When I first got the idea to write about infertility, I thought I might be a little crazy. I knew if I was going to actually do it, I would need to enlist the help of someone who could provide critical feedback. Someone who had actually gone through it.
My friend Jenni has been so kind to help me prepare my words and understand a little more of the details behind the struggle of infertility. She has also granted me permission to share her story.
Everyone has a different story. Everyone’s story has a different ending. In sharing stories I hope to shed light on how common infertility can be. I also hope to create a community that strengthens and encourages those who are facing such a hard thing, wherever they might be in that process.
Today, I bring you Jenni’s story.
I first met Jenni and Evan way back when my husband and I were dating. We were in small group together and I always loved the joy and warmth they added to our group. When Eric and I got married, they joined several of our friends in helping set up for our ceremony. This is a couple who regularly used their time and efforts for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
Jenni was a very successful business woman with hopes of adding “Mommy” to her resume. A year after they decided to begin a family, however, she began to realize this dream might be harder to come by than she once thought.
The journey of seeking the help of medical professionals officially began. When a couple is dealing with the concept of infertility, the first question that must be answered by doctors is, “Why?” There are tests to be administered, results to be waited upon, and often various medications to try. It was several years before Jenni learned the reason for their waiting.
The answer was discovered after a reproductive endocrinologist administered a blood test to determine Jenni’s AMH levels. This is a test usually reserved for older women, which is why it took so long before her doctors considered offering it. In her case, the test revealed that Jenni’s body held an abnormally low amount of eggs. So low, in fact, that it was likened to a woman nearing menopause. Jenni was still in her twenties.
According to her doctors, Jenni had a less than 1% chance of ever becoming pregnant without medical intervention, and her chances with IVF were barely an improvement. After years of failed attempts, tests, and procedures, they were at a crossroads.
Questions flooded their minds. “What is His heart on this issue?” “Is the cost of IVF worth the chances?” “How will becoming parents ever be possible?”
Jenni says these months were an emotional rollercoaster. In addition to this unending yearning to be parents, they were facing the repercussions of a natural disaster that almost totaled their home. There were days she was numb to the idea of parenthood and ready to give up.
Ultimately, they decided to give IVF at least one shot. The process is designed to harvest eggs that can then be placed in the best environment possible for reproduction. Jenni’s experience was a disaster. Her body had an adverse reaction to the medication and shots she had to inject daily. After one month, zero eggs were harvested. None. No hope of a baby. They concluded this was not the right direction for them.
As Jenni and I talked about her experience, she shared with me the discovery of how much God loves to create life and how she felt released to run after having children in less conventional ways. Through these painful circumstances, she was learning about various medical advancements that can allow couples to become parents.
Some women, once learning their womb is unable to carry a baby, become mothers by having a surrogate carry their new life for them. Other families might have a situation similar to Jenni, and choose to adopt an embryo available from someone else who has gone through IVF. Still others, might have the opportunity to become pregnant through the process of egg donation.
Jenni loved the idea of adoption, and equally loved the idea of carrying her child through the 40 weeks of pregnancy. With much prayer, she and her husband decided to visit one more office before ending their 6 year journey of fertility and proceeding with adoption. They were also considering the concepts of egg donation and embryo adoption.
Before the visit, Jenni penned the following thoughts. Her words bring tears to my eyes:
“At the beginning of learning how grim our outcome was, I asked God to teach me more about who He is and to understand him. Here is my take away: the Father gives good gifts. He is the giver and sustainer of life and he gives GOOD gifts. This doesn’t explain why we don’t sometimes receive something we want, but I know my Father gives only good. I know he holds every tear I cry. I know he loves us and his angels are singing over us. I believe it is the Father’s heart for us to have biological children even if that isn’t what we receive. I still believe it is in His heart and nature to give life. We live in a world where we can’t explain our circumstances and we aren’t promised a life without pain. As Evan and I look back over the past very difficult years, we are not thankful for the pain, but we know it has deepened our character and how we respond to others and we KNOW our Father loves us! We know He has given us amazing hearts that can grieve, heal, and dream new dreams.”
It was a standard visit. They were seeking a second opinion about whether there were any other steps they could take to have a child of their own. The nurse took Jenni’s blood just to ensure she was not already pregnant. Jenni assured her this was not necessary.
Later that afternoon, Jenni answered an unfamiliar number and the words, “You are pregnant” sang through the speaker. Jenni dropped to the floor in tears as the seemingly impossible became reality in her life.
Nine months later, after 10 years of marriage and 6 years of walking through infertility, they welcomed beautiful and precious Evie into the world. What the doctors had said to be impossible, God had made possible.
Jenni’s story is unique. She believes God gave her a miracle and wishes each person’s story was able to have the same miraculous ending. She gives God all the glory and hopes his plans for her will include more children.