Hailee Davis, West Houston Local Leader & National Team
My husband, Joel, and I had just landed jobs in Houston. We’d been married for two years, and we had just bought our first house. One of the guest bedrooms was intentionally bare because obviously, we’d be using it as a nursery soon. Life was good. I quit the pill a few months prior to actively trying to give my body time to readjust. (ha!) I braced myself to not get pregnant on the first try. And that was just fine actually because I was aiming for August. If I got pregnant in August, then I’d be out on maternity leave just around summer break (because #teacherlife).
August came, school started… but I ended the month with a negative pregnancy test. “It’s okay,” I told myself, “September and October would still be okay months to project for a summer maternity leave.” Those months flashed by, and all I had to show were more negative pregnancy tests. So, my next train of thought was, “It’s okay...five months of trying is totally normal. This isn’t what I planned, but it’ll happen soon”. Oh self, if you only knew!
After about eight months of trying, I really began to fear how long I would throw away negative tests. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. Without doing much investigating, my doctor said that I probably had endometriosis or nothing at all and it was “just taking a while. Give it six more months, and if nothing happens, you’re only option is basically IVF.” I left that appointment beyond defeated. I wanted someone to really figure out what was going on, and I knew that my only option was not IVF. We continued trying every month. The pregnancy tests soon turned into what determined my worth. I was plummeting quickly into despair.
I called my doctor again to ask for clarification. Wasn’t there some kind of test they could do? After a few days, she presented me with the HSG. The whole idea of this procedure freaked me out… and all the google-ing I did and YouTube videos I watched confirmed it would surely be incredibly painful. (Warning: Ladies, do NOT do this to yourself!)
The day of the HSG, I was panicked. What if my tubes are blocked? What if they’re not? If they are, we have an answer… but that means something is really wrong. If they’re not… then we don’t have an answer, but it means things are okay, right? The procedure came and went and every-thing looked “great” according to my doctor. “Continue trying! It should happen soon,” she said.
Not long after the HSG, I found myself in the waiting room of Houston Fertility Specialists. We were diving in… getting serious help. I was anxious about even being there. I did find that the nurses and staff were incredibly welcoming and sensitive to our situation (unlike what I’d experience at my regular OB/GYN’s office). Before we began all the procedures and treatments, we desperately wanted answers. So, we began with an investigative laparoscopy. The doctor found cobwebs of scar tissue wrapped all around my uterus and ovaries. I had significant scar tissue from a serious infection and appendectomy when I was younger.
With answers in hand and scar tissue removed, we began the roller coaster of treatments. We moved slowly, but still hopefully. After our third month of Clomid and our first IUI, we got that positive pregnancy test… and I took eight of them. At our very first sonogram (at only four weeks because I was considered “high risk” for ectopic pregnancy), the doctor noticed that our little love didn’t have a sufficient amount of amniotic fluid. She told us to be “cautiously optimistic” as that was often a sign of eventual miscarriage.
We were devastated. I ran through anger, joy, fear, love, and doubt about a thousand times a day. Our church rallied around us, begging God to make Baby Davis well. At our six-week sonogram, we heard a strong heartbeat: Joy to our ears, but the baby was still not measuring well. At 9 ½ weeks, there was no heartbeat.
This was just a month after my grandmother and Joel’s grandfather passed away and Joel was in an accident that smashed up his car pretty badly. It seemed like everything was against us. I wrestled with God. I told Him how angry I was with Him. I questioned His goodness until finally, I dug all the way to the bottom. I realized there that I had two options: sit with Jesus in my despair or sit alone. People from our church showed up at our house almost every night for a week with hugs, tears, meals, and prayer. I was blown away by them. They chose to sit with me in my despair. What love! Before this season, I ran from situations like that! But they showed me Jesus — and if that was Jesus, I wanted more.
Fast forward through a four-month break to heal physically and emotionally, four more rounds of Clomid and IUIs and we found ourselves knocking on IVF’s door. I hated that we were there. I was terrified. We prayed and prayed, and read as much as we could. We sought counsel… we peeked into adoption. I remember feeling such joy at the thought of adoption, but we determined that I would always wonder if IVF would’ve worked and that wouldn’t be fair to wonder for the rest of my life for our adopted children, or us.
It was also during these four months that Joel and I felt a strong sense that God wanted to use our story. We became open books with each other, our families, friends, co-workers… and complete strangers. It was apparent to us that God had plans for us to do big things with this pain — enter Waiting in Hope and the months of IVF!
The doctor retrieved 24 eggs and after fertilization, we had five embryos! We were a little scared at the thought of five kiddos, but trusted that God had His sovereign hands all over it. Our first transfer of one embryo failed. We had high hopes for it, too. You know how you rationalize things and consider all the statistics: If our first IUI worked, then surely IVF would work. We transferred two embryos the second time, and received a positive pregnancy test! Finally! This had to be it! This baby (or BABIES!) had the same due date as the one we lost the year before. Everything pointed to redemption! This was God making it all right. But, the HCG levels started to fall… and then soar...and then fall… and then soar, until they slowly began to fall regularly.
This is a hard pill to swallow. That second pregnancy seemed to “make sense” of our first loss. When we found out it was another loss, I had to cling to God’s Word — nothing in my human brain could make sense of it. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT) says: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
I remembered that we live in a fallen, broken world, and that my God would comfort me in the storm — I would not be left alone it that place. I was reminded of Jesus’ life. His entry into this broken world was not what the Israelites expected. His ministry often shocked and confused those around Him, especially the Pharisees. His death shocked everyone, but oh the power in that death! So much of Jesus’ life confused those around Him at the time, but looking back in Scripture, we see His perfect plan unfolding for our ultimate good.
I knew from our previous miscarriage that I would not wait to hit the bottom again. I would cling to Jesus from the very beginning, so Joel and I did it together this time.
During our first miscarriage, we processed and handled our grief/anger separately — not ideal. We forgot that we were one and that we needed to dive into the highs and the lows together, but not this time.
We took another five-month break before we transferred our last two embryos. During this time, we began looking into adoption more seriously. Each time we did, we were giddy about it. Such a long lost feeling, giddiness. We faithfully transferred those last two in June and discovered neither of them made it. I remember getting the phone call from the nurse while cleaning the toilet (I clean when I’m anxious). The nurse teared up with me. I hung up the phone, and I sobbed. BUT Jesus met me there… mascara all over, toilet brush cleaner in hand, because He is a “man of sorrows” and is “well acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 55).
Because of our adoption research prior to the last transfer, we had already determined that we were meant to adopt, even if we had biological kiddos. We just weren’t sure of God’s time table. We had our answer after that last embryo transfer. It was time.
Those three years of trying to conceive were the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, but somehow the richest. My relationship with God deepened in ways I never imagined, and my marriage was strengthened. I came to find this valley as a rich place, not an empty place. Rich in love, rich in comfort, rich in peace, rich in God’s Word, rich in His presence, rich in relationships.
Valleys are where things grow!
Yes, I find myself weary in the waiting at times, but I wouldn’t trade it. We haven’t reached “the end”, and frankly, I’m a little nervous about leaving this valley now.
We are waiting for a phone call any day now telling us that a birth mama has chosen us to parent her baby. I know what it feels like to lose a baby, so the thought of this brave woman trusting me with her baby astounds me. I’ve found such richness as we’ve taken a turn in our valley. There could very well be more tough times of loss ahead, but we find ourselves more deeply rooted than ever before.
Now when I sit down to coffee with women in the throws of this battle, my heart simultaneously breaks and leaps for them. Breaks, because I know that pain too well, but leaps because I know God will meet them in some of the craziest ways — and He allows me to be a part of it. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to use this deep pain. He has and is doing amazing things with it. Isn’t that how He works though?
He takes a mess and turns it upside down — which seems to make no sense — and makes good out of the worst. Beauty out of ashes. Calm in the storm. Joy in sadness.
He makes things bloom in the desert.
Please follow @haileedavis over on @waiting.in.hope Instagram & Facebook all day Today - Friday, Feb. 3rd as she takes over WiH social media feed and join her or tell others about the West Houston group she helps lead.