Thursday, January 16, 2014

He makes all things beautiful!

*Disclaimer:  This is a very long post with lots of details!*

I feel like on this blog, one day I said we were doing IVF, 
and the next day I announced we were pregnant.
I started off sharing a fair amount of personal details, 
but then I stopped.  
Partly because I never intended to share everything
and partly because things got really hard and trying for us.

Journeying through infertility is already an extremely exposing and vulnerable thing, 
let alone when you share every single detail on your blog.
Though, I am so thankful to the countless "friends" I have made in cyberspace
by finding blogs of Christian women who have gone or are going through this journey.
Having those blogs, in addition to a "real life" friend who has walked this road before,
has been so helpful for me to just connect and hear stories and know we're not alone.

But I feel at this point that I want to share more of our story
because it helps to underscore the miracle of our twins
and brings glory to God!

Our Infertility Timeline
October 2011:  We prayed and asked God if we could start trying for a family.  We both felt His affirmation and heard encouraging words of hope.
February 2012:  Our dear friends are pregnant!  I am so excited for them, yet this stirs up fear in me and concern--why are we not pregnant yet?
May 2012:  I see my Gyn. to talk through things.  Could there be something wrong?  No, this just takes time.  Checked some labs anyway, and things looked normal.
July 2012:  At iCon, Antioch's international church planting conference, there was a significant word of encouragement spoken out during a worship time for the women in the room.  The theme of the word had to do with fertility and being pregnant with promises--more in the spirit, though.  But then Jimmy Seibert got up right after the word was spoken and encouraged any women where actually trying to conceive and having difficulty to be prayed for by friends.  This was huge for us.  The first time Andy cried about it all, and dear friends gathered around us and prayed for God to breakthrough.  We really thought this was it!
August 2012:  Another negative pregnancy test.  Heartbreak.  But continuing to trust and believe.
October 2012:  One year of trying... Made another appt with my doctor but saw a different one.  This time both Andy and I went, and this doctor talked through the option of starting Clomid, a fertility drug that jumpstarts the ovaries into releasing several eggs in hopes that one fertilizes.  We left the appointment not know why this wasn't happening for us but with an option to try.
December 2012:  After talking with a good friend who had gone through years of infertility, we decided not to do Clomid without seeing a fertility specialist first.  Our appointment was right before Christmas.  He did an ultrasound and saw that I had numerous follicles in both ovaries, suggesting that I hadn't been ovulating for years possibly.  We drew labs, too, and he went through possible reasons and options for us.  I was shocked but also glad to hear there was a reason and I wasn't going crazy!
January 2013:  We decided to move forward with Option #1--take a med that also jumpstarts the ovaries into producing/growing follicles, giving myself an injection that tells my body to ovulate at a specific day/time, and then come in for IUI (intrauterine insemination).  This whole process involved coming in for many ultrasounds for several days in a row to monitor the progress of the med.  We were finally given a specific time for me to give the "trigger" shot and then both Andy and I would come into the clinic the following day (happened to be a Saturday), and we'd get a sample from Andy, and then the doctor would put the sample in me.  Not as advanced as IVF; this leaves more up to "chance" for the body to do its thing.  We decided last minute to forgo the IUI procedure and just try naturally in our specific window of time.
January 2013 - Pregnacy Blood Test:  Negative
February 2013:  We decide to try this same option again but actually go through with the IUI procedure. I won't go into details, but this is just not fun!  Getting a "sample" is not an enjoyable task, especially under stressful time constraints.  As soon as Andy got back from dropping off the sample at the clinic, I was about to head out to leave for my portion--the IUI part--and we got The Call.  There was zero sperm in his sample.  We were devastated.
March 2013:   We meet again with our doctor, now with new clues to our infertility struggle.  There was another test he wanted to run on Andy involving more samples and stress.  When Andy got the call about the results of this test, I was in Texas for an Antioch training, so we were apart.  It was a really really hard day for us; probably one that will go down in the history books.  Again there was nothing.  We were faced with the possibility that we might never have our own biological children.  All I wanted to do was cry and cry but we were at a training conference.  I couldn't talk to anyone about it really, and I was just heartbroken.  When I got back a couple days later, Andy had already gotten an appointment with the Urologist we were referred to, and we saw him on Monday.
We really like(d) this guy, and upon initial examination (read: painful), he told us that Andy was born with something called CBAVD - Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens.  A condition only caused by Cystic Fibrosis or carrying the gene for CF.  This doesn't mean Andy doesn't make sperm, there is just no way for it to get out of the body.  Wow.  What?!  If he indeed made sperm (which we found out through labs), then the Urologist could do a procedure called PESA to retrieve sperm that could be used in IVF.  Our only option at this point is IVF.
April 2013:  Andy's procedure is done.  One word:  ouch.  I won't go into details, but we both get to say we went through a lot for these babies.  We also have more sad news.  The sperm retrieved weren't many and weren't healthy.  2 options--use donor sperm or try this again.  Andy was about to leave for a month long overseas missions trip in May.  It was decided that I would start the IVF drugs sometime in May, and it would hopefully work out for the day of my egg retrieval, Andy would be back in time to do the procedure again.
May 2013:  I start my many pills and shots and ultrasounds.  (I continue some form of a shot until October, actually.) Andy is overseas and taking special vitamins to help boost his numbers.
June 2013:  My body is responding a lot slower than they expected.  There was a period of 10-14 days that I was going in everyday or every other day for ultrasounds and coming home or going back to work disappointed.  Things are not happening like they should.  We might have to cancel this cycle.  But finally, there are a few follicles (which contain eggs) that are growing to the appropriate size, and we set a date for my egg retrieval and set Andy's procedure for the day before.  Andy's procedure went well--much better than the first time.  It was actually a lot less painful, too.  We had prayed and prayed, and I really believe it was God's breakthrough and mercy that allowed the results to be so good.

Capture Day:  In IVF world, this is a fun and exciting day--even though it involves going under anesthesia and getting needles poked into places they don't belong.  But for us, again, the results were less than optimal.  We were hoping for somewhere around 2 dozen eggs to be retrieved, so when I was waking from anesthesia and my doctor came to tell us he only got 11 eggs, I was devastated.  Again, I didn't understand.  We thought we would have enough eggs to make a good amount embryos (knowing that not ALL eggs or embryos survive this process) so we would never have to do this process again.  But when we got home and I spent some time in prayer and meditation, I felt again just thankful to God for this miracle of even 11 eggs.  We prayed over these eggs - and soon to be embryos - and believed for miracles.
Got my first ever IV placed and ready to go!
Ahh, anesthesia sleep.

Post-egg-retrieval.  Excited!
We have 11 baby eggs--we are already parents!  Thankful to God.

Mid-June 2013:  We get another Call.  Out of our 11 eggs, 10 fertilized with the sperm.  But after a few days, when the embryologist watches them intensely for the optimal window for freezing, only 3 survived.  THREE.  With heavy, heavy hearts we accepted this news.  It seemed like there was only disappointment for us.  We head to Disneyland for  MUCH needed vacation.
June 29th:  We return from Disney to a letter in the mail from the embryologist telling us his opinions on what to do next, and that our three little embryos were ranked sub-optimally.  Mind you, this was communicated through check boxes and short sentences.  NOT the way you want to be told that it was recommended to do this all over again or use donor sperm.
July 2013:  We meet with the fertility doctor again to go over our options.  Our hearts are still heavy and confused.  Our doctor says that in his opinion, we should move forward with transferring the embryos into my womb and seeing what happens.  Instead of transferring the recommended 2, he suggested transferring all 3, since ours weren't very strong.  This doctor is very smart and loves to calculate statistics when you see him, and somehow he gave us a 52% chance of getting pregnant with one baby after this.  We decided to throw chance out the window and believe God.  So again, I start another round of shots and pills to prepare my uterus for the transferring of embryos in August.

August 8, 2013:  Our 4 year anniversary and Transfer Day!  
I texted this pic to my mom and sis, saying,
"Do I look like a mommy?" before heading out.
We both got to "suit up" because Andy got to be there
with me when our babies were transferred.
We were both present for their conception!
August 17, 2013:  My blood test was in a few days, and we were told to not do any home pregnancy tests because you can get a false negative, but I woke up this morning and couldn't stand waiting anymore.  Before Andy woke up, I took this test... and woke him up by shoving it in his face!

Pure JOY

We had already planned to go up to Flagstaff for the day to spend time together praying, worshipping, and trusting God for the days to come.  I really wanted to just know that we were pregnant when we did this, haha.  We found a sweet spot in the woods (wanted to find green grass, but the inclement weather prevented us) and laid out a blanket and worshipped and prayed.  We were still in shock and disbelief... and with our history of things not going as we planned, we were somewhat tentative in being too excited, but we were nonetheless.
We have a baby in there :)

August 19, 2013:  I went in for my blood test to find out if we were pregnant--although we already knew :)  We didn't tell ANYONE about this date because we wanted it to be a surprise.
Of course, I get the wonderful news when the nurse calls me at work a few hours later.  PURE BLISS.

Over the next 2 weeks, I go in for 3 more blood tests to make sure my HcG levels (pregnancy hormone) were rising appropriately.   Well, mine were more than doubling, they were tripling.  This was our first inkling that maybe God answered our prayer for twins.

These three little embryos turned into...

Trials and testing prove there's gold.

God is not haphazard or negligent.  He has a plan and purpose for everything He does.
This past year and a half has tried and tested us, but I am convinced more than ever before that
He satisfies my soul.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11

After all that, we are now counting down the weeks to welcoming two baby boys into our hearts and home.  I will NEVER forget the faithfulness of God in our story.  They will grow up knowing that they were longed for, fought for, prayed for, and loved before they even had a heartbeat.  


  1. Wow, Emily! Thank you for sharing such a touching story. I can only imagine how intensely confusing that must have been. I think of a line Andy shared this summer in a message that with every promise comes a process and every process comes with provision. How true that was-and is--for you both. I'm so happy for you and it was amazing to read about God's faithfulness. I can't wait to see the babies (via social media of course) and I'll be praying for you in these last couple months of pregnancy! Miss you, sweet Emily!

  2. Em, thanks for sharing love. You are beautiful. I love you.