“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.

 

“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

“God Is My Strength – Part One” by Amy

I’ll admit; this is probably the hardest thing for me to write about.  When it comes to my emotions, I like to bury them deep, especially when it comes to painful topics.  So, it has certainly taken me a while to get myself to a point to sit down and write this.  And still…it isn’t going to be easy.  I’ve really known all my life that I would never naturally have a baby.  I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did.  I had a lot of problems in my younger years with irregular cycles and as I got older, they got farther and farther apart.  I worried in silence, and the doctors never offered me any solution but to take birth control (which didn’t seem to make any sense to me).  So, I just ignored it for a long time.

I finally talked about it when my husband and I got engaged.  I sat him down and told him.  At the time, I don’t think he took it too seriously.  I think he believed I was over-thinking things and exaggerating.  We got married on Valentine’s Day 1999 and began our life together.  He was 27 and I was 28.  We went about our lives, working, buying a house, collecting stuff, and not thinking about it.  After about two and a half years, when I turned 30, I started thinking it was time we start thinking about a baby.  But we didn’t seek a doctor for quite some time.

Finally, we realized it was going to require some testing and help.  This is when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) from my doctor.  Syndrome?  What did that even mean?  But there was hope.  I was to take some meds, monitor my temperature every morning, do some ovulation tests, etc., and come back monthly to be monitored.  The first few months were hard because my charting was not turning out as expected.  So, the doctor increased the dosage.  I’m the first one to avoid any kind of medication because I am so sensitive to side effects.  Oh, I felt awful taking this, but I continued.  This time, my chart looked exactly how it was supposed to.  I was so excited to come back and get an ultrasound.  The disappointing news was I didn’t even ovulate.

I told myself I wasn’t going to be an emotional basket case.  I was just going to follow the doctor’s instructions without expectation.  That is impossible.  You spend too much time on this chart and temperatures and tests to not be very emotional throughout the process.  The doctor told me that I was a case that was going to require a fertility clinic.  But, as someone with PCOS herself, my doctor warned me that the drugs (daily shots) were going to be much worse than what I was already taking and told me how her own husband made her quit them after only one month because of how “crazy” they were making her.  Add to that the cost of $2500/month and I was just crushed.  I had to take a break from it for a little while.

We eventually decided instead we would adopt through DHS.  It took several months of background checks, home studies, and classes before we were approved.  Then we waited and waited.   Finally after about a year (and by this time I’m 32), we were given the option to be placed with two boys, ages 4 and 6.  We said yes.  Within a month, we had the two boys in our home.  It was both a wonderful time and a very trying time.  We were unprepared.  As much as the classes try to teach you, it’s an experience no one understands until going through it.  We failed.  After a year, we decided not to adopt.

Looking back, we realize we made so many mistakes.  We both had so much guilt for failing, too.  Our thoughts have always been with those boys as we completely turned away from adoption, fertility, or any other talk of children for years after that.  My husband still carries their pictures in his wallet, and I have kept all the pictures and their life books for when I can get them to the boys.  It was another silent sadness we now carried with us into the present day.  (Recently, I was fortunate to find out that both boys were adopted when I made contact with the older one.  That has given us some peace all these years later.)

A few more years go by, and during this time, my husband gets saved.  Yes, he was an atheist (a nice one), but nevertheless, an atheist.  So, even though I got saved as a child, I had spent much of my life apart from God.  By my husband getting saved, it brought both of us to the Lord.  We both believe that our loss and failure with the boys set him on a journey that ultimately brought him to the cross.  What a blessing from such a tragedy.  As a result, we found a good church home and some great friends.  Even then, we didn’t talk with anyone about this.  There was more suffering in silence.  As far as anyone knew, we just happened to be a childless couple married six years by this time.  So, we dedicated ourselves to serving the Lord and helping others.

It was not longer after, we found out about a local ministry, Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO), from another church member who had adopted through them.  It was 2006 by this time and we agreed to go with this friend to a meeting.  Many different people adopting were giving their testimonies, and one couple told of their failed adoption in which they were raising their baby and the bio father came back into the picture and ended up with custody after they had him for quite a while.  That completely terrified me and I left thinking I cannot endure any more losses.  I can’t do it.  By the way, I’ve heard so many people say that there are unknowns in a pregnancy (and there are) and unknowns in life (of course) and they equate it to the adoption process.  But, I don’t think it really compares.

This journey felt hopeless to me.  It was beyond me and out of my control.  And because of that, I avoided it.  Like I said, we dedicated ourselves to serving the Lord, but for me, I never trusted the Lord.  I did most everything in my own strength.  So, choosing to go through the adoption process now would mean I need to learn to trust the Lord in whatever happens including a potential loss.  It took another two years.

During this time, we got a phone call from my mother who heard about a lady about to have twins.  She had found an attorney to help her locate an adoptive family.  It was very short notice so I wrote a one page “life story” and sent it in.  She chose three families to interview and we happened to be one of them.  I was nervous, worried and excited.  We fasted and prayed for three days and I was certain that this was God’s answer to our prayer.  We could in one moment have our family complete.

We were the second couple to meet with her.  She seemed nice and things went well.  We had church friends praying for us during this meeting as well, so I just knew this was it.  We saw the third couple arrive as we left.  The next day we found out she had chosen the third couple.  Once again, I was crushed.  I was so sure about this.  I told the attorney I needed to know what was the deciding factor and he told me that she was leaning towards picking us after we left and he agreed that we were also the best fit, but then the wife of the third couple begged her and pleaded with her to pick them so she did.  It all seemed very unfair.  But, it was done and we were back again, facing this ever-so-vast emptiness in our hearts.

Why, I kept wondering,”was the Lord doing this?  To be honest, I was quite angry about it.  I remember so many Mother’s Days, thinking if children are a blessing and heritage from the Lord and a reward, then what was God saying to me?  I felt punished.  But, I never told anyone but my husband what I was thinking.  I knew it was wrong, but I had no way to feel differently about it.

Despite that, in 2008, married nine years and at age 37, I remember running into the church member, who now had two adopted children through CPO, and thinking to myself, “What am I waiting for?”  It finally dawned on me that by trying to protect my heart from another potential loss, I was also pushing away any potential blessing God might have in store.  So, while I was bitter and angry with God, I finally realized that I had a role to play, which I had been avoiding.  We almost immediately made a life book, got our application filled out, and went to the very next meeting turning it all in to CPO.  And the real test of faith began.

Click on this link to read Part Two

 

“God Is Good. All The Time.” by Kathy

My infertility story is nothing exotic. I suppose it could be summed up like this: I wanted kids, but could not have them. God surprised us with two late in life. Now they are grown.

Okay, okay. Guess there might be a little more to the story.

Terry and I did not marry young. I was 29 and he was 32. The same year we married, we began trying to have children. After most of a year with no success, we began having some tests done. Terry was producing plenty of healthy sperm. My fallopian tubes were open and useable. My periods were very irregular, so finding a time that I might be ovulating was described by my doctor to be like “finding a needle in a haystack.” In 1985, I began seeing a fertility specialist. He put me on what seemed at the time to be a horrendously expensive drug called Clomid. I took it for several months, but with no success. Terry and I decided that would be all the intervention we would use. Back in the early ‘80s, there was not quite as much available as is used now, but we both knew that I was not emotionally prepared to go through an ordeal to get pregnant, with no guaranteed result. So, we left the matter in God’s hands.

Every Mother’s Day was hard for me. I would cry. This went on for years and years. I enjoyed my nieces and nephew and “adopted” a few more along the way. But, my arms were still empty, and I still desired a baby of my own.

I had worked as a church secretary all of my adult life, and in 1988 we decided it was best for me to quit work, so I did. Getting pregnant was something we had totally given up on. I did not quit work in order to have a better chance at getting pregnant. I quit because we knew it was right. Exactly one year after I quit work, Terry and I left on a trip to French Polynesia. My period was late, but I wrote it up to the excitement of international travel. I thought nothing more about it. Soon after we got back, Dr. Bill Rice held a revival meeting at East Central. I was there every night, but was feeling a little bit queasy. I would take a few crackers to munch on. After the meeting was over, I mentioned to Walta Hattaway about how I was feeling. She said, “Kathy, do you think you might be pregnant?” That possibility had never entered my mind! Monday morning, after Terry went to work, I called my gynecologist’s office and asked them about a pregnancy test. The nurse told me to sterilize a container and bring the first urine of the morning in to their office, so I did. I did not tell Terry I was doing this. We had too many disappointments for too many years, and I was not going to get his hopes up. I would handle this disappointment alone.

After I handed over the container of urine to the nurse, she soon returned and said, “Kathy, I think you might want to sit down! You’re pregnant!” I was just blown away with this unexpected and very happy news! I paid my bill and was given a receipt that said “Positive Pregnancy Test.” I drove straight from the doctor’s office to where my husband was working at his family’s boat dealership. Terry was not expecting me, so when he saw my car pull into the parking lot, he came to the door. I did not say a word to him, but simply held up the paper that said “Positive Pregnancy Test.” His response was, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Of course, most of his family was there working with him, so they rejoiced with us. Right away, we told my Mom and all our friends. People were so happy for us! Many friends rejoiced with us just as if they were our flesh-and-blood family!

After my second appointment with an OB/GYN someone had highly recommended, that doctor said, “I think you need to see Dr. Beeson.” Dr. Beeson is a high-risk obstetrician who for years was the chairman of the OB/GYN department at OU. He trained many other doctors. I was cared for by the best of the best! (The reason I was sent to him is that I have diabetes.) Well, I was petrified of having a huge and unhealthy baby, so I was super careful with everything I ate. While pregnant with Julie, I gained just 7 ½ pounds, and she weighed about ½ a pound more. God gave us a beautiful, healthy baby girl in June of 1990, when I was 38 and Terry was 41. When she was about 20 months old, I miscarried a baby I did not realize I was pregnant with. Then, a few weeks before she was 3 ½ (in November of 1993), God blessed us with another perfectly healthy baby, “Tommy” (now Tom).

I really believe God did all this for us to PROVE HIMSELF STRONG! Had I opted for a lot of medical intervention, then the doctors would have been given the credit, and not God. I am not saying medical intervention is wrong; I am just saying it was not right for me.

Today, our late-in-life daughter is newly married, a kindergarten teacher, and going to Russia as a missionary. Our son is a first-semester college student, studying to be a computer network engineer. They have both brought us much joy and made us very proud OLD parents!

God is good. All the time.

“In His Time” by Gina

When my husband William and I got married in November of 1997, we were both ready to begin our family immediately.  Little did we know, God had other plans for us.  After four years of trying to conceive and to no avail, we decided to seek medical help.  For years I had doctors tell me that there was nothing wrong, that we just needed to relax and quit worrying about things and that if we were not so uptight, it would happen.

I started researching infertility and began charting my cycles each month and after about a year of doing this with no results, I was convinced that there was something wrong.  I had to change doctors three times because it seemed that no one would take me seriously and listen to what I knew was going on.  Through the testing that followed the next several years, it was finally concluded that I had severe endometriosis.  As most who suffer from endometriosis know, this disease can be extremely frustrating.  There are so many unknowns and it usually leaves you with many unanswered questions.  Some common ones I struggled with were: “Why do I have it?”  “What did I do to cause this?”  And the most frustrating of all for me was, “If every test comes out that nothing is physically wrong with my reproductive organs, why am I not pregnant yet?”

These questions plagued me for years, and like many other women who have struggled with infertility, I watched time and time again as my friends and family conceived, carried their babies to term and delivered beautiful, healthy babies.  My emotions were so unstable during this time.  My friends and family were afraid to share their joyous news with me, which hurt me because I truly was so happy for them, but every positive they received made me feel so sad about my situation.  It seemed like a never-ending roller coaster ride that I didn’t want to be on.

I think the most hurtful thing during that time was that I felt that God was not answering my prayers but pouring out blessings on everyone around me.  I compared my state to that of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:10 as she dealt with her own barrenness,  “ And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.” I truly was in this state as well.  I prayed, I wept, and bitterness was beginning to set in on me.   I felt so self-centered and selfish, always thinking about me and my condition.  Looking back, those were some very sad and lonely times for me.

Over the next few years, William and I considered in vitro fertilization (IVF).  We even got as far as meeting with a physician and were actually filling out the paperwork when both of us immediately knew that this was not the path that we were to be taking, at least not at that very moment.  We continued praying and searching for alternative ways to build our family.  An attorney introduced us to the idea of adoption.  We first looked into overseas adoption, but could not find peace in that decision and decided that was not the path we were to take either.  We finally settled on becoming a resource family through the Department of Human Services.  This decision was absolutely life changing for us and I mean that in the best way!  I still can’t believe how everything fell into place as we began to start our family and I would like to share a few pieces of that story with you, so you can see just how great the Lord worked in our lives.

We were approved in August of 2003 to become adoptive parents.  I was praying that we would be placed with an infant.   I wanted so badly to experience that part of motherhood.  Our social worker told us it would take some time to be placed with a child, especially an infant, sometimes it could take several years.  I was very surprised when our phone rang in December of that same year with a possibility of a 3 ½ year-old boy.  I have to admit, at first, I was not on board with the age of the child; I was hoping for a newborn or at least a baby that was under a year old.  I went and met with the social worker and as soon as she showed me the pictures of Tevin, my heart melted….I saw a beautiful little boy who needed a home.  My eyes were not clouded with age; age didn’t matter.   He was such a cute little guy and so in December of 2003, Tevin came home with us!   Talk about a wonderful Christmas gift.  After only six months in our home, we finalized the adoption of our first child.  We were finally parents and I was a mommy!   God had answered our prayers!  God was so good to work out so many problems that could have occurred during that process and then, He continued to pour out blessings on us over the next few years!

In November of 2005, I was called to give temporary care to a newborn baby boy for another foster parent who was dealing with health issues in her family.  That temporary care turned permanent the first week of December and it looked like this little baby might possibly be up for adoption as well.  On December 19th, I received a call that they had found a family for the baby to live with.  I was very heartbroken.  Although the goal is always for reuniting with the parents or biological family, in the back of my mind, I always thought what if…I was not prepared for the phone call that I received three days later.  I received the call on Taleah on December 22nd.  Her birth mother was in the hospital delivering her as we spoke, and they wanted to see if I was up for keeping another newborn.  I hesitated after they told me that she had three other siblings in custody and that the only reason she couldn’t go there was because that foster home was full; however, if a spot opened, they would move her to be with the siblings.  I almost said no, but something (God, I believe) prompted me to say yes and so we took her.  The next day, I went and picked her up.  She was amazing and I fell in love with her quickly!

Two days later, on Christmas Day, I knew that her leaving my home would be too hard for me to take, especially if her stay was extended, so I wanted to meet with the other foster family and tell them my heart or tell them to take her quickly because the DHS workers really felt that this baby would go up for adoption.  We went out to my mother-in-law’s for Christmas dinner and she had a HUGE surprise for us!  The other family that had the other three other siblings was her current preacher and his wife, who was also my husband’s and my former preacher!  They too were resource parents in another county.  They had already adopted two of her siblings and had the third in foster care at the time but knew they could not keep taking this couples’ children.  Space was limited and they already had ten children in their home with plans of adopting them all.  They had been so burdened by not knowing where Taleah was that they had decided to call DHS after Christmas and tell them that they would do whatever they needed to make a space for her.  They were telling this story to my mother-in-law and when they compared details, they realized that we were the other foster family.  When they found out that she had been placed with William and me, we all knew that God had worked this out perfectly and that it was a miracle.  MANY tears of joy were shed that day!

Several huge things happened that don’t normally happen in a case like Taleah’s that I want to point out, so that God can get all the glory.  First of all, her siblings resided in another county and the fact that her mother delivered in our county opened the door to us even being able to foster her temporarily.  Secondly, had the little boy that we had in our home not been removed three days before Taleah was born, we would not have been the ones to receive that telephone call.  God’s hand TRULY was present in yet another wonderful Christmas present for us.  Telling that story still gives me chills, it is so AMAZING and hard to believe that it happened at all, let alone the way that it did.  Everything just fell into place perfectly.

After being blessed with our first two children through adoption, we decided that the timing might be right for us to try IVF.  We still struggled with the thought that perhaps we were taking things out of the Lord’s hands if we sought this route of treatment.  After talking with my pastor’s wife one day, I was explaining to her that I felt so selfish for still wanting to conceive and carry a child, especially after the Lord had been so good to us through adoption.

She said two things that really helped me get past any struggle I had with IVF.  The first was, it wasn’t selfish of me to want to be a mother in the sense of carrying and delivering a child.  God had created women to fulfill that very function and that He had placed that desire in my heart as a woman.  The other was the struggle that William and I dealt with on taking things out of God’s hands.  She said to me, “Gina, if God does not intend for you to bear a child, you will not bear a child.  You cannot take anything out of God’s hands!”  Her words of counsel put us at complete ease with pursuing IVF.  If the process worked, great!  If it didn’t, we had already been blessed with two beautiful children.

We were referred to a wonderful doctor and in the fall of 2007, our third child, Kaylee Rose, was born to us.  Our final addition to the family arrived in the spring of 2009.  We named her Kimberlee.  I’m not sure of the exact statistics on IVF, but I know that the percentage of success on a first try is somewhere around or below 50% and on frozen cycles, the success rate is much lower, probably around 35% or even lower.  We tried two cycles and both were successful!  I am still in awe at God’s allowing us to experience the joy of parenthood by adoption and by conception.  One boy and three girls later, our family is complete, unless of course the Lord decides to allow us any more children!

Looking back over the last thirteen years, I can now see how important it was for us to wait on starting our family.  God was trying to teach me patience so that I could experience the full blessings that He had in store for me.  In Romans 5:3, the Bible says ”And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.”  This verse proved so true in our situation.  Had we been able to immediately conceive and not go through the tribulation of infertility, our family would not be complete because we never would have considered the adoption process and we would not have Tevin and Taleah today.  God had other plans for our family.  He had bigger and better plans for our family.  While I couldn’t see His plan clearly years ago, I can now see clear as day just what He had in mind.  I learned a very important lesson through all this and it is that the best blessings come “In His Time.”  Some things are worth waiting for!

Gina

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