Wow, I can’t believe I’m writing this post.
I’ve wanted to share our infertility story for so long, but I’ve had a hard time mustering up the courage. Our infertility story is not just a short chapter in our life—it was our life and has now become a part of who we are.
It’s hard to look back at the pain and pure agony I had, longing to be a mom. I felt I was in a desert that I just couldn’t escape. And only through God’s grace did I receive sprinkles of hope. A hope that I clung to in a way only one who suffers infertility can imagine. And now, John and I are here in the Easter resurrection of it all and I want to shout from the hilltops that there are answers to your infertility struggles and there are other women and couples going through this. You, my sister, are not alone.
I want to share our story, I want to share the hope, the despair, and the longing our hearts endured. I want you to know there are answers for infertility, there are doctors who know and study the causes of infertility and don’t just send you to the nearest fertility clinic. I want you to know that God is present with you and He will guide you in all your ways. I want you to know it is possible to conceive and bear a child even when you have a million little problems in your body. I want you to know that, above all, you are loved and your story, your pain, your struggle, is important.
John and I got married in July 2010. We had just graduated from Florida State University. I was teaching at the local Catholic school and John worked at our church office. We’d decided to wait to have kids until after our first year of marriage. I’d always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and we both knew on his salary alone, it wouldn’t be possible. So our journey began figuring out how we could do this.
We decided that October, John would go to law school, a desire of his from an early age. We completed all the necessary steps, and by the next year, we were moving to Naples, Florida for him to attend Ave Maria Law School. This is where our infertility journey began.
It was November 6, 2011, and we had a miscarriage. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would miscarry. I was always a healthy person, never had any big health issues; in my ignorance, I thought only women who have big health issues have miscarriages. But here I was, laying on our couch in extreme pain wondering why me, why our baby, why now. I wanted to hold on so tight to our baby, stop the pain, stop the inevitable. But I couldn’t. I learned quickly I wasn’t God, and His plan for us was different.
John called our OBGYN, who was very supportive and helped calm me down. I was 7 weeks pregnant, there was no need for me to go to the hospital so we miscarried at home.
You know how there are days in your life where you think back and you can’t remember anything about that day, but there are other days that you remember everything about—from what you ate to the weather? Well, this was one of those days. I will never forget ANY of it.
The next day we went to the doctor. I laid on the sonogram table praying and hoping for a miracle, that what we had experienced and what I knew was true wasn’t. That our baby would be ok, that we’d be able to be parents in 7 months’ time. But against all hope and begging, the doctor confirmed we had a miscarriage.
After having a miscarriage, a lot of couples want to try to get pregnant right away, but we just couldn’t. We felt exhausted, hurt, scared, and lost for words. We weren’t sure we were ready to have even the slightest possibility of this happening again while John was in his first year of law school. We were scarred.
We ended up deciding to not have children for the next two years of law school but our longing was deep and the agony I felt was insatiable. All I wanted to be was a mom, all I wanted was to stay home with a sweet baby, all I wanted was to hold a baby in my arms.
Our Search Begins
Fast forward 2.5 years, John was approaching his graduation date and we thought we’d give possible parenthood another go.
Graduation came and went.
We moved to Tallahassee with great hope of getting pregnant. I saw a new OBGYN. She was wonderful, sweet, and knowledgeable. I told her our history and how we’d been trying to conceive for almost a year but it just wasn’t happening. She didn’t seem worried. She told me I was a healthy young woman and it could just take time. She said we could talk about options when we hit the one year mark of actively trying to get pregnant on all the right days—meaning she wanted us to hit the reset button, come back in a year, then we could see what was wrong.
Meanwhile, I knew in my heart something was wrong. It shouldn’t take a young healthy couple this long to get pregnant. Something just wasn’t lining up. Month after month, we still weren’t pregnant. Before we hit the one year mark in Tallahassee, John was offered a job in Tampa. This, I believe, was divine intervention.
Our move to Tampa
We moved to the Tampa area summer of 2015 and the hunt for a new OBGYN began. I made an OBGYN appointment in November 2015. I went in with high hopes that maybe, just maybe, this doctor would be able to give me answers.
Boy, was I wrong. I walked out of my first visit with fertility care papers in my hand–one for John and one for me. We were being referred to IVF. I couldn’t believe this, I couldn’t believe my doctor wasn’t able to come up with a plan to figure out why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I felt like she was just handing me off to someone else, so someone else could deal with my problems. But not even deal with them—she handed me off to other doctors who would just try to get me pregnant without figuring out why we weren’t conceiving. I didn’t have a good feeling about this. I wanted to fix the problem, not just the symptom.
So the search began again for an OBGYN who could actually help me. All the while, we were trying—and failing—to get pregnant. My best friend Jenna had been telling me to visit her doctor’s office. She really believed they could help me. I believe God was urging her day in and day out to speak this message to me.
Finally, June 2016 I found a fertility clinic, St. Gianna’s Center, that teaches women to understand their fertility and why they aren’t able to conceive. Although we had been tracking our fertility, we weren’t using Creighton Model FertilityCare™ System (CrMS), which St. Gianna’s Center uses and teaches. So John and I set a meeting with a CrMS Practioner to learn the system.
After our first month using CrMS, we met again in August 2016 with our CrMS practitioner from St. Gianna Center. She took a look at my charts and told me that I most likely suffered from endometriosis, ovarian cysts, PCOS, and fibroids, and that I would probably need surgery.
My jaw hit the floor and tears followed quickly. We were flabbergasted, to say the least. I couldn’t believe that I could have all these things in my body. I thought I had normal cycles, nothing out of the ordinary, but my charts showed differently. I was shocked that none of the 4 previous OBGYNs suspected any of this.
My CrMS practitioner referred me to a NaProTECHONOLOGY® (Natural Procreative Technology) OBGYN in the area, which happened to be at my best friend’s OBGYN office. I called as soon as we got in the car and made an appointment to see him. There was an opening five weeks later.
September 2016 was my first appointment with my new doctor. He looked at my CrMS charts and explained that since we were young he wanted to try three months of hormone therapy. If we did not get pregnant in those three months, surgery would be the next step. We quickly agreed to this.
He put me on HCG (which I had to inject myself), Femara, progesterone, had my blood tested throughout the month to check my hormone levels, and had me do an HSG (Hysterosalpingography) test to see if my fallopian tubes were open. Thankfully, they were. I had never had so much contact with needles, pills, and tests.
The first month went by. No pregnancy. So we did it all again. Careful charting, flicking the syringes to pop the air bubbles, injections, timing the blood tests with my cycle (and dealing with the labs), tracking the levels. But Month 2 ended and I was starting my next cycle. Still not pregnant.
After three months of injections, suppositories, tests, and blood samples, we still weren’t pregnant but my hope was stronger than ever. I knew if my doctor could do surgery then I would be healed. I knew and I believed it. At my December 2016 doctor’s appointment, we tentatively scheduled surgery for February 6. Surgery would happen if we weren’t pregnant. We took a final shot at conceiving without surgery. But it wasn’t meant to be.
February 6, 2017, is a day that changed my life forever.
I can share the details of the surgery another time, but what matters here is that I went in for a 3-hour surgery on a cold February morning and left healed. I had 13 different spots of endometriosis, fibroids, and cysts that were all removed and my doctor did two ovarian wedge resections. (You can read all about this innovative surgical procedure here.) Recovery was hard but I did it with the best nurse, my husband, by my side.
After a month of healing, we had the green light to try again. I thought for sure we’d get pregnant right away. I was taking all the right hormones–shots, pills—but we didn’t get pregnant. I felt for the first time that my well was empty and I only had hope left that God would create a miracle.
Laura Bush said to her daughter Jenna Bush Hagger, “Every woman will have her baby when she is supposed to.” And wow is that true. I found out on Mother’s Day 2017 that I, Holley, was actually pregnant.
John and I were stunned. This was a true miracle we were seeing before our eyes. All the work and hope we had was present on a stick showing positive.
We were slow to tell others about being pregnant. It was like we didn’t want it to all end as it had before. The scars from our miscarriage 6 years earlier were still so raw. But as the pregnancy progressed we couldn’t have asked for it to go any better—outside of the throwing up and feeling yucky and tired all the time—but hey, I was pregnant, I would’ve killed for those feelings before.
On January 18, 2018, we finally held our precious baby we’d been longing for. Our hope was fulfilled, our strength was renewed, our endurance and patience was rewarded. God gave us the best blessing in the gift of our sweet Caroline. And as Laura Bush said, we had our baby when we were supposed to.
where to find help
If you are struggling with infertility and want to seek options before heading to IVF please reach out to me or to a local CrMS practitioner and they can point you in the right direction of finding a NaProTECHNOLOGY® doctor.
Know that I’m praying for you. Know that God has a reason. Know that He is with you in your Garden of Gethsemane.
There is hope, my sister, there is hope. Never let your hope run dry. He is not giving up on you.
FertilityCare™ Centers of America– Find a FertilityCare™ center near you.
Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction
Dr. Hilgers for straight talk on women’s health and fertility
To find your own NaProTECHONOLGY doctor. (I’m not sure how updated this list is)
P.S. Please share your story, share what you are going through, let others in to support you. They may never know or understand, they may say things that don’t help but you’re giving them an invitation to love and that’s a great gift. It’s hard to open up about infertility, I know. But you never know who is living it too. You may just meet a best friend or help someone else. You never know till you open your heart just a little.