This past weekend was pretty emotional! This was the first time real tears of excitement and joy were shed. Post IVF and a positive pregnancy test, you’d think that immediate joy would settle in but to my surprise, it didn’t.
I was still struggling with lots of fear and worry. I was trying to get through a very hard season while finding joy. I felt grateful yet sad. And guilt was really starting to settling in.
There were moments that I asked God why this ongoing feeling of sadness kept lingering. Different things would trigger it. And I found that I’m not the only IVF patient who’s felt the same way as I asked other women who had gone through it too. Up until this point I had to be cautiously optimistic. And it was hard to switch from that to joy in a matter of a day. It’s almost like I had to rewire your brain.
The biggest hurdle after getting a positive pregnancy result was continuing to take injections. I saw other mamas-to-be and inevitably compared my journey with theirs. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t just move on from the medicine and the physical pain.
I told my husband, “I’m so thankful but this is still hard for me to get through. I’m still experiencing the loss of what could’ve been”. That night I prayed and asked God to help my heart find joy. To help my heart and body heal. I knew that he could heal the hurt, the loss, and the physical toll my body had gone through.
In the morning, I woke up and said to myself, “We’re going to have a gender reveal party”. Now, I’ve never liked gender reveal parties. I’ve always thought they were corny and unnecessary. That’s what baby showers are for, right? Well something in me told me that I had to start celebrating even in the midst of feeling blue. I had to receive God’s joy by doing the sacred act of celebrating.
Advice: never say never. Life changes every minute. We change as people. And what one day we thought we’d never do, maybe that’s the very thing we need to do to move forward. In this case, it was a cheesy gender reveal party.
The best part was sharing this with our family. They have been just as invested in seeing this miracle happen as us. They have prayed, supported, and been there for the hardest days. In the end, we are so happy we did this party with them.
Plus, we got to eat some pretty delicious food and satisfy our sweet tooth with a mini candy bar. Everything was budget friendly yet fun and pretty. Shoutout to Five Below and the Dollar Store 😉
Five months have passed since we found out we were becoming parents. And even though there are still days that I struggle with this infertility journey, I’ve gotta say that God has truly turned my mourning into dancing (as you can see from the pictures). He has taken care of my heart and is healing it more and more each day.
We are ecstatic to be having a baby boy! My father-in-love is the only one of his brothers who had a son. And Edward, my hubby, is the only son who is having a son to carry the Palma name! God is faithful!
To my son, Phoenix Palma, we love you. You already fill our hearts with a joy that’s unexplainable. Your life is marked by godly legacy. And your name expresses exactly who you are: rising from the ashes, renewal of life, and uniquely remarkable. To us and to so many people, you are uniquely remarkable–our first miracle baby. Te amo, mi bebe!
We have been to countless doctor appointments, lost count of all the injections I’ve had to take, cannot explain the discomfort of each pelvic ultrasound, and the ROLLERCOASTER of emotions we have experienced have been exhausting.
IVF is not easy or simple. I knew what I was getting myself into when I chose to go down this route. I knew my faith would be challenged. I knew my physical strength would be challenged. I knew my relationships would be challenged.
Sometimes I HATE that this is our story. Sometimes I CLEARLY see the blessing. And sometimes I doubt why God would choose us. Why he would think I can endure the pain, grief, happy, and elated moments, which you can experience from one moment to the next with just one simple phone call from a nurse.
I clearly remember a couple nights before our egg retrieval. I was so uncomfortable. My ovaries were so enlarged and I was in physical and emotional pain. I was waiting for results from an MRI and I was so so so scared that the results would be something that would hinder the cycle from moving forward.
That night all I could do was cry. So I got out of bed, went into my closet, put my headphones on, played some worship music and started singing to God. There was nothing else I could do. I had to remind myself that even in this process, God was still God. He was with me and was for me.
Moments like that have happened more than I’d like to admit. Fear, anxiety, worry, and just plain sadness are things I have wrestled with through this process. What I’ve learned through it all is that no matter how long you’ve known Jesus or how deep of a prayer life you have, there are somethings that will rock our faith. It’s battles like these that make you realize just how much you need Jesus. More than you ever thought. And you desperately seek Him because, truly, he’s the only person who can get it.
I believe God doesn’t expect us to have it all together. I believe that he knows when our faith needs to be elevated and expanded. Even though we are unaware of our need, he knows exactly how much we need him. He knows that at times, we will feel defeated. He knows that at times, our faith will need to be encouraged. He knows that at times, we’ll need a good cry. And he actually holds space for us to be exactly who we are in those difficult moments of life.
Do I regret making the choice of doing IVF? NEVER. There may be really bad days but the promise of life and hope is so much greater. God has used this to bless us in ways we thought would never be possible. He has shown us a grace that seems impossible for him to give. We have felt cared for and loved by Him through the people in our life. He has shown his great love and faithfulness for us.
If you’re going through a battle right now, I just want to say I’m sorry you’re facing this difficulty. I won’t say I understand exactly what you’re going through because I don’t. But can I encourage you today with something I’ve learned along my journey with infertility?
Fight your battle with an army of people who can pray for you, uplift you, and let you be yourself. Be sensitive to God’s voice as he tells you who that army of people will be. There are very few people who can get in the nitty gritty of tough battles, but God does provide those relationships if we are open to them. I know it’s hard to let people in when you’re at your weakest, but do it anyway. The right people will stick around and will be used by God to help you through it.
This is my closing encouragement to you and to me: KEEP FIGHTING, FIGHTER! Even on the darkest days, when your hope seems very weak and fragile, and your body and heart are faltering. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Please don’t give up. God is for you. God is on your side. Let your fight be hinged on his grace, his promises, and his unending love for you.
National Infertility Awareness Week is here again! It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Sharing my heart and journey is both heart-wrenching and freeing.
This year’s theme is Uncovered. Infertility warriors have been encouraged to Uncover truths about infertility this week to bring awareness to the disease. I’m hoping to uncover some ugly truths about infertility in a genuine and honest way.
I also hope to uncover the love, hope, and grace of God we’ve experienced while facing the ugly truths. I wouldn’t be doing our story justice without speaking on both.
Ugly truth #1 Infertility is isolating and lonely
There are days when you feel like you’re an island. Who can relate to what’s happening in your life? How can you explain it to the people around you? The reality is that no matter how much details you give, there is no way to fully express the emotions and procedures you are going through. Some relationships change or grow distant. Some people don’t know what to say so they say nothing at all. Some people say insensitive things or make less of your journey. All these things can make you guarded and much more selective with who you’ll be sharing your story with.
Ugly truth #2 Infertility is coping with denial
Edward and I clearly remember the day we saw “IVF ONLY” highlighted in yellow when he was first diagnosed. We couldn’t wrap our heads around it. It was a huge blow for us. We thought, “What the heck? That is so extreme! This can’t be right. Not us”. It took us a year to go back to the doctor. I couldn’t fathom having to go through something so invasive. I didn’t feel strong enough or ready. And I thought that God’s plan HAD TO BE different. Well, it wasn’t. This is the path that we must take. And we are finally at a place where we’ve accepted that this is our reality.
Side Note: We are in the middle of our first IVF cycle! It’s a huge step in our journey. We are excited, nervous, anxious, and hopeful. And I’m super proud of us for taking this step.
Ugly truth #3 Infertility is filled with shame and embarrassment
Honestly, talking about all the stuff that needs to work and be healthy when you’re going through infertility can be so embarrassing. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been examined, prodded, asked intimate questions, and performed analysis’ that are uncomfortable. Then, there’s the shame of feeling like there’s something wrong with you. The shame you feel when people ask if you have children. Or the embarrassment when you have to decline an invite due to financial or emotional struggles.
Ugly truth #4 Infertility is time consuming
If you’re going through infertility and trying to explore different options to become parents, it take A LOT of time and effort. Whether you’re adopting, fostering, getting medical help–it takes a big chunk of your life. Your calendar is dictated by appointments, hearings, visits, or medical procedures. And for the average person dealing with infertility that can mean putting work, responsibilities, goals, jobs, or prior commitments on hold. That in itself can be frustrating and disheartening.
Ugly truth #5 Infertility is coping with pregnancy envy
This is by far the hardest thing to admit for me. By nature, I am not an envious person. I feel most like myself when I’m encouraging and cheering someone on. But grief and loss have weird ways of manifesting. I felt like the worse person in the world when I saw or heard of pregnancy announcements and all I could feel was anger and disappointment. I hid my emotions many times because what kind of “evil” person would feel pregnancy envy? I was genuinely happy for them but incredibly sad for us. We have seen many friends and family get pregnant and give birth in the 3 years we’ve been waiting. The feelings of grief and loss have been deep. But we have learned to work through these feelings. We have chosen to bless, love, and celebrate our loved ones despite what we feel in the moment.
God’s Truth: Love, hope, faith, and grace
My husband said something very wise to me the other day as we spoke about our journey. “God has a plan behind everything. He doesn’t close one door and never opens another one. He closes one door to open another one. A door we need to go through. The word need should only be used by God. He’s the only one who knows what we need“.
I’ve expressed to Edward many times that I just don’t understand why we have to go through this. Are we not good enough people? Are we destined to be terrible parents? And his response has always been that it is just that God has a special assignment for us.
I now understand this. It’s taken me a while. And sometimes my mind wants to play tricks on me. But in my heart I know that for some reason, God has a knowing we don’t. He sees something we don’t. In His sovereignty, He deems it necessary and essential for THIS to be our story. Somehow this will have a ripple affect for eternity.
Through every single Ugly truth–loneliness, denial, shame, lost time, envy–God has been there. His has loved us fiercely. He has sent people to love us and meet our needs. He had given us the grace to walk through this with dignity and strength. He has orchestrated moments for us to hear his voice. He has provided in ways that are uncommon for most people going through this. And he has double, tripled, our faith.
The real truth is that this incredibly heavy load we carry is something we never wanted but can look back and see evidence of God’s love, grace, and hope. We have come to realize that He is the prize. We have come to believe that He is what we hope for. We have come to know that He is what our hearts are after. And no ugly truth or diagnosis can take Him away.
“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”
We have been trying to get pregnant for over three years now. And the journey has been very difficult. I wish I could sugar coat it and say there have been pros to this but the honest truth is that it sucks. As I researched a little before starting to write this post, I found articles on how infertility has ruined marriages, women’s bodies, couples mental health, and how IVF (in vitro fertilization), is not recommended. In general, most articles were honest, which I appreciate, but so negative.
Side note: If you're going through infertility, don't google about it. It's freakin scary. Talk to someone you know has or is going through it, instead.
The reality is pretty heavy and painful and I’m going to be as honest and transparent as I can, but I will not allow my pain to dismiss that there is ALWAYS hope when you have God on your side. Infertility sucks. But God is good.
It has been a long journey so far. We started trying to get pregnant in 2016 while we were still living in a small apartment. We were anxious to move to a new place so we could have more space for our growing family. So we decided to move to a new city, buy a home we could afford, with enough room for the children we were hoping to have. Fast forward to 2019, we have a 4 bedroom home and no kids. Just me, my husband, and my mom who lives with us. And an empty room waiting to become a nursery.
In 2017, after trying for a year I decided to let my Gyno know and she recommended for us to do a bunch of tests. Blood work, ultrasounds, semen analysis, etc. After all the exams, we met with her again and my results came back normal. But my husband’s didn’t. And on the report, it read: IVF ONLY.
I was in shock. One minute we were trying naturally–just doing exams to check what was going on. And all of a sudden, we were being told IVF was the ONLY way we’d get pregnant. It was painful, scary, and I felt sad that my husband had to carry this burden.
I did not understand how or why God would let this happen to us. We had done everything in our ability to live in a way that was pleasing to Him. We had made purity when we dated and in marriage a top priority. And we served Him faithfully. I was so confused.
We decided we weren’t ready to take such a big step so we waited for a while. We knew that doing a procedure like IVF was financially, physically, and emotionally draining. It wasn’t until we felt the “ok” from God that we moved forward. In the summer of last year, I spoke to someone very dear to me who encouraged me to call my insurance to see if IVF was covered. She encouraged me to not let fear get in the way of a blessing. And I did just that. To our surprise, our insurance covers it! And that motivated us to look for a fertility clinic that we felt comfortable with. (Side note: our clinic doesn’t take insurance for some parts of the process so we will have to pay a few Gs out of pocket. As Jimmy Fallon would say, “EW”). After lots of research, we made an appointment.
Making an appointment was a big step for us. It meant that we were ready to face our fears. And it also meant that we were out of our denial. This was an issue. We are really struggling with infertility. And we were taking a step medically to address the issue.
When we met with our doctor, he had us do MORE test and exams. He suggested meeting with a urologist before we even decided our next steps. He explained what his predictions were but wanted to make sure we took every step necessary before we went down the IVF route. This made me feel at peace. I knew he had our best interest at heart. But it was also very frustrating because it meant more waiting and potentially more tests which means more money, too.
The latter part of 2018, was filled with lots of appointments with a urologist who is helping my husband improve the root cause of infertility. He’s been on medication for a while now. After a few months of being on the medication, we were told there wasn’t much improvement. Not enough to try for an IUI (Intrauterine insemination), which is a step before IVF. Another letdown.So we decided that we’d keep trying naturally while Edward took this medication to see if after a few months there was an improvement.
And that’s where we’re at right now. We are waiting. And our next appointment is coming up. To be honest, the weeks leading up to our appointments are hard for me. They remind me of what we’re dealing with. It puts focus on something that I wish so badly wasn’t true.
Throughout this process, I have wrestled with God. I have made my pain and my anguish known to him. And in return, He has comforted me and also admonished me. He has searched my heart. He has healed me from a lot of junk that I have carried for years. He has brought to light the fact that my relationship with Him has been a means to an end in many cases. He has helped me celebrate other women and their children in the midst of my pain. He has helped me cope with my pain as others became parents. And he has humbled my heart so that I don’t create an idol of this desire to become parents. Yes, even something as good as being or becoming a parent can become an idol.
There are so many articles that speak of infertility ruining marriages and ruining lives in general. I am thankful that even though it has taken a toll on our relationship, we are stronger than ever. It’s not because we are the most awesome couple in the world, it’s because we have clung to God for dear life. And we have not separated ourselves from our community.
One thing I told myself a few months ago is that I REFUSE to let this consume me. I REFUSE to let this ruin any part of my life. I want us to be parents but not at the expense of my sanity, my relationship with God, or my relationship with my husband. If I’m being real, it’s on ME to let anything ruin my life. I get to decide if I will truly believe God’s word or if I will accept the enemy’s lies.
We are choosing to believe God. We are choosing to trust Him. We are taking every step cautiously so that we can hear from Him. Even though we are on the route to IVF, we don’t know for sure if that’s what we’ll decide to do. And if we do, we don’t know for sure if that route will result in a baby. And we don’t know for sure if we will ever have our own kids. Which scares me and makes me incredibly sad. But we DO know that God is faithful. And that miracles happen in many ways. Not always the way we imaged or wanted, but they happen.
The last thing we ever want is for people to pity us. For people to see us and say “I feel so sorry for them. They don’t deserve this”. I am aware that sharing all this might bring pity. And that kinda makes me nervous. I share this because I truly believe that God wants to use our pain. God doesn’t cause us pain, He is our Father and only wants good stuff for us. But he does use our pain to help us understand and be there for others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3–5)
So, this is our story. It’s still being written. And I trust the hands that are writing it. I know His plans are bigger, better, and brighter than mine. I choose to humble myself before him and accept His will for our lives. I choose to celebrate in the middle of my pain. And I choose to allow him to use it for His glory.
If you’re currently going through an obstacle, loss, medical diagnosis, hard new season, whatever it is, know that you’re not alone. God is with you and wants to hear your heart. And I am here to say that your pain is valid and real and justified. I also want to say that no matter how deep the pain, there is hope. And that hope is Jesus. Cling to him. He will never let you down.
If you’ve been following the discussion around #NIAW, then you must have read the many stories of people going through this struggle.
The stories are so important to bring awareness. I also believe that hard facts and statistics can make this medical issue (because it is a medical issue) less taboo and easier to talk about.
Not only that but maybe more people will advocate and work to get better medical coverage for it.
Here are 5 important facts/statistics you need to know about infertility:
1. The CDC lists infertility as not being able to get pregnant (conceive) after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. In my opinion, if something is listed by the CDC as an illness, then it needs to be seen and known as a medical issue. Therefore, the necessary work needs to be done to bring awareness, get funding for research, and people who are diagnosed with infertility should be able to seek reliable treatment and reasonable coverage.
The next time you talk to someone struggling with infertility, remember it’s not always as simple as “letting go” or “not stressing about it”. It could be an issue they are battling medically. Which can be very draining emotionally and physically.
2. Infertility is actually very common. 1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility. You may very easily know someone who is battling infertility. 6% of women aged 15 to 44 are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying to conceive. It could be your sister, your brother, your aunt, your coworker, or your friend on Instagram. I’m amazed at the number of people that I know personally that have been diagnosed with infertility. Just in my family, there are 3 people who are struggling with it.
I’m much more aware of what to say, what to bring up, what to keep to myself, and what questions not to ask at this point. But I think we should all start rethinking the questions and suggestions we give others about family planning. It’s too common and too sensitive to ignore.
4. Infertility can be treated with medicine, surgery, intrauterine insemination, or assisted reproductive technology. And sometimes a combination of these methods are used. BUT…
5. Only 15 states have infertility insurance laws. But that doesn’t mean that it is mandatory for insurances to cover infertility treatments. It’s up to the employer to decide what kind of coverage they’ll provide.
Being that it is a common medical condition, it saddens me that many people don’t get medical attention because they can’t afford it. And if they do, they are using their life savings for it.
We are so thankful that our current insurance covers the majority of the infertility treatments we need. But that’s not the case for everyone.
Be reminded when meeting or speaking to someone with infertility that they might be carrying a major financial burden. Not only is it draining emotionally and physically, but also financially.
Encouragement for people struggling with infertility: call your insurance before you cross off any type of treatment. Your insurance might cover what you need and you may not even know it. This was the BEST advice I received.
There’s hope in the middle of all this:
I’ve learned so much during this season. I’ve learned to be empathetic. I now understand what it is to grieve. I now understand what it feels like to get a bad report from a doctor. I now understand why these things matter. I now can be there for people going through similar experiences. IT’S NOT ALL BAD. Even though it feels like it.
One thing I also now know is that my God has the power to overcome ALL these facts. Facts, reports, and statistics are great. They inform us and move us to action. ButGod’s power, sovereignty, and goodness can contend with these things and win every time.
He truly has the final say. He provides the resources. He provides exactly what we need and when we need it. In Him, we live, breathe, and move. He is the one orchestrating a miracle in motion.
Please share this with someone. Let’s help bring awareness and hope.