2020: A Year to Rejoice

rejoiceI’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a few months now… but I wasn’t ready. My heart was not ready. But with the start of a new year, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to share.

In August 2018, Jason and I decided that we would prayerfully consider starting a family the next year, in August 2019. We prayed and talked with our families and close friends about our exciting decision. We prepared by talking to all of my doctors and getting the “okay” from everyone, which we did. We tested Jason for the CF gene to make sure we wouldn’t pass CF on to our child. Jason is negative for the gene, thankfully.

I also talked with other women with CF who have been pregnant to get their advice on how to prepare, what questions to ask, and how to best conceive. If you didn’t know, men with CF are infertile. Women, however, may be able to conceive. Actually, my physician assistant told me I may not have any trouble at all. But the truth is, women with CF can have a harder time conceiving due to thick cervical mucus-just like the rest of our mucus is thick in our body. If a woman wants to conceive, it’s best for her cervical mucus to be thin and slippery. So obviously, we do not have the ideal conditions. Not only that, but poor weight/ weight gain and malnutrition can make it difficult as well. Plus, we can have the same issues conceiving as women without CF. But, I had hope.

I met with a high-risk OBGYN for a pre-conception consult (recommended to me by a woman with CF), which went very well and he also gave me the green light. And before you ask, YES, I can be pregnant with a feeding tube! I worked hard to gain weight and got to my goal weight of 115 pounds that my doctor recommended.

Finally, August 2019 rolled around. However, Jason and I ultimately decided to wait one more month, so that if we got pregnant right away, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a substitute for school, which would be stressful for me.

September 2019 came, and we felt at peace about our decision to start a family. My health was good, and there seemed to be no barriers. It was an exciting month!

Late September, I ended up making an appointment with my gynecologist due to having spotting and bleeding outside of my period, which was very abnormal for me. I had been on birth control for three years before stopping in April 2019 to prepare to conceive, so we knew this could be the cause. However, my doctor wanted to run some additional tests, just to be safe.

So the following week, I completed a transvaginal ultrasound (sounds fun, right?) and some blood work to test my progesterone levels. Progesterone levels must be tested on day 21 of a cycle to see if you ovulate.

The transvaginal ultrasound revealed a cyst on my left ovary, the size of a small orange. My progesterone levels came back as 1.12-they must be greater than 5 for me to ovulate. So it was determined that I have infertility, as I do not ovulate. I was heartbroken.

I was at work at the UMC Cancer Center when I found out, and immediately had to find a single-person bathroom so I could cry. I called Jason and told him before I called my mom. I spent the rest of the day in tears and praying that God would show me the positive side. The next few days, I mourned and asked God, “Why me?” I’ve asked him this before, several times, when going through a trial. I told God that it wasn’t fair. I already had CF, which made life difficult, but now this?! I had not expected to have any difficulty getting pregnant. We felt at peace and just assumed we wouldn’t have any issues.

I spent time reading the word, specifically, the book of Psalms, to gain understanding and encouragement from the Lord. I spoke to close friends and family that I knew I could trust to pray for Jason and I through this difficult time. I also spoke to a select few that have experienced or were going through the same thing that I was, which helped to make infertility not feel so isolating. But every day, I prayed that God would give us a baby.

We met with a fertility specialist not long after the diagnosis to discuss options. He told us that first, we would start with a fertility drug known as Clomid, to help me ovulate. It would be taken orally on days 3-7 of my cycle. I would then need to get labs done on day 21 to see if my progesterone levels increased, which would prove the clomid worked. If the progesterone levels were >5, then I would take a pregnancy test on day 32 of my cycle. If it was negative, or if my progesterone levels were less than 5, then I would have to get a shot of progesterone to initiate my period and, only if my progesterone levels were still low, I would re-start clomid at a higher dose on the next cycle. My doctor said that most women get pregnant on clomid within 4 months. I was so excited and hopeful! He told us of other possible tests we may have to have if we weren’t pregnant within 4 months. He also mentioned that he is not worried about the cyst as it will likely go away on its own.

After leaving that day, I thanked God for the first time. I recognized that so many couples try to conceive for months, even years before they receive an infertility diagnosis. But we went only one month. That is a HUGE blessing! The Lord knows I am the most impatient person on this planet and it would have driven me crazy to go that long without knowing. But many couples experience that-some I even know personally.

Month one on clomid was disappointing. My progesterone levels came back at .41-even lower than before going on clomid! I couldn’t believe it. The nurse that I talked to said it was uncommon for progesterone levels to go down, but said we would just increase the dose next month. My heart sank a little, but knew I wanted to press on.

Last month in November, month two on clomid, was a little less disappointing. My progesterone levels came back as .91-higher than October, but still less than my initial test. I just finished taking my third month’s dose of clomid, and will have my progesterone levels drawn on Monday, January 13th.

The truth is, I’m keeping my expectations low. I don’t want to be continually disappointed. I want to be able to find out the results, and if they aren’t ideal, then I can move past it and press on. I’ve been struggling with truly trusting the Lord and believing in His promises. But again, I’ve been reading through Psalms with a college girl that I mentor, and it has been so encouraging during this difficult season of my life.

I’ve read time and time again that God sees me and knows me, and He will deliver me. I read several times where David was crying out to God to save him from his trials and hard circumstances-trials that were a lot scarier than mine, might I add! And every time that David cried out to God, he ended his prayer with thanksgiving and rejoicing in who God was/is. He trusted God to hear him and deliver him. I asked myself if I trusted God in this way, and there were many times that I wanted to say “yes”, but I knew deep down that I didn’t really trust Him completely. So I became persistent with my time with the Lord and in prayer.

More recently, our church, Redeemer Church in Lubbock, announced we would be starting a church-wide Bible reading plan. This actually started yesterday, and will continue throughout the year. The plan is to read through the New Testament. So yesterday, Jason and I read through Luke 1.

Verses 5-25 of Luke 1 tell us about how the birth of John the Baptist was foretold. Zechariah and Elizabeth were older and Elizabeth was barren. This story sounds familiar to Abraham and Sarah’s…another reminder that we are not alone in our trials. Zechariah was told that he and Elizabeth would have a son, and they would name him John. But Zechariah responded in disbelief and he questioned the angel Gabriel that gave him this news. Because of Zechariah’s response, he was made mute until the birth of his son. Two of the key verses for me here, are verses 13 and 14, “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,” (emphasis added).

I cried as I read the commentary in my ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible, “This historical story addresses key heart issues. It is a story of human suffering and sadness, coming from the brokenness of infertility. Like Sarah and Abraham of old, Zechariah and Elizabeth are advanced in age but without children, even though they were righteous followers of God. This barrenness is a deep sadness for them and is even viewed as a reproach (an expression of disapproval or disappointment). Yet from the bird’s eye perspective that we are given, we learn that even in the midst of this decades-long trial for two godly people, God is working out a perfect plan of grace. He is using this couple’s barrenness and brokenness to show forth his miraculous power and to witness to the world that his final plan of redemption is now at hand in Jesus Christ. The story of this couple’s suffering turned to joy reminds us that in the pain of our own trials, our limited perspective is not able to grasp the good plans that our kind God is perfecting for us. We are called by this story to renew our active trust in God’s will, even through our veil of tears.” (emphasis added).

If you’re going through something similar, I know that brought tears to your eyes as it did mine. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me, and knew God was asking me to renew my trust in Him and His timing. I have seen God’s faithfulness throughout my entire life. He has never failed me. Why would He fail me now?

I don’t know how long we will suffer with infertility. It could be decades-long like Zechariah and Elizabeth; it could be forever. Or, our suffering could be turned to joy in just a few months. But no matter what, I must trust in God’s way and in His timing. I know that His plans are so much better than mine ever could be.

If you remember from when Jason and I were engaged, I actually wrote a blog post announcing that we wouldn’t have biological children, but would likely foster/adopt. We still have hopes of doing that in our future. It’s possible, that it may be in our near future. Jason and I recently started the process of fostering/adopting with an agency in Lubbock, and we are SO excited. We have started the trainings and are slowly working through paper work. We are not in any rush.

Does this mean that we have given up hope on conceiving? Absolutely not. We are continuing with clomid and other tests until the Lord closes those doors for us. But we are pursuing fostering/adoption because we know the Lord has called us to this ministry. We would like to be able to do both, should the Lord allow us to do so.

My word for the year 2019 was contentment, and I feel confident that the Lord has pushed me so much and allowed me to grow in contentment in all aspects of my life. I’m ending the year content with where the Lord has Jason and I in our journey of starting a family.

As I was prayerfully considering my word for the new year 2020, the Lord brought to my attention that thanking Him in all situations was difficult for me. It took time for me to thank Him. So this year, my word is R E J O I C E. Recall verse 14 of Luke chapter 1 with me, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth”.

I don’t know if the Lord will allow me to carry a baby in my womb. But I trust that God will give Jason and I a child in His timing and in His own way. And I rejoice, knowing God has a plan for us.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” Psalm 5:11

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:34

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ” Romans 5:3-5

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. “1 Peter 1:6&7

Each of these verses has brought me hope and has reminded me of my purpose on earth-to glorify my heavenly Father through all that I go through, good or bad. My hope is that you are reminded of this same purpose. No matter your trial, the Lord has a plan for you and your life. We may not be able to see it now, but we don’t need to. We just need to trust in our mighty and powerful Lord and Savior. I’m not sure what I would do without the hope, joy and peace He gives me when I seek Him.

Now that I’ve shared my biggest trial of 2019, I want to share a few things that I have learned.

  1. Show Up-I’m not the only one that has infertility. It is also possible to have children, and still have infertility. There are likely many women that you know that are going through something similar. It wasn’t until I opened up about my struggles that others sought me out and shared their stories with me (and I am so grateful to each of you). If someone you know is going through this and shares it with you-be their friend. Don’t offer advice. Don’t tell them to “just relax and it will happen”. Just be there. Ask them what they need. Pray for them-better yet, pray right there with them! And even after they have opened up, continue to check on them and love them. Infertility is lonely, and it’s easy to forget, because we continue to live our lives.
  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It-Especially when someone you know is suffering, don’t be afraid to bring it up, unless they ask you not to. I wanted my friends to ask me how things were going, but over time, those questions stopped and I felt forgotten. I was reminded that the Lord does not forget, but it’s nice to have friends that aren’t afraid to speak up and love you well. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell them you don’t know. Just being there makes all the difference.
  3. Everyone’s Story is Different-not all stories are the same. I found out about our infertility after just one month of trying. But like I mentioned earlier, many couples find out much later. Some never even receive a true cause of their infertility, which can make it really hard to understand why and how to treat it.
  4. Listen and Love Well-Imagine if you were going through something similar-how would you want people to love you? What is that person’s love language? Can you bring them coffee or a gift? Can you schedule some quality time together? Maybe you just show up when they ask and cry or pray with them. Learn how they receive love and give it. Don’t forget to listen to them and don’t assume how they are feeling. Don’t correct their feelings or tell them not to feel a certain way.
  5. Allow Them to Mourn-I wanted to desperately find the bright side of a hard situation, and while it is important to do that, some of the best advice I got from a couple of sweet friends was to give myself permission to mourn. I allowed myself to feel sad and heartbroken, but then I reminded myself of God’s promises and sought to find what I could be thankful for.
  6. Don’t Forget About the Spouse-many people automatically seek out the woman who is experiencing infertility, but we forget to check on her spouse. Infertility affects them as well. They likely want to start a family just as much as she does. They may hide their emotions better than she does, but they need you too.

If you’ve made it through this far, you are a champ and I am so thankful for your time! It’s hard to share things like this and make it public, but I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will use this post to remind you of who our God is and that He is always in control. Let’s be honest…I wish I was in control, but I am always reminded that I am forever grateful I’m not. I hope that you too, will press into the Lord and find refuge in His wings. He is a solid Rock for us that can provide unshakeable joy. I hope that we can all REJOICE in that truth.

4 thoughts on “2020: A Year to Rejoice

    • I would encourage you to actively pursue fostering or adopting a child. We gave up on that about age 35 in order to continue pursuing first financial gain and next the Lord. The Lord has blessed me with ministry to many of His kids through the years but as we age we begin to realize how nice it would be to have children to be near us in this senior stage of life and to love on them in their stages of life. Of course, we also look around and see others experiencing heartache and disappointment because of their children. LIFE! We simply trust the Lord has brought us this far and He has a plan for us as long as we remain faithful. He was in control when we found we could not have children and He is in control now as we face old age without children. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your journey.

      • That is great advice-thank you! We definitely plan to continue to pursue fostering/adopting and we are excited about seeing where the Lord leads us! Thank you for your prayers as well 🙂

Leave a Reply to Mary Jennings Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s