September 11, 2012


Last night my husband and I were watching Star Trek Generations. The short synopsis is Picard's encounter with the villain, a scientist who is trying to escape the ravages of time by enveloping himself in a nebula that resembles what you might think of as an individual version of heaven.

In a key exchange between the two, the scientist tells Picard that "time is the fire in which we burn." Meanwhile, Picard suffers the loss of what would have been the continuation of his family line through his nephew. In realizing this, he weeps for the possibilities of seeing the family name continue since he had sacrificed family in favor of a career and never got around, it seems, to starting a family of his own for whatever reason. In a turn of events, Picard is caught up in the nebula and is instantly transported to his unrealized dream: a family home with his wife and four children at Christmas.

Oddly enough, and yet not so, that movie was pretty influential. It really illustrated the loss of what could have been and helped to force us to deal with our fear of having children (not having any idea that when we finally tried we'd have other issues to deal with).

One random memory I have from my late 20s is from a sci-fi convention. I was sitting in the audience watching movie preview reels. I looked at the row in front of me and noticed a double stroller with twin baby boys who had the most amazing bright, blue eyes and beautiful smiles. Something shifted in me and I burst out crying later that day when no one was around. I tried so hard to ignore my maternal instincts that apart from experiences like this, I actually convinced myself that I didn't want children.

Or how about this: In the animated movie Up... well it's recent enough that I probably don't need to describe the heartache that the characters experience - and invoke - in the first 20 minutes. That's a movie that we refused to watch once we were diagnosed with infertility. Now we watch it through eyes of wisdom and compassion.

Another influence would be the child-free couples we've known over the years. I couldn't help but look at their lives and wonder if their reality would someday be ours, even as I struggled with my own issues. Yet another would be looking at the lives of couples with several children and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted on their behalf while feeling relief at our comparatively simple lives.

So what's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I guess it's first to illustrate how movies, media, and relationships can and do influence us on our journey toward parenthood. The second is to express a desire to be an influence.

If I had the opportunity to be an influence on someone else who was considering parenthood (apart from any infertility struggles) and was near or over 30 and in a committed relationship, I hope that our example of delaying things almost to the point of no return causes someone to address it sooner rather than later. I kind of wish someone had let me know the truth of how most women's ovaries age. Knowing that fertility starts to decline rapidly in our late 30's might have gotten me to quit procrastinating. Maybe not.

If I could influence someone who suffers with a diagnosis, I hope my life illustrates the hope of Jesus. That there can be joy within circumstances, that one answer may not be the final answer, and that regardless of what happens God does have a plan that moves us beyond what we experience.

As it is, I can honestly say that my son is a big influence on me now. Sometimes I think about the fact that I almost missed this. I can't believe that I put this off for so long - I was really punishing myself for imagined difficulties, thinking I was better off for some reason. Don't worry, I stop short of actually feeling guilty.

These days I'm also influenced by other couples who have chosen to embrace adoption - especially foster adoption. They are absolute heroes in my eyes.