Our Hearts, His Steps
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps
Six years ago our infertility story began, fully unbeknownst to us. At this point all we knew is that we both had a deep desire to have children- with no expectations of infertility even being part of our vocabulary. We, like most of our newly married friends, decided to go off of birth control and start trying to have a baby. With all of us getting married around the same time, we knew everyone would more than likely also start having kids around the same time as well. Sharing seasons of life with our best friends have always been such a blessing and we were thrilled that this would be another opportunity for just that! The first three announcements came relatively quickly, but not from us. As we stood by and celebrated our friends with happy hearts, we knew our time was just around the corner… maybe even next month! As the months started piling up, I began to worry. I knew in my heart something just wasn’t right. Derec was still not concerned at this point and kept reassuring me it would happen, just to give it time. My doctor also was not concerned and told me to come back in 6 more months if nothing had happened. During that time something did happen; more friends announced they were pregnant! We continued to stand alongside and cheer for our friends out of genuine gladness for them while trying to remind ourselves… “your time is coming, your time is coming, YOUR time IS coming!”.
At the one year mark we went to meet with my doctor again. She still was not phased by our concerns and told us to ‘just keep trying’. As someone who knows in their soul something isn’t right, hearing that suggestion lit a fire under me and discouraged me all at the same time. I mean, what did she think we were doing this whole year?! After that appointment I knew it was time to seek additional opinions. We switched to a different OBGYN at a different facility. She gave me a baseline consult, checked Derec’s numbers (perfect score) and then sent me to her NP. With no medical history of infertility, the NP suggested that we start with the least invasive option first and try medication to increase egg production. We took this medication for multiple cycles, each resulting in more and more negative tests even though we could clearly see that I had in fact produced more and more eggs. She then thought it would be best to double my dose for a few cycles to see if that would do the trick. Doubling the dose did bring a fun surprise, and it wasn’t a baby… it was 13 cysts. Most of which decided to start rupturing while I was at work. Definitely painful and everyone who has had even one rupture- you know what I’m talking about.
At this point we had decided to share with our family and closest friends that we had been trying to have a baby with no success and requested lots of prayer. Mentally and emotionally I was not ok, the stress was starting to wear on me and the medication was making me crazy! Truly, truly crazy! So much so that I didn’t even recognize myself most days. After consulting with my NP and new OBGYN again, we all agreed it was time to see the help of a fertility specialist. My first appointment was at a location in Columbus and I was very anxious to finally get answers! During our consult with the specialist, she reviewed our history and said, “Everything on paper looks great! No reason why we shouldn’t be able to get you pregnant!” Although this was encouraging to hear, I still just knew something wasn’t “right” and I expressed my concerns to her. I told her, “I think I might have endometriosis”. She handed me a checklist of symptoms and asked that I fill it out honestly. I did. I returned it back to her and only had 8 of the qualifying symptoms. She told me in order to do surgery to check for endometriosis I needed to have had 10 symptoms or more. She went on to say, “If you’re only having 8, I really doubt you have it anyways. Most patients have way more than 10. I’m sure you’re fine.” She went on to schedule me for additional ultrasounds- all of which came back normal- and scheduled me for an hysterosalpingography (HSG) which is x-ray procedure that is used to view the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes. It often is used to see if the fallopian tubes are partly or fully blocked. Prior to going back for my HSG the doctor said, “75% of women get pregnant the cycle after they have this test because it flushes your tubes out, so be prepared!”. I was never more excited to have a test done, ever! After we received the results, we learned that one of my tubes was in fact blocked. We lightly assumed this was what was causing us issues, even though the other side was fully functioning. My doctor, once again, was not concerned. I asked an additional time to be checked for endometriosis because I still felt like there was more that was fighting against us; to which she declined.
Although we had gotten some answers, Derec and I just felt in our heart that there was more to this. With the doctor’s lack of willingness, we decided it was yet again time to find another facility. I researched for months, spoke with people on the phone, asked all kinds of questions, and even spoke with patients from clinics within our area and decided that Bethesda Fertility in Cincinnati would be our next stop. I was able to call and get my charts transferred from all locations and have a consultation all within a few months. This is where we met Dr. Robertshaw. Never, ever, in my life have I met a doctor who was so willing to listen, ask me questions, and truly seek the answers I was looking for, not just her own. I told her about my concerns from the HSG test, as well as their lack of willingness to check me for endometriosis. She immediately ordered a sonohysterosalpingogram, which is a fancy term for a test similar to HSG so she could see the results live. We not only did it once, but twice. She was so thorough and it made my heart thrilled! She agreed that based off of what both sonohysterosalpingograms showed with live results, it did appear that my one tube was blocked. She told me she understood I did not have enough qualifying symptoms to have surgery to check for endometriosis but she would still do the surgery if I wanted it just to be certain. Let me pause here because this whole time I haven’t shared with you the finance side of it all… but just know… it is NOT cheap. Our insurance didn’t cover anything because none of it was “medically necessary”. She did tell me though, if she found endometriosis that insurance would cover the surgery. However, if there was not endometriosis to be found we would be required to pay the full ($25,000+) out of pocket. Talk about nervous! It was such a touchy subject because I wanted answers, but didn’t want anything to be found, but also didn’t want that steep of a bill. After talking it over we decided to move forward with the surgery. During surgery she told me she would go into my bad tube and place a stent so that it would remain open and both of my tubes would be functioning, as well as check for endometriosis and remove it if there was any to be found.
Fast forward to recovery and I wake to find my husband holding my hand and clearly trying to hide the tears that had been in his eyes. Great. This can’t be good, Derec is not a cryer. I asked him what was going on and he said he only had a few details and that Dr Robertshaw would call us tomorrow with more details, but this is what he knew… the stent was not a viable option. My tube wasn’t just blocked, it was dead. Also, I did in fact have endometriosis and she would elaborate more the following day. He also knew there was something wrong with my uterus but wasn’t certain on the details. The next 24 hours carried a lot of emotion for both of us because we truly didn’t know what this meant for our future, all we knew was that we had to wait on her call. After speaking with Dr. Robertshaw the next day we learned that I had stage 2 unremovable endometriosis (unremovable because it was located on all of my blood capillaries), one functioning tube, my uterus required a reconstruction, both ovaries were attached to my pelvic wall and my rectum was attached to my pelvic wall. Wow. Relief from the medical bill, but all kinds of questions about moving forward. She suggested that we take some time to recover then proceed forward with intrauterine insemination (IUI). Fast forward in the years to come and 6 rounds of IUIs later, still no baby, still no changes in our home, yet all of our friends are announcing their second, third, fourth pregnancies by this time. Again, we stand beside cheering them on out of genuine love, yet breaking into pieces ourselves.
Around the year 4 mark I start having strange feelings. I told Dr Robertshaw I didn’t really know how to explain it, but I truly felt like my endometriosis was advancing and spreading. Once again, without batting an eye she offered to schedule surgery to check. Based off of how the first surgery went, neither of us were surprised to learn my endometriosis had most definitely spread and this time it was attaching itself to my ONE and ONLY good and fully functioning side! Thankfully, we caught it early enough and she was able to remove the new spots but once again had to leave the old locations in place due to them being unremovable; which also means they will just continue to advance in stages with nothing for us to do to prevent it.
I have a relatively high pain tolerance and the recovery from my first surgery was easy, I expected nothing different this time around. However, 12 hour later I began having complications to the point Derec called the squad and we were in the ER. I will spare you the details, but we were there for hours, no answers given to this day, and they even consulted with Dr Robertshaw at almost 1am. All of the doctors were baffled, but we were eventually sent home. Eventually after recovery came full circle, we attempted 2 more rounds of IUI, putting us at 8 total. Still no baby. Even though we had lots of reasons “why” we couldn’t conceive the doctors still said it “should” be working with all the of the interventions we were doing when paired with how my body was responding to medication. You can imagine the disappointment. During this season of failed attempts, I felt like a basketcase. Emotions- felt them all...at the same time. Meanwhile, Derec was a solid foundation for me to land every single day. Bless his heart, he was even my therapist, punching bag, sounding board, sense of reason, and peace to my storm. This man deserves an award for having to deal with the Shana I was at that time. Derec often got overlooked, which breaks my heart looking back because I know he was equally hurting just as bad as I was, if not more. So many are quick to comfort the wife, yet forget the husbands are breaking in half as well. Please be sensitive to the husbands who are walking this journey too!!
Multiple times we would step away and take a break, just to kind of reset and give ourselves time to recover mentally, emotionally, physically… before starting back. During one of those breaks the Lord moved in a way we least expected.
A group of family and friends worked silently behind the scenes and gave us such a special blessing. They told us they were having a game night and to come on over. Once there we learned that was not the case. Each of them had brought money and placed it in an unmarked envelope to keep everything anonymous. Then before we arrived they counted all the money in total and were planning to present it to us. When we walked in we were shocked to find way more friends there than expected, as well as our family. They sat us down and explained what had been going on and presented us with a financial donation to do with as we saw fit. Whether that would be through adoption, more rounds of IUI, surrogacy, a round of IVF, or even just to pay off some of our mountain of accumulated medical bills, they knew however we would choose to use it, God would bless it. We were speechless. Truly and entirely speechless. We had no words, only tears to express our shock and gratitude. After gifting us such a blessing, they surrounded us and prayed over us. That was a feeling like no other. We had been anointed prior to and had received countless prayer cloths; all of which we were wildly grateful for, but there's just something about being surrounded by ALL of your closest friends and family praying united over you that just rejuvenates a broken spirit.Their obedience to Christ opened up doors we didn’t think would be an option for us… IVF- the big dogs. Even with use of IVF, we were told our chances were about 33% for success. We looked into surrogacy, but the finances for that were over twice as much as IVF alone. IF you haven’t ever looked into IVF let me tell you, it is outrageous how much it costs and the amount of shots required. We ended up having 4 more months of setbacks waiting to get cleared for IVF. We were experiencing issues we had never ran into before. In short, I had a rapidly growing cyst on my one and only good side, that was not responding to medication AND some of my bloodwork came back irregular to which we had to do further testing because all results pointed to a tumor on my pituitary gland. That alone was terrifying. No one likes hearing “you might have a tumor in your brain, let’s look!”. After finally getting a negative result (thank you Jesus) and my cyst finally shrinking over the month, we started our IVF journey. When I say “countless shots later” I truly mean countless. The number would shock you. Fast forward a few months later and we had a little bank of good eggs that would be a possibility for us to use!
On implantation day, our doctor had ALWAYS said “one egg at a time”, which is what we expected. After the implantation procedure was completed the doctor said “they looked great!” I looked like a deer in headlights and said “they?”. She smiled and said “we did two in hopes maybe one would work.” My heart was joyful yet felt like boiling water was being poured over my head thinking…. Derec will flip! Panic might be the best word to describe how he was feeling after that phone call took place. 10 days later, while walking down the hall at work I received the news I had been waiting for for 6 years. Positive pregnancy detected via blood work. I fell to the ground and just cried in the middle of the kindergarten hallway. That evening I was finally able to share the news with Derec.
2 weeks later we had our first ultrasound. While waiting for the doctor Derec said “babe, I don’t think we can do twins…”. Minutes later just to hear our doctor announce…. ITS TWINS!. After she walked out of the room derec said “how are we going to afford twins” to which I chuckled and said “well we can’t even afford one, so here goes nothing.” We couldn’t hold the news in for even 30 mins, we made it to the parking lot. Before we even made the first call derec said “I'm so excited we are having twins”. That didn’t take long. We then started facetiming our family and friends to share the news.
These girls have been such an amazing blessing to us and they aren’t even here yet. Being chosen by God to carry miracle girls has been such a humbling experience. We are excited as the due date is approaching because…
We found out we were pregnant the day before Derec’s birthday.
We found out we were having twins on my brother Jarrod’s birthday.
They are expected to make their arrival a week after my birthday.
God doesn’t mess around, that's for sure!
Our statistics say “no way” 6 years, 3 OBGYNs, 3 facilities, 2 surgeries, 8 rounds of IUIs, countless shots and medications, 13 cysts, 1 possible tumor, and 1 round of IVF…… but our God says “In my time.” and provided us with a double blessing. DOUBLE. We were praying for one… and He provided DOUBLE. When the doctors were working diligently for one; He gave TWO. That is my God!
If you’re struggling with infertility let me leave you with this advice:
Listen to your body!
Find a doctor who will listen to you! Even if that means switching multiple times and going to different facilities as well. It is SO worth it!
Talk about it! Share your heart with others- the good, bad, and ugly. You cannot carry this burden alone.
Find a support system that will lift you up in prayer every single step of the way!
Understand you and your husband will not cope with infertility in the same ways, be understanding of that.
Seek God’s guidance! Praise Him on the good days and the hard days alike! Surround yourself with like minded christians!
If you know/suspect someone is dealing with infertility:
DO NOT ask them if they are wanting to have kids. Sadly, it would shock you how many times this happened.
DO NOT offer advice if you haven’t dealt with infertility first hand.
Be sensitive to both the wife and the husband. The husbands are breaking in half just like the wives, they just don’t always show it. Be there for both of them!
Offer to do tangible things to help lighten their load. Even if that's just dropping off dinner one night.
Be understanding of their mixed feelings and responses. Everyone deals with infertility differently and most couples even deal with it in ways that do not always compliment each other. Please be patient.
Mostly, pray. Pray for them daily. Truly, every single day as if this was your own battle! Let them know they do not stand alone.
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Our hearts plans did not include any of this, but the Lord established our steps to follow this path so that it would bring Him the most honor and glory. Although it was by far the hardest thing we have done in our entire lives, I wouldn’t change it now. We have grown spiritually. Our testimonies are expanding to proclaim more and more of His goodness. We are CHOSEN to receive TWO miracles straight from God and they will always know that.
Just because we wouldn’t have chosen this plan, I know His steps for us were exactly what we needed.
-written by Shana Jones
Ferventlyprayedfor@gmail.comis an email address that we set up for Harper and Harlee. Anyone who would like to send notes or letters to the girls can do so by email. Each year at their birthday we will print them all out and have them bound in a book for each of them to keep.