Birth & Parenting Series: A Happy Announcement After Loss
This sweet friend, L.R., from law school & her husband emailed me the happiest news! After suffering loss and hoping to have a baby make it past the first number of weeks, they are 20 weeks along in their parenting journey!! She had shared about their losses in a previous guest posting.
Read more of the Birth & Parenting Series here.
Praise be to God: We are Expecting
It’s finally our turn to make this amazing announcement! What you maybe don’t know is what a long journey it has been. During that journey I made a promise to God that, if He ever gave us this chance, I would give Him the glory; so He set about making sure I knew that He truly deserved the honor when the time came.
Though we’ve been married almost 9 years, we didn’t really start trying to expand our family until about 3 years ago. As we came up on a year of trying and as I was beginning to grow frustrated and discouraged, I was thrilled to see our first positive pregnancy test on Easter Sunday 2012. The excitement was short-lived, however, because it was over in less than a week. Since I didn’t even make it to 5 weeks pregnant, I later learned that I had experienced what is considered a chemical pregnancy. It was a heart-breaking loss but I tried to take comfort in knowing that it was possible for us to conceive and believed that the next time would be “the one.”
To my great surprise, the next time came the very next month. I was obviously nervous in light of what had happened but grew optimistic as I made it to 5 and then 6 weeks pregnant. That was it though. I miscarried at 6 weeks and 2 days. (You can read more about it here.)
After the miscarriage we went to a doctor for the first time who reiterated most of the things I had told myself after the chemical pregnancy: the good news is that we were capable of conceiving and chances were that the next time would be successful. So we were sent on our way to keep trying. And keep trying. And keep trying. For those who have not struggled in this way, the trying part is not as fun as it sounds. The stress and emotion, the weeks of hope followed by weeks of despair; it’s a taxing process. After another year of trying with no success, we headed back to the doctor.
That’s when all the testing began. With every test, we never knew whether to hope for normal or abnormal results. Part of you just wants an answer and you hope for something treatable. The tests were spread out over many months; get this tested and keep trying a few months, get that tested and try a few more months…you get the picture. By the end of 2013 we had exhausted all the tests that my OB knew to order. Everything looked normal. Both of us appeared to be completely healthy and completely capable of procreating. And while many women struggle with irregular cycles, you could set your clock to my schedule. Everything was working like it should, except it wasn’t.
With the start of a new year, we made our way to a reproductive endocrinologist. I had been hesitant to move in that direction because I object to many fertility treatment options. (If you’re interested, you can read more about that here.) The consensus seemed to be, however, that we should at least see what a specialist had to say. Maybe, just maybe, he’d come up with a simple fix to put us on the right track. After the initial consultation, another round of tests were ordered. A few weeks later I returned to learn, once again, that all tests indicated that we were completely healthy and normal.
With no more diagnostics to turn to, the reproductive endocrinologist opined that it was time to pursue inter-uterine insemination (IUI) combined with clomiphene and, if not that combined approach, at least clomiphene. IUI is basically a refined version of what you’ve heard called artificial insemination. IUI can help to ensure that the right ingredients meet in the right place at the right time. Clomiphene, meanwhile, is an ovulation inducing drug that typically causes a woman to release more than one egg per cycle. Even where a woman ovulates regularly without assistance, the theory with clomiphene is that more eggs equal more chances.
Now before I tell you our response to the specialist, I want to share briefly how our faith grew during our struggle with loss and infertility. Though my husband and I are both Christians, we’ve been embarrassingly slow to find new church homes each time we’ve moved. Around the time of the chemical pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, however, we finally found a local church where we felt comfortable. We worked our way toward (mostly) regular attendance and then took the unprecedented step (for us) of joining a Bible study group. Eventually we got around to officially joining the church and we were even baptized in May of this year…nearly two years after the miscarriage. Yes, a slow process, but these external acts of obedience reflected important and meaningful growth in regard to our faith in God’s power and love. And I can promise you that, during those years, God and I had lots of discussions about my desire to have a child.
So it was under these circumstances that I sat and listened to the reproductive endocrinologist tell me that, if we did nothing else, we had a 6% chance of conceiving. If we took his advice to utilize IUI and clomiphene, however, our chances of conception would more than double. The numbers were frightening to hear. And they didn’t even address whether I would be able to carry to term if we ever managed conception. But as much as I wanted a child (a desire that had consumed me at times after the miscarriage), I truly believed that God was calling on us to trust in His plan for our future whether it involved kids or not. And, considering all the tests indicated that we were capable of conceiving, I also believed that God’s plan did not involve further medical intervention…that it was not our place to try to force it to happen. I left that appointment with no intention of returning to the office and spent most of nearly an hour drive home explaining to my mother (who had attended the appointment in my husband’s place) how the strength of my belief in those convictions had somehow surpassed the strength of my desire to have a child.
That very night my husband and I conceived our daughter. How do I know it was that night? Well it was one of those months where life got in the way (busy work schedules, we both got sick, etc.) and it was the only night we “tried” that whole month. I would normally say that is too much information to share but, in this context, I think it’s an important detail demonstrating God’s hand in our journey. We had just spent three years trying to conceive on our terms. I had been preoccupied with charting my cycle and trying to identify the perfect timing for conception. I had been devastated each month that went by that I felt we failed to achieve a sufficient number of “tries” during the right week. I knew all along that God had the power to make it happen in His time if we at least made a single attempt but I had struggled to trust in that knowledge. In the months leading up to that last doctor’s visit I had been making important strides toward letting go of my need/desire to control everything and that journey reached its peak just hours before we conceived when I declared to the reproductive endocrinologist and my mother that we had decided to leave the rest of our journey up to God. Given our experience to that time, we certainly had no expectation that we would conceive that month. My husband, in fact, responded that it wasn’t possible when I broke the news of the positive pregnancy test. Under the circumstances, we know that God did this and what makes this even more beautiful is that our baby is due the week of Thanksgiving. How fitting is that?
Of course we would have been thrilled to achieve parenthood without the heartache of the past several years but we are blessed to be able to share this testimony of God’s love and power. (“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’” John 9:3.) And while we know that there are many more struggles to come in the journey called parenthood that lies ahead, knowing how God made this come to pass will always be a source of hope and comfort. (“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3.)