Infertility: Tina’s Story

Have you every had a moment when you were graced with a chance to see why you were called to something? That happened for me with Tina.

We were acquaintances who attended the same church, but different campuses. We ran in the same circle of friends, but were not close friends ourselves. After publishing my final post during a series on infertility, I invited women who wanted to connect and talk about their experiences to get together one evening. I remember Tina so brokenly telling us that only a few hours prior to our meeting, she had learned the gender of the baby she would never get to meet.

What a heart-wrenching, yet beautiful, moment that was. We wrapped our arms around Tina and prayed with her. And that’s when I knew. All this writing about infertility, a topic I knew little about, was all worth it so that she could have support from these women who could relate.

And now, it is with such great pleasure, that I let Tina tell the details.

Infertility: Tina’s Story

Tina 1

I guess my story really began before I even knew I had a story.  Early pain and suffering associated with my menses during adolescence was my first indication of the more difficult road that lay ahead. At 25, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis which could indeed impact my fertility, but could also be treated with surgery. I underwent my first laparoscopy and my symptoms improved significantly. Over the years, the birth-control pill disguised my symptoms so well that when I began considering marriage in my early-mid 30s, I felt the chance of infertility was minute for me.  However, I was wrong.  While engaged, we sought the advice of experts; in order to know what challenges, if any, we may face trying to conceive once married. Indeed, we learned my AMH levels were still very low, much like those of a woman 10+ years older than me. We stayed prayerful and hoped for a miracle as we began our married life together.

Approximately 5 months after marrying, I discontinued the birth-control pill and our conception journey began. Many months of trying on our own, months of trying with the help of oral hormones, and months of trying after having a 2nd laparoscopy ensued. By this time, I was over 35 years old and knew my chance of conceiving was decreasing rapidly. I cried a lot. I’ve always been the type who remained in control, but THIS was a game changer. I found my reliance truly could no longer be on myself and instead would have to fall into the hands of the Most Capable.

In January of 2016, we decided to proceed with IVF.  By February, I was given the highest dose of hormones possible because the outlook of conception was bleak. The doctor was quite surprised to retrieve 10 eggs, 9 of which were considered usable. Of those, we had 4 to fertilize! After 17 months of seeing negative pregnancy tests with no response from other forms of treatment/procedures, this was truly a welcomed surprise. About a week later, following the incubation period and some testing, we were told our 4 fertilized embryos would not be suitable for transfer. Just like that, our IVF journey ended and my hopes were dashed.

Over that next month, my husband and I had deep discussion about what to do next. We shed lots of tears together, but remained prayerful. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in God, though.  Why? Well, ironically, at the end of 2015 during Open Enrollment, my company announced that for the first time, they would be introducing a fertility program with limited coverage for eligible employees to receive a financial benefit for IVF. After investigating further, I found that I qualified for this coverage. We were ecstatic! We felt God was on the move on our behalf. We believed this window of opportunity to receive financial assistance for this extremely expensive procedure was an answer to prayer.  To know that over half the cost would be covered was a huge relief and we were very thankful for this opportunity. Therefore, when IVF failed, we were left confused, and wondered if we had misinterpreted this window of opportunity. Personally, my faith was at a low.

In March, I missed my period for the very first time ever. I was scheduled for my annual gynecology visit and it was there that I found out I was PREGNANT!! I was beyond emotional; overjoyed, flabbergasted, and most of all thankful. I passionately, with my whole heart, thanked the Lord for our miracle. To me, this baby was a sign that my body was capable and this was God’s timing. At my 9 week visit, our 2nd ultrasound revealed no heartbeat. Our baby had stopped growing over a week before. Following my D&C, one day after our wedding anniversary, I entered into a whirlwind of emotions that would continue for months. Moments of thrashing anger, constant questioning of God as to “Why” he took our little girl (Ivy) haunted me.  Yes, we chose to have genetic testing of the fetus to see if we could identify the cause of my miscarriage and in the process learned we lost a baby girl. I had days of true sorrow, some of sheer discontent, and others of deep depression. I found it hard to pray during that time; after all, I had little gratitude in the midst of my pain. My husband would quote scripture, pray for us, and research sermons about infertility and miscarriage to pass my way. He was, and still is, my Hero. We sought the help of our Pastor, a Christian counselor, and an Infertility group for me, as we knew we could not go at this alone.  I also began to learn more about environmental toxins, even in our skincare/beauty products, that expose us to greater risk for infertility and hormone disruption. Because of this, I decided to make some positive changes in my regime, while becoming an advocate for safer products. The support of close friends, even new friends from my infertility group, family, coworkers, and my newfound endeavor brought light to this dark journey and made the healing process bearable.

The summer of 2016 brought forth several attempts at IUI. It was our final attempt in August, with a switch to a new doctor and new medicine that we conceived our precious son that I’m carrying today!  With each kick and flip he does, I’m reminded of when John leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb!  This journey has taught me that I never was alone. God was with me, had gone before me, had placed special people on my path, and anticipated all my needs. He allowed me to feel ALL of the emotions for myself for a very important reason. He knows my story will bring hope to someone and is a testament to His power and provision. He is still in the business of performing miracles and I’m devoted to glorifying Him with our little miracle!

Tina 2

Infertility: Jenni’s Story

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.

Jenni & Evan

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.

Jenni, Evan, & Baby