We’re (finally) going to be parents.
We are humbled to share that after 2.5 years of praying, waiting, wondering, fearing, hoping, crying, and praying some more, the Trimbles are having a baby.
The path that led us here is by far the hardest road either of us has ever walked.
Let us explain. It’s a bit of a long story.
It’s late September 2015 and emotions are running HIGH.
These things happen in the span of four days:
1. My favorite band completes their farewell tour. There are tears. There is denial, even as I’m backstage watching it unfold. There is a bittersweet symphony playing in my heart.
(My favorite band is U2. Just kidding. It’s the Dirty Guvs)
2. The Vols blow it against Florida. There is much gnashing of teeth. All hope seems to be lost.
3. I have surgery to officially diagnose the cause of 14 months of infertility. This kicks off the hardest part of life I have yet to experience.
Infertility is nightmarish and full of grief, which means it’s hidden under a heavy veil of shame. So we are lifting the veil on our little corner.
Our infertility diagnosis went something like this:
Try unsuccessfully to get pregnant for 12 months, which officially categorizes us as infertile.
- See fertility specialist. Answer tons of medical questions and give tubes of blood.
- No obvious, diagnosable issues present themselves, so I start taking the crazy pill, aka a drug called Clomid, to see if it might jumpstart things. We try it for three months, paired with 3 IUI’s (intrauterine inseminations), all of which are unsuccessful.
- Decide to have laparoscopic surgery in Sept. 2015 to either confirm or rule out endometriosis, a disease that neither of us knew much about, but we’d been told it could be our cause.
My biggest fear was waking up and being told that everything had looked fine, because then we’d still have no answer to why we couldn’t get pregnant.
That first surgery not only confirmed that I had endometriosis, but that I had stage 4 endometriosis.
The severity of the diagnosis meant I’d likely had it for a long time and I’d had no clue. Or maybe I’d had all the signs, but I’d gotten used to 14 years of bellyaches, bloating and fatigue. These are all symptoms of endometriosis, but also symptoms of, oh you know, TONS OF OTHER THINGS.
For some reason that is still unbeknownst to doctors, tissue and blood that should leave your body every month, well — doesn’t. It stays inside your body, stupid and unwelcomed — like in that Mucinex commercial — and starts wrecking your reproductive system. It creates scar tissue, binding your organs together. It causes debilitating cramps and GI issues. It feeds on estrogen, so when it finds your ovaries, it smothers them in cysts. I had cysts the size of ping-pong balls.
There is no cure for endometriosis and most treatment options involve birth control. Surgery helps diagnose and get rid of the disease temporarily, but it comes back.
Being diagnosed brought a wave of relief to finally know what we were up against. But that wave was closely followed by one of panic, once it sunk in that I had a chronic illness that hardly anyone, including myself, understood. We had no clue what to do next.
After the initial shock wore off, we came up with a plan. Our doctor’s recommendation was put my body into a drug-induced menopause for six months. This move would suppress all the estrogen in my body and smoke out the last of this stupid disease. Then, I’d have a follow-up surgery to make sure all had calmed down internally.
After trying a few other things that failed, and after much conversation, tears, and prayer, we decided to follow his recommendation.
So, from December 2015 to June 2016, I was a 28 year old in medically-induced menopause. Every day I took pills and waited some more. I can’t put into words how much I hated this plan. The darkest part of this entire journey was while we were in the thick of this waiting.
We took a “break” from infertility, but it didn’t take a break from us. It settled in with an unnerving sense of permanence. It pounced on my insecurities and fears and caused isolation and shame I’d never experienced. My faith felt flimsy and I felt like a burden on my friends. I was angry and bitter for a lot of that time, and it’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t push every single person away who cared about me.
Speaking of grace, I’ve never experienced grace like I did while walking through infertility. In fact, I don’t think I’d understand grace fully without having experienced infertility. Grace is a hard concept to understand, because there is no merit or performance required, so maybe replace it with the word ‘slack’ instead:
My friends cut me so much slack (grace) when I didn’t return calls, texts, or emails, or bailed on plans. My boss and coworkers gave me much slack (grace) when I was a shell of a person for days on end. My family gave me so much slack (grace) when my moods swung from one side of the spectrum to the next in less than 15 minutes. My husband gave me so much slack (grace) when I couldn’t leave the house or feared interactions and conversations with people. The Lord gave me so much grace when I asked ‘WHY ME?’
I could have stayed awake every night, worrying I wasn’t doing enough and I alone was keeping us from having a baby. But I could have also just as easily remembered I have no legitimate reason to live in fear. I did a lot of the former, and resisted the latter for a long time.
Infertility was not our punishment, we did nothing to deserve our diagnosis, and we did nothing to earn the abundance we are now experiencing. The world is a broken place in desperate need of grace. There is a 100 percent chance that you will experience pain in some form during your lifetime, and when you do, you will be in desperate need of grace. So until then, give it frequently to others, without measure, question, or requirement. Give grace all the time.
I had surgery again in June 2016 and got a good report, which brought a huge wave of relief: FINALLY a step in the right direction! Also, having hope is a great recovery aid. Soon after surgery, we started the try/wait/hope cycle again, this time with injections and IUIs.
A word on injections: when you deal with any sort of medical issue, you don’t get to be “not good with needles.” My method of coping with this routine meant I’d lay on the floor, rap Hamilton lyrics to distract myself, and James would give me a shot in the butt. Pretty romantic. I’d go to the doctor every few days so they could check the progress I was making on the medicine, and either lower or increase my dose. I got overstimulated on one of the cycles, which just meant there were far too many egg follicles created by the drugs, so we had to cancel the IUI and take an additional month off. More waiting. More hoping. More praying.
It was the third cycle of injections and IUIs that brought us this miracle. The moment of truth was nothing like I’d imagined for 2.5 years. Both of us were even hesitant to accept it at first — it was overwhelming with happiness and joy — but the anxiety didn’t immediately fade away. The worries didn’t vanish. Instead, I was met with a new fear that this miracle would just slip away. Enter again the unfailing hope of Jesus.
About a year into this journey, I’d told a friend that I couldn’t wait for the moment when this was “over.” She had walked the road of infertility and quickly told me that it would never be truly “over.” No matter how many positive tests I took, infertility will always be part of our story and our family. It is the path that the Lord asked us to walk. I think I will be walking out parts of this story for the rest of my life.
I think before I heard those words, I’d been trying to mentally fight infertility off, like I was trying to fend off a cold with EmergenC and rest, instead of trusting that God is good all the time.
All the time. Even when there was no explanation for our barrenness. Even when I isolated myself and got angry. Even when I felt forgotten and broken. Even when I was bitter and felt unlovable. Even when I had to tell James about another negative test. Even when I cried at my best friends’ pregnancy announcements (hello, GRACE). Even when I wondered if we’d ever get to be parents and what our life might become if the answer was never yes. Even when I doubted Him, He was — and is — good.
In the midst of our final IUI cycle, a friend emailed me a sweet reminder of His sovereignty over our lives:
“He isn’t working so that your life would be easy, predictable, and free from struggle. He calls you to do the impossible so that in your search for help, you would find more than help — you would find Him.”
Nowhere in scripture was I promised a job, health, a husband, a house, a baby — no more than I am now promised a full-term kid, a healthy kid, smart kid, more kids– and He is still on the throne.
Over the past 2.5 years, I have come to the end of my desire to live a control and a performance-based life — and I don’t think I would have gotten there without walking with infertility. Actually, using the word ‘walking’ is gratuitous. I should really say I wouldn’t have gotten there without stumbling/staggering/limping/wrestling my way along with infertility.
This journey toward fatherhood helped inspire the final Dirty Guvs song titled“The Benediction”. While recording the studio vocals in June 2015, I closed my eyes and sang the words while imagining the face of my future son or daughter.
There were many days during this journey when I doubted that God was fully “in charge”. My faith felt weak, and I wanted to take things into my own hands and try to “fix it.” I got angry. Mostly at the loneliness and inadequacy that my wife felt due to her physical condition. It just wasn’t fair. Isn’t it everyone’s right to have children?
For over a year, I couldn’t find more than a handful of words to pray, but together at night and in the morning Melissa and I sat in our bed, held hands, and with broken voices we cried out “Dear God, please help us grow our family.” They were the most honest moments I’ve ever felt.
Your pain has a purpose.
Pain and loneliness are two things that every human being has in common, and this is our attempt to be honest about ours.
Individual experiences of loneliness or pain are never fully explainable, but when we began opening up to people about our journey, stories of infertility and miscarriage popped up all over our friend group and beyond. We have been comforted and blessed by the stories of couples that know the joy on the other side, and by the ties with those who are still in the trenches.
Whatever your pain is — share your story with someone. There is no growth and no healing in shame and silence. We hope this story can bring light into dark places, and to give hope where there is none.
This is the hardest thing we have ever experienced.
And this is the greatest joy we have ever felt.
Lord willing, baby Trimble will be here in July. To God be the glory.
— James and Melissa