• Leslie Crews

From Infertility To Pandemic Pregnancy - A Personal Journey Of Faith

Updated: May 8, 2021

Photo by M. Media Group
My artsy and bright maternity shoot.

My husband and I have been together for 13 years with no pregnancy scares. Up until two years ago, we truly believed we’d mastered the art of not getting pregnant without contraceptives. That was until we decided to try to grow our family and nothing was happening.

I wasn’t getting pregnant

I tracked my temperature and laid in crazy positions. Received advice on how to conceive and bought the fanciest ovulation tracking equipment, but nothing happened.

It’s crazy to think of the years that pass while trying not to get pregnant. You think getting pregnant is so easy. You don’t realize how hard it really is until you’re trying to.

Girls are taught that periods happen. They’ll get the birth control talk in their teens, and fast forward to commercials promoting estrogen and supplements for coping with menopause. There is little to no conversation about pregnancy and the changes and challenges women’s bodies undergo on the road to childbirth.

Annual well-women exams check for abnormal cervical changes and are a convenient time to renew prescriptions, if you’re not trying to become a parent, but an annual checkup won’t prepare you for the process of becoming pregnant.

There are no conversations about ovarian health, how many eggs you have, or Fallopian tube blockages.

In my experience, these conversations don’t happen until you’re scared, desperate, and in need of answers. It shouldn’t be this way.

I had a doctor (obstetrics and gynecology) try to convince me that I’d need a hysterectomy because of an abnormal Pap smear. I was 26 years old.

During my appointments he’d boast about his skill and success in giving 22 and 26 year olds hysterectomies. He assured me that he could do my procedure too. I suppose his boasting was supposed to comfort me. It was far from comforting.

Now that I know about eugenics, I’m convinced that my doctor was operating under this horrific mode of thinking. But that’s a story for some other time.

I left that practice. Mentally scarred.

After several years of avoiding doctors, I found a new practice and a doctor that showed a great deal of compassion for me.

She eased my gynecological fears and during our “baby trying” period provided encouragement and assurance that things would happen in time. She suggested we consider visiting a fertility specialist if we hadn’t conceived in a year.

Off to the fertility specialist we went.

Going to a fertility specialist was a nerve wrecking experience.

Fancy commercials make seeing a fertility specialist sound almost dreamy. Like you’ll walk in, meet doctors with gifted hands and have a fairytale ending. There is nothing romantic about it.

With all of our hope and wishes in tow, the journey through fertility testing began. It was scary.

It’s the realization that someone would look into my body and potentially tell me that something was not working. Or as my brain translated it; something was broken.

Dyes were injected into my Fallopian tubes, my ovaries and eggs were examined. My husband went through his own set of awkward tests.

After about a week of waiting for test results, we met with the doctor.

As we sat in a small office waiting for a doctor we’d never met to enter, I thought I’d have an anxiety attack. I was anxious and afraid.

The doctor walked in with a calm demeanor, but not the warmness that I dreamed of based on the radio adds. He sat behind a desk in the small office with a folder in hand.

Years of fear surrounding my fertility came down to this moment. The future of our family was in a folder.

He told us our test results were normal and diagnosed me with unexplained infertility.

Unexplained. Infertility.

It didn’t make sense to me. The tests showed no problems. Everything was in working order for both of us yet I’d been labeled infertile. The cause, unexplained.

Because we’d been trying to conceive for over a year, the recommendation was that we start the in vitro fertilization process (IVF).

There is nothing wrong with IVF. I’ve heard great success stories, but it felt extreme for someone who had no clear medical reason for not conceiving without taking that route. It felt odd that the recommendation was to bypass any hormone treatment or intrauterine insemination (IUI) attempts that I’d read about online and heard other couples talk about.

The diagnosis and recommendation was daunting.

We left the office with information on how to establish a payment plan and were told to schedule our appointment when we were ready.

And that was that. Confused and sad with a folder containing guidance on setting up a payment plan.

What... just... happened?

I don’t remember if we talked after the appointment. I don’t remember if we ever had a real conversation about it. But moving forward with IVF didn’t feel right. It felt unnecessary.

We rejoice when a baby is conceived through IVF, but seldom do we hear the stories of loss that often occurs in the process. IVF is a very hard process. I didn’t feel strong enough to go through it.

Several weeks after the diagnosis I told my husband, “If nothing is wrong, maybe it’s just not time. Let’s just wait on God”. He agreed.

Over the next few months we decided to stop trying and let God handle it. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wanted to be a mom.

But I realized that if I was going to put it in Gods hands, I actually had to let go.

I had a massive meltdown, then I prayed, and let it go.

A lot happened in March of 2020. For most people this was a time of mass confusion and the beginning of perpetual uncertainty as the world went into lockdown. For me, this was the beginning of my journey to rebuilding a personal relationship with God.

A few months prior I’d begun attending church, something I was not open to since my dad passed away 8 years prior. I’d also begun my first period of intentional prayer and fasting for 31 days.

I’d never fasted before. I’d never intentionally committed time to sitting in prayer and reading the Bible. There is no coincidence that by time the news hit that the world would change, my world had already been shifted because of the spiritual relationship I was rebuilding.

Though I planned on participating in the church wide prayer and fasting period since December 2019, I couldn’t have predicted how it would prepare me for the year to come.

For 31 days I committed to consistently sitting with God.

I committed to learning. I also cut out social media for 31 days.

Meaning, I avoided the initial onslaught of mental chaos induced by lockdown related news, panic, and status updates. Avoiding social media has been instrumental to my mental health til this day.

But in March 2020, I needed to be distraction free so that I could wrap my mind around the state of my life and seek spiritual guidance.

The fast changed my life.

A relationship I’d valued for 20 years had ended late 2019, and I lost a connection to a child that I love as my own.

My personal life was rocked again when someone I helped raise expressed that they no longer wanted me in their life. It was a shock to my soul, but I respect their decision.

Both situations reminded me that while I was capable of raising children, I did not have my own.

Days after the fast ended. After relationships ended, chapters closed, and I’d begun seeking Gods guidance and healing, I discovered I was pregnant.

Look at God.

I never expected to go through the journey to motherhood without certain people in my life. I didn’t expect to have to adapt and live through a global health crisis while pregnant.

Being pregnant in 2020 has not been inline with the fluffy ideas I’d dreamed my first pregnancy would be.

My husband can’t come to any of my doctors appointments. Sharing our good news was mostly done over the phone. There are no in-store baby shopping sprees with the women in my life.

Milestone celebrations are virtual. And I can’t spend quality time with people that I’d normally share these special moments with.

Pregnancy during lockdown has been hard and very lonely at times.

Yet through it all I recognize that the timing was perfect.

I’ve healed from the pain that I felt at the beginning of 2020. The bond I have with my husband has strengthened. I’ve spent quality time with family that I’ve been in “a safety bubble” with. The depth of my dearest friendships have depended.

A lot of what brought me anxiety has been removed by force. I’ve been blessed to work from home during my entire pregnancy, announced my pregnancy when I felt comfortable, and I didn’t have to deal with DC traffic in the process.

Most importantly, my faith in God has been renewed. My relationship with Him has deepened.

I do not believe in coincidences. Everything had to happen the way it did.

There are lots of parents who missed the birth of their children because of hospital restrictions. Some people are completely alone in their pregnancies. My heart hurts for them.

Through it all, I’m grateful for my journey. From talks of hysterectomies to lockdown and heartache, my pregnancy was nothing I expected it would be.

Because of the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy, I’ve been selective about what I share and who I share it with. There are people in my family that don’t know.

With everything going on I felt the need to be extra protective of my mental space and, ultimately, my child.

I gave birth via cesarean early 2021 to a healthy baby girl.

As I watch our child grow and celebrate with other families in welcoming their new babies into the world, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for how God continues to show his presence. It gives me assurance that even in the midst of chaos He is always in control.

Although the internet will never know her or see her sweet face, the story of how my daughter came into my life is too miraculous not to tell.

She is my blessing and my testimony.

Me and my blessing.

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