Friday, April 18, 2014

The Lent of My Life - My Infertility Story (Conclusion)

Tom and I have been through a lot of ups and downs in our marriage but probably nothing has challenged our relationship with each other, with our families, and with God more than our struggle with infertility and miscarriages.   So, I wanted to share our story with others who may be facing this same struggle.   I have been posting it during Lent and this is the Conclusion. Maybe it can give someone a little hope.   If you missed the other chapters, you can read them  here, here, here, here,  here,  here  and here.

I’ll never know if it was the naltrexone, or a miracle, although in hindsight, it appears to have been the latter, but two cycles after starting the naltrexone, I was pregnant again.   I was shocked, and Tom and I were scared to death.   I called my doctor immediately and he ordered bloodwork and prescribed a cocktail of vitamins and progesterone, which I started taking immediately.   And then we waited.  It would be two weeks before the ultrasound that would tell us if our baby was likely to live or die.   I counted the days.  Tom and I prayed and held each other tightly.   We told our parents immediately this time, asking them for their prayers as well.   We asked Francis Gabriel for his intercession. We needed those prayers immediately, for ourselves if not for the baby. 

I remember making it to the six-week point, a few days before my ultrasound was scheduled.  “I didn't make it this far with Francis,” I thought.   Could this one be different?  I didn't dare get my hopes up.   Nothing in my life had scared me more than this.   Our ultrasound was scheduled on the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents and I prayed fervently for their intercession.  Have faith, I told myself.  Have faith.   Don’t give up.   God is here with us.  It was a mantra that I repeated over and over in my head, day and night.  

And then we saw it.  The flicker on the screen.   The 141 beats per minute.   Life!   My doctor smiled, I exhaled, and Tom wiped away a tear.   “Looks like 2010 is gonna be a big year for the two of you!” my doctor exclaimed.  

And so it was.   I gave birth to our miracle, John, that summer. And that adopted child that I had long since given up on ever having?   Joah was born six and a half months later, the day after Valentine’s Day.    None of it was an easy journey.   My pregnancy with John was another test of faith, in which we faced a terrible fetal diagnosis at 20 weeks, followed by a miracle healing, and then a pre-mature rupture of membranes (PPROM) at 32 weeks, followed by another miracle healing.     And being chosen by a courageous young lady to be the parents of Joah?  That has a miracle behind it too.  God proved himself to be God even though I had doubted Him.   I am humbled by it all.  

This is not to say that the heavy cross of infertility that I had carried had been lifted off my shoulders.   Not at all.   After John and Joah’s birth, I started to long for another baby.  Now I was really full of hope!   I believed that I had been miraculously healed; that God had looked down upon me and said “Enough” and removed the burden of that infertility cross from me forever.  

But I had forgotten that even Jesus was not relieved of His cross when He had asked for such in the Garden of Gethsemane so why should I expect any different?  How could I prove my love for Him if I did not carry this cross?   And so, I continue to carry it.   One year after Joah was born, I found myself saying goodbye to another baby, our third pregnancy, lost after 10 weeks, a little baby that we named Karol Elizabeth.   Karol came into this world two days after Joah’s first birthday, the irony of which was not lost on me.  Life is fragile, and all life, no matter how old or at what stage of development, is meant to be celebrated.   So, Tom and I celebrated the birthday of our little one-year-old boy and two days later, we commemorated the birthday of our little Karol, whom we buried under the trees next to Francis.  

There are two graves next to Francis now.    One year after losing Karol, we lost Isaac Anne, again at 6 weeks.    And now, I am a few days past turning 45 years old, and my dream of having more children grows distant as I realize that this chapter of my life will soon end.    I still hold onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, we will get chosen to adopt another baby, but that dream, too, is starting to fade.   I suppose this could be it.   This may be how this story of my infertility ends.  But other stories have now begun too, and it is because of my infertility years that I am where I am today, and who I am today, hopefully for better and not worse.   

Infertility will always be part of me.   The pain changes but it never goes completely away.   I will always miss that big family that I never got to have.  I struggle with fear of losing John and Joah because of the losses I've already experienced.  I still choke back tears and envy when I see a mother with her newborn baby.  I try to suppress my anger and cynicism when I see others taking their ability to have children so lightly.   And I still wonder why I had to bear this particular disease, this particular cross. 

I know that I will have those answers someday, but not in this life.   Nobody can rationalize infertility, and those who try, fail miserably.   All I can do is share my story, and pray that someone might find some hope and reassurance in it.   I kept trying to find reasons for my pain and did everything possible to avoid it, to the point that I gave up ever hoping for what I wanted most.   But God didn't let me stay in despair.   He kept tugging on me and allowing me to hope again.   And I trust that in time, He will turn my hope into acceptance, and that I will reflect on my life and see only the blessings I have been given.  Because, really, I have been truly blessed.    We all have.   To be given a cross to bear for Christ’s sake, and to carry it with the help of His grace, is a reflection of His love for us, even though our human minds can’t make any sense of it.   If we could make sense of it, there would be no need for faith.  There would be no need for Him.

Everyone who bears this cross of infertility has their own story and the endings will all be different.   But the stories all share the common threads of pain, loss, abandonment, and persecution.   In the end, really all that we can do is just persevere.  When the cross becomes too heavy, and we fall, we get back up and keep following  it where it leads.   It’s what our Lord did.   It is the stuff that saints are made of.  And in knowing that, we can hope.

1 comment:

  1. Hope and reassurance found. :) Thank you so much for sharing. Have a blessed Easter.