If there is a form of etiquette concerning asking people to publicly share about their infertility experience, I'm pretty sure it includes not bringing it up at a baby shower. But Caroline and I got to talking, and the Holy Spirit stirred it up, and out it came. I am so grateful.
I love that we end this week of stories here. No matter your own personal struggles, even if it has nothing to do with infertility, I believe you will be encouraged by Caroline's words. It is my prayer that everyone have a chance to know this sort of sweet love from the Father.
Infertility: Caroline's Story
The last four years have had its share of heart ache, disappointment, financial strain, and just a complete emotional drain. But there has also been a new awareness of God’s goodness, joy, and a spiritual wholeness than can only come from my loving Father. I want that to be the focus of the last four years. God’s goodness is the testimony, not the loss and pain.
Billy and I have been married for six years. After a year of trying on our own to get pregnant and several tests to see what was wrong, we were told it was unexplained infertility (basically nothing obvious was keeping us from getting pregnant, some couples just need a little medical boost!). We were were encouraged to try insemination, which resulted in a positive pregnancy after the first try! We were beyond thrilled! But around week 5 I began spotting - leading my doctor to do an early ultrasound. I was told this was an ectopic pregnancy. I had never heard that term before but my doctor began telling me that my baby was growing… just in the wrong place. My baby was growing in my tubes which if left alone would kill us both. I thought I had options. I had none. I had to go straight to the hospital to get a shot that would dissolve the pregnancy but save my life. Billy and I were devastated. I sat in that public waiting room watching mothers who already had children with them having more children. I felt a bitterness I’d never felt. You see, up to this point, I had been in a place spiritually that I had never been before. Through different small groups at church and intentional days of prayer and fasting, I felt God had brought me to a place with Him I’d never been before. So why would he do this to me? Why would He take this good thing from me? I was mad at Him. I would sit through my quiet time, skipping over the prayer time and tell God I just needed to read His word in silence because I didn’t trust what I might say to Him. I didn’t participate in worship at church, and if you know me, I LOVE to worship! I was broken and didn’t know how to feel ok during this time or how to get back on track with God. But God was doing something in me I couldn’t see at the time. He was faithful to send me friends who spoke words of life over me. He gave me songs that began to mend my heart. I’ll touch on those specifics later but let’s get through the rest of the tough stuff.
A year later we did another insemination which also ended in an ectopic pregnancy. This time I wasn’t mad at God but I did get lost in the “whys.” Again, God was faithful to give me what I needed to push on. After these two ectopic pregnancies, a laparoscopy was done and it was discovered I had endometriosis and damaged fallopian tubes. Both tubes were removed. We began looking into IVF. Unfortunately, my Type I diabetes had gotten so much harder to control in my late 30’s, even with good eating habits and exercise. My blood sugars were so out of control my doctor could not recommend me to try to get pregnant. I was crushed.
But then, an angel appeared.
Amy and I have been best friends since high school. One Sunday at church, I was telling her about there seemingly being no remaining options for having a baby. She grew quiet and then said she would have our baby, she would be our surrogate! She told me God had actually put it on her heart months ago but she felt like she needed confirmation. I’d say that conversation was it! Billy and I talked and prayed about it. Amy and her husband Jason prayed about it. The church prayed with us. This was totally a God thing!
We got started with appointments and doctor’s consultations and visits right away. The four of us had a lot of decisions to make. I’ll tell you, you think you know where you stand morally on pregnancy, abortion, when life begins, etc…until you’re faced with infertility and needing the help of science and medicine. All four of us involved felt very strong in our pro life convictions, but there were SO many details and decisions that had to be made that most people never have to think twice about. I want to get to the “God’s goodness” part so I’ll make this brief. We had two transfers with Amy: the first ended after the second week, the second transfer ended in a miscarriage around week 10. Through the heartbreak, God was still moving and working miraculously in me!
Here are the things that helped along the way. After the first ectopic, in my season of being angry with God, a sweet friend said, “Caroline, God grieves with you.” And it clicked. God hadn’t done this TO me, it just happened to me, but he was WITH me through it all. This is also about the time I truly grasped the promises in Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” I began to trust that if it wasn’t a baby we would get, God would give us an even better gift! It’s hard to imagine what could be better than a baby, and I’m not talking about a monetary gift or thing, but that’s why we have earthly eyes and imaginations and God does not! After the second ectopic, I remember sitting on my bed in my room and hearing the song “Beautiful Things” by Gangor. I began weeping at these words:
I wept because I believed these words - that God would make beautiful things out of my dust. I also prayed that all this pain wouldn’t be for nothing. God doesn’t intend for our trials to be for nothing, but we in our messiness and earthly selves, often get in the way of learning from our trials and disappointments. Just before Amy’s first miscarriage, her dad, who has been like a spiritual dad to me since high school, reminded me not to ever let the devil steal our joy. This was just a general conversation, Amy hadn’t miscarried yet, but that came to help me through that loss. When I got the call from the doctor’s office, I was doing yard work and had been listening to a message on how grieving can be a way of worshipping God. So when I got the call, I wept. I cried and cried but in those tears I told God that Satan was NOT going to steal my joy! I told God that I loved him and thanked him for helping me through this! Yes, my heart throbbed, but I had such hope in Jesus! I also heard a song from Shane and Shane called “Though You Slay Me.” There is a version that has an excerpt from John Piper’s message on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. John Piper says, “Every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. Don’t look to what is seen. Don’t say ‘It’s meaningless!’ It’s not! It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.”
Billy and I still don’t have a baby. We have some options and a lot of praying to do. But what we do have are God’s promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He does grieve with us. He does walk through each and every heartache with us. My pain has not been for nothing. I’ve been able to share the gospel through sharing the ups and downs of the last four years with unbelieving friends. He is a good, good Father, in all circumstances, all the time! Trust Him that He wants good things for you!