I’m doing my best to not lose faith that one day the stork will stop at my house but based on the past 152 months of marriage, I think its GPS is busted. From what I can tell, there’s a programming issue — one that allows the stork to fly overhead, next door, to all of my friends, family and business associates but not drop packages on my doorstep. If I could, I’d hook our stork up with an Amazon stork, one that delivers for people who don’t even want the package.
I realize that as a man, complaining about and whining about our lack of productivity in the baby department may come off surprising and counterintuitive. In fact, for several years I did my best to convince myself that I didn’t even want my own, whatever…my mom was sick and she was one of the big reasons I wanted to schedule a delivery with the stork. I was hoping the delivery would arrive prior to my mother’s arrival in heaven. Well, the weary bird must have flown overhead for those long six years and unfortunately, my mother never stopped wilting and now, she is gone. She will never get to see if the stork will come through for us.
On top of this, it seems as though social media is the land of new package deliveries — some wanted, some by surprise. At least once a week I open my computer to find out that another friend has just received notice that their package is in the processing plant: scheduled for delivery in roughly eight months.
The announcements are often followed with gracious language thanking the mighty stork in the sky for his special delivery and how for “sooo long” (3.5 months) they tried to get a delivery — and finally, now, their delivery request has been fulfilled. A miracle!
Meanwhile, I spend a few minutes of each day fighting the urge to be spiteful toward these people. I can recall several times when we were pretty certain that this bird was going to plop a package on our door, only to find out days later we misinterpreted the notification. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I’m not alone — roughly 9% and 11% of all women in the USA struggle with getting or staying pregnant. Combined, that means there are roughly 17,000,000 of us walking around wondering if today is the day our package will arrive.
I’ve noticed other alarming trends in our life too. When everyone around you receives a package from the stork, those that go without, will soon also find themselves in a friendship purgatory. This purgatory happens in a subtle fashion at first, and it all starts with that first “package processing” notification. Once that notification is received, it’s as if maintaining friendships with people who have been known for dozens of years is no longer relevant or worthwhile.
The changes usually start around the first birthday when invites are sent…or not. I assume that those of us who haven’t been graced by the stork are left off the list of invites because we do not have a little one in the nest. So the natural assumption is that we cannot care for friends who now find themselves as new parents. Upcoming changes will include a total lack of communication, response and interest in our friendship. Illusive reasons behind these changes will be that we don’t understand because we’ve never experienced what it’s like to receive a special delivery. They are right.
Five years after we enter purgatory, I’ll typically receive a random phone call telling me about how great my life must be without a little bird and how their union is beginning to evaporate.
Other times, someone will talk to me about the benefits of accepting a package that someone else rejected. They sew stories of how magical this is and how they once “considered” accepting someone else’s package, but their own delivery arrived…”just in time.”
Meanwhile, we sit, we moan, we groan and more concerning…we don’t talk about it any longer. For the first 48 months of our marriage, we spoke of this illusive stork who flies overhead dropping deliveries down chimneys of deserving and sometimes undeserving recipients. Now, the stork is no longer mentioned. The hope of delivery seems to be fading, even though the prevalence of successful stork drop-offs continues to grow exponentially around us.
As a man, I wonder if it’s me. As a woman, she wonders if it’s her. Together we wonder why this stubborn bird hasn’t chosen to grace us but apart we try and forget. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a delivery that you’ve wanted for so many years. We’ve been tested, we’ve been strategic and we’ve tracked like we were hot on the trail of Carmen San Diego — but, nothing.
And this is when my faith-based friends will tell me that if it’s meant to be, the great stork in the sky could decide to ship a package when we least expect it. This is also when my more blunt friends will warn me of my wife’s most private parts growing barren and dusty. Insensitive people will ask, “Why we haven’t had kids yet,” and the ignorant ones will exclaim, “You must be having fun trying though, right?!”
In the meantime, she and I will continue to love and enjoy each other. Some of you will say, “and that’s enough,” and it is on some levels. But on other levels, it isn’t. Seeing my wife open a delayed gift from the navigationally challenged stork would be wondrous and bring much pride to our lives, but it appears there’s been another delay in shipping.
I’m finding these delays offer us times to laugh together without the forced filter of little ears, and yell together without the required censorship of developing brains. Our time one-on-one is raw and unfettered; our bond for protecting and believing in each other is strong. It makes you wonder how much more we could pour into another life.
We have discovered secrets about each other that we may have never had the time to uncover had we had a little one running around tearing apart my bookshelf or her latest crafty creations. I’ve been able to use this delay to care for my ailing mother, build my career, launch a speaking business and rediscover and reconnect with my authentic faith all things my friends with offspring tell me “wouldn’t be possible” with a house full of children.
Author Phillip Moffitt says, “Patience is the ability to abide with things the way they are. It allows you to tolerate failure, disappointment, defeat, unpleasantness, and confusion without giving up…”
Philippians 4:6 instructs us with, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
And within the Koran, we can find these instructions, “Oh you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy. Vie in such perseverance, strengthen each other, and be pious, that you may prosper.” (3:200)
Just imagine if we were able to take all the world’s philosophies and beliefs to create enough strength to help push us through our darkest and most confusing moments in life. In all majors religions, we find ourselves handed a guidebook instructing us to bring our prayers and petitions to God. Often we are told to “strengthen each other,” but how does one do that when the person needing the strength is fairly shameful to speak of the root cause of that emotion?
What is even more ironic is that several times a month, I stand on stages instructing audience members on how to thrive in dark seasons of life, and yet I find myself praying to God that I can stop being my own best keynote illustration. Like Paul, pleading to the Lord to remove a thorn from his side, I cling to the promise that my faith is sufficient and in due time the meaning of this season will be revealed. But, let’s be honest, what little comfort that offers in the moment.
Adding to the perplexities of fertility is the constant nagging that it may never happen. Our garden may never take, the stork may never stop, our package may never be delivered. This vein of thinking is something I’ve learned to accept, and to not allow it to distract me from all the amazing things and experiences that I do have access to in this world. I have a loving and supportive wife, a couple of great dogs, a dozen backyard chickens, and when the time is right…a baby room in our new home that’s ready to be filled.