Guest Post by: Cristen Powers
I wish I could tell you that the story gets so much better. I wish I could tell you that within this, there lies a super duper, beautiful, healthy baby or babies growing inside my womb…. But that just isn’t the case.
After prayer and consulting with physicians, Jared and I chose to go ahead and begin the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Let me tell you something. If you have never experienced firsthand or had a loved one go through IVF, it really is nothing short of an emotional roller coaster ride that is far more intense than any month or months of trying on our own for a sweet bundle of joy. I’m just keepin’ it real.
We began our first round in May, and I was so proud of myself…giving myself my first injection alone and on the first try. Everything went perfectly really. Every injection, every pill, every ultra sound came back great. With IVF, you pump yourself full of drugs to produce a ton of eggs in one month vs. one egg like a normal woman in real life would. They told us in class to expect 10-12. We prayed for more. I prayed for beautiful healthy embryos from the very beginning. I prayed for the perfect number that God ordained. I asked so many loved ones to pray as well because I believe in the power of prayer from a mighty God. I am an open book with my life, and sometimes people enjoy that and sometimes people don’t. But I will NEVER go through something this intense without asking the ones I love to cover me and my family with prayer. Period.
My body responded beautifully to the medicine with hardly any side effects. Egg retrieval came, and they got 18 gorgeous eggs❤️❤️❤️. The nurse on the floor told me that was the most that day. To God be the glory. Then, out of those 18 eggs, 15 fertilized! We were told to expect to lose half. We lost 3. Out of those 15, we had 9 beautiful, amazing embryos that made it all the way! We did a transfer of two embryos and froze 7. They told us to hope for 3 total. We had 3 times that. And God gets every single ounce of that credit. We were able to do a fresh embryo transfer because my body recovered well from the retrieval and we transferred 2. The moment the embryologist came in the room and showed me a photo of those two embryos, my heart fell in love.
Now…I don’t want to start a political debate or in any way make someone who chose or viewed this situation differently than me think I’m judging them for one second because I’m not. But in my heart, those embryos that have fertilized and have grown for 5 days are life. They are my babies. God knows them. And God has a perfect plan for all of them. The moment my eyes laid on their picture, I was mush. I prayed over them. I loved them. The transfer went great, and I felt great about every single step of our entire process for about 2 days.
I started to get an uneasy feeling about day 3. It’s such a hard place to be in…hoping but not hoping so great that pure devastation could lie ahead. All the shots, drugs, pills, appointments, blood work etc… That stuff didn’t hold a candle to the waiting. The waiting with IVF was by far the worst two weeks of my life. It was the longest and the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Nothing can prepare you for it. You just have to go through it. Two days before my blood work, I took an at-home test and it was negative. It was awful. I can’t really even describe in words the way I felt. I told my mom and a couple very close friends, and, of course, they were trying to be encouraging and positive and said it could be wrong, but in my heart I knew. I got the phone call two days later that my heart was right.
It’s hard to think about our future right now because we’re in the midst of the pain. But I know we will try again. I know that this is not the end of our story. I’m not writing all of this to get sympathy. I’m not writing it to make my pain in this period of my life appear worse than someone else’s. In fact, this story actually isn’t about me at all. This story is about Jesus. It’s about redemption. It’s about sanctification. Let me tell you. I have been on my knees a lot in the last month begging. I BEGGED. I cried out to the God who parted the Red Sea and got Daniel out of the lions’ den. I cried out for a baby. I surrounded myself with praise music and prayer and read Scripture to survive those two weeks. I prayed more than I have prayed in my whole life for the life that was placed inside me. And you know what, God heard those cries. He heard the first cry and He heard the last. And after hearing those cries, He simply said no.
There is one and only one who ordains ALL life. And it ain’t me. And it ain’t a doctor at a fertility clinic. But you know what else? I was on my knees for the first time in my life. I was reading daily Scripture for the first time in a long time. This last month has been so hard and so long and at times downright awful. Emotionally exhausting. But Jesus drew me in. I found Him in the midst of this struggle. I found Him on my knees.
I really do not believe our struggle with infertility is the end of the story that Christ has written for me. I believe it’s just the beginning. Or maybe the middle somewhere. But it’s not the end. I don’t have such a strong desire for children for no reason. I refuse to believe that God places desires in our hearts for things that are of Him…. And then tells us never mind….it was all a joke. I do not believe that my God does that. I do believe that He says no sometimes. And sometimes He says not yet. But regardless of when He says no and how He says it, it is making me more like Christ.
I’m gonna tell you what. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. But I never had to send a son to die on a cross. I never had to give up my ONE and ONLY son to be crucified by people who hated him. That is LOVE. That is heartache. THAT is SALVATION, my friends. I am a dirty, filthy rag that deserves nothing shy of hell. I don’t deserve my husband. I don’t deserve my job. I don’t deserve children. But I serve a risen savior who washed away my sins and made me white as snow. There isn’t anything better in this world. No kids, no money, no house, no spouse, no job, no NOTHING can satisfy you like Jesus.
God calls us all to different mission fields…we all have a purpose while on earth. My purpose hopefully one day will be to be a mother…to raise children to love Jesus and to go out among their neighbors and share the Gospel of the one who died for us. But until that day comes…my purpose is right now. Right here in this spot of hard… in this place of heart break and redemption that is keeping me on my knees. I pray Jesus fills me up with the joy of the Lord and with peace that passes all understanding. I pray He allows me to share His good news with other women in this hard spot, in this moment that can feel so unbearable at times. And I pray He uses me to bring glory to Him out of this heartache.
I’m gonna be real honest and tell you…my relationship with Jesus is so much stronger today than It was 3 years ago. My marriage is stronger today than it was 3 years ago. God has transformed my cold, stubborn, selfish heart to be more like Him in these last 3 years. Has it been hard? Oh, yes, it sure has. Has it been good for me? For my marriage? For us? Absolutely. That’s hard to say in the midst of this trial because I’m saying it through tears of pain. But God is constant. He hasn’t left us during any of it, and He will see us through ‘til the end. And if I die with no kids or with 10, it will be the purpose of the Lord.
If you are in the middle of this struggle, it is so hard. But it so much harder without leaning on the everlasting love of Jesus. He has filled my heart and soul with grace to drive away bitterness and resentment of all the pregnant people swarming around me constantly. He is the reason I have joy. He is my strength. The saying that God never gives us anything we can’t handle is the farthest thing from the truth. Cristen can NOT handle this road of infertility. I can NOT handle losing two sweet embryos and possibly more. But salvation allows me to lay what I can’t handle down at the feet of Jesus. And when I trust it to Him, He handles it for me. He really is all you need. Really. He is ALL. I. NEED.
Thank you Kim Ellis for that reminder. And thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to go through the drive-thru of Krispy Kreme when the hot and ready light is flashing to get some glazed donuts on the day you found out it didn’t work out the way you had hoped. I praise God in the midst of this struggle, and I praise God for hot Krispy Kremes.
Romans 5:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, 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.”
P.S. I wrote this entry the night we found out our first round of IVF was unsuccessful. Since then, I have had another surgery and lots of hard days. I am struggling with a lot of pain from jealousy, bitterness, and anger. I feel like I used to be able to handle going to a baby shower with a smile on my face. I could handle walking past the diaper and bottles at Target, and I could sit in a room filled with mamas-to-be and listen to their stories about pregnancy and motherhood. Right now, I don’t want to handle it. I don’t want to walk in an empty third bedroom of my home that we have been saving for a nursery. What I want to do is shake the next pregnant woman who complains about her pregnancy. What I want to do, is grab those Huggies off the shelf and launch them at the first baby belly I see. I did choose diapers here and not glass bottles. 😀 I want to avoid all conversations about babies and nursing and sleep deprivation. Instead, I want to lie on my couch eating chocolate and watching “Friends” episodes on Netflix.
To be really real…. I’ve tried to even avoid talking to God. I’m not proud of this person. I know this is sin and that Jesus is the answer. He always is. But I’m a human. I’m a sinner. This “mood” I’ve been in or this place I’m in right now just shows me again how much I need Jesus. I need Him. I need Him to survive this world. I need Him to make it through these hard days and possibly more hard ones to come. He’s still trying to teach me to let Him handle all this “stuff” for me.
I still believe God is going to work this together for the good. He promises us that. He also tells us we need the faith of a mustard seed. Right now, I don’t know if I even have that. But here’s the good news. Jesus is bigger. He is bigger than these last few weeks of mourning and depression. He is bigger than my doubt and lack of trust. He is bigger than my prideful heart and bitter soul. There isn’t any sin His grace cannot reach.
Right now, I need your prayer. Right now, I need to be covered by the grace of Jesus. I know He will see us through. And I know our story isn’t finished.