Already and Not Yet
My daughter grows exponentially every time I blink.
Somehow she has transformed herself from the poppyseed-sized speck she was a year ago to the long, skinny six pound miracle my doctor handed me in October to the substantial wriggling mass of chunk and muscle she is today.
She tries her hardest to sit up and stand and hold her own bottle. She delights in the company of other babies.
Even in her infancy, I can tell she is more courageous and independent than I have ever been. I surround her by phrases that affirm her strength and her intelligence and the infinite possibility that is her future, and I hold her close as we watch Wonder Woman run into No Man’s Land and Moana lead her people across the Pacific Ocean, and tears stream down my cheeks because I can't believe she lives in a world where these things have always existed. I hope even though she won’t remember any of this, she will internalize it. I hope she will grow up to know her worth and strength. I hope she knows how much she is loved. I hope she understands she was wanted so much, we invoked both divine and scientific intervention.
We didn’t wait long for her. Not in hindsight, not objectively speaking. Fifteen months.
Some couples wait fifteen years. Some couples wait forever.
But not knowing the end date changes things. I think if I’d known from the start it would take fifteen months, the journey wouldn’t have seemed so hopelessly long and dark. It makes every incline steeper, every shadow longer.
Even now, as I stand in a place where I can gaze on the road we traveled with clarity and understanding, I find that the time spent in that darkness affected me more than I realized. My heart and my head are confused by echoes from the past and the future. I find it hard to stay here, in the present, the present where I have the baby I prayed for and am still adjusting to being a mom, and we need to save money and gain more parenting experience before we add to this merry little trio.
Instead my heart is stuck in the past, driving me to count cycle days and restock pregnancy tests and hope for those two little pink lines, and my mind is stuck in the future, where I worry my sweet little extroverted girl won’t get the chance to be the wonderful big sister she was clearly created to be. Because the truth is, while we outwitted my body once, I am not cured. I am still broken. PCOS still exists and plagues my body, and there is no way to rid myself of it forever. What hope for resolution do I have for anxiety and depression when my own body is the trigger?
And if we do succeed and have more children, I dread the survivor's guilt that plagued my first trimester with F. I imagine it would be that much worse with a second baby. I feel greedy for wanting another baby already, when some people never even get one. I think of friends without a diagnosed cause of infertility, friends who have been waiting so much longer, friends stuck in limbo waiting on foster care certification or fundraising for adoption costs, and I am afraid.
I feel stuck between two camps, those waiting behind me and those rejoicing ahead of me. I vacillate, making my bed in the no man's land between, hoping at some point a third camp will spring up.
The longing of my heart has already been realized. But not yet.
I’ve written before of my strange love of liturgy. While I don’t currently attend a liturgical church and often don’t think ahead enough to make plans for traditions like Advent and Lent, I learn and grow so much simply through contemplating the seasons. The cyclical nature of the liturgical calendar brings comfort to me. We move from awaiting and celebrating Christ’s birth to awaiting and celebrating his death and resurrection, over and over, again and again. It brings order and structure to the tension that characterizes the Christian life, what many theologians have described as “already and not yet.”
Due to the permanence and infinity of God’s nature, Christ has come, Christ is come, Christ will come, all at once. We dwell somewhere in the middle. Until this beautiful, broken world of ours comes to an end, we wait and, simultaneously, rejoice that our waiting has come to an end.
And so this Lenten season, I will ponder this paradox, embrace it, reside in it. I will wander in the desert alongside Christ and grow faint with him. And I will remember that in the midst of this not yet, there is hidden an already in which I can rejoice.