Large snowflakes swirled around me, inviting me to journey home and cozy up for the night. Knowing that I had upcoming birthday celebrations with friends yanked against the desire to drive home. Walking through the mall, I sauntered into one of my favorite stores, hoping that the perfect gifts would jump off the shelves and into my arms. My mind, a thousand places.
I rifled through the Valentine’s cards wondering if I might snag one for my husband and smirked as I read them. One in particular stood out. “Let’s make babies…just without the babies!” I soaked in the words long enough to turn away, reminding myself that a Valentine’s card was not part of the agenda for the day nor was it in the budget.
Like many couples planning a wedding, my husband and I had the most fun making a list of preferred songs for the DJ to play during our wedding reception. As we talked about the song that would end the dance and usher us into the first moments alone as husband and wife, we chose Marvin Gaye’s, “Let’s Get It On.” Unconventional? Perhaps. As most of our guests walked outside to prepare to shower us with bubbles, countless others stayed and danced to our final song. Although we held the gravity of the covenant that we had entered into hours before, we were more than ready to head back to our hotel and practice making babies without making babies!
At twenty-eight years old, I had never felt more beautiful and desired as I did that night. Those first days together were sacred as the history of our years apart began to intermingle with desire and hope in a new and unfamiliar space. Pursuit and response. Pulling in and letting go. Pleasure and disappointment.
The days led to months and after a year of discovering the complex beauty of becoming husband and wife, we decided it was time to start making babies.
Hope and anticipation fueled my thoughts as we waited month after month for the parallel pink lines on the pregnancy test.
As if the anxiety within me wasn’t enough, others started to question whether we were wanting to have children and I attempted to break the tension by a quick response that we were practicing with no luck yet. Thoughts began to flood my mind as I wondered if choices made before I was married were having an effect on my ability to conceive. When shame floods the mind, it is amazing the places that we go to answer the unanswered questions of our lives.
Eventually we fell into the category of those seeking treatment for fertility issues. We had been trying to make babies, just without the babies, and it was time to seek medical treatment. The result, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, the answer to the questions. My body had betrayed me. I wrestled with the diagnosis and the treatment. Ovulation kits, basal temperature charting, stress reduction, weight loss, and medications. Sex became a job and romance was set aside as function and practicality lined the pathway to the bedroom.
Early, on a Friday morning in late May, I carefully snuck a pregnancy test into the bathroom to catch the first pee. After waiting three minutes, I looked over to see the lines…parallel pink. Pregnant. I could barely contain my excitement as I went to find Darin, but I tried to hold myself together.
He was sitting on the couch and I sat down beside him to tell him the incredible news. Happy tears filled our eyes as we shared the sweetest secret that we could ever imagine. Blood work later that day confirmed the pregnancy and catapulted me into a new space of ambivalence as fear and hope meshed within my heart.
My body carried and birthed two handsomely passionate boys. I have been stretched and pulled. Ripped and stitched. I have grown and lost and grown again. My body has been used in life-giving ways, and naturally it shows. So now, we’ve entered the newest stage of let’s make babies…just without the babies. And it’s different.
This stage has fatigue and frustration. Interruptions and constant needs. It has floppy boobs and a stretched vagina. A jiggly tummy and purple stretch marks. It takes creativity to feel and live sexy. Special care is required to preserve and cultivate that which daily life attempts to destroy.
Sometimes the first step is going back to the store to buy the card, because seriously. There’s nothing like a clever card to throw you into a headspin that invites you into the unexposed places of your heart, leading you to finally write about…sex? And maybe, just maybe, your husband will smile and appreciate the invitation that you give when you invite him to make babies, just without the babies.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.