Holding Onto Hope, Anticipating Joy

Julie Davis

One wife's journey on the road of infertility and missionary living. Real life ~from Small Town, Missouri to Prague, Czech Republic.

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How Time Flies

Our sweet miracle, Magnolia Joy, is now 5 months old. As I was looking back at the last time I wrote about our journey, I am a bit embarrassed that it was last November, when I was five months pregnant with her!

Can I say, the busyness of life, ministry and all else took over. It has been one of the most exciting times in our lives to be expecting something we waited so long for. It has also been one of the busiest as far as our ministry. I mean, who would have expected starting an International Church in one of the most atheistic cities in the world, would take up so much of our time (I say that with tongue and cheek). Great things were happening; I was feeling great, both Maggie and the church were growing and at 7 months pregnant, I started Heart Kids (our church’s Children’s Program) and our parents had bought their plane tickets for Maggie’s arrival! Looking back, this was way too much, but sometimes I take on too much.

Here is a little bit of catch-up for you, from the last few months of our pregnancy…so, you could say, this is Magnolia’s Birth Story, Part 1.

Each visit we had with our wonderful, fun and kind doctor showed Maggie growing well and quickly. They kept saying, she would be a big baby. We were able to see ALOT of her legs and arms, but hardly ever her face. She was always moving around, hiding her face or turned around when it came time for the ultrasound. We had one semi-good view of her face with the 4D Ultrasound, but never again after that…I jokingly stated that she was a Diva, and didn’t want to show us her face until her grand entrance.

One of the only photos of Maggie’s face we got, because she was such a mover!

At 30 weeks, we changed doctors, again. Pregnancy care is handled differently here. This time we went from our regular OBGYN to our Delivery Doctor. Our Clinic also has a partnership with one of the maternity hospitals in Prague. We were thankful for our Clinic because they helped register us at the hospital for the actual delivery, and made our appointments with the doctor to be at the Clinic. All things that could be difficult as foreigners.

We met our doctor, she was young and seemed nice. We remembered, how it seems that it takes about 3 visits to get to know a new doctor and feel comfortable with them…so, we settled into that fact and embraced the awkwardness of a first meeting. We could tell that she was the delivery doctor who worked for the hospital, and not our Clinic, as she would get us in and out for our appointments quickly. Not much relationship building…but, in the end we all got a rhythm of working together.

On one of our weekly visits, we found out that we tested positive for Strep B. Our doctor seemed quite alarmed with the results, and pretty much shut down any chit-chat. Aaron and I knew a little about it, but were not 100% on what the effects were on delivery, as well as procedures. Plus, we were in the Czech Republic, not the USA, far away from home, comfort and “normal". The doctor, mumbled some things indicating it was fine…but without any definite details, and then shooed us out of the room, until the next week. Needless to say, we were a bit worried and concerned…but, did some research and came back the next week with our questions. This part is hard for us. For us, we still expect a doctor to explain procedures and the “why’s" of whatever medical situation we have. Welcome to Central Europe!…where the guiding philosophy is, “The more you don’t know, the better." …and, “The doctor went to medical school, you didn’t…just trust'em."

In the mean time, we took a tour of the birthing hospital. There were papers and forms to fill out, money to pay and papers to take home and read. On our tour, they took us to a door where they said, when you come-in in labor, you will come to this door and press two buttons…not one button or the other button but both buttons simultaneously…or else the nurses wouldn’t know we were there. We wondered how many babies had been born in that hall due to improper button operation. When pressed, someone answers the call, you will tell them through the speaker that you are in labor. They will come and get you, see if it is true, and then set you up on a heart monitor while they start to check you in. The next tour stope took us to the labor and delivery rooms. They were nice and large, had a private shower and bathroom, clean and modern. The nurse talked to us about the procedure, and their thoughts on delivery. They are here to take care of the baby, not us, so their primary concern is for the baby…we could jump off a bridge. …this also meant, NO epidural during delivery…honestly, I tried to hide my shock! As I looked at Aaron, I thought, is it too late to fly to America to have this baby? A French couple was taking the English speaking tour with us. At the moment when the nurse declared their lack of concern for the mother…he blurted out, “You practice medicine like barbarians!" The nurse and the Frenchman began a heated discussion about the quality of care that lasted the rest of the tour. We silently made notes of both the hospital, staff and other guests. We kept our head down.

Aaron at the entrance of the hospital property.

On our walk up to the Hospital. The Hospital is in the background…not your average looking US Hospital.

The door with the TV above it…this is the door that ladies buzz into (pressing both buttons) to see if they are in labor or not.

In discussion with our doctor, regarding Strep B (we kept getting conflicting information on when we needed to go to the hospital to get the medication…and we live about 30-45 minutes away (much longer with traffic), which made the 1 hour limit seem troublesome, and the concern for Maggie’s growing weight, we decided to talk to her about the possibility of a C-Section. We shared our concern about Strep-B, and getting to the hospital in time. Ultimately, with a C-Section, there would be no danger of infection for Maggie.

In order to see if this was an option for us, we needed to see the head of delivery, our doctor’s mentor. …One more step in a chain of incomprehensible steps…so lets go for it! Our appointment was set with him for two weeks later. We went early to our appointment, so we could have her heart monitored and checked. The last time we had done that, she was a mover and a grover…this time, she was a bit more quiet…it was in the early evening, which was usually her rest time (she always came awake at bedtime, making bedtime for myself very interesting!) During the appointment, we discussed our thoughts and concerns, and he quickly moved to the ultrasound. He was looking, talking in Czech, giving the nurse numbers to enter into the computer to see the range of the baby, not bothering to let us know what it all meant. He seemed to be taking an extra long time, compared to our other doctor, but we assumed since it was his first time to see us, he was just being careful. He asked me when the last time was I felt Maggie move. I said earlier that day. He continued looking and speaking to the nurse in Czech this time furiously typing on his keyboard. He asked me again about the baby moving. I said yes. I looked nervously at Aaron, trying to figure out what was happening. We had just had her on the heart monitor, and everything was fine, so I was unsure of what was happening and he seemed frantic. He talked to the nurse some more, asked me again about her movement…a third time, in a commanding tone, unsatisfied with my previous responses. Then he told us, that he was unable to detect blood circulation between the placenta and Maggie. He said it made him a bit nervous, but that it wasn’t too the point of high concern. He asked us to come to the hospital the next morning at 7am, so he could do another ultrasound, this time on his equipment to check the status. Aaron asked if we should be concerned, he said, "not yet." (…really comforting!) …but again he would not give any specifics when we pressed him. …typical.

One of the many heart monitor readings for our sweet Maggie Girl.

So, we went home…packed, in case we were to stay at the hospital the next morning. Of course, we made it to the hospital early…we are American. The doctor was not yet there, but came shortly after 7. He took us in immediately for the ultrasound. He said that it looked like the placenta was not growing anymore, and that it would not be beneficial to keep Maggie inside any longer. We asked if she was developed enough to be born, we were at 38 weeks, he said everything looked good and was developed to the point of delivery. We asked if there was a risk to keep her inside longer, he said that if she stayed inside, it would affect her and possibly cause a stillbirth…so, we obviously chose to go ahead and have her. We knew God was in control, but hearing the words spoken “still birth" in a foreign accent, in a hospital a world away from family still sends shockwaves through Aaron and I. It didn’t matter the context.

First, we are thankful to God that we even started the discussion of a C-Section. Because of my positive results for Strep-B, we were able to talk about this option. Which in turn, caused us to have a special ultrasound with the Head of Delivery…which in turn, found a problem that may have not been found until a week or so later. It is obvious, God had his hand on this time, on me and on Maggie!

Our doctor that was going to deliver Maggie originally, was unable to do a surgery that week due to a sick child…so, not only did God take care of finding this problem early on…BUT, he also arranged for the Head of Delivery, the doctor with whom all other doctors have do their C-Sections and is at the top of his group in all of Czech, deliver Maggie! What a great God.

After the next morning’s appointment, we left the hospital knowing a little more information. Knowing that we would come back the next day to check-in and welcome Maggie into the world and knowing that, there were a lot of butterflies and excitement as we drove home. Then, it started to sink in…I was about to almost be split in-two, in a foreign country.

The Second Trimester Continues...

Since our sweet baby is due in March, I felt it fitting to start off with the saying that usually comes with each March. If March comes in like a lion, It goes out like a lamb.

Well, that is exactly how my Second Trimester has gone and is going. People told me, once you get into your Second Trimester, you will feel much better and you won’t be as sick…people told me that, as my head hovered over the toilet. To say my Second Trimester has been “much better", are not the words I would use. It was actually the hardest. I believe my best shining moment was one night as we were going to bed, I took my prenatal vitamin and was drinking water beside the bed. All of a sudden, I was gagged by the pill and I started coughing. I covered my mouth, to no avail. The next thing I remember is Aaron applauding “My wonderful and most amazing throw-up show he’d ever seen". (He used the word “spectacular", …boys?!). ...That is, until I burst into tears. He quickly jumped up, got a towel for me. Shooed me to the bathroom to “finish up what had just started", as he cleaned the bed, the room, the curtains and whatever else the shrapnel hit. …in the end; new sheets were added, tears were dried and there was even a little laughter. …roar….

Four months in…pregnancy sickness plus a cough and cold, not a great combination.

BUT! The last week and this week, they have been great. As I am coming to the last week of my 5th month, with one more month in my Second Trimester to go, I am hopeful that, “it will go out like a lamb". …bahh….

It has been a fun an different experience being pregnant. I have waited so long to be in this place, and yet, it is sometimes just unbelievable. Aaron and I will be lying in bed about to drift off, when one of us will exclaim how great and exciting and nerve wrecking it is!

It all became even more real, when we found out our sweet miracle is a GIRL! Now, I will admit, I wanted a little girl so bad. However, after trying for so long to conceive, I was happy with whichever God would give us. In fact, I was pretty certain it was a boy! My Pinterest Board was full of girl things, then it started to become full of boy things, because I was so convinced.

As long as Gender Reveal Parties have become a “thing", I have wanted one. I told Aaron and Amy (my most wonderful and best friend and missionary colleague), that if we became pregnant, this was the one thing I wanted to do. Then…we got pregnant. I started thinking logistically about how it would work and look, who would come, on and on. I basically told myself, I wasn’t going to happen. The amount of work to have something like that was daunting. I told Aaron, then Amy…and they both said, NO! This is the one thing you said you wanted, and we are going to make it happen…and I am so glad they put their collective foot down!

Here in the Czech Republic, the Gender Reveal Phenomenon has not appeared. So, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle. I had contacted a bakery after one of our appointments, where we knew the date we would find out the gender. As I have mentioned before, I am an organizer and planner…so, I wrote an email with pictures and as detailed as I could. The baker, did not understand…and didn’t really want to understand, if you get my point! So we would have to go about this another way. Let’s just say between Amy, the bakery and I…there were about ten or more email exchanges. …finally at the reveal. We just hoped we had something pink or blue. And not white, purple or green!

The next step was to explain to our Doctor, …try explaining how, “I want to know, but not really know, but write it down in an envelope so our friend can know."…in a foreign language! When we went in for our appointment, we reminded her that we needed her to write it on a paper and fold it up. We tried to explain the idea of the party, and she just smiled and said ok…have a fun party. She started the ultrasound, and told us when she was looking for the gender. Aaron and I both turned our heads. After the ultrasound, she went over to her desk to write the gender. She was whispering to her nurse in Czech, and Aaron quickly spoke to her in Czech. He said, “We understand some Czech, so make sure to not say it is Czech because we will know". They looked at us in surprise and laughed. They said they are excited to see pictures from “our party" at our next appointment.

Our Doctor’s Office, Canadian Medical Care. We are blessed by our great, caring and friendly Doctor.

Our party was really more than I could have hoped for…of course, having our family and close friends in attendance would have made it the greatest, but God blessed us with being surrounded by people we love here. Amy (Chris, Gideon and Karis too), met us in Old Town Square with the cake. It looked so great. We all kind of joked that if we cut into the cake and it was white, Amy would just shout out the gender…no matter how clear or how much we think we explain things, they can always get lost in translation. We found a little table in the extremely crowded area, and then were surprised by some other great friends and fellow missionaries from Hungary; Rick, Lori and Zsolti. There were a few tears on my end…I mean come on, how wonderful to be surrounded by people we love and not feel alone at one of the happiest times in our lives. I texted our parents and family to make sure they were on, and ready to watch (we did a Facebook Live Video, so everyone in American could join us). Once we received word they were, it was show time…I was so so nervous. You can tell by how Aaron had to prod me to talk during the video. However, when I started to cut the cake and saw a little sliver of pink, I just couldn’t believe it! Of course, no-one else was able to see, not even Aaron, so once I got over my initial shock and excitement..I continued. Afterwards, we had the most amazing Mexican food (it’s what I crave the most) we’ve had in Prague, as we all celebrated together.

Here is a link to watch our Gender Reveal, if you missed it!

My first moment of seeing the “pink", and forgetting to continue cutting the cake for everyone else to see.

It’s a GIRL!

Our sweet and wonderful missionary family sharing in on our excitement and miracle.

We have started on the nursery. We have a crib put together, we have a few other pieces of furniture. We are slowly finding things that we are liking for the decorations (I am trying to stay off of Hobby Lobby website, but boy oh boy, how I wish they would open a store here). We’ve bought some cute dresses and stuffed animals (Aaron’s favorite thing to buy). We are planning for both of our parents to come shortly before/after her birth. Things just keep progressing and moving forward…

Shopping at Ikea for our sweet baby! This is the chair that each photo has been taken in…except this one was part of the display.

Putting the crib together. One of the easiest pieces of IKEA furniture to ever put together!

In fact, last week, I was able to feel her first kick! I have been waiting for it. I was laying on the couch after dinner, watching some tv with Aaron, when I felt this little flutter…well, just a little more than a flutter! It took me a minute to realize, it was a kick. I shouted to Aaron, I am pretty sure I just felt a kick. What, he exclaimed…yep, a kick. It was another great, joyful and tear-filled moment. Really, one of the best feelings ever. I am looking forward to when she kicks more aggressively, that Aaron can feel it. He loves her so much already, and is going to be the best daddy!

Next Tuesday, we have our 2nd Trimester Ultrasound, where we will see our sweet baby’s organs and how she is progressing. It will be the first time, we get to see her, knowing she is a her! It is amazing to be able to watch her grow and progress from a little blob on the ultrasound screen, to a little blob with a head, to arms moving and legs kicking…to soon, being our sweet little Magnolia (Maggie) Joy, held in our arms.


Our Sweet Maggie.

Our Journey (so far)…in Photos!

As we started this journey, this specific IVF journey, we decided that along the way we would document important events with a photo.

So, today, I will share some photos, as well as a bit more of where we are in our journey.

Our First Visit to Gennet, Our Fertility Clinic was in April. We were unsure of a lot of things; about the facility, about the procedures, about the prices, about the doctors, about the steps…on and on I could go.

This photo shows a lot about what we were feeling…there is excitement, question, uncertainty. This journey, is a journey we are on together. It doesn’t just affect me, it affects us both, and this photo shows that.

After a month of going to the clinic for testing and check-ups, the time came for us to meet with our IVF Coordinator. So, last week we meet with our coordinator, and started the steps towards our IVF Procedure.

While there, we got our IVF plan.

Now, I am a very organized person…in fact, I LOVE ORGANIZATION! Take me to an office store, and I will want to buy everything there to make things nice and put where they should be.

In fact, on a recent ministry trip, Aaron snapped a photo of me before getting on the plane. I looked quite excited in the photo…do you want to know why I was so excited…I was so excited because of the folder in my hand. I had all of our travel documents and information in that folder…and I was so happy to have it all in one place and accessible, that I asked Aaron to take a photo of me with it! (True Story)

However, this plan that we got Karolina, was quite a bit more intense and very specific.

This is our IVF plan. It hangs on our refrigerator…mostly because, some of the medication is refrigerated, and it won’t get lost there! We have dates and days. I have medication to start and take (at the same time each day). I have medication to take now, some next week, and then more and more to be added. Every night at 8pm, Aaron gives me a shot. A SHOT! I set an alarm on my phone to go off at 8pm, so we won’t forget…and believe me, 8pm will sneak up on you. Today, we will add another shot, and he will give me 2 a night. He is so good to get it ready, sanitize the area and say, “I love you"…all right before he pushes the needle in…he doesn’t really like to see me in pain or hurt. Plus, have I ever mentioned...I don’t like shots!

Today, we also had a follow-up ultrasound, to see how the medication is working. I got a smile and an excited, “Things are looking good, and the medication is working well." Plus, that little right ovary that seems to hide…was nice and big because of all the follicules that were present!

Here is the Czech Republic. We have learned to celebrate little victories…whether, it is having a full conversation in Czech, getting the right food at a restaurant…or in my case today, having 7 follicules!

Now, you might think…what is the big deal, you got a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Doritos…well you see, you can’t just go get these at any store. You have to go to a special import store…that happens to be on our way home…so, celebrate we did! We also won’t talk about how much they cost…because we are celebrating!

Towards the middle to end of the month, we will have a few procedures to have the actual IVF. For the most part, the plan is in place, however the dates are “in the air" depending on how my body responds.

We would love to ask for your prayers.

Please pray for my body continues to respond to the medication in the way that it needs to.
Please pray for me. as well as Aaron, as my body and mind become a little crazy from the medication.
Please pray for the doctor to be guided each step of the way.
Please pray that God will bless us in the end, with a positive result.
Please pray with us, as we are "Holding onto Hope and Anticipating Joy!"