Here I sit on my couch marking the first day of a two week wait. A two week wait not after the IVF cycle we were geared up for, but an IUI performed this morning. I wish I could put our story in a cute, neat little box tied with the most perfect color coordinating ribbon friends, but I can’t. I wish I could wrap it up nicely for you and tell you everything worked out as planned, but I can’t. These past few days have been tough. This is also the hardest part about being so open with our story, the sticky parts, the falling short, the admission of failure, is not easy.
“Trust God, not Google”- something I told my support group last year. Not realizing then, how much I would be repeating it to myself over this past month preparing for IVF. God has been whispering everywhere I turn to trust Him. Last year’s round of treatments, I found myself researching everything. Through Dr. Google, or course. I clung to every single follicle I had each cycle and their measurements, every estrogen level, every progesterone level, you name it I knew my numbers! I would enter these numbers into Google and for hours compare my results to the results of other women posting on message boards going through fertility treatment like me. This did nothing but induce anxiety. I also had in my perfect plans we would do so many cycles, all back-to-back by a certain time before Will headed off to a work trip in Japan. When going into what would be our last IUI cycle before his big trip, I had a collapsed corpus luteum. If this was producing too much estrogen, the cycle would be canceled. Yeah, that can’t happen. God, remember about the back-to-back plan? And it didn’t because it wasn’t producing too much estrogen and we were able to move forward with the IUI. This collapsed corpus luteum threw me off my game. I could plan all of these cycles and have a perfect timeline, but I actually have absolutely no control over any of it like I think I do. My body proved that to me. God is the one who does. This is when I decided, “I’m trusting God, not Google.” I stopped Googling every single symptom. I wrote down my test results, but stopped looking them up on the internet. A huge weight of responsibility, and pressure, that I didn’t even realize I was carrying was lifted off of my shoulders. I wasn’t the one who had to be in charge. Throughout my walk with infertility I have been faced with trusting God. Not just a little bit, trusting Him with everything. You are not alone if this is tough for you. This is tough for me. It does not come naturally, or easy for me. I like to plan…everything! I like to be in control of… everything! This is an area that I still need to work on. That I will probably never be perfect in. I said it on that night at our meeting a year ago because I am the one who needed to hear it the most. I needed those words, and still need them, to help me. And when trust was discussed at my last support group, it built upon what had already been stirring in my soul. It hugged my heart and God said, “this talk on trust tonight was for you.”
Stretching. Stretching is an excellent word for what God is doing in my life right now. A few weeks ago, Beth passed around rubber bands that we all used to pull back and aim to hit any of the little targets she placed around the room. And the discussion of God stretching your trust, and your faith through infertility similar to a muscle being stretched before exercising pursued. Margo, the cutest little yoga/hunter connoisseur around, said that when we stretch our muscles, we tear our fibers ever so slightly, and they repair themselves which in turn makes them stronger. God is stretching my faith muscle, he is stretching my trust muscle right now. Like a rubber band, he is pulling me way back, and stretching me.
Monday morning, our IVF retrieval and transfer that would have been this week was cancelled. Due to low follicle response to the stimulation medication. Talk about a huge punch to the gut. Talk about ripping your heart out. At my Saturday morning ultrasound, I had four dominate follicles. The rest were not maturing. My doctor explained that if all four continued to grow, we would move forward with surgery. However, if they did not, we would not move forward. I read, or they’ve told me, I can’t remember? they like to get on average 7-10 follicles. Even though I knew going into my ultrasound appointment Monday, this was a possibility, I don’t think anything could have prepared me to hear the news. I knew when my doctor turned his back to me after the ultrasound and stood facing the counter looking over my chart, it was over. It wasn’t going to happen, there were only three mature follicles. I’m just really glad I held the tears back until I got into my car. And even more relieved that I held it together all day at work and was able to tell one of my bosses after everyone had left without crying. The second I got in my car to head home, I cried until I went to sleep that night. My doctor recommended doing an IUI on Wednesday morning.
Before the news of the past few days even took place, we hit a scary place with genetic testing. And that is when I felt my trust becoming stretched. When God started pulling back and stretching that rubber band of faith. I am a carrier of two genetic mutations. Will then had to be tested to make sure he was not a carrier of the same two. He was not. Thank you Jesus! When we found ourselves facing the reality of these genetic test results, I texted anyone I knew who had done, or was in the middle of, fertility treatment to see what their results were. And here I was, slipping back into old habits of last year. Measuring, comparing, myself to someone else. I heard God’s whisper and I told myself, “trust God, not Google.” I asked the nurse to write down what my two mutations were. I kept that Post-It in my purse and never pulled it out to do any internet searches. The company who ran the blood work also has a website that goes into detail on the results, that I did not read. I wasn’t going to panic until I knew what Will’s results were. My smart friend, Shala, (just like all of you need a Beth in your life, you also all need a Shala in your life) reminded me that God has gotten us this far, he will not leave us now. God used these two genetic mutations to strengthen my trust. And to do that, I had to give up control. Not easy. The planner in me would like a nice, neat bulletted list on how exactly to do this. He created me on purpose with these mutations. His fingerprints are all over this part of the story to remind me that I have to be completely reliant on Him. Completely trusting Him. I had to shift my focus completely on His will for us. I started to pray over and over, “God I trust you. You know the desires of my heart to be a mother, but at the end of the day God your will be done.”
Here’s the thing, this is not what I wanted. This is not the road I wanted to turn on. I am so angry with my body. Why couldn’t it just work like it was supposed to? It hurts my heart to see the little bruises left on my belly from the injections and bruises inside of my arms from having blood work done every two days as a reminder of the IVF that was supposed to happen. I just wanted to get today over with. It was hard sitting in the waiting room seeing my doctor come out in scrubs to talk to a husband whose wife just came out of retrieval. Or see the nurses in the hall wearing surgical masks and caps, knowing that was supposed to be me back there having a retrieval done too. And here I am, in there for another IUI. I want our story to be a shining example of God’s faithfulness, but what are people going to see now? I will not allow this disappointment to take away from what I know about God. Here’s what I do know, I will be okay because God is for me. God’s hand has been over us this entire time, it will not leave us now. It is still there. One day, when this is over I may look back on this part of the story and say, “girl you were being so dramatic,” but right now this is a big deal and these emotions are freshly ripped off and raw. In the middle of the muck and the mess, there is no way for me to understand what God is doing, but I know He is working on me. He is slow cooking me and man am I going to turn out to be the most delicious, tender, and juicy roast….no make that pulled pork with some Sweet Baby Rays, yum!! ready for whatever He is preparing me for. I know that my feelings and my faith are two different things. That I am turning towards God, and not away from Him. Fixing my eyes on His presence instead of my circumstances. That this struggle is making me stronger- my faith and trust muscles may be currently stretched, but they will grow back stronger. This is not over for us. This is just part of the story not the end. I am thankful for a doctor that I trust, for a husband who has held me together, for an unbelievable support system of friends and family, for the three follicles my body produced to make an IUI possible, and for a God that I can’t survive without.
Will you pray for me? Pray that my endurance is strengthened through this. Pray that my heavy heart becomes lighter. Pray that I get through Mother’s Day with a smile on my face. And thank God for our future baby.