Facing Infertility Head On
As I type this I sit joyfully and faithfully on the other side of this story. Today I am a blessed mother of three healthy, incredible children, but my journey to motherhood was far from easy. In fact, it was the toughest struggle I’ve ever faced. I fought a 3-year battle with infertility that challenged the essence of my existence. It brought into question my identity, my purpose on this planet. It tore open like a raw wound my viability as a woman and as a wife. And it shook my seemingly unwavering optimism in a way I had not previously nor since experienced. But along the way I grew in faith and learned hard-fought life lessons. This is my story.
The Start of My Infertility Story
At 26 years old I was a healthy, fit, happy wife. Fred and I had been together 4 years and married for 1. I was beyond excited for the next phase of life and felt mentally and emotionally ready for children. As a fitness devotee and avid runner my body fat was very low, and my cycle had become increasingly irregular. Always the optimist I was sure I would be fine. Once I decided I was ready to have a child I pursued pregnancy with a single-mindedness which was my nature.
Mind Games of Infertility
After 6 months of trying fear began to replace excitement. What was wrong with me? After 12 months of disappointment we decided to see a specialist. If something was indeed wrong I wanted to get to the heart of the matter. The doctor was confident we would succeed. I took his optimism and tried to make it my own. Testing began and continued for many months, but nothing was found. Without a “reason” I felt even more “at fault”.
Well-meaning friends offered what they thought was caring advice, “Just relax and it’ll happen”…words which cut like a knife into my soul. Could my overwhelming desire to become a mother, my sheer focus be the cause of my failure? That is exactly what I felt like: a failure. Standing at the doorway of the most important role of my life I was failing before I had even entered. It was my fault, if only I could relax. Was my enthusiasm for motherhood sabotaging my chances? The mind games were endless and debilitating.
I never had specific career goals growing up. Even with 6 years of college and a Master’s Degree under my belt I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. What I had dreamed of my entire life was becoming a mother. This was my dream which came from deep within my being. The thought of not being a mother was unbearable. I fought on.
Infertility: The Lonliest Fight
Battling infertility I felt incredibly alone, separate from the rest of the world. It was as if life was happening all around me, but I was on the outside observing. I suffered in silence, fighting for courage, strength, and stamina to endure month after disappointing month. Friends welcomed babies and had second babies while I waited to discover my fate. Would I be waiting forever? I was in a holding pattern of life, circling endlessly while the rest of the world continued without me.
This condition, this nameless undiagosed mystery defined me and yet it could not be defined. Friends struggled to ease my worry as they saw my faded joy. Their efforts only magnified their lack of understanding. I sank further into a distant isolation where my pain kept me company.
Letting Go of Control: A Lesson In Faith
For the first time in my life sheer effort on my part was not enough. I realized no matter how much I believed I was master of my own destiny I had reached my limitations. I was not in control. God was. I had grown up in church and had a love for God, but I was in charge. Up until that point in my life I was doing pretty well on my own and had put God into a tidy corner of my life. He was far from center stage. But, all of a sudden, He had my attention.
I knew He was calling me, not so subtly saying, “Julie, I made you, and love you and want you to put me at the center of your life. Julie, nothing happens without my ordainment or my will. You cannot do life without me. I am in charge, and it is my will not yours that decides.” He brought me to the brink of despair and depression in an effort to get my attention. There I was, at His feet…. All things for a reason…. all things for His purpose.
As prayers replaced sleepless worry my confidence grew. Our next step was diagnostic surgery, still looking to find root causes for our infertility. Waking up from the laparoscopy and hysterosalpingogram I’ll never forget the words of my wonderful doctor, “Here’s the girl with the perfect pelvis!” I was at once relieved and dismayed. There was still no diagnosis. Without a reason how could I be “fixed”?
I had been on Clomid for months. This is the least invasive treatment possible and all fingers and toes were crossed that it might work. After 6 months Jodie and Fred came home from work to find me hiding out in a closet…convinced they were plotting against me; that was the end of our Clomid trial.
Next: Financial Obstacles
The next treatment would be much more invasive and very expensive, human hormone therapy. Fred heard the price per month and said no, not unless I could figure out how to get our insurance to cover it. Now in addition to a health battle I didn’t understand I had a new war to wage: against our insurance.
I went to work, absolutely determined to figure out a way. God gave me courage to not give up, to fight through the nagging depression as months turned to years. Two and a half years had passed, 30 months of disappointment, a seemingly endless cycle of failure.
But God sent me an angel in the form of a young woman named Jennifer. She worked in human resources at Fred’s company. I had never met her. She was in the company’s headquarters in California, and I was in Chicago. We talked several times a week for months as she made it her goal to get our insurance to pay for my treatments. I felt like it was a long shot. But nothing is impossible when God is in charge.
I remember the call when Jennifer said we were approved. It was amazing. I was so grateful, and most importantly, hopeful. In a war you take faith in winning your battles one by one. This was a turning-point victory in my war.
The End of My Infertility Battle
Month 35: our first month of therapy: no success. Month 36: our second month of therapy: We were driving to Columbus, OH from Chicago to visit Fred’s family. My nurse called me while we were in terrible rush hour traffic trying to get out of the city. Fred was driving. My nurse asked me if I was sitting down. I was annoyed, just tell me! Get it over with. I can handle disappointment. “You. Are. Pregnant!!!!!!!!”
Waves of relief and pain washed away as tears poured down my face. Overcome with emotion, unable to speak, I could only cry. I cried so hard I scared poor Fred. Fred fought the traffic and silently worried about my state of mind. He didn’t know I was crying tears of joy. He assumed I was distraught from more disappointment. When I finally explained he smiled but cautioned, “OK, but don’t get too happy. We still have to make it through the pregnancy.”
Of course this was true, but God spoke to my heart right then, right there. He told me, “Julie, this has been your struggle. I will bless you now. You will not struggle again.” I knew it to the depth of my soul, and it was true.
I delivered 3 perfect children never experiencing the slightest infertility struggle again, just as God had assured me.
God Was Testing and Preparing Me
During my infertility battle I grew in my relationship with God. I grew in patience and maturity. I had thought I was ready to devote myself to motherhood. God tested my devotion: How badly did I want to become a mother? How much was I willing to commit? Did I know what being a good mother would entail? It would take every ounce I had to give and more. It would take patience I didn’t yet possess. God knew I needed more testing before I was truly ready….ready to be the mother He designed me to be.
20 years later God called me again to Him. Read My Faith Story of how God came to me and my whole family and how He has been powerfully at work ever since.
Also, be sure not to miss one of my favorite posts, Blind Faith in God Leads to Miracles Every Time.
God Bless You On Your Journeys, Friends.
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