by Mary Grace Conrad
O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3, 5
“I can’t believe this is happening…”
I think I’ve said that sentence at least a thousand times over the last couple of months. As most of you know, Alec and I have been on a long road of infertility, but by the grace of God, we conceived naturally and are into our second trimester of pregnancy. We have been waiting to make this announcement—not just because we are excited to be parents, but because we are SO ready to share the news of God’s miracle! So come and listen to (or read) what God has done!
December 2017 marked 3 years of trying to conceive. Before we started trying, I remember a co-worker saying, “Don’t wait too long. It can be harder than you think.” And I thought to myself, “Yeah well... that won’t be me.” HA!
To make a long story short, we tried naturally for one year, then we started seeing a doctor who specializes in infertility. That brought us to Clomid pills, Femara, IUIs, blood work, ultrasounds, and x-rays— only to receive negative pregnancy tests for two more years. Every appointment and procedure would be perfect. We would be so hopeful, thinking- yep, this will be our month. Yet every month brought on disappointment and confusion.
Alec and I decided that after 2 years of medication and five failed IUIs, it was time to move on to IVF. To those of you who are not familiar with fertility terms and abbreviations, IUI stands for intrauterine insemination, and you can read about it here. Most patients will do 3 to 6 IUIs before moving on to IVF. IVF stands for in vitro fertilization, which is a much more invasive and costly procedure. You can read about it here.
Our IVF consultation was at the beginning of January 2018. I could not believe that we were about to start our “last attempt” at having a baby. I was really excited and hopeful, but at the same time, I had my fingers crossed that maybe we didn’t have to do this. Thinking about spending 15k for just a CHANCE of having a baby was daunting.
A few weeks before the appointment, I began reading a book about prayer. I was learning to pray specific prayers, and to not be afraid to pray for big, impossible things. Specific prayers honor God. BIG prayers honor God. The bigger and more impossible the prayer, the more glory God receives. For nothing shall be impossible for Him, and when we pray like we BELIEVE that, it honors and glorifies Him. I’m not saying that God says “yes” to a prayer if we say it a certain way. But I am saying that we need to pray with faith that He is able to do what we are praying for. For a while, I was praying vague things to avoid disappointment. I was praying as if I knew God would say no, just to prepare myself for heartache. So for a couple of weeks before our initial IVF appointment, I prayed a big, specific prayer.
“Lord, I am asking you right now that we do NOT have to do any further treatment. I pray that you place a baby in my womb without any pills, without any injections, and without another ounce of treatment so that I know with all my heart that this baby is from you and ONLY you. I pray that you perform this miracle so that we will know and declare that YOU are the only giver of life. And that through this miracle we may glorify your name forever.”
So January 8th rolls around, and we head to Flowood to meet our new doctor. As we sat at the table, he reviewed our file and eventually told us that it was time to do in vitro fertilization. We were given a 2% chance of ever having a baby on our own without treatment. Two percent! He might as well have said zero! I remember thinking, “OK, this really is not going to happen. It’s impossible unless we do something drastic.” I could feel all hope leave my body. Have you ever had that feeling when you finally come to terms with something that you’ve been avoiding? When you’re not sad, you’re not really even disappointed; you feel lighter. That was me-- I was relieved… Relieved that a doctor finally told me to my face that I would never have a baby unless I did IVF. Relieved that I didn’t have to waste my time with treatments that I knew would never work. So we were put on the IVF schedule and went on our way home.
Now if any of you have ever gone through infertility or have tried to conceive for several months, you know how addicting it is to take pregnancy tests, just hoping that you will see those 2 positive lines. I had recently bulk-ordered 50 pregnancy tests (I am blushing as I type that), so when Friday rolled around I thought I’d put one to use-- why not? I had 50 tests! (If anyone needs pregnancy tests, please contact me lol.) On Friday night, January 12th, just 4 days after the doctor told us that we couldn’t have a baby naturally, we get the shock of our lives. I grabbed that stick and ran into Alec’s office, shaking.
“Umm Alec? How many lines do you see?”
“Two. What does that mean?”
“I think it means I’m pregnant.”
I have a hard time describing how I felt at that moment. There were tears, lots of tears. Disbelief, shock, awe, fear, and more disbelief. Then I remembered that prayer I said a few weeks ago. I didn’t just pray for a baby; I prayed that God would give me a baby without anymore treatments—that I would conceive naturally so the world would know that God is the giver of life. And here He was—saying YES!
For the next few weeks, fear controlled our thoughts and unfortunately hindered us from truly worshipping and praising God for what He had done. I couldn’t help thinking that this was way too good to be true. I had no idea if I was able to carry a pregnancy since it had never happened before. Alec and I told ourselves that worrying would not make anything easier, but we were just SO scared and could not believe that this was happening! After our 6 week prenatal appointment, we slowly began to accept this for what it was—A MIRACLE!! It’s funny when we tell people—how quickly people ask (including ourselves), “how did it happen?” We all want explanations; we want to know how the heck this happened.
“Does your doctor know what finally worked?”
“Maybe you were too stressed before.”
“Yall just needed to stop trying.”
“Maybe your body just needed to flush out all the meds.”
But can I ask a favor? Let’s not explain away this miracle. Let’s not minimize its wonder. I have no idea how I got pregnant, besides the obvious ;) My doctor doesn’t have a clue of what “finally worked” or why it didn’t happen three years earlier. I am constantly asking myself, “Why, God? Why me? Why not _____(insert friend’s name).” I can think of so many more women who have been through much harder times than I have. So many women who are probably not even reading this blog post because it hurts them too much. So many women longing for a miracle like this one. So many couples who would use this miracle to glorify God. When I think about that, I feel so unworthy, so undeserving, so humbled I can barely keep the tears from falling. I will never have a reason why God chose to do this for me, but I am beyond grateful for this gift. I don’t deserve it. I didn’t earn it. It’s simply an act of mercy for which I can never say thank you enough.
Isn’t that the beauty of the gospel? Just like Jesus gave me this baby, He gave himself to us. He chose us as sons and daughters. He chose to die on the cross for us. None of us deserve his grace, and none of us could possibly do anything to earn his salvation. He is our ultimate gift for which we can never be thankful enough.
It used to bother me when people would say, “It’ll be worth the wait. You will not want to change a thing.” But ya know, I get it now. These past 3 years have been the hardest years in my life thus far, but I wouldn’t trade it. I’ve learned some tough things— infertility exposed my idols, it showed me that my faith is weak, and I pursue joy in all of the wrong places. But I also learned that God is merciful, His ways are far better than mine, and that He is the only source of hope and joy. Thank you, Jesus, for my infertility and for this baby.
Now I ask that if you are reading this blog post, please do not stop praying for us. Because the story isn’t over! Pray especially for Baby Conrad, and that he or she continues to develop and grow into a healthy newborn. Pray that Alec and I can relinquish our fears that so easily hinder our praise and joy. Pray that I never grow numb to this gift, and that I am always able to look back at God’s faithfulness. Pray that I will always be able to say “God is good,” even when I don’t get what I want. Pray that we never forget, on our best days, that we need Jesus as desperately as we do on our worst days. And please keep praying for all of my friends and other women who are still battling infertility.
I also want to say THANK YOU! Thank you to my church, my family, friends, co-workers— everyone who has been praying for us during this journey. Your prayers, text messages, letters, books, Facebook posts, hugs, and kind words will forever be cherished. I couldn’t ask for a better community of support and family in Christ. I love you all.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!