My Infertility Journey
The Final Step of Faith
After our last pregnancy (the result of a frozen embryo adoption) ended in a D&C, the doctor informed us that if we were planning to do another transfer, we should do it soon. Although I was a healthy 41-year old, he reasoned that the sooner, the better. After this most recent devastating loss, we were neither financially nor emotionally ready to try another transfer. We had four embryos left, but were unable to do anything with them.
We had begun to believe that perhaps the whole reason that we had done another embryo cycle was so that we would open up about Jared and tell others about embryo adoption. We were passionate about telling others about this wonderful option, but didn’t really have an avenue for telling others. That would quickly change.
Telling Our Story
In November, we got a call from Bethany Christian Services (BCS). They wanted to know if we would be willing to share our story in the local newspaper for Adoption Awareness Month. At first, it was a scary prospect, but then it seemed as if God was telling us that this was the way to inform others about embryo adoption. We agreed to the interview.
The story began as a “life story” in the local newspaper, but as the reporter discovered more and more about the layers of controversy surrounding the issue (involving the use of embryos for stem cell research) it became a “news” story. The story of our personal struggle with infertility and God’s provision was replaced by a story about embryo donation and adoption with us as the “face” of the story. It was not the story that we had planned, but God used it anyway. Just like that, the whole world (it seemed, thanks to the Internet) knew about Jared’s adoption story.
The following January, BCS invited us to share our story at an informational meeting for couples interested in embryo adoption. We really enjoyed telling other couples, couples who shared some of our same struggles and pain, our story of infertility and how God provided. We were also able to answer a lot of questions about the procedure -- having gone through it twice, we knew more about the technical aspects of the embryo transfer than the people at BCS! We left that meeting energized and were inspired to begin writing our story.
Roadblocks to the next step
In the meantime, we were starting to feel ready to try another transfer. An ultrasound performed by my regular doctor showed new fibroid tumors, but they were not large and were well positioned. Still, the doctor encouraged us to do another transfer sooner rather than later. Having been financially wiped out by our last transfer, we began praying for guidance about whether to try another transfer. It seemed that every time we saved money for another transfer, it went toward medical bills and car repairs. On one particular day, we decided to both fast and pray and ask God for guidance and direction regarding using our remaining embryos.
We got an answer; however, it was not exactly what we wanted. That very day, I received a letter regarding my mammogram -- the doctor had seen a little something on my last scan and wanted me to have another one in 6 months. Although both my doctor and surgeon said it was probably nothing and to “go on with my life,” I was encouraged to wait until that second mammogram before we moved forward with another transfer. Discouraged, I fell into a depression.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3
This was one of the most difficult times of my life. Women around me were getting pregnant so easily, and I just had to sit and wait to see if my journey was going to end with breast cancer. This was a different segment of my journey. We were no longer waiting for embryos like we had for the past 3½ years; they were there, in frozen storage, waiting for us. That was no longer our barrier to having another child. This time, our obstacles were fibroid tumors, questionable mammograms and lack of money. I lost my passion. I lost my joy. I quit resisting the negative thoughts and allowed myself to wallow in my misery. God did not allow me to do this for long, though, and as He has done so many times, He reached out and delivered me from myself.
As I was recovering, God gave me a wonderful Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore. It was exactly what I needed; in fact, I did it twice back to back. The first time through, I did it on my own; the next time I did with a group. By the second time I did the study, I was in a completely different place and was able to see how God delivered me through my depression and gave me hope for my future – whether or not it included more children.
Little by little, I began to get my joy back. I still battled the negative thoughts, but I was now better able to defend myself and not allow them to debilitate me. I allowed God to walk beside me during this time and He did not let my foot stumble. I was reminded that He had a plan for me and “He would accomplish what concerns me” (Psalm 138:8).
Learning the Secret of Contentment
As summer began, we began to pray again for guidance about doing another transfer. We had so many obstacles, but knew that God could easily remove all of them. Because of some potentially stressful work situations in the fall, we wanted to do the procedure in August, provided that my second mammogram was clear, but we still had not been able to save any money. I constantly tried to figure out a way for us to come up with the money – tax refund, working more hours, etc. Daniel even offered to get a second job over the summer. I finally gave up on trying to figure out where the money would come from and just left it up to God. He would have to provide if He wanted us to use these embryos.
In late May, we took a much needed vacation. Most of my family was there and we talked through many feelings and struggles. My newest struggle was contentment. I was convicted by a message on love (I Cor 13) my pastor at home had preached. The pastor at the church we visited on vacation just happened to speak on contentment. With my mammogram just a few weeks away, I began to pray for contentment. I needed to be content with the outcome of the upcoming mammogram; content with the idea of having no more children; content with the life that God had planned for me long before I was born. I had a beautiful life. I had a wonderful husband and son. I had so many things to be thankful for. I began to feel differently when I prayed. I realized that my desire to have another baby had become an obsession that both drove me and devastated me. I still asked God for what I wanted, but I always ended my prayers by submitting to His will and allowing His peace to envelope me. I called these prayers my “Gethsemane moment.” I began to feel true contentment with my life and God’s plan.
As I began to feel more content, I noticed a change in my desire. My desire to have another child seemed to wane. At times, I wanted desperately to get it back – it had become such a large part of who I was, I feared that I might not be myself without it. In my faulty thinking, I assumed that if I didn’t have the desire any more, I wouldn’t have the drive and willingness to do whatever it took to get pregnant. Sometimes it takes something huge (like an overwhelming desire or obsession) to want to go through what you have to do to get pregnant when you are infertile. I had begged God to take away my desire if I was not meant to have more children and it seemed as if He was doing just that. As I let go and allowed God to change me, I realized that I had allowed my desire to have children, however noble it may be, to become an obsession – a relentless pursuit. As I was sorting things out emotionally and mentally, I realized I still had the desire for another child, but it was no longer an obsession, it was simply a desire. God had renewed my mind (Romans 12:2) and put a new song in my heart. I begin to wake up every morning with a praise or worship song going through my mind.
Praying for Direction
As we continued to pray for guidance, we had no peace about moving forward. It seemed that no direction may have meant that it was not God’s will for us to move forward. We began to think that maybe we were just vehicles for obtaining these embryos and that another couple was meant to give them life. We began to contemplate what we were going to do with our remaining embryos. I knew it would be a very difficult decision for me to donate my embryos to another couple, thus signifying the end of my infertility journey, and prayed that God would give us specific direction on what to do. I would accept His will either way, but I wanted to know for sure what we were supposed to do. I did not want to have any regrets. I didn’t want to not do another transfer because of lack of money, or because it was stressful and painful, or because I was afraid of the outcome. I wanted a specific answer that my husband and I both would recognize. I often asked Daniel, “are you getting any guidance from God these days?” He indicated a lack of “burning bushes” in his life. I asked him what kind of sign it would take to convince him that we should move forward with another transfer. Ever practical, he usually remarked that, if God Almighty dropped enough money into our laps to cover the cost, he would take that as a pretty clear indicator.
That indicator came, quite unexpectedly, on June 29, 2008. We got to church early that morning, which is unusual for us, and a staff member said he had something for us that someone had sent to the church office. He handed Daniel a large manila envelope as I was corralling Jared near the refreshment table. Daniel got my attention and motioned for me to come over and look at what was in the envelope. It was a beautiful, anonymous, one-paragraph letter written to us from someone who was touched by our Jared’s story, had been blessed financially, and felt led by God to provide the resources to do another transfer of embryos. Enclosed was a cashier’s check for the full amount needed for the procedure! Shocked, we hugged and wept briefly and immediately ran over to his sister and showed her the contents of the envelope. We had no idea who had sent the letter and the check, but we accepted it as coming from God Himself! We knew we still had obstacles to overcome, but at that moment, none of them mattered. God had answered our prayer in an amazing way. We were thrilled to share this new answer to prayer with our families and friends!
The very next day I called a friend at the Fertility Center and shared our news. The timing was perfect; I was at the right time in my cycle to start the process by performing an ultrasound and practice transfer. The ultrasound went well and my fertility doctor agreed that the fibroid tumors I had would not keep the embryos from implanting. He gave us the “go ahead” to do the procedure. The second obstacle was overcome.
My dreaded second mammogram was scheduled for the following week, but I actually had peace going into it. We got our results the same day -- my mammogram was clear. The third obstacle was overcome, and we were preparing to start this process at the end of July.
In a very short time, we had gone from nearly throwing in the towel to nearly every obstacle being overcome. We know that giving these embryos a chance at life is definitely God’s will for us, but there is still no guarantee that we will get pregnant and carry a baby to full term. It is our hope that we will have another baby, but I am praying for peace and contentment as our infertility journey comes to a close. May God’s will be done.