My New Mantra: Have Faith and Let Go

So, my dear readers, I know I’ve been a bit cagey about what’s going on lately. (As a forewarning, this is about to get pretty heavy and really personal.)

As you may recall, I’ve been having some rather epic lady-problems. I went to my doctor last week for some blood work, and she called me on Monday night with the results.

They weren’t good.

My hormones are completely out of whack, and I have a preliminary diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency, sometimes known as premature ovarian failure. She wants to run the blood work again in a few weeks, but if the numbers hold, I’ll only have a 5-10% chance of ever getting pregnant.

As someone who’s wanted to be a mom for as long as she can remember, this is devastating news. As my doctor gently told me what this meant, my heart began to race. My hands shook so much I couldn’t hold the phone. I felt like my throat was closing.

I was able to hold it together while I was talking to my doctor, but I fell apart as soon as I got off the phone. Brandon was still at work, so I emailed him and told him that he needed to come home. I then called my mom and wept. As soon as the phrase “ovarian failure” left my mouth, I collapsed into tears. Deep, guttural, wailing sobs wracked me for a solid two minutes before I could form words again.

I’m 32 years old. I was expecting to hear that I maybe had PCOS for endometriosis, but I never expected to hear that my ovaries might be closing up shop for good.

My mom stayed on the phone with me until Brandon came home, and I buried my face in his chest as I choked out the words “ovarian failure” for a second time. He gave me a huge hug and held me while I continued crying. When I finally pulled away and was able to look him in the eyes, I could see that he was simultaneously sad, scared, and relieved.

“When you said you had bad news from the doctor, I thought you were going to tell me you had cancer,” he said. “I was really scared that I was going to lose you.”

That thought alone was enough to give me some perspective: this diagnosis is devastating, but it could be a lot worse. If nothing more, I can be thankful for that while mourning what would be lost if the diagnosis is confirmed.

This helped pull me, even if only briefly, out of the pit of despair into which I was rapidly sinking. It gave me something to hold on to. I decided, in that moment, that I must allow myself to grieve and mourn if the diagnosis is confirmed — but I also must hold on to a sense of gratitude for the things I do have.

For example: the diagnosis would be shattering, but it isn’t life-threatening. I have a husband whom I adore and who is the best partner I ever could’ve asked for. I have a wonderful, supportive, and loving family. I have dear friends who, when I emailed them to break the news, wrote back with some of the sweetest, most thoughtful responses I could’ve imagined.

After I talked to my parents again later that night, my Dad sent me a wonderful song that helped me climb a bit further out of that deep pit of sadness. It also forms the basis of my new mantra: have faith and let go.

Now, a quick caveat: I don’t like to talk about religion here, because I’m a big proponent of the “to each their own” school of thought when it comes to faith, spirituality, and belief. (I mean, my mom was a world religion professor when I was growing up — and when your formative years are spent surrounded by people of just about every faith, you quickly realize that those different religions and points of view are all profoundly valid, valuable, and insightful.)  I’m disinclined do anything that could come across as preachy — so before I get into this song, I’d like to clarify that my intent is to talk about what works for me, not what I think other people should do. *Thus endeth my disclaimer.*

With that being said, the song my dad sent me is by Peter Mayer, a singer-songwriter from Minnesota. The song, “God is a River,”  felt like a cosmic hug when I needed it most. The lyrics felt particularly meaningful for me given my life-long love of swimming:

In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life

I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
Where I might let the fretful water of this river ‘round me pass

And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
And I prayed to it “protect me” and the rock replied

God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal

God is the river, swimmer
So let go

Still I clung to my rock tightly with conviction in my arms
Never looking at the stream to keep my mind from thoughts of harm
But the river kept on coming, kept on tugging at my legs
Till at last my fingers faltered, and I was swept away

So I’m going with the flow now, these relentless twists and bends

Acclimating to the motion, and a sense of being led
And this river’s like my body now, it carries me along
Through the ever-changing scenes and by the rocks that sing this song

God is a river, not just a stone
God is a wild, raging rapids
And a slow, meandering flow
God is a deep and narrow passage
And a peaceful, sandy shoal
God is the river, swimmer
So let go

God is the river, swimmer
So let go

I have to let go. If the diagnosis is confirmed, I have to let myself be deeply, wrenchingly sad while simultaneously being grateful for what I do have and remaining steadfast in my faith that something good will come of this. I might not know what it is, but I have to let go and have faith that the river will lead to something good. I may be in the wild, raging rapids now, but I have to trust that I’ll be carried to the peaceful, sandy shoal in due time.

I need to wait a few weeks before going back for the second blood test, so I’ll be in a holding pattern until then. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll be inclined to be a hot mess until the next round of lab work comes back, so I’m going to rely heavily on my mantra for the foreseeable future.

Have faith, and let go.

40 thoughts on “My New Mantra: Have Faith and Let Go

  1. Christina June 6, 2013 / 8:54 am

    I love you Lillian.

  2. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness June 6, 2013 / 8:58 am

    Ah ok so I’ve had my morning cry. I love the way you are handling the news- with faith and counting your blessings for the things you are lucky for. God works in mysterious ways and if this is the card you’re dealt, you’ll figure out what it means and how it can be turned into a positive thing in time. sometimes from the most devastating news comes strength you didn’t even realize you had. i love that song your dad sent you. no matter what, you’ll be okay 🙂

  3. chasingchels June 6, 2013 / 9:03 am

    Lillian, I am so incredibly sorry to hear this. It breaks my heart to think of you in this much pain over something that I know meant so much to you. I think you are so incredibly brave to share this and strong to look at it like this. I’m glad that you have such an amazing support system; if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask ❤

  4. cjoye7 June 6, 2013 / 9:13 am

    My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you my friend. I only wish there was something I could do to lessen the pain, but I’m happy to bring wine and a shoulder to cry on any time you need one! I love you lady! xoxoxox

  5. thepaceofitall June 6, 2013 / 9:18 am

    I am so sorry to hear this and I admire how you are already looking at the bright side of the news. Sending hugs your way!

  6. Dana June 6, 2013 / 9:19 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about this, Lillian. You’re completely in my thoughts. xo

  7. Alix June 6, 2013 / 10:54 am

    Oh, Lillian, I’m so sorry to hear this! I’ll be thinking of you lots over the coming weeks. And I really love that song and your outlook through all of this – the song and the thought behind it are things that people from LOTS of faiths will be able to relate to, and I think it’s a really good way to approach the hard parts of life. *hugs*

  8. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama June 6, 2013 / 11:20 am

    Thanks for sharing this deeply personal story with us. We’re all thinking about you and sending lots of positive thoughts and virtual hugs your way. I think it’s incredible that you have such a positive outlook and are already able to put this into perspective. At the same time, know it’s ok to be scared, to freak out, and to cry. Your family & friends will be there to support you and help you find that sandy shoal.

  9. The Siren's Tale June 6, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    Sending lots of prayers and warm thoughts your way. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  10. megbek June 6, 2013 / 2:51 pm

    Lillian I’m thinking about you girl. I appreciate you sharing what’s been going on in such a touching and emotional way. You’re a wonderful writer. I am so sorry that this is happening to you – but you’re so incredible for seeing some good things already. Sending lots of love and warm wishes your way, pretty lady.

  11. Katie Bicket June 6, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    Ooooh with the crazy wedding season I completely missed this post. First, I’m very sorry to hear what you are going through but am extremely glad that you have realized all you have to be grateful for! You are coming up on your anniversary soon with Brandon and you two finding each other to support forever is a blessing in itself. Of course there is also so much that can be done these days for you to still be a mommy (adoption, fertility clinics, and of course drunken nights where you two let loose!) so maybe the best thing (dr’s orders) is for you two to get away from stress and worry and go on a vacation that is just for the two of you and nothing else. I’m sure everything will work out like a perfect puzzle piece in the end, it’s just too early to put it all together now.

  12. Rebecca June 6, 2013 / 3:51 pm

    Awh, I heart you!!! Let me know if there’s anything we could ever do for you, and keep that beautiful, smart head of yours up.

  13. Lisa June 6, 2013 / 4:08 pm

    Lillian, I am so very sorry to hear this. Sending lots of love your way. XOXO

  14. Erin June 6, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    Know that you are not the only one going through this. You are not alone. Specifically, I recommend the blog for their honest portrayal of all of the sticky difficulty things that real people go through in life and in marriage, but that aren’t a part of our social narrative. You are a wonderful person & I am sending big love to you ❤ ❤ ❤

  15. Meredith June 6, 2013 / 4:47 pm

    You are truly one of the strongest women I “know” Lillian, and i hope you can feel my hug coming your way. i am so sorry to hear this news, and i am praying for you. I admire your strength, faith and positivity, you will get through this! Thinking of you xo

  16. livliveslife June 6, 2013 / 5:32 pm

    First, I just want to say thank you for sharing this with us. I know that can’t have been easy opening up to the world, but I’m very glad you did. You are such a strong person, one of the strongest I know, and I am just amazed at your attitude. I am so, so incredibly sorry to hear about the diagnosis…it breaks my heart. Your reaction is exactly what mine would have been, but I don’t know that I would have been able to look the positives in the face. That’s what amazes me about your attitude. Thank you for reminding me to do that in any situation. Lots of thoughts and prayers are being sent your way. 🙂

  17. aftertheivyleague June 6, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    Oh no  this is heartbreaking to read. I’m so sorry! I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better. I can’t imagine what you must be going through. Life isn’t fair sometimes. I don’t know if this story even remotely relates but I feel like telling it for some reason. My cousin Emma was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was 8, beat it, then relapsed again when she was 9. This time around they had to do more severe chemo that would literally wipe out everything she had, eggs included. My aunt and uncle had to decide whether to freeze her eggs in case she wanted children one day. It was such a strange thing to think about for a 9 year-old little girl. They ultimately decided to freeze them, she beat the cancer the second time around, and has been healthy ever since. Love that little girl. Anyway, I’ll be thinking of you and praying that the second round of testing proves this was all a false alarm. And if not, have faith and let go. What’s meant to happen will happen.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte June 11, 2013 / 7:57 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad your cousin is ok! That must’ve been horrifying for all of you, and I can only imagine what a huge relief it is for her to be ok now. I’ve known pediatric/young adult cancer patients who’ve had to make the same decision about freezing their eggs, and it’s wrenching. I’m so glad it worked for her and that she’s been healthy ever since. When the time comes and if she decides she wants to have kids, it’s great that your aunt and uncle preserved that option for her!

  18. Mariette June 6, 2013 / 6:22 pm

    Oh, what horrible news. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but I think you’re finding a beautiful way to handle it. You’re right, you have to let go, some things are our of your control and you can’t beat yourself up for it. You may not be able to become a mother the traditional way, but there are plenty of non-traditional options, should you choose to go down that path. You’re a blessed in so many other ways, you have to just hold on to that. I’m happy you have what sounds like an amazing guy next to you to be with you in these moments, you guys will get through this. My thoughts are with you!

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte June 10, 2013 / 10:01 pm

      Many thanks, Mariette — I’ve decided that I can’t beat myself up for the decisions Brandon and I made before now, because they were the right decisions at the time.

  19. musingsoftheamusingmuse June 6, 2013 / 8:23 pm

    Lillian, I’m so sorry to read what you’re going through. You obviously have a huge support network surrounding you, and that is a wonderful thing. I hope for the best for you.

  20. Alex @ therunwithin June 6, 2013 / 9:15 pm

    I am so sorry lady, no matter what kind of news it is, it is still hard. I know you keep a positive face here but know that sometimes we all need a space to cry and be cared for. I hope you take advantage of that because you are surrounded by people that love you. You know where I am!

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte June 10, 2013 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks so much, Alex – like you said, it’s important to have a space where I can cry and fall apart. Happily, Brandon and my parents have provided ample amounts of that space. 🙂 Now that I’m feeling better, I maintain that we should go get mucho ice cream and fro yo. 😉

  21. Taryn June 6, 2013 / 9:52 pm

    I don’t even know what to say. I’m so sorry, Lillian, but I know that no matter what the diagnosis, you WILL be okay. It’s clear that you have an awesome support system (in real life and in blog world) who will help you get through this. Lots of prayers coming your way ❤

  22. Caitlyn June 7, 2013 / 7:11 am

    So sorry about the diagnosis, I can’t begin to imagine. I admire your strength and outlook. Sending hugs and many good thoughts your way.

  23. Jorie June 7, 2013 / 8:56 am

    Lillian, I am so sorry for what you’re going through. The waiting period, or holding pattern, can be so hard. I absolutely love the song that your dad sent along, and I’m not even religious! I think it’s a wonderful metaphor for how to let go of the anxiety that can literally drown us if we cling to it too hard. I’ll be thinking of you and Brandon! I hope you get good news but if not, you will persevere through this too.

    • Lillian @ Seize the Latte June 10, 2013 / 9:39 pm

      Thanks so much, Jorie — it means a tremendous amount. You’re right that the song is the perfect metaphor, and I’m glad it resonated with you too. 🙂

  24. jessielovestorun June 8, 2013 / 6:05 am

    I don’t even know what words to say, but I can say if you EVER need to talk, please please please feel free to email me darling. You are beautiful, plain & simple ❤

  25. Sara @ Nourish and Flourish June 9, 2013 / 3:04 am

    Oh, Lillian, my heart is breaking for you. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and grief you’re feeling right now, and wish I could do something that would offer a glimmer of comfort. I’ll be praying the God blankets you with strength, resilience, patience, and serenity while you wait upon the final diagnosis. ❤ Your positive outlook and willingness to let go and fall back on your faith is so courageous and admirable. I firmly believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and that beautiful blessings ALWAYS emerge from the depths of sorrow. Sending huge hugs to you. ❤ xoxo

  26. Christina June 11, 2013 / 4:23 am

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the diagnosis is not confirmed. It must be the worst thing if you want to have children and then you can’t.
    Reading your post made me realize I want to get myself checked for the same thing, too. Not that I’m planning on having babies any time soom (need to find me a decent guy first), but I rather know than not know.
    However, what I really wanted to say is this: even if the diagnosis is confirmed, there are so many wonderful things to do in your life. I guess giving birth to a child cannot be replaced by any other experience, but at the same time, if you know you can’t have kids, it does free you up for stuff you would never have done if you could. Like travel. Like adventures. Like spending your money not so wisely. Like adopting a child. Like bringing 10 cats into your house. Like volunteering in an orphanage. There are so many options and opportunities out there!
    Wishing you all the best – whatever happens.

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