Answered Prayer: Courtney

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

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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”.

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Photo Cred: Natasha Thomas Photography

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.

 

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Photo Cred: Natasha Thomas Photography

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.

 

Previous Answered Prayer Stories:

Kayla

Lindsay (Part 1)      Lindsay (Part 2)

 

If you have a story you would like to share for the Answered Prayer series, I would love to hear from you! Email me at dearbabybellblog@gmail.com!   – Kari B. 

 

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Relationships and Infertility

Tonight we will have our 2nd Seeds of Hope meeting/ gathering. I have chosen relationships as our topic of discussion for this month because I feel like this is a very important topic we can all relate to! 

 Relationships and Infertility

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Your spouse. It is so important to not let your infertility struggle destroy your marriage. This is a time for you to lean on each other for support, openly communicate your feelings, and  be on the same page. Easier said than done? Yes. Definitely. Trey and I had only been married six months when we realized something wasn’t right. We had been trying for a few months, but I had stopped having cycles. Obviously, a cycle is one of the necessary components to becoming pregnant. As our journey unfolded, I learned Trey and I had different ways of handling our emotions. There was nothing wrong with how either of us handled our emotions (with each other), but it was very important for me to realize he wasn’t one to talk about his feelings. I was. He had to learn to listen when I needed to just vent, and I had to learn he wasn’t the type to sit down and cry with me and tell me everything going through his head. Trey only cried in front of me twice. I cried in front of him more times than I can count.

No matter what, your husband will be your husband. Baby or no baby. Treatments or not. Adoption or pursuing further treatments. You two began this journey together as husband and wife and it is so important to not lose the foundation of your marriage in the shuffle. It happens. I know it happens.

Your family. I’m still trying to figure out this part. Even though I have our story plastered on social media and here on my blog, we still have family members who are clueless about what we’ve been through. After my first surgery, we had people ask us, “When are ya’ll gonna have kids?”. Seriously. As if my ovaries were even ready to address this question so soon after surgery, right? It seemed like anytime there was a family reunion/ gathering/ cookout/ dinner/ excuse-to-get-together-and-question-my-reproduction-capabilities, the question always came up. It was easy for me to just be short. It was easy for me to be snippy and give smart @$$ remarks like, “When people stop asking us that question.” or  I would just say, “Never”. Oh that response shut people up quickly for sure. You know your family and you know how they are. Take their remarks with a grain of salt. Never feel like you have to explain your full medical history with anyone if you don’t want to. With that being said, you do need support. You need as much support as possible and maybe a few extra hands when it comes to getting your mother-in-law or nosy aunt off your back about when you’re gonna have a baby. Talk to a few people you trust. You might be surprised at how much easier those awkward family gatherings can get. Also – I am a firm believer the more people covering you in prayer, the better. If you don’t want to go into great detail, maybe just ask for prayers for your future children?

Your church. This is a sticky situation. I know some ladies who feel like they can’t open up to their church family about their struggles because infertility is such an uncomfortable topic for some men.  I was fortunate to have an amazing group of ladies in a Wednesday night class who covered me in prayer and lifted me up when I needed an extra boost. Infertility, pregnancy loss, and miscarriage are something a lot of churches (not necessarily just mine) don’t talk about. Churches will pray all day, everyday for Susie Jo Q who is so-and-so’s second cousin’s wife who stubbed her toe, but that sweet, young couple on the back pew? They  are merely a line at the bottom of the church bulletin. Why is that? Why are we afraid to talk about infertility? Why are we afraid to meet these people right where they need us? On our knees, praying FOR them during the hardest thing they’ve ever endured is where we should be. Instead, I know some women feel like they just don’t fit in anymore in those pews. Mother’s Day is a huge production at some churches.  These women suffer in silence month after month and they need to feel God and they need to be covered in prayer…right here. Right now. So ladies, I encourage you, pull someone aside. Tell them YOU need prayer. Tell them YOU are struggling and YOU need to feel God’s comfort. Don’t walk away from your church family, but don’t let your struggles get brushed under the rug either.

Last but not least… Your friendships. I pushed several people out of my life when I needed them the most. Don’t make that same mistake. Even though everyone will not understand your journey, they may still try to help. Even if that “help” looks a little different from what you think you need, that’s okay. Sometimes people don’t know what to say or what to do. They just want to do something to let you know they care or they are thinking of you! Infertility/ pregnancy loss is not something everyone has dealt with. It’s hard to speak to the emotions and heartache that come along with infertility when you haven’t necessarily been in the middle of it yourself. Sometimes people just do what they think they need to do, or they say what they think you need to hear. Sometimes people will say the wrong things. It happens. Don’t shut them out of your life or push them away. Like I said before, you need as much support and as many people as possible surrounding you in prayer. Don’t make the mistake of pushing people out of your life.

Infertility will take as much from you as you allow it to. Do not let it take your relationships. Don’t. Do. It. Don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it rob you of any more than it already has.

For more info on Seeds of Hope, please feel free to email me at  dearbabybellblog@gmail.com or Find me on Facebook  !

 

Mother’s Day Prayer

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We’ve all seen them. You know who they are. They are the women who remain seated when the pastor asks all of the mothers to stand on Mother’s Day. As each woman grins from ear to ear and slowly stands, you can see that one woman bow her head as her husband rubs her back or pats her leg. That woman is the woman in my prayers each night. That woman needs your prayers today too.

This Mother’s Day, pray for the women who will wake up and not have hand print crafts waiting for them. Pray for the mothers who have a desire to have moments and make memories with the children they are waiting and praying for. Remember those women.

If you are a Mom in Waiting, please know I see you. I don’t know your name, but I see you sitting in that pew holding back tears. I know this is hard for you. I know you wish you could just slip out the back as everyone is singing praises and applauding mothers. I see you though and I’m praying for you. I know this day reminds you of the pain and emptiness in your heart. I know you feel so broken and maybe even unworthy. I want you to know, you’re not broken. You are worthy.  I know you are quietly calculating how old your precious angel baby would have been today had he/she not been swept away to Heaven so quickly. I know you so badly wish someone would recognize YOU as a mother.

Listen. I’m here to tell you this – from the moment you and your spouse were given the desire to become parents, you became a mother. Let me say that one more time…

YOU. ARE. A. MOTHER. 

God has placed the desire in your heart to be a mother. I can’t tell you He will answer your prayers by giving you a biological child of you own, but I can tell you He doesn’t place a desire on your heart just so you can be tortured month after month by negative pregnancy tests. God has a plan for you, my friend. So on this Mother’s Day, I want you to hold on to your faith. I want you to feel the prayers of encouragement and strength I’m sending up for you.

Dear Heavenly Father:
I come to you now praying you will wrap your arms around the women whose hearts are breaking and arms are aching for a child. Lord, I know the desire to become a mother has been laid on their hearts by You. I know only You can answer their prayers. Motherhood is a godly desire. I pray for the women who have not yet experienced motherhood. I pray for the women who have given their babies back to you, Lord. I pray for the women who are waiting for a call from their adoption agency. I pray for the husbands and wives who are needing Your loving arms and comfort today, Lord. I am fully trusting and believing you have wonderful plans for their lives. Please help them to not feel pity and self-doubt today. I pray they will feel the encouragement they need today and everyday to keep pressing forward as Your plan unfolds. In Your Name. Amen. 

NIAW 2016 – #StartAsking

 

It is National Infertility Awareness Week! What exactly does that mean? It means this week bloggers unite to raise awareness for a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples. This week we get the conversation started and bring awareness to something a lot of people are afraid to talk about. To learn more about this movement, you can visit www.resolve.org .

#StartAsking

Infertility isn’t easy to talk about. I know. I’ve been there. It was so hard for me to open up about our struggle. I felt like I was so alone and nobody would understand, but one day I stepped out of my comfort zone and began sharing our story. The truth is, once I opened up about what I was facing, I received so much support from others within the TTC community, close friends, and some family. I wasn’t alone! I had a wonderful support system during my journey, and I have made it a passion of mine to be a supporter for other women.

What is infertility? According to resolve.org, infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.

What should you ask?

  • I’m a firm believer you should feel comfortable with your doctor. Ask questions. Ask if he/she has much experience dealing with infertility. If not, ask if you can be referred to someone else.
  • Ask. Questions. If you feel like your doctor does not have time to answer all of your questions, it is time to find a new doctor!
  • Ask you spouse / partner how they feel. Communication is so important when you are faced with an infertility journey. It is so easy to get lost in the emotional roller coaster. Make sure you talk about it with your spouse even if you do not feel like talking to anyone else. You are both in this together!
  • Ask friends, family, or church family to pray for you. If you are not comfortable sharing details, that is completely okay! Just simply asking them to pray for you.
  • If you are not personally experiencing an infertility journey, but someone close to you is, please try to educate yourself on what exactly infertility is. You can learn more at http://www.reslove.org or this Infertility Etiquette Fact Sheet.

 

Here is my  post for National Infertility Awareness Week 2014  –  NIAW : Resolve to Know