In May of 2018, I was getting dressed for work on a morning not unlike any other morning. The difference was that I was 24 weeks pregnant and had been in pain throughout the night.
My obstetrician had warned me that this was a risk when you have fibroids during pregnancy. She had them herself. She too was a woman with fibroids and of “advanced maternal age” when she had her children. So, I got dressed for work, planned to go to the ER, get some pain medication, and head into work a little late. I never made it to work that day and by the following week, I’d be placed on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. This was May and I was due to deliver via c-section on September 21. I couldn’t have imagined how the next four months would go, but it was surreal, to say the least.
Let me back up, I’d finally met the man who would be my husband in the Spring of 2014 at a comedy show in Baltimore City. That’s a story for another day. We were engaged in the Spring of 2015 and married by the Fall of that same year. We both wanted children and with my history and age in mind, I wanted to start trying right away. We didn’t try for a honeymoon baby but within the first 6 months of our marriage, we were officially trying to conceive. Or should I say, TTC’ing as they say in all the fertility groups on Facebook that I had started following with acronyms for everything from SO and DH to BFN and CM? It became a part-time job. Yes, trying to conceive became an unpaid side hustle. I had an app for tracking ovulation and learned more about reproduction than I ever remember learning in my middle school sex education class. After 6 months of trying with no success, Dr. H (you remember her from part 1) diagnosed me with unexplained infertility. She had ordered tests and labs for both me and my husband and the result was that there was no clear explanation as to why I was not getting pregnant. I did have some small fibroids present but otherwise, my uterus was in good shape. Random thought: I feel like I should have a name for my uterus by now.
Dr. H. said she wanted to bring out the big guns! Meaning that she wanted to try interventions that had a greater chance of helping us conceive. Unfortunately, we had to stifle her efforts because even though we both worked at local hospitals (him as a nurse and me as a social worker), neither of our insurance plans offered coverage for In vitro fertilization (IVF). Truth be told, I prayerfully considered changing jobs because I knew that both Starbucks and my previous employer had better medical coverage related to infertility. I emailed the director of my Human Resources department and expressed concern that the hospital did not offer coverage for the treatment of infertility. The HR director said she would put it down as a topic to discuss. I later received a call from her basically saying that it was not possible at this time to offer the coverage and keep costs to employees down. I was devastated and angry and felt unable to advocate while on the phone in front of two male co-workers who had no idea the state I was in. Nobody really knew. I held it all together most of the time. I’d cry in the shower after another negative pregnancy test or in the church bathroom when a negative test was followed by a friend’s pregnancy announcement on a Sunday morning during that time of the month (perfect storm). I was constantly fighting for that contentment the apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4. I learned the reality of conflicting feelings co-existing. I was truly happy for and rejoiced with friends who became pregnant. While at the same time, I was sad and hurt because I was not pregnant. I shared with those closest to me the difficulty I was having. It was a lonely time because even though my husband was going through it with me, he was not in my head, experiencing what I was experiencing. He seemed okay with the not knowing. Not knowing if we’d ever conceive. Some friends were certain it would happen and said as much. By the way, don’t do this to your friends. I wasn’t so sure, and I was not okay with not knowing. I wanted to know, and I knew that God didn’t work like that. God had never promised me a child. I was well aware that it was not my right as a Christian to expect the God of the universe to grant my every desire as if He were a genie or that I was going to force His hand.
At 37, almost 38 years old, we had been trying for 1 and a half years with 2 failed IUIs (plus Clomid) and no insurance coverage for these procedures. I started to believe that IVF was our only hope to conceive. I knew a friend, my same age, with a similar medical history, who had conceived twice via IVF. Determined to find a way, I began to look at grants that covered fertility treatment. One after another, I kept finding out about application deadlines too late. Finally, we did apply for a grant. It was a long process. We wouldn’t know if we were awarded the grant for several months. I reached out to a close friend who was also experiencing infertility. She shared some resources. I started reading about (and watching youtube videos about) other people’s experiences related to trusting God’s plan amid uncertainty and trials. One particular resource I recently shared with a friend is the Sarah’s Laughter podcast. I remember beginning to experience a measure of peace and contentment I didn’t have before. I realized later that this peace and contentment came from dependence on God after I surrendered. I gave up acting as if I was in control of this situation. I began to really place my trust in God and His plans for my life again, even if the plan did not turn out how I expected it to. I leaned into the pain and my weakness; and then I laid it at His feet, exchanging my weakness for His strength. That year for an office gift exchange, a colleague gave me a beaded bracelet with an empty box attached. I wrote the words, “Thy Will Be Done”, on a tiny piece of paper, and placed it in the box. Even if His answer to my prayer was a life that didn’t include biological children, I was going to trust Him.
So back to that morning I started out with, it felt like a long road to get to that point. Yet, in many ways, my journey with infertility had only just begun.
To be continued…