Life, love and the challenges we face as the heart of home.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

What We Wish People Knew About Infertility, Part 2

Today we are delving back into the world of infertility with the follow up segment to What We Wish People Knew About Infertility in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-30th). Grace Cristo and I are digging a little deeper with the next set of questions. The journey of waiting and uncertainty was excruciating at times and yet we both had a tremendous amount of hope that God would respond to our prayers for a family. I was recently reminded that "God will carry the weight of making sure His promises are carried out. He is the faithful one. He is the sure one." And while there were no promises that either of us would eventually become parents, God planted that desire in our hearts and He did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) I held Him to it! Reverently, of course. I prayed that He would reveal Himself to me in our circumstances and He did far more than that! If you didn't catch the first segment of my Q&A with Grace Cristo, check it out. Let's get started with Part 2.


9. How did infertility affect your marriage?

Grace: The hardest part for me was feeling like my husband didn’t understand what I was going through or it wasn’t as hard for him. We’d get home from a night out with friends where they just announced their pregnancy and he would be like, “What a fun night,” and my head would spin around and my voice would change, “how could you say that???” And then next I know he’s backing away slowly with no sudden movements. Getting pregnant/having a baby wasn’t on his mind 24/7 like it was for me. Looking back though, I’m thankful that one of us kept their sanity. I don’t think it would’ve been healthy for us to both sit there and ugly cry over negative pregnancy tests. It was definitely an ongoing difficult issue in our marriage but it allowed our vows to be tested.

Casey: In some ways it brought us closer and in other ways I felt worlds apart from my husband. Men often handle infertility very differently than women. My biological clock was in a deafening alarm with panic setting in while my husband was much more relaxed and accepting of whatever happened. He is the strong and silent type so he didn’t say much but when he did, it warmed my heart. His main encouragement was “we keep trying” despite what the doctors told us. He would also buy me chocolate to make me feel better. (Smart man!) But once we saw the costs of reproductive assistance, we were very much on the same page. Our insurance didn’t cover any treatments so everything would have been out of pocket. One round of IVF, depending on all of the procedures involved, would have cost us $15,000 per round. It may have taken several rounds before we got pregnant too. Factor in that we were advised to seek out egg donors and the numbers keep increasing exponentially. We couldn’t afford that. We certainly talked about every aspect of our infertility but sometimes I felt like I was unloading too much emotional baggage on him. I wrestled with it night and day while I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case for him. This is where my faith came in to play in a huge way. I was so thankful to know God never grows weary of hearing about our problems and cries for help. He was essentially my 24/7 Infertility Hotline.


10. Did you ever consider adoption?


Grace: After all we had been through, we decided adoption was the path we would take to build or family which was particularly hard for me to accept. Not because I didn’t want an adopted baby, but because I had such a desire to experience pregnancy. So I mourned that loss for months and then I became excited at the thought of having a baby, even if it wasn’t how I had initially thought. So when we were presented with the opportunity to foster-to-adopt a 1 year old little boy, I was thrown for a loop again, because it wasn’t how I had planned to adopt. But we decided if God wanted to hand us a baby on a silver platter, then we would certainly welcome it. That opportunity was short lived, so we went back to our original adoption plan and attended the Bethany Christian Services adoption orientation end of November 2014, then we found out we were pregnant end of January 2015.

Casey: Yes. I was researching agencies and the process in my state during our fertility testing.


11. How did your faith help you through infertility?

Grace: There is something both absolutely comforting and absolutely frustrating about believing in a God who is able to heal you, but chooses not to. When I developed a SCH (blood clot) when I was 6 weeks pregnant after our IVF cycle, I thought about the desperation of those who came from all over to see Jesus. They had heard He could make the lame walk, cause the blind to see and the deaf to hear. I remember thinking what great lengths I would go to, had Jesus been walking the earth today, knowing that just touching the hem of his garment could heal me. I knew that that same power of healing could come through the prayers I prayed, and yet it did not. I won’t pretend that I didn’t wrestle with the question, “Is God really always good?” Or, “Do I truly believe he is Sovereign over my life and He will work all things together for good?” But I found comfort in 1 Peter 1:7 knowing that when trials come, they test the genuineness of your faith, which is worth more than gold. And I have learned that sometimes impossible is where He starts and sometimes, “hope deferred” might be the best kind of hope.

Casey: My faith was my life boat and really the only thing that kept me going. I knew without a doubt the Lord was sovereign regardless of what the fertility doctors told me. I held on to all of the infertility stories in the Bible. Meditating on them, I started to see that each one was a little different and that was not by accident! Women waited decades, some couples had male and female fertility problems, and some waited so long their ovarian reserves were obviously compromised. I saw Sarah as such a symbol of the Lord's power over our bodies. She got pregnant with Isaac at 90 years old and no doubt her egg supply was exhausted by then. The Lord grew a follicle in her anyway! If he could do that for Sarah at 90, my issues were easy for God to overcome if he wanted to. It wasn't a question of "can he?" but "will he?" I had to come to a place where I gave the outcome over to him, whether we ultimately had a child or not. His timing and plan, not mine. And whatever the result of our quest for a family, I knew he had my best interest at heart. I was waiting for God’s best and willing to embrace it regardless of how or what he chose to do.


12. How old were you when you finally got pregnant?


Grace: I was 27 when I got pregnant with Nathan. I remember when we sat at the fertility clinic with judgmental glances because we looked young. They didn’t know my eggs were basically dinosaur eggs and that was only one of my issues.

Casey: I was 35 when I got pregnant and gave birth at 36. I was considered to have “Advanced Maternal Age” which my doctor even scoffed at but it was just another label that showed God was the one in control.


13. Did you get pregnant with fertility clinic assistance?


Grace: Yes and no. Our first two pregnancies (and miscarriages) were natural. Our 3rd pregnancy (and miscarriage) was through IVF. Our last pregnancy was natural.

Casey: No. After our diagnosis, we were somewhat out of options since our insurance didn’t cover any fertility treatments. We were inquiring about a natural IVF study just days before I found out we were pregnant on our own. My OB/Gyn thinks that the hysterosalpingogram may have cleared out some endometriosis a few months before we got pregnant. It isn’t traditional reproductive assistance, but it may have helped.


14. If you could go back, is there anything you would change about your journey or do differently?


Grace: It’s hard to say I would do anything differently knowing everything we went through brought us our son. Though I do wish I hadn’t spent so much money on pregnancy tests. It didn’t matter that the first 3 were negative, or that I was paying top-dolla for something that cost pennies to make. All that mattered was, wake up in the morning and PEE ON ALL THE STICKS. If only I had discovered the 88 cent Walmart tests years earlier, I could’ve been just as crazy but not have driven us into pregnancy test debt.

Casey: I used to really beat myself up about not trying to conceive earlier in our marriage. We waited about five years. Maybe we would have gotten a head start if we tried earlier and it wouldn't have taken 14 years to have our son! I finally realized God's timing is better than mine. If he wanted us pregnant earlier, it would have happened. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't change a thing! (And that is really saying something because I almost died twice!). The life experience, intimacy with God that resulted and the opportunity to encourage others is beyond priceless. And having an incredible story about divine intervention is a nice bonus.


15. What would you say to the woman struggling with infertility right now?


Grace: Now that I’m on the other side, I know it’s easy for me to tell you to hope. To tell you that miracles happen. And they do, but the truth is, not everyone with infertility receives an unexpected positive pregnancy test. But if your hope is in God’s plan for your life concerning motherhood, then I would encourage you to ask Him to show you what path to take. Whether it’s IVF, fostering, adoption, embryo adoption, surrogacy, etc. Bring your desire to Him and lay them at His feet. Tell Him what your heart aches for, but be open to the many ways motherhood can find you.

Casey: There is so much; where do I start? I would invite her out for a cup of coffee, give her a hug and tell her that she is not alone. I would listen to whatever she felt she needed to vent and I would stand on my head to encourage her. God is very real; he hears your cries and sees your tears. Do not give up! He will somehow fulfill the dream that he has planted in your heart. I don’t know how he will do it but I know that God loves you and only wants the very best for you. He wants you to pour your heart out to him. He wants to display his power and love for you. He desperately wants to rescue you.


16. Can you give us a fun fact about yourselves?

Grace: We named our son Nathan Samuel, which means, “Given, because I asked of the Lord.” I love that every time someone asks his name, we have an opportunity to tell them about God’s goodness to us.

Casey: My sister is good friends with Grace and prayed extensively for both of us. She shared with me that God’s power became so real to her through our pregnancies. Here were two women she was desperately praying for and our due dates were one day apart! She said she wanted to burst with my news to Grace, and vice versa, but kept it under wraps until we separately gave the okay. Interestingly enough, Grace and I used the same first name for our little boys. This wasn’t planned obviously, but the meaning of the name “God has given” struck a chord with us, so we both have little miracles named Nathan.





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1 comment:

  1. Good questions & answers to give us all stuff to think about!

    ReplyDelete

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