The Numbers Game

Our journey has been three years long,
Also thought of as 36 cycles
During which, we’ve had three losses
We’ve had four separate doctors
Six disappointing ultrasounds
And zero diagnosis or possible reasons why
I’ve lost count of the blood tests, pregnancy tests, ovulation tests

But I have also lost count of the prayers, the number of friends and family that are with us,
The number of blessings we’ve been given
And the answered prayers and babies born of so many mamas

Which makes this time now still hopeful and new
This seems like a third phase for us,
With five days of letrozole,
One shot of Ovidrel,
Three days of ovulation,
Another two weeks of waiting,
And the same 15-20 percent chance

It seems the same, and it seems different
It feels hopeful but silly to be hopeful
Which makes it hard to talk about
There’s not much to say when things seem the same, and the process still seems long
There’s nothing different to report
And the outcome might still be the same

So, while I might not have much to say,
It’s the prayers, friends, and family that keep me sane
It’s God’s impossible love that keeps me hopeful
And my trust in His Will that makes 100% of this just another part of my testimony for His Kingdom

The Goodness of God

“With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God”

This year has been a difficult one for us in many ways, and as my dad’s birthday approaches, my heart has felt a heavy weight of having lived one whole year without hearing his voice. It’s hard to believe it’s only been one year since he passed, since we were told about the CF gene, since my third miscarriage. There were mission trip highs and loved pets gone. There were financial arguments, and next step decisions struggled with. It’s been a long year of simply being part of this broken world, and we were never promised an easy life, but we have done our best to walk through this broken life with God.

Only 5 days ago, we were praying for God to speak to us and lead us in some direction. I was concerned about my late cycle (IVF is all about cycles), but we were walking toward the beginning of IVF. Friday, we spoke with the genetics counselor, the first step of the process. We were told that we would need to get a “probe” created that takes about 8 weeks. This was to identify our specific CF gene in any future embryo so that they could identify healthy embryos to move forward with. (That might not be word for word correct, but that is my basic understanding).

This phone call was life changing. So far, in this journey, we felt doctors were not answering our questions or really having our interests at heart. They were doing their job, but the conversations just didn’t seem like they understood or really cared. This phone call with the genetic counselor was the first time it felt like someone cared. It was the first time a doctor asked why we wanted IVF (it was our only option?) and explained really what the CF gene was.

I don’t know how else to share our Christmas miracle with you besides this exact conversation:

“We were told that if we had children naturally there would be a 25 percent chance our child would be born infertile or die as a young child.”

“That is true somewhat for classic cystic fibrosis. But that is not what you two share. The gene you two have is 5T (something). If you two had a child born with two 5T genes, there would be almost no chance that they would have any symptoms at all.”

Now this is paraphrasing because I was floored and trying to process what she was saying. She went on to tell us that we are perfectly safe to try and conceive naturally.

After 6 months of mentally preparing for the inability to ever have children without IVF, we were told we could conceive naturally.

She told us that the previous doctor that told me to immediately get on birth control to prevent accidental pregnancy probably did not have a background in genetics and only saw that we had a CF gene. She also went so far as to say that even if we went through with IVF to help our chances, we shouldn’t waste our money on identifying the CF gene in an embryo because nothing would be wrong with it.

I still don’t know exactly how to follow that news. I’m still processing and speechless. I cannot comprehend how big this miracle is. I have been accepting of what the doctors told us and praying that IVF would lead us to one sweet child. God just stepped in and trumped my prayer with the ability to conceive naturally. I didn’t even know I could ask for that. I thought asking for a child was praying big, and God showed me He is bigger.

This news is still new, and we will still speak with the doctor about what our next steps will be. After all, there are the 3 miscarriages, although every doctor (including this genetics counselor) has told us they were not caused by anything wrong with us. These miscarriages are just unexplained, and there isn’t reason at this point to assume I would have another. I still do not know if we will someday have a child, but this was a Christmas miracle to hear. This has completely floored me with the goodness of God.

Right now, I am filled with praise and worship, and I do not want that to go away. I know it is easier to praise God when He moves mountains, but I do not want to forget this feeling even if we do not conceive. I know that God hears our cries. I know that God loves us. I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace, and I think of their “Even if”.

May we be willing to worship and praise God, even if He doesn’t answer our prayers according to our desires.


The past few months have been a blessing. After all the losses, and the painful desire for a family, the past few months were intentionally for rest. Back in July, we had decided to try to start the process for IVF around November. If you have never struggled to have children then you may not understand that there is relief in not trying. First, I didn’t have to think about my cycle. That time of the month was not brought with heartache. I did not have to strain my eyes trying to will two lines to appear on that stick. I did not have the emotional argument with myself about it being okay, but not feeling okay. As much as I want a child, it felt good to rest, and I was comforted by having a plan for November.

Now it’s November, and oddly enough there is no excitement. (I think if I had more belief that it all will work in our favor I might have excitement. I have some hope – anything is possible for God- but if I am being honest – no confidence in IVF. I have confidence that God’s plan will happen, but no idea what that plan is. Kids? No kids? No idea). I have hesitation, worry, and a desperate desire for God to tell me what to do. As much as I think I want to share my experience about trying to be a mom, I find myself focusing more on my experience trying to focus on God. After three losses, finding out about the CF gene, and trying to decide the next steps to make, it is clear that nothing about our situation is in our control.

Then we found out the specialist we were supposed to work with retired in October. Great, more roadblocks. There was finding a new specialist, going over the process, speaking to multiple different entities that don’t seem to be on the page about anything, and respeaking to the specialist about the process because it still is not clear. There’s the finance department, the medical side, the genetics company, the labs. All have different fees and costs, all tell us different things. The thousands we thought it would cost are only a part of what it will actually cost. My husband is frustrated, and I get it. We argue about the use of this money, if we are throwing it away. We want a step-by-step plan. But they can’t because every step depends on my cycle or pretesting or the stars aligning and no one but God knows that. So we make appointments, not understanding what they’re for.

What we do know: while we wait for the stars, we can start doing some pretests at the start of my next cycle. So what happens? My cycle has yet to start (which I understand happens to some women, but it has never been an issue for me). My immediate thought is: Is this a reply from God? Is he pausing this for yet another unknown reason? Or am I filled with uncertainty and worry? (Definitely yes.) Is something wrong with me? Something new that will add on to this mess of fertility issues?

So amid the truth that I know that all things are possible with God, that His plans are good, and that what matters most in this life is Jesus, I still struggle with this whole process. I am struggling to hear what we should do. I want Him to yell at me, and say “MOVE FORWARD WITH CONFIDENCE”, or “THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT DIRECTION”. I feel like not taking any steps is still making a choice. This is not a simple pill to take. This is months of testing, hormones, money, labs, doctor visits, and at the end…loss? or the child we have prayed years for?

But today I realized that maybe this isn’t a journal of my IVF journey…entirely. Maybe this can be my journal focusing on God. Yes, I will walk through this IVF process, but my focus doesn’t need to be on this IVF process. Where should my focus be each day? With God. I want to remind myself each day to ask God what He wants from me today. I want to remind myself of the blessings He gave me this morning. I want to count the blessings I feel every time I see my husband. How great is the Lord! I am tired of asking why. I don’t know why things happen. I don’t know what God has in store for us. I don’t need to know because if my only goal is to have a child, then I will miss out on the life God truly has planned for me. My goal is to live for God’s kingdom, love His children, and seek His will above my own. I don’t want my happiness to be dependent upon a child. I want my happiness to be in Christ, and then I will never be let down. This is a daily struggle, and IVF will challenge me and my husband, but I pray for more of Him. I pray for His presence, His voice, His relationship, and I am thankful that the creator of the heavens and the earth knows and loves me. And yes, I pray that if it is His will, we can have a child too.

Never Say Never

“Never” is a powerful word. I never really thought about it. Bad news can feel very different when it’s only temporary, but “Never” is pretty absolute. I have used “never” as an exaggeration just about as many times as I have claimed to be starving when I am hungry. I have used “never” in arguments with my husband, and he has used “never” to describe places he wouldn’t travel to that he eventually did travel to.

And the doctor didn’t say “never” to us in our discussion of having a baby. But it was implied. “You should definitely not try to conceive naturally.” He didn’t have to say the word though, when the issue is in our genetic make-up. We will still both carry the CF gene when we are 30, 35, 40. That will not change. So our options became limited, but I am still stuck on “never”.

Up until that point, I had hope every step of the way. One miscarriage, two, three. I felt hope because all the tests told us we are healthy and fine. So I had hope that this journey would be over soon, and I would feel the kick of a child. With every pregnancy, I felt joy even though the pattern said otherwise. I can still close my eyes, and feel the joy from the first time. I can feel the hope in my heart as I planned for the future. So the word “never” now feels like driving into a concrete wall at full speed. There’s nothing we can do about this situation. It just is. And always will be. It’s final. Absolute. There’s no hope in the word “never”.

The dictionary meaning for “never” is: at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.

There’s no room for ifs or buts in that. So that’s where I am stuck processing now. For the past three years I have had friends and family tell me all the things they’ve tried or medicine they’ve taken to successfully conceive. Hope. But now I have to accept that we got our answer from the doctor. I don’t like it, but at least we have it. It also made me think about a sermon, scripture, or message I heard about not saying words like never, always, ever, etc. because we don’t know what God can or will do. So I tried to look up that scripture, and instead I found all the times that “never” is used in the bible (a lot). The irony is that in the bible the word “never” is a message of hope. It describes God’s promises to us.

I do not have updates on where we are in our IVF or adoption choices, but I am growing more confident in the plan that God has for us. Every time I feel that car driving into the concrete wall, I step back and remember where God has taken us so far. So I will leave you with the amazing grace, love, and hope that is shared through the word “never” from the only God that truly knows what tomorrow will bring. I encourage you to keep in mind the definition of “never” as you read.

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5 NIV

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Psalms 55:22 NIV

But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Psalms 9:18 NIV

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
Revelation 7:16 NIV

But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.
Psalms 102:27 NIV

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

Giving Praise

Psalms 105:1 “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”

Sometimes it’s not easy to wait patiently and joyfully when things aren’t going the way we want them to. This year has been tough on me, and at times it feels like I haven’t received good news for awhile. But feelings are a poor leader, and I know that God’s timing is perfect. I decided to take my focus off of myself and see the prayers that God has answered around me. Praying for others lifts my spirits and refocuses my attention. Below is a bit of light that reminds me how good God is.

Ashley, Jason, and Wrenley’s Story:

Less than 2 weeks ago, our beautiful Wrenley Kai made her way into the world, 7 weeks early. I had suddenly started having some complications earlier that week and was admitted into the hospital. First they had said she would be 4 weeks early, to her quickly coming a couple days later. God has taught me and my husband that we can try to make all the plans we want but ultimately He is in control and has the PERFECT timing for everything. He got me through a rough delivery and is continuing to be with me through these battles of fighting high blood pressure. Our Wrenley is making great progress and I know it’s because of our amazing God and how much He loves us.  He keeps telling me to relax, He is in control and has the best plans for us.

Scripture Speaks

During my last pregnancy, I read and reread the book of 1 Samuel. I always held onto the story of Hannah for obvious reasons. She wanted a child so badly, and God heard her prayers and answered them. 1 Samuel 1:20 says, “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.”

Through each pregnancy, I reread Hannah’s story. Reading the Bible, actually studying the Bible, has been such a huge impact on my life. I know there are some Christians who believe in God but don’t read the Word of God, and I feel sad about that because they are truly missing out on so much. There is so much to learn about who God is in the Bible and what Christ did for us, but I think the real loss is that people miss out on experiencing the living Word of God. It really is living because the Holy Spirit brings something new each time you read. I have experienced reading the same scripture or passage time and time again, and recognizing something new each time. It’s not as if the words or story changed, but it feels like God points out exactly what I need to hear from the story right when I need it. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26. Even when I thought what I needed most was Hannah’s answered prayers, God revealed to me something I needed to see more about her story.

During my first miscarriage, Hannah’s story gave me hope. I knew that God was listening to my prayers, and I prayed that one day He would answer mine too. After the second miscarriage, a different part of the scripture jumped out at me. Again looking at 1 Samuel 1:20, I realized Hannah’s prayers were answered, “in the course of time”. I realized this did not happen over night. Honestly, I have not looked a lot into this timeline, but it was comforting to step back and see that I needed to be patient. Even Hannah had to wait. God heard her prayers, but she still needed to be patient. Even now thinking about who Samuel became, if he was born earlier or later then none of the other pieces would fit into place. Samuel needed to born at exactly the right time so that he could meet Saul, Saul could meet David, David could become a ruler, and so on. It is amazing how God’s plans are so intricately tied together. I am sure that Hannah would have loved for her son to born earlier or her prayers to be answered sooner. I am sure she couldn’t possibly realize the greatness God would do through her son if she would wait. I am sure she was thinking what many woman think, “I am getting older and my timeline to have kids is getting smaller.” But how humbling is it to step back and see God’s bigger picture. Yes, I want kids now. But no, I would never wish to go against God’s will. Who am I to think I know better than God about when my kids should be born? Maybe God has amazing plans for them, and I just need to be patient. Maybe I won’t ever see the reasons for this, but my kids will. I have no idea why I am asked to wait right now, but reading Samuel’s story gives me great trust in God. It brings me comfort and confidence in the waiting. That was what the Holy Spirit revealed to me during the second miscarriage.

Then during this last miscarriage, I reread 1 Samuel again, and the Holy Spirit did not disappoint. When my HCG levels were dropping, I was desperately praying for God’s miracles. I was focusing all my attention, again, on Hannah’s answered prayers. And again, God showed my a different scripture. Right before Hannah’s prayers are answered, there is a moment where Hannah’s husband speaks up. 1 Samuel 1:8, “Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” I was pretty surprised that I had never noticed this part of the story. In all of my praying, in all of my sadness, I had forgotten that there were two people in this story. Even more, I realized the hurt Hannah’s husband must have felt. Hannah was desperate for a child. She was praying everyday, and her heart was broken. But what about her husband? Wasn’t he enough? Isn’t it a blessing that God gave her a husband, someone to spend the rest of her life with? Someone to love through it all? I put myself in his shoes and feel crushed. Imagine if I did my best to make my husband happy, and he wanted nothing to do with me? I just wasn’t enough to make him truly joyful. Imagine if he was completely crushed and bitter towards me everyday. I don’t believe that is how God wanted marriage to be. It wasn’t Elkanah’s fault after all. God closed Hannah’s womb. But she woke up everyday in sadness it seems, and there was nothing he could do for her. He would never be enough.

This scripture floored me, and in an odd way, brought me light. It reminded me that #1- This is not my story; It is our story. There are two people going through these miscarriages, and it is no ones fault. We both want kids. We are both sad. And I really need to stop saying words like “my” and “I”.

#2- Yes, I am sad. Yes, I want kids. But I also know that my husband is enough. God blessed me with that most amazing husband. I feel lucky everyday that God brought us together. Even if we never have kids, even if it is not in God’s plan for us to have kids, I will spend the rest of my life with a wonderful man. I do not want our lives to be bitter or mournful. I never want to make him feel less than. I will always be full of joy just being with my husband.

Again, God revealed exactly what I needed to hear. This life is not easy and no one ever said it would be, but God had blessed my husband and I abundantly. He is constantly overfilling our cup so that we can pour into others. We want kids, and this journey is scary sometimes, but scripture reminded me once again that this life isn’t about me.

The Evaluation

After a few years of frustration, we were finally seeing a specialist. This was going to give us all the answers, and help us finally start our family. I think we were both in denial of anything serious being wrong. Or maybe it is better to say that we trusted in God’s plan, but thought His plan and our plan were going to be similar…eventually.

Since 2018, I had three miscarriages and no answers as to why it was happening. There is a process for doctors to follow.

First miscarriage; it happens to 1-in-4 women – no big deal. Keep trying.

Second miscarriage; still pretty common, but let’s do some blood work just in case.

Third miscarriage; big warning sign. Something’s wrong.

From 2018 to 2021 we both had blood tests, exams, analysis’, etc completed that all came back clear. We were told we were healthy young adults, and we shouldn’t worry. So why was this happening?

After the third miscarriage, our gynecologist referred us to a specialist. Our doctor had run all the tests for the most common causes of miscarriages, and it was time to seek outside help.

Specialists are not cheap, and I knew that going into it. We had to pay $250 cash up front to even make an appointment to meet the specialist. Just to tell him our story would cost hundreds of dollars. My mind pauses here to consider what this means.

My husband and I have both been on many missionary trips, and have spent a fair amount of time working with/praying for/loving on people that live on maybe $2 a day as their income. My first thought in this moment then was, “Wow. We are blessed to even be able to be in this scenario, and be able to pay for this visit.” Not only was I thinking about the third-world countries we have been to, but also the millions of Americans who wouldn’t be able to afford this. So naturally my second thought was something like, “This is so unfair. How ridiculous of them to charge so much for people just wanting to start a family. Should we even spend our money on this?”

After prayer and consideration, we met with the specialist over a Zoom call. (Or another app like Zoom.) Our first step would be to complete our “evaluation”. Our regular doctor had almost given us all the tests, however, we would just need to do genetic testing to make sure everything was normal. At this point, it seemed like our miscarriages were just the luck of the draw. After the genetic testing came back clear, we would take extra precautions to make sure our next pregnancy went full term. Extra progesterone, estrogen boosts, things like that. So we made an appointment for the genetic testing.

Another few hundred dollars. More thoughts of guilt that we are in a financial place to take these steps. More anger towards the medical industry for charging outrageous prices. Then two weeks later we received our results.

I still do not understand everything the specialist told us completely because it was a lot to take in over the phone. But there were two main things we learned:

#1. We can’t have kids. Naturally, at least. We are in the rare scenario of being carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene. There are different types of these genes I believe, but overall, 1 in 25 people carry the gene. Now if only my husband or myself were a carrier, they told us we could continue trying to have kids. The chances of our kids having CF would be low. However, somehow we are both carriers of this gene. Which means that our kids would have a high chance of being born with CF. Before I even had time to look into what CF was, the doctor told us that we should not continue trying to have children naturally. For the rest of our lives, we needed to use protection. I never thought that would be a necessary step with my husband.

He told us that our options for a family would be IVF or adoption. He told us IVF could cost in the $25,000 range. He stopped there telling us that this was in a whole other ball park then what we originally were thinking, and we would need to set up a different consultation meeting if this was the route we wanted to go. He wanted to give us time to process this as well as look into if insurance would cover any of it. Then he told us the other bit of information:

#2. This had nothing to do with the three miscarriages. The miscarriages were most likely a chromosomal abnormality, as are most miscarriages.

“Of all miscarriage causes, chromosomal abnormalities are considered to be the most frequent explanation for why miscarriages happen. Estimates suggest that anywhere between 50 and 70% of all miscarriages are caused by random genetic problems in the developing baby. In most instances, scientists do not know the exact reason why chromosomal abnormalities lead to miscarriage. One theory is that the mother’s immune system recognizes a problem in the developing baby’s genes and thus ends the pregnancy.”

So in my mind, I am thinking that even if we do IVF, is there something else that could still go wrong? The doctor told us that there is no specific reason to believe I would have another miscarriage, but after three I am significantly worried about spending $25,000 with those odds. My other thought, which my husband shared, was that maybe these miscarriages happened by the grace of God. Maybe while I was desperately praying for these pregnancies to grow full term, God was showing us kindness, knowing what our children would go through, and preventing that suffering. I know that there are people that live with CF and have good, functional lives, but I also know there are different types of this gene and others do not live so long.

So that is where we are at. We are processing this news, and praying for the right choice to make. For the third time, I am stuck thinking that I should not spend thousands of dollars on the chance of a child when there are children who need homes already alive. I am stuck thinking how our friends in Liberia would never be able to have IVF as an option. I am stuck thinking what thousands of dollars could do for God’s kingdom. But on the other side, I know that my money is God’s money, and all that I have is what He has blessed me with. I know that my husband and I desire to have a child that we made. A child with his eyes, or my quirks. A child that looks just like his dad or mom. I know that I would love to feel our child kick, or hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time inside my womb.

I don’t know what our next steps are or what God has planned for us, but I do know that we will never have that “accidental” child that was never planned. That sounds odd to some I’m sure, but to me it always sounded like a child born out of love and passion with that person that God put into their lives. I know that if we ever want a large family it will cost thousands of dollars of planning and paperwork. It will be much more formal than I ever imagined it. More importantly though, I know that through all of the heartache that God is good. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God did not make a mistake when He made me or my husband, and He did not make a mistake when He put us together. This walk can be hard, but God is with me through it all and His will is perfect.