistic expectations made up in my head of God’s will for my life. My plan had turned out completely opposite of what I had expected.
Have you ever had a plan that did not turn out the way you expected? Have you ever been angry or annoyed at something that happened in your life that you could not control? Have you ever been chagrined? Chagrined is a form of distress, anger, annoyance, or irritation that comes from an event that one sees as failure or disappointment. I felt like a failure and disappointment. I was embarrassed, disappointed, and angry because I told everyone that I believed God was calling us to have children, so I quit college (again) to follow another idea I had. I followed what I thought God wanted me to do, but that idea was not happening the way I thought it was supposed to happen.
When MY AGENDA, or MY PLAN does not happen in the time frame I think it should, I feel like a failure. When I have so many things on my plate and I forget to do one thing, I feel like a failure. When I am not as good at something that I want to be good at, I feel like a failure. When the Lord gives me a small glimpse into the future and then I exaggerate the rest of the story while daydreaming about what could happen, and then it does not happen, I feel like a failure.
My vision board is huge. I make random future plans and try to piece it all together in a picture that is unrealistic. I attempt to tell the story the way I think it should go. Then when the things that I make up turn out exactly the opposite way I spoke of them, I feel like a failure. When I speak of things out loud and they never happen, I feel like a failure. All this failure, embarrassment, disappointment, and shame is shown on the outside as distress, anger, annoyance, and irritation. This is chagrined.
The Lord gives us bits and pieces of our future at a time and when he laid on my heart that I would become Momma, this graceful awakening irritated me. I had no idea how I would ever become Momma; therefore, I thought it would never happen. I had become this new person (someone who wanted to follow Jesus at all costs) with the same bad habits (as if I never knew Jesus). Fear ruled me. The calling to become Momma was placed and it was not until years later that it came to be.
I had to step out in faith to do what God asked me to do. Although I could not see how Becoming Momma was going to happen, I took each step. Although in my mind the calculations of Becoming Momma were off, I allowed God to work in his timing. When we step out in faith it takes us allowing God to work in His timing. Sometimes it takes several side steps, or dance moves (money moves is what we call them in the Lundberg household) to get us back on the right path.
When we step out in faith it is like being lost in the woods. When we turn around to go back to the path that we were on before we got lost, we are still lost. I am sure Stephen Furtick told a story similar to this in one of his sermons so I’ll give him the glory, but I too have used this analogy. We must turn around when we get lost so we can get back on the right path. Turning around because we are lost is helpful, but it is not always easy. When we do not turn around the end results could be catastrophic. Turning around is scary and it takes courage. When we turn around, we may still be lost, but at least we are headed in the right direction after we turn around. Imagine there’s one path to life, and if you do not turn around, the one path to life will get farther and farther away.
The path to Becoming Momma was getting farther and farther away for me. In 2011, I was going back to college. I was a successful respiratory therapist and advancing in my professional life was the only thing on my mind. But this time, I decided to listen to what God was saying, although I was scared. Although turning around felt dark and lonely. Although I was on the wrong path that felt right, I turned around. When I turned around, I ran right into a fertility clinic; but there I learned quickly that I needed to continue on the path to Becoming Momma although the fertility clinic was not where I would land.
The Bible is filled with many stories we can all learn from. Here is one. At the beginning of Jesus’ story is the story of Mary and Joseph. Mary is Jesus’ mother who was a virgin that gave birth to him (I know a virgin, seems illogical, but still it’s the story). Mary and Joseph were dating before they got married; and while they were dating Mary found out she was pregnant. Although her and Joseph never had sex, Mary was pregnant (sounds like a situation to me). It says in the Bible that Joseph was Chagrined (Matthew 1:18-19 MSG). He was embarrassed, disappointed, and ashamed, BUT remained noble. The Bible tells us that Joseph wanted to walk away (I get that because I am good at walking away), but God told Joseph to continue on the path that was laid out for him. God asked Joseph to trust Him. Joseph took each step by faith that the Lord asked of him. To the general public Joseph must have looked like a fool, but for those of us who love the Lord Joseph is just another obedient and faithful servant stepping out in faith one step at a time.
Joseph could have let fear disable him. He could have let fear wreck his ability to hear from the Lord, but he did not. Joseph let God lead every graceful awakening, every hard life lesson, while he followed even when things were unexplainable. Even when things seem unrealistic and even when things seem like they would never work out, we must follow. The rest is always revealed to us in time. We can be redeemed from the pit of hopelessness. We can learn to live in the millisecond of the joyful moments that happen every day in our lives. We can learn so much from graceful awakenings when we turn around and say, “MY PLANS, that is not my life anymore…God do with my life what you will.”