As I sit down to write about our infertility journey, I’m resting my hands on a belly that’s been stretched to accommodate our second baby. We’re over half way to having two babies here on this earth, a gift that I don’t ever take for granted. I doubted and wondered if we would ever experience the joy of earthly parenthood and grappled with difficult questions. Would I ever become a mom? How many babies would I have to lose too soon? Why was this God’s plan for our family?
What felt like my greatest burden has become my greatest blessing as I’ve had the opportunity to share and connect with women from all walks of life who have experienced the sadness and loss of infertility and miscarriage. It shaped and softened me, given me a perspective that I otherwise lacked. That’s what suffering does to us, isn’t it?
My husband and I were very shocked yet pleasantly surprised when we discovered I was pregnant during the summer of 2013. Although it wasn’t in our plans, we quickly got excited and shared the news with our entire family. I was naive about miscarriages like most who haven’t experienced pregnancy loss, blissfully planning for the future.
When it came time for our first OB appointment at eight weeks, I was expecting routine questions and blood work, but an overly eager nurse practitioner whisked me away for an early ultrasound. When I heard our baby’s heartbeat, I knew something wasn’t right. The slow chug wasn’t anything like what I had read about. Something about galloping horses and beats per minute in the 100’s. This heartbeat sounded like my own. Our baby was already measuring a week behind and had a very slow heartbeat. We were sent home with orders not to worry and to come back in a week for a follow-up. At our follow-up appointment the doctor confirmed what we expected, that our baby had passed.
I was shocked and grief-stricken without proper context on how to grieve someone you hardly knew. Such a tiny baby, nearly invisible to the naked eye, wrapped up with so many hopes and dreams for the future. Because it seemed like the “right” thing to do, we told no one except the family members that knew we were pregnant. Our doctor assured us that miscarriage was common, we were young, and the outlook for our next pregnancy was bright.
With hearts open to wanting a family, we decided to start trying a few months after our miscarriage. During that time, I started writing on my blog about our miscarriage in an effort to raise awareness of something I knew so little about before my own loss. We conceived fairly easy the second time around, about 6 months after our loss, and found out that both of my sister-in-laws were also due around the same time.
A healthy heartbeat at our seven-week ultrasound only helped to bolster my confidence in the pregnancy and we looked forward to our 12-week appointment, after which we planned to share more publicly. I remember walking into the appointment with a gut feeling the news wouldn’t be good, and it wasn’t. Our baby had stopped growing at eight weeks, a full month prior.
Two miscarriages. Eight months. I could hardly contain my grief, but now the grief was also mixed with questions. One miscarriage is common, expected even. Two consecutive miscarriages is concerning. Three qualifies you for the diagnosis of “recurrent pregnancy loss” and a host of tests and diagnostic procedures.
The pain and questions I was left with after our second loss pushed me into the Word deeper than before, not necessarily to find answers to my questions but for comfort in my grief and an understanding of God’s sovereignty. Achieving a healthy pregnancy had, I’ll admit, become a fixation in my daily life. Blood tests, doctor’s appointments, infertility message boards, forums, research papers – the desire for a baby had started to consume me.
Just six weeks after our second loss we found out we were expecting yet again. I was terrified. Could I handle another loss? I didn’t know how I could be vulnerable to loving and potentially losing this baby. And then, a week after finding out we were pregnant, I started spotting on a Sunday morning. We went into the ER for an ultrasound and were told our baby was a molar pregnancy – a tumor rather than a baby that could, in some cases, result in a rare form of cancer.
The next day our OB’s office confirmed with yet another scan what the ER told us. They suspected a molar pregnancy and offered to perform surgery the following day to remove the pregnancy/tumor.
Despite all medical evidence we chose to wait a week and pray fervently for God to perform a miracle. During that week, I asked this question on my blog:
“Is God enough for me? If Joe and I never get the babies that we so desire is God enough? Are His promises and His word still true to me? The answer needs to be yes.”
I’ll never understand why we were so fortunate to experience a miracle of such giant proportions, but a week later our ultrasound revealed a baby with a healthy heartbeat and on February 25, 2015 we welcomed Ainsley Moriah Hofmeyer into this world.
Moriah has particular significance for us for it’s meaning. Mount Moriah was the place God led Abraham to bring Isaac to be sacrificed and means “The Lord is my teacher,” or “Seen by Yahweh.”
Our journey through pregnancy loss hasn’t been an easy one. Some days I’ve ached to experience pregnancy like someone who hasn’t known what it feels like to miscarry. It strips you of your innocence while forcing you to surrender control to the One who controls it all. Over the years I’ve searched for one specific purpose for our loss, but the meaning and purpose is so plentiful I would be hard-pressed to identify one single thing.
God’s goodness is evident every time I’m able to walk alongside a friend who is experiencing a pregnancy loss of her own. Every time I watch my daughter color or play, when I’m overcome with such awe that I can hardly contain my thankfulness for this little life. He does, undoubtedly, bring some of our greatest blessings out of our greatest sorrows.