- Gail Grobler
Finding Peace in the Promise
Our infertility journey lasted for 5 years. It might not seem that long, but when every month feels like an eternity on its own, 5 years becomes a long time. I prayed thousands of prayers and sometimes it felt like I physically couldn't pray any more. We decided in 2010 that it was time to start a family, and we knew it might take a few months to happen. A year later, I had my first appointment with a fertility specialist. My husband, Charl, and I were both checked and told that there was medically nothing wrong. I was given hormones to inject every day. They were to help with stronger and increased egg production. I have always been terrified of needles and the thought of having to inject myself in my stomach was horrible. Charl offered to help (and he tried very hard) but I would keep running away and crying. He went away on a trip and I was left to my own devices... I had to learn how to do it myself. And I did. The first time, I remember thinking, " You're tough, this is nothing, you can do this!" Well, I did it, and I fainted on my kitchen floor. But... I had done it and I was very proud of myself. I continued with the injections for a few months; without success. The next step was AI (Artificial Insemination). As amazing as this process can be, it is incredibly invasive and uncomfortable. We tried a few rounds of AI but none were successful. The realisation that IVF was our only (and last) option began to sink in. After IVF there was nothing else (medically) that could be done. Charl was amazing and very supportive through it all. I was very emotional and I cried a lot. Month after month of failure was tormenting. Friends and family were falling pregnant and having babies. Our life at that time centered around pregnancy announcements, baby showers, births and birthday parties. I was always happy for everyone else but it took a toll on my emotions. I eventually started to avoid all events baby-related; some people understood and others didn't. It was a very dark and disappointing time for me. I prayed all the time, I begged and I pleaded. At one point I felt like all the prayers might be for nothing. There are couples in the world that are never able to have children - what if we were one of those couples and what if we were continuously praying for something that was never going to happen? I asked God for an answer one day. The next morning in the shower, and I will never forget this moment, I clearly heard God's voice telling me, "1 Samuel." Of course I identified with Hannah but at that moment I knew that God was telling me that we would have a child. It was still a long while that we waited but I found so much peace in that promise. The worrying, crying and "what ifs" were finally laid to rest. In between all of this, I had sudden, terrible pain and bleeding one day while watering the garden. I called my doctor and he discovered that I had an ectopic pregnancy. This meant that there was a fertilised egg growing - but it was growing in my fallopian tube and not in my uterus. The pain I felt was because my fallopian tube had ruptured and the doctor had to surgically remove the tube. One major part of my reproductive system was now missing - not the best news for a couple trying to conceive. Towards the end of 2013, after 3 rounds of AI, our doctor told us that IVF was the only option left. We had to take a 6 month break from treatment so that we could save up enough money to do the procedure. Back then, the initial IVF procedure cost around R50-60k. On Christmas day in 2013, we received a bank notification that just over R50 000 had been paid into our account. The reference said, "Met liefde (With love)." We thought someone had mistakenly paid the money into our account as we had no idea about the payment, and it wasn't our parents. It was very puzzling. Charl spoke on the phone to one of his friends... it turns out that his friend had rallied a whole group of our friends and family to donate money for our IVF! Of course we were in tears and Charl knew that he had the best friend ever. Early in 2014 we started with all the pre-IVF medication. The doctor was able to extract 10 egg cells, of which only 5 or 6 were viable. 2 embryos were transferred and then after a 2 week agonising wait, we learnt that neither had attached and that the procedure was unsuccessful. We still had a few potential embryos so we would have to do an embryo transfer again. The doctor was away overseas and we had to wait a month before we could proceed with the remaining embryos. During this month I fell pregnant naturally! Well, more miracle than natural, I think! Mia was born in January 2015. God spoke his promise to me and he fulfilled it, as he ALWAYS does. We were overjoyed with our precious baby girl. We decided that we would like to have another child but I was DONE with the pills, injections, doctor visits and procedures. Once Mia was born, there was a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. No more stress and worry about all the medication and what day of my cycle I was on. I loved feeling "free" and I was content. If a second child never came along naturally, I was perfectly OK with it. In fact, I think I had decided a second child was not going to happen and I had accepted that. But wait, there's more! In July 2017, we were completely surprised with naturally conceived miracle pregnancy number 2! Lara was born in February 2018. I learnt a lot spiritually during our fertility struggle. It definitely wasn't always pretty; and I had many honest and raw conversations with God. I learnt to pray in a different way. I learnt to trust that He has always got your back, even when it doesn't look or feel like it. I learnt what His voice sounds like and I learnt to listen. For the first few years I felt very alone, God was quiet and I felt abandoned. But I found Him (maybe He found me?) in a way that was so deep; and it changed my relationship with Him in a way like never before.