Gearing Up For a FET

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I stand in front of the mirror and look at my body that has gone through so much. My curves aren’t quite where I wish they were, and I am fluffier than I want to be. My scars are numerous, every one a tribute to a battle fought or a privilege carried. My gray hair is boldly declaring its victory crown which resembles more of a zebra stripe down the center of my head then an actual crown. My wrinkles are a map of a road well-traveled, and the only thing really left firm after having a baby, hip surgery and 3 years of physical rehabilitation, is my resolve to keep going. This is not exactly what I had planned when finally being able to try to conceive again.

I didn’t plan my course, I didn’t see all the twists and turns coming. If I could have, I am certain I would have tried to alter the course to avoid all the hard places that would mold me into who I am today. However, that avoidance would have robbed me of the most incredible knowledge and deeply profound experience of walking with the God of Love because I would have bought the lie that I could do this life thing solo. I was never meant to walk this solo. The hard places have shown me my absolute need of Jesus, and they have unearthed a great treasure of knowledge regarding His sweetness that I dare say I will never have the ability to put into words.

I need to look in the mirror and remember today who I am. Instead, I find myself wanting to focus on the giant mountain standing before me and it tempts me to quit before I even start.

I could focus on the fact that I am fluffy, almost 40, and uncertain if I will be able to do this again.
I could focus on my 3 kids and the age gaps that I never intended and how sometimes I feel like I am already failing at parenthood.
I could focus on the money, so much money, and how we are a single income family.
I could focus on revisiting the million hard places that I have already traveled on our parenthood journey.
I could focus on all that could go wrong as we begin diving into the FET process next week.
I could focus on everything that is out of my control.
I could focus on the 2 precious embryos who have been waiting for over 4 years now.
I could focus on how I feel like I have already failed in a thousand different ways.

OR I can be thankful and remember all of the moments He has shown He is bigger than my failures. My focus is always my choice, it remains the one thing in my control.

I am so thankful that I even get the privilege to try and become a mom again. Many times over the last 4 years of physical pain and disability I have cried out to God and wondered if we would ever even get the chance to transfer our embryos, if my body would ever heal enough? It has. What once seemed impossible became possible. How quickly I forget. I am grateful that despite my faithless moments God remains faithful. It is no small miracle that I am even here, at this junction of the road.

I will hold onto gratitude, and the monuments of remembrance erected by me of God’s power in my journey with white knuckled fists right now; I have to, or I could never journey down this road again.

I would love to say I won’t fear, I really wish I could. Instead, I will humbly surrender my fears to the One who has proven that regardless of the outcome, the hugeness of the impossible mountain, He has me, He is able, and He is good. Sometimes faith is a war cry, other times it is a sweet surrender. Of this I am certain though, sometimes God moves the mountain, other times He teaches you how to climb.

Sex Would Never Work

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It was 8 months since I had gone off birth control pills and we began trying. 8 months of timed intercourse, negative pregnancy tests and mounting tension. There was an unspoken ache growing in my womb instead of a baby. We had purchased our first home and we eagerly painted one room the sweetest pale yellow we could find, as we dreamed of our first baby.  I knew something was wrong, even when others would speak of our “young age” and the need for me to simply “relax” in the waiting. Finally, we went to the doctor for testing.

I can still remember the phone ringing as I sat at our dining room table, trying to plan out my decor for the rest of our tiny home.

“Hello?”

“Hello, may I speak with Crystal Coates please?”

“This is she.”

“Hello ma’am.  This is So-and-So from Such-and-Such Hospital. I am calling with your lab results, is now a good time?”

I said yes, later I would wonder if I had said “no” if it would somehow buy me more hope, as if doing that could stop and change the story.

“I am sorry ma’am.  There is no way for you to be able to get pregnant naturally.”

“Naturally” meant sex.  But we could have sex every waking moment for the rest of our lives and never “fall pregnant.”  In one moment my world seemed shattered.

I don’t remember anything else that was said. I do remember dropping the phone as tears slid down my face.  I remember calling my husband of 1 year and repeating the words like a robot. I remember dropping to the floor and weeping and wondering why this was happening to us.

That was 17 years ago.  I was 22 years old. I would spend so many years and tears navigating people talking about how God did the impossible for such-and-such a couple or after we adopted, people sharing how it was “after adopting” that so-and-so unexpectedly got pregnant.  Those stories are glorious, no doubt, but they felt like salt in a never ending wound. We would never get pregnant “naturally.” And for years that held a shame and weight I can never express with words.

Eventually, we would opt to try and get pregnant.  Eventually, it would work. Eventually, I would lose those babies and learn of a pain when I buried them that felt far heavier then the infertility. Eventually, we would adopt, and adopt, and adopt again.  Eventually, when all hope seemed gone for us to ever be able to try again, we did.

This time it was IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization), the mac-daddy of all infertility treatments, and I was 35 years old.  Finally, I would know what it was to carry a baby full-term and the joy of hearing her first cry when she was born. And, I would also have 2 more embryos frozen for the future.

It has been almost 4 years since our daughter was born, almost 3 years longer then we had planned on waiting to try again by doing a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), but that is another story.

The future is now.  This week marks the beginning of walking through a FET, of (God-willing) giving those 2 embryos a chance at life, and I can’t help but remember the very beginning of our story.  A story that began so long ago, a story so full of sorrow and joy and God’s unwavering faithfulness that it steals my breath with its enormity. So tonight, as I swallow my meds, I need to remember His past faithfulness.  As I ponder my fragility, I remember His strength and His power. When I am tempted to fear, I lean on his faithfulness. Because one thing I have learned through it all is that I was never meant to walk this road without Him.