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.”

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“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

Our Road To IVF – Money Issues

Our road leading to IVF seemed long.  From the first time IVF was recommended as our best chance at pregnancy, it took about 3 ½ years for us to eventually proceed with IVF, mostly because of concerns about the cost.  However, with pastoral and godly counsel and much prayer, we felt God’s hand upon us, even guiding us to the center He wanted us to use.

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”
(Elisabeth Elliot in “God’s Timing”, Faith That Does Not Falter.  )

This quote describes our road to IVF.  After surgery and treatment for Stage IV endometriosis, my doctor’s recommendation was that we try to get pregnant for a year, but if not, she said our best chance for pregnancy was IVF.  We were not initially inclined to do IVF.  At first, it seemed drastic.  If it was still possible to get pregnant within that year, why jump to IVF, when it would cost $10,000 (in 2001) for a 50% chance of pregnancy?  This was something we reasoned together but did not try really communicate with our doctor to find out more.  The $10,000 would be worth it if I got pregnant, but to spend that much money and not get pregnant with one chance and then be out $10,000 seemed like a huge risk to us.  It would have been both financially and emotionally devastating.

I didn’t get pregnant on my own that year, and after seeking treatment from a different specialist, we were again advised that IVF was our best chance for pregnancy.  At the time, we wanted to try IUI since it did not seem as “invasive” and was also less expensive, although the success rate was not as high as IVF.  When IUI didn’t produce a pregnancy, we sought to add to our family through adoption and also started to read a little more about IVF.

In the spring of 2004, my sister called me about an episode that aired on Dr. Phil.  It was about a shared-risk program for IVF in Washington, D.C.  I looked it up on the internet also and found out shared-risk costs more than one traditional IVF cycle, but some programs refund 70-100% of your money, if you do not go home with a live baby after a certain number of attempts.  It sounded like something feasible for us, maybe a financial risk worth taking.  It is more like a type of insurance, since we did not have insurance coverage for infertility nor live in a state that mandated coverage.

Summertime rolled around and my husband decided to ask our pastor’s counsel about IVF.  It was like a burden lifted off of us when he talked to him.  We had a green light!  I remember asking him, “Why did you ask him about this now?  Why not a year ago?!”  The doctors always said we had “a window of opportunity”.  All I can say is…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

That summer the show on Dr. Phil aired again and my mother-in-law taped it for us.  After my husband’s talk with Pastor, we watched the program.  I looked it up on the internet and tried to figure out how we could make it work.  It would be costly just for traveling and lodging.  A few days later, I did a web search on shared-risk IVF and a company came up called Integramed (now known as Attain IVF.  They did a similar shared-risk program with a handful of approved reproductive centers in the U.S.  At the time there were no centers in our state, but the closest one to us “just happened” to be only four hours’ driving distance from where we lived and 5 miles from my sister’s house!  That location definitely sounded more practical and feasible.

I prayed for peace about this center.  We also scheduled an IVF consult with our doctor locally to compare options.  I prayed Psalm 102:2b “In the day when I call, answer me speedily.”  And He did!  Praise the Lord!  By the end of October, in one day – the same day – the Lord answered my prayer by closing the door on our local doctor and opening the door to the center out-of-state.

Isaiah 30:21. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

We knew this is where the Lord was leading us.  Within two weeks, we had our first appointment.  Then we were accepted into the shared-risk program, and by January 2005, we did our first IVF.  This definitely turned out to be the best option for us because we I did not get pregnant on the first attempt, although if I had, it still would have been worth it to us.  It was God’s timing, and…

“We will know when we need to know, not before.”

Note: I am presenting our story of shared-risk as one of many financial options to have a baby.  We had our baby in 2006, and so I am sure there are now even more programs and ways to save money, raise money, get the most out of your money – all that will hopefully lead you on the road to having your baby.
Article on Affording the Cost of Infertility Treatments