Infertility: Caroline’s Story

If there is a form of etiquette concerning asking people to publicly share about their infertility experience,  I’m pretty sure it includes not bringing it up at a baby shower. But Caroline and I got to talking, and the Holy Spirit stirred it up, and out it came. I am so grateful.

I love that we end this week of stories here. No matter your own personal struggles, even if it has nothing to do with infertility, I believe you will be encouraged by Caroline’s words. It is my prayer that everyone have a chance to know this sort of sweet love from the Father.

Infertility: Caroline’s Story

Caroline 1

The last four years have had its share of heart ache, disappointment, financial strain, and just a complete emotional drain.  But there has also been a new awareness of God’s goodness, joy, and a spiritual wholeness than can only come from my loving Father.  I want that to be the focus of the last four years.  God’s goodness is the testimony, not the loss and pain.

Billy and I have been married for six years.  After a year of trying on our own to get pregnant and several tests to see what was wrong, we were told it was unexplained infertility (basically nothing obvious was keeping us from getting pregnant, some couples just need a little medical boost!).  We were were encouraged to try insemination, which resulted in a positive pregnancy after the first try!  We were beyond thrilled!  But around week 5 I began spotting – leading my doctor to do an early ultrasound.  I was told this was an ectopic pregnancy.  I had never heard that term before but my doctor began telling me that my baby was growing… just in the wrong place.  My baby was growing in my tubes which if left alone would kill us both.  I thought I had options.  I had none.  I had to go straight to the hospital to get a shot that would dissolve the pregnancy but save my life.  Billy and I were devastated.  I sat in that public waiting room watching mothers who already had children with them having more children.  I felt a bitterness I’d never felt.  You see, up to this point, I had been in a place spiritually that I had never been before.  Through different small groups at church and intentional days of prayer and fasting, I felt God had brought me to a place with Him I’d never been before.  So why would he do this to me?  Why would He take this good thing from me?  I was mad at Him.  I would sit through my quiet time, skipping over the prayer time and tell God I just needed to read His word in silence because I didn’t trust what I might say to Him.  I didn’t participate in worship at church, and if you know me, I LOVE to worship!  I was broken and didn’t know how to feel ok during this time or how to get back on track with God.  But God was doing something in me I couldn’t see at the time.  He was faithful to send me friends who spoke words of life over me.  He gave me songs that began to mend my heart.  I’ll touch on those specifics later but let’s get through the rest of the tough stuff.

A year later we did another insemination which also ended in an ectopic pregnancy.  This time I wasn’t mad at God but I did get lost in the “whys.”  Again, God was faithful to give me what I needed to push on.  After these two ectopic pregnancies, a laparoscopy was done and it was discovered I had endometriosis and damaged fallopian tubes.  Both tubes were removed.  We began looking into IVF.  Unfortunately, my Type I diabetes had gotten so much harder to control in my late 30’s, even with good eating habits and exercise.  My blood sugars were so out of control my doctor could not recommend me to try to get pregnant.  I was crushed.

Caroline 2

But then, an angel appeared.

Amy and I have been best friends since high school. One Sunday at church, I was telling her about there seemingly being no remaining options for having a baby. She grew quiet and then said she would have our baby, she would be our surrogate!   She told me God had actually put it on her heart months ago but she felt like she needed confirmation.  I’d say that conversation was it!  Billy and I talked and prayed about it.  Amy and her husband Jason prayed about it.  The church prayed with us.  This was totally a God thing!

We got started with appointments and doctor’s consultations and visits right away.  The four of us had a lot of decisions to make.  I’ll tell you, you think you know where you stand morally on pregnancy, abortion, when life begins, etc…until you’re faced with infertility and needing the help of science and medicine.  All four of us involved felt very strong in our pro life convictions, but there were SO many details and decisions that had to be made that most people never have to think twice about.  I want to get to the “God’s goodness” part so I’ll make this brief.  We had two transfers with Amy: the first ended after the second week, the second transfer ended in a miscarriage around week 10.  Through the heartbreak, God was still moving and working miraculously in me!

Caroline 3

Here are the things that helped along the way.  After the first ectopic, in my season of being angry with God, a sweet friend said, “Caroline, God grieves with you.” And it clicked.  God hadn’t done this TO me, it just happened to me, but he was WITH me through it all.  This is also about the time I truly grasped the promises in Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  I began to trust that if it wasn’t a baby we would get, God would give us an even better gift!  It’s hard to imagine what could be better than a baby, and I’m not talking about a monetary gift or thing, but that’s why we have earthly eyes and imaginations and God does not!  After the second ectopic, I remember sitting on my bed in my room and hearing the song “Beautiful Things” by Gangor. I began weeping at these words:

“All this pain I wonder if I’ll ever find my way.  I wonder if my life could really change at all.  Could a garden come up from this ground.  You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust.”

I wept because I believed these words – that God would make beautiful things out of my dust.  I also prayed that all this pain wouldn’t be for nothing.  God doesn’t intend for our trials to be for nothing, but we in our messiness and earthly selves, often get in the way of learning from our trials and disappointments.  Just before Amy’s first miscarriage, her dad, who has been like a spiritual dad to me since high school, reminded me not to ever let the devil steal our joy.  This was just a general conversation, Amy hadn’t miscarried yet, but that came to help me through that loss.  When I got the call from the doctor’s office, I was doing yard work and had been listening to a message on how grieving can be a way of worshipping God.  So when I got the call, I wept.  I cried and cried but in those tears I told God that Satan was NOT going to steal my joy!  I told God that I loved him and thanked him for helping me through this!  Yes, my heart throbbed, but I had such hope in Jesus!  I also heard a song from Shane and Shane called “Though You Slay Me.” There is a version that has an excerpt from John Piper’s message on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. John Piper says, “Every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.  Don’t look to what is seen.  Don’t say ‘It’s meaningless!’  It’s not!  It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.”

Caroline 4

Billy and I still don’t have a baby.  We have some options and a lot of praying to do.  But what we do have are God’s promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  He does grieve with us.  He does walk through each and every heartache with us.  My pain has not been for nothing.  I’ve been able to share the gospel through sharing the ups and downs of the last four years with unbelieving friends.   He is a good, good Father, in all circumstances, all the time!  Trust Him that He wants good things for you!

Infertility: Marcy’s Story

I first met Marcy through church. We attended the same campus and would often see each other at a midweek small group for mommies and littles called “Baby Praise”. This was a chance for parents and kiddos to chat together while learning songs and lessons that were being taught in the preschool age on Sunday mornings.

Not knowing her story, I admired Marcy greatly. She had a set of very young triplets who were all potty training, and another little baby boy to boot. Watching her mother her little ones motivated me in the mothering of my own. I knew I could learn a great deal from her!

When I first posted about infertility, I learned the miracles behind all four of those precious babies. It is a great honor and privilege to be able to share her story with you today.

Infertility: Marcy’s Story

Marcy's Wedding

Our breakthrough came at a time of surrender. After my 5th loss, we decided to go on a mission trip to Colombia, South America. My husband, Allen and I thought it would be a great chance for both of us to get away, change our focus, and do something we’d felt called to do.

Our introduction into infertility had begun  three years prior. We had decided we were ready to start having children and were surprised when that didn’t happen right away.

After trying a few rounds of Clomid, we still didn’t get pregnant and we were officially referred to a fertility specialist, where we learned I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The doctor was confident that with intervention, I should be able to get pregnant quickly. A few weeks later we were thrilled to learn the treatment had worked – I was pregnant! We told our families and a few close friends; eagerly looking forward to our ultrasound. When the day finally arrived we were nervous but excited. Our excitement quickly faded when the ultrasound began. We immediately knew something was wrong. The doctor explained that even though I was 8 weeks pregnant, they couldn’t find a baby. Testing determined I had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. We were crushed.

Despite our devastation, we were eager to have a baby. As soon as we were cleared to try again, we did. Two months later, we found out we were expecting, only to lose this baby too. This pattern of pregnancy and loss continued. In total, we got pregnant five times and lost all five babies. Our hope was wearing thin. During this time, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join an infertility support group. It was such a gift to be able to share and talk with women who knew my hurts and hopes. They were a pillar of strength for me throughout our  journey.

It was after our 5th loss that we decided to take our mission trip. The trip was life changing. We went with a wonderful group of people, met many others and experienced so much. Our faith grew exponentially. I began to realize how much bigger the world was outside of me and my trials. I began learning how to focus less on me and more on others.

Marcy's Mission Trip

Shortly after our trip, a few of us had the opportunity to share our experience with others in our community. At the end of the night, I also shared my infertility story with some of the ladies. Before I left, these women prayed over me. Something changed that night. I left feeling hopeful and sure that I was going to be a mother, somehow, some way.

Just before our trip,  we had  met with a new doctor, who’d diagnosed me with endometriosis. He set us up with a new plan and with our renewed hope  we were eager to try it.

As we went through the “two week wait” of not knowing if this attempt had worked, we would pray daily for the child that we hoped was growing in my body. Allen would jokingly pray for the “babies” and even went as far as to pray for 4 babies. I remember telling him, “I don’t think I could handle four. Three, maybe, but four at one time? No way!” Little did we know, just a few weeks later, we would find out we were expecting…TRIPLETS! We were excited, nervous, scared, hopeful, fearful, you name it – we felt it. Again, we turned to our team of prayer warriors and asked for prayer over our sweet babies.

Marcy Triplet Announcement

Seven months later, at 30 weeks and 3 days, we welcomed Hallie, Hannah, and Caleb into the world. I was so overwhelmed and in awe of what God had done. Never in my dreams could I have imagined this would be our story. Just a year prior, we were questioning if we would ever have a child at all. Our hearts were so full.

Marcy's Triplets

Despite having been given so much, Allen and I would often talk about having one more child, “Bennett”. It was a name we loved and we both felt our family wasn’t quite complete. We would mention it from time to time, but we had no desire to go through fertility treatments again. If we were supposed to have another child we trusted God would open the door. This wasn’t something we were ready to pursue, but merely a thought in the back of our minds for “someday”. Much to our surprise, when the triplets were 18 months old we learned we were once again pregnant. Due to our history, we were overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions. We reached out to our closest friends and family for prayer and support. 9 months later, we welcomed our baby boy, our “cherry on top”, our Bennett!

Marcy's Family

When I am asked what I want other women battling with infertility to know, so many thoughts come to mind. I remember being in the thick of it, hearing other women’s stories, appreciating them, but knowing they weren’t my own, questioning if, how, and when I would get my happy ending. What I want women in this battle to know, is that yes, every story is different. No, I can’t promise how yours will end, but what I have learned through my story and the stories of others, is that God is writing a perfect story for YOU. Despite how it may feel and look right now, God works all things for good and he can do abundantly and exceedingly more than we can ever hope for or imagine. My best advice is to find a group of women who can understand and support you. Lean on them, share with them, pray with them. Above all, hold on and trust God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6