Hope Against Hope - Part 1
Romans 4:18-22 (NIV)
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
We began a journey to have a baby through IVF over 6 months ago. We met with a fertility doctor at the end of April 2017. He told us our chances of conceiving on the first round of IVF were 70-80%. We were floored by this percentage. We felt a hope rise up in us that, honestly, had been lying dormant for a long time. Could this be the way God would give us our promised baby? It was going to cost a lot of money, that we didn't have, but we knew if God was in this that He would provide. Just a week and a half later we began fundraising. This was such a huge decision for us because it meant forgoing most of our privacy for the next 6 months. We knew it would mean swallowing any last bit of pride we held on to and it would potentially leave us open to greater pain had we just kept this to ourselves. The outpouring of love we received, honestly, took our breath away. We were completely overwhelmed (in a good way) and it really felt like we had a team of people cheering us on, praying for us and supporting us. Within 2.5 weeks we raised $19,390 which was more than we needed. We were amazed at how quickly it happened and took it as a sign that God was blessing this process.
In July we started the official IVF process. I began taking birth control for all of July. We got surprised with a nearly free trip to Maui by some of our dear friends and when we got back from that trip, around early August, I began taking injections for the first phase of the process called "Egg Retrieval." This process involves injecting synthetic hormones into your stomach that cause the follicles in your ovaries to mature quickly. A woman typically only has one follicle that matures in a cycle. This process causes as many as possible to mature. On August 18th my follicles were ready and we had our egg retrieval. They retrieved 14 eggs from my follicles. WE WERE SO HAPPY!!!! 14 possibilities to have a baby. The same day, the embryologist fertilized all of our eggs with Robert's seed :) and over the course of 4 more days we would wait to see how many of our eggs fertilized and become Day 5 embryos. We got the call the next day that 9 had fertilized. This was great news! Two days after that we found out that all 9 embryos survived to Day 3. This was huge; however, we knew that statistically only 50% would make it to Day 5. We were expecting at least 3-4 embryos to survive to Day 5. For us, 3-4 babies was absolutely in the plan and we were expecting that number. On August 24th we woke up so incredibly nervous at what we would learn about our embryos that day. Would we have 3-4? Would we have more than that? Would we have NONE? All the thoughts and what-ifs were racing through our hearts and minds. Finally, the embryologist called, with disappointment in her voice she told us that 8 of our embryos did not survive to day 5. My heart sank so deep. Then she said, you have one really beautiful embryo that we are going to freeze today. This news was received with such polar opposite emotions. On one hand, we were so thankful and happy for this one and on the other the what-ifs surmounted even more. This gave us only one shot at this. We had so many fears and questions. Why would God only give us one? What about the big family we always wanted? What if this one chance doesn't work? What then? How will we come up with the money to do this again? The questions were endless and, on top of that, we were grieving the loss of those 8 babies. I've never had more honest conversations with God than I did after hearing that news. I mean, brutally honest. It would be another two months before we would transfer this one sweet embryo to my body. Those months were some of the most heart wrenching months of my life. Everyday was an emotional conversation with God about this process. Everyday felt slower than the next day.
Finally, October 29th arrived. Embryo transfer day. We still had fear but the overarching emotion was peace. Either way, this chapter of our lives was going to come to a close. There was solace in knowing that this was it. It was either going to be yes or no. We went in at 8:30am, they prepped me for the transfer, gave us a photo of our microscopic embryo and in 15 minutes that little guy/gal was inside of me. It was astonishingly fast. After you wait for 6 months and do all the shots, pills, waiting, agonizing etc. it comes down to a 15 minute procedure. We left the clinic to what would be the most extreme emotional roller coaster we'd ever experienced. Some days I was hopeful and other days I would just cry. One day, just days before we would find out if we were pregnant or not, I cried all day. I could not stop. I laid in bed all day. This felt different than anything I'd experienced before. The best way to describe it would be grief. It felt like a deep grieving of 7 years of pain, loss, & infertility. 7 years of agonizing unanswered questions. 7 years of shame, feeling less than, & unworthy. The next day we had our first blood test to see if we were pregnant. To our disappointment, they wouldn't tell us the results of that test and wanted us to wait until the second test two days later. Despite that news, the next two days were full of peace. We had a peace that was beyond our circumstances. For all accounts & purposes, we should've both been a total wreck. In just a few days and after 7 years, we were going to find out if we were finally going to be parents. I believe God protected our hearts and minds in those two days. Then, Wednesday, November 8th, we took our second blood test at 9:45am. The nurse said she would call us between 12-4pm so we left and went grocery shopping. While we were in the grocery store, just about 45 minutes after we left the clinic, they called us. At the very first ring, I knew it was them. I looked at my phone and surely it was. All of sudden, a rush of anticipation and nervousness swept over my body. There was no way I could answer this phone call in the middle of this grocery store. I let it go to voicemail and Robert and I decided to call back when we got in the car. We hurriedly checked out, put our bags in the car and sat there for a second. I asked Robert, "Should we listen to the voicemail or call?" Before he could answer I was opening up my phone to listen to the voicemail. The nurse didn't sound super excited. Robert thought she did. So we called her back. She said, "Hey Laura. How are you doing?" I said, "I'm ok." She said, "How do you feel?" I'm thinking, ummmm, that's a loaded question. So I said, "I feel ok." She said, "Well.... do you feel PREGNANT?" I paused and then gasped. She said, "Because you are!!". I can't fully describe this moment to you but Robert and I immediately burst into joyous tears and laughter. Never have we felt such pure joy, elation, relief & sheer bliss. It was like sitting right in the middle of the presence of God while He worked a miracle on our behalf. We finally heard the words we'd been longing, aching, to hear for sooo long, "You're pregnant."
(Please stay tuned for Part 2 of our IVF journey).