My teachers always told me that the you should write the first paragraph of an essay last. That way you can really define exactly what it is you wrote to lead your readers into it. I never really understood that and may have cheated plenty on the concept but this first paragraph I am struggling to write. I finally get it. Sometimes you just don’t know where to start. So, I am going to jump right into it.
2017 was a difficult year for us and as we enter 2018 we will cross lots of unknown territory. This post is the beautiful truth how infertility became “our story”.
The Beginning. December 2016 – We were packing for a trip to my sister’s house in Colorado for Christmas with my whole nuclear family and I could just not contain how excited I was! I am the youngest of three sisters, of which we are all married. We literally live in three different time zones, so times together are super special. Add Christmas to the mix and I was EX-CIT-ED! Packing all the flannel, scarves, sweaters and hats that I could fit, my husband was deep in thought. I was pretty sure he was just focused on packing as that’s not his thing, until he started a rather deep conversation. He just came right out and said it. “I’m turning 31 next year and I want a house full of kids, so I don’t think we should wait to start a family.” This came to a surprise for me because… A. My husband doesn’t ever really plan ahead of his socks matching on his feet and that even took some time. B. We had just gotten married two months before this convo. C. I really honestly thought it would be me pushing for kids before him. I was told once that women are born mothers but men have to become fathers. I was born ready and he didn’t have to ask twice for me to whip out my phone and order some prenatal vitamins. We bowed our heads and prayed together and it was one of the most special moments we have ever had together. God, we’re ready!
When we got to my sister’s house and started all the holiday festivities, my sister, being the great host that she is, had goodie bags full of our favorite candy, snacks and a wrapped gift that said to not open until told to do so. When we finally got to open it, we each opened a candle and ours said, “Aunt and Uncle to be 2017!” We were so excited for the news as it was their first child! Wrapped up in the excitement, all of a sudden, my other sister shared her news that she was pregnant too! Already having one boy who was 3 years old, she was expecting her second child a week after my other sister’s due date! I almost cried. I thought right then that this was God’s plan, we were ALL GOING TO BE PREGNANT TOGETHER! I glanced over at my husband and he had this grin on his face saying the same thing. Of course, we just shared our excitement for my expecting sisters and kept our little secret that we had just started trying.
Month 2. January – So many firsts for us. The first real month of counting days, timing my cycle, sharing stuff about my body with my husband I would have never dared to a few months before, counting days, praying, taking the test… Negative. Period. We had some good friends visiting at the end of January, which happened to be perfect timing right when I started my period. Ok, Ok, kind of good news, I can drink this weekend! I can have a full cup of coffee! I can eat anything I want! I don’t have to hide anything from them! One last hoorah before becoming pregnant isn’t going to hurt us! Then, came that completely honest question, did we even do this right?
Month 3 February- I got a call from my sister saying that she had lost the baby. This is the one who already had one boy. Ok, God… now what? That wasn’t the plan! The thing with God is, we can plan all we want but we don’t write our stories…he does. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” (NLV Proverbs 19:21) We knew moving forward that my other sister still carrying the baby would be extremely hard for the other. Especially having a due date so close together. We considered to stop trying in respect to her pain. Knowing that if I now got pregnant with my sister, I would be almost trading places! I just could not imagine the pain it would cause her. We decided to educate ourselves more on the process and let God really take over. After reading the typical book, What to expect before you’re expecting, I learned what I could have, what I shouldn’t have, what I need, as well as my husband’s requirements for good/healthy baby making. For the most part, we hit all the categories without even changing our routine. We work out. We eat healthy. Our bodies are pretty in shape. No health issues. I started pre-natal vitamins, etc. I had never been on birth control before, so I really thought my body was like READY. I try to limit any pills I take and unnatural things in my body. (Ignoring how bad hot Cheetos are for you because a girls gotta live too, right?!!) Ironically, I had been tracking my period for months leading up to my wedding in the greatest fear that I would have it on my wedding day. Don’t worry folks, that didn’t happen! I started the night BEFORE my wedding at my rehearsal dinner. Let’s not talk about how hard that was. Nevertheless, my app had plenty of months to get the timing of my period and ovulating right. Our bodies were already ready, we didn’t think it would take long to conceive. We continued the timing, counting, and taking the test…Negative. Period.
We knew this was completely ok this month. It had been two months TTC (trying to conceive) for us and with my sister’s miscarriage, we were ok with it. Here came that question, “how long does it take the average healthy couple to conceive?” 6 months. 3 months. 2 months. Ok, there are a LOT of statistics out there. I gave myself the longer time frame to not freak out. 6 months. We have 4 more to go before I need to worry. Some time to pass for my sister’s sake was still ok with us. We truly had so much fun learning about the process at this point. My husband read a couple father-to-be books and I started planning, well everything. There is something about preparing your body for conceiving that is so REAL. You dream about having kids and but when you really start the process with your husband, it’s real!!! It’s exciting.
The funny thing about this month is we had another set of good friends that came to visit and same as the last month, the timing was exact. Now I could drink & have no secrets! Another hoorah?
Month 4 March – This month was kind of boring in our attempts. We started doing the timing of pregnancy thing. Well, if we get pregnant now, it’ll be around the holidays and those weeks are crazy enough! My birthday is in December and it always felt like such a rush between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We didn’t want to add to that. Let’s take it easy this month. If it’s God’s timing, it’s God’s timing. I had one of my college best friend’s bachelorette party during ovulating anyways. I went and I had fun! This quickly became my favorite saying, “one last hoorah?”
Month 5 April – We started this month with a visit from my sister-in-law and her husband, which just so happened to fall on a weekend right after my period again. I sensed the timing of this to be somewhat interesting… Every time my period came, I had a fun activity planned. I wasn’t sure why, but maybe God was easing my pain into the process to not worry too much when my period came. This month, I was also hosting a baby shower for my sister down in Houston. I got to visit with all my friends and celebrate her. At this point, only one best friend of mine and my neighbor knew we were trying. I got to visit with that one friend and we were able to swap some stories as she had also been TTC for a few months as well.
The problem with TTC in this day and age is it is such a secret. You don’t talk about it. What you do, is surprise everyone once you are pregnant and then post it on social media and surprise everyone else you know. While this is to protect your privacy of your house, experience it with whom you should and to not have people asking pushy questions putting pressure on you…this concept is faulty. It causes you to go through it with a man and a man only. My husband is my second hand. We bow down to the Lord together and we lean on each other so much. He is such a great listener and encourages me with love in everything I do. I trust his advice with every ounce of my soul so I turn to him for a lot! We both agree Jesus should come first in our relationship and life and we do a VERY good job making each other second. But, he is a man. He does not have periods. He does not have emotions that Eve had in the garden and he does not have weekly talk sessions with his girlfriends about how he feels. It is so hard to go through this without girlfriends by your side. Whether you are the person who told everyone, or the person who told no one, don’t feel shameful to change the social norm a little and confide in someone who can also be support outside of your marriage. I really don’t think it was as hard on my husband when my period came as it was on me. This month things started shifting to fear and a little sadness when it came. My neighbor also knew because I had asked for OB’s in the area. She is such a strong Christian lady and always had great pieces of spiritual advice for me. She told me to stop taking pregnancy tests. Just let God guide me. So, I did. Besides saving the money, it was one of the best decisions I made, simply because I stopped having to count down quite so much. I just simply let Mother Nature do the talking. It took some pressure off of the cycle and you don’t need to worry about false positives or false negatives.
Month 6 May – Month SIX. This was scary for me. I shouldn’t have put us on a timeline but I’m an event planner, how could I help it? We were officially at that time marker, so this month had to be it! Maybe God’s timing was just for us to learn about our bodies, enjoy the process and appreciate it all more. To have fun at all these events and spread apart timing from my sister’s miscarriage. To have all these last hoorahs and party it up before a baby! My two-person support system, told me to relax as much as I could! The truth is when people tell you to relax and enjoy the process… That. Is. Hard. To. Do. I know people mean well, and what other advice do you give? You hit the point where it’s all you think about. Sex becomes a process that needs an instruction manual. Fear overcomes you. Prayer becomes all you talk about. Your period means something different than it has your entire life. And of course, everyone is getting pregnant faster than you, which gives you the worst FOMO (fear of missing out) you have ever experienced. So, if you know anyone struggling, try to shift your advice from this statement. It’s almost impossible and trust me they are already trying their hardest to do so. Maybe just say you will be praying for them and to do everything they can to TRUST God’s timing. Is it any better advice? I don’t know…
Month 7 June– Weddings Weddings Weddings. We knew this month would be a wash because we had a wedding every single weekend. Three of those out of town. One whole week I would be away from Austin but somehow, during my “special time” we were together and were able to try, so maybe not a complete wash. Still came the period.
Month 8 July – Up to this month, when my period came, these were my feelings. Darn. Again? What did we do wrong? Rats. Ok, let’s move on. This month, I bawled my eyes out. It felt like a gut punch to the stomach. It. hurt. Fear was really starting to sink in. There is so much pain behind preparing yourself for a baby all month and then it all come to a crushing end with an empty womb, only to have to prepare yourself to do it all over again. My husband also started working 80 hours a week this month which really took us for a turn. Not only was he working long hard hours, he was walking outside all day 6-8 miles around his job site. Which meant, I had one tired husband. He works so hard for our family and I am so proud of him but the selfishness in me said, “We don’t have enough time together.” It turned some of my feelings into loneliness, so I went to visit my grandmother down in Florida for a fun week with my mom. What is the first thing she says to me? “Don’t get bit by mosquitoes you could be pregnant! Accidents happen!” How many times did she say it? Too many!! Grams. I. am. Not. Pregnant. You would be surprised how many comments from people around you are actually super hurtful even when they don’t mean it to be. Be careful what you say to anyone (or post on social media) having anything to do with getting pregnant or how terrible you feel. You never know who is really struggling beside you who would give anything to feel terrible but with a baby in the womb.
My one best friend who was also TTC told me this month she was pregnant! I was so happy for her as I know she understood the fear/stress/pain of not conceiving immediately and she was born a mother to the core. But, it also made me feel like I missed the train. I was running to catch it and it was just out of reach and left the station without me. She is incredibly kind and continued to give me encouragement and love and advice when I asked. When I was praying hard one day and upset about my period, pms-ing galore…one of my best friends in Houston called me and I honestly did not want to pick up but I forced myself to wipe the tears, clear my throat and act like all was ok. Through talking, I found out her husband was working that weekend too. By the end of the convo we had booked a flight for me to Houston to have a much-needed girls weekend. One thing I learned through all this heartache was that you can either cave in to the grief, or keep moving with it. Grab a float and sunbathe instead of trying to swim in the shifting waters. God was giving me a break and an excuse to go see my friends. I will revisit my comment above about needing friends through this journey and I wish I would have confided in them all earlier but I didn’t know what we were in for just yet. I still had hope that a baby could still come soon! I also still had hope that our story would be the “Surprise!! We’re pregnant!” story…
Month 9 August – A few months ago when things were just crazy, we decided we wanted to do a big vacation before the baby came. I had never been to Europe before so we planned a two-week trip to France and Italy. Originally it was scheduled as more of a “babymoon”, a trip you go on when you’re pregnant to celebrate that last times of just the two of you. What it meant for us now was, a BREAK. A break to drink wine, drink unlimited espressos and HAVE FUN TOGETHER! It was a trip of a lifetime and we explored so much and grew a lot closer together. It also gave us hope to conceive in a different environment than our room which often seemed like a stressful and dare I say, dark place.
Month 10 September – Toward the end of September, when my period came, we knew. It’s time. After 10 months of not being successful and each month bringing more fear of the unknown, we decided to seek help. I had a terrible feeling when my period came this month that something was just wrong. There is always a small fear in women, that we may have troubles conceiving. I always wondered if it was the Devil whispering lies or Jesus whispering hints. We knew we were too young and healthy to be way past the average conceivable time frame, so it was time to get tested. We had NO idea where to start and literally turned to google. We somehow stumbled on the best fertility doctor in DC and due to a random cancellation, we started consultation the next day. He said we were in the right place being so young still with no baby. He had a plan for us. 4 tests to start off with to see what is going on. The inevitable one test for Austin and three for me. Unfortunately, none of these were covered by insurance. Our consultation alone was $350, not to mention, the time driving up to DC 1.5 hours from our home and Austin taking off work for every appointment. However, on the bright side, the timing of my cycle on these time sensitive tests was impeccable and we were done in about a week of tests that could have lasted another month. We knew God’s timing was nothing short of perfect leading us on this path and to this doctor that specific day we did. We had to stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Well, that’s what I told myself over and over.
Test time! Blood taken. No big. An invasive sonogram to see what my ovaries look like. Now, let me just tell you how depressing this was. You imagine your first sonogram to be when you are pregnant to see the baby for the first time waiting to hear a heartbeat. Not only was it a trans-vaginal sonogram that they had to stick way up to see my antral follicle count (basically number of eggs you hold) but there is no baby we are searching for at this time. It all looks the same as it does in the movies, they even print it out how you would have the obligatory “we’re pregnant here is a first picture of our baby” type picture. But my picture had no baby and the real question, will it ever? The last test was a super uncomfortable (slightly painful) radiology dye test to see if my tubes were open which he told me immediately they were. Whew, silver lining.
This was a scary time for us. The unknown. Digging to our deepest core to trust God through it all and stay strong. First comes love, then comes marriage then comes baby in the baby carriage. It’s not written in the tree that you may struggle to have kids! Luckily, my Mom came to visit this week after confiding in her and was able to be there with me when Austin was at work. You are NEVER too old to need your Mom.
Month 11 October – Infertility. After all the results were in. We sat down with the doctor, for another hefty “why do we even have insurance price”, and were told the hardest news a young couple wanting to conceive could ever hear. We had slim chances of ever doing so on our own. We found out that we both have some limiting factors, combined were not good. We were told we needed IVF and needed it soon as my years of laying eggs were limited. The good news was we were good candidates for IVF and wouldn’t need surrogacy. We knew then why the good Lord had pushed on our hearts to begin trying 11 months ago and not wait and that he wanted us to experience this trial. We knew then that this was “our story” and that it may not be the perfect, fun, surprise everyone you’re pregnant story that we had been dreaming of and secretly planning for a while now. We decided to trust a higher power than any earthly doctor and keep trying naturally until the end of the year before going to the very extensive and expensive journey of IVF. There are a few other options but due to our specific situation, they would not be worth our time and money to try. We were sent home with books, stacks of essays and tons of new words to research up on. We decided to research every natural fertility help we could and started doing some cleansing. We have always had in our hearts to adopt one day but we want to conceive first and do it out of love not of desperation. (Although, we completely understand that is not always the option.)
Month 12 November – The waiting, trusting and trying to relax game. Taking tons of vitamins, herbal tinkers, teas, essential oils and my husband started liver and colon cleansing. He took as many as 10 pills before even going into work. This month I also found out my sister and two of my other best friends were pregnant. Two first moms and the sister who had the miscarriage! The feeling to be completely excited for them but utterly crushed isn’t something I ever wish for anyone to feel. I say this honestly that when you are going through this, everyone else gets pregnant, quicker faster, or heck “without even trying”. It is a very difficult pill to swallow. But it is a beautiful one I think. It forced me to dig dip to find that joy and choose it, rise above any negativity the devil whispered to me and challenged me to my core. I never allowed myself to turn into that pity or jealously of others conceiving. Some days were harder than others but I didn’t want to be that sad non-pregnant girl that everyone had to tip toe around and hide their joy from. I wanted to celebrate in the midst of my trial and these pregnancies forced me to do so and feel joy for them. It turned into an almost stillness in my heart. My life was just still. Not sad. Just still. This is the month that I think everything finally sunk in with Austin which comforted me to see him really feel this trial. I don’t mean that in a cruel way but to know he felt what I did, joined us more together and I didn’t feel so alone. We told our families and our close friends, so now our story was real and the secret was out. We didn’t have to hide it anymore which brought a huge relief but also disappointment to have to share the news of infertility rather than pregnancy. You learn quickly who your support system truly is and I was very thankful for a larger one. I cannot thank each of you enough for truly being there for me and us.
It is weird to feel honored to go through a trial like this. But God pushed us to start trying back a year ago and we both knew it was time. So, we know that God has intended us to go through this trial this year. I told my mom in 8th grade, I thought I would have trouble conceiving. It’s weird to think about that now. When I told my sister that she said she thinks God has always prepared me for this trial and what may come next. My neighbor thinks it’s because of this testimony. Who knows what next year will be for Austin and I. We have such hope and joy in our hearts that the path God has chosen for us will be beautiful. We have to keep trusting him and one day we will have a family.
1 Year December – Accepting our circumstances means embracing the life you have, not the life you wish you had. There was a cool realization for us this month and joy came in the mourning. The whole time we have been praying for a baby, we have been pleading with the good Lord to deliver us an answer to our prayers. We have been literally on our knees in agony wondering what his plans for us are. The whole time we have been praying that God’s path for us was our desired path. But the truth is, we have been on his path this whole time! Isn’t that crazy to realize? That we don’t have to pray that our desired hearts are his plans, we just have to trust and let him drive. We stopped praying for a baby this month. We started praying for God’s plans to rest peacefully in our hearts and OH has he answered THOSE prayers. We serve a mighty God who does not abandon us and does not bring us to anything we cannot handle. We must lean on him and his understanding not our own! We have come to the realization that God has planted us in a “wait and trust me” time in our lives and we have found so much PEACE in that. Austin and I told each that we have so much genuine joy in our hearts. How is that possible? When we are in such a deep, dark, never ending-seeming trial? Especially when I used the word “stillness” to describe last month? Through him! He has answered our prayers! A different prayer than we originally thought we needed answered but he has answered a different one in a strong way. We just simply shifted our prayers, our hearts and our minds. But guess what? We are on the same path we have been on since December 2016. HIS PATH! My sister got me an amazing book called Anchored in Hope, Devotionals for Infertility. If you know anyone going through this trial, get them this book! It is so much different than reading people who have had an IVF/IUI baby, adopted, or finally got pregnant. (The trouble with these is we compare our stories to their end game results.) This is people IN THE TRIAL. Where you are right now! Encouragement letters from them to stay strong, lean into prayer and keep the faith in the Lord. If they can find JOY, so can I! This book has added so much more peace to this month. One passage that taught me a great perspective was, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (NLV Isaiah 48:20) He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” Fertility doctors tell so many people these days that our bodies cannot conceive for one reason or the next. They tell us we are not ABLE and we listen. But the good news is we serve a God who IS ABLE. Our God is able! Our bodies can be healed by him! “And by his stripes we are healed!” (NLV Isaiah 53:5)
There is one thing I want to add that I think is super important for those reading to understand. If you have not started TTC yet, before you start freaking out or visualizing the absolute worst for your future, remember this is our story. You will have our own. I encourage you to cross every bridge WHEN IT COMES. Worrying ahead of time doesn’t help a baby come. Trust your story and your process. This story is not your sign that you will have a problem.
Thank you for listening to our story. As we head toward the new year we are happy to have enjoyed the holidays with our families despite still no baby. We have joy in our trial and I would be lying if I said I am not dang proud of us for where we are. We are not ashamed, it has not broken us and we are joyfully accepting this as “our story”. I write this for those other women out there in the same trial. I don’t need anyone’s pity and if you read this thinking so, you read it wrong. There is strength, joy and hope inside me as I write this and I pray I can send that to others. This has been a very hard year but we have found so much strength delivered from it. We found a strength we didn’t know we had but what choice do you have? We have grown so much as a couple and as followers of Christ. I heard someone once say, “Are you going through it or are you GROWING through it”. So, if you are going through anything similar, my heart tugs for you and I hope you can find some sort of peace in your trial. Please feel free to reach out to me personally as one thing I have learned through this is there are so many women/couples in the same boat and it is a community of love and support. It is a rite of passage to truly understand the pain and reoccurring cycle of it all. I hope to be your support.
Here are 10 things I have learned through my trial.
- You are not alone. Confide in someone close to you that you know will answer the phone when you call crying. Don’t forget about the big man upstairs who is always there.
- Find peace in your trial. Whatever it may be, tell yourself you are ok. Find peace in knowing you are on God’s path, not yours! So, you don’t need to fear that you are driving correctly. He’s got the wheel.
- Shift your prayers. Have you ever thought of prayers of “asking” for something? Change your prayers from asking for an ending point of a baby to asking for peace/trust/love/happiness in your heart NOW. How can this trial shift your sanctification process? How can you glorify him more?
- Cry, if you need to. Don’t feel like you have to keep it together all the time. One of my best friends told me this when I was hurting one day. “This is tuff stuff”, she said. Sometimes I remind myself that when I feel weak. The trick is don’t let yourself stay there. Eat your ice cream, call that friend crying then rise back up and find your happiness and strength again.
- Educate yourself. My husband and I try to be very natural, so we found some really cool natural fertility items and materials. We learned so much about our bodies to really understand what was going on. Naturalfertility.com is a good resource! I have a few holistic care people in my life too that gave me different perspectives than the fertility doctors do.
- Find someone else that has experienced something similar. Odds are someone close to you has experienced this. Feel free to reach out to me! Or simply google infertility blog and read so many stories that women boldly share about their experiences. When I found my first infertility friend, it helped so much because she KNEW my pain without knowing me. I didn’t have to explain it or put on a tough front. I could just be real in the midst of infertility. But when you talk to them try to just talk about the trial and not their “end point” stuff. Because number 7 is…
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. EveryBODY is different. Even take what the doctor says with a grain of salt. Don’t let your thoughts of your own body or experience change based on someone else’s opinion or experience. Just because someone got pregnant this month because they did this or that, doesn’t mean you will. Don’t get your hopes up comparing other stories to yours. Embrace yours.
- Don’t forget to love your husband. I know sometimes sex can turn into something so mechanical during this time. Try your hardest to just LOVE on your husband and not become a hot mess that he then has to take care of.
- Don’t let jealously overcome you. It will hurt when your friends and family get pregnant while your womb is still empty. Find joy to be truly happy for them and share their joy. Don’t make people hide their joy from you. This is YOUR trial, not theirs. Don’t make your trial someone else’s. Everyone has a different story and just find within yourself to respect and celebrate theirs.
- Love your body. God made you wonderfully and beautifully you. Don’t think low of your body or your husbands because you cannot get pregnant. There is SO much more behind it than that. Although there is so much science in the IVF process and fertility meds, God made our bodies so intricate and their hands so able, this is STILL his work. This was an important lesson for us.
Infertility. There so much pain, sorrow, tears, tests, helplessness and money behind that word. There’s also so much strength, patience, hope, faith, love, support and joy in it. We are thankful for our path and trial and were incredibly hopeful for our future. We ask for you to pray with us as we head into our next step toward Baby Andress with IVF starting January 4th. (Of which, our insurance does not cover) We invite you to pray with us as we enter this unknown territory. Although we may have joy in our trial, the depths of fear find ways to creep up. So, we also pray that we do not let that overcome us! Faith over fear.
Sending love, Stacy and Austin
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
Rejoice in hope be patient in tribulation be constant in prayer Romans 12:12
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Truly my soul finds rest in God. Psalm 62:1