** Today’s post is not a short post because I am sharing a story with you, my story, our story of redemption, God’s faithfulness and miracles. I felt if I condensed it down to just the ending I was not giving the accurate picture of how God met me through the years and how His healing took place over years of crying and pleading with Him. I wrestled with putting my heart out there so transparently, but at the end of the day this is not about me and my story, this is God’s story and HIS work in and through me. I won’t deny the days and years have been very long but standing here looking back I taste the sweetness of honey after what seemed like a bitter season. I learned as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “when I am weak then I am strong.”
I know it is long, I hope you read it in its entirety. 🙂 **
Early evening on a Friday night he came home from work and swept me out the door to an early dinner at Red Robin after weeks of being trapped inside our fourth floor condo. After what feels like an eternity of living off Jamba Juice smoothies I could not wait to order warm steak fries and my favorite burger. There we sat in one of those cozy red booths, recounting the details of where we have been and where our future is headed. With the hustle and bustle of the Friday night frenzy buzzing around us, big tears welled up and I began to cry. There were no other words I could find within me to express how overwhelmed I was at God’s faithfulness in that moment. It was the first time we sat and traced where we have come in almost 6 years and pieces that were once fuzzy visions came forth with great clarity. We walked together, journeying on, believing God was writing a story that we didn’t understand fully and there in the restaurant as we pieced together the string of moments where God met us along the way I could not believe this was our story. Year after year, living in faith, sitting in the wait while clinging desperately to hope, led us to this moment, the moment we celebrated the miracles he had given.
It was the spring of 2012 and we were coming out of some heartbreak, many many failed fertility treatments, empty wallets and defeated hearts. I was standing in our home when I clearly felt this phrase come over me. It was one of those moments I was pretty sure it was God “speaking” to me. I didn’t know what to do with what I heard. It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was audible in my soul. I grabbed my journal and penned the phrase I heard, “as we celebrate the miracle birth of Jesus in December, you will celebrate your miracle in December.” Over and over I prayed for God to give me clarity and discernment and the more I prayed the more I felt peace that this was from him. I chose in faith to tell 3 people at the time, one of them Branden.
The more I knew this was from God the more confused I actually became when over 2 years this did not occur. I began questioning what I heard, I began feeling stupid for telling those 3 people, but I still held it before God asking what this meant. I had to choose to trust him even though I looked foolish for such claim and in that claim I found comfort in Abraham. Abraham, 75 years old hears a promise from God that he would have a son and 25 years later, he finally had Isaac. I was struggling with 2 years lapsing and doubting God, I can’t imagine 25 years of clinging to a promise and not feeling somewhat crazy.
In the meantime, I continued to journey through the grind of infertility. There was a hard season in 2013 where we were walking through some big life changes and the darkness of defeat and depression were entangling us in these hard moments. It was November of 2013 and I was home alone for the weekend while Branden traveled for work. Usually when Branden travels I don’t go to church alone. That morning I felt this heavy prompting that I needed to go, and I told God no 🙂 I ran to the airport to drop off a friend and then spent the day planning my evening out with my friend. By noon I began feeling the Spirit just stirring me that I needed to go to church. I kept kicking to the side pretending I did not really need to go. By the afternoon my palms are sweaty and it was evident that God was asking me to be obedient and come to church (alone) and in faith. I called my friend, told her I had to cancel because I had to go to church and off I went. Little did I know God was going to meet me in a big way and it would be through his people. I really felt a stirring in my heart that I needed to get prayed over. I walked into the prayer room after the evening service and shared with 2 of the elders, that I was here to ask for healing, because God has asked me to come and I want so desperately to be healed. I walked away that night changed. I can’t tell you how, but it altered the trajectory of my faith. The burdens I was carrying were freed, I felt emotionally healed, yet I also believe it was a prayer of healing that foreshadowed the year to come. That night God released me to walk in victory the days ahead even in the continued suffering I would endure.
A few short months following this encounter my sweet Aunt would move in with me where she would soon battle for her health and ultimately lose her life unexpectedly. In a tragic turn of events her body failed quickly and her life was gone from earth. It left me broken and in deep mourning as she was not only my aunt, but my cheerleader, my close friend and confidant. With family in and out of my house for weeks I had decided that I wouldn’t attend the annual Women’s night of prayer at our church. I was tired from all the crying, exhausted from grieving, and also from a house full of guests. Yet again God showed up and altered my plans 🙂 Just days before the event a stirring began happening and once again knew God was asking me to go and stay awake for the whole entire night to be in prayer. The last thing I wanted to do was give up sleep, it was the only thing keeping me from a total meltdown. But I went, I went in faith and believing God wanted me to bring my impossible prayer with me. With a group of sweet women gathered around me they prayed and pleaded that I may get to experience the opportunity to have children and grow our family. I left that night once again filled with hope and believing God was healing me.
Through the Spring of 2014 Branden and I felt led to pursue a new doctor from a smaller clinic in Portland, one who loves Jesus and sees the value of life as we do. I was scared and nervous because I had told God I would never do IVF. And here I was doing the one thing I swore I would ever do. But I laughed, because when I tell God never it usually doesn’t go my way. So we moved forward, experiencing peace to pursue this new endeavor. I remember sitting high above Portland in the Dr. office as he looked us straight in the eye and said, I can’t make you pregnant, only God is the author of life. I can only help assist your body but it is God who decides. In that moment I knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be and that God was going before us in this journey. By the end of meeting he concluded that we were able to move forward and pursue IVF in August. We walked away knowing we had to provide a lot of money to pursue this dream and we felt confident that this was the journey for us. We knew this was risky, it was a lot of money and a lot of faith. We went out in faith asking God to show us more of him through this. And sure enough, just as all the money was due upfront in August God provided so graciously for us through the provision of Branden’s job.
The day I wrote the check I drove down to the clinic crying the whole way because I was so scared. Trusting God in faith is not easy, it is flat out scary and that morning I was scared of all the what-ifs. What if people judge me? What if it doesn’t work? What if we lose all this money? Yet all along the way God continued to carry me, to assure me, to fill me more faith.
By September of 2014 I was in full swing of shots and living at the doctors every day. My life was consumed with appointments and poking myself with needles. I thought I would come to dread this whole process. What I found however, was that this process actually became an altar of worship to the Creator of life. The more the doctor educated me and shared how life begins the more I would stand in awe praising God. Thinking about every little detail he created and designed to bring forth life is overwhelming. Each appointment I walked away being reminded how small I am and how creative and intricate God’s design of human life truly is. I would often utter the words of the psalmist,
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, high God– you are breathtaking! Body and soul I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration–what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know EXACTLY how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.”
Through the process of IVF it never crossed my mind things wouldn’t go as planned, however late into the process I had a complication that became very painful and made me very sick. It can be common but by no means easy. Because of this complication it altered our original game plan we had come up with throwing me into panic over what was the right thing to choose. After hours with our doctor and trying to heal my body we made the decision that we would move forward with transferring one embryo into me and freeze the others for later. In late September we transferred one precious embryo believing I would become pregnant.
Days later the call came,
On the other line the doctor shared the news, that I was, in fact, NOT pregnant.
What? How can this be?
This was not the line I expected to hear. I’ve heard no for almost 6 years, today was supposed to be the day I finally heard good news.
But in a blur of emotions I heard his voice flashback to several months ago in his office saying, “I can not make you pregnant, it is up to God.”
There on the edge of the bed I sat frozen. No tears shed because the shock was too great.
I never expected this result.
But hope began to rise. In defeat the fight welled up. This is not over.
A few days later I asked the Doctor when we could try a transfer again and he said November, as we know he runs his cycles every other month this made sense. November it was. A few days later I received a call stating they made changes due to holidays and they were moving me to December.
I sat there frozen on the phone.
After I hung up I ran to my pile of journals and started digging for the Spring of 2012.
There on my bedroom floor I began reading that phrase that I felt was given to me a couple years back,
“As we celebrate the miracle birth of Jesus in December, you will celebrate your miracle in December.
Could it be Lord? Did you really ordain this all?
There is no way we could have planned this out and orchestrated these events. When we started this process with the Doctor in the summer I had grieved and let go that December would ever have any meaning to me. I had resolved that any month would be a gift and to be thankful, whenever that would be.
Though the loss of September still burned I began clinging and proclaiming this was our time. This was what he meant all those years when I felt him whisper a promise. I was not crazy after all. 🙂
Our friends and family spent the fall battling in prayer for us that we would see God’s healing in our life. People came alongside of us and loved us and offered their time and love to contend for life for these two embryos. I never stopped praying and fighting for these embryo’s lives, because God, the author of life, is the one who breathes his Spirit into every clump of cells that becomes life. He creates the heartbeat, just like Adam in Genesis when God bent down in the dust of the ground and with a lump of dirt, breathed the spirit into that dirt and brought forth life. I marvel at the sheer miracle of God’s power and design. With confidence and boldness I pleaded for the gift of life for my embryos.
On Sunday, December 7th, we chose to transfer 2, grade B embryos. By medical standards these were not ideal grade embryos for working and considered a lower percentage of becoming pregnant, but as a young girl recently said, “God doesn’t make grade B babies.” There in quiet hours of the early morning the Doctor stood over us and prayed and pleaded to the Author of life to breathe his breath into these embryos. It was a beautiful moment of worship I will never forget.
8 days later, on December 15th the promise God gave me years ago was fulfilled when I received the call, I was pregnant. In December we celebrated the gift of Jesus coming to earth to rescue his people and we also celebrated another miracle, the miracle of finally being pregnant. Now the question was, one or two?
Before we ever started IVF, names were impressed upon my heart as whispers from God. When the IVF process began Branden and I prayed intentionally by name for these girls in faith. While there was no guarantee of twins, I believed these names were gifts and I was to pray by name for the girls I did not yet have. I could have had 2 boys or a boy and girl, or only one baby, but when the doctor called me and said, Congratulations you’re having two girls I burst into tears and proclaimed, “yes I know”, and instantly yelled their names out.
It has been a journey, a journey that has been hard yet filled with moments of sweetness. I can’t believe I get to announce my miracle girls, Brooklyn and Eliana will be arriving this summer.
Baby A is Brooklyn, which means water or stream.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
This was my verse, year after year, to believe one day God would do something new, that he would bring a baby Brooklyn into our desert of infertility.
Baby B is Eliana אֶלִיעַנָה, it is Hebrew and means My God has answered me.
EL- God ANA- answered
Looking back over the six years in the journey of infertility I can now see with clarity that God was writing a detailed story that I could never write for myself. So often life felt like a dense fog that I could only navigate one step at a time. His story of redemption was weaving through every intricate detail of my life when I could not see it. It has been a journey of faith and suffering, but in this suffering I changed. My relationship with God became an intimate bond where I cling to his Word as my daily breathe of air. He met me in the darkest moments and whispered hope into my weary bones. At times I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, but then He would give me a vision, a prayer of healing, or an encouraging word from a friend and it would propel me to another season. In 6 years of waiting, I learned what it looks like to truly pray, to pray like the psalmist with questions and sorrow. I learned to knock until my knuckles bleed and until the tears ran dry. Through tears and grief I learned how to live this life on earth with boldness, perseverance with hope in joy and in sorrow.
To every person who has joined us prayer for these girls, thank you. I believe that 6 years of prayer made the difference. There is not a magic formula to healing. We don’t understand the timing of it all, but I know God asks us to pray, to approach his throne with confidence, and never give up. Every prayer, big or small, was part of this story. Thank you, thank you for loving us and praying for us. To those I will never know who said a prayer on our behalf, these girls are a gift because you prayed for us.
“For God to be glorified, sometimes means first allowing something unpleasant to transpire…we can trust God, and if we do trust him he might take us on a long and difficult road, but it’s only to bless us the more in the long run. Can it be God allows us to go through things specifically so that we have an opportunity to trust him and then to see him do something we wouldn’t have expected, something beautiful and extraordinary that wouldn’t have been possible if we had our prayers answered when and how we wanted them to be answered?” // Eric Metaxas // Miracles
This a snapshot from my journal back in the early fall of this year…words I wrote before I ever knew I would become pregnant with twin girls.
This is our 5 day old embryos….I still can’t wrap my mind around this is how life starts!
11 week old ultrasound