Sunday, December 21, 2014

God's will and Lessons from Infertility

I feel I need to share something very personal today. Someone must need to hear my story and my testimony of God during the trial of infertility.

  I have always wanted to be a mother. I was always my mother's "little helper" in helping take care of my younger sisters. I started babysitting at age 9 and babies were always my favorite. At any family gathering, I would somehow always be the one holding a baby for someone and loved it. When more than a year had passed of our attempts to get pregnant on our own, I made an appointment to see my doctor. After some testing, it was obvious there was a very big problem. My fallopian tubes were blocked in multiple places and filled with lots of inflammatory fluid. They had adhesions to my bowels (remember my mysterious illness of 2 years ago?) and were completely useless. I had a complicated surgery a few weeks later to remove them and felt my dreams of bearing children start to slip away. I was told it is not impossible to get pregnant but it would be very expensive and difficult, especially at my age... Thus started our journey with IVF (in vitro fertilization).  Although this could have been extremely hard, I knew I couldn't blame God. I was tempted to ask "Why me?" but told myself "Why NOT me?" God had given me SO MUCH during my life, I always knew there would have to be harder trials ahead. Who am I to be sheltered from hard things in life? Waiting so long for marriage, especially, had taught me tons about patience and God's timing. I know that He knows best for me and teaches me much during times of trial. I felt very blessed that at least we found out the problem quickly and that we had been saving money so with a little help from my parents, we could afford to try IVF right away. He had certainly been preparing us.
   The reproductive endocrinologist was very positive about my chances with IVF the first meeting we had, but once her preliminary tests came back she had bad news. "You have very few eggs left" I was told and that I wouldn't qualify for any guarantee program because my chances were lower. It wasn't impossible to get pregnant but it would be possibly more difficult. So, the plan was to blast me with the maximum doses of all the usual medications plus an extra one. Five shots a night for a couple weeks, many ultrasounds, 2 weeks off work, another surgery and they got plenty of eggs. Many fertilized and we were so hopeful. I got a blessing from my father that I would have the experience to hold my child in my arms one day and to hold onto my faith in a loving Heavenly Father. But, the implantation didn't take. I started bleeding way before I was supposed to and knew it hadn't gone well. I was crushed. I spent a day very emotional and blaming myself for things I looked back on and felt I hadn't done perfectly. An understanding friend happened to stop by during a hard moment and help me remember what I knew-that tearing myself down wouldn't solve anything and I would have to "let it go" and move onward. God has the ability to make things happen, despite us, if it be His will and it wasn't right this time.  After a horribly emotional, difficult day I decided to forgive myself and let it go. Move forward with faith for God knows more than I.
    My husband had tried to talk me out of trying so soon because we were in the middle of building a house and the stress might be too much. Such a wise man. I had convinced him of the urgency because of my age and he let me try. Looking back, both he and God did have a better perspective. The last couple month of our house being done WAS pretty stressful, as was the packing, moving, cleaning/fixing/renting out my old place, etc. I wouldn't have been able to do as much if it had worked and my poor husband would have had to take on the brunt of it. God does know what He is doing.
     We did a second try a while later, once things had calmed down.  My husband and I were more excited and we were sure it would work this time. The timing seemed better and we were more emotionally ready. I started feeling a little nauseous and tired, which we took as a good sign. I got little whisperings that I ought to not get too attached to the idea until we were sure it had worked. I quietly endured the giant, extra intramuscular shots each night and hoped it was enough. Many in my family were praying very hard and fasting for a miracle for us.  I had been praying very hard with my righteous desire to be a mother, however, I was humble enough to add "but Thy will be done" and that if it wasn't going to work, I would need added strength.   
    I got a strange rash on my head and neck that week, which the dermatologist attributed to stress, since I was going through IVF. I hadn't felt exceedingly stressed, just kept positive and busy, but everyone told me I probably was and understandably so. So, I looked deep down inside to see if I was repressing it and suddenly it all came flooding in. I gave in to the feeling and took it all on myself. I had a terrible next day or two, feeling all the pressures, anxiety, fear and such. I emotionally couldn't handle it. I had to spend some considerable time studying scriptures and praying to finally be able to turn it back over to Christ. He took the heavy burden from me as long as I would just focus on my faith in His saving atonement-He had already suffered for me, there was no need for me to suffer needlessly. How does anyone think they can take on stuff like this without God and His strength?? Without it, it would have been unbearably hard to answer the questions/rumors at church that I was pregnant after my first surgery, when my belly was swollen and sore. I was able to move into a new neighborhood where everyone seems to be pregnant, with a gaggle of kids in tow. Where meeting anyone new included the question of how many children we have. God provided a sort of emotional armor for me, that made it easier to repel the daggers of jealousy, anger, offense and hurt that would otherwise be so easy to allow in. (He can do the same for YOU, in whatever trial you find yourself).
    When we learned the second try didn't take either, we were both understandably sad. Of course, I cried and cried. Again, I had to give myself one day to grieve, work it out in my head and heart, and remember my promises of faith. I do believe that God knows what is best for me. I believe that he gives us trials to help us become who we need to be. I know He has blessed me beyond measure, especially with such a loving husband to support me through this. How could I be angry that he has denied me this one thing. I suppose I would be a spoiled child indeed if I got everything I asked for immediately. I had to move forward with faith that there was something else I needed to do at this time. All the prayers and fasting then produced their miracle. The next day, we received strength and faith beyond our own capacity to go forth with a greater faith in God and assurance that He still cared. The tears dried up and we were able to make the decision to be happy anyway. I was able to feel the hole in my heart start to heal. We have other blessings and trials to focus on for now.
    So, to anyone still reading: God answers prayers. Although He doesn't answer with what we WANT, He will give us just what we NEED. He doesn't always take the trial away but increases our ability to withstand hard things. The sooner we learn to trust in Him, the easier our trials become. The burdens placed on us become lighter, so we feel them less. I have seen it work. I am so so so blessed to have a testimony like this to help me through hard times. Someday in the future, God will allow us to hold a child in our arms and we can all praise His name at the wonderful gift. The more we wait, the more we appreciate the blessing it would be, the responsibility parenthood is and the sweeter the reward for our patience will be.