Infertility After a Miracle Baby

It has been awhile, friends! This has been a year of ups and downs and change and MOVING and backsteps and growth. I haven’t had two seconds to sit down and write or maybe I haven’t felt like I was ready quite yet to write again. Then I realized this week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and it was almost like God was saying okay, it’s time. It’s time to share again.

I have been so thankful to have people tell me that reading through my blog posts of our infertility journey has helped them through theirs. That’s all I can ask for, that our story, my words, can make someone feel a little less alone as they travel through the rocky roads of infertility.  So even if it’s hard to share sometimes, even if it feels like I’m laying exposed on an operating table to be this vulnerable, I know I need to. I know I’m called to. 

When we had Zeke, our amazing miracle IVF boy, I kept telling myself and believing that we would be the people that go through infertility, go through IVF, and then have a spontaneous pregnancy. That the next leg of the journey would not be so hard, that we had learned what we needed to learn. I believed it so deeply. So now, a year into naturally trying, like really trying (when you deal infertility, you don’t ever really NOT try) it feels confusing and harsh and like a road I still don’t really know how to navigate because I had told myself it wouldn’t be a road we would walk down again.

Infertility the second time around. Infertility after an IVF pregnancy. Secondary infertility. Whatever you want to call it. It is not easy to talk about. You feel this obligation to make sure everyone knows how thankful you are for your miracle child, for the baby that God blessed you with. You know the pain that it is to long for the feeling of a baby inside of you, just one time. So how can I be sad, how can I talk about this pain and not be neglecting all the woman who just want to make it to where I am? 

I think I am slowly learning that everyone has their hard. That your hard does not take away from anyone else’s’ hard. That your pain and your story do not cover up or push away anyone else’s’ pain. I have realized that the pain of mourning the idea of what we thought our family was going to look like is just as real now as it was the first time around. I have realized that the desire of wanting a baby inside of me is just as real now as it was the first time around. I have realized that walking the road of infertility never gets easier, you never get good at it. I am re-learning everything again that I thought I already knew. 

But, in the midst of it all, I hear God whispering to me. I see God sitting in a boat with me. I see a storm raging, and I see the peace on His face as I sit there across from Him.  I feel a fear, a fear of knowing that this could last a long time. That I could be in this storm for a long time. A fear of having to feel this pain for a long time. I don’t want to feel this pain. But God still sits there, in that boat, in that storm, and looks at me and says, “I am here” in the middle of the chaos, in the middle of the pain, “I am here.” I am bigger than your fear. I am bigger than your pain. I am learning, slowly, but still learning that God wants to be with me in the middle of the storm. He doesn’t have an answer for me yet about when this pain will end or what our family will look like or how it will grow, but he knows He wants me to be with him in that boat in the middle of it all. I am learning that growth doesn’t just come at the end of the storm. Most of it, in fact, does not. It comes in the middle, in the pain, in the looking up and calling out. It comes in the sitting still and knowing that He is God and His plans are GOOD. 

So I ask this, that you be with me in this storm too. I wasn’t so sure I wanted that. I really wasn’t. I wanted to keep it quiet, keep it just to a few people, but I think it’s because I didn’t want to speak it out, to write it out, because it feels real and that timeline feels endless and the outcome feels more unknown. BUT TRUST. With vulnerability comes trust in God and trust in something that I cannot control. 

I also ask that if you are dealing with infertility after a baby that maybe you see that it’s okay to feel the pain, it’s okay to speak it out loud, it’s okay to ask for help and for prayers. I hope you feel not alone.

And if you are walking through any infertility or ANY storm, that you can close your eyes and see God in that boat with you. That you can decide day after day to be with Him in the midst of it all. 

“When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2


Year One

Haley Warford Photography

Year one. Well that flew by! I can’t believe my squishy, sleepy 9lb 2oz baby is now a wild big boy that I am getting closer and closer to having to call a toddler. I want him to stop growing but at the same time am loving seeing his personality blossom.  It’s so fun to see this tiny human come alive. 

This year has been filled with so many memories.  I think back on natural birth with him and am in awe of my body.  In awe that I was able to finally grow him and then bring him into this world by listening to that body.  That body that I have now worked hard to get back into shape but also feed red wine and coconut milk ice cream to occasionally (balance). And that body that still nourishes a growing boy. Our bodies are amazing.  More and more I am blown away by how God intricately put our systems together and made our bodies to function.  It breaks my heart that sometimes this dirty world breaks our bodies from doing what they were meant to do. But I have hope knowing that one day we will be perfect for eternity, just how we were intended to be. 

From first smiles and coo’s to first rolls and steps, it has been an adventure. An adventure that I didn’t know if I would get to have or when I would get to have it.  A year of sleepless nights as we let Zeke figure out this sleeping thing at his own pace.  A year of nursing on demand whenever this hungry boy wanted it.  A year of continually adding more baby proofing necessities so that the wild child didn’t crack his head open.  A year of watching him fall in love with his doggies and all the doggies of the world.  A year of stresses and worries but also blessings and comforts.  A year of learning how to do this marriage thing with a brand new plus one.  A year of lost friendships and new friendships.  A year of navigating how to seek the Father in times of actual chaos. A year of growing into the momma and parents that we know we are supposed to be and developing complete confidence in our decisions.  A year of finding my identity as a mom and a boss lady and most importantly in Christ. A year of tears and laughter in multitudes. A year that I would never ever change a second of, not the highs or the lows.

Each day I become more and more sure of the woman that God has intended me to be.  The mom that God has intended me to be. The wife that God has intended me to be.  The friend that God has intended me to be.  I have learned that this world tries to tell you the way that things have to go or the way that you have to be, but it is ultimately your choice.  It is your choice what you bring into your home, into your family, into your bodies. No one else’s.  God is growing my confidence, God is growing my faith – always growing always changing and always anxious for what the next day holds. 

But also very content sitting in this spot, writing with a cozy blanket, as I watch Zeke snooze away next to me.  Enjoying this moment right here, right now because I know I will blink and the next year will be gone.  New memories to cherish, new lessons learned, new roads to walk down.  For now I’m going to stay right here and soak it all in. 

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:18-19

In This Moment

It has been too long, friends! Life with a little one is wild and non-stop but so fun and sweet. Zeke is 9 months old, and I cannot even believe it. It has gone by way too quickly! He is mobile, like extremely mobile. He is walking along everything and wanting so badly to walk on his own. He is a becoming such a big boy.

Over time I have started thinking about what desiring for baby #2 will look like. There is such fear that creeps in whenever I think about it. The fear of the unknown. The fear of the pain. The fear of wanting so badly but not receiving. Why has God put it in my heart to desire a big family if that cannot be the reality? The doubt won’t stop screaming in my ears. Why does infertility try so hard to steal the hope?

But wait. That is all wrong. Which brings me to my biggest struggle as a mother so far. No, not the poopy diapers or the sleepless nights. No, not the loads of laundry or the teething baby. It’s the struggle to figure out what my relationship on a day to day looks like with Jesus while I have a little baby that depends on me every moment of those days. With a job that I work from home every moment that little baby is asleep. Which I have to confess is usually on top of me because home boy is not a huge fan of sleeping anywhere else. As I saw the fear and the doubt constantly pressing down on me, I realized I had to figure that out. But I also realized that it doesn’t have to look like what it looked like before and that’s exactly what I was caught up on. No, I probably won’t get an uninterrupted hour and half in the mornings right now to read and journal my prayers and sit and stare at God. No, I probably won’t get to sit in silence and meditate on his word for countless minutes. But maybe I can pray out loud to him every time I’m in the car. Maybe I can make it a priority to meet with my sister’s in Christ to read an Advent book. Maybe I can talk to Zeke about Jesus while we play. Just because it can’t look like what it looked like before doesn’t mean it has to stop. Because that’s where Satan works. He works in those spots where we feel defeated and alone. He works in those spots where we have lost the confidence in who we are. He works in the moments of exhaustion that are void of Christ.

So as the first day of Advent talked about Jesus being the light, I too want to remember that I am a light. A light for him. I am a light. Cole and I together are lights. Cole, Zeke, and I as a family are lights. So how does God want to use us right here, right now. Not next year when we think about baby #2, not next week when we have bills to pay, not even tomorrow when we go to work. But literally right now in this moment. I have come to realize that I have to stop always looking to the next thing before this moment is over. This moment is where God wants me. This moment is where God needs me. There is no fear in this moment. There is no doubt in this moment. There is hope in this moment. And when I realize that, when I remember that, then I can remember there is hope in every next moment. And there is work he has for me and for us in every next moment.

So I have started praying in the car and talking to Zeke about Jesus like he knows everything I’m saying. I have started sharing about the oils that change our lives and give me confidence slowly but surely as I dig deep into what God is doing with me there. I have started making it a priority to get Cole and I back on the praying together train. And I am now making it a priority to be in this moment and trust God in this moment and every moment after. Because what else matters really?

I have missed you, I have missed this. But just as I have had to figure out what time with Jesus looks like, I have had to figure out what time writing looks like. I’m figuring it out, friends, slowly but surely. Sincerely, a new momma.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Mathew 6:31-34

A Bittersweet Mother’s Day

Blooming Infertile Soil - A Bittersweet Mother's Day

Aairy Images

It’s the time for the weekend that can bring joy to so many but hurt to so many others. A day that should only uplift but over time has become more and more likely to cause someone to spiral down. A day that last year and the year before and so on caused me sadness and frustration. So how do I turn around and experience only the joy?

It’s the weirdest thing being on this side of infertility. It’s like I’m out of it but still in it. It will always be a piece of me, and it may very well rear its ugly head again in the future. I know the heart of those that will be full of misery on Mother’s Day. The heart of the woman who goes to church and has to mentally plug her ears to not let the words hit so hard. The woman who tries her best to stay away from social media for the day to not see all the praise for others and the hard job it is to be a mother. Well yes, and I would take that job in a heartbeat, she says. The woman who wants to badly to fully and joyfully celebrate her own mother without feeling the sadness of wanting to be able to do what she has done. The woman who internally struggles and says why does it have to be this way? Not only why can’t I be a mother, but also why can’t my longing be set aside for just this one day? Why can’t my mind just let me set it down and pick it up later?

So here I am now with my baby in my arms sleeping away as I write this. I want this first Mother’s Day to be special so badly, but I also don’t know how to feel. Infertility leaves burns and scars and side effects behind in its path, and this just happens to be one of them. I want to be able to fully praise my Father on Mother’s Day for what he has given me without still feeling the hurt that so many other women I know and don’t know are facing. But the reality is that it’s there, it’s out there, probably even in your church with you or in your neighborhood down the street. So how, how do you celebrate the joy but be conscious of those struggling?

I have learned even over these short two months so far that motherhood is hard. It is so, so wonderful, but it is hard. It isn’t all sunshines and rainbows. There is worry (constantly sometimes). There is tiredness. There is chores undone and laundry piled up. Yes, it is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, but I have come to realize more now that mothers do deserve to be celebrated. I know some of you are saying, but I would give anything to be one! I know, I know. That’s the hard part. I wish it wasn’t this way, I wish there wasn’t a struggle for so many, but it doesn’t mean mothers aren’t still mothers. It doesn’t mean that we should be saddened by mothers because we want to be one. Because its not their fault. Many of them hope and pray everyday for just that for everyone in the struggle. Many mothers love and pray over those that are struggling each day to fight the battle of infertility. So I guess what I’m saying it that the sadness of infertility and the joy and celebration of motherhood shouldn’t be seen side by side. I know that sounds crazy, but we can’t look at it that way. They are separate. They are not the same. We can walk the path of infertility and still celebrate mothers and motherhood. Because one day whether that be from your own womb or surrogacy or adoption or foster care or peace (etc) all you struggling will want to celebrate the motherhood.

Now did I do this well before Zeke came along? Did I mirror this idea? NO. I was saddened and struggled to be joyful for others. I get it, I so get it. I’m not saying in anyway that it will be easy. In fact, it will probably be really, really hard. But I think if you can fill yourself up with the hope that our God has given us and grasp onto his plan for your life and trust that it is absolutely perfect, even for just one day, you can find some form of peace. I think if we step outside of ourselves and set down the idol of motherhood in our own life and be truly happy for those around us, we can find a day of contentment that would often be full of sorrow and missed experiences. I think you will find that you don’t have to subject yourself to sadness on Mother’s Day like I so strongly thought I did. Every day is precious, and I see that with new eyes now. God wants you to lean on him every day, not just the days that it are easy to lean in, even the days that you want to curl up in a ball and just sit in your misery. Even those days. We are ALL his children, all his masterpieces, no matter if we are in the trenches of infertility or not. I think you will f

So I’m going to try to find joy on Mother’s Day and know that I can’t go back and do it differently but all I can do is walk forward now. And all of you in the valleys this year, hoping and praying for a baby of your own, I feel for you, I know your heart. And as much as I wrote everything above, know that God has grace through it all. He has grace on each negative thought you think or emotion you feel. He has you in his arms. And in the end, I know the struggle is real.

And to all you mothers, you rock! You give all of yourselves everyday, whether you came to it through infertility or superstar fertility or birth mommas who just weren’t ready. You all deserve celebrated for growing those babies, birthing those babies, accepting those babies, and loving on those babies with everything you have.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.”

Genesis 21:1-2

Zeke’s Birth Story

Blooming Infertile Soil - Zeke's Birth Story

Daisyhead Photography

I am so excited to be able to share my birth story with all of you. An experience I wasn’t sure I would ever have to share. From infertility to pregnancy to birth to parenthood, the temptation to let fear take over never really goes away it just changes shape and form. Birth is viewed by so many as something to fear. Oh, how it should not be this way! Yes, it comes with pain, but it also comes with joy and excitement and strength. It is amazing what our bodies can do. I did the best I could to go into this birth with a mind void of fear and a spirit encouraged by God’s very specific and intricate creation.

So it all began on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018. I was 40 weeks and 3 days along at this point. Prodromal labor, false labor, early labor, whatever you want to call it, that’s what it was, but it felt real. I had been taking long walks with the doggies and my sister Christina all week. The contractions began on Saturday after a long walk just like that (Cole and Jessi joined us too this time). Christina and Jessi had gone home, and I told Cole that I was feeling what I think were real contractions. I headed upstairs and got into a warm bath and texted with my doula (my sweet best friend, Lindsay). The contractions continued coming but were not consistent in duration or separation. Lindsay made her way to Lafayette and by about 10 P.M. her, Cole, and I decided it was going to be a long night. Cole napped a little bit preparing for when I would really need him and Lindsay kept me calm while giving me homeopathic remedies to help with anxiety and progression of labor. The contractions got stronger and closer, and by about 2 or 3 A.M., we called the midwife and headed to the hospital. I could tell by the time we got there that the contractions were not as consistent again. They hooked me up to the monitors, and one of my wonderful midwives Sharon checked me. I was 3 cm dilated, about 80 to 90% effaced, but baby boy was just not in the right position to fully engage. This was what was keeping labor from coming on strong. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart, but we decided to go home and get some rest. So home we went, now 5 A.M. and got in bed not knowing if sleep would be able to take over me or not. Thankfully I didn’t open my eyes again until about 10:30 or 11 A.M. on that Sunday morning. My contractions had slowed down quite a bit, so real labor was not happening yet. Lindsay made her way back home, and we parted with the hope that she would soon be back.

So, that Sunday, March 4th, 2018, I began trying different things to get little man into a better position. I stretched my hips side to side with lunges, bounced/rolled on a ball, and took another walk. It was on the ball at 4:30 P.M. that my water broke. Let me tell you, your water breaking is the oddest feeling. I truly thought I just peed my pants at first but quickly came to realize that I wasn’t just continuing to pee my pants and that the liquid was in fact not pee. I knew this started me on somewhat of a clock to be able to deliver naturally at the hospital. I got in the tub again and took a shower, trying to help the contractions come on. I even used my pump to help speed up labor. Cole was right there with me, very attentive to what I needed and conscious of the timing and my mood. I knew my contractions needed to be stronger than the night before to progress labor, and I was determined to tough it out at home as long as I could. Lindsay headed back to Lafayette around 9 P.M., and I quickly came to realize that I needed to go to the hospital.

The contractions had intensified a lot and were consistently about 3 minutes apart. Lindsay met us at the hospital, and we made our way in to meet another one of my great midwives Amanda who let me know I was now 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and baby was in 0 station which means he was engaged and right where he needed to be! Baby and I were monitored for a bit and then I was free to roam the halls and room and labor as I wanted. Walking the halls didn’t last long because everything was intensifying, so I decided to get in the shower. I let the water fall over me, and Cole sat on a stool next to the shower. Every time a contraction came, I would press down into his hands and take deep breaths and then go back to letting the hot water relax my body. We were there for a long while. It felt good to labor there. Finally we got out, and I decided to get checked to see if I could get into the tub. Two things: 1, I HATED getting checked. I didn’t even get checked for the first time until my 40 week appointment and then every time they asked about checking me while in labor, I was super hesitant because it is just NOT comfortable. 2, I wanted to deliver in the tub, that had been my hope for awhile, but I knew that anything could happen once I was in labor. So I begrudgingly let Amanda check me again, and I had only gotten to 5 cm. I labored for awhile on the bed and standing up holding onto Cole until I thought I was a little more ready for the tub. Cole did anything and everything I needed him to. He was quiet because he could tell that’s what I wanted, and he was there to hold me or not hold me depending on what I needed. It was about 2 A.M. when I got in the tub. Cole got in and sat behind me, and Lindsay sat outside the tub in front of me. I know I was in the tub for about 4 hours, but time was so weird at that point. I was either leaning into Cole and squeezing his hands or up on my knees squeezing Lindsay’s hands. Apparently Cole was struggling not to fall asleep, and Lindsay’s hands were turning purple, but I was completely unaware of all of this, haha. It got to the point that my contractions were almost constant in the tub, but I still wasn’t ready to push. I knew I needed to get out and be somewhere else to labor, a new position and new environment for my body. At this point (6 A.M.), the midwives were switching shifts, and I was at my breaking point. I was at the place of going into transition, and boy, that was mentally hard. I felt like I was just completely done. I was asking for drugs or anything even though I knew it’s not what I wanted. Thankfully I had the best support system who pushed me through it, especially since I had gotten to 9 cm and was already almost 15 hours in.

The most awesome thing happened as the midwives were changing, it reminded me that God was present in each moment. I loved all my midwives, but I had a particularly special connection with one, Sherah. We both have walked or are walking the road of infertility and have similar views on many things, and my mind and body just felt especially comfortable in her care. She wasn’t on call, there would have been no reason for her to be there. However, God came in and knew just what both of us needed. Someone else went into labor that morning and was in the care of the midwives as well. Sherah got called in to help and walked right into my room. She sat on the bed next to me and rubbed my back and along with Cole and Lindsay kept telling me how much I could do this. Even though at the time I couldn’t express it, I was in awe of what was happening. Those next 3.5 hours were tough. I didn’t want to open my legs and let baby boy move down because it just darn hurt. We went back to the shower and then standing and then on my hands and knees and sides. The pushing phase lasted about 3 or so hours, and at some point a switch went off in me that told me I had to do this. I had to see this little guy, and it had to happen soon! My hope to have a quiet and serene birthing experience kind of went out the window as I let my George of the Jungle (or Yodeler – both examples were used) voice out. The fetal ejection reflex is real people! I practiced spontaneous pushing, not coached, and waited for each next contraction to push again. Baby boys head was having a very hard time coming out. He first had to get passed the cervical lip and then it was my pelvic bone that he just didn’t want to go past. Sherah finally convinced me to try getting on the birthing stool. I hadn’t even considered ever birthing on the stool. The idea was kind of foreign to me because it wasn’t in my “plan”. Right on that stool is where I spent the rest of my time trying to get little man out. Cole behind me, Sherah on the ground right in front of me, and Lindsay next to me. I’m pretty sure I almost pulled Sherah’s hair out during each push. She forgave me! The nurses also forgave me because I hated them each time they wanted to check baby’s heartbeat quickly from the outside. Really girl, do you see what’s happening right now? We laughed about it later. So first his head was a bit stuck. It took a lot of pushes to get him past my pelvic bone. In between pushes, Sherah would help stretch me, but I kept getting mad at her for having her hands inside of me because it hurt! Haha. I wanted a break from the contractions, and her hands weren’t helping. Although I knew what she was doing was doing loads of help for me actually. She was helping my body not to tear. I knew when I did finally get his head past my pelvic bone because I felt that ring of fire. He finally crowned, and his head came out after a couple calmer pushes. This is where things got even more intense. His shoulders got stuck and just wouldn’t come out. Sherah immediately told me to turn over, lean into Cole, and push. It was the oddest feeling as he was dangling out of me. Sherah reach inside of me with both her hands and shifted his shoulders as I pushed. It was a crazy and surreal two minutes, but then just like that, it was all over! Zeke had entered the world at 9:30 A.M. on March 5th, and we were in complete awe.

I held him as his cord continued to pulse and started memorizing every bit of him. He squeezed Cole’s finger and let out his first cries. He even started trying to latch which he did within the first hour. He was a champ. Cole cut the cord eventually after it had finished pulsing, and I delivered the placenta. Although, just like Zeke, that placenta did not want to come out! I lost quite a bit of blood at the end, almost too much, but thankfully it began to slow down, and thankfully I didn’t need any stitches! Woah, that was truly a miracle. Thanks to Sherah’s hands inside of me for that. After things calmed down a bit, we weighed Mr. Zeke and measured him. We realized by looking at all his squish and rolls that he was much larger than we thought he would be. He was a big 9lbs 2oz and 20.5 inches long. So much chunky goodness. We were overcome with love.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. Labor and giving birth were hard and painful but also so miraculous and beautiful. I am so thankful for the experience and will never ever forget it. It was the experience that officially made me a mother and seeing Zeke for the first time I wish I could do over and over again. Although now I just get to watch him grow everyday which is pretty great too.

To all of you that think you are never going to get the chance to write this story for your own sweet bundle, you will.  In one form or another, you will write that story.  Hold onto hope, my friends.

I can’t wait to keep sharing as we see what life has in store for us. As Zeke grows and as our family grows in one way or another, I want to keep writing it out. Yes, it isn’t as easy to write with a newborn, but I’m going to start trying to make it more of a priority.   Jesus has brought such sweet things to our life, especially Mr. Zeke, and each day holds more unexpected and beautiful from him. I’m just jumping on this ride and holding on tight!

Are You Ready?

Blooming Infertile Soil - Are You Ready?

So it has gotten to the point now when I get that question. The “Are you just so ready for baby to be out ?” question. Anytime I complain about the tiniest discomfort or mention a side effect. Or just when I say that I’m nearing 35 weeks pregnant. This, my friends, is a hard question for me.

Am I ready to meet this sweet little guy? Of course! Am I ready to see what life is like with him in this world? Yes! Am I ready to see Cole be a dad and soak in all the new experiences? Definitely! But it’s just not that simple. Pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows (or unicorns and rainbows as Cole prefers), but it is miraculous and beautiful and something that I wasn’t sure I would get to experience. It is also something I don’t know if I will get to experience again. So even as I get a little bit more uncomfortable, it is hard for me to say that I am ready for this phase or this season to be over. I want to remember and cherish each day and not rush any of it.

Now, I’m not throwing out miracles or forgetting that God does big things. I have such hope that he will grant us another sweet baby in my womb, but we just don’t know. I’m getting used to the unknown. The unknown is many, many things. It’s full of fear but also full of hope. It’s crippling but also freeing. It’s ugly and beautiful.

Something I learned through the infertility wait and am still learning now is that God can find you in the unknown. That place where you kneel before him and accept that you don’t know what is to come and that you’re ready and willing to experience him in the meantime. He works there and brings up things you wouldn’t imagine. So I’m trying to be willing to enter this next season with that mindset. A mindset that is not fearful of the unknown but excited to see what can happen and what will happen. Excited to see what God wants to bring up, what he wants to teach me and show me. That as I step into a new phase of infertility, on the other side but not, that there will be goodness there. That there will be great joy and growth there.

So, I’m excited. I’m excited for what is to come. I’m excited for this miracle baby that is so close to being here (WHAT?!). I’m excited to see how God continues to grow our family as the years go by because I know he will. And I know he will do it in the best way possible and the best timing possible, like he already has. I’m excited for Cole and I (and baby Johnson – whose name will be revealed when his face is J) to ride this rollercoaster of life all together and not forget that God follows through on his promises.

So I’m going to take a snap shot of each day I have left of this pregnancy. I’m going to soak up every new stretch mark and backache and shortness of breath. All the weird and beautiful symptoms. I’m going to keep being in awe of what the human body can do, how God originally created a woman’s body to grow a human in such an amazing way. I’m going to revel in what is happening inside of me as I feel each kick.

Next time you hear from me, it might be a birth story. A blog post I didn’t know if I would ever get to write and that will probably bring the sweetest tears to my eyes to type out for all of you. To you who are still in the wait for a baby or for a job or for a spouse or for anything, just in a season of waiting, stay strong and stay hopeful, cling to the Lord’s voice and his story for you because one day you will be writing that birth story blog post, and you will be filled with awe at how you got there. And it will be so, so worth it.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14

The Weight of the World

Blooming Infertile Soil - The Weight of the World

Daisyhead Photography

It feels so good to be sitting down and writing to all of you again. I’m pretty sure I can barely remember my name nowadays, let alone remember how to write a functioning sentence. No, just kidding. I really just write as God puts things on my heart and so I have been waiting and listening for him to stir up something blog worthy. He has, people, he has!

First, let me tell you baby boy is doing well. He is growing and moving and kicking, and we can’t wait to meet him. My midwives recently told me that they have delivered a lot of early IVF babies, like 37 weeks. So my mindset has officially changed. He could be here anytime in February. That’s SO SOON! It still doesn’t feel real half the time.

So recently a friend and fellow pregnant future-momma was talking about weight gain in pregnancy and asked if I had gained anything, and I sat there and the most unexpected swell of emotions took place. I had honestly no idea if I had gained weight or what amount I had gained. I know there is now a much larger belly there but that’s all I knew! I realized that I hadn’t looked at a scale, not even the ones at my appointments, the whole darn time.

Let’s rewind – I may have mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I have struggled with my weight for a while. I don’t really know when it began. I can’t put a date on it or anything, but I do know that it grew and transformed and took up a lot of my thoughts and emotions for years. I have never been a small girl. Freshman year in high school I was probably my heaviest, and that’s when I really remember starting to focus on it. I did Weight Watchers with my mom and lost weight my sophomore year, but then it just fluctuated the rest of high school, and I was constantly conscious of lack of attention from guys and the way that I felt about myself. As college rolled around, it was a part of many things that I was working through. I got to a point where I had become obsessive about every little thing I put in my mouth, constantly regretting and questioning if I had eaten too much. Being at the gym or running outside or doing any sort of work out became a must every single day. If I took a break or took a day off, the anxiety was unreal. I remember realizing that my weight and working out had become an idol in my life, set way above time with my Lord. I knew I didn’t want it to be that way, but it’s like the thoughts just wouldn’t stop. I prayed constantly that God would just take it away, that he would take away the thoughts and that I could be done with it once and for all. I remember dear friends constantly praying sweet words over me and asking for God’s peace in my life. I remember tears of pain and heartache and the feeling of not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Cole became a beautiful form of Jesus in my life. He loved me and had patience with me as I struggled. He never got angry with me or annoyed that I couldn’t get over it. He mourned for how I was feeling and prayed and loved on me that it would be taken away for good.

Now, I can’t tell you the specific day that it all changed or the moment that the Lord took the thoughts away, but he genuinely healed me. He healed me from that pain and constant nagging. And it truly was a miraculous change. Yes, of course I still have moments, but it is nothing compared to before. God really came in and said you have been faithful and you have seeked me and I am here, give me your pain. Because the whole time I knew no one on this earth could heal me from the pain, it was a place where God had the beautiful opportunity to work.

I am constantly in this place of realizing new ways that the Lord used our infertility journey to grow us and shape us. As I sat there texting back the friend, I was overwhelmed with yet another way that God was (and is) sovereign in our lives as we went down this road. The joy that took place as we started walking in his plan instead of our own. I don’t know what pregnancy would have been like if I was still constantly fighting mental battles about my weight and food and exercising. I can’t imagine what it would be like to speak life into my future kiddos’ lives as I couldn’t speak life into my own. God knew I needed time, he knew I needed to be able to see my beauty before I could show my children their beauty. He knew that as Cole was patient with me through my pain, he would learn to be patient with our kids’ pain.

So now I try my hardest to put God first, and the rest follows from that. I still eat healthy and work out, but it doesn’t consume me. I want to pass on good habits to my kids, but I never ever want them to doubt their worth or their beauty or anything like that. I never want them to doubt what they look like in the eyes of their Father.

Recently, God has been bringing up sweet verses to me about how he sees me and how he does and actually enjoys looking at me. That I am his wonderful creation, me. That I can rest in the fact that he sees me, that even as I sit back and lack extravagance of any sort, that he still seems in the quiet and mundane and finds beauty in me there.

“My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14

This morning at church a phrase was brought up. The Lord is ALWAYS victorious. YES, you guys! No matter what this world brings our way, no matter the pain we endure, no matter the valleys and pits we have to travel through, our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS victorious.

6 Things That Infertility & IVF Taught Me

Blooming Infertile Soil - 6 Things That Infertility & IVF Taught Me

Beth Wilson Photography

I have had all this time now to reflect back on our IVF and infertility journey. The ups and down and goods and bads. I came up with 6 specific things that God taught me along the way, and I thought hey, I’m going to share that with you guys. Really I think this can speak into anyone’s individual journey through the depths of a valley, it doesn’t just have to be IVF or even infertility. Truths and lessons come out of any season of bitter cold, you just have to open your eyes and heart to take them in.

First.   I learned that fear is in us. It is real and strong and overwhelming and irrational and clingy. I learned that it is hard to shake and hard to get over on our own. Fear comes in and makes us believe a truth that may not even be there, makes us give our thoughts over to possibilities that may not even take shape. Fear doesn’t care how it ruins our day. But most importantly, I had to learn that fear is most definitely not from the Lord. As fear came in waves, I had to learn to turn my eyes to my Father. The conqueror of fear, not the giver of fear.

Second. Prayer is powerful. Prayer can take away fear, prayer can calm hearts, pray can heal. Prayer can do more than our little minds even understand. We have the opportunity to talk directly to God. He hears us, he listens to us, he wants to talk with us. And when you have an army of people praying over you and for you, God hears that loud and clear. The power of prayer can work deep into the cracks of our hearts and into the depths of our souls. I want to keep my days running with the energy I feel from convening in the quiet moments with God. I want that sweet power to fuel me.

Third. This brings me to number three: God works miracles. No, it isn’t something he just did in the Bible. It isn’t something he hung up the towel on or decided to take a break with. He still works miracles today, all the time. We just have to open our ears and eyes and be present in them. When my hcg numbers were so low and hope was almost non-existent inside of me, I asked so many people to be doing that powerful thing called prayer, and God answered with a miracle. He answered by raising my numbers and growing this beautiful baby boy inside of me. He created the miracle of life and brought beauty out of ashes.

Fourth. IVF can really take away the joys of pregnancy. Yes, I am sure every pregnancy comes with its share of scares and anxieties and I am not downplaying that, but IVF and infertility can do its own little thing to your heart. You go from pregnancy being something not real or tangible, not possible, something that had become merely science and numbers, and suddenly it becomes a real life thing going on inside of you. A tiny fetal pole then finally a beating heart and then growth, and your heart and your mind don’t know when or how to break down that wall that is disconnecting you from feeling the closeness of life with your new baby. When is it time to truly feel the joy of this life? When is it safe to give into what is happening inside of me? Back to that powerful thing called prayer I had to go. I needed God to take away the lies and fill me with truth. It took time to settle in, and there are still times that it feels like I am living someone else’s life, but I’m not. This is the miracle that God has given us.

Fifth. Adoption. Through our journey of infertility, God poured onto our hearts about adoption. When I was little, I always talked about adopting a little child from Africa. As I grew older, the dreams slipped from my head, but God held onto them. I remember reading Sara Hagerty’s book Every Bitter Thing is Sweet one night as I took a bath and had extended time with the Lord and the immense and overwhelming feelings of peace and trust that rushed over me as I felt God opening my eyes to what he had for us. And the emotions continued as I brought that story to Cole, and he spilled the truth that God had been speaking adoption into his heart as well. We have always dreamed of a big family, and as infertility began to plague us, I had started to believe that it was no longer an option for us. But instead God spoke to us that he would grow our family his own special way, internationally, domestically, right here inside of me; kids that look like us and kids that don’t; kids with our color of skin and kids with different colored skin. Our family will be a picture of his kingdom, and the joy that brings me is more than I can even explain.

Sixth. God’s plan is the best plan. I have always prayed this and spoke it over my life, but it has become more than just words. It has become a bold and obvious reality. What I had thought up for my life is nothing compared to what he has. No, I didn’t dream of infertility, but God used it in his plan to grow Cole and I closer to him and closer to each other and give us vision for what he wants instead of what we want. I don’t know how he will shape the rest of this life he has for us. I don’t know what adoption will look like for us, how money will be provided for it, when it will take place, but I know I can trust him to bring about what he wants and what he desires. I know he will hold us and take care of us as we are bound to enter new valleys and dark seasons. And I now have this anticipation of what he is going to teach me next. I now have this desire to not have as many expectations and to live more freely in his grace and love. I will continue praying over my life that God’s plan is the best plan.

I’m sure IVF and infertility taught me more than 6 things. I’m sure it taught me a billion things, but if I wrote all of those things down, we could be here a long time.   So these 6 are what I leave you with and what I will specifically hold near and dear to my heart. I pray with all of me that you can have the ability to see goodness in the midst of bitterness in your own journeys, and I pray that I can remember these truths myself as I walk into new valleys of darkness.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

The Greatest Joy

Blooming Infertile Soil - The Greatest Joy

Beth Wilson Photography

Let me first tell you that all is well. The baby is doing well, and I’m doing well other than the usual pesky pregnancy symptoms. I will take them!   Nothing has happened so far to increase my anxiety over this pregnancy.   Heartbeat is strong, appointments have gone well, and nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.   Tomorrow marks 17 weeks.

So we are…happy! Happy for this miracle growing inside of me. Happy for this time to grow our marriage even more before another human comes along. Happy for no complications. Happy for pregnancy symptoms. Happy for baby clothes and baby items.

But, I have realized something this past week. My happiness over these past 17 weeks has been for the most part situational and materialistic in a sense. I have been happy about the baby and about life post IVF (because UGH IVF, am I right?!). I have been happy for no more shots and happy for less sorrow. I have been happy for easier days (for the most part) and good conversations of the future.   I have been happy about things, things that could change in an instant. But what have I forgotten? Who got us here, who brought all these things about, who put us in a place where we can now experience this happiness.

Why is it that it is so easy in seasons of heartache and struggle to seek our Heavenly Father. That we can easily cry out to him day after day after day and hold onto him so tightly. We see our need for him so clearly, and each harder day just makes it more evident. So we cling and we dig deeper, and we learn to trust. But then BAM, something really good happens, and you enter a new season. You praise God during this transition and are so aware of the shift and of his goodness, but as time goes on that changes. The happiness of the earthly settles in, and we are content. But not the contentment I have always so longed for, the kind that is found in Jesus and Jesus alone during the hard AND easy, but the contentment that comes from this world. Our need for him is distant. It’s a thought that takes more effort to bring about in these seasons.

So pray with me, pray for me, pray for yourselves to find Jesus in the times of happiness. And more ultimately to find your biggest and greatest JOY in what he has done. Not just what he has done in this season or last season but what he did on that cross to make ALL seasons worth living and possible to live through. That kind of joy is the kind of joy that I want to seep through every crack of my being and every aspect of my life. I want that joy to be the joy that lights me up and shines the brightest to people around me. Yes, I’m pregnant and in a miraculous way, but more importantly JESUS IS MY SAVIOR! That will never change, that will never let me down, that will never be a hard truth to hold onto.   That joy is never-ending, never-changing. It is constant. A constant that we all need to cling to in the bad AND in the good, during challenges AND during miracles.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:8-9

Life Past the Embryo Transfer

Blooming Infertile Soil - Life Past the Embryo Transfer

Beth Wilson Photography

On June 13th, 2017, one beautiful embryo made from my egg and Cole’s sperm was transferred into my body. It was quite the experience because you have to have a completely full bladder then they press on your stomach as they do the procedure. NOT comfortable but SO worth it. This day will forever be stuck in my memory as it’s the day this life began to burrow in and make itself at home to grow and thrive.

Then came the 10 days of waiting and not being able to do much of anything. I wrote a post about this wait, but you guys, it felt like 10 centuries!! This was one of the most emotionally draining parts of the whole journey. Did it work, did it not, do we have to start all over again? So, I decided to take an at home test, which is actually strongly not advised, but I just couldn’t handle not knowing anything. The second line was so so so faint, like squint your eyes and cock your head to the side kind of faint. It didn’t change much as the days went on, and on the day of my first blood test my HCG came back at 21. A measly 21. If you know anything about HCG or have been in the fertility world at all, that is very low. Basically in a normal cycle where someone is trying to conceive, HCG levels between 15 and 25 mean maybe you’re pregnant. I was devastated and convinced that it just hadn’t worked. Everything came swooping into my head from the money we would need to continue to the more months of strain on me physically and mentally and the sadness that Cole was processing through as well. But I took a moment to breathe and realized all that we could do was pray. That was our only option because ultimately, God can do anything.   This baby is here because of him and him alone. He is a miracle worker. So I texted all my small group girls and some other friends and said please, please pray that this number at least doubles in the next couple days! I went in for that next blood test feeling less than positive and trying so hard to trust in whatever God had in store. My HCG that day? 73!!!! Yes, you’re correct, that is more than triple the first number!! The shock and excitement and hope can not even be explained. The doctor wanted one more blood test two days later, and it came back at 274!! All I can say is that prayer works, God moves, miracles happen. I am so thankful that he pushed me to dig deep into him again and be put in a place like many times before where my only option was to trust in him. There was nothing more I could do, it was completely in his hands. I don’t know why I would ever want it any other way. He teaches me over and over again what it means to surrender control to him, and every single time it is hard, but every single time it is also so darn worth it.

A week later, we got to peak in and see what was going on inside of me. This ultrasound confirmed an intra-uterine pregnancy and showed a sac with a teen tiny fetal pole inside. No heart beat yet, so there came another week of waiting and hoping and praying. Week 7 brought with it the most beautiful sound. We could see and hear the strong heartbeat of our baby. What?! It didn’t feel real and some days it still doesn’t feel real. I told the doctor that I was sorry I wasn’t crying, but my body for some reason just cannot happy cry! The Lord knows I can all other kinds of cry. Cole proceeded to say he would be the crier for this one. Two weeks later and the baby had grown, and the heartbeat was still strong. At 9 weeks we graduated from our fertility doctor, and at 10 weeks I finally got to stop my injections and artificial hormones. My sore booty is SO thankful for this one.

Last week I got to see the midwives at the hospital for the first time as a pregnant lady, and it was surreal. I have realized that, as crazy as it sounds, infertility and IVF can strip the joy out of becoming pregnant. I know you’re thinking, well that doesn’t make sense, but let me try to explain. I am, yes, finally starting to feel the joy that I should, but in the beginning it was so unreal, so not tangible, something that you never thought you could get. Settling into it doesn’t feel right or safe or okay. I couldn’t even say the phrase I’m pregnant until probably 10 weeks. But I want to steal that joy back. I want to remember what a miracle this baby is and not waste anymore days in fear of this going away or not being real because today, right now, it is so real. I am thankful every minute for this miracle and the way that God chose to bring it about. He works in such crazy and mysterious ways, but he knows exactly what he is doing every time.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14:14