Ryan and I met in the Fall of 2000. I was a freshman at Bethany College of Missions in Minnesota and Ryan's parents lived and taught at the school, so naturally I would see him from time to time. It wasn't until almost 4 years later, in the Summer of 2004, that we started dating. He'll gladly tell anyone, that I fell in love with him the moment I laid eyes on him, but sorry my Love, we both know that isn't true.
After a short time of dating and an even shorter engagement, we were married in May of 2005. Oh, we were so in love. Sometimes I miss the bliss and simplicity of being newly married.
We had planned on waiting a couple of years to start having kids, but who was I kidding? I'd been waiting my whole life to have kids. I remember being about seven years old, kneeling in the backseat of our Chevy Corsica, begging God to let me get pregnant. Obviously at that point I wasn't privy to the...ahem...birds and the bees. All I knew is that I wanted a baby, and now that I was married and not seven, what was I waiting for?
We started trying to conceive in October of 2005. I remember that first month expectantly waiting for a sign that I was pregnant. I remember the next month, and the next month and the next, until a year had passed and we still weren't pregnant. The emotional roller coaster of infertility is so painful. The disappointment of seeing negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test is more than one can bear. Every mother pushing a stroller made me jealous. Every father swinging his son up on his shoulders made me weep. Baby showers made me bitter.
In October of 2006, Ry and I decided to go through some testing to try and find the cause of our infertility. After a series of tests, it was determined that our infertility was unexplained. Perfect. Just what we wanted to hear. It's difficult to treat a condition that's unexplained. That month, I started on a very mild fertility drug and continued on it for three months, but to no avail. At the end of December, I transferred to a fertility clinic and in January of 2007, I started on an ovulation stimulation drug. I was beyond excited. Two of my friends had gotten pregnant (each with one child) while on this drug, so I had so much hope. After months of waiting, this could actually be the month.
After I was artificially inseminated...ok...pause for a second. I have to tell you that I was scared half to death of having the wrong sperm put in me. There was an Indian woman in the next room over also being inseminated and throughout my entire pregnancy I had dreams of giving birth to Indian babies. Alright, back to the story. After I was artificially inseminated, I was told to wait 12 days to take a pregnancy test. I don't think I'll ever forget that date. January 25. The night before, I had the hardest time falling asleep, and awoke at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom. Hmmm...they didn't tell me what time it had to be on the 12th day, so in the stillness of the early morning I took a pregnancy test. From what I remember, it can take up to a minute to see the results, but I had to wait all of 3 seconds. It was positive immediately. I was pregnant!!!
That first week and a half was pure bliss. We talked about names, did a little maternity clothes shopping, and reveled in our secret. Then I entered week 5 and was pummeled with morning sickness. I couldn't eat ANYTHING. A few days into being sick, I was sure I was having triplets, or at least twins. There was no way I would be so sick so early in the pregnancy if I was only having one baby.
When I was six weeks along, I went back to the fertility clinic to have my first ultrasound. At this point, I'd already lost about 5 pounds and had tried every herbal and over the counter remedy with no relief. I was desperate. As soon as the nurse practitioner saw me, she knew I was miserable and I was promised a prescription for zofran, the supposed miracle drug.
Finally, I climbed up on the table. It was the moment we had been waiting for. Was I having twins or even scarier, triplets? All of the sudden, there on that ultrasound screen was an image that is permanently etched in my mind. At first I was confused. I had never been pregnant so I wasn't sure what to look for. The NP was extremely quiet as she looked intently at the screen. To break the somewhat uncomfortable silence, I finally asked what all the little circles were. With the softest voice, she answered, "babies."
To my untrained eye, it looked like four babies, but no sooner had I counted when the NP said that there were five. I immediately started trembling and poor Ryan must have been in complete shock, because he was so calm. He later told me that he had been expecting twins and when the NP said five babies, he heard two. By this point, I was terrified and crying uncontrollably and just when I thought I was going to lose it, she took one more look and said, "I'm sorry, it's not five babies, but six."
With trembling legs, Ryan and I walked across the hall to the doctor's office. I remember feeling almost numb, but as soon as the doctor walked in and started recommending selective reduction, the numbness immediately started to fall away. How is it that only six weeks along, sick as a dog and scared out of my mind, I could feel such an overwhelming sense of love and devotion to my children? I'm so thankful that amidst our fear and shock, the Lord gave us the presence of mind to refuse this procedure right from the start. The doctor continued to push for us to reduce, stating all of the risks to the babies and really emphasizing the risk to my body, but even though we were afraid, we refused.
That day, I walked away from the clinic with Ryan holding one hand, a prescription and a stack of ultrasound pictures in the other, and six beautiful babies growing peacefully within.