“Since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of being a mom. I loved babies and kids. I couldn’t wait for the day I got married and got to start a family of my own. I met my now-husband in 2013 and we wed in 2014. Two years after being married, we decided to start trying for a baby. I was so excited! My naive mind believed that we would get pregnant immediately. Month after month and negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, we knew something was wrong. What was going on? Where do we even start?
I wasn’t ready for what the next years would bring, but we held onto the hope there would be a day we would be parents. In 2017, we reached out to our doctors for help. Initially, everything looked great. At-home ovulation tests were coming back positive, my tubes were clear, everything looked perfect on ultrasounds, and blood work looked great. After suspicion that I had endometriosis, we decided to move forward with surgery in hopes of getting a diagnosis and hopefully to give us some answers. Our suspicion was right; I in fact did have endometriosis. We were told after surgery that our chances were increased since the endometriosis was removed. We were hopeful but again months passed and we still weren’t pregnant.
This felt like such a lonely time because very few people understood what we were going through. I felt like we were stuck at a standstill and yet everyone around me just kept moving forward with their lives. Everyone was pregnant or having babies or raising kids. And here we were, praying and begging for answers. There were ‘triggers’ associated with infertility that I never realized. Social media was full of pregnancy announcements and baby pictures, the baby aisle at stores would have me leave in tears, I avoided baby showers and gender reveals, and holidays made the void feel even bigger. Everything baby-related was everywhere I looked, every place I turned… it was all around me.
I began writing about our journey on social media as an outlet but also to be a voice for others on the same journey. 1 in 8 couples go through infertility and 60% of those couples face it in silence. I wanted to break the stigma and create awareness around the reality of infertility. We talked openly about our struggles, testing, and doctor appointments. And in return, we received an incredible amount of support and prayers that helped us so much through the years.
We decided to move forward with an RE (reproductive endocrinologist). More testing came – saline sonogram, genetic testing, and more ultrasounds and bloodwork. This was hard and tiring, my mind was growing weary. It was a little over two years into our journey and we were still questioning how and why we weren’t pregnant. We sat down with our doctor to discuss our options. We were told because of our length of time trying and never having a positive pregnancy test, we had a 1% chance of conceiving naturally. That didn’t sound promising, and it felt like all our hope slipped away at that moment. But after staying consistent in prayer, we didn’t feel we had peace to move forward with any of our options – medication, IUI, or IVF. Something just didn’t feel right.
A few months later, I had my yearly appointment with a new OBGYN. I didn’t go to even talk about our infertility but of course, it was brought up in conversation. At this point, we thought we had done every test possible, but he asked if I ever had my progesterone tested to check my ovulation. I had not, so I agreed to have the testing done. To our surprise, my levels came back low. We were shocked since my at-home ovulation test had always been positive.
We repeated the test for 3 months, honestly because I didn’t want to accept the results. Each month came back too low to say that I ovulated. Just months prior, we declined all medication, and here we were, being told that was our only option. Having answers gave us more peace to move forward with medication, so we started letrozole the following month. I was not expecting the extra hope (and letdown) that doing medication would add. Although the medicine did what it was supposed to and made me ovulate, we still had no luck getting pregnant. We searched for a new RE and stayed consistent in prayer for each step we were meant to take. We discussed all options in-depth and agreed on adding IUI (intrauterine insemination) with the medication. We had so much hope this would work.
As I went for my first IUI, my husband was not allowed back because of Covid restrictions. Infertility already felt like the loneliest journey, and now I was forced to go through the appointments alone because of restrictions. The first IUI failed, and we moved onto IUI #2. It worked, and for the first time in over three years, we had a positive pregnancy test! We were so shocked and so excited and immediately began telling our closest friends and family. As the days passed, I continued to take pregnancy tests because I still couldn’t believe we were finally pregnant.
Sunday morning, I woke up and took a test, and got ready to start my day… only one line appeared. My heart shattered. We found out I had a chemical miscarriage, what we had prayed so long and hard for was gone in the blink of an eye. I had never felt so high and so low just days apart. I prayed and cried more in those following days than I think I ever had. I knew God was good but honestly, the journey had felt like anything but good. If He could change our journey, why didn’t He? I was lost, I was heartbroken, and I had no clue what the following steps would look like for us.
We followed up with our RE again to discuss the steps going forward. We tried one more IUI and again, it failed. I felt like every time we took a step forward, we were knocked back down. I had this deep gut feeling that I needed another laparoscopic surgery for my endometriosis. My doctor explained to me that she did not feel this would increase our chances and she really didn’t recommend another surgery but if I was set on it, she would be willing to do it for me. I walked in for my surgery alone, again because Covid restrictions wouldn’t allow anyone to come with me. As I sat in the pre-op room, every emotion filled me.
Here I laid, by myself, praying we would leave with answers. Hoping that maybe something new would be seen, praying they would find something… anything. I got out of surgery and was told they found endometriosis (as we expected) and polyps. This was new, we had never seen them on any of the testings. I was thankful for more answers and hopeful this was it. We wanted to try one more IUI and if it didn’t work, we agreed to take some time away to just rest and enjoy the holidays and be in prayer about where God wanted us next. Unfortunately, we had a trip already planned and my period didn’t come in time to be seen for monitoring to start medication that cycle. Since I did not ovulate on my own, we didn’t have much faith in this month’s work.
This same month, a friend’s mom had sent me a story of a couple who went through infertility and God ended up leading them to adopt. This story hit me differently than anything I read. For years, I felt like I trusted wherever God led us, but I never fully submitted our journey to God. I wanted Him to answer my prayers in the way I wanted but did I trust Him if His plan looked different than what I was praying for? I want to say yes but honestly, I don’t know. For the first time ever, I fully gave God control. Whether He wanted us to adopt or proceed with a new treatment or if being parents simply wasn’t the plan He had for us; I trusted Him and for the first time I fully submitted our journey to Him.
I had one pregnancy test sitting in my cabinet. I knew since I didn’t take the medication to help me ovulate then our chances of getting pregnant were probably low (or 1% as doctors would say). But out of habit, I took the test. The faintest second line appeared. Shocked. Scared. Excited. Terrified. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Was this for real? What if we lost this pregnancy too? I stood in the bathroom staring at the test for what felt like forever. I woke my husband up (looking back this is probably a shock to wake up to haha) and we ran to Walmart for more tests. Another positive test! I kept testing for days because it all felt too good to be true and my doctor also closely monitored my levels this time. They were rising perfectly. WOW, after 4 years, we really were pregnant! No medication, no monitoring!
As the weeks passed, everything looked perfect. Pregnancy after infertility and loss is scary, to say the least. Every day you are just waiting for the worst. I battled to allow myself to fully celebrate this new journey we were on, but I felt so thankful for every day we got to carry this baby. We soon found out we were having a little girl and it made it all feel so much more real. Early on in my pregnancy, I got Covid and my doctor monitored all his Covid patients closely, because there was still so much unknown on how it could affect pregnancies. So, we knew at 22 weeks I would start being monitored weekly. At my 20-week scan, everything looked perfect. Baby girl was measuring great, and everything looked just like it should. Two weeks passed and my weekly visits started. I had a scan then met with my doctor; I knew something was wrong. I was immediately sent next door to see the high-risk doctor for something that showed up on the ultrasound.
I found out I had a chorioangioma, a tumor growing in my placenta. This journey already felt so scary and this news made it all just that much more terrifying. But right now, baby girl was still looking great, so we were thankful for that. My doctor went over everything that could happen, but we also knew there was a chance it would cause no problems at all. These tumors are extremely rare, so we were thankful that my doctor had some experience with them. The first few weeks passed, and everything continued to look well. Around 26 weeks, my amniotic fluid began to rise but we were still in a ‘safe’ zone. At 27 weeks, I went in. My fluid had continued to increase and my tumor had grown.
We knew this wasn’t good. Our doctor called a bigger hospital in Dallas and they wanted to see us ASAP. We had a day full of appointments, checking baby girl head to toe. At the end of the day, we met with the doctor and we were not prepared for that conversation. We were told that our girl was headed towards developing hydrops (fluid buildup in baby’s body) and if we did not do something, there was a chance she wouldn’t make it. I was numb, I wanted to act like I didn’t hear what he just said. I needed her to be okay, she HAD to be okay! The doctor started talking about surgery, he had only done this surgery 10 times but was one of the doctors most known for doing them. We knew what we were dealing with was rare, but we didn’t think it was this rare. He wanted to do the surgery that same week, so we knew what we were dealing with was serious.
I never felt fear like I did at that moment. There aren’t adequate words to say exactly how we felt. We proceeded with surgery at 28 weeks pregnant. They stopped the blood flow to the tumor and removed 3 liters of extra amniotic fluid. We headed home, praying and believing I would carry our girl full term. I took the following week easy, but the contractions wouldn’t stop and I began leaking amniotic fluid. I spent the following 2 weeks on bed rest in the hospital. I was monitored daily and received ultrasounds 2 times a week to check on her. At 31 weeks, they ordered an ultrasound because of some things that were showing up on the monitor. Doctors and nurses quickly filled my room. Our girl was starting to show signs of being anemic, which can be fatal to infants, and they wanted to take her early.
April 29, 2021, at 3:41 p.m., our beautiful and perfect baby girl was born via c section weighing 4 pounds 8 oz. We named her Tatum Rayne – Tatum meaning carrier of joy and Rayne meaning abundant blessings from above; we thought both were so fitting for our miracle girl. We knew we had a long road ahead. We finally got to see Tatum that night where we found out she had hydrops, the same condition we were told if she developed it would be too late. But she thrived and got rid of the extra fluid all on her own! 9 weeks early and she was perfectly healthy. We were so thankful.
The NICU stay broke my heart. I wanted our girl home. We had waited and prayed for this moment for so long and although she was here and safe, leaving her at the hospital each night was hard… extremely hard. We were incredibly thankful for the best doctors and nurses, but the truth is, nothing prepares you for someone else getting to take care of your baby the first few weeks of their life. Tatum spent almost 6 weeks in the NICU. 6 long, hard, emotional weeks yet 6 weeks full of so much joy, hope, and celebration. Finally, Tatum got to go home! 5 years waiting for this moment, she was home, and our family was complete. We feel so honored to be her parents and are thankful for all God carried us through all those years.
We experienced every part of the journey – infertility, high-risk pregnancy, fetal surgery, and NICU stay. Those years were hard, to say the least. We were knocked down more times than we could count, our hearts were shattered time and time again, and we struggled with hanging onto hope BUT we made it. Every day that we see Tatum, we are reminded of the goodness of God. To get the front row seat to see His miracle firsthand is something I could never put into words. Infertility broke me but built me in so many more ways. I didn’t understand the trials as we went through them but now that we are on the other side, I am thankful for the journey we walked that lead us to our biggest blessing and sweetest miracle, Tatum Rayne.
I will continue to be a voice for this community. My hope is that our story can inspire a couple on the same road or educate someone who has never walked this journey. I have seen prayers be answered through IVF, adoption, medication, and I also still have friends walking through infertility. Every story is different and every story is beautiful in its own way. If you are on this journey, I am praying for you. Hang onto hope friend, advocate for yourself, be honest with those around you, give yourself grace, protect your heart, and follow what you feel is best for YOU on this journey. And if someone you know is walking through this be there, love them, offer a listening ear, be understanding of what they need to do to protect themselves, and educate yourself to better understand their journey. 1 in 8 couples may go through this but we don’t have to fight alone!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brianna Frase from Longview, Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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