Apr 292008

The good Lord has blessed me with two beautiful daughters, both of whom were conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The largest embryo in this picture is my baby Bee (top row, second from left). Bee was the only fresh embryo transferred from our IVF cycle, on February 2, 2002. We had 11 remaining embryos, which were frozen.

As a result of the IVF drugs, I developed a very severe, and somewhat rare complication called ovarian hyper-stimulation. This condition caused life threatening retention of fluid around my lungs and other organs, as well as severe pain, because my ovaries swelled to the size of softballs. When Bee implanted and began producing the pregnancy hormone (HCG), my illness worsened, and I was hospitalized in very serious condition for almost a month. Because my body reacted this way to the drugs, the doctors advised us that our one cycle of IVF must be our last, because the risk of hyper-stimulation happening again is too great. Our frozen embryos are the only chance we have for more biological children.

Frozen embryo transfers are safe, because they don’t require ovarian stimulating hormones, which were the cause of my illness. In April, 2005, we did an FET with three of our frozen embryos. It was not successful. At this time, we also learned that 4 of our embryos had not survived long enough in culture to be frozen. We had only 4 left, instead of 8, as we expected.

I was absolutely heartbroken. I had been on an emotional roller coaster for two weeks, convincing myself that every wave of nausea or tiredness was an early sign of pregnancy. Then, I would cry and sink into a deep depression when the symptoms would disappear. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain of losing those embryos. One minute they were alive inside of my body, and the next they were just….gone. I cried and begged and pleaded with God to please make me pregnant. I kept hoping that the doctors were wrong, that maybe one of the embryos had actually implanted later than expected, so it hadn’t made enough HCG yet to be detected. But it was not to be.

For months, I was bereft. I cried on and off for weeks. Some mornings, I was so depressed that I couldn’t even get out of bed, and my husband would come in and silently hold me while I cried, and asked him all kinds of unanswerable questions:

“Why did God do this? I don’t understand!”
“I’m a good mother! Why won’t God give me another baby?”
“Why does God give babies to people who abuse and neglect them, but not to us?”
“Do you think God is mad at me? What did I do?”
“Why does it have to be so hard? Why can’t we just have sex and get pregnant like normal people?!”

I had almost given up hope that God would give me another baby. My husband gently encouraged me to try again, but the thought of going through another failure was too painful to even consider. We had only 4 embryos left, and the success rate of FET, even with three or more embryos, is typically about 20 percent. I felt like we had only one more chance for a baby, and as long as we didn’t use up that chance, I still had hope. I was clinging desperately to any little shred of hope because it was all that kept me going. I didn’t want to let it go.

Finally, in December 2005, I agreed to try again the following spring. It was a difficult decision, and I was terrified. On 12/24/05, I wrote in my prayer journal:

“Father, I know that you know the prayer in my heart, which is for another child. I pray that your will may be done in this matter. While another child is my greatest wish for myself, I know that my will is not important. All I can ask Father, is that you help me to be joyful and accepting no matter what the circumstance. I pray for your guidance regarding the timing of the embryo transfer, and for your support and love while I endure the physical and emotional challenges it will bring.”

On 3/2/06, another FET was done with three more of our frozen embryos. One of these three embryos is our little Cakes, but we can’t know for sure which one:

After the transfer, as I lay on my side in a hotel room near the hospital, I wrote:

“Heavenly Father, I praise you because you are so good, and so loving. You gave us your perfect peace today, after the procedure. We had no fear, and were completely trusting in you. We saw how, as always, you provided for us even more abundantly than we expected, by giving us 3 good quality embryos. We thank you so much for that blessing. Now, I pray that you will be with those little embryos into which you have breathed life. I pray that you will give them the strength to survive. Please help me to remain at peace, and Lord, I know it’s a lot to ask, but could you give me a verse or a sign, just something to give me hope?”

After I wrote this prayer, I opened my Bible directly to this passage from Galatians 4:27,

“Rejoice, O childless woman!
Break forth into loud and joyful song,
even though you never gave birth to a child
for the woman who could bear no children
now has more than all other women!”

I understood immediately that this was God’s promise to me, a promise of another child, and because God never breaks a promise, I became pregnant with Cakes. However, our trials were not over. God was still teaching us to trust Him completely, and to lean on Him in times of trouble. At 7 weeks, I had a threatened miscarriage, due to a subchorionic hematoma. While lying on a cot in the emergency room hallway, I again cried out to God, begging Him to please, please not take my baby. Thankfully, the ultrasound showed that Cakie’s little heart was still going strong, but I was placed on bedrest, while we waited for the bleeding to stop. During that time, I again prayed to God for reassurance, and he again gave me the same verse, in a completely different book of the Bible! This time, I opened directly to Isaiah 54:1, which is the exact same verse as above. What a wonderful God, that he would give me such comfort! He was reminding me of His promise, reminding me that I can always trust in Him.

Throughout my pregnancy, the Lord saw us through several more episodes of bleeding, preterm labor, and 6 more weeks of bedrest. On 11/8/06, we finally welcomed our little Cakes. only two weeks early, and she was healthy and strong. Praise God!

We have one remaining frozen embryo, and right now we’re trying to determine the right time to have another FET. The odds of success are poor with only one embryo, but I know that with God, nothing is impossible. I’m struggling with great fear and anxiety after my last pregnancy, and I’m definitely not looking forward to the daily shots, physical discomfort, and emotional upheaval. I’m hopeful that our upcoming vacation will give me time to rest, think, and pray for clear guidance and peace. I ask you, my dear readers, to please pray for us as well. As my story shows, prayer is powerful.