Friendship & Infertility: Feeling Alone Is Normal, But Don’t Stay There

It was the start of 8th grade. Having only known life as an Air Force brat, this was my eighth different school since kindergarten. But this year was different. I had just come from a school with twenty students in my grade, and my new school had over 220. My teachers and classes went well, but then came that dreadful lunch hour. Although I had changed schools before and had to make new friends, this was my first vivid memory of feeling alone.

Being alone isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Solitude is good and needful at times, and usually because you want to be alone. Feeling alone is more of an emotional state or reaction. I felt isolated.  I remember wondering what I would do during lunch hour, where would I sit and eat, where would I stand outside afterwards until the bell rang to go to my next class. Whether that feeling lasted two days, two weeks or two months, I am not sure, but I know I didn’t stay alone.

One girl befriended me. She was not new to the school, but she must have seen or sensed I felt alone and she reached out to me. Another girl I met was new that year, too. I didn’t know there was someone else like me who felt like I did. Although the school I had just left was 10 miles away, she had moved all the way from Alaska to Oklahoma! This happened over 30 years ago, and I honestly can’t remember whether she found me or I found her, but I know God brought us together.

Multiply that isolating feeling from 8th grade lunch hour many times over, and you can only imagine how alone I felt at times when we found ourselves facing years of infertility. Or you might know exactly how I felt if you are there right now facing it yourself.

The trials we endure throughout life or compared to others are different, but we can apply what we have learned in other circumstances to help navigate through a different set of circumstances. Just like the girl, who was not new, befriended me at school, I can tell you of many women who befriended me in my infertility. Women who had also experienced infertility found out I was going through the same thing, and they reached out to me through notes and hugs, listening and tears, and most of all, prayers. Even women who didn’t know exactly what it was like to experience infertility still showed compassion by seeking me out to encourage me and fill me with hope. I felt alone at times, but because of them, I didn’t stay there.

During that 8th grade lunch hour, I may have looked around for someone who was quiet like me and eating alone, or perhaps she was the one who looked up and noticed me standing around the courtyard by myself, looking lost. You may think you are the only one on this journey of infertility, but if you and I took the time to look at others around us, we just might find a friend on the same infertility road.

We look at the woman with the college degree who works full-time and automatically assume she must be putting her family on hold to climb the corporate ladder. We don’t see she just might be trying to get pregnant and longing for the day when she can have a baby and be a stay-at-home mom.

We look at a young wife and form an opinion that she is so newly married that we don’t even realize she’s had several miscarriages already and is quietly grieving.

We look at a happy couple that loves dogs and decide they must be animal-lovers and not really want kids of their own. We don’t even consider that they could be privately enduring heartache after heartache of infertility.

Two different circumstances, the same feelings of isolation – they are both normal experiences that other people are going through, but we don’t have to stay alone. We can accept the support when others reach out and not feel isolated anymore, and we can stop the seclusion and look for someone who could be experiencing similar pain and try to encourage each other.

I understand that however long your journey of infertility is, you will still feel alone at times and that no one seems to care. We are never alone because we have Jesus. Whether you know Him as your Lord and Savior or not, He knows exactly what you’re going through. He will hear when you cry out to Him. There is no need to hide the pain, the fear, the tears, the questions. He already knows, and He cares. This verse from the song, “Untitled Hymn – Come To Jesus” by Chris Rice makes me cry and smile at the same time.

Sometimes the way is lonely and steep and filled with pain.

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then cry to Jesus.

Cry to Jesus. Cry to Jesus and live.

In friendships, or the lack thereof, you can feel alone. The girl who reached out to me that 8th grade lunch hour became my friend and although we have not remained close, I still remember her reaching out to me. It brings a smile to my face, and I will always be grateful for her. The girl from Alaska became my best friend that year and I still consider her one of my best friends and am thankful she loves me in spite of my failures and flaws. If I ever have feelings of being alone in this area, and once in awhile, those feelings crop up, I look at this little album I made called the A to Zs of Friendship and am reassured of the special friends God has given me throughout my life, from those who have accepted me as I am to those who have zipped to my rescue. I am not alone!

In infertility, you can truly feel alone. But with the concerted efforts of Resolve to bring awareness, you can see you are not alone. I can look at my facebook profile and count 37 friends who have experienced infertility and loss and those are the women I know about. That’s over 12% of my facebook friends. I am not alone. You are not alone.

With God, we are never alone. “And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20b

NIAW - National Infertility Awareness Week

Psalm 10:17 God will always hear our prayers.

“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:” Psalm 10:17

Encouragement from Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

1) The Lord never said to a distressed suppliant, “Seek in vain.”

2) May we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?

He had heard and answered their prayers: “Lord, thou hast many a time heard the desire of the humble, and never saidst to a distressed suppliant, Seek in vain. Why may not we hope for the continuance and repetition of the wonders, the favours, which our father told us of?”

He pleads their expectations from God pursuant to their experience of him: “Thou hast heard, therefore thou will cause thy ear to hear, as, Psalms 6:9. Thou art the same, and thy power, and promise, and relation to thy people are the same, and the work and workings of grace are the same in them; why therefore may we not hope that he who has been will still be, will ever be, a God hearing prayers?”

But observe, (1.) In what method God hears prayer. He first prepares the heart of his people and then gives them an answer of peace; nor may we expect his gracious answer, but in this way; so that God’s working upon us is the best earnest of his working for us. He prepares the heart for prayer by kindling holy desires, and strengthening our most holy faith, fixing the thoughts and prayers, raising the affections, and then he graciously accepts the prayer; he prepares the heart for the mercy itself that is wanting and prayed for, makes us fit to receive it and use it well, and then gives it in to us. The preparation of the heart is from the Lord, and we must seek unto him for it (Proverbs 16:1) and take that as a leading favour.

God gave me you – at the best time.

God gave me you necklace

It’s Christmastime! I wanted to write about my necklace – my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and this is it! The words, “God gave me you” spoke to me above all the other beautiful pieces I saw at The Vintage Pearl because that is what our son’s name means, “Given of God” from I Samuel 1:17. When I picked up my special order a week ago, the first thought that came to my mind was that God gave me Jesus. God gave us Jesus, His only begotten Son. This is the best gift of all – a gift all of us can receive because God offered this gift to all of us. Jesus came in the fullness of time. He came at the right time, at the best time. All of us can choose to receive this gift of salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

As Christians, we are assured through God’s Word that Jesus came at a time of God’s own choosing. I also had to be assured that my baby would come in God’s time. I remember waiting, more waiting, still waiting, trying-to-be-patiently waiting for my baby. Holidays can be harder, especially holidays like Christmas, which we dream of being the perfect time to give a pregnancy announcement or the perfect photo op to show our baby, our gift under the tree. Before God gave us Grant, a precious friend shared with me the thought I’ve not forgotten – maybe it’s not about us and when we think the timing is best for us, but the timing God would have our children be born into this world.

“For such a time as this.”

That phrase comes from the Book of Esther, who was indeed born for a great purpose and fulfilled that purpose. God gave me Grant when He wanted him to come into this world. I don’t know whom his life is supposed to impact. It may be a few people or many. It is for a particular generation. I just rest assured knowing he came at the right time. It’s easier to be assured of that now that he is here, but I still marvel that God gave me him. It isn’t a coincidence who his friends are, who his teachers are, who his life is intersecting with. As parents, we just pray for wisdom, grace, patience, and love as we help raise, train, and direct him to fulfill God’s purpose in his life.

May this song, “At The Right Time” by Mosie Lister and performed by the Booth Brothers encourage you this Christmas season as you realize or remember, “God gave me You – Jesus.”

While You Wait For Your Happy Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day 2014 has passed. Do you feel like a survivor, having endured another Mother’s Day? I remember how emotionally draining it was for me. Maybe that is why I haven’t even written about Mother’s Day but once.

My husband and I taught the newly married couples in our church for about five years and we loved it. We were childless, but at first our newly married couples were childless, too. After all, they were newly married! We had been teaching this class for a few years and one night at church (in 2002, I know because I journaled about this), I was helping in the nursery.  As usual, the topic of who the latest pregnant ladies were came up, and the three were ladies in my class.  Another worker said to me, “Boy, your class is really cranking out the babies.”  Then she declared,  “I think God is giving Greg and Joy big babies.” I remember answering, “Well, I guess He is giving us grandbabies, too.” That was probably a very tacky reply, but it seemed nicer than what I really wanted to say, which was, “If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working.”

My husband didn’t take any offense in what she said or see it as negative; maybe it isn’t as personal for a man. I let her steal my joy, but I also hoped she meant well, and maybe at the time I was so concerned about not having what I wanted that I didn’t fully realize or appreciate how God was using me then. You see – there was truth in what that woman said to me. We didn’t have children, so we devoted our time and energy to that class, to those couples. We really loved them and wanted to see them grow in the Lord.

The pictures at the top of this blog post are a card and a note I received for Mother’s Day in 2004 and in 2005 from two very young moms in our Adult Bible Class. In the card, this precious lady thanked me for what we had done for them, including giving baby showers, writing notes, being a friend. She said even though I was not her mother, she looked to me as a spiritual mom. I received the note a year later from another precious lady who, along with her husband, had been saved at our church. Her words were full of compassion and maturity, and she said they had been praying for a year and a half that the Lord would give us a child. She also said I was truly like the mother she never had.

Those words are more precious to me now even though I was very touched by them the day I first received them. Looking back, God really did give us big babies. I am thankful God chose to use us in that capacity, and I trust our investment in those couples made a difference in their lives. I know it was not in vain. My encouragement to you is to realize and appreciate how God wants to use you right now – while you wait for your baby – whether you teach a class of newly married couples or 4-year old boys, help in the nursery, work a bus route, or find a teenaged girl who needs a mentor.  The Lord may use you to impact someone’s life as a spiritual mom or a mom they never had.

My wish is someday you will have a Happy Mother’s Day – from your “big babies” and from the baby you are waiting for.

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“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:4

Resolve To Know More About The Cost Of Infertility: Financial, Emotional, Spiritual

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This week is RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and the theme is “Resolve to Know More.” The meaning of resolve is 1) to find an answer to 2) to settle or solve something 3) to reduce by analysis 4) to reach a firm decision about 5) to deal with successfully.

Infertility costs. The price infertility charges you will cost you financially, emotionally, and spiritually. No matter how long you have been on this journey of infertility, decide together right now with your spouse to resolve the cost of your infertility.

Financial Cost

My husband and I were prepared and blessed to pay for fertility treatments without going into debt. It wasn’t our choice to wait nine years for a baby, but since that was how long it took us, our DINK (double income, no kids) status along with my husband’s innate frugal mentality prepared us for this financial obligation. Still, we covered our steps and decisions in prayer and carefully considered the costs of adoption and fertility tests and treatment options.

Financial stress is consistently one of the leading causes of marital problems, according to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. If you become blessed to bring home a baby after the expense of adoption or fertility treatments or both, the actual cost of raising a baby or multiple babies would be additional financial strain. My purpose in sharing this isn’t to advise you to go into debt or not go into debt to have a baby. Having children was very important to us, and now that we are blessed to have one, we can say he was worth every penny. Once we had our son, our finances were a bit more of a strain, as we made the decision that I would be a stay-at-home mom, yet God has provided all of our needs.

Couples must still depend on prayer and God’s provision, godly counsel, common sense, and creativity to decide together how to have a baby. Besides prayer, we can go to godly counsel, and for godly financial counsel, one such source would be Dave Ramsey. I have linked a couple of questions people asked him about debt and infertility and his answers.

“Moving Forward with IVF”

“Pausing For Adoption”

In addition to godly counsel, we should also use common sense and creativity to determine our course of action. When we looked into adoption, we looked at the whole spectrum from international adoption to domestic adoption. Within domestic adoption, we considered relatively cost-free adoptions like DHS or ICW (Indian Child Welfare), to more costly options like an adoption attorney or adoption agency, to a blend of the two such as an adoption outreach that asks for a balance of your time and money. The Adoption Tax Credit can help lessen the financial burden, and some companies provide adoption benefits to employees. When we pursued fertility treatments, we weighed the cost of treatment versus the chance of success. Our employers did not provide medical benefits for fertility treatments, and our state does not have an infertility insurance mandate to provide coverage (only 15 states currently do), but we compared the costs of different specialists in and out-of-state and explored options like shared risk, which is eventually what we settled on. Creatively come up with ways to reduce your current debt and increase your cash flow to fund your fertility expenses before or as they come due.

Emotional Cost

Unless you truly have a care-free attitude about adding to your family, whether it be “Que sera, sera – Whatever will be, will be” or you can leave it all in God’s hands – “If He wants it to happen, He will make it happen”, you will find your infertility journey to be an emotional roller coaster. The emotional cost is really unavoidable, but help is yours for the taking and you are not alone. RESOLVE offers support through its website as well as its presence on social media. This is also a great Fertility Authority link explaining how infertility is not just a disease, but also an emotional experience.  I’m even thankful for search engines that allow you type in a phrase or question and find the websites or blogs that provide answers and emotional support. The more we can make people aware of infertility and the effects of it, then hopefully, the understanding and support of your church, family, and friends will help bear the emotional cost of infertility.

Spiritual Cost

When we experience infertility and pregnancy loss, naturally, we want to get at the root of the cause, physically. We want to analyze every aspect and gain knowledge from books and blogs to finally seeking out a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Sometimes you may not be able to pinpoint a reason, like endometriosis or PCOS. After all of your tests, your doctor may come back and say you have “unexplained infertility.” Medically speaking, it may be unexplained, but your infertility is not without cause. Resolve to know more about the cost of your infertility, spiritually speaking. Realizing it is for a purpose will help you deal with it successfully.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have to realize, even expect, and God forbid, rejoice, that trials will come into our lives to mold us to be more like Him, to glorify Him, and to encourage others. Our trial of infertility is a test, designed only to try – not to ruin – but to try our character, strength, patience, and trust in God.

“God’s design in afflicting his people is their probation, not their destruction; their advantage, not their ruin: a trial, as the word signifies, is an experiment or search made upon a man, by some affliction, to prove the value and strength of his faith. Our Christianity depends upon our faith; if this be wanting, there is nothing else that is spiritually good in us. Christ prays for this apostle, that his faith might not fail; if that be supported, all the rest will stand firm; the faith of good people is tried, that they themselves may have the comfort of it, God the glory of it, and others the benefit of it. A tried faith is much more precious than tried gold. Gold is the most valuable, pure, useful, and durable, of all the metals; so is faith among the Christian virtues; The trial of faith is much more precious than the trial of gold; Gold does not increase and multiply by trial in the fire, it rather grows less; but faith is established, improved, and multiplied, by the oppositions and afflictions that it meets with. Gold must perish at last–gold that perisheth; but faith never will.”  – From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on I Peter 1:6-7

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6-7

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” II Corinthians 1:3-5

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I Corinthians 5:10-11

 

 

“God Makes All Things Good” by Kate

My husband Will and I have been married for about six years. We began trying to start our family as soon as we got married because in my heart I always knew it would be a journey. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and God had placed it on my heart that it would be a long, hard journey. Thirteen months after we were married, we found out I was expecting our first child. We could not believe it.

Everything seemed healthy and fantastic until our 12-week ultrasound. Will and I had heard of a woman who lost her baby through a miscarriage just the night before our ultrasound, and we talked about how if something ever seemed to be wrong, we would trust that God was in control. We still had no idea, but God knew and He was preparing our hearts for the next morning. What a good God He is.

We went into the ultrasound full of hope and excitement. My husband was video recording it all until the ultrasound technician asked him to turn it off. My heart sank. I asked to see the heartbeat and she told me she had to get the doctor. She left the room with a beautiful picture that is still etched in my mind of our child’s side portrait. My heart was pounding. I could hardly hear the doctors words as she coldly told us our baby had passed away weeks prior. My world felt like it was crumbling and Will picked me up off the table.

We prayed together before our doctor came in and explained we were experiencing something called a ‘missed miscarriage’ and I would need to have a medical procedure to safely remove the baby. My husband asked if there was anything else that could be done to save our baby, and she explained our sweet child had passed away two weeks ago and we would need to move forward.

I have never spent so much time in bed. I cried and prayed constantly. None of my friends or family had actually experienced the loss of a baby, so no one had any kind or compassionate words to offer. My husband and I grew very close, and I found God working in my heart to deepen my reliance on Him. At that time, God placed on my heart to seek a fertility specialist.

We were blessed to get a referral to one of the top fertility specialists in Texas. He had so much compassion and insight into our feelings; it was a true blessing to start seeing him. He ran multiple tests and quickly found out I suffered from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and he also suspected endometriosis. To confirm the endometriosis, we had to undergo a procedure. The week before this procedure had been scheduled, we found out I was expecting again. During this pregnancy I was given ultrasounds weekly to monitor our baby’s development. Will had made it to all the appointments but was unable to make the 11-week ultrasound. We decided I should still go and be seen.

During the ultrasound, the technician asked what had happened the first time we lost our baby. I explained the heartbeat had stopped. I asked her if it had happened again and she confirmed we had lost our second baby one day after the last ultrasound. She had tears in her eyes and was so full of compassion. God knew I needed that exact technician at that time since my husband was not there. She sat with me while I called and told my husband, and once again, I had to undergo a medical procedure to remove our baby safely.

We were much more angry this time and found ourselves much more distant from the Lord and our church. We decided to stop all fertility treatments and focus on just our marriage and enjoy ourselves. Six months later Will was offered a promotion to Oklahoma and we willingly took it, knowing the change would be good for us. God is so amazing and He began confirming right away that we had made the right choice to move. I was looking into a job as a nanny where I met the family’s previous nanny who had also experienced a loss. She was my first friend to really connect with on this level, and she became such a support and an encouragement to me.

After a few months, my husband and I began seeking out doctors to help with our fertility struggles. We went to two doctors who were very unsuccessful in helping us, and we were beginning to get a little disappointed. We kept praying and trusting and we were finally directed to our current doctor. He has been a true answer to prayer. He confirmed the endometriosis and PCOS. He began fertility treatments right away, and after a year of IUIs and injectable fertility drugs, we were directed to IVF. The price of IVF was very intimidating to us, especially after our last year of unsuccessful treatment, so we decided to wait and instead put a down payment on a house. Two months later, we had closed on our home and also found out we were expecting baby number three. During the previous year of fertility treatments, my doctor had also found out I had a blood clotting disorder that can result in pregnancy loss, so he started me on blood thinners right away.

The peace and grace of God were unmistakable during this pregnancy. My levels were super low, but I had faith this baby would make it and he did! We even experienced an unbelievable scare during the third trimester when our baby boy was diagnosed with fluid in the back part of his brain. The fluid grew so large the specialists here directed us to seek a specialist out-of-state. In my heart, I knew God would make it good, no matter what that meant. I knew it would all be OK. We drove to Boston to see the specialists and found out our baby boy was healed! Even the doctors, who had told us he might never walk, talk, breathe on his own, or even possibly live through childbirth, were incredibly amazed.

Our church family had surrounded us in prayer and love, and I have no doubt in my mind the power of prayer and the strength of our God, the ultimate healer, are the reasons our son is with us today. I will never take His presence or a milestone achieved for granted. We were even in a car accident the week after we got home and yet again, God protected our sweet boy. He was born healthy and strong two weeks later. We are now expecting a baby girl in May and she is growing healthy and strong.

God laid on my heart my journey to motherhood would be hard and long, but I had no idea what that would include, and I still don’t know what lies ahead. What I do know is that God makes all things for good. He hears our cries and prayers. He is the only comfort we need and He is the ultimate decider of our future, not a doctor. God has grown our faith these last six years in ways we never thought possible. He is good and mighty. The Bible verses that have brought comfort to me through the years are Philippians 4:6-7, Philippians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 12:10, and Romans 8:28.

Kate

“A Better Blessing” by Kristi

I remember worrying about my fertility long before I was ready to have children. I knew that I wanted to be a mom and that I would be good at it. But for some reason I had this nagging feeling that I might not be able to. For the most part I pushed it out of my mind. During our second year of marriage my husband was deployed to Kuwait. We had talked before he left about when we wanted to have kids and decided that when he returned from his deployment we would be ready. People who know me know that I am a researcher. When I enter a new phase of life, get a new pet, or plan a vacation I read everything I can get my hands on about that particular subject. I like to be as informed as possible about the things going on in my life.  So I immediately read everything I could find about getting pregnant.  I thought that somehow I could just plan it.

About seven months after we started trying to get pregnant I went to see my OB/GYN. I told her I was worried about not being pregnant yet and that I had a nagging feeling that something might be wrong. She chuckled a little bit and told me that everything looked fine and it was too soon to worry anyway. And yet just weeks later my fears were realized in a way I had never imagined. I learned that I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have emergency surgery in order to keep my fallopian tube from rupturing. There was nothing that could be done for the baby. I was devastated. I had not even known that I was pregnant. But I still felt a very real sense of loss.

Imagine my joy just six weeks later when I found out that I was expecting! I should have been nervous, or at least cautious, but I wasn’t. I was elated. Somehow I knew that I would hold this baby in my arms. And I did. I gave birth to the sweetest little girl in August of 2010. God had answered my prayers!

When my daughter was just nine months old, my husband and I decided that we were ready to give her a sibling. We knew that it could be many months before getting pregnant, so we didn’t want to wait too long. God had other plans. As our daughter grew older, we received the same well-meaning comment over and over. “When are you going to give her a baby brother or sister?” People were only trying to show interest in our family, but after over a year of trying, I was starting to worry. And the repeated questions brought me pain.

During the time we tried and failed to get pregnant, I struggled accepting my infertility. I can’t be infertile, I thought. I already have a child. This isn’t supposed to happen to me! I felt guilty for feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t think I was allowed to be sad about my fertility struggles when I had already known the blessing of having a child. But whether I thought I was allowed to feel that way or not, I was crushed. With every new announcement of a friend or acquaintance who was expecting a baby, I fought back tears. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to make my own announcement. And for the most part, I went through my struggle alone. I was embarrassed to talk about it.

After a year of trying, I called my doctor to schedule some tests. Due to my previous ectopic pregnancy, our first step was to look at my fallopian tubes. I found out that one of my tubes was completely blocked. Strangely enough, it was not the same tube in which my ectopic pregnancy had occurred. The doctor said that with the other tube in tact, it was still possible for me to get pregnant, but it would just take longer. She put me on Clomid, a fertility drug, so that I would be more likely to ovulate from both ovaries each cycle, which would increase my chances of getting an egg into my “good” tube. I was worried, but thankful that we were able to find a reason why I wasn’t getting pregnant and a solution that would likely increase my chances of conceiving soon. I felt hope.

When I found out I was pregnant just two months later, I was cautiously optimistic. I wanted to be excited, but I was nervous. And waiting for our sonogram confirmation was excruciating. Even though it was just a couple of weeks, it felt like months. When the day finally came, I could barely breathe. The technician started the ultrasound but was very quiet. I knew that meant bad news. The doctor came in and looked. She couldn’t find anything. Unfortunately, since the ultrasound was inconclusive, I was told to wait two weeks and then come back. But just a week later, I ended up in the emergency room with those familiar pains and another ectopic pregnancy. I felt like my life was on repeat. The loss was devastating. I had to say goodbye to a baby I had begged God for, a baby I had waited fifteen months for, a baby I already loved very deeply.

Really, the story of that loss is much longer. I had multiple appointments at the doctor’s office followed by a visit to the ER and medication, which didn’t work properly, although I didn’t know it right away. On our way to an out-of-town trip, my husband had to take me to the ER in a little town in eastern Oklahoma. And after a long day there, I was transported back to the Tulsa hospital by ambulance. Once in the hospital, they had to wheel me through an area very near to the maternity ward and we rolled right past a beautiful newborn baby in the hallway. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t breathe or talk. I was a mess. Ultimately, I had to make a decision about how to terminate my ectopic pregnancy. Did I want to try more medication or surgery? It was a decision I agonized over. (There is no way to save a baby who never made it to the uterus, but still, I struggled with knowing what was the right thing to do with this precious baby that could not survive.) I chose surgery, and when I woke up, I found out that I had not only lost the baby, but also my fallopian tube. By the time I made it home, I was a zombie.

My mother suggested a book called I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. It is the story of Angie’s own loss, the story of the baby she could not keep. I read it in one day. My pain was still very raw and it was difficult to read the book while I was still so deep in my grief. But I am so glad I did. As I read the book I knew that I wanted God to turn my loss into a blessing. I was not sure how He could do that, but I knew that He could. I reminded myself right then and there that God makes no mistakes and I told myself that I would not waste my pain but that I would use it to become a better person.

I know my story is going to sound redundant at this point, but this is really how it happened. Weeks after I lost my third child, I became pregnant again. I felt numb when I saw those two pink lines. More waiting, followed by an inconclusive ultrasound, multiple blood tests, more ultrasounds, fear. When it looked like it was probably another ectopic pregnancy, we were surprised to find something in the uterus. But it wasn’t a viable pregnancy. I miscarried the baby. Two months later, it all happened again. Another positive test. Another miscarriage.  Five pregnancies and only one living child. My pain was deep and my hope was fading.

I remember sitting quietly with the Lord. Day after day, words escaped me. I wanted to pray, but I didn’t even know what to say. God understood. He wrapped His arms around me and just held me. I was confused. When words finally did come, they were questions. Why are you letting this happen over and over? If I am not meant to have anymore children, then why are you letting me conceive? Is my family complete? What are you trying to show me? During the previous six months, with each pregnancy loss, I would hear doctors tell me that I should probably stop trying to have a baby. I started to believe them.

I struggled with the word “faith.” I used to think it meant believing that God would. Now I knew that it meant believing that God can and that if he doesn’t, it is because His plan is different from mine. I realized that perhaps His plan was for me to have only one child. Why did that have to be a bad plan? I tried to lay down my own plan, to give it to Him. But each time I set it at His feet, I would pick it back up almost immediately. I want to give this to you Lord! I want to trust You! But it’s hard to let go of my dream!

My husband and I decided that what we needed was a break. We stopped trying for a few months. We even went as far as preventing pregnancy. I knew I could not bear another loss at that point. I needed some time. Time to renew my relationship with my husband. Time to strengthen my relationship with God. During these months I was finally able to give my plans to Him. I was able to tell Him that I trusted Him, whether He was going to give me a baby or not, and really mean it. I don’t mean to say that I no longer desired another child, but that I was content with the amazing family God had already given me.

During all of this time I blogged about my experiences. I shared what I was going through even as it happened, even while the emotions were still so raw. I was clinging to this verse:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”           

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I knew that God wanted me to use my pain to reach out to others. He wanted me to use these difficulties to become a stronger and better person. He wanted me to draw closer to Him in a way I had never been able to before. I knew that something good can come from something bad. God showed me that in letting me experience this hurt, He was allowing me to comfort others in the same way He has been able to comfort me so many times before. I was learning to shift from an inward focus on my pain to an outward focus on others and an upward focus on God. It was a blessing I didn’t expect.

A few months after we had decided to take a break from trying to conceive, I felt that it was time to get things settled once and for all. I needed to see a specialist and find out how realistic it was to hope for another baby. God led me to a wonderful doctor through a friend of mine who had been through her own journey of infertility and loss. He looked at every aspect of my fertility and discovered that not only did I have problems with my fallopian tubes, but I also had very tiny ovaries and poor ovarian reserve. Basically, although I was just thirty-one years old, my ovaries were acting more like those of a woman in her forties. Time was running out. My biological clock was ticking faster than I had known. The doctor was shocked that I had even managed to become pregnant as many times as I had. He said that considering my history and fertility issues, my chances of conceiving without intervention were less than 10% and that if I were to conceive again, there would be a 50% chance that it would be ectopic. He told me that IVF would be my best chance for a healthy pregnancy and even told me that I couldn’t wait very long to do that since my follicle count was so low. If I wanted another baby, I needed intervention and I needed it soon.

My husband and I talked about IVF. We prayed about it. Neither of us felt peace about it at that time. We decided to leave it in God’s hands. If we were meant to have another child, God would make it happen or He would direct us toward IVF. If we were not meant to have another child, we would trust the plans God had for our family of three. Either way, I wanted to start living instead of just waiting. I had wasted enough time waiting for the next child. I needed to enjoy my family as it was, without anticipating what would come next.

I feel like I’m supposed to say that I was surprised when I found out I was pregnant just weeks after being told it was nearly impossible, but I wasn’t. I was terrified. For me, it was the moment of truth. If I lost this baby, I knew I wouldn’t want to try again. When I was finally able to see my doctor for an ultrasound, I got bad news. It was another ectopic pregnancy, my third ectopic pregnancy. Furthermore, it was in my only remaining fallopian tube and would probably end my chances for ever conceiving again without intervention. I was numb. The doctor suggested methotrexate, the same drug I had used with my second ectopic pregnancy. But then he decided that he wanted to wait a couple of days to administer the drug. He told me that he wanted to give me a few days to feel comfortable with the decision and he knew that I would want some time to pray for a miracle. As far as I know, my doctor is not a born-again believer, so it was surprising to hear him say something like that. Three days later, I saw the doctor again. This time he saw a sac in the uterus! But he also still saw something in my tube. He now diagnosed me with a heterotopic pregnancy – one baby in the tube and one in the uterus. I would have to have surgery to remove the one in the tube, and the one in the uterus would have a good chance at staying healthy. Again, he wanted to wait a few days and be certain before scheduling the surgery.

I think you can guess where this is going. About two weeks after seeing those two pink lines, after multiple ultrasounds and plenty of scary news, the doctor was finally able to tell me that I had one healthy baby growing inside of my uterus and nothing in my fallopian tube. Despite everything he had seen during those ultrasounds, I did not actually have an ectopic pregnancy this time, nor did I miscarry. God protected this sweet little baby and allowed her to grow and be healthy! She was our miracle!

Our miracle baby arrived just eight weeks ago. As I close my eyes I can again feel that first moment when she was finally in my arms and the tears are flowing now just as they did then. I can honestly say that I am thankful for the difficult journey that led to her arrival. I know how to appreciate her in a way I didn’t know before. I know how to savor the moments with both of my children in a way I probably never would have had I not gone through the waiting and the loss. I have connected with people because of my journey. I am a very different person than the me from five or six years ago. I am a better person, a stronger person, because of what I have been though. And not just because of what I have been through, but also because of the way I was able to draw near to God during my journey.  And I am able to rejoice in a miracle, a true miracle from God!

BabyA

 

I suppose the most important thing I have learned during these last few years is that I can’t predict my future. Nor do I want to. If I were to plan out my own life, it would be easy, smooth, and comfortable. But if that were the case, I would never change or grow. God has a way of using the hard and messy times in my life to mold and shape me into something more beautiful. He is directing the steps of my path and He always has a better blessing in store for me than anything that I could plan for myself.

I can’t wait for the day when my girls are old enough for me to share this story with them. I want them to know that our God is great and mighty! I want them to know that he cares for every single one of His children. I want them to know that even though trusting Him is not always easy, it’s always right. I want them to know that God placed them here on this earth and even in our family for a reason. And my prayer is that they will “live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way” (Colossians 1:10) and that I will too!

Kristi

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 To read more posts from Kristi, follow her blog, A Better Blessing.

 

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)” by Mike Adkins

I have shared two of the three songs I loved hearing the Hicks sing at a Southern Gospel Jubilee years ago.  The first two were “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “In His Time.”  The third is what I call a fighting song.  I love the words.  Fighting songs keep you going when things look bleak and the results don’t seem very promising.     

“Don’t Give Up (On The Brink Of A Miracle)”

By Mike Adkins

 

Satan would have you look

at the trials of life that surround you,

And he tries to appear, and he brings

doubt and fear all around you.

Don’t look with your eye or listen with your ear.

Just cry out to God; He is always near,

And in your darkest hour, your miracle is here.

 

Oh, the devil is a thief

and he sends these troubles to confound you.

And he lies and he says,

“This time there’s no way you’ll make it through.”

But you remember God’s true Word, the battle is the Lord’s.

Don’t give in to fear; Think on things that are pure.

And praise the Lord, you’re miracle is here.

 

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; God is still on His throne.

Oh, don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

Don’t give in; Remember you’re not alone.

 

On February 2nd of 2005, we had our first IVF-ICSI attempt.  I woke up feeling like something good was about to happen – our embryo transfer was at 10:45 am.  I was staying at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and my sweet, five-year old nephew gave me two roses, one a melon color and the other yellow.  How special he (and my sister) made me feel!

The embryologist had called the day before and said we would have a transfer in the morning; one morula was ready, and he thought the 10-cell would be ready so we could transfer two.  The other two embryos had slowed down, but we were hoping they would be able to freeze them if they reached blastocyst by day 6 – the day after transfer.

At the procedure, I saw my embryos on a TV screen.  For some reason, I wrote in my journal that it was neat but not as exciting as I thought it would be.  My doctor mentioned that they were morulas, not blastocysts (optimum maturity) and that probably had to do with the condition of my eggs.  The other two embryos did not continue to develop.  This really discouraged me, and after we were alone, I cried.  I woke up at 4 am the next morning to use the bathroom and cried some more.  I sang to myself the songs I heard the Hicks sing – “No Need To Doubt Him Now” and “Don’t Give Up On The Brink Of A Miracle,” as well as Guy Penrod singing “I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About To Happen.”  I quoted Psalm 113 and my poem of faith, rejoicing, and trust, and then I remembered the words of a friend, “Stay encouraged, stay in His Word, and praise Him.”  God brought to mind our pastor’s most recent sermon from James.  I didn’t want my faith to be like the wind, driven by circumstances.  Faith and tears of doubt don’t go together.  I was encouraged in the Lord.

Yet, eight days later, my results were negative.  It was hard to hear.  My husband’s words were that he was still confident I would get pregnant, so we would just sail on.  We didn’t give up.

Don’t Give Up On Your Miracle Baby – Resolve to have audacious faith in 2014.

As an optimist, I always look forward to a new year.  Some of my goals and resolutions may be the same year in and year out, but I welcome the fresh start.  A new year is a reminder I can try again.  I don’t have to give up on what I left undone or didn’t quite reach the year before. 

This new year, 2014, don’t give up on your miracle baby or babies. 

My son is now 7 and yesterday, I came across some notes I had written the day we announced in church that I was pregnant.  I wish I had had a video cam that day, but I kept track of as many well wishes and congratulatory remarks as I could remember, and it is a precious memory that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

Year after year before that January 8, 2006 announcement, I faced times of discouragement, heartache, and confusion.  I wondered how I would ever become a mommy.  I always experienced regular cycles.  To put it plainly, once married, I had approximately 150 monthly periods in a row before I became pregnant.  After each setback or disappointment, my husband would say, “I still think you will get pregnant.”  Those words of faith encouraged me to keep pursuing my miracle baby.  Psalm 113:9 and many other Scriptures encouraged me to continue believing.     

Although it’s not as simple as putting “have a baby in 2014” at the top of your list of resolutions, I encourage you not to give up on your miracle of having a baby.  Don’t give up on faith.  In fact, resolve to have audacious faith – faith that is confident and bold. 

I don’t know what the Lord will do in your life, with your experience of infertility or loss, but I know what He did in my life, and I have seen time after time with friends and acquaintances how He has performed miracles with details unique to each couple that no one could have imagined.  Don’t give up faith.  We just don’t know how or when God will answer. 

“…Faith honors God, and God honors it.  Oh for this faith that will go on, leaving God to fulfill His promise when He sees fit!” 

Thomas Champness (Streams, March 28th)

 “Where we are dealing with a supernatural Being, and taking from Him things that are humanly impossible, it is easier to take much than little, it is easier to stand in a place of audacious trust than in a place of cautious, timid clinging to the shore.  Like wise seamen in the life of faith, let us launch out into the deep, and find that all things are possible with God, and all things are possible unto him that believeth.”

From Days of Heaven Upon Earth (Streams, March 28th)

 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

 “Impossible situations can become possible miracles.”

—Robert H. Schuller

 “Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.”

—Edwin Louis Cole

 “Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.”

—Henry Miller

 

“Joy Comes In The Morning” by William & Gloria Gaither

This song is special to me.  It goes along with Post Gaudius Luctus – Joy Succeeds Sorrow.  My husband’s quartet used to sing this song.  My mom sent me the music to this song to encourage me early on, and the fact that my parents named me Joy gives it even deeper meaning to me.  Shortly after my first laparoscopy – my first “darkest hour” in discovering I had Stage IV endometriosis – my mother-in-law called me and said she was listening to this song in her car and she just cried as she realized this song was for me.  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Joy Comes In The Morning

Words by William J. & Gloria Gaither

 

If you’ve knelt beside the rubble of an aching, broken heart,

When the things you gave your life to fell apart,

You’re not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief or pain,

But the Master promised sunshine after rain.

 

To invest your seed of trust in God in mountains you can’t move,

You have risked your life on things you cannot prove;

But to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose

Is the way to find the joy God has for you.

 

Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning;

Weeping only lasts for the night.

Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning;

The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

Hold on, my child!

Post Gaudius Luctus – Joy Succeeds Sorrow

I would like to wish away the tears that come unexpectedly, without warning, seemingly without reason. 

Yes, I cry for the baby girl – we – my husband, my son, and I want to add to our family but aren’t really pursuing. 

But is that all my tears represent, after all this time?

I remember the tears, just like the tears someone is crying today. 

I cry for others.   

I cry for the woman who is viewing her ultrasound for fibroids, cysts, or endometriosis – instead of viewing an ultrasound of a growing embryo in her uterus. 

I cry for the woman alone in the waiting room of her OB-GYN waiting for her next pap smear – instead of waiting to hear the measurements and heartbeat of her growing baby.

I cry for the woman who miscarried after IVF – instead of hearing the hCG levels after IVF were rising beautifully in the right direction. 

I cry because I have been there.

But then I pray for them.

I remember the joy. 

I pray for joy for them, too.

Post gaudia luctus.  That’s Latin for “joy succeeds sorrow.”  Several verses in Scripture confirm this.     

Jeremiah 31:13b “for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on this verse: Those are comforted indeed whom God comforts, and may forget their troubles when he makes them to rejoice from their sorrow, not only rejoice after it, but rejoice from it their joy shall borrow luster from their sorrow, which shall serve as a foil to it; and the more they think of their troubles, the more they rejoice in their deliverance. 

Psalm 126:5 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Suffering saints are in tears often; they share in the calamities of human life and commonly have a greater share in them than others.  But they sow in tears; they do the duty of an afflicted state and so answer the intentions of the providences they are under.  They shall have a harvest of joy.  The troubles of the saints will not last always, but when they have done their work, shall have a happy period. 

Psalm 30:5b “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary: If weeping endureth for a night, and it be a wearisome night, yet as sure as the light of the morning returns after the darkness of the night, so sure will joy and comfort return in a short time, in due time, to the people of God. 

“Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them.  And our sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them.  The flowers may not be pleasing to us, they may not be such as we are fond of plucking, but they are heart flowers, love, hope, faith, joy, peace – these are flowers which are planted around about every grave that is sunk in the Christian heart.” 

Streams in the Desert, April 25

 

Join the Movement. Apply the Ointment.

2013-bloggers-challenge-badge NIAW

I am trying to make a difference in the lives of people with infertility.  I know how it feels.  I know how it hurts.  I have one son, yet infertility is still with me.  I can’t take away my infertility nor can I take away your infertility.  But I can apply the ointment to help alleviate the pain of infertility.

In one word, the ointment is Jesus.

Assuage – I like that word even though I don’t use it in my everyday vocabulary! It means to lessen the intensity of something that pains or distresses.

Through prayer, His Word, a caring friend, a compassionate family member, a song, a devotion, a sermon, and a blog, Jesus applies the ointment to assuage your pain of infertility.  He soothes your troubled soul, calms your anxious heart, comforts your disappointed spirit, and quiets your fears.

National Infertility Awareness Week isn’t just a week to make others (who seem unaware of infertility) aware of infertility. This week causes me to reflect on where I have been and praise God for what He has done in my life through this trial of infertility.  In a sense, this week I relive the pain to relieve the pain for others who are hurting.  This year, I purpose to apply the salve to the women I personally know who are experiencing infertility by praying for them and encouraging them more consistently.

The word ointment comes from the Latin word unguere, meaning to anoint.  When Jesus applies the ointment to our hurting hearts, He is choosing or consecrating us to do the same for others who are hurting.

I do hope for you the joy a baby can bring.  I also pray that you will receive the ointment that can bring you joy as you journey through infertility.

On January 15,2010, I started my blog, due in part to the following devotion I had read four days earlier on January 11 from Streams in the Desert.  I had written in my Streams journal on that day in 2002, realizing I did need training to be a comforter and there would be others down the road that I could help just as someone helped me.

 

Streams in the Desert, January 11th

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”
Isaiah 40:1

Store up comfort.  This was the prophet’s mission.  The world is full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou are sufficient for this lofty ministry, thou must be trained.  And thy training is costly in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood.  Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward where thou art taught the divine art of comfort.  Thou art wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere.  Dost thou wonder why thou art passing through some special sorrow?  Wait till ten years are passed, and thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art.  Thou wilt tell them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience and helpfulness.  Selected.

“God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.”  Dr. Jowett

They tell me I must bruise

The rose’s leaf,

Ere I can keep and use

Its fragrance brief.

~~~

They tell me I must break

The skylark’s heart,

Ere her cage song will make

The silence start.

~~~

They tell me love must bleed,

And friendship weep,

Ere in my deepest need

I touch that deep.

~~~

Must it be always so

With precious things?

Must they be bruised and go

With beaten wings?

~~~

Ah, yes! by crushing days,

By caging nights, by scar

Of thorn and stony ways,

These blessings are!

For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible.

This great truth is universally used to encourage one another, whether it’s for our own reminder or to give another hope.  But if I asked you to quote its reference or share its context, would you be able to tell me?

Having just celebrated Christmas, the season of Christ’s birth, I recently read the account in the Gospel of Luke.  Not only did the angel Gabriel tell it to Mary, in Luke 1:37, to assure Mary that she would conceive a son in her womb by the power of the Holy Ghost and call him Jesus, but he also encouraged her faith by saying that her cousin Elisabeth, who was stricken in years and had been barren, was now with child.

“All the instances in the Old Testament of those having children that had been long barren, which was above nature, were designed to prepare the world for the belief of a virgin’s bearing a son, which was against nature.  No word of God must be incredible to us, as long as no work of God is impossible to him.”

Elisabeth even commended Mary’s faith and encouraged it.  “Those that have experienced the performance of God’s promises themselves should encourage others to hope that he will be as good as his word to them also.”

That is why I continue to blog.  I have experienced the performance of God’s promise, and I want to encourage you – don’t give up hope!

May God bless you and the fruit of your womb in 2013.

Quotes from Matthew Henry’s Commentary

“God Is Gracious Indeed” by Katrina

God makes everything beautiful in his time. We are just ordinary people.  We have ordinary jobs.  There is nothing spectacular about us.  We aren’t “extra” good or “super-extra” faithful.  We aren’t super-smart or super-funny.  We are just a husband and a wife who wanted to be a father and a mother.  It wasn’t just a casual desire in our hearts though.  It was deep and real.  God gave two people three extra miraculous children.  The first thing that comes to mind after our experience with infertility is that God is a very, very gracious God.

After being suspicious of having infertility issues, we began seeing physicians to see why we were not getting pregnant.  I was only 22 and my husband just 26 when we were told after multiple tests and several different physicians later that we had less than a 3% chance of getting pregnant without the help of treatment such as IVF with ICSI.  As far as we knew, the only issues lied within my husband’s sperm.  The count was extremely low, all abnormally shaped, etc. and could not attach to my eggs.  The cause of this is still unknown.  He is a healthy man, no drugs, no alcohol, no smoking, and living a minimal-to-no-stress life. However, he and his family were sponsored to leave Belarus to come to the U.S. after Chernobyl, due to radiation poisoning when he was seven years old.  This could have affected his fertility.  We did not know how it affected his brother or sister at the time because neither of them had attempted to have children nor planned to.

We had been hopeful that any issues we had were minimal to nothing and were devastated to hear the news.  How can we afford that?  $20,000+ dollars just for one attempt with IVF?  Just for a chance?  I had just graduated from college weeks before and had a large lump of student loans to begin paying off, my husband was about to drop his hours of work to increase his school hours, and we had only a small amount of savings for our “rainy day” fund.  It definitely didn’t even sound like an option.

I thought I was supposed to be a mom.  That was the biggest desire of my heart.  I’m the girl who finished a four-year college degree in a secure field in order to be able to support my family “ just in case” anything happened to my husband.  Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy the field I work in and I believe it was my calling, but my calling to be a mom came first.  I had everything planned out – first go to college, work for two years and pay off student loans and my car, buy a house within one income so I could be a stay-at-home mom, have five children and the story goes on…

It’s so hard to write out and explain all of the emotions, thoughts, feelings, and words we said and felt.  We were sad.  We were angry.  We shed many tears at the possibility of never being able to have a family of our own and if so, at what cost?  Most of all, I was confused.  If God put this desire in my heart and I had been faithful to him, why would He do this to me?  I’m not going to lie.  I really struggled.  I asked God a lot of questions.  I begged Him on my hands in knees for the opportunity to be a mother.   Didn’t God love me?  There were times I didn’t feel it.  On top of that, it was a weird combination of time standing still yet quickly ticking by at the same time.

My husband and I grieved differently, and it was hard to always support each other in the best way possible when we were struggling so much individually.  We did not share our burden with anyone for a long time.  I did all the researching.  I researched everything possible about IVF, adoption, and all of our options.  After many hours of tears, reading, and praying, we decided to attempt Mini-IVF with ICSI after consulting a physician out-of-state.

Our first attempt two years later did not result in a child.  Everything was perfectly lined up.  I did everything they instructed, and they implanted two perfect embryos.  I couldn’t move the day after taking my negative pregnancy test.  I was sad, and my husband was angry.  We had embryos left to attempt several more times, but my husband said he couldn’t try again. He was done.

However, we went back to St. Louis to attempt again.  The doctor came in and told us only 3 out of the 4 embryos that we had left were going to be able to be used and that he wasn’t hopeful that any of the three would result in a pregnancy.  These were our last embryos.  This was the last of our money.  We left feeling without hope.  Embarrassingly, we couldn’t even bring ourselves to pray about it.  God knew the desires of our hearts, and I felt like I was trying to control the situation and my life with this prayer.  I knew it was all God.  We had done everything on our part.

Two weeks later, I took an early pregnancy test and got a positive!  Dare we be excited?  We had gotten bad news for so long; we didn’t know how to react to it in fear that it would all be for nothing.  God had his hands in the timing of our pregnancy.  A dear friend, who did not know we attempted IVF again, found out she was pregnant the same week I did.  The Lord knew I needed a friend to go through this special pregnancy with.

We were shocked to find out our three “poor” embryos resulted in a twin pregnancy! Wow!  Not only was I pregnant with beautiful healthy girl/ boy twins, but I was also blessed with an uncomplicated pregnancy. They were born full-term and perfect in every way.  I was beyond grateful for the two children I never thought I would have.  I look at them every day in awe – a humbling reminder of God’s goodness despite my doubt, anger and small-mindedness.  I really underestimated my God.

I still had the desire to have more children, but I didn’t dare to hope.  I knew what the statistical chances were.  Almost zero.  I shared my desire to have more children with Joy (joyinmyjourney blogger), even though I was so thankful and loved the ones I had.  She had asked me to write my journey and testimony with infertility and becoming pregnant with the twins when they were about 5 or 6 months old.  I tried so hard to finish writing it.  I played it over and over in my mind but I couldn’t submit it. I honestly felt my story wasn’t over.  I felt so silly even thinking that.  I played it off as my emotional hopes getting too high.  I never did send it to her.

When my twins were 10 months old, I did something I never thought I would do again. I REALLY didn’t want to buy ANOTHER test.  I had already invested too much in the pregnancy test industry over the years, but I had just quit nursing a month before and my cycle was late – a week late.  How weird.  Yep, it was positive!  It was the shock of my life.  I called my OB doctor’s office and even my nurse asked if I was SURE it said positive.  The best part was calling my husband at work and telling him we were going to have another baby!  Three babies in 19 months!  He came home early with the biggest grin on his face.  Our son was born 9 months later.  My third miracle baby!  I can feel my heart swell with joy as I look at my 7-week old baby sleeping next to me.  It seemed like crazy timing, but one thing I learned through this journey is how much control I DON’T have.  God has His hand in everything, and even with all my planning, though it can be beneficial, I know it’s always His timing.  God made this journey beautiful in His time.  I love that my God has my life in His hands and it’s not in my own.  I’m thankful for a God that forgives, loves, and blesses his children!

Katrina

“God Is My Strength – Part Two” by Amy

Click on this link to read Part One

It was April 2008.  We had just turned in our life book and application into Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO) and went to our first meeting.  I’ll be honest about this – I was not only skeptical, but disbelieving.  I thought there was “no way” we would be selected for a baby.  After all we had been through, I just knew I was going to face another disappointment.  I didn’t tell anyone but my husband what I was thinking.  What’s funny is that many couples must feel this way because at the monthly meetings, the couples with babies express that you WILL get a baby.  I just had to keep telling myself that maybe this was true.  A few months passed, and we continued to come every month and volunteer where we could.  Meanwhile, we followed the advice of CPO to have a room ready for a baby to come at any time.

We got a call from one of my family members in July 2008.  My relatives’ children had been taken into DHS custody.  Would we consider fostering them?  Oh boy!  We discussed it and although both of us really didn’t want to go through what we did in the past with our DHS failure, we also knew that if anyone was qualified to do this and had the space waiting, we were.  We already had a baby room ready with bassinet, crib, some baby supplies, plus an additional room with a twin guest bed.  We even had car seats.  This sibling group was a 3 1/2 year-old girl (Seryna), a 23 month-old boy (Jax), and a 2 1/2 month-old infant girl (Lauralei).

It was a Friday night, and they were literally dropped off with the clothes on their backs, one half-full, disposable bottle, and no diapers. I’m thankful for what we did have because they came with nothing.  The first order of business was clothes, diapers, and formula.  My mother and mother-in-law came that first weekend, so my mother went shopping for us, thankfully.  Now, I logically agreed to do this because it made sense, but emotionally, I wasn’t ready.  My thoughts almost immediately were, “What have we taken on?”  This was hard.  The kids were sweet but had never had proper guidance.  As a couple, we had never had three children, let alone an infant and two toddlers at the same time.  By Sunday night, I had had a major meltdown.

We believe due to the time these little ones spent at the shelter before coming to our house, they gave us a terrible flu.  Everyone got it, including our moms.  Whether it was stress or lack of sleep, I didn’t recover from it.  In fact, I was dragging for months.  My husband was convinced it was just stress from taking care of the kids that was making me so tired.  Of course, it didn’t help that I continued to work full-time from home, working late into the night and then taking care of little ones during the day.  We also continued to volunteer at our church’s addiction program on Friday nights, which kept us very busy as well.

A few months had passed, and we attended the September CPO meeting on a Thursday night.  I remember feeling very little strength to even change the baby girl’s diaper.  I also remember thinking it was okay that we hadn’t been selected because I was pretty busy, YET I was also feeling down because another couple that had put in their application at the same time had already been selected by a birth mom.  Honestly, it was a crazy mix of emotions.

The next day, Friday, while helping during our addictions program, I pulled my husband aside and told him I thought I needed to go home because I was so tired.  He just really didn’t get it and pushed me to make it through the night, so I did.  Once I got home, I went to work all night on a project I needed to finish.  By 5 am, I came and woke my husband, saying I couldn’t finish my project because I was too tired and didn’t think I could make it to the DHS classes we had scheduled Saturday morning.  He said okay and I went to bed – for the next 3 days.  I didn’t know that I had had a fever Friday night and I didn’t realize how sick I was either.

On Tuesday about 5 pm, we got a call from CPO telling us a woman was about to deliver a baby and she wanted to meet us.  Wow!  Of course, I told my husband the timing was terrible, but there was no way we were missing this opportunity.  We called some good friends who took our kids for the evening (so we thought) and went to meet this young lady.  She almost immediately said she had chosen us for her baby.  I was in shock and also feeling very ill at the same time, but I didn’t want to look sick in front of her because I wanted her to know we were happy.  We met her at 7 pm, and by 8:01 pm, our baby girl was delivered.

It took about 10 minutes before we got to meet this amazing little one.  She was absolutely perfect, and we were so excited.  We were even able to get a room on the floor.  By Wednesday, I knew I needed a doctor for myself and ended up in the ER at the same hospital.  I was almost immediately admitted and eventually found out that I had bacterial strep A, was put on strong antibiotics, and iced down with fans running on me.  My poor husband was running between two wings of the hospital.

The nurses gave my husband a baby name book for me to look at and choose a name.  We had a named picked out before our foster kids came, but it didn’t seem to work once we saw our baby girl.  I cannot tell you how I picked a name because I could hardly look at it for more than a minute.  I would literally flip to a page and look, then put it down.  I think I flipped it to the middle of the book and at the top of the page on the right- hand side was the name Gabrielle.  I thought, “That sounds nice.”  This was a name we never discussed and never considered.  I asked my husband and he liked it too.  So, that was it.  We named her Gabrielle.

She went home with my husband on Thursday while I stayed in the hospital until Saturday, insisting I get released to go home.  Our foster kids came home on Saturday, too.  Our poor friends ended up caring for them all those days to help us out.  Meanwhile, I decided to look up what Gabrielle meant.  I had not made the connection in my mind of the origin of this name.  This was my epiphany moment.  Gabrielle means “God is my strength.”  This is when it dawned on me that it’s a form of Gabriel, and I immediately felt that God chose her name and was sending me a message of where my strength is found.  It was a good reminder to me that God was there, helping me through a time when I was weak, physically and spiritually.  It definitely helped me have faith that God can and will do the impossible.  During our trials over the next few months, I was able to draw my strength from God instead of relying on my own strength, which has always been my tendency.

We made the decision for me to quit working and solely concentrate on the children.  With that came great consequences, financially.  We struggled to pay for all of our adoption fees and costs, and because we had not finished our DHS classes due to my illness, we were also not getting compensation from them yet.   From this moment until now (4 years later), we have not completely recovered from our financial losses, but we are far from where we were back then.  The few years ahead were very hard.  In November 2008, two months after Gabbi was born, we found out at a DHS visit while the biological parents were seeing their children that the kids’ birth mom was pregnant again.  This meant another child was coming during an open case.

We decided not to talk about this subject at all and focus on the four little ones we had in our house already.  Eventually, we were faced with deciding whether or not we were willing to foster another infant when he was born in June 2009 (Joel).  Logically, it made sense to keep these siblings together, but emotionally, it was a very hard task with everything else going on in our lives.  We said yes.  In a matter of 11 months, we went from a house with no children to having 5 children under 5.

Fostering is no guarantee because these children have visits with their biological parents, and we attend court dates to hear the progress of the case.  Eventually, the biological parents decided to relinquish their rights in September 2009, giving us the option to adopt.  We, of course, could not imagine doing anything else because we had all bonded as a family.  Then, the unthinkable happened – my husband lost his job in November 2009, which put everything in jeopardy.  We were almost without income for five months while he looked for a job.  We had money from unemployment and fostering, but that’s a very small amount of income for a family of seven.  We made it through, and the very week that unemployment benefits were cut off, my husband received his first paycheck.  This is so significant because we had a particular volunteer CASA worker who wanted to remove the kids (over a disagreement we had) and without unemployment income, we were considered technically without income, making DHS able to pursue removal of the kids.  With my husband’s new job, this avenue could not be pursued, so again God intervened at the last moment for the benefit of our family.

During this time, I could not name all the blessings that were building my faith.  Like the situation above, where it was at the last minute, knowing tragedy was right around the corner, we were always saved.  We were given money, food, supplies, and clothes without asking, and many times, it was just at the exact moment we needed something.  Over and over it played in my mind, “God is my strength.”  God continued to intervene until we were able to finalize the adoption of all of our DHS foster kids and our private CPO adoption.

I look back, knowing that God answered my question, “If children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord and a reward, then what was God saying to me?”  While I was discouraged, angry, bitter and unbelieving, God was already working.  He was saying to me that I greatly blessed.  All I needed to realize was that I needed to have patience and wait on God.  I wake up everyday still amazed at how blessed I really am.

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Our last finalization, November 2010

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