Let me start this post out by saying, I do all (or most) of my good thinking and praying in two places; in the shower or in the car. While I was praying tonight, God spoke to me and pretty much said I’ll tell you what to write and you write it. So, here I am..
My journey starts in January of 2017 when my husband and I thought, “its time to have a baby!”. We were so excited to find out in early February, just the following month, that I was expecting. Unfortunately on Valentine’s Day before my scheduled doctor’s appt, I started bleeding and assumed that I was having a miscarriage. I called my doctor that I was seeing at the time and I was scheduled for an ultrasound. I was disappointed but yet relieved when we saw nothing on the ultrasound. My doctor told me that since I was only around 5 weeks that it was normal to not see anything and to come back the following week for a follow up. My progesterone was low, so we thought that was the culprit of the bleeding and I went on my way.
I knew in my heart from the beginning that this pregnancy was not normal. I had terrible pains, bleeding that would show up and disappear and that “mother’s instinct” that just kicked in. I am the Google queen, so in between my two doctor’s appts, I determined that I was having an ectopic, also known as a tubal pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can be very dangerous and even life threatening if not caught early. Sure enough, at my follow up appointment, my doctor confirmed what I had been praying so hard against; it was an ectopic pregnancy. We were devastated. I remember while waiting to talk to my doctor after the ultrasound, seeing a woman walk by who was about to deliver at any moment. I overheard her saying it was her first (HER FIRST) prenatal appointment and thinking “Why?? Why is this happening to me?” I did what I was supposed to. I got married, got a job, saved money. I did things in the order that I “felt like” made me deserve to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, but no. Here we were.
More trouble came when two weeks after I was treated with medication that my tube ruptured. I was rushed to the ER and immediately into surgery where part of my right tube was removed. I was released from the hospital a few days later and went to my follow up appointment where my physician assured me that this wouldn’t happen again because of how rare ectopics are and to just wait six months and try again. I felt hopeful and started my road to recovery and tried my best to get back to normal.
In months following, a lot of things changed for me. I left one job, spent a month or so traveling with my husband and doing a cross-country road trip to see my best friend in Texas and was getting ready to start another job in a few short weeks.
The end of August 2017 rolled around and I found out that I was, in-fact pregnant again. We were so excited that this was it! There were no signs or symptoms, I had just started this new job that was about a 40 minute commute, my HCG levels looked good, everything was just going great. On the way to work one morning in early September, I remember praying for my pregnancy and that baby and God spoke to me and said “This isn’t it. It’s not okay.”. That same day when I got to work, I got a call that my levels had dropped. I remember closing my door to my office and just crying (I never cry). I was lost. I didn’t understand what was going on or better yet, what was wrong with me. I went back two days later for more blood work and when my levels went back up, but didn’t double. We all knew what it was; another ectopic pregnancy.
Although very, very rare, studies show that experiencing one ectopic puts you at greater risk to have another and I was unfortunate enough to me in that teeny-tiny percentage. Since my levels were very low with this pregnancy, it passed on it’s own and again my doctor encouraged me that next time it would be okay and that I needed to wait about three to six months and try again.
At this point, I felt defeated. While I never felt angry with God or with anyone else, but I still cannot put into words how it feels to want something so badly, in my case, the experience of being a mother, and not being able to have it. I felt like my body had plotted against me in someway. I am a fixer and this was just something that I simply couldn’t fix. In October, my husband was out of town for work and I while on my morning commute and saying my prayers (asking to be healed and to have a baby). God spoke to me and said “I’ll give you one.” I felt like this was his way of saying to me, “I do things on my time, not your time, Jonnica”. When I got home that evening, I called my husband and said “What about adoption??” Oddly enough, while he was out of town, he said he had seen billboards and commercials for adoption everywhere he turned. I spent the next few months working, staying busy with our dog, Remi, traveling with my husband, Zach and researching the pros and cons of private and foster to adopt, researching agencies, talking to different places about the process, fees, etc. For the first time in a long time, I just felt at peace.
Just before Christmas of 2017, I received a call from a local hospital about a position that they had come open and it would be based in my community, just about 10 minutes from my house. I was driving roughly 40-minutes to and from work and while I absolutely loved my job there, I felt like this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I went through the interview process and was set to start my new position just after the New Year. I was so ready to kiss 2017 goodbye, but at the same time, I felt like as that season came to a close, and Lord knows it was a turbulent season to say the least, I felt like I was going into 2018 with a new pair of glasses on. I was more understanding, not as quick to judge, more forgiving, really just a better person in general. I look back now and I am thankful to have experienced that terrible season for a number of reasons.
Right after my new job started, we put a hold on looking into adoption since I had just started a new position at the hospital and my husband had just got on a new task force at work. While Zach and I hadn’t discussed what our future plans were for children, I continued to pray and ask God to send me a baby. In one of our many shower/car discussions, I remember feeling just this sense of peace and relief come over me because I just knew I was going to have a baby, while I didn’t know if it was through adoption or what, I just felt like it was going to happen. I promised in saying each of my prayers that I would use my journey as a testimony to share with other women who have shared the same or similar experience as me. My best friend sent me a care package right after my surgery back in January and in that package was a notebook that said ‘Plotting and Planning’. I wrote (and still write) notes about my infertility journey, prayers, thoughts, etc. in that journal all the time and told myself I would put those notes to use when the time was right.
April of 2018 rolled around and I randomly decided one night to take a pregnancy test. I got in the routine of taking one each month, just in case I was, in fact pregnant, I would be able to know early due to my history. I put my test on the bathroom counter and came back to find two bright pink lines staring right at me. Zach was gone for work and the only one at the house to share my joy with was our schnauzer, Remi. As happy as we both were, we were reluctant to share much excitement because of the loss of our last two pregnancies. Since I was working at a new hospital, I was seeing a new doctor and was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I had bloodwork done and my levels were great each time and continued to rise like they were supposed to. We had a trip planned to New York already and that was probably one of the best trips that we’ve ever been on. When we came back, our 6 week ultrasound was scheduled. On our way there, I was worried, but over and over heard a voice say, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” And I just knew that this was it. Everything was going to be fine. At that appointment, we heard our sweet baby’s heartbeat for the first time and was given a due date of December 21, 2018.
At 9 weeks, we did a blood test to find out that we were having a little baby girl, who we’ve decided to name Stella Grey, and everything has been perfect with her and this pregnancy to-date.
I am now almost 25 weeks along, time is passing so quickly and Stella will be here before we know it. While I was getting ready for bed tonight, saying my prayers and talking to God in the shower, I felt like he said “Its time you put your journal to use. I’ll tell you what to write and you write it”. I had started up this blog a couple of months ago, but I hadn’t posted anything because I felt like I didn’t have content that had meaning, then it clicked; “this is your testimony. Documenting your pregnancy, sharing your journey, is how you will tell what I gave you.”
Along this journey and throughout this last year, I have been blessed enough to share my experiences with a lot of other women, in Facebook groups, on message boards (..and now this blog) about infertility and ectopic pregnancy. I’ve also had mutual friends reaching out to share their experiences, etc.
So this post, my friend, is for you.. if there is one thing I have learned during these last few seasons of my life is that infertility has many faces. It does not discriminate. It’s not just being ‘infertile’; it’s having seven miscarriages that can’t be explained, it’s your husband’s medical issues, it’s the chemo and radiation that has caused you to not be able to carry your own child, the list goes on and on. And just know, when I see a fake pregnancy post, I cringe with you. When you’re going to your fifth baby shower this year and want to sit and cry, I wanted to cry too.
I have no magic words or remedy for what you’re going through, but I can promise you this.. as terrible and as painful and life-changing that my journey with infertility was, I would go through every bit of that pain and the entire experience again because tonight as I type this and pull notes from my journal, I can feel my little girl kicking and moving around inside of me and with that, I am assured that she happened in God’s time and was most certainly worth the wait.