A dear friend was asking about some of the spiritual things I went through during our journey to pregnancy so I started writing. I have trouble not telling a story in full, so it got a little long but I did my best to give a succinct recollection. <3 Thanks for reading!
In 2011, Mark and I took a 'babymoon' - a trip together before trying to start our family. I was so ready. I drew and painted cute baby animals and researched all things baby. I excitedly told my Bible study friends that we were going to be trying and I prayed that my marriage with Mark would be strong and would grow during this process. I was full of hope and expectation.
Six months went by, nothing yet. I was a little concerned and went to visit the doctor. I was told that "these things can take time" and that I should not worry until a full year goes by. I noticed some physical pain creeping in but just thought it was because I was off birth control. I continued to pray and so did the women close to me as I tracked my cycles and researched as much as I could to help.
A year went by and I went back to the doctor. They did a painful test called an endometrial biopsy - pretty much a few hole punches inside the uterus to test the lining. That came back inconclusive and I was given the advice to keep trying and to try to not be stressed as that could be keeping me from getting pregnant. The painful periods continued but I did not think that was part of the problem yet. My friends still prayed.
Two more long years went by. I talked about it less and people asked if we were still trying. My prayers turned from asking for a baby to asking God to do show me what was meant for our family. Maybe I was not supposed to be a mother; maybe we were supposed to adopt; maybe our marriage wasn't ready for a baby; maybe there was something in my life I had to fix before I could conceive. I hurt a lot - emotionally, physically, and even a little spiritually.
I returned to the doctor because by then my physical pain could not be ignored. I almost fainted during work and was in pain or uncomfortable for at least three out of four weeks of each month. I had done some research and presented my doctor with the idea that I could have endometriosis. They had to do surgery to confirm and yep, there it was, stage 4 endometriosis with an unlikely chance of pregnancy.
Endometriosis is where the endometrial cells, the same ones that line the uterus and make a home for a baby, grow elsewhere in the body, usually in the abdominal cavity. They go through the same monthly process but when the lining sheds each month, the out of place cells have nowhere to go and end up causing inflammation, cysts, adhesions, and scarring.
The doctor found that my ovaries were surrounded by cysts and were adhered to my uterus which was also stuck to part of my bowels. No wonder I was in pain and no wonder I couldn't get pregnant! I had a second surgery to remove what they could while doing the best to leave the reproductive parts in good shape. During this time, I was surrounded in prayer more than ever. I was supported wonderfully by my friends, church family, and amazing husband. People prayed, brought food while I healed, and sent kind words.
The next stage was fertility treatments to help get me pregnant before the endometriosis grew back (there is no known cure). The trick was that some of the fertility medicines had hormones which made the endometriosis grow faster so it was a race to see what could win. We were told that we would have about three months to try before they may have to do surgery again. I had people praying, I talked about the process in Bible study, and I was full of hope!
The first month failed and I stopped being so open with the process. A negative was hard on Mark and me and telling people that had prayed so diligently for us that it didn't work was just as difficult.
The second month failed. So did the third. This was around four years since we had started trying. I was in a very dark place. I asked God for some kind of answer. Why would He create me with such a tender, nurturing heart and not fulfill my wish to be a mother?
We tried one more time.
Mark and I were full of wonder and a little apprehension. Would it stay? Would the baby be healthy? Would the pregnancy go ok? I told a few people that new the timeline and asked for them to pray that everything go well. Once we passed the 12 week normal waiting time, we let people know and I felt God's love in the hugs, saw Him in the happy tears, and heard Him in the joyful exclamations.
Time passed and even though it was not an easy pregnancy, I did my best to take it in stride and to rejoice in the miracle of the baby every day. At 20 weeks, we learned it was a girl and I started searching for names. Mark told me to make a list of ones I liked so we would have somewhere to start. I went through web sites and apps alphabetically, writing down names and the meaning of the name. I got to the E's and found a lot that I liked but one stuck out more than the others. Eliana. The meaning is spot on, too - 'God has answered'. I thought it was perfect and it didn't take much convincing to get Mark on board.
The pregnancy continued to have its bumps in the road but on June 10th, 2015, Eliana made it out safely, even narrowly missing a possibly fatal complication at the end. Thank God for prayers of protection!
And then there she was, this little one so many had prayed for - this brand new person that I would have the chance to get to know, to protect, to nurture, to encourage, and to love. The first few weeks it didn't feel real. I would stare at her sweet, squishy face with disbelief. My heart ached while thinking about what could have been if it hadn't worked and the pain of those that might still be waiting for an answer. My spirit started to heal from the rollercoaster it had been on through this experience when I decided to be content in a spirit of gratitude.
Eliana is here. God has answered in this way and I am so thankful.