A Journey of Tested Faith
By Tiffany Finley
Here is my story. I met my husband, Derek, through his best friend whom I happened to take a class with my senior year of college at The University of Southern Mississippi. Derek and I dated for six months, and he proposed. That same year and days following my proposal, I developed blood clots (DVT-Deep Vein Thrombosis) in my left leg and PE (Pulmonary Embolism) in my lungs that left me with a diagnosis of APAS (Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome), aka high blood clotting factor and having to take the blood thinner, Coumadin, indefinitely. Fast forward a month later, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) – a hormonal imbalance that causes small cysts to grow on your ovaries, hence the name polycystic. It also causes one to have missed periods or not have periods at all making it extremely difficult to get pregnant, as you’re not releasing an egg (ovulating) on your own. At this point not only was I going to be a high-risk pregnancy due to this blood clotting disorder, but I was told that I would need help conceiving when Derek and I were ready to start a family. Needless to say, it was one world wind of a couple of months!
We said our vows before God, family, and friends in October 2009. In August 2010 we felt we were ready to try to build our family and began taking Clomid. We tried it for 3 months with no luck. We put baby making on hold for a few months, and didn’t start trying again until May 2011. This time we were seeing a RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) to help us. We conceived twice via IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), but both were ectopic (tubal) miscarriages in August 2011, and the second ectopic miscarriage in February 2012. Having two miscarriages exactly six months apart of one another was heartbreaking. It left me feeling angry, confused, hopeless, numb, and like I’d never be a mother. Additionally, I kept my struggle with infertility mainly to myself, except sharing with my and Derek’s parents and two best friends, as I felt somewhat ashamed that I couldn’t conceive naturally. Furthermore, after the first ectopic my husband and I agreed to keep our pursuit to conceive between the two of us, not informing anyone until after our first trimester should we conceive again in the future. Therefore, no family or friends knew of our second short lived pregnancy. So, two miscarriages later I was told that it was time to move on to IVF (In vitro fertilization), as the doctor suspected some blockage in one or both fallopian tubes. At the age of 29, I completed my first IVF cycle in May 2012, and it was unsuccessful. I was even more angry, heartbroken, confused, and hopeless as my faith in God grew weaker. I felt alone in my fight against infertility with no one to turn to, or understand what I was going through-the pain I felt. Finally, Derek and I decided to inform both our families of what had been, and was transpiring as it related to us trying to become parents, as we’d reached a point where we needed the prayers of both our families. Derek and I then moved on to complete a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) in June 2012, as we were able to freeze seven of our embryos after the first failed IVF cycle. Following IVF cycle two, I began writing and blogging about my infertility journey, because it was very therapeutic for me. To our surprise, that cycle was a success, and today Derek and I are the proud parents of Caleb, a former 25 week micropreemie born 2 pounds, .04 ounces, and 12 inches long in December 2012.
As of 2015 Derek and I began trying to expand our family of three to a family of four. It finally happened! Tuesday, October 31, 2017 was one of the happiest days of my life. After two years of standing on the word of God, faith, and believing for healing in my body to conceive naturally without the help of fertility doctors-God had finally answered my prayer. There I stood in my dining room with my husband looking at two pink lines after he’d come out of the bathroom giving two thumbs up and the HUGEST smile that I’d ever seen on his face. I was so overjoyed, and overwhelmed with emotion. All I could do in that moment, which for the past two years felt like would never happen for me, was cry and say “thank you, Jesus” repeatedly. Derek and I had conceived on our own, the old fashion way, as we’d prayed for. All of this joy consumed us, and we couldn’t wait to surprise our families by sharing the news with them during the Thanksgiving holiday. For now, we were going to keep this to ourselves aside from telling a few close friends of ours, and the ladies of my ministry’s online fertility support group who’d been supporting me throughout my journey to baby number two. It was sooo hard not to say anything to anyone. We wanted the whole world to know, yet wanted to surprise family and do our general public announcement sometime between Christmas and the New Year. Then, Sunday afternoon, November 5, 2017 I began spotting brown blood. We immediately went to the ER. They performed a transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound, drew blood for beta and other labs. At this time, no baby could be seen on the ultrasound. All that could be seen was the gestational sac, no fetus or yolk sac at this point. However, my HCG level was 6,500. I was told that the brown spotting was probably just old blood, and was diagnosed as having a “threatened miscarriage.” The doctor advised that I be on pelvic rest for the next few days and to come back in two days for another beta. Consequently, I did as I was instructed and remain in bed pretty much the entire week while covering our baby’s health and life in prayer. Due to the unexpected events, we decided to break the news to our families early so that they could be praying for the baby’s health and our pregnancy as well. I was back on that Tuesday for another beta that was a little over 11,000. The bleeding began to slightly decrease, and I was a tiny bit at peace, but couldn’t wait for my appointment day to arrive the next week, so that we could lay eyes on this miracle baby that doctors told me I would never conceive on my own because of a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and left blocked fallopian tube, and right “severely scarred” fallopian tube.
The following Friday, November 10, 2017, I went to go see my OBGYN to inform him of all that had been transpiring, and request that he’d test my progesterone levels and hcg levels again. He did, and wanted to see me back on Tuesday, November 14th for an ultrasound. I would get my progesterone and HCG results back Monday afternoon, November 13th. Now, it’s Saturday evening November 11, 2017 and I’m beginning to spot again. Again, we went to the ER and the same protocol was taken-blood work for beta and other labs, and ultrasounds. The good news was that my HCG levels were continuing to rise at 22,000 and a gestational and yolk sac was visible this time, but again no fetus to be seen. Needless to say, again I was diagnosed as having a “threatened miscarriage” and to see my doctor first thing the following week. Hearing that a yolk sac was seen this time gave me more hope, but I was still anxious. Monday came and my doctor informed me that my progesterone was 7.7 and my HCG was a little over 16,000. I informed him of the weekend visit to ER and the results of my beta at that time. He felt better about the beta, but was concerned about my progesterone. So, I was prescribed and instructed to begin oral progesterone and a progesterone suppository. He also scheduled me for an appointment with my high-risk OB (Perinatologist). I’d see him on the following day, Tuesday November 14 before seeing my regular OB.
That Tuesday was one of relief and a breath of fresh air, as we FINALLY got to see and hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time since finding out we were pregnant. We were so excited, because for us at the time this meant that baby was doing fine, and we could finally officially tell Caleb that he was going to be a big brother. We would tell him as soon as we picked him up from school. Thus, we also discovered that I was a week earlier than we thought. According to my last menstrual cycle I should’ve been 7 weeks 2 days, but according to the baby’s measurements I was only 6 weeks 1 day. That means I ovulated later, and got my bfp very early at 4 weeks, instead of 5 weeks. I cried so many happy tears that day. After the perinatologist’s office visit, we walked over to my regular OB for that appointment. He instructed me that he wanted me resting at home until the light bleeding stopped completely, and he’d see me the following Tuesday, November 21st for another ultrasound. I did as instructed. We told our son that he would be a big brother soon and he was all smiles and full of excitement. He even gave the baby a little nickname, “Jellybean.” So, that’s what we referred to the baby as. As instructed, I rested and took care of myself that entire week. My awesome husband waited on me hand and foot, never letting me lift a finger for anything. We did everything we were instructed to do, and the bleeding eventually completely subsided. Finally, Tuesday November 21, 2017 had arrived. I woke up feeling excited about seeing my baby again, and hearing his or her heartbeat. Two o’clock rolled around pretty fast. We showed up to our appointment full of anticipation to hear that wonderful sound of a growing baby’s heartbeat. As I laid on the table, Derek stood to the left of me holding my hand. We were ready to see our baby and hear the heartbeat again. Only this time, there was no heartbeat. The sonographer first did a transabdominal ultrasound and couldn’t see anything. She then let me know that she was going to do a transvaginal to get a closer look. Again, no heartbeat. All we could see was a baby lying lifeless in my womb who’d only grown to 6 weeks 4 days, and had absolutely no heartbeat. I was devastated. Derek was speechless. My OB came in to take a look and still there was no heartbeat. He sent us over to my perinatologist’s office for a second look. His office receptionist walked us out through the back door of his office (thank God, because I would’ve lost it if I would’ve had to walk through a room full of expecting women), and still NO HEARTBEAT. I felt like someone had punched me in my stomach and knocked wind out of me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. I cried and cried, and cried. All my husband could do was cry with me and hold me. This was not the outcome we were supposed to have. We went from holding our positive pregnancy test and crying tears of joy to sitting in a doctor’s office crying tears of sadness and pain. One week we’re celebrating hearing the life growing on the inside of me, and the next in an operating room being prepped for a D & C. It was all over before it even began……That year has been the worst Thanksgiving holiday I’ve ever had in my life, and I was not looking forward to Christmas, the New Year or any other holiday. All I wanted right then was the baby that was promised to me. My baby. Our baby.
I asked God, “God, what are you doing? Why are you doing this to us? You told us that we’d conceive this baby….why would you tell us that….why would you give us this miracle baby, only to take it from us? Why?” I never expected that I’d have been experiencing my third miscarriage, but hey, there I was. So, this is where we are….no baby Finley #2 as anticipated, no promotion to big brother status for our son. All that was left was hurt, grief, sadness, anger, confusion, yet still a small ounce of fight left to be used now. But, right in that moment, I had no fight, no prayer, no faith, no hope, and no answers as to why my baby….our baby…our miracle that we’d waited two, very looooonnnng years for had been taken from us at 7 weeks 1day. And, I’ll never know the answer to all of those questions that I had until I see God face to face to have that very painful discussion with him. In the meantime, I will say that God IS A HEALER, God DOES THE IMPOSSIBLE. He’s STILL OPENING WOMBS that doctors have diagnosed as infertile….I’m a living testament-living proof of this. I will always and forever believe God’s word about my health, life, situation, and circumstance over what any doctor tells me, and I will stand and rely on His word for the rest of my life. God has been doing miraculous healing in my reproductive health, and I know that He’s finishing the work that He’s started. We’re again standing on faith and trusting Him for baby #2. While I have a very strong faith in God and His ability to give us another predestined miracle, an infertility diagnosis still takes its toll emotionally, financially, physically, and psychologically. Many may think because God has blessed us one with child that our trying for a second should be easier. Let me tell you…that’s so far from the truth, because your body is still fighting to do something that it should do naturally, but doesn’t. However, we know that God is a healer and He’s the opener and closer of my womb. With that said, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR HIM. By faith, we know that our predestined miracle #2 is on the way!
Originally featured on TiffanyFinley.com