I am so excited and honored to share this story with you all today…partly because it’s my cousin and her husband, partly because it is of a journey that I prayed and walked with Brittany and Scott through…but MOSTLY because it is one of renewed and strengthened faith, one of answered prayer, and one of God’s good and perfect timing.
To say I am proud of Brittany for “announcing her pregnancy” in this way is an understatement. When Brittany came to me with her idea of writing a guest blog to share that they were expecting, I was thrilled. She shared that she did not want anyone to be hurt by her news and she also did not want to act like “life was perfect” now. She had walked the road of infertility…and as completely ecstatic as she was to be pregnant (understandably), she could not turn from the pain it took to get there. She could not forget about what God had taught her through this trial. This is a story of brokenness through infertility, used for good by our Savior to bring Scott and Brittany closer to Jesus than ever before…while creating not one, but two perfect miracles due this spring. I hope you are as encouraged by her story as I am!
My name is Brittany Taylor, and Lisa Robertson (the creator behind “Mess into a Message”) and I are cousins. Our granddads were twins, we grew up together, and she met her husband JJ (who happens to be my husband’s best friend) at our wedding. I decided to share our infertility journey on her blog as a way to let others know about our story and to let those who are facing infertility challenges know that you are NOT alone. I know that it was hard for me to see the news of so many others’ exciting pregnancy announcements on social media, but yet you rarely or never heard the news of someone’s infertility struggles. This can make the season of struggle even more isolating and sad. If you or someone you know is currently going through this process, you are NOT alone. Whether you have been going through the emotional roller coaster of infertility for years or months, it is HARD. I am sure that there are many others who have had a much longer journey than my husband and I, but my hope is that our story can still be an encouragement and testimony of God’s unfailing love, grace, and power.
I met my husband Scott at Malone College. I remember seeing him and saying hi every day we passed each other walking to and from class. Fast forward five years and we were married on a beautiful warm July afternoon. My husband Scott and I had been married for almost 4 years when we began the exciting journey of starting our family. College sweethearts, both with the jobs of our dreams, and a new house…our lives were going as WE planned, or so we thought. Now, I am not a naturally optimistic person, so when it didn’t happen the FIRST month, yes the FIRST month, I was crushed. In my heart I had a bad feeling. Some might say that was just a coincidence, but for me this was a sign of hard times to come.
After about seven months of trying, we talked with my OBGYN and she didn’t see why we wouldn’t get pregnant within the next few months. As far as Scott and I knew, we both had no past or present problems that would prepare us for a struggle.
After a year of trying, month after month we were told NO! If you have struggled personally with infertility, you know this horrible feeling each month.
TIP: If you have not struggled personally with infertility, DO NOT tell someone struggling that you had no problem conceiving your children.
I once heard someone say that it was almost like you had to go through the grieving process every month it didn’t happen. Not only did this impact me, but I could see my depressive state impacting my marriage, family, and friends as well. I struggled with the person this season of life was making me become. It was hard to always be crying in front of my husband, not wanting to go to baby showers for my friends, and holding back tears when I got yet another phone call that my family/friends were expecting. Below is an excerpt from one of the journals I wrote during this time describing this feeling…
January 4, 2014
“Yesterday I found out that my best friend is pregnant. It was tough. I was sad. I was sad that we didn’t have a best friend moment where I screamed and cried for joy with her. Instead, I felt my body shake and literally sweat. The conversation turned from me honestly trying my best to congratulate her (which is so wrong and sad) to me breaking down and crying when telling her where we were in our journey. I’m so thankful to have a friend who cares for me and listens to my cries.
I hate how this situation is making me feel about my friends. Jealous. Resentful. Angry. Sad. Depressed.
Jesus I need you.”
Tests were ordered for both my husband and I to see if there were any other unknown problems. One minor problem (what we thought was minor) showed up in the results which sent us to a fertility doctor in Akron. I remember sitting in the waiting room wondering how we got there. Is this really happening? Is this really where we have to be in order to start our family? I did not see this coming. It amazed me how many people were there. So many people there, struggling in different ways, but all wanting the same results. It was there that we met our amazing fertility doctor, Dr. Nash. I was comforted by the fact that my sister-in-law had seen Dr. Nash in the past and that she gave him great reviews. Lisa also went through the same group of doctors through her journey. This was a HUGE blessing that God had moved her close to where I lived (we both live away from our families in PA) because she went through a lot of the same procedures and appointments, and many times answered my questions and prepared me for what was to come.
After more testing and blood work, we were told that we had a less than 1% chance of conceiving on our own. Wow! This was just based on two numbers that were not what they “should” be in our results. Everything else looked fine. I wouldn’t say this came as a huge shock to us, but it definitely put things into perspective. We decided at that meeting that we would try three cycles of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This is where the doctor places “the best” sperm into the uterus near the time of ovulation. We were excited to try something that would give us a better chance of conceiving (only a 5% chance, but better). This was going to be it! This was going to work for us! My mood lightened and I started sharing our journey with friends and coworkers (family of course already knew).
IUI did not work for us. We tried during the months of October, November, and December. We decided to give it one last chance in January, which failed as well. At this point all of the questions came into my head, all of the doubt, all of the options. Will we ever get pregnant? Why is God doing this to us? We were a good Christian couple that had our lives together, so why was he giving others who I thought were not prepared to be parents babies and not us? What was the point of this hurt? Where do we go from here? Is IVF the right choice? Can we afford IVF? What happens if IVF doesn’t work? Could we adopt a child? Is this what He is calling us to do? Were we ready to make any of these decisions? I was so thankful for great family and friends who supported me during this time. If you know someone going through infertility, take the time to call them, send them a card or tiny gift, or just meet with them to listen. I was not always excited to talk about it, because it was all I ever thought about, but it was good to know people were thinking about us. But again, I could see myself falling…
August 11, 2014
“I’m worried and full of doubt. I’m trying so hard to trust in His plan. I don’t see the hope, I don’t see the plan, I don’t see the future. Not being fully satisfied with my life is my biggest fear. These are my honest thoughts and fears. I know this is the total wrong way to look at life. I know that my thoughts are sinful because they go against what God is saying. He says to fully rely on Him, to trust Him in all ways, to know that He has great plans in my life. I’m worried that if I doubt these plans He won’t show up and create miracles. I’m worried that if I believe these plans will be good, I will be disappointed and let down when they don’t turn out the way I want them to.
I pray Lord you hear my cry and see my needs and take care of these worries. I pray that you will show up BIG. I pray Lord that you will fill the longings of my heart. I pray that you will create a life in me. Amen.”
After considering the options, Scott and I decided that we would try IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) in the summer after I finished my masters and the school year (I am a first grade teacher). Prior to our struggle, I didn’t think IVF would be something I would ever have to consider. It was hard to know if this was something God approved of. Could we do this in a God honoring way? However, through much prayer, discussion with family, and talking to our doctor, we were comfortable with our decision. It was important for us to communicate to our doctor that we wanted to use every embryo that we would get out of the process. I remember specifically stating to our doctor, “They (embryos) are our babies,” and he fully agreed with us. This was an amazing thing to hear from our doctor.
January 4, 2014
“I’ve been on this journey for a while now and even though nothing has happened, I feel stronger in my faith than when I began this journey. I KNOW God has a great plan for Scott and me. I believe that He will do something this year that will show His power. I just have a feeling that something great will happen. I still have many questions and concerns. I’m still nervous that I will not make the right decisions. I hope that in the coming month I will have a better grip on what God wants us to do.
If you aren’t familiar with IVF, once the eggs are retrieved, you expose a certain number of them to sperm. They go through developmental processes before becoming viable embryos (some making it to this point, others possibly not). For example, you could decide to expose 15 eggs and end up getting 15 embryos (babies), or you could expose 15 and get 1 embryo or none! Because of this, Scott and I didn’t want to expose too many eggs, but enough to have a chance at getting a responsible number of embryos in the end. After much prayer and considering our doctor’s view, we decided to expose 8 eggs in hopes of getting possibly half that number in embryos. This was a HARD decision that required much prayer. We were TOTALLY NOT in control of what would happen, but we reminded ourselves that God WAS in control of EVERYTHING. Throughout the months leading up to IVF I felt very at peace with our decision. This was not a “normal” way of starting a family, but it was the opportunity God gave us to begin our family. He was the one controlling so many things that were not only out of our control, but out of the control of our doctors. However, it still wasn’t easy to make these “abnormal” decisions. I remember sitting at our kitchen table crying over the paperwork we had to fill out and the weird questions we had to answer. Who would get our embryos if we were to separate, what would we do if we got too many, who would get them if we would both die?
Required class on IVF & paperwork (How did we get here? Are we making the right decision? Are you there God?)
I don’t know how it happened, we didn’t have the money, but God showed up and gave us the financial ability within four months to pay for the process. The nightly injections began the end of May, one in my outer leg and the other in the abdomen along with a lot of pills. Another amazing blessing is that my husband is an ER nurse, so clearly he was very comfortable giving me the injections. I was told to eat a lot of salty foods and drink a lot of Gatorade to help prevent Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can cause some serious problems. After going in for multiple appointments to see what was growing (my eggs were growing slower than normal so I had to get more injections) I was ready for the egg retrieval. I had to be put to sleep for this procedure, but it was mostly painless and I only got sick from some of the steroid medicine I was taking. We prayed for 8 eggs and ended up getting 11. A few died or were not big enough and we were left with 9. We decided to stick with the plan we prayed over, and exposed 8 eggs. Now we had to wait. After a few days we were told that 5 were looking good. A few more days passed and we got the call that 2 of our embryos met all of the requirements. This was hard news to hear. We were planning on using 2 embryos for our first attempt (2 gives us a 50% chance of conception, 1 gives us a 20% chance of conception), so if it didn’t work, we would have to start the process over again. But, GOD WAS IN CONTROL, not me!
The weird things you do/consume in hopes of a successful IVF…
The plan was to do a fresh embryo transfer only a few days after the retrieval. However, the medicine I was taking to produce my eggs, threw my uterus off kilter causing us to postpone the transfer, and scheduling it for the middle of August (right before the new school year, NOT IDEAL). Again, God was showing us that it was His timing, not ours. I tried my best to enjoy the summer. Driving past the fertility office where I knew our babies were was both strange and exciting. I prayed every night that God would allow these babies to grow in my belly and that I could one day hold them both.
A frozen transfer calls for more medication. Estrogen patches, more injections that I ended up giving to myself every morning (which I never thought I’d be able to do), pills, and nightly Progesterone oil injections in the butt (fun stuff) were ordered. Even through the craziness of the medications and my emotions, I still felt peace about the whole process. I remember praying for our babies while watching the sun set on the sound while on vacation with my husband. It was amazing to see God’s beautiful artwork as we sat in silence, floating in the middle of the sound, just the two of us. I will never forget that moment.
Our embryo transfer was scheduled for August 18th, less than a week before I started the new school year. It was crazy, because every other school in our county had their first day of school on August 18th but us. There is no way I could have missed the first day of school, so we would have had to push back the transfer another month. God proved again He was in control and had everything planned out perfectly. When we arrived to the office, we saw our babies for the first time in a picture. This picture was taken through a microscope, because they were as big as a speck of dust! The nurse said that they were thawing perfectly (they could have not made it through the thawing process) and looked great! We changed into our awesome outfits and got ready to witness the most incredible miracle of our lives.
I was on the bed, Scott sat right beside me. We were asked our names and birthdays multiple times throughout the procedure. We saw our babies again on a big TV screen in front of us under the microscope. I will never forget when one of the nurses said, “Hot dog! Those look great!” When everything was set and ready, our doctor asked for our embryos and they were carefully passed through the lab door into the room in a long tube. I was a little out of it at the time because I had taken medicine to relax, but I still remember everything that was going on. Scott was able to witness when both embryos were shot high up into my uterus. He said he saw two white dots shoot out and go in separate directions, amazing. The entire procedure took about 10 minutes. When we were finished I sat up and walked out of the room. I remember looking at myself in the mirror in the bathroom right after and thinking, that was the most incredible thing I have ever experienced.
Now, we wait…
The waiting process was tough. After 10 LONG days of waiting, we went in for blood work to see if I was pregnant. I gave blood at 8:00 a.m. and we were told that it wouldn’t be until around 2:30 p.m. before we’d get a call. What in the world were we going to do until then!? We went back home and decided to take naps….yeah right. I tried to rest on the couch and Scott went outside and literally took a nap on the hammock. How in the world he was able to take a nap is beyond me. I told the nurse to call Scott’s phone with the news, not mine. About two hours later, I heard Scott receive the phone call outside. The GREATEST NEWS OF OUR LIVES! We were PREGNANT! I just remember standing in our family room hugging and crying.
Telling our families and friends was the best! We told Scott’s family and even decided to drive over to PA to tell my family in person. Other friends and family members were called (my brother and sister-in-law live in Boston). It was amazing to see/hear their reactions and feel the love and support that they had for us. So many people were praying for us, many that we probably still don’t know of. If you were one of those people, THANK YOU! It still didn’t feel real at the time, and really, it still doesn’t. One of the best things I heard out of this experience was from a friend that texted me, “You trying to get pregnant, and now that you are, has led me to pray so much more regularly! I’m thankful for you!”
For we know that God always works for the good of those that love Him. Romans 8:28
We went back to the office for our first ultrasound a few weeks later. At this appointment we would see if we were having one or two babies. Walking into the office that day was a whole new feeling. We were actually pregnant this time! The days of going to appointments feeling empty physically and emotionally… were over!
Well…there they were…our TWINS!
God showed us His control, power, faithfulness, and love throughout our two year infertility journey. Looking back, I’m actually thankful that he took us down this horrible, emotional, trying, amazing, incredible, loving path. I’m thankful He opened my eyes to all that He could do for me. He lead me deeper into something I thought I couldn’t handle and fulfilled the longings of my heart. He answered so many prayers and proved over and over that I could trust in Him. I now can relate to others going through infertility and be someone they can talk to. Because of this trial, I can say that my relationship with Christ has strengthened. And for that alone, I am thankful.
Now, is that easy to say because of where we are now? Yes. However, we are ready to celebrate the two gifts our God created for us!
Thank you, JESUS!
Love, Scott and Brittany
Thanks so much for reading! Again, I hope you were encouraged by this story of God’s faithfulness and love! Please…if you are struggling through infertility right now, know that you are not alone…know that you can reach out! I would love to talk with you, encourage you, pray with you!
His will, His way…