14 years ago, I walked into a rented hall for a celebration for my parents ministry anniversary. In that hall was a young man, who had just returned from his term as a Missionary Associate in Belgium, along with his parents who were long time friends of the family. In fact, they attended my parent’s church when Aaron and I were just babies…Aaron and I were in the nursery together, his parents moved for work, and I never saw him again…until this day. His reasoning for attending was that his mom told him, “They have a pretty daughter, you should come!" I would say at this point, the rest is history; but for two slow moving, unsure of ourselves, and in-college-young-people…it took a whole 6-7 months for the history to begin. 😃 It did, and we were married on March 20, 2004. We have been married for 12 years! They have been some of the most wonderful times of my life. I am so thankful that God brought this man into my life. We love being together, laughing and enjoying life, we are with each other pretty much 24 hours a day, and love it!
White Picket Fences are Overrated
When we were first married we were youth pastors in a small town. It was really a great opportunity for us to learn how each other worked in ministry, and learn how we work together as a team. I was a school teacher in the town and Aaron was finishing his Illustration Degree and working at a T-Shirt Print Shop. Eventually, we moved into Springfield; Aaron’s job was there, my new job was there, we bought a house there. We had this thought, this is our time to live the dream of who we are. This will be the life we always wanted! I started to pursue my Masters of Education Administrations Degree, Aaron was working full time as a Graphic Designer for a major store, we were attending a great church and helping on the Mission’s Committee. Yes, it was a great place to be in and a great time in our lives, we were however feeling this unsettlement, not feeling fulfilled in what we had studied and trained to be. We often talked about it, and would try to figure out what we could do to make that feeling go away. What steps were there left to take? Then, one Sunday, our church was celebrating the new missionary candidates that were being appointed that year with our organization. There were about 30 couples/families/singles. During the Sunday School hour, each class had 3-4 of these missionaries sharing about the call God has placed on their life, to some place overseas somewhere. As they were speaking with the sincerest passion, the unsettledness that our hearts had been feeling started to stir again. I didn’t look at Aaron, I didn’t nudge him, I just sat there. As we were leaving the class for the main service, we stopped in the stairway, and Aaron said, what are we doing with our lives? Well, I knew then he had felt the same thing I had. At that spot, we felt God call us to the mission field. That was in 2008. We would go through interviews, applications, blood work, doctor’s appointments…then, once accepted, we had to travel all over MO to raise the funds that we needed to live and do ministry. In January 2011, we finally arrived to where God has called us, the Czech Republic.
New Job, New Experiences, …& A New Addition?
It is around this time, When (and where) we started thinking about starting a family. We are taking new steps in life, shouldn’t babies be a part of that too? As a young married wife, who had never lived outside of the US or MO, I couldn’t imagine having a baby overseas in some place I had never been. So, we thought, we will try and conceive while we are itinerating (knowing it would take about 1.5-2 years to raise or budget), that way we could deliver in a US hospital and have family and friends around. It’s that easy right?...just stop taking that pill, and watch it happen in a couple of months. At this time, we did not realize that this may be harder than we thought…we were traveling every weekend and sometimes during the week, speaking everywhere about only one half of the dream that was on our heart.
So, we moved to the Czech Republic. After about 2 years living here, we thought we should go to the doctor and mention that we have not been able to conceive. During my yearly exam, I mentioned to our doctor that we had been trying to conceive for several years, and had not been able to. Her head jerked up, and she started rattling off in Czech to her nurse…To this day, I don’t know what she said. The doctor’s office is in an old house. There are two doors to go through to get into the exam room. Kinda like an outer door and an inner door from Hallway to office. …Except those doors are about a foot apart. It may seem a bit, odd, but there is always this terrible clacking sound as the doors crash into each other whenever people pass through them. I grew to HATE that sound… It was a reminder, every time I heard it, I have problems, I’m the exception, I’m not normal. All we wanted is a baby, how hard is this supposed to be? ...following ultrasounds and blood tests, I started on some medication. My body reacted very well, all signs positive, but still…no baby. After months of repeating the pills and Aaron giving me medical injections, the doctor mentioned that it may be time to refer me to a fertility clinic. We were about 2 months from returning to the US. We would have to wait for our transition back to the United States. She hoped for us, “All the the best…", as she handed a folder of medical notes in trade for our efforts.
We were in the Czech Republic for 3 years. At this point, it had been almost 5 years of not being able to conceive, without any reason medically. That is the frustrating part. When you read blogs from other infertility women, I always see that they have been diagnosed with this or that, and that is what makes it hard…for me, there is nothing. It is just hard.
Old Neighborhoods, New Avenues
We retuned to the US. I was pretty insistant about not going to a fertility clinic. In my mind, if I went there, it was saying there was indeed a problem…I was infertile. It is a hard thing to process and understand, unless you have went through it. That’s not to say, that we don’t need support from our family and friends who haven’t experienced it…we do, it is just complex emotionally…I still haven’t found the right words.
Since I wasn’t ready to accept this, we looked at another option, Adoption. Aaron and I have always talked about wanting to adopt. In our minds, it would be after we had a baby of our own. We thought maybe this was the path we needed to take. We started the process with a great agency (One my parents adopted my older sister from), and were working through the process. We got to a point, where we were going to need to pay a substantial amount of money for a home study. The home study would be good for one year, and then we would need to do it again….except as missionaries…even that gets complicated. We are only “home" temporarily. In speaking with our representative from the agency, she mentioned we could go ahead with the home study, but that at this time they didn’t have any children up for adoption, and there was a list of other couples in front of us for when they might. It was kind of a big heavy slam of the door for us. We never expected there could be a “shortage" of adoptable babies. One thing we have learned in our married life, is that God is pretty obvious with us. The doors usually swing wide open or get slammed in our face. This was one of those slam in our face moments. We took a step back, and just waited and prayed.
We saw a door open when I was invited to do a long term substitute teaching job. It was the same school I worked before, in the same grade I worked before, with some of the same teachers too. It was some disposable income. We decided to do it. It would be for about 3 months, just during the week, which is important for missionaries traveling on weekends sharing their purpose in life. During this time, God started to open my heart to that stinking fertility clinic. 😃 Did I mention, the long term sub was for someone who just had a baby? Going to a fertility clinic in the US, can be very expensive. It’s not covered by insurance. We are taken care of financially by our organization, but this kind of “extra" money is hard to come by. This teaching money income coming in, could mean the difference between baby or no baby. We decided to take the gamble, we would try it. After all, we only experienced tests in the Czech Republic, we thought, maybe they may have another approach or another option.
The Fertility Clinic
So, I made the appointment…at a fertility clinic. As we pulled up to the clinic, there was this flood of emotion. We walked in, we were handed papers attached to clipboards that we must fill out. Our information. …our name, address, how we fail at making babies...
Every once in a while, a woman would come out and pay and leave…she would have the look on her face that I was feeling on the inside. The waiting room had one other woman, and at the moment I realized how lucky I was that I wasn’t sitting there alone…next to me was my wonderfully loving and caring husband, holding my hand as I was fighting back tears. Why tears, who knows..I pretty much cry each time I go to a fertility clinic.
We did a couple of tests that were more specific to infertility. They were painful at times, inside and out. The people were so kind and caring. The care rooms were always dimly lit, there was a nice blanket to cover up with. If they could see that I needed a moment, they would step out and give it to us. When a procedure or test was happening they would talk in low tones and try to keep things light. All the while, Aaron was there, holding my hand or sitting in the corner. So, thankful that I don’t have to walk this journey alone. We have some great family and friends, who are praying with us that makes these steps a bit easier. After a few months of testing and one IUI procedure, our money was gone, several thousand dollars and all my emotions, spent.
Expanding Our Circle
We asked a couple of prayer warriors, to pray with us, and we continued to travel and raise funds to return to the Czech Republic. During these 2 years of being in the US, we started to share a bit more of this story and request prayer. First with family, then few close friends, then our prayer warriors, then our home church and recently our support team (which is about 300-400 people). Our thoughts were, we need a miracle, who better to ask for help in praying for us than people who already love and support us and our ministry. We are so thankful for people, some we know, some we don’t, but all of whom believe with us!
Now, back in the Czech Republic. We are settling in, living life and pouring ourselves into ministry. Even with people around the world praying with us, It’s hard not to feel alone.
Na Porici Street
And here, we find ourselves walking into a new clinic and some renewed hope. The major barrier for us is finances. Frankly I don’t know how other couples do it and how many others realize HOW expensive the bill can be. In doing some research, we found that the price of some procedures are 2/3 less than they are in the US. We have started our journey again. This time, It’s not such a soothing environment. No blankets, tea or cookies. The room we had our first consultation in was white and bright lights, very sterile. (Thank God at least it’s sterile) There was English and Czech spoken, a lot of repeated words, questions and concerns. Concerns we had not heard before, but know that it will all be okay. I will write about that later, when I have drier eyes and more will-power to do so. It’s enough to say for now, that we have decided that we are going to move forward with an IVF procedure. Apparently with my age, my reserve egg supply…this is our only option (said a bit sarcastically, is 35 that old?).
We are nervous. We are anxious. We are excited. We are praying. We are holding onto hope, as we are anticipating joy!
This journey has lead us to Na Porici Street. Please pray with us, for us, for the doctors who work there. That God can use them to bless our family. Please pray that we are able to be a light to the lost doctors and nurses that we will get to meet and work with.
Below, Na Porici, Prague, Czech Republic.