September 30, 2015
My husband Robbie and I have struggled with infertility for the past few years. We have dreamed of becoming parents and having a baby to love for a really long time. It seemed that it just wasn't in the cards naturally. We tried on our own for a good while and eventually decided to see a fertility specialist at Utah Fertility Center in Pleasant Grove.
This past year has been filled with lots of doctor’s visits, books, fertility treatments, hormone drugs, injections, IUI procedures, and more. Despite all that, every month we got the phone call from the fertility center saying they were “so sorry, but it was another negative.” It was a hard road and we dealt with some pretty serious emotions every time. But we did get through it. We thought and prayed a lot about what to do next. We talked about adoption and even went to an adoption information meeting, but although we feel it is something we want to do at some point, the timing just didn’t feel right. We finally decided to take the big step. We had saved some money but continued saving up for a few more months and started the IVF process this past July. Up until that point, through all the rest of those treatments, I found myself sad and upset every time we got a negative pregnancy test, but there was always this light at the end of the tunnel. I knew we still hadn't tried IVF. We waited because of the expense and the emotional and physical toll it would take on us, but we always knew it was there. Almost like, if nothing else worked, we still had that and it had to work. It was the absolute most we could do and we were both committed to doing anything we could.
It was a hard but really exciting month. I took a lot of medications and started giving myself injections daily, sometimes four per day. I visited the doctor a lot, some weeks having appointments every day to check the status of our follicles and how they were growing. We had 15 healthy follicles growing. At our egg retrieval on July 25th, they were able to take out 12 mature eggs. Over the next 5 days they fertilized them and watched them grow in a petri dish. We knew that a lot of eggs don't make it through this fertilization and maturation process, so we were just hoping and praying that we would end up with something. Ideally we would have enough to freeze extras for later attempts. By the time we arrived at our Transfer Day on August 1st, we had two mature embryos remaining. We were thrilled that it was enough to implant this round, but a little disappointed that we didn't have any extras. It made us very aware that this first try needed to work. But we just kept telling ourselves, all it takes is one. One embryo can become a baby.
After our Transfer Day, we had to wait ten days before we found out whether or not the embryos took. Those ten days were tortuous. August 11th would be the day, and it couldn't come fast enough.
I will never forget the moment we found out. We had both been getting ready for a big date night (belated anniversary date). I hadn't heard my phone ring and when I came back in my room, I saw that I had a voicemail from the fertility center. This was it. I just walked blank-faced over to Robbie and wordlessly held up the phone. Since he was clearly confused, I just said, "We have a voicemail." We both sat down on the bed and stared at the phone for a minute, afraid to push play. Finally, he said, "Ready?" I nodded and he pushed it. All the words on the voicemail seemed jumbled until we heard the word "positive" and then we lost it. We threw our arms around each other and just cried. It finally happened. We were finally pregnant. We could barely get a handle on ourselves. A baby was on its way!
Two weeks later, we had a 7-week ultrasound and were able to hear our little one's heartbeat. It was so fast, but so strong. We were just all smiles and couldn't believe we were finally here. We got a printout of our little bean and looked at it all the time, proudly showing it off every chance we could.
Just days after our ultrasound, the time came for our big move to South Carolina. Robbie had gotten a new job at GE Healthcare and was expected to start September 14th. We decided to make a road trip of it so after a few days of travel, we arrived at our new home on September 8th and got settled in. My pregnancy seemed relatively easy. I did find I was tired a lot and got more emotional than I should about different things, positive or negative, but I didn't get sick or nauseous at all. The lack of nausea did make me a little nervous just because I couldn't feel anything telling me I was pregnant. I didn't have any physical proof, but a lot of people don't experience nausea so I pushed it aside. All in all, I was happy and excited.
It started Monday, September 28th, the start of my 11th week of pregnancy. I was feeling fine and had been running errands for most of the day. Around 3:00 I went to the bathroom and noticed that I was bleeding. At first, I pushed the worry aside. I'd heard that you can have some light spotting through your pregnancy. But then I started to get nervous because it didn't look like light spotting. I texted Robbie and he told me to call the doctor right away.
I don't even know our doctors yet. I was supposed to have my first appointment with them the next day (Tuesday). I called in and at first the secretary said that since I technically wasn't a patient yet, she couldn't give me any medical advice. I just repeatedly asked her, "Could you please at least give me some idea if this is normal or if I should be concerned?" I told her how much I was bleeding and she said, "Can you get here in the next 30 minutes?" I told her I'd be there in 10 and hung up. This is when my real fear started.
I met Robbie in the lobby and we both had some panic on our faces. We held hands and walked quietly to the elevators and then into the office. After filling out all their paperwork, they took us back to the ultrasound room. I laid there just praying and pleading over and over in my head that everything would be okay. When the screen was clear, I saw our beautiful, sweet little baby on the screen, and nothing else. No movement. Even before the technician said it, I knew. There was no heartbeat. I heard Robbie gasp and start to cry. I just covered my mouth and sobbed into my hand.
I have never known heartache like I did in that moment. It is physically painful. I couldn't breathe, I could only cry. Our beautiful baby, the baby we had prayed so hard for and wanted for so long, was gone just like that.
The technician said he/she was measuring at 8 weeks and 6 days (too early to know the gender). Since I was in my 11th week of pregnancy, he must have stopped growing two weeks before. I racked my brain trying to remember what had happened two weeks before. What had I done that day? How did I do this? How did I end this little life? I felt so heavy with responsibility. I couldn't protect him. He was gone for two weeks before I even knew. I'm his mother and I couldn't do anything to help him.
The rest of our visit was a blur. We walked from room to room, wherever they directed us, taking care of all of the business that happens after you miscarry. There is so much business. It felt like we were walking around for hours, in this tear-filled, blurry haze. We spoke to the doctor who advised us to do a D&C surgery immediately to remove all "products of conception." Even those words broke my heart. Our little one was reduced to a "product of conception." He was kind about it but it just hurt. Robbie just asked him what could have happened. What went wrong? He answered that it was likely a chromosomal abnormality and there was nothing we could have done to prevent it from happening. I wish those words could have lightened my heart, but it was still heavy. I still felt responsible somehow. Even if it wasn't a conscious behavior that harmed him, my body couldn't give him a safe place to grow. I felt broken, like my body was broken. I couldn't get pregnant. When that miracle did finally occur, I couldn't stay pregnant. There is a disconnect there and I don't know why.
The following morning we went in for our D&C procedure. It was a long day, 12 hours total, at the hospital for a procedure that only took about 45 minutes. It was a lot to deal with. The only thing I want to remember from that day is Robbie laying next to me in the bed and holding me while we waited.
The past two days have been some of the most difficult I've ever faced. I know deep down that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for Robbie and for our children. It's so hard to understand what that plan is right now, but I know it's there. One thing that has been made clear to me though is that even if I can't see His plan, I can see His hand in all the details of the last two days. He has never left us, even for a moment. He has sent me small moments of tenderness and love when I have needed them the most. He has filled both our hearts with His tender mercies.
The greatest of His tender mercies to me is my one big pillar of light--Robbie. He has done nothing but hold me and cry with me since we found out. He hurts just as deeply as I do, but he is so concerned with comforting me and helping me cope with our loss. I will be eternally grateful that through a true miracle, he was able to be with me in that ultrasound room. I've found through this journey that it's so easy to get sucked into thinking about what we don't have, but when I take a minute to stop and think of what I do have, I am blown away with gratitude for the one I love. I never in my life thought I would find someone who could love me for me. Someone who would understand the complexities of my many emotions. But Robbie does. He is my companion and my best friend through all of our ups and downs. He is the one that makes everything okay, even when it seems to be impossible. Whatever comes, I am so grateful to have him by my side.
I have also felt so much love and support from our families and close friends. I have never known the value of our call to "mourn with those that mourn" until I found myself on the receiving end. Nothing could be said to take away this pain, so no one tried to. Those we love have just taken it upon themselves and cried with us. They love us so much that they have shared in our heartbreak. They have actually felt it themselves. And I know they would do anything they could to take it away. In fact, both sets of parents immediately offered to fly out and be with us to help us cope. I couldn't be more grateful for all these amazing people we are blessed to call our family.
I have been shown repeatedly over the last two days that the Lord hasn't forgotten us. On the contrary, He has been going through this with us. In our pain and despair, He has made sure not to leave us alone, or even let us feel that we're alone. He has mourned with us. He knows how badly we want this, but He knows it's just not time yet.
So, here we are. Broken, devastated and confused, but also comforted, loved, and infused with trust. A new level of trust. A hope of things to come.
To our little one, you were so loved by so many in your short time here and we will love you always. I know someday we will see you again and it will be a beautiful day.
Thursday, April 18, 2016
Today is April 18th. It's a day that hasn’t held much meaning for me in the past. But this year was different. While the rest of the world probably experienced a fairly normal day, we were experiencing a million different emotions. April 18th was our due date. It was the day our first baby should have been born. The day we should have become parents. The day that should have been the happiest day of our lives. Instead, our hearts hurt that day and everyday for the baby we never got to bring home.
We have been working through our grief ever since we lost that baby last September, but recently it all came flooding back. The January following our loss, we were incredibly lucky to be given help to go through the whole IVF process all over again. Luckily this time, we ended up with six beautiful embryos. We implanted two and were thrilled a couple weeks later to learn that I was pregnant. We hoped and prayed that this baby would really come. However, it was not to be. Our loss this time came with no warning signs. On March 10th, I went in for a scheduled 9-week ultrasound, just a couple weeks after we heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I was nervous of course but mostly excited, telling myself that it was silly to worry. Everything would be fine. I had convinced myself so well that when the technician told me she couldn’t find the heartbeat again, I was genuinely shocked. My body froze and I couldn’t move. My heart broke. When I broke the news to Robbie, he lost it and came from work immediately to my side. Then, together, we began again down the hardest road we’d ever been on.
Grieving this second time around has been different somehow. In some ways, it felt like recovery came quickly and I was able to feel joy again and smile and laugh and feel like everything would work out. And then something would trigger me, and all of a sudden it was like I could feel the whole weight of our loss all over again. The tears would come and the more I tried to stop them the harder it became until I just stopped fighting it. I couldn't do anything but curl up in Robbie's arms and cry as I felt all the emotions that accompany our reality.
We lost another baby.
I wish I could say that I was stronger. I wish I could say that I've been able to maintain a constant eternal perspective through all of this. I wish that I was able to shake off the negative feelings that sometimes seem to pull me down. I don't want to feel so hurt. I don't want to feel angry. I don't want to feel jealous. I don't want to feel guilty for feeling hurt, angry or jealous. I don't want to feel so scared. But try as I might not to, sometimes I feel those things. Not always. But sometimes.
The biggest battle I have fought since this most recent miscarriage is trying to hold on to hope. Losing a second child on this long road of infertility bears all the weight of losing your child and then is compounded with the weight of wondering if you will ever be able to have children at all. I know that we have other options, but there are other factors keeping us from being able to pursue those for now. How do you keep the faith when you look into your future and you can't see the thing you want more than anything?
Luckily, in those moments when my faith feels like it's at an all-time low, Heavenly Father reminds me that He knows. That He's watching. And that He's hurting too. He sends me clear messages of hope and love through inspired people in my life, many of whom reached out having no idea we were experiencing this second loss. Random texts from old friends expressing love on the day we happened to find out. A gift from a friend shipped across the country to remind us to have hope in the week following. Constant prayers and love shared by family and friends from one end of the country to the other.
I have learned a valuable life lesson through all of this. In these moments when life feels impossible and everything you plan seems to crumble and it feels like you're all alone, look for God in the details. Sometimes it takes a second to see past the darkness, but when you do, you will always find Him there.
Life lesson #2. When God tells you to do something, do it. You have no idea what effect your words and actions can have on someone else. All you need is the courage to put into action the good thoughts that Heavenly Father sends to your mind. As a recipient of the love of those who have had that courage, I am eternally grateful.
I know I'm not through it all yet. Though they happen less and less, I know there will be more triggers and more difficult moments. But I also know that I have an incredible husband who loves me, and I love him. I have two amazing families who would do anything for us and have. I have a Savior and a Heavenly Father who actively make me aware of their existence and their love. I have angels on earth, that are willing to act when Heavenly Father speaks to them. I have a knowledge that because of Christ, we will see our children again. And I have a belief, a hope, that in the end, we will have the family we dream of. For now, we will hold each other tight, snuggle our adorable pooch, and reflect on the amazing blessings we have.
This is a good life.
July 17, 2016
Today was exactly what I needed. It was the answer to a prayer I’ve had in my heart for a long time.
After a lot of debate and thought, we decided to start taking steps toward our third round of IVF. Coming off of 3 years of infertility and 2 miscarriages 6 months apart, my expectations for this round have been complicated to say the least. I have mixed feelings about doing another round of IVF at all, but since we have 4 frozen embryos left from our last round that could potentially be our babies, we know we have to try. But in order to cope with what I assumed would be another loss, I decided early on not to put too much stock in this next attempt. I haven't wanted to expect much, if anything. It's easier to deal with losing something if you don't plan to have it. As a result, I have unknowingly been a little pessimistic about all of this.
Well today at church, I was taught a clear lesson. There was a speaker whose message was about having gratitude for our trials. He went through his story and the many, MANY trials he has been through but pausing after each one to identify the blessings he received or lessons he learned from it. Each lesson or attribute was specific and clearly a result of the hardship he had faced. It was so eye opening to hear him say how grateful he was for each of those "sacred" experiences. I couldn't believe someone who lived through all of that could be grateful for it. It got me thinking a lot about our situation. I have prayed for strength. I have prayed for patience. I have prayed to accept the will of God. I have prayed to ask that if it is His will, please bless us with a child. But it has never, ever, occurred to me to pray in order to thank him for this trial; for this "sacred" experience. As I thought about that, the story of the man from the Martin Handcart Company popped into my mind. "The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."
Can people really feel this way? Could I really feel truly grateful for the fact that we have not been able to have children? That just seems so difficult. And honestly, without some serious effort, I don't think it is possible. But then I started trying to think of reasons I could potentially be grateful for this experience of the last 3 years. About what this trial has done for me and for us. I talked with Robbie about it after church too and as we both thought on it, these are the things that came to our minds:
- We know how to get through difficult situations together
- We feel a deeper connection to the Savior and value the atonement so much more
- We feel safe coming to one another for comfort and solace, knowing we can receive peace
- We have learned to pray more sincerely and whole-heartedly than ever before
- We have had to put trust in God's timeline
- We are learning patience, which in my opinion is the toughest attribute to learn. With everything else, you can just do something to develop it. But with patience, there is nothing you can do. You simply wait. And it's hard.
- We feel a very real empathy for those suffering around us, even feeling a strong connection to those who have experienced loss, and have a greater desire to reach out to them
- We have had four beautiful years of marriage to focus on each other and the love we have for one another
- We both desperately yearn for parenthood more than we ever have before
Looking at these lessons, it’s become so clear to me how we have grown, both individually and together, in ways we never would have been able to without these experiences. That’s how they become sacred. They change us. I’m not saying it’s been easy. It’s been harder than I can begin to describe. We have been broken down, without a doubt. But we have also been built back up by a loving God. A God who asks us to trust Him. I know now that this pessimism I have been harboring is not the answer. That’s not real faith. I’ve built this wall around my heart and have refused to get my hopes up about this next attempt. I haven't even let myself get excited or feel any emotion about it at all. But today it occurred to me that that's not what Heavenly Father wants for me or for us. He wants us to have real faith. That faith is joy. It’s happiness. It’s the belief that God can do anything. And it is knowing that whatever happens, good or bad, it will all work out to our benefit. This is just one chapter. Our story has so much further to go.
Today after church, Robbie and I prayed together. We thanked God for our trial and for the lessons we are learning. We expressed our trust in Him. And then at the end, Robbie said, "Please bless us with a miracle."
I know He will. Whether it's now or later, whether it comes in a way we expect or not, we will get our miracle.
So, let's hope. I'm finally giving my permission for us to hope.
November 25, 2016
We’ve made it well past the first trimester and with each week that goes by, we feel more and more excited and confident that this family will really get an addition soon. We are 20 weeks along and couldn’t be more grateful for this little life. This baby is a miracle, that is not lost on us. This Thanksgiving, we have so much to be grateful for. We are so grateful for loving family and friends who have been on every step of this journey with us and have offered so many prayers on our behalf. We are so grateful for modern medicine that detected a potential problem and provided medication to help. We are so grateful for our Heavenly Father, whose love has been a constant comfort throughout this process. And had things gone differently this time, which so easily could have happened, we know that that same love would have carried us through it. There would have been a reason. God would have chosen to bless our lives by some other means, and we would still feel His hand guiding our path. We already feel that our lives and decisions have been forever changed by the experiences we’ve had.
The day after we found out that we were pregnant, we both received a very strong impression that no matter how this pregnancy went, we should prepare to open our home to a child or children not ours by birth. Though the timing was unexpected, that day we started the foster care/adoption licensing process. We still don’t know what this means for us immediately. But maybe there is someone meant to come to us, and we won’t know when it’s going to happen or why. But we feel strongly that Heavenly Father wants us to be ready.
This new place is where our path has led, and though we can’t see what the future holds, we can’t help but feel happy and hopeful. Happy Thanksgiving.
Interview edited and approved by Angie Irion prior to release.