I first met Karen at the Seminary in 2002. She was all full of sunshine and rainbows and exploding happiness and so very Lutheran and I wanted none of that. I remember thinking "Whoa. That girl is WAY too much for me to handle." I enjoyed her as an acquaintance, but I never dreamed that it would go farther than that.
Karen, being the determined friend-maker that she is, did not see it that way and when I got a random facebook message from her years later asking if she could stay at our house overnight, I was surprised but a little intrigued. I remember we stayed up all night talking and thinking "Wow, we get along SO well. I could have talked to her all night."
After that, our friendship just skyrocketed. We are so different and yet so alike. She's thrifty, I'm..uhh..not. She's into bright colors and birds, and I like greys and rainy days. She's an extreme extrovert, and I am constantly wondering how many people I have to talk to until I can hide in the bathroom. So many differences, and yet...we were the same. We love the same books and movies. We have a love for stationery and good stories. We love talking about our history. She is an inspiration to me spiritually, and she is one of my best test readers for Elly in Bloom and biggest supporters of my career. We both could talk about LOST for hours and liked grilled cheese. You know, the basic requirements for besties.
I remember the first time we talked about wanting children. She casually mentioned that her and Michael had been trying for awhile and nothing happened. I piped up that I was the same, and that we had been trying for years too. She then mentioned that she felt like everyone around her was always pregnant, and I almost burst into tears. Finally, someone who had felt that terrible guilt, anger and loneliness. Someone who understood the drifting, endless desperation of it all.
After that, it was like my soul reached out and tangled myself into hers. We were linked in a very intimate, painful way. For years, she was one of the sole people that could comfort me as I pined and withered for a child. There was so many tears exchanged, I'm sure an ocean was developed for us to float on our boats of yearning.
About two years ago, Karen had a miscarriage. She had told me she was pregnant in my kitchen, and we had cried tears of happiness and surprise together. About a month later, I got another phone call filled with tears, and I had to go into the bathroom at my parents house and sob because I couldn't contain my sadness for her. My heart broke along with hers. Her tears weren't alone. Throughout the adoption process, Karen has listened to me cry so many times, for each missed possibility, each letdown and hardship. She has heard me cry about the cost, financially and emotionally. She has held my hand as we weren't picked again and again, and when I wondered just what we had gotten ourselves into.
And about 11 months ago, I distinctly remember feeling particularly worn out from the adoption process. I had gone from feeling excited to hopeful to anxious to desperate and finally, totally numb. I remember Karen looking at me across the couches on my living room that we have sat in so many times, sobbing, listening and laughing, and saying "Do you ever get to the point where you just have decided that maybe it's okay to NOT have kids, so that you can just live your life happily?" I felt my face break into a sad smile. "I was just thinking that the other day. I'm so exhausted."
We had both hit the wall where we were wondering if this was it and coming to terms with it
.Our mutual feeling of giving up was reassuring. The pain had grown too strong, our hope too small.
Like two weeks later, I posted this blog about feeling hopeless. Then Karen and Michael came over and Karen burst out with "I'm pregnant! It's okay if you want to punch me in the face!" But I didn't! I was overjoyed, truly happy for her in the deepest part of my heart. She has known the pain of infertility, a pain I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. And to see her emerge from it was hopeful and encouraging.
Sure, there were moments where I felt like, "Now I'm going to be truly alone", but I never wished for anything but to see Karen holding her baby, a baby that had been so desired, so desperately prayed for.
I was truly happy for her, so much that Karen asked me to be present at the birth, seeing how it might be the only birth or arrival of a child that I ever knew.
Uh, then we went to Hawaii. And then we got the call. And then we got LittleM.
We took home our perfect son, LittleM,on June 22nd. Our baptism for him was on July 21st, almost exactly a month to the day that we saw his face for the first time. At our son's baptism, Karen's water broke and about 14 hours later, her daughter L came screaming into this world.
Both of our children arrived with a loud roar and lots of emotion.
Now, by two very different miracles, we are both Mom's. Within one month, by two very different roads, we are both mothers of little beautiful, perfect babies. I can't help but feel that these two children are connected very intimately, and so are we. Not only will we now get to watch our children grow older at almost the exact same pace, but we have both known the incredible struggle it took to get to this point, both for ourselves and for the other one.
We are both having sleepless nights. I visited Karen yesterday and it was all I could do to keep from turning into a bawling mess everytime I looked at her with her baby. My heart bursts with joy and blessings.
God is SO good!
I guess I should also mention the husbands here. The husbands are overjoyed to be Dads and they were both our rocks while we went through these things as well.
Finally, Karen and I both huge fans of the band "The Autumn Film". We've gone to several of their concerts together. A song called "Row" really touched Karen, and she shared it with me. The song is about a girl who wakes up in her bed and it's in the middle of the ocean. And she's so afraid and feels like it will never be over, but her friends keep yelling and encouraging her from the shore to keep rowing.
"May your heart hold on
When it gets hard
And may your pulse stay strong
When you're falling apart
And so she'll row"
Karen told me that when she was feeling the past few years hopeless and alone, that she felt like I was that friend, telling her to row. And this last year, when I felt hopeless and alone and like nothing would ever change, and called her regularly crying, she became that friend who yelled to me from the shore. And so now when we are struggling, we just look at each other and say "Row".
"ROW" is our word that means, "Don't give up. I'm here for you."
I'm happy to say that after a long battle, we have reached the shore.
And I think I'm going to get a tiny tattoo added to my current one that says "Row."
Now Karen and I can sigh happily on this side of the fence while at the same time look back to our beloved sisters, friends and strangers who are still yearning so desperately for children. I know the yearning, and I will never truly be able to separate my heart from those couples who are still waiting. I know the wait. I know the pain. And I was so lucky and blessed to have someone to share it with it. We have our scars though, scars that show that our journey to motherhood wasn't easy. It was hard-fought and won.
God is good. He answers the prayers of his people. He hears the pleas of those who yearn for children.
I can't wait to take this first step into our lives side by side, two barren women who waited and prayed and leaned on each other, both finally holding our children's hand.
Keep rowing, my friend. Love,
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