Today’s guest post comes from the amazingly talented Priscilla Baierlein. I actually came to know Cilla a few years ago, and it turns out that we went to the same High School in Kentucky! We never knew each other back then, but wouldn’t you know it, photography brought us together over a decade later and five states apart. We’ve had the chance to meet for the past two summers while she was vacationing in Florida. We have photographed each other’s families and shared meals, laughs and many hugs. I’m so grateful for the connections that photography has afforded me, and for the wonderful people I’ve been blessed to know as a result of our shared passion for this artform.
Now, upon the heels of Jessica’s beautiful adoption story yesterday, it is completely by coincidence that Priscilla is sharing her journey through IVF with our readers today. We sincerely hope that these real-life stories bring a smile to your faces and a bit of hope to your heart, especially if adoption or IVF has ever been a part of your life. Enjoy…
Two little lines. Who knew that just two little lines could make such a difference in your life. For four and a half years the lack of those two lines left me disappointed…month after month. Even though I knew I was obviously not pregnant, I started thinking those dang things didn’t work. They were obviously broken. But that didn’t stop me from buying multiple boxes each month. The slightest sign that I may be “late” inevitably lead to a trip to the closest store. Each time trying my best not to get my hopes up, each time being heartbroken. Again and again I would torture myself.
The truth is that I’m not sure I always wanted to be a mother. I don’t remember pretending being a mommy when I was a child. I just remember pretending I had a typical childhood. Living with my grandma, I always dreamed of what the woman who lived in California with my brothers and sister was like. I had a wonderful picture of the perfect family. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what a gift my childhood was. How it was perfect in it’s imperfection. Now I wouldn’t change one bit of it. Instead I dream of those days with my grandma, who will always be my “mommy”. I realize now that I was blessed enough to have multiple mothers. My grandma who laid the foundation of who I am today and my aunt who stepped in when I was a teenager and built upon that foundation. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started dreaming of my future as a mom. I knew that’s what God was preparing me for. Even with this faith, I feared I wouldn’t be able to conceive.
Turns out our journey truly started when I was just a little girl, clueless of what the future held. When she thought she was going to lose me to a burst appendix, God saved me. It seems like I remember my Grandma saying something about me not being able to have children, but she worried so much about everything that we all just dismissed it. It wasn’t until years into trying to conceive that we realized the consequences.
Falling in love with Bret was one of the best experiences of my life. Every day I discovered something new. Sometimes it was a feeling. Sometimes it was a little quirk. Sometimes it was something we had in common. Sometimes it was something we were completely opposites on. One of the moments that always stuck out in my mind was the discussion we had about children. Most guys wouldn’t necessarily jump into that conversation, but he did. Before I was able to say the names I had picked out for a boy and girl, he jumped in with the names HE had picked out for his future kiddos. Who wouldn’t fall in love right there? The more I got to know him, the more I knew that he didn’t just WANT to be a Dad, but he would be amazing at it. From the beginning I not only imagined walking down the aisle together, but also pushing our children on a swing and having a happy little family.
When you have a dream and a plan, you don’t imagine that it could go any other way. Once we had the perfect house, we immediately switched gears to starting a family. Months went by. Everyone around us started getting pregnant. I started to panic. Bret calmed me. After 8 months, I started on Clomid. Then had some initial blood work done. Was misdiagnosed with PCOS. Was refused tests that I wanted (and turns out I needed). Gave it all a break.
After a break, we finally got up the nerve to go to a fertility specialist. Things seemed to happen so quickly, but yet so slowly after that. He looked at things differently than the other doctors had. After every step we thought we had heard the worst only to soon find out we were wrong. A check of my cervix showed him that something was pushing it to one side. A transvaginal ultrasound showed that I possibly had a large baseball-sized cyst. A laproscopic surgery was scheduled to remove the cyst.
That was our first day of true heartbreak. The doctor told Bret that my tubes were 6 times the size of my uterus and he would be recommending a larger surgery to have them both removed. Bret was by my side when I woke up that day. I immediately asked what the doctor had said. Bret didn’t say anything. I asked if everything was okay and he shook his head. “Was it bad?” He proceeded to tell me that I had severe endometriosis and that my tubes were destroyed. Tears immediately started to flow and all I could say was that I was sorry. I was sorry because I knew there was a possibility that because of me he would never meet those kiddos he had named for so long. After that I became very familiar with the term “hydrosalpynx”. I researched everything I could. Before that I would say “I just hope we don’t have to do IVF because we could never afford that”. I was quickly realizing that God had other plans. After research and consulting with my doctor, I knew the answer was to have them removed. It sounded so crazy. I want to get pregnant and to do so I have to remove my tubes. The surgery was scheduled close to the holidays so Bret would be able to be home with me. The day came and we were both scared, but hopeful because we knew this was a stage we had to go through. Things were just going to get better from here.
I woke up in a post surgery daze with Bret by my side. It was like reliving a bad nightmare. Things were worse then they originally thought. The tubes were attached to my ovaries and weighing down on my uterus. They had to cut into my ovaries to remove the tubes. My uterus was small. My cervix was at an extreme angle. It was then determined that my Grandmas worries had been more than just worries. It would’ve taken something pretty traumatic to do all of that damage. Perhaps a burst appendix? Which means this had all been going on since I was 7! The next few days and weeks were the worst I had ever experienced. First the pain emotionally. Then the pain physically. Then more pain emotionally. We started changing our dreams. Readjusting what we had always imagined. Surrogacy was mentioned several times as being our best chance. We decided to explore that option after two amazing women offered to consider being a surrogate for us. After lots and lots of long discussions and emails, we all decided it wasn’t for the best. We discussed if we should adopt, find another surrogate, or try IVF even though we thought our chances were so low. I personally struggled with spending the money on IVF when I knew there were so many children out there that needed help. But something in my heart was pulling me towards our ultimate decision. We would give IVF a shot and if it wasn’t meant to be, that would be okay. We had love and that’s more than so many have…even some of those with kiddos.
Am I ever grateful that’s the direction God wanted us to travel. This is when all those prayers from everyone we knew and many we didn’t all seemed to come to a head. We started to get good news…unexpected good news. My uterus wasn’t too small. It was shaped weird, but it was a good size. My ovaries looked great. My cervix was a little wonky, but that wouldn’t stop us. After another small procedure, it was recommended that perhaps we shouldn’t wait so long for fear that the cervical stenosis and scar tissue would become bad again and make the embryo transfer difficult. We went from trying to figure out what time of year would “work” for the business and our lives, to making right now work. We just laughed (okay…maybe freaked out a little) that we should stop trying to plan because God obviously had a specific plan of His own.
Here we go. Fear, excitement, joy, all overwhelmed both of us. If you ask us, every single aspect of IVF went perfectly. Now, if you ask our IVF doctor, he would say that the Embryo transfer was very difficult because of the extreme curve in my cervix. Turns out my ovaries are rock stars though. Oh and our embryos…beautiful. We were so lucky and so blessed.
December 2009, we thought our dream of being parents may never happen. December 2010, we found out that we were going to be parents. William Steffen or Faith Michael would get to hear my horrible voice sing “You are my Sunshine” and dance with their Daddy in the kitchen and follow him down the football field as he coached.
I am currently 21 weeks pregnant with our little BOY. As I type this, he is kicking and punching me and I couldn’t be more in love. In just a year, we went from experiencing the worst day, to experiencing the best day. Instead of spending my evenings thinking about what I may have taken away from Bret, I now spend my evenings watching him talk to Steffen and kiss him through my ever-growing belly. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to stop the tears from flowing as I think about how happy I am. We had a plan, but God had a greater plan. We always had faith, but we could never have imagined how great His plan was. The path will forever be a part of us. A part of our story. A part of Steffen’s story. It does not define us, but has helped shaped who we are…as human beings…as friends…as partners…and as parents.
And yes…I still have the test with those two beautiful little lines that I feared I may never see…
Thank you so much for reading my very long ramblings of our story. You can read more about us and our journey at www.priscillabphotography.com and www.ourcupsrunnethover.com. Please feel free to email me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or just to have someone to “listen”. Sharing our journey helped us (especially me) get through the hardest times.