it feels like it’s taken a million lifetimes to get to this point.
my life forever changed on july 22, 2017, when i saw those two pink precious lines, that i so longed to see for years.
i know God is using the story of my daughter’s life to help spread the gospel and speak of His goodness and grace. so today, i’m sharing the details of how she came to be (a process years in the making), how we found out about her, and how God’s faithfulness and providence was in every single step of the journey. i have learned more about walking in faith throughout the process of growing our family than i ever thought possible. it touches my heart to see how He’s been equipping me for motherhood, even long before that positive pregnancy test.
we’ve grievously trudged through infertility for years. ever since we got engaged, we began to pray for the children that God would bless our family with (we’ve prayed for you endlessly, sweet baby, and we continue to.)
we thought it would be easy: we’d get married, spend the first year or so focusing on us, then we’d begin talks of when to start “trying,” and after a year or less of trying, we’d have a Smithlet on the way. that’s not how it went down for us, unfortunately.
we thought for sure by year 2 of marriage, we’d have our miracle, or at least be well on our way in the process. well, we’re going to be celebrating 5 years of marriage this October, and our miracle has just came to be. it’s funny how we scheme and plan, and it rarely ever works out how we expect it to (why do we keep doing it, then?!)
we began fertility testing and treatments about 2.5 years ago. i knew all along that the problem was with me; i had *that* gut feeling. my cycles have never been regular for as long as i’ve had a period, and i also have type 1 diabetes which is autoimmune, and that can mess with hormones and fertility as well.
we tried many methods: birth control to induce a regular cycle, finite ovulation testing multiple times a day, timed cycle blood work, fertility drugs (Clomid–didn’t work), and last spring, we knew that it was time to stop spinning our wheels trying the same failed methods over again: it was time to kick things into high gear.
brian’s swimmers got tested: great results. okay, so, definitely an issue with me. come to find out, I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) due to the way my body processes my pump-administered insulin. at first, we thought i didn’t ovulate at all. after a few months of being on various supplements and trying other drugs, we found out i DO, in fact, ovulate, we just don’t know when. sometimes my cycle would be semi-regular. other times, i would completely skip a month, or a few months. as a result, i tested for ovulation every single day multiple times a day to be sure i didn’t miss it, since i kew i couldn’t count on my period to help inform me.
after a few months of this, my gynecologist recommended me for a hysterosalpinogram (HSG) test. that’s the one where they inject dye via catheter into your fallopian tubes to check for any blockages. that’s great if my body releases eggs, but if they have no where to go, then they’ll never meet the sperm. the point of this test was to make sure there were no blockages. if there were no blockages, we would begin on Letrozole (like Clomid, but better) right away and then proceed with a medicated IUI (intrauterine insemination.) if there were blockages, it would mean a huge setback.
on june 12, we drove to the hospital. my music was on shuffle, and the first song that came up was “King of My Heart” by Kutless. the whole way, we heard the continuous refrain: “Let the King of my heart be the fire inside my veins, the echo of my days, oh He is my Song. You are good, good, oh, You’re never gonna let me down…”
i went in for the HSG procedure, extremely nervous about the results. brian got to be in the room with me as i lay under the x-ray machine, anxiously awaiting to see the dye run. if the dye stopped, it meant blockages. thankfully, the dye ran on both sides! no blockages on either side. i was overjoyed at this unexpected news. the hospital OB told me to call my doctor to have them fill my Letrozole prescription.
i got the Letrozole that week, and hung onto it, just waiting for my period. y’all, that pill bottle came with me everywhere, just in case. once my period started, i would take the pills from cycle day 3 until cycle day 7. i was ready. i thought for sure my next cycle would begin while we were on summer vacation over july 4th.
another week went by.
i was officially 6 weeks “late” and completely skipped my period in june.
seriously?! all i need is Aunt Flo to pay me a visit so we can work towards getting our baby! i was so annoyed.
through my frustration, i kept testing for ovulation in case i missed my surge in june/july.
much to my surprise, i got a super blazing positive ovulation test on july 9th. the most positive an ovulation test has EVER been. the test line was way darker than the control line; i had never had one so positive before.
we did our thing, but i literally didn’t think anything of it, because it’s never worked naturally before, and i was so focused on looking ahead to getting to the next cycle, the “cycle that would work.” this cycle was pretty much a throw-away cycle right before the big Letrozole one (i was convinced Letrozole + IUI was how we would become pregnant.)
i produced a podcast episode about T1D and infertility right before leaving on our next vacation in mid-july with his side of the family; i think it went live on july 13th, a few days after the blazing positive ovulation test. i’m so glad i have the audio from that time, literally right before my life changed. it’s been fun to listen back and hear the state of my heart.
i left for this vacation very hopeful, ready to have fun, because as soon as my next cycle started, we were buckling down: no more drinking, no eating carbs, full 8 hours of sleep, yoga, the works. i was determined that i was not going to waste my Letrozole cycle.
on the way to the mountains, we drove through a massive storm. it was dark, with strong winds, and crashing thunder and lightning. throughout the drive, we had the best conversations about our faith, our family, our life. the storm finally subsided, and we enjoyed the most beautiful sight, that i believe was given to us by God as a way to encourage us: we saw the most vibrant double rainbow. i remember laughing and saying to Brian, “hey babe, it looks like positive pregnancy test lines.” “maybe it’s a sign,” he exclaimed. i didn’t realize in that moment how God was truly using signs like this to speak to us.
we spent the next week in the mountains of North Carolina. i was completely in awe of God’s creation on display right before my eyes. every morning, i would wake up long before the others to do my bible study on the back patio with my coffee and my puppy. some mornings it would feel enlightening and would serve as refreshment, while other mornings it would bring me to my knees in sobs. i had never felt so hurt and so heavy by infertility before, but also never so hopeful through the hurt before. i left that week really feeling and knowing in my heart that God was in control, He had a plan, and He would let me live out my purpose in life of being a mother. come hell or high water, i would be a mama, no matter if it happened through Letrozole, IUI, IVF, or adoption. i knew in my heart that my time would come.
on the last night of the trip, God gave us another rainbow, stretching over the Blue Ridge mountains, right outside the back window. this image below, along with the quote, “don’t dig up in doubt what you had planted in faith,” has been my phone background from that day, throughout my pregnancy, and up until even now.
on the drive home, we stopped every hour (sometimes twice an hour) for me to pee. this isn’t abnormal, though, because i am a type 1 diabetic, and we pee all the time. brian and i both seriously thought nothing of it.
i almost threw up in the Chick-Fil-A drive through in the middle-of-nowhere Georgia. thought i was carsick. i get carsick semi-regularly, so again, thought nothing of it.
napped off and on the whole way home. when i wasn’t napping, we were having incredible, fulfilling conversations about our marriage, family, and dreams. road trip talks will always be one of my favorite things.
when we pulled into town, brian pulled off so we could stop at Winn-Dixie for dog food for Hamilton. i asked him to grab sushi and a bottle of wine because i so wasn’t cooking that night. when he came out to the car, he only had the dog food. apparently, the sushi lady hadn’t been there in weeks, so they had none. and he forgot the wine. he offered to run in and get some. i told him, “let’s go home first and unload, then we’ll go to Fresh Market for some.”
when i got home, i saw that i had a couple HCG pregnancy strips left (HCG is the pregnancy hormone.) i decided, “okay, i’m going to take this now, physically see another negative, and call my doctor first thing monday so she can get me on Provera to jumpstart my period. i’m done waiting.”
took the test, and waited to see the one line that i always see to confirm it was negative.
this time, there were 2 lines.
“uh, hey, do you see that?!”
he said he really did see it and he didn’t have to squint! ladies, you know it’s real when your husband’s man-eyes can see the second line, even if it’s faint.
we were literally shocked. we stood there in the bathroom just staring at each other, unsure of what to do and say. did we really just get pregnant on our own when we least expected it? we held the test up to the natural light shining in through the bedroom window, and as it started to sink in, we embraced and just cried.
in the past, when i had chemical pregnancies, there would be an extremely faint line you had to squint to see, and then the next day the line would either be even fainter or nonexistent. (a chemical pregnancy occurs when the egg fertilizes, but doesn’t implant. so if you test during the time the egg is fertilized before it tries to implant, you will see an extremely faint line, as your body releases a very small amount of HCG–the pregnancy hormone. i have found that my period after a chemical pregnancy is much heavier, as your body has to dispose of the failed implantation. it is devastating.)
i took the second strip late the night, and the line was a bit darker, meaning that this baby was hopefully sticking this time.
we went to grab burgers instead of sushi, skipped out on the wine, and talked “what if.”
“what if this is real?”
“what if i’m really pregnant?”
“what if there’s really a healthy baby in there?”
we still proceeded with caution, because unfortunately infertility teaches you to always be on the defensive “just in case.” we decided i would call my doctor first thing monday morning, and hopefully get a beta blood test to see what my HCG levels were, or if they truly existed at all.
i took 9 pregnancy tests on sunday, like any sane person would. *sarcasm.* and yes, they were all positive. faint, but definitely existent.
i called monday morning, explained the situation (“hi, my husband and i are going through fertility treatment and i just took 9 pregnancy tests this weekend that i think are positive. can i come in sometime today to get my beta bloodwork done?”) don’t worry guys. i’m totally normal.
they got me in within 20 minutes of the call. i sat in the chair in the lab, and the phlebotomist got set up. “i’m so nervous,” i said. she recognized me and said, “girl you’re used to being poked and prodded as a type 1 diabetic! why in the world are you nervous?” i told her i thought i was finally pregnant, but i was nervous that somehow, the bloodwork would be negative.
she held my hand and prayed over me and the growing life in my belly. i will never ever forget that moment, as that’s when it began to truly began to become real for me.
the clinic said they would call by 1PM. the time came and went, and next thing i knew it was 1:07PM. so, being the sane person i am, i went outside of my work building and called to ask. they drew out the explanation to build up the suspense, and i thought i was going to fall over.
finally, i heard, “…so congratulations mama, you are pregnant! your HCG level is right where it should be, your progesterone looks great, continue taking your prenatals, and we will go ahead and schedule your first ultrasound…”
i stood there right outside my school where i worked, and just sobbed and prayed. i literally could not believe this was happening; that i had gotten so lucky. i had such a mix of emotions: pure elation over the creation of this new life that i thought would never come (especially not naturally), but also a sense of heaviness and guilt that i was one of the lucky ones. (more on that later, in subsequent chapters…)
brian called me shortly thereafter. “hey, what did they say?” he was anxious. “can we talk about it when you get home from work?” i replied. this was the moment i had waited for throughout our whole marriage. the man gets to surprise with the engagement; it was my turn to have my surprise moment. i didn’t lie exactly; i just didn’t give a direct answer. sneaky, i know. he said, “aw, i’m so sorry baby. i’m leaving in a few. should be home in an hour.” whoops. he totally thought it was negative, and i felt guilty. BUT I WANTED MY MOMENT, DAMNIT!
i ran to Target, grabbed a couple pregnancy tests and a punny card that said, “s**t just got real” with a picture of a diaper on it (we have a thing for puns), and then sped over to TJ Maxx to get some daddy gifts and a onesie. i peed on the stick (the line was SO apparent by now!) and assembled it in the box with the other special items.
he walked in the house, didn’t say a word, and just enveloped me in a hug. he held on for what seemed like forever, probably expecting me to cry; all the while, i was BURSTING and just wanted him to let go so i could show him the box! we walked into the kitchen where the box was, and i said, “babe, look.”
he was floored! “wait, it was positive?! you’re pregnant?! wait, we’re having a BABY?!”
that moment in our little kitchen is one of my fondest memories, as that kitchen is also where i had a breakdown just 3 weeks earlier, sobbing in his arms on the kitchen floor saying, “i just want to be a mama. why can’t it happen for me? it’s all i want in life and this isn’t fair. you would be the best dad…”
our dream had just come true. finally. naturally. “unexpectedly.”
and with that, our journey to you, sweet Nora Jo, began. i can’t believe we get to hold you in our arms in less than one month.
tune in for chapter two in the coming weeks!