Monday, December 22, 2014

A Father's Letter


Dear Melanie,

I knew what the news would do to you.
How could I not? It had been quite the frenzy recently. With only a month to prepare, your mom had come. There was excited shopping to do and a baby shower from our church family to attend. Just a joyous time. Everything was ready for the big day. Mia was coming home! Everything in the house was ready for the daughter you would soon adopt. The baby blanket was draped expectantly over the rocking chair. Mia's name was pinned to the wall in letters lovingly chosen along with the butterflies that symbolized your heart taking flight in the promise of a coming child.
So much history came to bear during that time. I was there for all of it. Marriage seven years earlier along with the hope of an immediate pregnancy. Do you remember talking about five future kids? I know you pictured it and prayed for it. I know it's all you really wanted to do outside of being a wife.
I know it was hard for you to wait to see doctors when pregnancy didn't come. Three years you patiently waited. And even then there were no answers for you. None. The tests explained nothing. Your exploratory surgery was inconclusive. Finally, you sought out the best of the best in fertility medicine.
I know you remember sitting in that quiet, meditative office with the green walls and the upbeat staff. I know you remember the plan the smartest doctor you ever met laid out to treat the infertility. I know you had hope. Lots of it. I know you remember how each time the doctor met with you he'd say, "Now, let's get you pregnant." And you'd hope.
That's how it was. Each month there was so much hope. Let's try this. Let's try that. Maybe this is it. Maybe that's it. And it never, ever was. Each month there was more pain, more tears. Each month another disappointment. I was there for all of it.
I saw the mixed feelings you experienced at a Facebook birth announcement or the news of an unwanted pregnancy. I saw how some of it was envy you fought and some of it was sharp pangs of longing. It felt like a desperately dehydrated desert traveler who looks on as another person is showered with water—water that is always just out of reach. Then there were the well-intentioned comments that felt like daggers, "When you decide to start a family . . ." or "Someday when you have kids . . ."
I also knew how the tears, the pain, and the deep disappointment withered hope in those years. Yet it grew Hope. Do you remember that? Do you remember how right there in the ashes of burnt dreams grew beautiful, gleaming Hope? So counterintuitive to what you'd been expecting. So freeing. So beautiful. Those moments of pain became defining moments for your Hope in Jesus. You rejected a worldview that said, "Life is unfair. This random infertility is only an unfortunate circumstance to fix." You embraced a divine view that said, "This is an intentional, designed pain in my life that is here to do one thing: send me into the arms of Jesus." And I got a front-row seat to watching you step closer and closer to Jesus, painful month after painful month. I saw your conviction grow and heard you say, "What I really need is Jesus. He is all I need." Right there in the ashes of burnt dreams grew the greatest gift of all—Hope in Jesus.
That's why I knew what the news would do to you. You were ready. The phone call came. "She decided to keep the baby." You were numb at first, and really sad later, but never defeated. Never devastated and never in despair. You didn't have hope just for a baby. You did, however, have Hope. You trusted that despite all appearances there was a master plan that kept your best interests in mind. Yes, I think we both know that on the day this hope died, Hope lived.
As time passed, for the first time in your life you could talk about being a childless woman and that it was okay. It really was. You were even trying to figure out when and how you could share this conviction with your mom, who had been on this journey with you. Remember the conversations about not only accepting a childless life but actually celebrating it as a gift? Remember that? Yes, hope had died, but Hope had grown strong.
I know you now see how divine and necessary it all was. You wouldn't be the woman you are now if none of this had happened. You wouldn't be so confident in adversity. You wouldn't be so peaceful when the going is tough. You wouldn't be so focused on the finish line of heaven's gates unless it had happened just this way. You can see how the identity of motherhood was chiseled, hammered, and pried away from your soul. You can see that as that identity was carved away, your true identity took a firmer shape in your soul and came into greater focus in you. It became your anchor, your lifeline in life's greatest waves. 
"I am a blood-bought child of God," you'd say as if it was the only thing that mattered in the world. And it was. You came to see those circumstances as tailor-made to drive you to your gospel-centered mantra: "If Jesus would care to forgive me and resurrect me, then he certainly would care to bless my family life—perhaps with no children." And, yes, it is true that you came to believe that too would be a blessing.
And that's when I knew you were finally ready to get a different bit of news. You were ready to be the kind of mom that my Holy Spirit had shaped you to be—a woman who is my child first and now happens to be a mother.
Melanie, you and I both know that it wasn't a coincidence that another pastor asked your husband about your story. I was in that. I personally saw to it that just days later that pastor would come across a young lady who needed to place her baby for adoption. And, remarkably, it was just three days later when Elliana's birth grandma called and said, "Melanie, we want you and Jonathan to be the parents." A few hours later you were holding Elliana with all the love, tenacity, and strength only one of my children can have. I know you remember and treasure deeply that first moment of motherhood. You always will.
Just as you held her in that moment, I have always and will always hold you. Don't see pain, failure, or disappointment in any other light. Its intent is always to drive you to my gospel. And there, my dear daughter, you will always find all the love, comfort, identity, joy, and strength you'll ever need.
With Love,
Your Father
Author Jonathan Bourman; his wife, Melanie; and their daughter Elliana live in Aiken, South Carolina. Jonathan is pastor at a new mission congregation in Aiken.
To read this article as it originally appeared, click here. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Battling infertility, Bobbie Thomas shares big news after months of IVF



I am a huge fan of infertility stories in the media -- but even more so when they are this real and when the person delivering the news acknowledges all the people who aren't sharing in the good news. One of the most real infertility stories I have ever seen. Click here to read. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Announcements

This week I received three different pieces of amazing news. Three women that I have stood along side from the very beginning of their infertility journey received news that was finally not "no."

One friend, who had found out she was infertile long before she met her husband, found out that she was in fact pregnant this week after a final try with IVF. She and I met in Minnesota through the infertility Support Group I helped start. 

Another friend, a childhood friend that I have watched face years of disappointment and negative attempts, is expecting a child after many failed attempts with IVF. 

And a third, a woman walked through infertility with me in Minnesota, was left with no choice but to have a hysterectomy a year ago. And this week she received news that the adorable little toddler they have been fostering for many months, will in fact be eligible for them to adopt. 

Celebrations.

And yet, while some celebrate, others remain waiting. Others received not so good news. I have a friend waiting to start IVF again after many fails. Another childhood friend was told that the little boy she had been fostering will, in fact, not be staying with her. And a third friend is still waiting for a birth mother to pick them. 

I don't need to call out their names. They know who they are.

A picture of me before heading in for one of my four failed attempts with IVF in Minnesota.

I recently stumbled upon a letter from one infertile woman to another. It was written for Mother's Day, but I wanted to share a few excerpts from it now in hopes that if you find yourself on the other side of the positive news today, you feel encouraged. 

To my Friends who find themselves childless on yet another Mother’s Day:

Take a deep breath. I understand and I promise you’ll survive. Well, there was one year I thought I might not make it, but I pulled myself out of the pit and I lived to see another day. If I can do it, you can too!

I know, you’re getting older. I am too. It seems like the biological clock has started ticking twice as fast as it used to. You have finally realized that when/if you have kids, you’ll be the “older parent.” The one that people mistake for the grandma! Well sister, I hope I’m standing right there next to you! I hope we both get to attend our child’s wedding, even if we are both retired!

On Mother’s Day I feel like a little girl jumping up and down and waving my arms—“God I’m over here. Pick me! I want to be chosen too! I know I won’t be a perfect parent, but I’ll give it my best shot.” Do you feel left behind, like you’re the one who will get picked last—or not at all?

Remember our identity is not “Infertile,” it is, “Beloved Daughter of the King.” Our identity is not found in what we can or cannot accomplish, it is found in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Plumb "I want you here"

My husband recently stumbled a song entitled "I want you here" by Plumb -- a group he has loved for quite some time. The intro to this song, and the subsequent lyrics, are quite powerful. She is specifically talking to mothers who lose their babies -- but the loss is not something limited to a mother's. A great video to watch and share with those dealing with loss.

I encourage you to watch her explanation of the song in the first video but then skip ahead to the second video to listen to the song (It's a much better recording in the second video). There is a familiar intro to the song with a cover of Peter Gabriel's song, but then her song begins.






"I Want You Here"


An ache
So deep
That I
Can hardly breathe
This pain
Can't be imagined
Will it ever heal?
Ooh... ooh...

Your hand
So small
Held a strand of my hair
So strong
All I could do
Was keep believing
Was that enough?

Is anyone there?

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here
Ooh... ooh...

I waited so long
For you to come
Then you were here
And now you're gone
I was not prepared
For you to leave me
Oh this is misery

Are you still there?

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here

God help me,
God help me,
God help me
Breathe

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here
Ooh... ooh...

An ache
So deep
That I
Can hardly breathe

Friday, August 15, 2014

Joy Cometh in the Morning


I'm sorry you are still waiting.
I wish your dreams didn't take so long to come true.
Why is it fast for them
But so slow for you?

It feels like forever.
I know.
I remember what forever feels like.

Long.

But then suddenly, forever was over.
The wait was over.
And time began passing at a regular speed.

While it may not feel that way to you
I promise you
That you will not wait forever.

Peace will come.

Hang on.
Lean on me.
Pray.
Trust.
Hope.
Believe.

And when you can't do those things
Know that I am doing them for you.
My heart has stood where your heart is now.
It has felt
Exactly what your heart feels.

Joy cometh in the morning.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Sovereign Over Us

Because of Isaac has just fully funded our third couple: Ryan & Briana. And while the money is done, the waiting is not. They are now ... waiting. Waiting for a birthmother to pick them. Their wait could be days. It could be months. It could be longer.

I wanted to share a song with you that Briana shared with me. To any of you out there waiting -- for a job, for a marriage, for a child, for reconciliation .... I hope this song ministers to you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Piece Published Online


Bethany Christian Services recently published one of my pieces on their Blog and is going to feature that piece in the August edition of their infertility newsletter. I'm very excited about this. One, of course, because I love to write and it has always been something I've done and enjoyed. But two because, it continues to spread the word about infertility, supporting those we love, and not pushing down grief.

You can read the article by clicking here. 

I'm also excited about an upcoming speaking engagement. I will be speaking to a church at my friend Angelica's church in Japan next month. I am also looking at a speaking engagement in the fall at a local church's MOPs group. For anyone is interested, here is a link to my Bio & Public Speaking page which details the type of things I speak on. I am trying to take on these engagements on a very limited basis but with the same mission: to keep infertility an important and discussed topic, to encourage people traveling the road of grief, and to remind people of the beauty of adoption.

Also, please remember that we are still selling shirts for our Because of Isaac organization. We have sold 17 shirts but need to sell 75 to reach our goal. Please spread the message of this awesome fundraiser. If we can sell 75 shirts, we will make $1,000 for our current couple.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reader Question on the "Do you have kids" question

I love reading your blog and I have a question I'd like you to answer:  We meet a lot of new people, and during introductions eventually the question of "Do you have kids?" comes up.  What is the right thing to say when your question is answered with a "No." Is there even a right thing to say?  I know there are all kinds of wrong things but how do I fill that awkward silence with something positive or at least something kind?  And what do I say when I find out about secondary infertility?  Most of the time I don't say anything because I really don't want to say anything hurtful. But I'm at a complete loss for what would bring hope/encouragement to the woman/couple. Thanks so much for opening my eyes about infertility and being an encouragement to those women who are going through this and even those who aren't.  Keep up the good work!

Primary Infertility
The quick answer: Avoid the question. It can be a little tricky, but it is really the best way. Usually, if someone has kids, they will provide this information to you. Or, if they don't, you can probably figure out another way to get it (i.e., ask someone they know or check their Facebook etc.) While it can be a difficult question to avoid, even for a veteran IF'er (infertility-woman) like me, make yourself NOT ask it. Think of other things you can talk about and ask about as best you can.

Exception: If the person asks you the question first, then it is sort of "expected" that you ask it back. It is my opinion that if they ask you, you can ask it back. It's only fair and they have to know that that is how it is going to go.

One blog reader shared that she always found the question, "Tell me about your family," made her a lot more comfortable. It is more open-ended and offers different interpretations. I loved her suggestion and definitely wanted to make note of it here.

[A sidenote: If you have lived overseas, you will quickly notice that people don't ask the very personal questions like Americans do nearly as readily. They don't often ask about jobs or kids or things like that. I've tried to take a lesson from them and find other things we can talk about.]

If the question does come out and you are met by awkward silence or by a "no" that appears to be painful, my advice is to take the fault for it. Say something like it, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that. I have a few friends dealing with infertility and they have all lectured me to avoid that question." 

Secondary Infertility
As for secondary infertility, this is not as clean cut, and it is why secondary infertility can be even more painful than primary infertility. If a mother is out with her child and attending mothers' functions, mom questions are sort of "fair game." I still, however, try to avoid the, "Are you going to have another?" question. Just don't ask it. You'll want to ask it, but chances are, you can find out the information from someone else, or, if you get to be very good friends, it will ultimately come up. 

If it comes up and it is painful, tell her that you have been reading a blog that is educating you. Instead of trying to fix it, say something like, "That really stinks. I'm going to be praying for you." You may also have the opportunity to ask for her input as to how you can make it better. "I know we hang out with a lot of women popping out babies like crazy. Is there any way I can help pad those announcements for you?" I also would always provide that woman a knowing glance or say something like, "I know this is hard," when yet another friend announced their pregnancy. Sending a message on Facebook when there has been another announcement, anything to let her know you are praying and thinking of her and acknowledging her pain is helpful.

Have a comment or question about this topic? I'd love to hear from you -- whichever side of infertility you may be on.

Faces of Infertility: Tammy's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

My name is Tammy, and I would like to share a little of my journey through infertility.

I grew up in a happy, bustling family – the oldest of nine children. Infertility was something I had heard of, but certainly not something I ever gave much thought to! And why would I? Perfect strangers would ask me probing questions about my parents’ birth control measures (seriously, people?) and it just never crossed my mind that having children was something that people struggled with.  

Until, that is, my husband and I were struggling with infertility. I viewed our infertility as a closely-guarded secret. Something, which if I didn’t talk about it, maybe people wouldn’t notice. But, people did notice and soon I was getting questions opposite those that I was used to fielding as a young daughter. There was a point in our lives where we were 1 of 8 young couples in our church. We were the 1 who had no children; the other 7 all had children. What are the odds that we would be a living picture of the statistic for infertility? The irony did not escape me.  

For many, the hardest years are actually the first few years. However, my husband was busy in school, I was busy with homemaking and a part time job, and life was pretty good for us. I was patient and not too concerned. As the years rolled by, I became increasingly sad and the burden of infertility weighed heavily. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach out to many. I didn’t think anyone would understand or be compassionate. I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, so I built a solid wall around my heart. The problem with such a wall is that it kept everyone out, not just the ones who may have hurt with insensitive comments.  

Finally, we sought medical help. Through a Godly doctor and his help (including surgery for me and several months of treatment) we were able to conceive our daughter. This was almost seven years after we had decided to start having children! What a blessing she has been to our lives! Waiting was hard but she was certainly worth the wait. She is now five years old.  

When our daughter was just 12 months, we rejoiced to find that we were expecting yet again (with no medical intervention). Our baby, a precious gift from the Lord, and much loved, was born to heaven early in my pregnancy. The graciousness of the Lord to walk through the valley with me is ever so precious to my heart. I miss my wee one so much. There are times that our family feels so incomplete this side of heaven!  

Now, over four years after my loss, I have personally experienced infertility for approximately eleven years. I’ve learned much, grown much, and profited much through it all. A little cautiously at first, I started taking down that wall around my heart. Brick by brick, I cast it aside. I’ve been tempted at times to start building it again and even higher than before but then I realize that comments from unsuspecting people should not have the power to hurt me, when in fact they were not meant to hurt in the first place. I seek to live life joyfully. There are times in my life that infertility is not a joyful burden but I know someone Who can carry this burden for me as He carries me down this road – the Lord is ever present and able to help me as I struggle to live joyfully. 

You can read more about my life by clicking here. 

 (Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Faces of Infertility: "Lana's" Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

I grew up in a small town in the mountains. I was the "go to" babysitter for a couple of doctors' families. As a teenager, I taught Sunday school, worked in my church nursery, & constantly found little ones to love on as often as I could. I wanted nothing more than to get married & have children - God created me to love on children!

I met my husband in our church singles group & we married 5 months later. After 2 years of marriage, we agreed that he would quit work & go back to school to pursue his MA knowing this meant the necessity of putting off starting a family any time soon. We agreed to leave it in God's hands as soon as he had that MA completed. 

Well...now I've just turned 29 & he is 30 when that wonderful day came! My heart was overflowing with joy! We had one night to celebrate & officially start trying to have a baby when he took off on his dream trip for a month to climb Mt. McKinley with friends. I don't know how, but I just knew that fateful night was "the night" I conceived. When my husband came home from that trip, I was grin from ear to ear & had been singing praises to God so loudly I was certain my husband had heard me all the way up Mt. McKinley!

Seven months later (about 5 weeks early) our first son was born. The joy I felt is still indescribable - my dream of a lifetime had come true! God's blessings poured out abundantly in this precious boy!

When our first-born was about 2 years old, we quit being worried about birth control but weren't really "trying" to conceive. In the meantime, of noteworthy interest, my husband had taken up serious cycling. He rode 50+ miles every day during the week & at least one 100-miles ride on the weekend...a devoted cyclist! After 2 years of not really trying but not preventing getting pregnant, we became very focused on the issue. I did temperature charts for about 6 months with no success. We were very puzzled as to how one shot in the dark & we had our first pregnancy could lead to this dilema.

When I had my yearly OB/GYN appointment, I discussed this with my doctor. She looked at my temperature chart & cycle history then suggested a post-coital exam. My husbands sperm count was very low & the mobility of those their was not strong. (Quite possibly all the cycling caused this.) There was also evidence that I may not be ovulating every cycle. She suggested an infertility specialist.

The infertility specialist agreed with my OB/GYN's diagnosis. Our first option was to have both my husband and me on clomid for the next cycle then do IUI. We did IUI for about 6 months with no success. My husband's sperm count was not adequate for establishing a pregnancy. Now what? This was 1996 & I am 39 years old. Our options were IVF or we could consider donor sperm. The other option was adoption. We considered private adoption but in the end we were concerned that we'd go through the process & have a birth mother change her mind. (This had happened to 2 different friends.)

We discussed donor sperm & decided to investigate this option. Donor sperm seemed to be our best option for our own baby. We did donor donor sperm IUI for about 6 months while I was also on clomid. The seventh time, I'm on the table while they are preparing for the IUI and bared my soul to God in prayer. "OK, God - this is my last IUI. I'm turning this decision 100% over to you. If we are to only have one son, I'm more than ok with it. He's an amazing boy & we are very grateful for the gift of him! This is all up to you...I'm done with this."

I fully expected the same result of the last several years of attempting to get pregnant. I went home, kept my temperature chart as I had always done fully expecting my temperature to drop in a few days. Amazingly, my temperature didn't drop! Thank you, God!!! The doctor confirmed, we were indeed pregnant. My hormonal level was very high - could it be all 3 eggs seen on the ultra sound had taken? The doctor warned us that was indeed a possibility.

We were stunned & were preparing ourselves, albeit with a bit of fear & excitement, at the thought of triplets. An ultrasound a few weeks later revealed we had one baby. We were very grateful for the miracle of this one baby! Yes, grateful! While we may never be certain what happened to the other 2 eggs, one baby is more than we expected at this point and we were thrilled.

At the age of 41, our second son was born four weeks early - our miracle baby...truly a gift from God! He is now 16 years old. We have not yet told either son that we chose the route of donor sperm. Our sons are almost 12 years apart and they both know we traveled the road of infertility. Why haven't we told them the whole story? It boils down to this...1) Kids can say cruel things & we wanted to wait until we felt both were mature enough to handle the discussion (certain family members are aware of the circumstance should anything every happen to us before we tell them). 2) The night before my last IUI with donor sperm, my husband & I made love. I've always wondered which sperm was successful? My husband has resisted DNA testing all these years ("What difference does it make? He's our son!"). My husband's mother says our 2nd son has many traits similar to my husband & he resembles him as well.

While I understand my husband's reluctance to know for certain, I have a strong desire to know the answer. This is an ongoing piece of the puzzle. The years of infertility were certainly trying. But, to be truthful, I couldn't allow myself to wallow in to the grief of failed efforts as long as I had hope. I had to leave my courage & faith in God's hands & know that He was in control. This was partially due to protecting my husband from feeling like he was a failure & the other part was I was unwilling to acknowledge this loss. I had faced tremendous loss of loved ones in my life (both parents & a sister who died when she was 12) - this was not a road I was willing to go down until I absolutely had to.

You can call it denial but I choose to call it God's hand of protection & assurance. We are grateful & we are blessed beyond measure! There are times, however, I tell our challenging stubborn, bullheaded, brilliant #2 son that his days on earth might be limited if his attitude doesn't change! He may resemble his father but his attitude comes from me! Definitely our child! I pray our story is encouraging to your readers.

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Faces of Infertility: "Shannon's" Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

 My husband and I married later in life. He was my first boyfriend. We met when I was 37 and he was 47 and married when I was 38. I lived my life right saving myself for my husband only.  Now, I waited for God to bless my faithfulness with a child. It should be no problem, every woman on my mom's side of the family had their last child at 40. There were no issues of infertility on either side of my family.  Except that was not my story.  

Our story is a little different than others because it is complicated with adult step-children. My stepdaughter did not want us to have children and has been very vocal about it. She has also been very deliberate and cruel.

Being in a place of forgiveness with her has been constant and hard My stepson is having twins in a few weeks. I have had one suspected miscarriage and one miscarriage with twins (okay, I count embryos as babies; there is a fertilized egg and active cellular division-to me that is life). When they told us this my heart broke. I am going to be seeing them with my dreams in their arms. My arms are empty and my heart is broken. I try to put on a big smile for them.  I have to celebrate for my husband. This a joyous event seeing his son become a man. For me it is a thorn through the heart.

I watched the ultrasound with them; well, okay, I watched the door while everyone else watched the ultrasound. My husband was so excited to be included. I grieve my infertility alone. The thing that breaks my heart as much as my empty arms is not once has anyone stopped to say, "hey, are you okay?" I know you are happy for them but I cannot imagine how painful at the same time this must be for you. Not my husband. Not my step children.

In the midst of waiting for my stepson's twins to be born we had a failed adoption. An adoption that seemed so solid. A 14 year old rape victim. They wanted a closed adoption, they did not want to hold the baby. They wanted the baby to be placed in home out of state. I got the news 1 week before my birthday and 2 weeks before my step son's ultra sound. I was so excited and it all fell through within 2 days time. They decided to keep the baby.

My friends and family all said, "well, at least you can be a grandma" Yes, I can be. I will love the children but they are not mine. I did not grow up saying I can't wait to be a grandma much less a step-grandma. I grew up saying I want to be a mom. I always wanted to be a mom. 

The truth of the matter is there are times when I am with my step grandchildren that I hurt so much on the inside because I realize that I really would have been a great mom. My step children are not mine. They belong to my husband and his ex-wife. They have two loving parents. They are nice to me and I to them but they have never sought to have a relationship with me. They don't need another mother...and I get I understand their point.

I wonder where is God in all of this...why the cruelty of placing the hope of a precious baby girl in my arms right before my birthday, before my stepson's ultrasound, before Easter and Mother's day. I had stopped asking God for a child. I did not seek this little baby girl out ... they sought me out. I don't have answers. I just hold to His hand knowing He is a loving Father and no Father could watch His child go through this much pain without a very good reason.

A lesson I learned in my single years is that I am not saving my virginity to please my one day to be husband but rather out of obedience to Christ. In my infertility, I have learned that I have not saved my purity with an expectant promise that God will bless me for that event by giving me a child. I serve Him because He loves me and for that reason alone

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Faces of Infertility: Kris's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

I’ve dreamed of being a mom for as long as I can remember. In college my friends thought I was crazy because school always came very easy to me and when things would get tough I would want to quit. It was so hard to stay committed to studies when I just didn’t see myself doing it in the future, all I could envision was taking care of a house full of babies. In 2001 my husband and I married and talked of having a large family of both biological and adopted children one day. By 2003 baby fever was setting in. We lived on a street in military family housing where 6 out of the 12 or so families on the street were pregnant, and when those babies came along it was hard not to want a baby of our own. At 23 I never in my wildest dreams imagined infertility would be something I would have to deal with. I was young and healthy, so getting pregnant should be a breeze, right?

Two years later, in 2005, we were still not pregnant and couldn’t understand what was wrong. We went to an OBGYN who didn’t ask any questions, handed over some Clomid pills and told us this should do the trick. My first cycle on the Clomid was a success and we were elated when I had a positive home test and we learned we were finally pregnant. At 6 weeks, while on a business trip in Chicago I began to bleed. I didn’t know what was happening so I went to the clinic at the convention center where my conference was being held. The nurse there was concerned and I was taken by ambulance to the local hospital with an escort from my company. At the hospital the doctor confirmed I was having a miscarriage. My husband was miles away, unable to do anything at all and I was going through one of the worst experiences of my life with a complete stranger by my side. I am still thankful for the compassion of the escort who was so kind to sit and try to comfort me when I was scared to death, numb from pain, and all alone. My husband arranged for me to fly home the next day and getting off the plane and seeing him there was devastating. I felt like a failure, I had lost our baby. Guilt wrecked me with questions of whether or not it was my fault, had I done something wrong, was it the trip, etc…

I went to the OBGYN who told me it was ok -- that miscarriage is a common thing and we could continue to try on the Clomid pills. That we should be successful soon because we responded so well to the first round of Clomid and it worked right away. We proceeded to do eight more rounds of Clomid in back to back cycles over the next nine months. Each time hopeful, only to be devastated by negative after negative on pregnancy tests. I was depressed, I was angry, I took it out on my husband and we struggled. After the eight failed rounds the OBGYN gave up and in 2007 referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist. Hope had been restored. This new doctor would be able to help us, he had to.

I was terrified of the infertility clinic, I hated needles, passed out when I got shots and thought having an IV or blood drawn was a fate worse than death. I was a hysterical mess sitting in the chair having vial after vial of blood drawn and I remembering thinking to myself I can’t do this. The blood draws were the least of my worries I was soon to find out. The doctor also wanted to do a hysteropingogram, where they take X-rays of my uterus and tubes while injecting them with dye to ensure they are not blocked. That came back clear. Blood work all came back clear. Semen analysis came back clear. The doctor knew what he was doing though, he knew the right questions to ask. When I told him my periods were regular he knew to ask me to define regular. When I told him my periods were normal he asked me to define normal. He explained to me he thought I was the poster child for endometriosis and he recommended having laparoscopic surgery to determine if he suspicions were correct. I thought he was crazy. I thought he was trying to take my money and didn’t know what he was talking about. Periods were not supposed to be a walk in the park, and every one had pain with them, right? That is what I thought. I was scared to death but out of options and so I agreed to the surgery. The doctor was right, I had severe stage III, borderline stage IV endometriosis. We thought we had it all figured out! We finally had a reason!

The plan after cleaning out all the endometrial tissue was to attempt a clomid/IUI cycle. I thought for sure it would be a success now that we had the endo cleaned up and my body was healthy and ready to carry a child. I was wrong. It failed and that was one of the hardest negatives yet. We tried another Clomid IUI, negative. Now we were running out of time. My doctor had told us with each failed cycle comes a period and with that comes the possibility of endometrial tissue settling outside my uterus where it didn’t belong and an increased chance I would need another surgery. He told us he was cutting us off at three failed IUIs. Basically with each failed cycle my chances of getting pregnant decreased. We also learned my husband was being deployed and would be leaving before we could complete the third IUI. The timing was awful. We froze a semen sample to do the final IUI with and when the time came that one too failed. Once again I was alone, he was on the other side of the world and my depression grew worse fearing we were running out of time and chances. I took medication to stop my period so my endometriosis could not get worse while my husband was gone.

When my husband returned from deployment we jumped right back into trying and now looked at IVF options. We were still considered “unexplained infertility patients” because even after the lap to clean out endo we were not successful, so the IVF was a gamble just as everything else had been. We gave it a try and by now I was becoming a pro at shots and blood draws. We learned how to have my husband give me four shots a day and a time or two I even had to do one to myself.  We transferred three great looking embryos and were hopeful that this would finally be our time. The first IVF cycle was a success and we soon learned I was pregnant with one child. I was scared I would lose it but the constant monitoring kept me sane and reassured. When I was five months pregnant my husband had to leave for a year long, unaccompanied tour in Korea. He was able to fly home for three weeks for the birth of our son in 2008. Four years after we started trying to grow our family we finally had a baby to show for it. It was the happiest day of my life.

When my husband and I were finally reunited after his Korea tour we began trying again for more children. We still had no answer as to the cause of our infertility and no idea if it was still an issue or now that my body had been pregnant and carried a child if it would be able to do it on its own. About three years after my son was born we began seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist in Germany, where we were stationed at the time. I was thankful for having been through the IVF experience before in the USA so I was not so alarmed by going through the process in a different country, with a different culture, with language barriers. I missed the comforts of American medicine more than once during the procedures. We attempted a fresh IVF cycle, followed by two FETs. We ended up transferring a total of 8 embryos and had nothing to show for it. Not a single embryo took. I was devastated. To make matters worse the military denied our humanitarian request to remain in Germany longer to continue medical treatments. We were being forced to move and we were being sent to a tiny Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic where there are NO fertility treatments whatsoever. The assignment was a death sentence in my mind.


The silver lining of our assignment at Lajes was that for the purpose of adoption, the Portuguese government will consider American military families stationed there as residents, therefore making the adoption of a Portuguese child completely free! This was amazing news! We completed all the requirements, home studies, etc… and on Valentine’s Day in 2013 we received a letter notifying us we were approved and officially on the waiting list for Portuguese adoption.

I had started to accept that I would not have any more biological children and began to sell all my maternity and baby things I had been carrying around for so long. On a Monday on May I sold the last of my maternity things to a friend of mine and that Friday I got the surprise of my life when I learned I was pregnant again, naturally! The joke was clearly on me! I was terrified of losing the baby, scared of the limited medical care on the island, and a mental wreck because I had finally come to terms with not having more biological children and I was happy with that idea. Everything worked itself out, and due to the limited medical care on the island I flew to Germany alone in December at 36 weeks to wait for my due date. I spent Christmas away from my family, which was difficult but worth it when my healthy baby boy was born this January. Last month we had to withdraw our name from the Portuguese adoption list because of the amount of time we have left on the island. We do not have enough time to finalize custody before we will be reassigned this August. It was a little disappointing, but if this journey has taught me anything it is that you can never be certain what the future holds. You can plan, you can medically intervene, you can pray, but in the end His will is all that matters. The road to get us here makes me appreciate my babies even more as I know what gifts they truly are.

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Faces of Infertility: "Marie's" Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

I had 10 years primary infertility, 4 known miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy. I also went through a 3 year stretch without conceiving at all. I also had 9 days of spotting before my period. After my ectopic pregnancy I had a laparoscopy which showed I had moderate endometriosis. I tried 2 rounds of clomid and oral progesterone. We went to a Reproductive Endocrinologist and were told our best chance of conceiving was through IVF. My husband had been accommodating in me trying the clomid and oral progesterone but we decided against pursuing further medical treatment. We started focusing instead on treatments to get my body healthy and working properly on its own. After my laparoscopic surgery, I developed intense pain during my period. It was unbearable. I have since learned this often happens as the result of scar tissue that builds up after a lap. It is often mistaken for returning endometriosis. One good thing about my lap was that my 9 days of pre-period spotting reduced to 4 days.

I started getting pregnant again (after 3 years of complete infertility). But I miscarried. My body was healing but wasn't yet able to sustain a baby.

NEVER under-estimate prayer. When I first found out I was pregnant I went to the doctor right away because once you have an ectopic pregnancy your chances of having another are greater. My HCG levels were so low we were told that this child was either another ectopic or we would miscarry. I asked the church to pray for a miscarriage as I didn't want to go through the drama and hospitalization of an ectopic again. Our elder who prayed, instead lead the church in prayer that God would make sure the baby was in the right spot and would grow healthy. The next day I had my HCG testing redone and we were called the following day with the results. The doctor was shocked. My levels had done more than their usual doubling! They had skyrocketed up there by some...miracle!

Thank the Lord my Primary Infertility finally ended with the birth of a healthy baby girl.

We started trying for number two after my daughter was weaned at 2.5 years old. We were blessed with another pregnancy and I gave birth to a little boy in March of 2012.


(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)



Faces of Infertility: Melissa's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

One of the big things about “infertility awareness” is the whole idea that we aren’t all completely aware of what infertility is. We may not know how to define it. We may not understand what it’s like. We may have no real idea who is affected by it. And that’s one of the interesting things about my story, my angle on infertility -- at first glance, you may well not think of my story as one of infertility.

 And that’s why my story, and others like mine, are told, especially during times like "National Infertility Awareness Week" —- to help open eyes, advance knowledge and understanding, to nurture fellowship and empathy amongst women who so often suffer in misunderstood silence.

This is my story, that God wrote for me before I was created in secret (Psalm 139:15-16)-— the story that He reveals to me chapter by chapter, that I live out before Him by faith, that I don’t completely understand but that I embrace because I know He is good. I recognize that my life, my joys and my suffering, is for the purpose of glorifying Him (1 Peter 4:12-13, 5:10).

I became a mother when I was yet a bride, merely a few weeks after I became a wife. Without me even knowing it or expecting it, God created life within me —- just about five weeks after my wedding, I bought my first box of pregnancy tests. I didn’t even know how to use them, and I recall reading the instruction page very carefully. I emailed a photograph of the pregnancy test to a friend of mine who already had three living children, because I wasn’t sure how to tell if it was positive. I didn’t yet even know what hcg was, or the mantra that “a line is a line is a line.” My friend laughed at my naïveté and rejoiced with me.

The next day, my husband came home to a fancy dinner, a Bible open on the table to Psalm 127, and a gift of a leather quiver with a single arrow resting inside of it. We were parents!

Let me tell you, the last thing on my mind was that I would ever be faced with anything remotely resembling infertility. Then, not even two months into my pregnancy, our baby died. One day, she suddenly burst forth from my womb and we held her in our hands. We were shocked. We had no idea what to do next, how to process our feelings, where to go with the emotions and questions that filled our hearts and minds. We were still newlyweds, we had just become parents, and now we were thrown into depths of grief that surprised us and shook us and knocked us to our knees.

But still, infertility really didn’t cross my mind: everyone told me that having a miscarriage, especially in a first pregnancy, was completely normal, and many people seemed to brush it off as something that didn’t even really matter.

It mattered to us though, as we acknowledged our small baby as a child, and all I knew was that I wanted a baby again -— not to replace my first little one, but to fill the dreams and hopes and expectations that she had given us.

God grew the desire in us to grow our family in number. And so we prayed for another baby, and the Lord in His great mercy did not delay in providing us with not only another pregnancy but an uneventful nine months at the end of which He gave us a living, healthy, beautiful, miraculous baby boy.

We added a second arrow to the quiver we hung on a wall in our home.

And once again, fully embracing these new aspects of motherhood, infertility was not on my radar. I did not know that that chapter was coming in the future of my story.

After falling in love with our son, with parenthood, with all things baby-related, we felt the Lord calling us to grow our family again —- and He filled my womb when our son was just ten months old. But He took our baby’s life from my womb shortly thereafter. And then He filled my womb again when our son was a year old. And God took that baby’s life as well.

That is when I learned about things like progesterone, what hcg is exactly, what a reproductive endocrinologist does, and began to experience the humbling routines of everything infertility related. I still did not know if the label applied to me, but I began to taste that flavor. I learned about “clinic hour” at the RE, and how to grow numb to frequent transvaginal ultrasounds at all various points in my cycle. I learned how to get 32 tubes of blood drawn at one time (from two arms, thankyouverymuch because after 26 tubes my first vein finally collapsed) without passing out, even though it was a fasting draw. I learned about silly socks. I learned about online communities for support groups. I learned what it’s like to have my lovemaking with my husband invaded by doctors, by grief, by physical pain, by painful memories of miscarriages which babies had been given life through that sacred marital act. I learned about cycle days, and how to use something called an OPK. I learned to give myself blood thinner injections, and my husband learned to give me progesterone injections. I learned about various hormones, how our reproductive systems really work, what a semen analysis was, and how painful things like a sonohysterogram and endometrial biopsy can be —- especially when my husband was not allowed in the room with me to hold my hand.

All of a sudden a new chapter of the story of my life was unfolding. It was unlovely and unfamiliar. It felt cold and harsh. Its very essence was isolating and debilitating. I cried myself to sleep so many nights, and found it hard to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. I had a living son —- my womb had managed to produce life before! And, thus far, it had never taken more than two cycles of trying to conceive before the Lord filled my womb. How could infertility become part of my reality?

We continued to plod forward, following the leading of our Lord as we sought His face through prayer and wisdom of His people around us, trying to grow our family. Miscarriage followed miscarriage following miscarriage. It began to feel like an endless cycle of trying, conceiving, carrying a beloved baby for a couple of months, and miscarrying -— three times a year, two years in a row.

Our story confounded the doctors available to us -— labwork and ultrasounds not exactly making sense, babies who appeared completely whole and genetically healthy, with parents who had no signs of physical problems and family histories clear of things like infertility and miscarriage. Why us? How us?

For my husband and me, infertility came to us not in the form of being unable to conceive, but in the form of not being able to carry babies to term.

I was diagnosed with uRPL officially, which stands for undiagnosed recurrent pregnancy loss, but more unofficially diagnosed with immunological disorders that cause my body to attack my own babies. I began to see labels on my ever-thickening patient charts like “habitual aborter” or “grava 9 para 1” or “7SAB”—terms which can feel oddly identifying in a coldly clinical, numbing sort of way.

I had been unknowingly initiated into a club of thousands (millions) of women who longed for children but who continually had those dreams crushed, dashed, shattered. I learned how to overcome my fear of needles as frequent iv infusions and daily injections became part of my reality in this chapter of my life’s story. I had to face my fear of flying as we headed south of the border to Mexico five times in four months for alternative medical treatments. The Lord continually showed His faithfulness in opening and closing doors to direct our steps, in providing finances to cover the crazy medical things we chose to pursue, in sustaining our souls through grief by His Word and through His people. In the world of infertility, I suddenly had a voice. Me -— the young woman who wanted a large family (and hadn’t the foresight to realize I may have no choice in the matter), who conceived shortly after her wedding, who continually conceived “easily” in physical terms -— due to the recurring deaths of my little babies in my womb, I not only received encouragement and empathy from other women around the world suffering infertility in its varied forms, but God gave me the grace and joy in the midst of my own suffering and grief to be a conduit of His love and tenderness in return.

Eventually, having connections in the medical field and spending 2 ½ years not only trying to conceive and carry a pregnancy, but also trying various tests and treatments that a variety of doctors around the United States suggested for us, God gave us a conclusion to a particular chapter. Just as suddenly as He opened the chapter of uRPL, He ended it. Through the aid of a reproductive immunologist and the Western medical protocol he concocted for me, millions of prayers from God’s people, and whatever miraculous interventions He spoke from His own mouth, the Lord saw fit to give us another living son —- born on Thanksgiving morning, right around sunrise.

After seven miscarriages, six having been consecutive, we were surprised by the gift of LIFE, wiggling and crying and cuddling in our arms! Just as surprising as it was to miscarry in the first place was the surprise we felt not to miscarry after so much heartache in our chapter of recurrent loss. Shortly on the heels of our second living son, God granted us the miraculous gift of a living daughter -— using the same medical treatments He had provided and used in the preservation of our son’s life.

Suddenly we had ten arrows in our quiver, and we embarked upon a new chapter of life characterized by the miracles of living children (a plural which never ceases to take my breath away), of thankfulness for Western medicine, of renewed hope in the various ways God brings beauty from ashes.

So we were surprised to suffer an eighth miscarriage when our daughter was about to celebrate her first birthday, while I was on the medical treatments once again that had seemingly saved the lives of two of our children.

This has served to remind us that God’s ways are not our ways, that chapters in the story of our lives begin and end according to His will and not ours, that His glory is paramount over any earthly joy or blessing we could even think of using to glorify Him —- because He in His infinite wisdom knows what is best for our lives to magnify Him most greatly. Whether we are facing another chapter -— or perhaps simply an interlude -- of uRPL in our family or not, we have realized that we just don’t know what the chapters in our story are going to look like; we can’t predict their endings; we may not always understand the storyline as we’re going through it (and maybe not even when looking back). But infertility will always be part of our story, as God has used it to shape us and use us in ways we would not have otherwise been used in His Kingdom.

If you look at my family picture, you probably would not automatically think, “I wonder if that family has ever struggled with infertility? ”—- which is just another reminder for us in the midst of "National Infertility Awareness Week" that we really are unaware of so much about infertility, its effects, its forms, its reach. My arms are both full and empty. I have children on earth, but more children who reside in the glories of heaven. I know the miracle of getting BFPs (that’s infertility-speak for “big fat positive” which is code for a positive pregnancy test), but I also know the depth of anguish that comes from my naïveté being stolen and understanding that being pregnant does not necessarily mean I am having a baby.

You may know someone like me. Someone who may even look like “a fertile myrtle” on the outside, but who may be suffering in silence. Someone who longs to pour out her life into the nurturing of children but whose body habitually fails her in ways far outside of her control, no matter the lengths she may (or may not) go to in order to try controlling things. Someone who beseeches the Lord daily for arrows in a quiver so that she can join the mommy club rather than the infertility club. Someone like Hannah, Sarah, the wife of Manoah, the wife of Abimelech, Rebekah, Rachel, Michal, Elizabeth -— women in Scripture who we know suffered infertility because these stories are recorded for us in God’s Word.

We don’t know the conclusions to our own stories, much less anyone else’s. But that is part of the bittersweet beauty of living in the world that is written by God, spoken by Him, revealed to us as His finite image-bearers only one chapter at a time: we have to rely on Him line by line, page by page, storyline by storyline. That’s one of the realities of my own chapter of infertility -— it is unpredictable, unrecognizable, unnoticed, unknown. Which, perhaps, is one of the best reasons why my own version of recurrent pregnancy loss is precisely, exactly, best described as infertility. And that is one of the reasons why I feel God calls me to speak out about it, to share in others’ similar journeys, to offer words of encouragement and empathy on this path, so that others can share in the comfort of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:4) which He has offered to me through these locust-eaten years (Jonah 2:25) as well, even as He continues to reveal my own story to me little by little.

Melissa Joy seeks to grow in grace and wisdom alongside her husband Steven, while pursuing joyful domesticity by nurturing her home and family. The joy she finds in her family, homemaking, music, writing, ministering to those in grief, and seeking to be a pillar of loving strength in her home can be seen unveiled at Joyful Domesticity, her contributing posts read at Mommies With Hope, her interactions of encouragement and prayers at Hannah’s Prayer, and her love for women on the journey of pregnancy after loss in her work as a contributing editor for Rainbows & Redemption.

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Faces of Infertility: "Eliana's" Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories! 

The following is a story from an online friend who is Swedish -- so pardon a few grammatical differences as you read.
I had always dreamt of marrying and having children. When I married my husband in October 2004, I was so happy. One year after our marriage, we decided to start TTC (trying to conceive) and we never thought that this would be the start of a long trial called infertility (IF).

In 2007, we got the first verdict that we would have difficulties to get pregnant. I remember the first shock of this verdict. Before we got it, I had found so many legitimate answers why it hadn't worked out for us. I was struggling a lot with very little support. 
In 2009, we tried some treatments, but all this stressed us both terribly. So we decided to TTC naturally. After a particularly hard time in December 2012 thru January 2013, I understood that we needed to come to some kind of decision and conclusion in this trial. We were considering trying IVF, but eventually we decided not to start that procedure. 

In May 2013, I came to a point where I thought that I really needed to choose to accept living without children. For several years, I had been scared about that, but somehow, I understood that I had the right to live and be happy. I really experienced a first deliverance in my heart and the peace came with it. A few months after that, I understood that even if my head had realized and kind of sorted out many things, my heart still needed to grieve and heal certain areas in the process. So, there were still tough days, but my thoughts and feelings were gradually changing.

In November 2013, I realized that all my struggles and trials over the past years, mostly linked to IF, had put me in a position of victim. And "comforting" this position, I could not walk forward because it had become a part of me and so normal and a kind of "comfort". 
"I am this, I am that..." I even understood that there was some pride in me about "struggling and living such a difficult life." I will never deny that those times were very, very, very hard; they totally broke me inside.

On one occasion, I got a new kind of perspective about this, and I believe that I had to walk this tough and horrible path from the perspective of my physical eyes. Yet, it was my Lord's path for me, He didn't like seeing me, His beloved daughter, like this, but He was always keeping an eye on me -- and He still is. "He keeps His silence in his love for you." (French version) Zeph. 3V17.

From there, I have been experiencing a new freedom in serving my God among the children at church. So many times, I had read Bible verses about serving Him, entering my destiny, and now when I can see that I am about to do it in a new way, it feels so normal and wonderful at the same time. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to experience joy and peace without becoming a mom. Yet, that is what I am experiencing right now. 

Some time ago, my husband and I were sharing the reasons why each one doesn't want to pursue parenthood any more. In fact, most of our reasons were exactly the same. We had already talked about this on occasions, of course, but this was different. I just felt that: "Wow, we have finally arrived to a conclusion as far as it concerns us." Our marriage is blessed and we don't lack anything. Furthermore, our life is so peaceful, and we enjoy not having the pressure to TTC and dreaming about what could have been.

While thinking about my own healing process over these past years, I believe that this choice to give myself the right to have a happy and fulfilled life as I am/as we are my husband and I has been the most important and precious revelation for me. I had to go through grief and suffering, but I did not have to stay in it for the rest of my life. 

I can just see how many pieces of my life puzzle have been falling into their place during the past year. And the life I am living right now is very good, because my heavenly Father is very good to me.
(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Faces of Infertility: Tara's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!
After a failed attempt to adopt a foster child I couldn’t go through the drama of falling in love then losing a child again. It was time to try to get assistance to get pregnant. I had gone through great lengths including three Reproductive Endocrynologists, about four Clomid cycles and six trials (I lost count, really) of IUI, and peed on a metric ton of EPTs with a big fat NO each time over four years. I think I was at my lowest emotional point ever. I found a new hatred of any women with obvious physical signs of PCOS, as I knew sitting across from them in the RE waiting room that they would be pregnant long before I would. My office shared a wall with Pediatrics, and I could hear babies crying throughout the day, leading to random outbursts of tears. I refused to shop at Walmart or the grocery store before 11 pm since that is where the parents who don’t know what a gift their kids really are do their shopping, and I couldn’t bear to hear one more parent scream at a child for simply acting like a child. I fought the urge to kidnap and raise about 3,000 of those kids throughout the years. I had researched the heck out of every Endocrynologist within a reasonable drive from Lompoc, CA, and had picked the doc with the best outcome overall. I submitted for an appointment, and they rejected me as a patient. I now understand, he only had the best numbers because he turned away any challenging cases that could bring his numbers down. I was on a 2-3 year wait list for an initial evaluation at Wilford Hall. I was distraught. I finally made contact with a clinic that touted great success rates in Beverly Hills. We made the drive. They reviewed my hand-carried volume of records, then ordered the same labs I had already handed him to review. They booked me straight away for an IVF cycle, and this elation clouded my judgment/intuition that would typically have sent me running from the repeated lab work. Just $15K out of pocket later I sat in the office filling out my informed consent forms for my IVF cycle. One page I refused to sign. I did not believe in the Inter-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection process was really the best option. For a first round of IVF, I wanted to have some level of natural selection in place, and after my questions about the risks of killing an oovum with the needle for injection went unanswered, not only did I NOT consent, but I wrote in big red letters, diagonally across the page “Does NOT consent”. The doc told me that this is a procedure that the lab decides upon when needed, and no one ever refused consent before. I asked him to put a note on the front of my record too, in that case. The clinic called me on Thanksgiving morning at 0800 to cancel my embryo transfer for the next day because all of the harvested eggs had stopped splitting the day before. My cycle failed. To throw salt on the wound (after they already ruined Thanksgiving as a holiday for me), I received a bill in the mail the following week for $1100 for ICSI procedure by the lab. When I asked for a records review, I found out that they ignored my denial of consent and went forward with ICSI. Tears…. Blame… Regret took over. I called and asked them to remove the fee. They said a procedure was done, and they can’t undo it, so I needed to pay for it. Anger set in. I wrote a letter of intent to sue for assault, as my eggs are cells belonging to my body, and I denied a procedure, after which they punctured my cells anyway. I sent the bill in with my letter, and received back a check for $15K. No apology, just a check. I had seen enough, and was done with RE for a while. If one more person told me I’d get pregnant if/when it was God’s will, or when it was meant to be, I’m pretty sure I’d have asked them that if my car ran them over right then and there, if it was God’s will for them to die, and their family shouldn’t miss them because it was just meant to be. I couldn’t take fly-by advice, and I couldn’t stand false-hope cheer. I was the walking illustration of depression. Almost year later, I was sitting in my chief’s office in-processing Osan when we started talking about kids. He had six. My tears were contagious, and he had no clue why he was crying. We chatted a few minutes about my dismal history with RE, and I returned to work. A week later, he came to my office with a business card for Dr. Park at CHA women’s hospital in Seoul. He wouldn’t accept that I had taken an assignment in Korea as part of a break from that chain of disappointment in my life. Instead, he pulled out a calendar with my return date from Korea circled, counted back 6 months, circled it and labeled it “First possible date for IVF”, and two months earlier wrote “CHA consult”. I called and booked it. Talk about culture shock. I went to my consult with my unabridged dictionary-sized stack of records, and Dr. Park slid them to the side of the desk and said, “we do it my way here.” I was disappointed, but at the cost of $1200 for a complete cycle, I figured it was worth a try even though my intuition told me any doc who doesn’t want to know what worked or didn’t work in the past isn’t going to be able to move me any closer to becoming a mom. At least I could take his protocol back the next year to the US doc, and let him know what didn’t work, so they could create a new and improved plan for me. Wrong. I did my two months of prep meds, had only one ultrasound, and did my HCG shot at home. I showed up for my retrieval, and they had twice the number of eggs retrieved as my Beverly Hills cycle. I tried so hard not to get excited. Three days later we returned to a doc telling us there were two grade “A” embryos, and one “B+”. He said he wouldn’t freeze a “B+” and typically only freezes if there are at least three “As” remaining. My husband refused the inference. “We will NOT put in more than two”. Dr. Park, a foot lower in stature, but from the authoritative side of the desk, replied, “You want a baby. Three gives you a better chance of getting one, but I only put in two, and they don’t implant, you will regret throwing one chance away.” There was some kind of a quip about “If we end up with triplets…” but I was quickly whisked away for my triple implantation. I am so glad I’m OCD about on-line research about procedures before I undergo them. I seriously would NEVER have known what was going on with my body when the OHSS hit. Cramp is not the word for it. I think the best description was getting run over by a MAC truck, then it parking with its wheel on my abdomen for a week. I knew to expect the pain to last 1-2 days if it hit, and longer if there was actually an implantation. I never was so excited to feel so much pain. Day three… yeah I was in pain, but was I pregnant? Day four I had to check into the in-patient unit to have the pain mitigated, but I had to be, right? I was in severe pain, and elated about it. They ran a quantitative HCG that day and the next. It had doubled in one day. Not only was I pregnant, but I was pretty sure I had at least twins. The pain subsided the day before my scheduled day 10 follow-up ultrasound. I sat in the cattle-call room with women on each side of me, without my husband. I thought maybe the Korean ultrasound tech didn’t know much English when she pointed to a shadow and said “Baby A”. I thought she meant “a baby” with her level of excitement when she found the white blip. Then she said “Baby B”. <3 data-blogger-escaped-a="" data-blogger-escaped-again.="" data-blogger-escaped-and="" data-blogger-escaped-are="" data-blogger-escaped-as="" data-blogger-escaped-be="" data-blogger-escaped-before="" data-blogger-escaped-break="" data-blogger-escaped-but="" data-blogger-escaped-can="" data-blogger-escaped-cancel="" data-blogger-escaped-could="" data-blogger-escaped-dr.="" data-blogger-escaped-follow="" data-blogger-escaped-fourth="" data-blogger-escaped-going="" data-blogger-escaped-good="" data-blogger-escaped-h="" data-blogger-escaped-had="" data-blogger-escaped-happy="" data-blogger-escaped-having="" data-blogger-escaped-he="" data-blogger-escaped-him="" data-blogger-escaped-home="" data-blogger-escaped-husband="" data-blogger-escaped-i="" data-blogger-escaped-in="" data-blogger-escaped-it="" data-blogger-escaped-join="" data-blogger-escaped-let="" data-blogger-escaped-me="" data-blogger-escaped-meeting="" data-blogger-escaped-my="" data-blogger-escaped-of="" data-blogger-escaped-only="" data-blogger-escaped-our="" data-blogger-escaped-p="" data-blogger-escaped-park="" data-blogger-escaped-rather="" data-blogger-escaped-relief="" data-blogger-escaped-right="" data-blogger-escaped-room="" data-blogger-escaped-saw="" data-blogger-escaped-security="" data-blogger-escaped-see="" data-blogger-escaped-seeing="" data-blogger-escaped-sigh="" data-blogger-escaped-smile="" data-blogger-escaped-spite.="" data-blogger-escaped-than="" data-blogger-escaped-that="" data-blogger-escaped-the="" data-blogger-escaped-they="" data-blogger-escaped-this="" data-blogger-escaped-time="" data-blogger-escaped-to="" data-blogger-escaped-told="" data-blogger-escaped-tonight.="" data-blogger-escaped-twins.="" data-blogger-escaped-twins="" data-blogger-escaped-waiting="" data-blogger-escaped-was="" data-blogger-escaped-we="" data-blogger-escaped-were="" data-blogger-escaped-with="" data-blogger-escaped-would="" data-blogger-escaped-you=""> Although health care in Korea is completely different than in the US, it was worth every dehumanizing moment. Sitting in a room nude with no drape, no curtains between beds… oh well. Showing for cattle call appointments, and getting to see the doc when he was ready for me rather than at pre-scheduled appointment times… I learned to take a book with me. My name on a computer screen with the type of procedure and the current status in the waiting room… forget HIPAA, my husband knew what was up, and that was just nice. The inability for my husband to be in the exam rooms or present for ultrasounds… well, they were happy to print pictures for him. I was pregnant, and all the conveniences of American medicine no longer mattered to me. My twins can tout “Made in Korea, and Born in the USA” and I am a new person since they joined my life seven years ago. Bryson and Dakodah are my built-in resiliency tools. No matter what happens in my life, I have them, I can take it, and I can thrive. When I hear anyone talk about God’s will, or what is meant to be, my only follow-on advice is “Don’t take that from anyone. Fight like hell for what you know you need, and never give up.”
,(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)