My Weakness

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My Weakness

In November 2014 we completed our one and only round of IVF, “our last try.”

The cycle was almost a bust because for reasons unknown at the time my ovaries weren’t responding to the meds. (We would later learn that we got a bad batch of meds that were virtually useless).

Of the over 24 eggs eventually harvested, only 17 were deemed mature enough to fertilize.

Of those 17 eggs, only 11 actually fertilized through forced sperm injection in a petri dish.

Of the 11 that fertilized, only 6 kept growing past day 2.

On day 3, one looked “slightly better” than the others, though none looked “perfect.”

That first embryo of just 10 cells would be our first transfer, and she would become my first ever successful pregnancy.

A few days later I got the call. Somehow, 2 more embryos had proven strong enough to freeze.

2 more chances, maybe…

 

I had lost over 100 pounds and was in the best shape of my life when we began in 2014.

I had planned, and I had worked hard for every inch of victory I gained.

I did the hard work of therapy and began the arduous journey of dealing with my crap that had led me to the grim prognosis I received about 2 years prior.

It was in my control to change everything, and I did.

I didn’t know it then, but while I pressed into the intense runs and long mountain treks, I had also begun an injury to my hip, a tear to the cartilage in my hip joint. The tear was completed the day I gave birth to our sweet daughter.

That day, I learned anew how little was actually in my control.

 

Exercise, which had become a welcome refuge and deep therapy of its own, was ripped away from me and was instead replaced by a steady and never ending pain.

It took 15 months for a correct diagnosis, 1 very painful hip surgery that I still can’t google the specifics on,and almost 3 years of rehab, learning to walk again, and countless setbacks to arrive where I am today.

And not a day went by that I didn’t think about those 2 frozen embryos and wonder if instead of “when” we would try if instead we would “ever” be able to try.

2 months before the actual frozen embryo transfer I finally got the “go ahead” to try.

My pelvis was finally holding, I had regained enough strength, and the muscle spasms had subsided.

Only this time, I would be heavier, older, and in worse physical condition than ever before. How could I do this now?

 

I felt so weak and unable, and, to be totally honest, ashamed to be in this space with my fragile flesh.

The world will think me a fool.

My power is made perfect in weakness.

I heard it echo through my mind again and again, His still small voice.

It was time.

God moved mountains to get me to even this space, and He was once again asking me to trust Him.

 

We were finally able to give one of the embryos a chance at life. A chance I had thought many times might never actually come.

 

I have had doubts fill my mind, I have battled fear relentlessly, and I have been reminded constantly of my weakness. And He gently reminds me that I am not the author; He is.

Here I sit, wonderfully nauseated by the new life that grows within me, because God is bigger than my weakness.  He is able. He is the author and perfecter of my faith. And though I might have to lay my weakness before Him one thousand times a day, He isn’t mad, He isn’t surprised, He holds me in all my brokenness, and He loves me so much that He is willing to keep repeating, .”

 

His love truly is more precious than rubies.  What do you need to lay before Him right now?

 

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.

 

Daring God and Moving Mountains

“When pain is to be born, a little courage helps more than much knowledge,

a little human sympathy more than much courage,

and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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She was serious but full of compassion as she read over the lab work.  I was tired. In all honesty most of me lay dormant inside, unable to be roused since the twins died.  Now, when we talked of Ashley and Bethany, they were referenced to simply as “the twins.” But they weren’t talked of much now, the time for polite grief long gone, and life must move on.  The battles for, and adoptions of, our four beautiful daughters had long been finalized and all our energy must be poured into life with them…

“Your liver is beginning to fail.”

The words seemed to hold in mid air for a while.  She looked at me trying to ascertain if I comprehended the gravity of the situation.

I did.

I left her office and sat it my car.  Failure. Me. Age 31. Was this how my life would come to a close?  A slow, painful death of my own creating? 311 pounds–the weight I had eaten myself up to since burying the twins.  It was threatening to bury me when all I was trying to do was bury all the hard feelings. I had always struggled with my weight but this was more, so much more.  I had a problem, or a million problems. But did I care?

I cried an ugly cry.  The snot pouring out of your nose, eyes red enough to stop traffic, blubbering, smack-the-steering-wheel-multiple-times sorta cry. And when I was done and my eyes were firmly swollen to puffy little slits, the stillness spoke– Do you want to get well? He didn’t ask because he didn’t know, He asked for my benefit.  Yes, yes I guess I did. A fire began inside me in that moment. And then, the birth of the most forbidden dream of all was whispered into my heart…

Pregnancy.  Try again. What?

I could not contain the laughter or the tears.  Seriously God? Is it time to go admit myself into the mental ward because HELLO, look at me.  My name is failure. I began to list off every single detail that must be overcome for me to even TRY to become a mom again: the weight, my various health issues, the doctors response after losing the twins, the money, and on and on.

I pointed to the mountain and I dared God to move it!

I say dared because I had an attitude about it all that would make most faithfully obedient believers blush.  I didn’t doubt that he could, my attitude came with the “would he” part and the “trusting” part. But God…was bigger than all the feelings I had tried to eat away, and he was bigger than my terror.

Sitting there, 100 percent a mess, certain I was broken beyond repair, truly terrified of what lie ahead, God met me and he breathed new life.

I love how He meets us right where we are, just as we are.

He had me in his hands the whole time.  When I could not see, He could, and he carried me on to dreams that I was not bold enough to dream.  He carried me through my fears one step at a time–just one step at a time. Trusting Him is the best part and the hardest part.  But you know what?

He moved that huge mountain!  He overcame every obstacle. And the delivery of that beautiful dream came wrapped up as a gorgeous baby girl in July of 2015–14 years after first being told we were infertile.

Today, I need to remember that He is a God that can move mountains.  Here I am again, facing a huge mountain and daring God to move it.

What mountain are you facing today?