Six years ago last week, Mike and I announced we were pregnant with twins. It was football season, and it was an IVF pregnancy. We’d been practicing safe shots at halftime in random field houses and between parked buses for half the regular season. It was not an easy place to be, but it was definitely a blessed place to be, so we savored and celebrated each and every needle poke in my hindquarters.
After trying for over a year to get pregnant (and knowing at my age it was unlikely without intervention), we’d visited a fertility specialist earlier that spring. Naively, I’d thought we’d start the in-vitro process my next cycle. That way, if all went according to plan, we would be well past the exhaustion, hormone injections, and morning sickness of a first-trimester IVF pregnancy once football season began.
Boy, was I naive.
First off, I was 47. Which meant my cycle was far from predictable, even if it had all been up to me and my eggs… which it wasn’t.
My doc kindly informed me my eggs were dinosaurs and he didn’t do Jurassic fertility. So I would be using donor eggs… and an online site to find our match. Kind of like eHarmony, but for couples looking for open, available ovaries.
Second, IVF takes months to prep and plan for. Months. The game plan is exact and exacting, requiring lots of perfectly-orchestrated moving parts. Her ovaries, my uterus, Mike’s swimmers. This was a team effort. And there was no hurry-up offense.
The process was complicated, timely, expensive, and painstaking. But once we found our donor (anonymously), her ovaries were hyper-stimulated, my uterus was prepped, a couple balls were bobbled (wink wink), and… SCORE! (times two!)
And that’s when the really hard part began on my end. My rear end, that is.
We’re talking needles. Lots of them. And vaginal suppositories. And pills. And time. Lots and lots of time. It was quite the process. All in the midst of football season — our embryo transfer happened scrimmage week.
The nightly shots to my booty were a real pain in my end zone. There was a sharpie-circled bulls eye on each cheek, where Mike took aim. (He’d asked the nurse to draw them during week one, and he’d redraw them every couple days as they began to fade. He didn’t want to miss. My booty is plenty big. There’s no way he would’ve missed.) Those shots bruised and burned and gave me an itchy allergic reaction. My ass was hotter than an August-in-Georgia kickoff. And not in a good way.
And because I had to receive those shots as close to the same time every single night for ten weeks or so, they became an even bigger pain on Friday nights. So we arranged for them to fall between 8:30 and 9:00 pm. Because… halftime.
Away games were hard. At home, I got poked in the floor of my husband’s office on a jacket he chivalrously laid over the spongy, decades-old carpet. But away games…
Away games, Mike would scope out the joint, pregame, looking for a hopefully private (sometimes not-so-much) place for me to drop my drawers so he could thrust a needle into my angry, sharpie-circled buttocks.
I got poked on a striped sofa in an Athletic Director’s office.
I got poked in a dark hallway outside a gym within audible distance of the opposing team’s halftime harangue.
I got poked in the back of a Kia Soul, my legs at a cramped, contorted angle while a sweaty linebacker hunted for his mouth guard in the parking lot nearby. Thank God he knew nothing about the shenanigans a mere ten yards away…
I got poked in the arse so many times, and in so many weird and far-from-wonderful locations, that it’s easy to lose track.
I was a pincushion. But I was pregnant pincushion, so I wasn’t complaining.
Beyond the shots, were the oral medications and vaginal suppositories that turned my undies periwinkle if I forgot my pantie liners. Which I did. A lot. My mind was all floaty and fuzzy from the chemical cocktails doing their job.
There were some days when all of the hormones got to me and I cried. Who am I kidding? They got to me all the time. I cried all the cries, all the time.
I cried on touchdown runs. I cried on Publix commercials. I once cried when I cleaned the ceiling fan and clumpy caterpillars of dust dropped from the blades onto my freshly-washed duvet.
But I really, REALLY cried during the band’s playing of Amazing Grace after every home game. Because the reality of God’s gracious favor hit me like a hurricane every single time.
This pregnancy was happening. This was real. And this was all God. I couldn’t take credit. Nor could my husband or my good doctor.
God kept us pregnant through dehydration and preeclampsia and advanced maternal age and hospital runs at midnight and a fortnight of sleeping with ice packs on my chest when it felt like my little linemen were splitting my sternum like a wishbone formation.
So I cried all the cries all the time because I knew and believed in God’s perfect timing.
I was 41 when I met the most amazing football coach. I was 46 when that coach finally threw me a Hail Mary and asked me to be his wife. (But hey, God’s perfect timing…). I was 47 when my fertility team tenderly laid our two precious, perfect, 5-day blastocytes inside my uterus. And I was a monthish shy of 48 when those little linemen burst through my middle in an unplanned C-section just shy of 35 weeks gestation. Absolutely perfect.
So yes, I believe in God’s perfect timing.
Y’all, I am by no means trying to make light of infertility or the expensive and excruciating journey that comes with it — a journey so full of uncertainty and with absolutely no guarantees.
We were incredibly blessed to get pregnant on our first IVF round. Unbelievably blessed. The statistics were not in our favor.
Most women go through an average of 2.7 IVF cycles and experts recommend going through at least three cycles to increase you pregnancy chances. Even then, the success rates fall below 50%.
While the numbers may not sound promising, God’s faithfulness always does. And hearing other people’s stories about fertility treatments helps you feel less alone. Because this is a story so many of us share.
No, there are no guarantees. But there are options.
There are so many generous strangers out there –fertility godmothers, is how I see them — working with God to lend their eggs or their wombs or to give their babies up for adoption. God works in mysterious and perfect ways. None of these journeys are easy. But nothing perfect ever is.
Your blessings may come differently, but they will come. Trust in God’s perfect timing