Week after week we sat on the edge of the tiny sofa in the doctor’s office. Cory held my hand. We kept it light, willing success to float down from the drop-ceiling tiles and settle on us through the sheer force of our collective certainty. It was no big deal. He would fix me.
Around week four or five, Doctor Jan peered at me from behind his desk, his eyebrows stitched together in concern. His tired eyes narrowed and the words tumbled out, “Why aren’t you pregnant yet?”
His question hung in the air for a moment, then fell around me like an omen.
I’d never felt an exceeding sense of faith in my body. I’d been a sickly child, always too thin, always without reason. I’d had minor surgeries, migraine headaches. I’d missed too much school. I had failed the scoliosis check in 8th grade and worn a brace on my left knee. Twice I had been wheeled on an ambulance stretcher through a nosy crowd of my peers .
It was no real surprise when Dr. Jan couldn’t clear the road for my eventual, inevitable knocking up.
Despite hoops, jumps, and shots in my rear, he continued to ask the blasted question until I couldn’t hear it one more time, and we hopped off the edge of his tiny sofa and into the magnificent ocean of adoption.
Ten years have passed since Dr. Jan and my uterus has seen no visitors.
What I know now in the marrow of my bones and to the chagrin of both ovaries, saddled with a job that appears to have no clear purpose, is that God simply had a different family in mind for me. He knew all along that my boys would have almond eyes and my daughter would have the regal forehead of an African queen. He knew that our oldest son would find us late in life and make us believe he had always been right here. It was no surprise to Him, no plan B.
But I’m easily adrift in conversation about childbirth and breast feeding. I’ve let myself trip down the slim, corkscrew of guilt, angsty and anxious that my formula-fed babies might have missed out.
I hear celebrities gush about growing a human, “I’ve never felt more like a woman!”. I hear of husbands who gained insight into the whole of humanity as they watched their wives sweat and growl through labor. Women hang their superhero capes on the hook of Life-Giver.
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel broken.
But it’s bedtime and my fingers are ruffling the silky hair of my four-year old while he says his prayers. My eyes are locking his as I tell him for the thousandth time that Mommy and Daddy will never leave him, will always love him.
Daylight seeps through the edges and my arms are wrapped all the way around my daughter as we say our hellos, having missed each other through the night.
It’s late afternoon and I sit next to my 8-year old, my hand rubbing circles over his back while he pushes back tears and fights his way through his math homework. It’s my voice that he needs – the only one he’ll really believe. You can do this. You’re doing this!
The house is quiet, the curtains drawn, and it’s my hand holding the pen. I write to my oldest about redemption and dinner. I tell him we love him, then send it off to the state prison.
My body, the one that was never strong enough, is a warrior for them.
My husband’s eyes linger on me differently than before, not because I helped recreate his flesh and bone, but because I’m helping him create a life – the one he was always meant to live.
It’s true what they say about women – we are life givers. And this life is wild and vast. It isn’t defined by biology or science. It can’t be measured in inches or the degree of a curve. The life that we nurture might look just like the one we had planned. Or maybe not.
My hands are too big. I have knobby shoulders. I’m scrawny and I have cellulite. My imperfect body has never born a child. But I’m not broken. I keep on moving, keep on living, keep rubbing shoulders with the world around me.
I’m a friend of mine, loving my body not because it’s the sexiest, the most capable, the strongest, the healthiest; but because it was formed by a Creator who does no wrong.
Shannan Martin is an ordinary girl who searches for and finds beauty in the everyday.
She’s the wife of Cory, who thinks all of her jokes are funny, and Mama to
three funny shorties, Calvin, Ruby and Silas, and one Big Kid, who came to them across
rivers and oceans. On the heels of a God-sized life-wrecking, Shannan and her family left
their dream farmhouse behind to embark on a fresh adventure in the city.
They traded quiet days down an idyllic lane for rowdy evenings at
the neighborhood park and visits to the county jail, but life remains a
heaped-up pile of blessings and Shannan will forever be a Farmgirl at heart. You can find her HERE.
It’s The Love Dare, a dare to love yourself, and we’re doing this every Monday until the release of Emily’s upcoming book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy (now available for pre-order, HERE) Link up your posts below, on how you’re learning to love YOUR self.