I met Jesus, by becoming a mother — something I was always unsure would be my truth.
I was born with a genetic lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis. This causes thick, excess mucus in my lungs. I have been doing breathing treatments 3 to 4 times a day and taking a handful of pills since I was diagnosed at 2. There is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis. My life expectancy is and was constantly changing. That will always be my heartbreaking truth.
At 7 years old, I became a big sister to a sweet, towheaded baby boy. My love for him was deeper than all my Barbie dolls and stuff animals, combined. I think that is what created a deep maternal desire in me. But CF always threatened the reality of having children; more than that, it threatened every aspect of my life. I could never stop thinking about what it would be like to be a mother. Flash forward – By the grace of God, many treatments and medications led to a semi-normal life. We realized I would live longer than doctors ever anticipated — so life moved on. While I occasionally endured hospitalizations and surgeries, it was clear: if I took care of my lungs, I would live a longer life. I met my husband, and after a swift courtship, we were married at 24. We knew we wanted to have a family as soon as possible. My thought was always, “The younger I am, the longer I’ll get to spend with my children.” Nothing was going to stand in my way.
After 6 months of trying to conceive and hearing several pregnancy announcements, I started to let worry creep in my mind and heart. We started doing the routine steps when one worries about fertility. I went to my OB, had blood work done (of course it came back normal), we started using ovulations tests (which made sex work, not fun anymore), and we started using ovulation enhancing medications. 4 months of all this, and we were still NOT pregnant! I took it upon myself and found a fertility specialist. We did one round of artificial insemination, per his suggestion, and it was unsuccessful. At this point, we had been trying for a year, which felt like an eternity. I started to listen to the enemy when he crept in my mind. “Negative again! Failure. You weren’t cut out to be a mom. You’re going to die early, so God won’t let you be a mom!” All these thoughts were completely gripping my brain when we received earth shattering news. My husband (25) had Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, most likely caused from his second deployment to Afghanistan. It felt like a sick joke.
At this point I was worried about his health, but in the deepest part of my mind, I felt guilty because my thought of children was sometimes greater than his health. I was sad. Sad but angry at the same time. We took the proper time to treat and understand Micah’s diagnosis. During that time we had moved back home to Texas to be with family. Micah’s new oncologist informed us one of the side effects of his medication was a significant lowered sperm count – a HUGE fact his old doctor forgot to mention. We found a new fertility specialist in Texas. IVF was Dr. Bushay’s recommendation, due to the low sperm count and my low egg count (which hadn’t been an issue a year and a half ago. Another sick joke.) We were devastated to find out the possibility of our first child came with a $15,000 price tag. Was it worth it? Would it work? How much effort? How quickly could we get it done? Before we made our decision, the financial burden was taken away. My mother had graciously and selflessly offered to pay. “Anything for my baby to have her baby,” were the words I’ll never forget. With a little hesitance of the unknown and my fear of needles, we dove right in.
Throughout the process of IVF, I was constantly doubting my body. I never let excitement or hope enter in, for fear of being let down. I took out all emotion thinking my heart wouldn’t break if it didn’t work. Our marriage struggled during this time, not only because you can’t have sex during the process, but also because I was void of all intimacy and emotion. The whole process took roughly 3 months. Multiple shots daily, multiple doctor visits to track follicular growth, multiple hormonal break downs. Ah the joys of trying to conceive (sense the tone). I can still remember the pain of just sitting down or walking with 10+ follicles bulging inside of me. Finally, it came time to retrieve the eggs. I remember a faint glimmer of hope when they said they retrieved 8 out of the 10. But over the next 5 days only 6 fertilized, then 4 survived, on day 5 the doctor implanted the 2 healthiest embryos and froze the last 2.
The next week was the worst waiting game of my life; I remember analyzing every twinge I felt. 3 days before my scheduled pregnancy test, I felt the familiar period cramps coming, and in my heart I knew it failed. I failed. I cried while Micah held me, and I told him, “I just don’t think I can do this anymore.” For a month, I let myself believe those words, and I mourned that loss. It only took that month for me to muster up the courage to try again. We still had 2 eggs. Our last hope(s). In my mind, I just had to “use those up,” and then we would be done trying to have kids.
December 2nd, 2012 we decided to implant the last two embryos. On day 5 after implantation, I felt off. I tried to ignore it, but I’m not known for my patience. On day 7, I took a test (3 days too soon). Excited for the first time, I stared at the test for 2 minutes until I started to see the faintest line. We all know that line — the one that makes us wonder if we are crazy! I see it! Wait, now it’s gone. — I mean, this was a Dollar Store test! It had to be wrong, right!? Wrong. I screamed for Micah. “Do you see what I see?” in a panicked, hurry-it-up voice. He studied the back of the box and the test. Complete joy took over! We celebrated by calling my mom and dad who laughed and cried with us. It was a perfect moment.
But it didn’t take long for the devil to creep back in. After all, he knows my deepest insecurities. What if you loose it? Can your lungs handle this? What if it’s twins? Surly, you would die. And that was my way of thinking, practically my entire pregnancy. I never let myself get too happy or attached to our sweet girl.
At that point, I still didn’t know Jesus. I thought worrying was a way of controlling the situation. If I worried enough, I could potentially foresee all the problems we might encounter. But despite the anxious struggles, she came. August 23rd, 2013, I held my sweet Ella while taking the biggest breath of relief ever known.
A couple weeks before this I was welcomed into a sweet playdate group. I didn’t know it then but they were mainly made up of strong Christian women. Their presence was making a difference in me. I can’t explain how it feels to have “mom friends.” Women who know exactly what you are going through. If you don’t have a group of support for the stage you are in, I strongly urge you to find one. Open up to them. Be real with them. Be vulnerable and cling to them.
I knew the minute I had Ella I wanted a second child. The minute she stopped nursing, we were back with our fertility doctor. I did a huge mental eye roll when he told us, “Your body might know what to do now,” while suggesting natural conception. Because patience isn’t my strong point, we settled on artificial insemination when Ella was 15 months old. Artificial insemination was a fraction of the cost of IVF, so we thought we would give it a few tries. If it didn’t work, we would be happy as a family of 3.
January 2015, the sonographer mentioned that I was going to be ovulating 3 eggs. While the thought of triplets scared me, I was overwhelmed with trust. I was confident I was going to be blessed with a second pregnancy. I was finally allowing myself to have empowering, positive thoughts. This wasn’t a coincidence though, because it’s clear now those Christian friends made the Holy Spirit stir inside me. That was making me a more confident woman.
Two years, 1 month from the date we welcomed Ella, we were blessed with Everett. He was a perfectly healthy baby boy, delivered through a natural birth. (I can do a follow-up story on that, because while it was amazing, it was also torture!)
I joined a MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and found myself surrounded by even more women who had a burning love for Jesus Christ. Although I still didn’t know Jesus, I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life; I felt overwhelming contentment. God was pursuing me, and the Holy Spirit was working inside me. My interest in Him was peaking when MOPS put on MomCon 2016 which brought 3,000 women together to give glory and worship to Him. That was the beginning step in my walk with Christ. I was forever changed. In September 2017, I was baptized, claiming that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
Here is what I have learned since starting my journey. The love for your children is great. It’s greater than anyone can imagine or describe, and that is how much God loves us. Soak that in. Now that I know that love of God, I want to tell everyone about the treasure I have found. I can give it all to Him — my fears, my doubts, my worries, my hurt — I can cast it to Him and feel instant peace. Where was that when I was going through infertility? When my heart was breaking? It was there. He was waiting patiently for me. God is patiently waiting for all of us. He knows you. Even when you doubt Him, he wants us to know His love, grace and mercy; especially when you are going through trials.
I now live a life where worry and anxiety are my past. Only God knows my timeline and how CF will affect my life. But now I can cast my fears to Him. Now I can live a life focused on being a wife and on my main calling — being a mother and daughter to the King.
Connect with Kathryn HERE!