So the story of our family started as far back as I can remember. Growing up I did not have the greatest of parents. My real dad left when I was very little, 3 or 4. I really don’t have any memories of him living in the home with us as a family. My real mom had many, many struggles of her own while trying to raise 3 kids by herself. she struggled with a history of emotional abuse and neglect in her childhood. She struggled with depression as an adult and in my opinion, her greatest struggle has been with addiction. She is still struggling with these issues to this day and because of her addictions, I don’t have any relationship with her. Still, even though I came from a broken family, I have always known since I was a very little kid that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up.
I married my husband in July 2007. We had discussed children while dating and had plans for a family. Three, maybe four kids as soon as we were in a good and stable position. My husband found out the company he was working for was relocating to PA in 2008. It didn’t make sense for us to move with the company as this was a job he didn’t really love and the pay was going to be less. We wanted to wait to have children until Erik was able to get into another job so we could be financially stable before we started our family. The first few years of marriage were very blessed and we really enjoyed the time we had together, while we waited for the right time to have children.
The longing in my heart for children was so great during these years of waiting. I was 27, 28, 29, and 30. Some of my friends had started having kids young, their kids were school aged now. Other friends were having their first, or second child by now. I have so many memories of friends and family members making the joyous announcement that they were expecting and me having to use all my energy and control to express happiness to them for their big news. I remember one friend announcing they were expecting their first baby at a 4th of July BBQ. They just got married one year after us and on their one year Anniversary announced they were expecting. I was so full of jealousy and sadness that I faked a headache so I could go lie down on their basement couch and cry. I so longed for a baby and was so frustrated and sad that it still wasn’t my turn but I knew the time wasn’t right for us and I had to keep waiting.
Finally, after four years of marriage, my husband started a new career and we felt like now was a good time to start our family. We started trying for a baby in June 2011. I figured as soon as I went off my birth control I would be pregnant in a few months. I mentioned to my OBGYN at my annual check-up that I wouldn’t need any more birth control because we were planning on starting a family. He said that sounded great, and to try for a year. He said that 90% of couples would become pregnant in one year if not using any birth control. After about five or six months I was surprised that I wasn’t pregnant so I started reading up on ovulation and what days to use for conception. After making sure to use my fertile days, I still wasn’t pregnant. Then I moved on to using ovulations kits. Between the ovulation kit and then the pregnancy tests that followed. I peed on countless sticks! I was even buying them on-line to get a bulk discounts. Fifty sticks are way cheaper on-line than buying the singles in the store! As each month passed I became increasingly anxious and frustrated. Why wasn’t God giving me a baby? What was wrong with me? How could everyone else I knew be blessed with children except me?
After we hit the one year mark of trying for a baby without ever having a positive pregnancy test, my OBGYN sent me for a round of tests to check me for any of the most common reasons for a lack of pregnancy. Hormone testing, (this is where the blood work and needles started.), a radiology test to check fallopian tubes and ovaries, and a special ultrasound of my uterus. All pretty uncomfortable but everything came back normal. My husband also checked out perfectly fine. we were officially diagnosed as “unexplained infertility”. I think the unexplained part was what made the frustration so great. If there is nothing wrong with me, why am I not pregnant? What is wrong with me?
After we both cleared medically we started with the easiest, and cheapest fertility treatment, Clomid. You take this prescription on cycle days three through seven and then try to conceive using cycle days ten through seventeen. I was really expecting this to work for us. My sister tried for over a year to get pregnant with her third child. After a year she took one round of Clomid and then got pregnant with twins. I was expecting the same for me. Maybe I just needed a little help. I did more than six rounds of Clomid, also still using the OPK, and a fertility monitor and still nothing. That means more pee sticks, more months of hope and disappointment. More months of getting the dreaded period.
During year two I really began trying to figure out why I was so stuck in this unhappy place. Why was God not blessing me? What was I doing wrong? After looking inside, it wasn’t hard to find things that weren’t right in my life. We had never planned on being in Rhode Island long term. I had put in for several promotions out of the area from 2008-2010, but we didn’t get any of the spots I put in for. Since we hadn’t planned on staying in the area, we had never joined a church. I thought maybe God was trying to tell me something, that my lack of pregnancy was because my life wasn’t right with Him. I definitely felt that God was using the circumstances of my life to tell me that I needed to get back to church. I told my husband, I wanted to revisit us finding a church home since it seemed we were never leaving Rhode Island. We tried a few more churches in the area before ending up at Christian Hill where I/we had sporadically attended from time to time since 2005. By the end of 2012 we were attending regularly and in 2013 we officially became members. I thought that after I “fixed” my relationship with God that He would bless me with a pregnancy.
2012 was also a very trying year for me at work. Not only was I unhappy that I was not becoming pregnant, I had a new boss and I was unhappy and very stressed out at work. I had always been a very happy and healthy person and I was now becoming a version of myself that I did not like. At the end of July 2012, I had what I thought was a bug bite on the back of my leg. It started out as small and hurt a little. In a couple days it got worse, so I saw my regular doctor. Overnight it blew up and the next day I ended up admitted to the hospital with a staff infection. I was hospitalized for the first time ever and spent three days admitted because I needed IV antibiotics for the severe infection in my body. The doctor wrote me out of work for two weeks. I missed our entire fiscal year end(and year end is a pretty big deal when you work in accounting). This hospitalization opened my eyes to the fact that I had become so unhappy and stressed out that is was now affecting my health. It was beginning to seem that maybe stress was playing a part in my inability to become pregnant.
After two relapses of this staff infection(which also turned out to be MRSA positive), I talked to my boss and told him I had become very unhappy in my current position and I believed the stress of my work was affecting my health, both with these staff infections and the fact that I was not getting pregnant. We worked out a change in position for me starting in November, 2012. I would be a Senior accountant, no longer running the accounting department, no more managing people, no more coming in on weekends to do extra work, less stress and less hours. Plus, when I became pregnant this was going to be a much more mom-friendly position. I expected that this job change was what I needed to do and that this was going to be the change that I needed to make for us to have a family.
2012 came and went, eighteen months and no pregnancy. Each month was getting harder and harder. We went and saw an infertility specialist at Women’s and Infants who gave us the run down on our treatment options. The first doctor recommended starting with three IUI’s and the success rate on that would be 20%. If that didn’t work, than we should move onto IVF with a success rate of just over 25%. If we didn’t have insurance coverage, we would have to pay out of pocket and the cost was staggering and the success rates were so low. My husband wasn’t on board with moving forward with treatments, he thought I was just being impatient and we should just keep trying on our own. So the pee sticks continued, the months and the cycles passed painfully, more friends had babies, became pregnant again, and their children were growing up while I was just waiting, hoping, and trying to get started.
The fertility doctor I saw at W&I in 2013 didn’t really help me but I still feel it was God’s plan for me to see him because he connected me to someone who DID help me a lot. He briefly mentioned to me in my intake appointment that he recommended Emily Spurrell for emotional support and counseling while going through infertility. It didn’t take much convincing for me to call her. Everyone I knew was pregnant or having children. I was the only person I knew of having trouble. My husband didn’t have the same sadness and frustrations I did. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or understood what I was going through. I felt so sad and alone.
Emily turned out to be an amazing support and resource. In the Fall of 2013, I started a support group with Emily for people going through infertility. I truly believe that God connected me to every one of the women in this group for a reason. I don’t know why we were having the same struggle but the fact that we found each other and could relate and have other people on this journey with, made it so much more bearable. It was nice to finally feel like I had friends who understood the pain, frustrations, sadness and everyday struggle and fears of infertility.
At many points in this journey, especially after I felt like I “fixed” my life and got right with God, I had to ask where God was. Why was He not blessing me? Is God mad at me? Was I being punished? I had always been a good, kind person and lead a good life. I was never perfect, not even close, but I had asked for forgiveness of my sins, so wasn’t I forgiven? After the months turned into years, it seemed clear to me that God must be punishing me for some specific sin I had in my past. Friends and family members assured me that God wasn’t punishing me but that is how it felt to me. I had to look to the Bible for myself and everything I found pointed to our God being of love and forgiveness, not wrath and punishment. I learned that what the Bible really teaches is that suffering is NOT synonymous with punishment. John 9:1-3 says, “As He went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Neither this man nor his parents sinned”, said Jesus, “But this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in His life.” So maybe I wasn’t being punished but my suffering could be used so the work of God could be displayed in my life. What does that mean for me? How could I accomplish that?
The Bible also says that no amount of penance or hard work can pay for our sins. Forgiveness is a gift of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” So my forgiveness is promised in the Bible, based on grace alone, not on my works. So even though I logically knew based on scriptures that I wasn’t being punished, I felt like I was. I now know satan was using those fears to push these doubts into my heart and mind.
At the end of 2013 a catholic friend at work told me about a family planning system she uses. She said she knew it could be used to treat infertility. I didn’t think it could help my husband and I but I went to the two hour session. After hearing all the good information the local instructor had about infertility and what was needed to achieve a pregnancy, my husband and I were both on board with trying to use this system called Napro Technology. Napro uses fertility charting to chart a woman’s most fertile sign each day. A certified Napro doctor can then read the charts and use the information in the charts to diagnose underlying fertility or reproductive issues and then they use that information to treat the underlying cause of the problem. The difference between Napro and a traditional fertility specialist is the infertility doctors were merely going to start using artificial reproductive techniques to help me get pregnant with their depressingly low success rates. The Napro doctor was going to read my charts and find the reason for my lack of pregnancy and FIX that problem and then a pregnancy should result. It sounded pretty good to us! Another HUGE upside to this system is that it is a God centered system. This system of family planning is specifically designed around God’s plan for married couples and is focused on the sanctity of life. I truly learned a lot about how wonderfully and fearfully God really did make us, especially us women. Our reproductive system alone is AMAZING!
After only two months of charting, in January of 2014 I was able to see the Napro doctor in our area, Dr. Carpentier, a Catholic doctor with a practice called, “In His Image”. Finally my husband and I felt like we were seeing a doctor who was actually able to help us. Dr. Carpentier wrote us a plan to achieve a pregnancy. A rather simple plan that didn’t involve fertility shots, ultrasounds or IVF. It was supplements, lots of blood work to check hormone levels, hormone supplements, a few OTC meds and antibiotics. It was a lot of pills and lots of blood work but nothing too bad. Also, the charting was the one thing I did out of everything up until this point that didn’t make me feel crazy. There was something maddening about always knowing what cycle day you were on, what day you could start taking a pregnancy test on, and then the depressing day when your period would always came. For some reason, the charting didn’t make me feel crazy and it was nice to finally feel like I had a plan to move forward with. I finally had a doctor I loved and a God centered plan. Everything felt good and right.
Then the most miraculous thing ever happened! In March of 2014 I had my first ever positive pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe it!!! I just stared and stared and stared at the second line I have been waiting to see for so long. I had to take a second test to make sure I wasn’t imaging it. I got a line again. There really was a second line. I was pregnant for the first time ever! Two and a half years later on my first full cycle using my Napro plan, I was pregnant. I was so overjoyed!!! Our baby was due on November 19, 2014. A Fall baby and just before the end of the year. Two other women in my fertility group were also pregnant. We would all be having Fall babies. It all sounded so perfect!
I had a blood test confirm the pregnancy. My doctor was monitoring my HcG levels and my progesterone. I went for a lot of blood work. I was on a first name basis with my lab technician. We were starting to become friends! I had an early ultrasound at eight weeks. The baby looked perfect, so tiny but there he/she was with a tiny head, body, and a perfect little heartbeat! I still have the ultrasound picture on my phone.
Then on Sunday morning, at ten weeks and five days, I woke up to a gush of blood. I called my husband and asked him to hurry home from work so he could take me to the Emergency room. We went to Women and Infants Emergency room. I was obviously very upset over the bleeding but the Emergency room doctor tried to reassure me that eighty percent of women that come in with a bleeding during a pregnancy are not having a miscarriage. Eighty percent was a good number. I tried to focus on that while I was praying, praying, and praying. the best way to see what was going on with the pregnancy was to do an ultrasound. The Emergency room doctor took us to the ultrasound room and after a minute or two turned the screen towards us and said she was very sorry. As soon as she said that and I saw the screen, I knew. I could see my uterus where there had been s tiny ball of life just two and a half weeks ago, there was now just a gray space. My uterus was empty. The pregnancy had stopped progressing and my body was now in the process of passing the tiny baby and pregnancy tissues. At that moment, it felt like the bottom just fell out of my world. Everything that I had wanted, everything that I had been so happy and excited about was just taken away from me. It was gone in an instant, just like that and for no known reason.
I was beyond devastated. I cried like I had never cried before. I cried for days. I really questioned God’s love and goodness during this time. I asked, “Why God?” and “Why me?”, countless times. After about three days of grieving I didn’t know how I was going to get through this. For some reason I thought maybe I should buy a book. I was a pretty avid reader and I usually looked to books to learn about life experiences I had never had. I picked up my Kindle and looked up books on grieving and pregnancy loss. There were so many. The reviews were all over the place I didn’t know which one to pick. I hadn’t been praying so much, my grief was just too raw. At that moment I said a quick prayer, “Lord help me pick the right book. Help me pick one that is going to help me.” The is all I said. I looked over the books that were options and then I picked one. It turned out this book was written by a Christian. It was all about having a pregnancy loss and dealing with the grief, fears, and pain from a Christian perspective! It was exactly the book I needed. It had the verses I needed to read, the prayers I needed to say but couldn’t find the words for. It was the story of someone who had been where I was now and made it through. I was in such a sad place, I just didn’t know how it would ever get better.
A Christian co-worker who knew of my pregnancy loss expressed his condolences to me at work, (where days later I could still barely keep it together). he mentioned what I was going through to his wife and she was kind enough to reach out to me. She asked if I wanted to go to lunch sometime. I told her that sounded really nice. We met for lunch just a month or so after my loss, when I still felt like I was all broken still, barely being held together by tape and glue. She shared with me some health struggles she has with chronic pain. She has almost daily chronic pain that medication can’t help unless she wants to be in a drugged stupor. She has to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis and she shared with me how as Christians, we have to look for spiritual peace that can only come from Him, despite our circumstances.
I now know and believe that God placed this person in my path to help me along when I didn’t know how to move forward. God uses us to help each other along.
As the days passed and the pain eventually subsided, I was anxious to try again for another pregnancy. In August 2014 I became pregnant again!! The feeling of happiness and hopefulness were back again. Our baby was coming, April 12, 2015. A Spring baby sounded so wonderful! This baby would be coming just before the Anniversary of when I lost the first baby. It seemed like this was the “rainbow baby” that was going to heal our broken hearts. For those of you who don’t know, a rainbow baby is the baby you have after a pregnancy loss. It’s the baby that heals you in many ways. I was much more guarded about this pregnancy but still very, very happy and very, very hopeful.
This pregnancy didn’t seem to be off to a great start. My progesterone came back really low which didn’t indicate that I was pregnant. My HcG was likewise low. I had taken some HcG shots in this cycle so when I had an HcG level of less than one hundred on cycle day thirty, I had just assumed it was residual HcG in my system, not the HcG made by your body when you are pregnant. The only way to confirm if I was pregnant or not was to go back for a second HcG test to see if my number was rising or falling. A healthy HcG number will more than double every other day if you are pregnant. I was expecting to see a falling number. My HcG number went from fifty seven to two hundred and fifty two in just two days. More than double! I was pregnant! I remember calling my supportive friend/co-worker who told me about Napro, to tell her I was pregnant again. I actually told her before my husband because I called her but I wanted to wait and tell my husband in person when I got home. I was so, so happy! I couldn’t believe it, but was happy and thankful for this pregnancy.
I went for an early ultrasound of this pregnancy and it was inconclusive. They were not able to pick up a heartbeat but it was only six weeks so I still had a small amount of hope that it was too early or maybe the tech did a bad job on my ultrasound. She seemed to be fumbling around quite a bit saying she couldn’t “find” this or that, and I know my ovaries are there! The doctor gave me his condolences and said he believed I had a blighted ovum which is a pregnancy that starts but fails early on. My body was still making the HcG to support the pregnancy even though there was no developing embryo. Still, I wasn’t positive. I needed to follow up with another ultrasound in a week or two. I ended up moving heaven and earth to get an ultrasound the next week at Women and Infants Hospital. You would not believe how hard it is to get an ultrasound on short notice! The results of this ultrasound were inconclusive, no heartbeat. This was not a viable pregnancy. I was devastated and again lost in grief.
Where was God in all this loss? How could God create these two tiny lives and then take them from me before I even got a chance to hold them? In scripture the Bible says that God is always with us and that God is in all things. It was hard for me to find Him in this terrible time of sadness of my life. To have the one thing you want the most and then to have it taken away from you for no reason at all, is just a heartbreaking and seemingly senseless type of loss.
One of the verses I prayed on many, many times was Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. he who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” I loved this verse because it seemed to epitomize what I was going through, it was my hope and prayer. What I had sowed in tears, I would reap in joy. I prayed on this verse countless times. “Lord as you word says, please, what I sow in tears, I pray that someday I may reap in joy.” When the doubts and sadness plagued me I came back to this verse and prayed on it to help me think that my tears could someday be turned into joy. That was such a powerful metaphor for me. It seemed impossible but there it was in the Bible and I believed the Bible to be God’s Word and truth so there was the hope that someday in some way, my tears could be turned into joy.
Another verse I prayed on many times was that God’s plan for me was for good, not of evil and that all things work together for good for those that love Him. Looking to God’s Word during my times of sadness and weakness helped me to focus on Him instead of my circumstances.
Through this time ultimately I learned that only God could heal me, not time. God would heal me, not another baby. God would heal me, not medication. He could use time, or medicine, or another baby to heal me but ultimately He was going to heal me. I prayed for His healing.
We had passed the three year mark at this point. Three years of trying to have a baby and nothing except two miscarriages to show for it. At this exact time last year I was sad and depressed. For those of you who might not be aware of it, when you are sad and depressed, the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are painful. The week of Thanksgiving marked my due date with the first pregnancy and that brought on a powerful round two of grieving. It was hard to celebrate a holiday based on gratitude when you feel forsaken. Christmas is such a magical and happy time of year and when you are full of sadness, the over -the-top happiness and glitter everywhere you look somehow reminds you that you are not happy. And the Christmas cards, can I just tell you how depressing Christmas cards are when you desperately want a baby and are grieving over two miscarriages? Every day it seemed someone else was sending you pictures of their happy families and babies. I let the Christmas cards pile up. I couldn’t open them. They hung in my mail pile for a week or more. I told Erik I just couldn’t do Christmas cards that year, it was too much.
In December of 2014, one of my “graduated” infertility friends,(she and I were originally pregnant around the same time, she had twins in October 2014), sent an email that she was thinking of all of us at this time. She knew how hard the holidays were for us and let us know she was saying a special novena prayer for us all. I don’t really know what a novena prayer is other than it is a special prayer you say every day for a week for a certain reason or person. During this time, I had countless people praying for us and I appreciated all the prayer we could get!
In January 2015, I found out for the third time that we were pregnant. This pregnancy came after the special prayer said by infertility, now mom friend. We conceived right on or around Christmas day, and I was pregnant right in the beginning of the New Year. I didn’t want to be too hopeful, but I already felt like I had received the best Christmas present ever. I didn’t know if this was going to be the baby I would get to hold one day in heaven but I was again guarded and hopeful.
I had a lot of struggles during this pregnancy. I struggled with fear so I prayed for strength. I prayed for joy that I was afraid to feel. I prayed that the tiny life inside of me would get to be a baby I would have. I had to make it over many hurdles in this pregnancy. The first one was getting past ten weeks and five days pregnant. I vividly remembered that day and wondering if I would make it. I did. Then there was the twelve week hurdle. I made it past that one too. The twelve week ultrasound that looked good. Blood work, genetic tests and the big ultrasound looked good. It was at that point that I clearly remember joy seeping back into my life. Healing was coming. My healing was a first baby that was growing inside me as healthy as could be. It was scary at first, but I was finally able to start looking forward to the future again and it was a future that wasn’t scary or sad. It was the future I had always wanted and prayed for. A future that included a family.
The healing was slow but God’s healing isn’t just a band-aid over the pain. God dug deep in me so that he could really get to and heal the hurt permanently. I learned that God doesn’t offer quick fixes, He offers permanent fixes.
September 19th, 2015, God finally brought me to the end of this long hard journey by giving me the best gift and blessing I could ever ask for, our Evelina Grace Anne Drukovskis. Just like He promises in Psalms, what I sowed in tears was reaped in joy. May her life be a testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness, even though WE may lose faith along the way, His goodness is everlasting. I am not sure why our journey was so long or difficult but I do know for certain that it was not all for nothing. Whether it was to make me a stronger person, to teach me a deeper understanding of love and loss, or to be able to encourage others, HIS timing was perfect and SHE was so worth it all.
May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving and remember to be EXTRA thankful this year for your families and most of all your children, for your children really are a gift and a blessing from above!!!