23 Weeks

It’s so strange to be here.  To feel him kick so often, to know he’s real but still struggle to believe it.  I want to savor every moment of this last pregnancy but I’m afraid it’s slipping by before I can even grasp it’s reality.

Throughout our infertility struggles, I pictured what it would be like at the end.  Sometimes I pictured that we had just what we wanted – we had the three kids we would’ve had if we were normal fertiles, with minimal help, no losses.  Sometimes in the depths of dispair I saw us at a tragic end with no baby, no more hope.  But I have to admit that somehow, neither of those images ever seemed truly real.  I never believed we’d have the perfect ending, but I didn’t think we’d end up hopeless, either.

So here we are, somewhere in the middle.  We started out declaring, “if it’s not a baby made of you and me, it’s not meant to be.”  And ended up with hearts open to growing our family by any means – by adoption, embryo adoption, IVF, FET … however.  It’s funny how absolutes are never really absolute in Infertility World.

Our journey to Davie Ann was long – 3 1/2 years – but had little loss.  We started with timed cycles, went to Clomid timed cycles, to Clomid IUI’s, to Gonal F (injectable) IUI’s, to IVF – which led to our first ever BFP and our first miscarriage.  But that miscarriage, although heartbreaking, was also full of hope – after endless BFN’s, my body had responded, there was a chance we’d be successful again.  That IVF was followed by one more Gonal F IUI cycle (we couldn’t do IVF #2 because the embryology lab was closed for cleaning), and bam!  a BFP that turned into a dream come true.

When Davie Ann was 4 months old, I returned to work and my milk quickly dried up.  When she was 7 months old, we resumed fertility treatments.  After all, my ovaries weren’t getting any younger!  This second journey was so different from the first.  It’s been shorter – only 2 years this time – but so much more brutal.  Physically and emotionally, we were beaten and broken.  There was the first IVF, which ended in an early miscarriage (chem preg).  Then the FET that was a BFN.  Then another IVF and another miscarriage.  Followed by our last frest IVF cycle, which ended in a painful ectopic pregnancy requiring two rounds of methotrexate and surgery to repair an ovary that burst open and bled out into my abdomen.  I’m surprised to find that tears well up in eyes even now, so long after this happened, it’s still hard to return to that place.

I was broken.  We took some off.  We opened our hearts to adoption and signed up at our fertility center for their new embryo adoption program, which hadn’t officially started yet but already had a waiting list.  We began the long, arduous process to become liscenced to foster-to-adopt here in Texas.  We learned how long the odds were that we would be able to adopt an infant or toddler, but still, we kept our eyes focused on God and pressed on.  Many months later, we finally finished the process, and began the long wait for final approval.

During the wait, the last four frozen embryos from all our IVF tries began to weigh on my mind.  I needed to close that chapter, to know we’d gone through every door.  Our fertility insurance coverage was gone, so we saved and maxed out our medical flex spending accounts.  And put all four eggs in one basket.  And from a place of calm acceptance that this part of our fertility journey was over, we waited peacefully for the inevitable miscarriage.  Our hearts and minds were already focused to the future, on adoption, ready to close this book and open the sequel. 

And God sent us a BFP.  And still we expected to lose the pregnancy.  We watched while two fetal poles appeared.  We rejoiced for a week in two precious heartbeats.  We mourned the following week when there was only one.  Three months later, we finally got our final approval to become foster parents.  We told them about the pregnancy, and they decided to put us on a “hold” list until after the baby is born.

Even though this will be my last pregnancy, I don’t know that it will be the last child we welcome into our family.  With hope that all goes well, next March Newt will be four months old, and we will be able to go back on the active list to foster to adopt.  I had wondered if Troy would want to do it.  This weekend we were watching the news and it told of a horror story where a toddler was beaten to death by a foster parent.  As a result, foster requirements are becoming even more stringent.  The representative put out a plea for more people to apply, to open their hearts and homes.  Troy looked at me and spoke what we both felt, pride that we had accomplished such a difficult process, and broken hearts that the same system had failed that beautiful, innocent baby.  Although I don’t know if we’ll go beyond the next year that our lisence will be good, I know without a doubt that with much prayer and thanksgiving, we will absolutely go back on the active list next March.

If we hadn’t been successful this pregnancy, I know we would’ve tried at least one FET with adopted embryos.  I know we couldn’t have afforded more than two tries, since it would’ve been entirely on our own dime (no fertility insurance coverage left).  If those two tries at embryo adoption had failed, we probably would’ve renewed our foster-to-adopt liscence at least once.  After that, we would’ve been in our mid-forties, so we probably would stop at that point.

So I guess I’ll never know what it’s really like to reach the end of all hope.  Although physically and emotionally painful, we didn’t experience the utter depths I’ve read about on other blogs, like a late term loss, or the loss of a newborn, or being forced to return a child we had hoped to adopt to less than perfect circumstances.  I didn’t lose my ovary and fallopian tube like many others have.  Eventually I will have a hysterectomy, so I’ll never see my endometriosis get as bad as it has for others.  I’m grateful I have been spared those depths.

So here we are at an end I didn’t imagine.  An end that is different from the ideal but wonderful in it’s own way.  And end that has possibilities. 

I am grateful to leave this leg of the journey behind.  And I am grateful to have walked through it.  I am a better woman, a better partner, and a better mother for having taken this long road.  I am humbled. 

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that I never walked a step of this path alone.  Thank You for the hard-won peace and joy we have found.  Keep our eyes focused on You, lead us to the family You have planned for us, and to the children You have entrusted us to raise in Your image.

“‘He has brought me here

when I did not want to come

for His own purpose.

I, too, will look up into His face and say

‘Behold me! I am thy handmaiden


~Hannah Hurnard, Hind’s Feet On High Places