“You must pursue it now and you must pursue it aggressively.”
A thousand thoughts ran through my head as I sat on Dr. L’s exam table back in February. I was in her office once again because I had suspected that my endometriosis had struck back with another ovarian cyst. Ultrasound reports confirmed my suspicions. Once again I was headed to surgery.
I was weary of it all. Weary of surgeries every 8-12 months. Weary of feeling like I was going to lose my ovaries all together with each slice and dice of the knife to peel away those cysts. Weary of pain. I told Dr. L, “I think I should just get a hysterectomy. I’m so tired of having these surgeries.” But then I started to cry as the truth came out: “But I feel like I can’t have a hysterectomy until I at least try and fail IVF first.”
It turns out that hubby and I had discussed IVF a long time ago. At the time, he was willing to try it. I had done my research and had concluded that I had a 17% chance that it would work. In my opinion, the odds were just too low. I didn’t know if I could handle it emotionally if it failed. Adoption felt more certain. Sure, it may take a while. But eventually you’ll have a child. There were no such guarantees with IVF.
Dr. L gave me a rude awakening. “If you’re evening thinking of IVF, you had better pursue it now, and pursue it aggressively.” “Emily,” she told me, “Right now the only thing you have going for you is your age. If I were you I wouldn’t wait any longer.” I was dumbfounded. Completely shocked. I thought maybe we could try IVF, oh, like in five years or so. Maybe after we had adopted a couple of kids. I told Dr. L that it was complicated since we were in the process of adopting. I told her we’d think about it.
I drove home feeling depressed and confused. The truth is, I really trusted Dr. L. She’s an excellent doctor, actually so good that we haven’t switched to cheaper health insurance because it’d mean I’d have to transfer to another OB/GYN group. I knew her well enough to know that she wasn’t speaking flippantly about the IVF. But I had no idea what the right answer was. If we waited to do IVF, I might end up never getting the chance to even try. On the flip side, we could get a call to adopt a baby the next day. I prayed throughout the afternoon as I cooked up some dinner in the kitchen.
Hubby came home from work that night and did I ever drop a bombshell on him. “Dr. L says that if we’re ever going to want to do IVF, we had better do it now.” Surprisingly, hubby took a little time to think and pray about it and then announced “Let’s go for it!” For the second time that day, I was completely shocked. Hubby always takes more time to make decisions. Clearly this had been something he’d always wanted to try, I had just squashed those desires by telling him that it wouldn’t work. I felt ashamed at my actions, but the Lord gave me a second chance to get it right. “Alright,” I told him. “I’ll call our adoption agency tomorrow and find out what this means, and then I’ll get us on the schedule for IVF.
And so the IVF game began.
I went on to have surgery and the week of the surgery a miracle happened. My cyst disappeared. I still had the surgery since I was due for an endometriosis and adhesion “clean out” surgery. Besides, my doctor thought it’d be a good idea to have a fresh, clean start prior to starting IVF. Regardless, the fact that my cyst miraculously disappeared — and this kind of cyst either grows or bursts, but NEVER do they disappear on their own– kept my surgeon’s scalpel away from my ovary. I began to wonder, “Is God actually doing something here? Maybe His plan all along was for us to do IVF?” But I kept my thoughts to myself. After all, I still had IVF to get through, and I was terrified that it wouldn’t work.
The rigorous regiment for IVF came to a start in early June. The first day I started subcutaneous medications (three injections a day, in case you were wondering!) I went into the backyard to pray. I wept as I begged God to answer my prayers. I reminded Him of all the times He had answered the prayers of various barren women mentioned in the Bible. I journaled. I knew I needed to do this before continuing on this crazy IVF journey. I needed the Lord to help me through the uncertainty and through the physical toll that IVF takes on your body.
Along the way, it turned out that my body responded better to the medication than anyone could have guessed. My IVF doctor was amazed! He had given me a 20% chance of the IVF working. My ovaries were not responding like someone who had had several cysts removed from them. Also, my lab work was almost perfect. In every way my body responded well, and there were zero complications. I read other accounts of women who had stage 4 endometriosis like me whose ovaries had not responded at all. I had been terrified that this might be my story, but as it turned out, this was not the case for me. God had worked yet another miracle.
We got through the egg retrieval and then the embryo transfer on June 28th. When my doctor handed me a picture of the two clusters of human cells that was to possibly be our future babies, I cried. I wasn’t even sure if there would be any embryos to transfer and here we had two beautiful embryos, plus a few more continuing to grow in the lab. I texted all my friends and family who knew we were going through IVF and asked them to pray.
I then went on a three-day bed rest (doctor’s orders) and I was severely tested emotionally. It took a lot of discipline to not worry that the IVF had not worked. I was a wreck for an entire week. We went on a trip with my parents for the 4th of July but I was still exhausted from all the IVF meds left in my system and if I’m honest, I was overall pretty discouraged. I didn’t feel that I could get my hopes up as a way of protecting myself in case it didn’t work. My family went out and did fun things, but a lot of the time I chose to take naps on the sofa. When we got home from our trip we pulled up in the garage and I went inside and immediately took a pregnancy test. I felt like I was going to snap– I couldn’t stand the wait any longer! I just needed to be able to move forward, with whatever information the test gave me. Isaac was still unloading the car and was completely unaware of my plans to test when I ran into the garage with the test in my hand… “Look babe! It’s positive! Look at it!!! It’s POSITIVE!!” Hubby picked me up and twirled me around, he was as overjoyed as I was. We got dressed up and went out to dinner to celebrate. The Lord had worked yet another miracle in my life! My heart overflows to this day with joy!
And so this is how the pregnancy saga began, how we thought we were headed in one direction toward adoption and how the Lord re-directed us to another. We never could have guessed this would have happened. I didn’t even blog about it because I thought “This will take a lot of explaining for something that will probably come to nothing.” Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. And I am happy to have been wrong!
My heart is still for adoption, but for now things are on hold. Our agency doesn’t allow you to be pregnant and adopt at the same time. I can understand their reasoning; after all, if I were a birth mother, I’m not sure I’d pick an adoptive mom who was already expecting. I felt really conflicted about this at first, almost like we hadn’t kept our word, or hadn’t followed through somehow, even though we had never even been picked by a birth mother. We were still waiting. But then as I sat in Dr. L’s office the other day and we marveled together over the course of events and all the miracles that had taken place over the past 6 months, even Dr. L said, “This was meant to be.” And even though the path may still unfold some unexpected challenges, I believe this to be true.
I’m a little over 12 weeks pregnant today with one precious little baby. It’s so fun to get to see his or her legs kicking up a storm on ultrasound, and to see such tiny little toes. It’s an experience I never thought I’d have. We’re praising Jesus and feeling blessed.
Twelve weeks along!
Thanks for reading this extremely long blog post– 6 months is a lot of events to cover!