“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 Gracious” by Rachelle

The teen years are a great time of friendships, school projects and activities.  For me I enjoyed being a teen and everything about friends and family.  I loved to play sports and worked hard in school to do well because it did not come naturally.  In the middle of March 1990 a doctor confirmed a knot in my stomach as being a tumor and set me up for surgery.  The results were a surprise to all, for it was a cancerous tumor so large it consumed my entire abdomen and destroyed my right ovary.  The doctors sewed me back up, started me on chemotherapy that day, and gave me a 30% chance to make it through.  Little did they know I had a God that could spare my life and show me His grace.

As treatment continued so did the side effects.  The doctors informed my mom and me that two of the drugs given in the regimen were known to cause infertility.  Knowing this did not necessarily concern me until my future husband came into my life, and we discussed the possibility of not being able to have our own children.  Adoption would be an option if that were the case.   We decided to let God direct in our lives and did nothing to prevent a pregnancy.  I became pregnant eight months after we were married, but in the back of my mind I had always felt like this was going to be possible.  We named our son Isaac.

After about a year we were ready for another baby.  If I can have one then maybe more?  Month by month passed and after another two years, I began having some changes to my body.  My cycles became erratic, and I was having hot flashes.  I took a pregnancy test every time I missed a month because I thought each one could be the month.  I started skipping cycles for a month, then two, and sometimes three.  The emotional roller coaster I was on made it tough to keep smiling.

I referred to Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.”  I had learned this while I was waiting for my husband.  I was married two weeks before I turned 26 and felt like that was an eternity to wait, but leaned on this verse often.  Now I was using it again in my life as I longed for another child.

My husband and I decided it was time to see a specialist.  I walked into the interview with the fertility doctor, and she proceeded to ask me questions to learn more about what was going on.  After the interview, she told me her thoughts.  I was pre-menopausal, and most likely I would be going through menopause in a year or two.  I was only 33!  The test results showed just that and another pregnancy was highly unlikely.  She did not want to suggest any fertility treatment because of the small chance of pregnancy and high cost.  To find that one egg that was fertile was not worth the time, money, and emotions.   She encouraged adoption, which we had already decided would be the next step for us.  We had a four year old, and we felt strongly about having a sibling for him.

We started adoption through the state, but it would take another year to get through; there was a home study and parenting classes, and then we began receiving names each month of children needing homes.  We desired an infant and that possibility was very slim.  Now it had been five years since our son was born and four solid years of trying to have a baby.  “What next, Lord?  We know You want us to have more children in our home.”  He gave us a peace about private adoption, and that He would provide the funds.  We put our rent home up for sale and would wait to use that money for the adoption.

Our rent home was not selling AND I had not had a period since November 16th.  Six months passed and we headed on our annual two-week vacation, this year to the Northeast to visit my husband’s grandparents.  I felt so ill that trip and threatened my husband with going to get a pregnancy test, but I had done that so many times in the past four years and it had always been the same result.  I did not want that disappointment again.

The day after we got home, I had waited long enough and stopped to get TWO tests.  I took them both and they were both positive.  I called my husband to tell him, but I could not and should not do this over the phone, so I just said hi.  I also called my OB/GYN and set up an appointment for the next day to have a test done.  When my husband got home, I showed him the tests and told him about the doctor’s appointment.  We would wait to see what they said.  The doctor’s test was also positive and because I had no idea when I got pregnant, an ultrasound was performed and put me at seven weeks along.  We were having a miracle baby!  God’s grace.  Why does He give us so much of His grace?  I do not know how to answer that because I am a sinner, and I do not understand it, but I was saved by that grace through faith.

Ian was born in December 2009.  He was named after his dad for Ian is John in Scottish and Hebrew, but it also means God Is Gracious.  He truly is, and even though we are undeserving many times of that grace, He still gives it to us.