This post was originally shared on January 7, 2014.
I had the pleasure of attending a baby shower over the weekend honoring a friend and former co-worker. It was so good to see her and celebrate her precious little boy who will arrive sometime next month! This baby shower was probably the easiest for me because my friend is living proof that doctors can be wrong, and God is capable of working unimaginable miracles. Seeing her precious belly reminded me that our own miracle is coming soon. We are one day closer. I was filled with hope as I watched her open each gift. Attending her baby shower was truly a blessing.
Earlier in the week as I was shopping for a baby shower gift, I came across the cutest, softest little stuffed dog. I had already picked out a baby shower gift. I was pretty happy with the gift, so I didn’t think I needed to pick up the dog too. I walked away and started looking at the non-baby stuff in the store. As I was walking towards the check out counter, I couldn’t stop thinking about that little stuffed dog. I decided to give it one more squeeze before I left. I thought to myself, “Maybe they will still sell these here when we finally get pregnant.” I walked away again. As I stood in line behind a lady at the checkout, it finally hit me. I need to buy that little dog for Baby Bell! So I did. I bought a baby shower gift and I bought a gift for our own little miracle.
I put the little dog in a drawer when I got home. I look forward to the day when we finally get to give it to our child. Maybe it will be one day soon. Maybe we won’t have to wait much longer. I know there is reason for all of this. I know God is in complete control and has heard every single one of our desperate prayers. I know one day all of this waiting will be worth it. I have to admit the past few months have become harder, but I find peace in knowing God works miracles each and every day. I refuse to let a doctor’s diagnosis stop me from pursuing my dream of having a little Baby Bell.
I just love sharing stories like these! Today Courtney is sharing her beautiful testimony for our Answered Prayer series. I met Courtney at my wedding actually. Her husband is a friend of Trey’s. Courtney is such a beautiful young woman inside and out with a love for God. Here are her words…
My Fertility Journey
My husband and I decided it was time to stop birth control in the Fall of 2013. We weren’t ready to start actively trying for a baby, but we thought maybe in the next year we would, and we wanted to give my body time to get back on a normal cycle. I had a close friend trying to conceive, and she gave me a book called “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. It talks about the importance of knowing and charting your cycle to help you get pregnant. I thought stopping birth control would give me time to read the book, learn about my cycle, and become more familiar with my body before we started trying for a baby. *By the way, that book was so helpful! I would recommend it to anyone trying to conceive.* So off the birth control I went, and then the problems began. I very quickly lost over 10 lbs, which on a small frame is a lot, but I did not gain my period. The months went by with no period in sight. I began to be a little concerned but the doctors said it was “normal” and that it should return within 6 months. Well 6 months rolled around and still no period, so my OB/GYN prescribed me progesterone to kick-start my cycle. Nothing happened. Then she ordered an ultrasound of my ovaries. After seeing what looked like little cysts in my ovaries, they told me I had PCOS, possibly endometriosis, and this condition would make conception more difficult.
At this point I was feeling upset and confused, wondering how this would affect my fertility. I decided to get a second opinion from a fertility specialist at Vanderbilt, a doctor my mom worked closely with and trusted. After seeing him and another ultrasound, he felt the previous doctor had misdiagnosed me. Although I showed some minor signs of PCOS, I wasn’t the typical case and to him my ovaries looked fine. This made me feel better. He prescribed one month of birth control to “kick-start” my cycle. Thankfully, it worked! I had a period for the first time in almost a year which felt like an accomplishment. From then on I started charting my cycles, and quickly found out that they were far from normal. My cycles were super long and all over the place, sometimes going 2 months without a period. I was a little worried that it would cause problems in conceiving, but at this point we still weren’t actively trying, so I just hoped things would settle out over time.
We began trying to get pregnant in February 2014. Being such a planner, I had the timeline worked out perfectly in my head. This gave us a couple of months of trying (since how many people actually hit the jackpot the first time?) before school let out for summer. This would also mean once I was pregnant, my morning sickness would be hitting over summer break, and I could have that time to just rest. It seemed perfect. HA! I sure thought I had it figured out! Boy was I wrong. After about 3 months of trying, and no positive pregnancy test, I was a little frustrated that things weren’t going as I had planned. Plus, my cycles were still anywhere from 35-50 days long and I had a hard time figuring out when I was actually ovulating, if I was at all. I had been reading Kari’s infertility blog and noticed how much she praised Dr. Williams, so I made an appointment. I loved him from the first visit, because he listened and answered all of my questions. He was so caring and understanding, because he and his wife had gone through their own infertility journey. He told me he would do everything in his power to help me become a mother. At this point though, the best thing was to just keep trying and to come back either at a year or when we got too frustrated. So back home I went to continue my cycle charting, taking my basal body temp every morning, and letting myself get consumed with trying to get pregnant. The charting became somewhat of an obsession. I would study my charts over and over, trying to make sense of them. Of course, looking back, I don’t think this helped the situation and only made me stress more. I prayed that my cycles would become more normal and I tried to gain a little weight back, thinking maybe that would help. Finally around the late summer of 2014, my cycles started to become more predictable. Even though they were still 30-40 days long, it appeared that most cycles I was ovulating, and I was able to decipher my charts a little better.
By the fall of 2014 I was ready to look into our fertility a little more. In October I had an HSG procedure done, where they check to see that the fallopian tubes are open. Everything came back normal. I had heard that some people had gotten pregnant the month after having that procedure done, as if it had “cleared out the pipes”, so naturally I hoped this would happen to me. I was disappointed yet again. In December, my husband had a semen analysis which also came back normal-thank goodness. So there we were at the end of 2014 with no baby and no answers. Needless to say, the holidays were hard for me that year.
In January, almost a year after we started trying, I decided to go back to Dr. Williams to look into our options. I started my period a few days earlier and was feeling discouraged. I had gotten on Facebook the morning of my appointment, and a friend of mine had posted a video. I watched the video, only to quickly realize it was a pregnancy announcement. Of course, at that point I couldn’t turn it off. The couple sang the sweetest song they had written together about the journey of their relationship and how they were now expecting a baby. I sat there watching as emotion flooded me, and I just cried and cried. I was happy for them, but my heart ached because I wanted Tanner and I to have the same joy and blessing in our life. My mom came with me to the doctor that day, and I cried to her in the waiting room as I told her about watching the video. It was so unlike me to cry in public, but the pain was deep, and I couldn’t hide the sadness. Dr. Williams, sensing my emotion, was so sensitive and encouraging. He diagnosed me with “unexplained infertility” and recommended trying Clomid. I was unsure about beginning fertility medications, especially since I was already ovulating on my own, but he gave me the prescription and the option. After many prayers and conversations with my husband, we decided we should give it more time. We really wanted to trust in God’s timing, even though it was hard to wait. I continued to pray that we would become pregnant naturally.
As the months passed and more negative pregnancy tests stared back at me, I began to really feel the effects of the infertility emotional roller coaster. The cycle would begin with the hope and anticipation of ovulation. Next, we would “try, try, try” on what we thought were the perfect days to conceive. Then came the awful, nerve-wracking “two week wait”. Every month I would conjure up all the pregnancy symptoms, making myself believe this was it! This was the month my prayers would be answered. Yet every month, my period would return, a sad reminder of the life that wasn’t growing inside of me. I prayed, more so than I think I ever had. I wanted a baby so badly. I wanted it to be my turn. It seemed like every day on Facebook, someone was announcing their pregnancy. With tears in my eyes, I would try to tell myself my time was coming. Soon my prayers would be answered. But it was hard. I am not one to cry often, and I do not like showing extreme emotion. I pride myself in the fact that I have always had a very “even-keeled” temperament, but experiencing the highs and lows of every cycle, made it difficult to keep this up. Some cycles I would be strong and trust in God’s timing. I would think, “It’s okay. God’s timing is best and I trust in that.” In those months I could feel God’s peace and strength so tangibly that I knew it came from Him. I praised Him for helping me though and teaching me the patience I so needed to learn. I also had months where I was heartbroken when it didn’t work out and my period returned yet again, leaving me feeling lacking in the patience department. I would be left crying, asking God “Will I ever be a mother? Will it ever be my turn? What am I doing wrong?” I struggled with the fact that some people got pregnant almost immediately, and unwanted teenage pregnancies boggled me. It didn’t seem fair. But no matter what, I found comfort in knowing that the God I served had always been faithful to take care of me and get me through hard times. So each month I would push forward, praying He would give me the strength and trust I needed to face whatever result lay ahead.
Over the next few months I tried just about anything that claimed to aid in conceiving, minus the Clomid which we still didn’t have peace about me taking. I used a myriad of herbs and supplements, and too many other things fertility bloggers assured worked for them or someone they knew. Again, like the obsessive charting, I exhausted myself trying to find the trick which would get me pregnant, all the while God was saying “If you will just let go and let Me work it out in My own time, everything will be okay”.
On a weekend in August 2015, I was supposed to start my period. I was expecting it, because my cycle had been a little different that month, and I thought we had “missed” my ovulation window. The weekend ended, and I still had not started. I had no pregnancy symptoms, not even fabricated ones, except for a little cramping (most likely due to the impending period). I woke up Monday morning, August 17, still not having started. I decided to go ahead and take a pregnancy test just to get it off my mind, bracing myself for the all familiar negative. After a year and a half of negative tests, I couldn’t help but wonder “Do these things actually work? Is there such thing as a positive test?” LOL. Much to my surprise, 2 pink lines showed up! “Could this really be it?”. I took another test (different brand), because I wasn’t convinced. Two pink lines. I was shocked. I ran to the bedroom, woke my husband, and told him, “I think I might be pregnant! Come look at these tests!” We both stood in the bathroom staring at the two tests, with two pink lines, giggling in shock and excitement as we took in the weight of the moment. Our long-awaited prayers had been answered! Nothing but praises filled my heart and mind in the coming days.
While we had been trying to conceive, I had written a prayer over my future pregnancy. I have to say, God not only answered our prayers for a baby, but blessed me with an enjoyable and healthy pregnancy. I loved being pregnant! It was such a wonderful time experiencing the miracle of life growing inside of me. I spent my whole pregnancy thanking God for His precious gift, and for His timing which in the end seemed more perfect than I could have planned myself. Our sweet baby boy was born April 23, 2016, and I could not be more thankful for our little blessing. He was so worth the wait.
I continued to pray over this baby everyday. We decided to have an early ultrasound at 16 weeks to find out what we were having. To my delight it was a boy. Matt was overjoyed. He wanted a boy so bad. And we both feared that the baby we lost was a boy and this one would be a girl. But once again God showed up. Not that getting the gender we want is something God is concerned about but for me it showed me he was listening. He knew the desire of our heart and he fulfilled that.
Fast forward 4 weeks, we head to our 20 week ultrasound at the doctor’s office. They are going to confirm the gender and do a bunch of measurements and just check on the little guy. It was great! We got to see him and confirm that indeed it was a him. He looked amazing. He was measuring right where he needed to be. During the ultrasound you can tell the tech can see something that isn’t totally normal and this is where our journey began. When I was 20 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. This is a condition where the placenta has implanted itself low in your uterus and is covering your cervix. So the baby cannot be born any way except for a C-section. As your uterus grows usually the placenta will move and will no longer block the cervix opening. This can be a very serious and life threatening condition for the mom. If for some reason the placenta starts to break down you could start bleeding and it would be difficult to control. My doctor basically said that when the time came for the C-section I might end up with a total hysterectomy if the the bleeding gets to out of control. So we left that appointment a little nervous but overall optimistic that when I returned 4 weeks later it would have moved. Well we have our ultrasound and find out it has not moved. Still my doctor seemed optimistic it could still change positions and so were we, we went on with everyday life. 4 weeks later, on a Monday, we returned to have another ultrasound to monitor the progress. We were a little saddened to find out it still had not moved. Our doctor at this point said the likelihood of it moving was getting less. We left that appointment and again went about our day. My husband had the day off from work, thank you Columbus, so we decided to have a family day. We had lunch and then decided to take Cali to a pumpkin patch. She played and ran all over the place. We picked out a pumpkin for her and Paxton also. We left there and grabbed some dinner and headed to church. Our worship band was doing a live recording for a CD with their worship music on it. And they had invited members to be in the audience to provide the background cheering and singing. I was so excited to be a part of this. I love our worship band and could not wait for this night. So we sang praises and worshipped for 2 whole hours. It was amazing! We got home that night around 9:30 and put Cali to bed and finally got to lay down ourselves. I was pretty exhausted from the day and fell asleep pretty quickly. Around 11:15 I was suddenly awoken and realized I was bleeding. And not just a little bleeding……I had managed to get it all over the sheets. I was really bleeding. I woke Matt up and told him what was going on and said we needed to get to the hospital. Ask any mom that has been pregnant and she will tell you that seeing that much blood is very unsettling. I sort of went into shock. I was nervous and anxious and incredibly worried about our little boy. We called my parents to come and stay at our house with Cali and headed to the hospital. We got there around 11:45. After some paperwork in the ER we were taken up to the labor and delivery floor to get checked in. At this point it had been a full hour and a half since I felt Paxton move. I was starting to fear the worst. As soon as I was in bed the nurse grabbed the monitor and immediately found the heartbeat. I had never felt so much relief at one time! He was looking incredible on the monitor. He had a nice strong heartbeat and immediately started moving and rolling around. It was very comforting to hear him and see him moving around. They monitored me through the night. The next morning my doctor came in and said that Paxton looked good but they were going to keep me until the next Monday just to make sure everything was ok. He also said he noticed throughout the night I was having some contractions. So he decided I needed to be put on a Magnesium drip to help stop those contractions. I’m here to tell you, if you have never experienced Magnesium consider yourself lucky! It was torture and it lasts for 24 hours. Finally I was taken off that medicine and life kind of returned to normal, as normal as sitting in the hospital all day can be. So for the rest of the week we made the best of our stay in the hospital. We actually spent our 7th wedding anniversary in the hospital. People were sending flowers and coming to visit. It was so nice to see our village just surround us during that time. Well the following Monday my doctor comes in and says I can go home but on bed rest. I wasn’t on strict bed rest but was advised to lay down as much as possible. I lasted 3 weeks at home! Praise the Lord!!
During my at home bed rest, I was having 2 doctor’s appointments a week. One was an appointment with my doctor and an ultrasound to measure my placenta and check to see if it was moving at all. The other was for an NST. Its a non-stress test, it’s actually pretty awesome. You get to sit in a comfy recliner and watch tv while strapped to a monitor and listen to that beautiful heartbeat for 30 minutes! I really enjoyed these visits. I would get me a smoothie before the appointment and then it was just me and my boy for a solid 30 minutes. Well it was one of these appointments that things changed for me. I woke up the morning on one of my ultrasound days and I was bleeding. Now my doctor had given me strict instructions that if I started bleeding at all to head straight to the ER. Well seeing as how this was my 3rd bleeding episode, I was a little less panicked than all the other times. I knew it wasn’t a ton of bleeding and since we were heading to the doctor anyway I figured I would just mention it there. I see my doctor and tell him and he informs me to go straight home, pack a bag and head to the hospital. I wasn’t totally shocked because of the seriousness of the situation. I checked in the hospital on November 2nd at 32 weeks.
My stay in the hospital was so not what my doctor expected. He said I was able to keep Paxton in me a lot longer than I thought I was going to. The morning of November 21st was the day God chose I would meet my little boy. He came 6 weeks early and 2 weeks before my scheduled C-section. Just a little side story to show how awesome God is! I kept a quiet time journal the whole time I was in the hospital. Every morning I spent some time with the Lord. It was so awesome having that time each day. It’s hard with a toddler at home to really get 30 minutes of undisturbed time to just sit and study and read God’s word. Well the day before Paxton was born the verse God laid on my heart was Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” And also Deuteronomy 31:6-8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave nor forsake you.” I always write down prayers I have for people or myself at the end of my quiet time. My prayer for me says, “I cannot say thank you enough for bringing Paxton and myself to this point. Lord just continue to cover us and protect both of us. Lord I know your plan is great and I know that you have already seen this ending. I just pray you continue to give me peace and know that you’ve got this.” He was preparing me that morning for what was to come, I just didn’t know it yet.
I woke up around 4 am on the 21st and instantly knew I was bleeding again. And also knew it was a big deal. This was now my 5th bleeding episode in 6 weeks. I called my nurse and she immediately paged my doctor and things got to moving rather quickly. I was told I would be having a c-section as quickly as possible. I’m scrambling because Matt isn’t even here, I’m all alone! I tell one of the nurses his number and they are calling him. But he isn’t answering and it hits me, he doesn’t answer random numbers and especially at 4 am. So I handed her my cell phone and told her to call him. He finally answers and rallies all of our family and everyone heads up to the hospital. It was very chaotic for a little bit. I was extremely nervous because I knew I was bleeding but there really isn’t anything they can do to stop it right now. My doctor was literally in mid-delivery of another baby. So he couldn’t just stop what he was doing but he reassured me he would be done very quickly because I needed to get to the OR soon. As I laid in the OR while they were prepping me, my mind kept going over the verse in Isaiah. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. I knew God was there, I knew he was holding me and I knew he was going to watch over us. My doctor ran into some complications once he got in there. Apparently Paxton had flipped into breach position at some point. I had an ultrasound that previous Tuesday to confirm position and weight and check my placenta. So in 4 days he flipped! But at just after 6 am my baby boy was born at 4 pounds and 11oz. I was so excited and wanted to see him. When I was able to see him the nurse held him up to my face so I could kiss him. And then he was whisked away to the NICU. Matt went with him because I told him I was fine and I wanted him to be with our son. Little did I know what was ahead.
I could tell things were not going as planned. My doctor and the surgeon assisting him seemed a little frazzled and appeared to be struggling. I asked repeatedly what was going on but didn’t get many answers. I prayed and prayed and prayed. After having Paxton and an additional hour and a half of surgery I was taken into the recovery room. God had brought me through it, just like I knew he would. Now, I was in an excruciating amount of pain, but that didn’t matter. My little boy was doing ok in the NICU and I was still around, so I was happy. I was able to see Paxton the following day after much pleading with my nurses. He was beautiful and tiny and amazing. I was in awe of our God. I was sitting next to my rainbow baby and holding his little hand. We tell the story of Noah and the ark to our little girl a lot. We remind her that God always gives us a rainbow after a storm. Paxton is my rainbow. Isaiah 66:9 says “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.” This is so true. Hold tight to the Lord during the storms and the painful moments. He knows what he is doing and he will see you through.