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My 35th birthday was bleak. We were reeling from a string of THREE disastrously failed foster adoptions-a sibling group we dearly love and miss to this very day. We had loved and cared for those children as though they were our very own sons and daughter-and we wanted so badly to become a forever family. Our hearts were ripped into shreds. This was the bitter cherry on top of a brutal eleven-year battle with PCOS-related infertility. I had mentally given myself a deadline for motherhood-and I just figured if I wasn’t a mom by the age of 35, it wasn’t going to happen. We were feeling pretty hopeless. Fostering to adopt seemed to be our last chance at parenthood. At this point, we were ready to surrender. We’d been through Clomid cycles and surgeries. Home studies. Endless paperwork. Home visits. Interviews. Court battles. A cross-country and a cross-state move. Tearful farewells to innocent children who could not understand what was happening. We were just resigning ourselves to a childless life. I had quit taking prenatal vitamins. I didn’t try to enroll for temporary disability insurance or maternity coverage. I quit watching for any trace of a tiny pregnancy symptom. Stick a fork in me-I was DONE.
My birthday always falls around Thanksgiving, and by Christmas break we were absolutely miserable. We had no children to shop for, and we couldn’t even afford plane fare home to Arkansas to see our family and friends. I almost didn’t even put up a tree. If you know me personally, that is a big deal. I am one of those people with a Griswoldian level of Christmas tree enthusiasm. We were, *ahem*, “clinging to each other” quite regularly during this time period. There’s not a lot to do out in the Aleutian Islands, y’all. We didn’t even have cable.
I had been practicing some self-care and really trying to lose weight and balance my hormones. I was going to water aerobics regularly, and I had been switching to cleaner products that were less endocrine-disrupting in an effort to balance my hormones. Because of all the trips to the pool and the resulting moisture, I had the finest case of athlete’s foot you ever saw on my left pinky toe. It was truly disgusting. I also had developed a very sore knee, no doubt resulting from the strain of my heavy body weight. These two maladies finally got so persistent that I made an appointment with our little island’s clinic.
The clinician prescribed two or three high-powered medications, and then he asked me something.
“Is there any chance you might be pregnant?” What a loaded question. I thought back to all of the years of negative tests, false symptoms, the literally hundreds of pregnancy tests I’d taken. Peeing on sticks. Peeing in cups. Blood tests *just* in case. I drove my doctor crazy, I’m sure of it. I even quit telling Danny when I was testing. I didn’t see any need to get both of our hopes up every time.
I halfheartedly replied, “There’s always a chance.” And I peed in one more cup. I didn’t think much of it. While I was waiting in the lobby, a staff member handed me my bag of meds. I assumed my pregnancy test was negative. A few years ago, I would have asked to be sure. Cautious optimism and a speck of faith enabled me to take that last test, but those eleven years of defeat and rejection taught me not to ask about results. To guard my heart, I made a conscious choice not to walk back there just to hear, “The test was negative” for the 4,000th or so time. I took my brown paper bag of meds and walked out the door.
At home, I took the 800mg Ibuprofen pill I’d been prescribed for my knee pain. I was too tired to deal with reading the labels on the other meds and dealing with those instructions just yet. Danny was in the shower, and I was watching TV. Then the phone rang. It was Louis from the clinic. He didn’t even say hello.
“Don’t take those meds,” he urged.
My cautious heart swelled a bit.
“I’m going to need you to tell me why.” I carefully and clearly enunciated.
[My eyes are welling up with joyful tears as I type this. I can barely see my screen.]
“The pregnancy test was positive.”
[I had to stop and collect myself before I could type more. No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader, eh?]
I don’t remember what I said to him after that, but I do remember I was joyfully blubbering.
He hesitantly mumbled, “Uhh, I hope this is good news for you?”
“THE best news ever. You have NO idea!!” I squealed as I hung up the phone.
The happy tears flowed as I thanked my Heavenly Father in prayer. My mind was racing. My heart was soaring. It was the single most joy-filled and completely overwhelming moment of my life. Cartoon birdies were flying around my head, y’all. I wanted to tell the world. I wanted to shout from the rooftops. But first, my Bear.
He was in the shower, oblivious to all that had just transpired. I had to decide how to tell him he was finally going to be a Daddy. His poor heart was just as battle-worn as mine, and he had taken the loss of our youngest foster son especially hard. He had truly been mourning for months. I had pondered for years how I would cleverly and romantically tell him we were going to have a baby. I never found a cute enough idea on Pinterest, as nothing seemed special enough. I knew I didn’t want to hand him a pee-covered stick from a pregnancy test. That was all I had ever decided for sure before years of defeat stopped me from giving it more thought.
I tried to play it cool (probably failing miserably) when I informed him I had something to tell him. I sat him down on our bed, looked him in the eye, and tearfully stated, “We’re going to have a baby.” He was in disbelief. I had to tell him everything that had just happened over the phone. Then I had to tell him again. After that, we just held each other as we laid in bed and wept together. We cried and we prayed. Then we cried some more.
Sharing Our News
We had so much fun calling our special people with our big secret. My Mamaw, who’d wept and prayed with me for a baby for years, shouted loudly to the Lord with joy! She was babysitting one of my young cousins at the time and scared him half to death. Danny was so proud to call his dad and tell him our happy news. We had no idea how far along we were, and agreed to wait before telling anyone else or making a big public announcement.
Danny still didn’t quite believe this was really happening to us. He came along with me to my follow-up appointment the next day. After assurance that mine was the only urine tested the day before at the clinic, and two more pregnancy tests that day, we were both solidly convinced that this was really happening.
Years before in Arkansas, I had charted my cycles, kept track of basal temperatures, watched for symptoms, and gotten excited for nothing. On paper, it VERY much looked like I was ovulating. My OBGyn’s office kept calling me and saying that I definitely was NOT ovulating. Through this experience, I basically learned to ignore all symptoms that could be pregnancy-related for my own sanity.
The truth is, we were more than six weeks along. I had been ignoring a lot of symptoms. A lot of obvious pregnancy symptoms. The doctors had told me for so long that every symptom was all in my head. I really believed it was. I still beat myself up for dropping the ball on early prenatal care. We have a perfectly healthy son now, but I still regret my moment of wavering resolve. Just don’t give up. That’s all I’m saying. Don’t do it.
Keep Hoping, Keep Praying
Dear reader, if you have been struggling with infertility I pray our story gives you hope. I hope it gives you the courage to keep praying, and keep asking no matter how much it hurts. God’s timing is perfect, and His plans for us are so much better than our own. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Hold on to hope. Take one more test. And then one more. Don’t stop taking your prenatal vitamins. Have faith that your miracle will happen and act accordingly.
I had decided in my own little heart and mind on a timeline, and foolishly almost gave up. I forgot that God is in control of the timetable of our lives, and He is mighty to save. With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. The date of conception was less than a month after my 35th birthday. I believe that God was gently reminding me that He was in control of the timeline of my life.
I’m Giving All the Glory to God
A scripture always comes to mind when I think of my years of infertility and how they came to an end. I remember a story of a blind man that Jesus healed. People were wondering why the man had been born blind, and had attributed the blindness to sin on his part or the parents’ part. Jesus answered definitively in John 9:3-
‘Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’
I am thankful for my infertility struggle, and I pray that my story of victory can bring glory to God.
His strength is made perfect in our weakness.