This is a post written during my pregnancy with Madeleine that I had not gotten a chance to publish.
Many of you may know by now that we are expecting our first child. It took 698 miles, over twelve months of blood draws, over twelve months on progesterone and estrogen, nine months of Clomid, two months of Femara, two ultrasounds, one HSG, one laparascopic surgery for endometriosis, but one year, nine months, and 30 days later the Lord has answered our prayers. Baby Jobe will be with us by mid July 2018! We cannot begin to describe our gratitude and our joy. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that has brought us to this moment.
In late September of 2017, we travelled to St. Louis to see Dr. Patrick Yeung, a surgeon specializing in endometriosis. Our regular doctor, Dr. Mattingly, felt that since other treatment wasn’t working, that perhaps endometriosis was the culprit of the symptoms I was experiencing. We know I had low progesterone and estrogen, and endometriosis was the only probable cause of those and other symptoms. We were hopeful that the surgery would provide us with answers and prove to be the treatment I had needed.
We are grateful for the love and care we received while in St. Louis. Since my extended family lives there, we were able to visit with nearly everyone before the day of my surgery and stayed with one set of my grandparents. After a day of testing and exams, Dr. Yeung scheduled me for surgery. The morning of my surgery, we headed to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. I was incredibly nervous, and the stillness of the Cathedral helped me to feel more at ease. I reflected on the past week, on recieving the anointing of the sick, and on the hopes and dreams that Nicholas and I share for our family. I thought about our frustration at the lack of answers, and hoped for the best. I knew God was asking us to walk with this Cross for a reason, but sometimes it was difficult to see the blessings in the midst of the pain.
The doctors and nurses that took care of me were incredible. They put my worries at ease, making me laugh and smile when I was nervous. In between the constant parade of different persons coming into the room, Nicholas and I prayed together. I prayed holding the rosary he had made for me for our wedding. He matched this rosary to my wedding dress, and put on it the medals of all the patron saints for those desiring children. Dr. Yeung even came in before surgery to pray with us, asking that God guide his hands and that the surgery would prove fruitful.
Of what they removed, only three spots were endometriosis. After the surgery, Nicholas and I decided to take a break from all of my medications, with the exception of progesterone, for a few months. We felt a deep peace about this decision and looked forward to having some time to focus simply on enjoying each other and growing in our marriage.
I have often been told that “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Well, it was the month after my surgery, and I knew any baby we could be blessed with that month would be due in July. I told God that I was perfectly fine waiting until September or October of 2018 for a baby to come, since that would let me work over the summer more easily. The one month, I told God, that I did not want a baby to come, was July—but, of course I would still be overjoyed. I just wanted to let God know that there was no rush.
On November 8th, 2016, I saw two lines on a pregnancy test for the first time. I screamed, I sobbed, and then I calmed down enough to think that I should call the doctor. Thinking the test would be negative, I had taken it while Nick was at work, which meant I had four hours before I could tell him. These were the longest four hours of my life. I ran out to get my blood drawn, and then went to Target to buy two baby hats: one pink and one blue. I made the bed, and put these in a gift bag in our room with a card. And then I waited.
When Nicholas arrived home, I took him upstairs. As he opened the gift bag, he began to sob. That very weekend, I had seen him tear up after watching a number of small children in our parish play during mass. He told me later that he desired so much to be a father, and that infertility had been weighing on him lately. At first, he didn’t believe that it could be true, and Nick asked me, “Is this a joke?” I had to assure him that it wasn’t a joke, that I had called the doctor, and that our baby was coming in July.
Infertility has forever changed how we will view our children. We have a deep understanding that no person is entitled to a child, and that children are undeserved gifts from our Lord. It has changed how I experience pregnancy as well. I have been able to thank God for the fatigue, the nausea, the hunger, and the other symptoms I experience. I am able to view these experiences joyfully, and offer them for others carrying the cross of infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss. To those that are still struggling with infertility, you are always in our prayers and in our hearts.
Struggling with infertility has shown me just how broken I am. I frequently attempt to do things alone, without the help of others, but I have learned that this is a struggle I cannot handle by myself. When I tried to deal with this alone, it hurt Nicholas and me. Infertility has humbled me. I have learned that I am easily overwhelmed and that I am frequently inflexible. I have learned that I have issues with control; I want to be in control, but I cannot be. I must surrender and give all things to Christ. Struggling with infertility has allowed me to experience a vulnerability with my spouse and with others that I would not have otherwise known.
Now, pregnancy challenges me to let go of control. It has challenged me to rely on Nick to do more of the cooking and cleaning than I would normally let him do. It has broken down my pride and helped me to realize that I cannot do any of this alone. I do not fully understand why Christ let us carry the cross of infertility, nor do I fully understand the timing of his answer to our prayers. I do know, however, that our journey with infertility is not over, in a way. I have learned that I cannot plan the future, and that it is possible that we will struggle with infertility again after our first child comes. Earlier in pregnancy, I was very worried about the possibility of miscarriage. Through these crosses, Christ has called Nicholas and me into a deeper trust. We cannot know the plans the Lord has in mind for us, but I do know that they are plans for good.
For although the journey has been difficult and sometimes painful, there have always been moments of immense joy. We have prayed, and the Lord has answered our prayers. We look forward to welcoming Baby Jobe into our arms, and teaching him or her that truly, nothing is impossible with God.
During the next few weeks, I will be publishing some pieces reflecting on infertility that I had intended to publish earlier, but was unable to do so due to technical issues. I still hope to take the time to make Visitation Bible Study a reality, as it is a project close to my heart. Over the next few months, I will be expanding the topics covered in my blog to reflect the broader experiences we have had with infertility and pregnancy.