Results tagged “infertility” from Reformation21 Blog

Whate're My God Ordains is Right

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May 10, 2018 was the most beautiful yet painful day of our lives. Our long-awaited daughter, Dayna Euphemia, safely entered into the world and became part of our family. This is our family's story about the pain, hope, sorrow and joy that have come with the twists and turns in the adventure that is our life - an adventure we've learned can't be scripted.

Even though we had close family experience with infertility, we never thought it would be something we would personally experience when we got married in 2009. It's so natural that you fall in love, get married, establish a household and then have children. For us, this plan was falling in place perfectly until 2013. Infertility creeps up on you slowly but arrives with ferocity. The progression from wondering if it's going to take some extra time to conceive to doubting that you will ever have your own children consumes your life in the space of a year. Four and a half years, countless medical appointments, numerous procedures, thousands of dollars and one confirmed miscarriage left us feeling hopeless with the situation last summer.

We got used to pain every month - but just because it was expected didn't make it hurt any less. Infertility was a burden that was intimately woven into the fabric of our daily life. Our relationship as husband and wife grew so much deeper and stronger as a result of the pain.

Graciously, the last five years were not a negative black hole for our lives, on the contrary - when we weren't grieving we were living a great life. We have a passion for traveling and we have had the opportunity to go lots of places, including Italy, Greece, Portugal, Germany, France, Iceland, Slovenia and Croatia during our season of waiting. I'm sure many of our friends with small children looked at our social media posts with a tinge of jealousy! On many of those days life felt perfect and we felt that things would turn out alright in the end. Our desire to become parents never diminished and we knew God would fulfill that calling in His own way. As Jenn once put it, we were living in half agony and half hope.

We always seemed to have our most important conversations when we were traveling. On August 19, 2017, we had one of those conversations walking along the beach in Grado, Italy. Earlier that evening we had eaten some remarkable pizza and later than night we dodged a prodigious downpour from a thunderstorm to get back to our car. But our conversation was about neither of these things - it was an agreement that we were near the end of our journey with medical intervention for our infertility. Flying back home the following day, we could not have imagined that our prayer for a child had already been answered!

That evening was the finale to perhaps our best trip ever. During the previous week, we had road tripped through portions of Slovenia, Croatia and Italy and had a sense we were fully living life each day. In Croatia, we stayed in the gorgeous coastal town of Rovinj, where the main church was dedicated to Euphemia. Inside the church, through both our guidebook and artwork, we were drawn in by the story of Euphemia, a teenage Christian who was martyred for her faithful witness during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Her story reminded us of Stephen in Acts 7. The name Euphemia became special to us not only because of where God answered our prayers but also because it was a name to live by.

Pregnancy after infertility and miscarriage can leave you in a constant fear of what could go wrong. During the next nine months, we cautiously yet with great expectation checked off exciting milestone after milestone while all the scans showed a strong and healthy baby girl was safely developing. The pregnancy culminated in the greatest moment of our lives at 11:42 a.m. on May 10, 2018, when Dayna arrived! Her arrival wasn't without a little bit of drama when it became apparent that she had the umbilical cord doubly wrapped around her neck. It was a scary moment as she was whisked away and took longer than normal to breathe. But the medical professionals were skillful and we soon heard Dayna's little cries - the moment we had waited so long for was finally here - we were overwhelmed with joy!

After Dayna had stabilized and been given back to us, the neonatologist came in to speak with us. We expected he would simply tell us how Dayna was doing and what work had been done on her following her birth. Instead we heard phrases such as 'features of Down syndrome' and 'I'm very concerned' and that we needed to do a blood chromosome test. It was the most shocking moment of our lives. It all felt surreal, like we were watching a movie and that this wasn't actually our life.

It is impossible put into words the rollercoaster of emotions that come with shedding tears of euphoria and tears of gut-wrenching sorrow within the space of hours. During the years of infertility one of the things you dream about is that first meeting of your child; what they will look like, will they have your eyes, nose, mouth, etc - that feeling of their skin on yours for the first time. While we held Dayna's perfect form on our chest, the endorphins pumping through our body, it seemed impossible that what this man was saying could be true.

Over the past several weeks we have learned that joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive emotions. We are thrilled at the arrival of our baby girl yet look towards the future with trepidation knowing that during her life our daughter will be challenged with disability. We are grieving for our set of dreams and expectations for her life and it is still an active process. There is no quick fix to this emotional pain, though every word of encouragement we have received has slowly soothed the hurt.

Tears have been shed so many times over the past two weeks. Tears worrying about Dayna's future. Tears in coming to grips with a different set of expectations for her life. Tears at having to schedule seemingly endless medical appointments. Even more tears when the Down syndrome diagnosis was confirmed.

But there have also been tears of joy and so many wonderful moments. Tears seeing her cousins fight over who gets to hold her, be close to her and touch her. Tears in seeing her snuggle up in a perfectly peaceful way with her parents. Tears in seeing the joy in family members' eyes when meeting her. Tears in seeing each other being able to finally live out the role of mother and father. Tears in knowing that this is the child that so many prayed for so long.

During the past week we have felt our relationship grow even closer through this experience. Meanwhile Dayna is completely unfazed by any of these developments. She is a happy, content and lovely baby girl who is already exhibiting so many strong characteristics. We are filled with love for our daughter and recognize that she is the absolutely beautiful gift from God that will bring so much richness to our lives. It is touching to see the love grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends have for her - she will have an amazing support network of family and friends. She is fortunate to live in a community where there are so many excellent resources for people with disabilities that will give her great opportunities for success and happiness in her life.

This is our family, this is our story, this is our call to live in obedience to His plan. The page has turned to a new chapter in our lives and we can't wait to see what will be written - and we certainly cannot imagine turning back.

Whate'er my God ordains is right, though now this cup in drinking
May bitter seem to my faint heart, I take it all unshrinking
My God is true, each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
And pain and sorrow shall depart - Samuel Rodigast


Jennifer Weitz blogs at Unexpected Realities. She is a member of Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Leesburg, VA. 

Feeling Forsaken, But Not Forgotten: An Infertility Story

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I met my husband, Pete, in April of 2004. We were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend who knew both of us well, and our friend thought we would be the perfect match. The only glitch, I lived in South Carolina and he lived in Germany. Pete had been stationed there for several years and had come to visit some friends in the States. That's where our story began. We met for coffee that afternoon and talked for hours, only to say goodbye--never to know if we would meet again. Several months, many emails and phone calls later, we met again and spent a few weeks together getting to know one another's family. After a nine-month deployment, Pete proposed and we were married over Labor Day weekend in 2005. Just after the wedding, I moved to Germany with two suitcases and my violin. It was truly a whirlwind romance.

Living in Germany was like a fairytale. Castles around every corner, rolling meadows, idyllic landscapes, open-air markets, and cobblestone streets were part of my new home--not to mention, the best cappuccinos ever! We traveled as much as we could and we tried to consume all of Europe in the short time we had left. After about 18 months of bliss, we left Germany to begin a new adventure. Pete had a strong desire to become a pastor so we began to pray about the when and the how of our new adventure that were ready to start as soon as possible.

Sadly, all fairytales come to an end. Joanna, Pete's 23 year old sister, was battling brain cancer for the third time, and we made the decision to move to Boca Raton, Fl, to live and work near family so we could support Joanna. Shortly after we moved to Boca, Joanna went to her eternal home where she was finally healed and made whole. It was a very long and painful goodbye, but we thank God for the opportunity we had to be with her daily. 

During this time, we were also beginning to feel the weight of our inability to have children. After our first few months of trying, we thought it would just be a matter of time. As months passed, I became more and more confused. I was only 31. I thought this would be easy, but I quickly discovered that this process would be very difficult and painful. I started asking questions. Was there something wrong? Was I exercising too much? Did I need to gain weight? Did I need to change my diet? Did I really just need to take a vacation and stop stressing? When struggling with infertility, the irrational thoughts and strange questions you have never cease. Even more, trying and concerning are the dark and twisted questions you ask about your faith: Is God angry with me? Is He punishing me for my past sins? I was starting to re-write my theology and it was dangerous. When you endure long periods of silence and suffering, this is one of the greatest pitfalls the enemy seeks to weave into your life.

Every doctor will advise you to wait at least 6-12 months before seeking out medical testing and intervention. After a year and a half without success, we began the long road of tests, procedures and more questions. It is an incredibly stressful and emotional process. And for us, this process went on for the next 6 years. My whole life began to run by the calendar, my body's cycle, medications, blood work, tests, surgeries and a lot of waiting. 

Where do you turn when your emotions vacillate from happy to sad in one day? What do you do when you can't handle baby showers, Mother's Day, or just seeing families together at church? I knew all the theologically correct "answers" in my head but connecting them to my heart was the most challenging part of living out my faith. 

I began to withdraw from social settings centered around babies and would cry after spending time with families whose children I adored. Being a high energy over achiever (aka - a "Type-A control freak"), I naturally wanted to solve my problem quickly. I researched everything on the subject of infertility, met with several different doctors for second and third opinions, changed my diet/lifestyle, went to counseling, joined support groups and prayed fervently. We asked people in our small group at church to pray. We asked our pastors to pray, our family, friends and anyone else who asked, to pray. Psalm 121:1-2 says, "I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth." This was our answer. I knew God's promises were true and that He always hears the prayers of His people. Not always answering according to our desires or on our timetable, but always in His wisdom and time.

After 5 years of medical treatments, testing, as well as naturopathic and holistic medicines and treatments, we were still barren. We decided to pursue adoption simultaneously with treatment, hoping and trusting that the Lord would answer our prayers to grow our family. Our friends, family and church community truly carried us through this trial with their prayers and encouragement as we pressed on. Our pastor and church officers offered us a special prayer and anointing service and prayed over us, asking God to bless us with children. Next to our wedding ceremony, this ceremony was equally as sacred and beautiful. Witnessing the tears and cries of men as they pleaded with God on our behalf was moving and transformational for our spirits. We left with new life and joy in our hearts.

A year later, we had finished our adoption home study and were waiting for placement. Around the same time, the reproductive endocrinologist had sent me home with sad news - he wouldn't be able to perform another IUI (In-Uterine Insemination) because my ovaries were covered in cysts. It was in these darkest moments, that the Lord met me in the most unexpected ways. I had kept a praise journal over the many years, chronicling all of the ways He had met me.  Notes, gifts, phone calls, surprise visits and many more examples of unexpected encouragement. This day was no exception. As I cried and prayed, I picked up the mail only to find a package with a book inside. A friend had ordered a book for me which arrived the very day I needed it the most. The Infertility Companion had been on backorder and arrived that day. What a gift it was my to my heart! I gave thanks to God for His faithfulness and the strength He continued to supply for my weak spirit.

The next month, I was a few days late in my cycle and laughed off the thought of a pregnancy, knowing it was seemingly impossible. A week later, I humbled myself and took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I drove to the store and bought about ten more tests, to to be sure! I was filled with disbelief and bewilderment. How could this have happened?! Surely the test was wrong and had expired from old shelf life and dust in my cabinet. After the sixth positive test, I decided to get a blood test just to confirm the results. I wish I could say that I was filled with joy but my heart was anxious. We had struggled for so long that the reality of having a baby was too hard to grasp. The results came back positive. We were pregnant! And it took the entire 9-month pregnancy to accept the new reality that we were really going to be parents. God had answered our prayers in His time. Brynn Piper Whitney was born February 19, 2013 and we moved to Savannah, July 6, 2013 as Pete was called to be the Assistant Pastor at Kirk O' the Isles Presbyterian Church.

Two years later, on June 1, 2015, I gave birth to twins--a boy and a girl. I often joke that the prayers of the saints were too powerful. Ecclesiastes 11:5 says, "Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things." God had answered our prayers in the most miraculous and mind-blowing ways! And just to make sure we were removed of any doubts and concrete in our faith, He has opened my womb again at age 41 and given us another miracle that is due in 4 weeks! As if twins weren't enough for our hearts and home, our hearts are so full now they feel as if they might burst at times. Every tear, heartache and disappointment was caught and carried in the hands of God. Psalm 58:6 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

Our faith has been tried, twisted, strained, strengthened and fortified tremendously over the last 10 years as we've witnessed His faithfulness in our lives! Spurgeon says, "No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God's strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through." Soli Deo gloria!

 

Nan Whitney lives in Savannah, Ga with her husband, Pete, and their three children, Brynn, Sadie and Landon. Pete is the Pastor at Kirk O' the Isles Presbyterian Church. You can friend Nan on Facebook