A Faith Without Happy Endings

prairie-woman-at-sunset

As I lay here with the sun barely peeking over the horizon and my little miracle baby sleeping soundly on my side, I find tears wetting my eyes.
God has been faithful to me again and again. There have been days it hurt to hope. It felt so foolish. And yet I clung to little pieces of it because I knew God would show up somehow.

I am reading a book called Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors. She is an incredible woman who moved to Uganda at the age of 19 to run a ministry and has now adopted 13 girls. She says:

“In the wounding he has changed us, renamed us. He redefined redemption and beauty for me not as a happy ending, but as His presence with me, regardless of the ending.”

I had a happy ending in mind for my infertility but as hard as I tried, it wasn’t happening. I screamed and begged God to please give it to me. My heart ached. I didn’t know I could withstand such hurt.
I can look back now and see him there with me. See the people he placed in my path at the right times. See some of the orchestrating that can only be done by God.
I stretched and grew as a person, in my relationship with him, and in my relationships with others. But there were times I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to Him. And a very wise woman and counselor told me “it’s okay. You don’t have to right now.” So I didn’t. I acknowledged He was there and I put one foot in front of the other, but I didn’t have anything to say to Him for a while. And I believe he was okay with that. He continued to love me and to put my story together.

My earthly father became less apart of my life when I turned 12. Him and my mother divorced and we moved to Colorado. I remember feeling then like my world was crumbling. Something I never imagined could happen to my family. Up until that point I’d had a good childhood. I had always felt loved, supported, and stable. I grew up going to church and learning Jesus loved me. My parents created a safe and loving home. But people have free will, the world is full of lies and mistakes, and sooner or later we all experience disappointment. I am where I am in life because of good choices and bad choices. Some my own, some from other people. Before he suddenly died at the age of 54, we did find peace in our relationship.

Pain is not enjoyable. It is something we all try desperately to avoid. However it is inevitable in a world with sin. And it’s  hard to understand why things happen the way they do. Another quote from Katie’s book stood out to me.

“A faith that trusts him only when the ending is good is a fickle faith. A faith that trusts him regardless of the outcome is real.”

He doesn’t promise happy endings here on this earth. He doesn’t promise a life of material gain and success. He promises His presence with us through every joy and every loss. And the joy is so much sweeter when you know the pain of loss.

~Baby Dreams~

ballerina

 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

A question we often ask little children. There’s usually a lot of answers like policeman, fireman, ballerina, and princess. However my answer was always 2 things. I wanted to be a writer and a mommy. As I got older dreams of being a famous writer faded but I never wavered on being a mom. From an early age I was more of a nurturer. When my little brother would get turned away from sleeping in my parents bed, he just came to his big sister’s room. When he couldn’t sleep at night because our parents were going through a divorce, I would scratch his back and comfort him until he fell asleep. It’s just how God made me. A care taker.

Fast forward to getting married at 23 and being a mom was now a dream that would be coming true very soon! I couldn’t wait for the growing bump, the nursery, the stroller shopping, and the precious moments of excitement with my husband. He would kiss my belly and feel the kicks with me. It would be nothing short of blissful ♥︎

We decided to wait a couple years to enjoy married life as just the two of us and to save up for a house. We wanted to be smart about starting a family. The house came and we decided to start the process. After almost a year I finally got the positive pregnancy test. Phew! I was relieved that we were able to get pregnant because after 11 months of trying I was starting to worry.

After just a few days, the relief went away and fear settled in. I was spotting and it wasn’t going away. I became sick with worry and called the Dr.’s office several times to try and get in. I needed them to tell me everything was okay and I was worrying over nothing. I needed to hear a heartbeat. They kept telling me it was too early and I’d have to wait. The ultrasound appointment finally came and I just knew that it would make me feel better. I would see that baby on the screen. I was sure I was worrying over nothing.
However my fears came true that day. No baby, no heartbeat. Go home and miscarry they said. Call us when it’s over. I was in shock and terrified. How could they be so cold? To them, I was just another patient. Just another woman miscarrying. To me, this was a nightmare and I had no idea how to handle it. When would it happen? How would it happen? How painful would it be? Both physically and emotionally. Would I know when the baby passed? My head was swimming. I wanted to scream “NO! You’re wrong! This is my baby, my dream come true. You have to stop this.” Little did I know, this would be the first of many heartbreaks to come.

To make a very long story a little shorter, that miscarriage ended up being a molar pregnancy. In a molar pregnancy the tissue that’s meant to become the placenta overgrows, becoming a mass of cysts. In some cases there is no accompanying embryo, while in other cases, a partially formed fetus is present. This is called a partial molar pregnancy. According to the Dr after doing a D&C they determined it was a partial molar pregnancy. Because of the rapid growing mass of cysts they had to scrape out, I was at risk for the cysts returning and developing cancer. We ended up at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center to resume treatment. They were able to treat me with weekly shots of a low dose chemo medicine. Once I was cleared, we were ready to put it behind us and get pregnant again. This would be a distant memory and I was determined to make it a distant memory as quickly as possible.

Fast forward to 8 months later and we started seeing a reproductive Dr. to see if some fertility treatments were needed. I hadn’t had a cycle in 8 weeks but according to all the pregnancy tests, I wasn’t pregnant. He put me on Clomid and we did some IUI treatments (IUI stands for Intrauterine Insemination).
No luck.  I eventually found out I have PCOS. I went to another Dr. and tried more IUI treatments. We ended up doing 7 IUI’s all together. Nothing.

Well, it was now time to talk about IVF.
Oh boy. The big guns! Wow, we really thought we’d be pregnant by now. Were we really discussing IVF? We also talked about adoption. We went back and forth. What path do we take? We landed on IVF and sought out CCRM. This is a reproductive center in Colorado that is one of the top rated in the nation. Their success rates are very high! Women come from all over, even other countries to seek treatment from them. And they were right here in our own backyard.
Once we started the IVF process, we were overwhelmed but full of hope again! Our baby dreams would finally be coming true! We went through the endless tests, the medications, the hormones, the large amounts of money. It was all going to be worth it though when we heard that heartbeat and felt that baby growing!

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Prepping for my IVF retrieval

We had the IVF embryo transfer and waited 9 days for the results. The call came and the nurse said, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”
Sweet relief and ecstasy filled my body. This was it! All our heartache had come to an end. We entered the ultrasound room at 6 1/2 weeks pregnant, so eager to see that sweet baby. But instead, we were told there was no heartbeat. The baby had stopped developing.
We were shocked and confused. So confused. Why was this happening? The Dr. said it was a fluke. The eggs were healthy and I was pretty healthy. Besides the PCOS, there was nothing else that seemed to be in the way. After some more testing, they did find that some of my numbers were off in my blood. My blood was thicker than normal. So I was put on strong blood thinners. 2 shots in my stomach everyday that left nasty bruises. We crossed our fingers hoping this would be the answer. We did the IVF process 2 more times. Each time being told I was pregnant. And each time the ultrasound revealing no heartbeat.

I never blamed our CCRM Dr. He, unlike many other doctors we encountered, was very compassionate and sensitive with us. We knew he wanted us to be successful and grieved with us when we weren’t. He was knowledgeable, careful, and very good at his job. I would recommend him to anyone seeking treatment! In fact he and his wife went through IVF to conceive their own children. He understood the difficulty and the heartache.

I can’t tell you how devastating it is each time you get the negative pregnancy test or the news that the fertility treatment failed. It just screams failure at you over and over. And my sweet, strong, stable husband didn’t deserve this. He wanted to be a dad as badly as I wanted to be a mom. I kept thinking, “if he had married anybody else he’d be a dad by now. Hell, he might be a dad to 3 or 4 kids by now. But instead he got the short end of the stick. He got me.”
I felt shame, rejection, grief, failure. I had sacrificed so much and done everything in my power to make this happen. But still, here we were. No baby.
I had even held on to my faith, to God. I just knew if I kept trusting God and doing the right christian things, He would bless us. Everything I had believed in and been taught in church was all crumbling. My world was crumbling.

Our friends and family stood by while we went through each miscarriage, each failed treatment. They prayed for us, they cried with us. They even shouted angrily at God with us. I remember thinking God doesn’t care about me. I’ve dreamed of being a mom my whole life and He keeps ripping it away from me. Why would He do this if He loved me like He says he does?

Within a week I had 4 (not 1 but 4!) incredible women come to me and say they felt God telling them to offer surrogacy to me and my husband. They wanted so badly for us to be parents and didn’t understand why this was happening. But they knew God had given them the gift of fertility and that He wanted them to offer it to us.

BAM! There it was. I felt it clear as day. This was God telling me, showing me, that He did indeed love me and care about me so very deeply. He put this strong desire in me to be a mom for a reason. He had plans for the future of our family.

My beautiful, compassionate, amazing, selfless, Christ-like, and dear dear friend Liz is now carrying our baby. She has been sick and nauseous and tired beyond belief carrying that little miracle and yet she still shows nothing but happiness to do it. The connection we have is unexplainable. She is giving my precious baby life! Something I could not do. It is a gift we will never be able to repay to her. She is a true example of Christ’s sacrifice for all of us. A gift we will also never be able to repay.

After 6 years our baby dreams are finally coming true. We’re having a baby boy! And that little boy will be loved so deeply and so gratefully. He will know how much he was prayed for and desired. He will know it took a whole village of people to get him here.

And he was always part of God’s plan.

Beforeyouwere

 

Benjamin-22

What Women Going Through Infertility Wish They Could Say

First, a little humor:

yourinfertiletoo

Then, a little encouragement:

blessedisshe

Now, onto my post 🙂

Going through infertility has changed me and my outlook in so many ways. It’s a grief process that just never ends. You go through it over and over until you think you can’t take it anymore. But it just keeps coming.

I’ve talked with several other ladies who are or have experienced infertility as well. We all agree that it’s truly shocking what people will say to you. Many times, they just aren’t thinking when they say it. They don’t understand what we go through mentally and emotionally every single day.

After talking to these other women, I’ve compiled a list of things we wish we could say to everyone. My hope is that it will prevent strained relationships and a lot of hurt feelings.

  1. Please understand that it’s a big deal and the worst feeling ever for us

You know how a lot of women have dreamed of being a mom since they were little? Well, women with infertility have too. And now we have an empty room waiting to be a nursery. We have a house waiting to hold our children’s laughter, tears, celebrations, and memories. We have an SUV waiting to hold a car seat.  We have a play room waiting to be played in. So here we are waiting and waiting to give our future children all those things we now have. And it’s not happening.

We feel sad, devastated, ashamed, out of control, helpless, angry, lost, left behind, and lots and lots of other things. We rejoice in our friends’ growing families, but that sad pit in our stomach never goes away.

  1. Don’t tell me what you think I should do or what you think God’s plan is for me

This is my story. Everyone’s stories and journeys are different. I know you’ve heard other infertility stories from your friend, your sister’s friend, your grandma’s friend’s granddaughter. But that’s theirs. This is mine. What happened or didn’t happen for some people is different from what will or won’t happen for me. Please don’t tell me what I should do to “fix” my problem. For example:

 

  • Just Relax
  • Don’t think about it or stress so much
  • Change your diet
  • God doesn’t want you to have kids
  • Adopt, and then you’ll get pregnant
  • Maybe God just wants you to adopt
  • Have you tried *insert baby making sex advice*?
    (Believe me we’ve tried millions of different “approaches”)
  • Everything happens for a reason, just wait and it’ll eventually happen
  • Etc Etc Etc

 

Instead, just tell me you’re thinking of me, praying for me, hurting for me. That’s all I need to hear right now. You have no idea what God has in store for my life. Just be there for me to confide my hurts, pray for me and my husband, and share in this unknown journey with me. You don’t need to have any answers or advice.

  1. Don’t buy or give me things for when I eventually have kids

It will just sit in my house and remind me I STILL haven’t been able to conceive a child. I would like to tell you I don’t want it, but then I might hurt your feelings. So instead I take it, say thank you, and die a little inside. I understand that you may have good intentions, but it’s a terrible idea. Just wait until we have a child on the way. Then it will be exciting instead of awkward and hurtful.

  1. Don’t tell me all the terrible infertility stories you’ve heard

I’ve been told about people who tried every fertility treatment possible including IVF and still failed to conceive, got divorced because it affected their marriage, never were able to have kids, had miscarriage after miscarriage. I already worry about these things people! You don’t have to tell me horror stories about it. Please Stop!

  1. Don’t tell me how my infertility affects YOU

I’m sorry that you feel awkward telling me you’re pregnant, being pregnant around me, or talking about baby stuff. But I would trade places with you in a second. So you feel awkward for a few minutes?  I feel heart sinking pain all the time. Pretty sure you’re on the better end of this.

  1. Don’t brag to me about how easy it is for you to conceive

“We weren’t even trying. Oops! Fertile Myrtle!”
“He just has to look at me and I’m pregnant!”

You know how annoying it is when people don’t even have to study? They just walk in and ace the test. You study for HOURS and still don’t get a great score. Take that X’s a million and that’s how frustrating it is for people to say these things to you. Make jokes about it with your other friends. I on the other hand am more likely to burst into tears than laugh with you.

  1. Don’t ask people why they don’t have kids yet

Their heart just sank into their stomach and they’re trying not to turn 10 shades of red and strangle you. Since there’s even less of a chance to conceive when you’re locked in a jail cell, they don’t. But believe me, they thought about it.

  1. Don’t ask for updates on their infertility

If they want you to know, they’ll tell you. But more than likely nothing significant has happened or they’re just not ready to share it with you/others yet. Asking them (especially frequently) only hurts.

  1. Don’t ask us to go maternity clothes/baby shopping with you

It’s a knife to the gut. We wish with all our hearts we could enjoy that kind of shopping. But we can’t. Ask another mommy friend to join you.

If you’re struggling with infertility, don’t hold it in. Talk to someone you trust. Let them pray for you. Get connected with someone else going through the same thing. Talking to someone who understands can be such an encouraging experience. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone when everyone around you is announcing their pregnancies and growing their families. But you’re not alone. 1 in 8 couples experiences infertility.