Everything Beautiful

I have some crazy, exciting news to share. My husband Joel and I are going to be parents again.

I am pregnant and due later this Fall.

No this is not a joke. I will share more.

Many of you will remember I had to do In-Vitro fertilization to get pregnant with my son. In-Vitro is a process where they take your eggs and your husbands sperm and put it together. They let the two naturally meet up and create an embryo.

What is an embryo? It is an egg that has been fertilized by the sperm. If you believe life begins at conception (I realize there are varying opinions on this), as my husband and I do, an embryo is the first day of life. Not every egg and sperm become an embryo but the ones that do can later be implanted into the women's body.

The next stage is putting it in your womb and from there your body takes over as to if it implants or not. About 50% of the time it works and the rest of the time it does not.

Yes, it is a crazy weird scientific process most women only go through when they reach the very end of their fertility journey, which after 5 years of trying to get pregnant, we had. It's also insanely expensive but thankfully ours is covered by insurance through our jobs. I will also say while science can do some crazy-amazing things Joel and I both always believed the end result of life was always because of the hand of God. Many women try IVF to no success. I believe when it does work, it is certainly a miracle.

So at the end of our first IVF process we were left with 4 embryos.

Typically they implant embryos 2 at a time which is what we did our first round. We were overjoyed to find out we were pregnant initially with twins. I did, however, end up losing one of the babies in an experience I shared previously with you all. Thankfully, I was able to carry the other baby to term and in 2012 we welcomed a healthy baby boy.

But we still had 2 embryos left that we were "storing". We had always planned to start the process to get pregnant again in January of 2014 because we liked the 2 1/2 year age difference our children would have.

Well then life changed and all our well intentioned plans went out the window after the loss of my husband.

It wasn't long after I started thinking about those embryos. What was I going to do?

Each fertility clinic has the legal right to decide how they treat embryos. Our hospital is through the Baptist health system so they are conservative with their beliefs on how they should be handled. They will not destroy embryos. They give you 3 other options.

The first option to us wasn't an option. That was putting the embryos in my body at a time in my cycle that would be least likely to turn into a pregnancy. People also have different opinions on this but as for Joel and I, we both held a strong belief of not taking that route as these embryos deserved at least a fair shot of becoming a baby.

The second option would of course have been for us to use them ourselves.

The last option was to give them to a couple in need and sign over my parental rights to these children, basically an adoption.

After losing Joel I was torn on what to do. The thought of implanting them terrified me. I already had one child as a single parent. Would I be able to handle more than one?

Then I thought about giving them to another couple. That thought was a difficult one for me to imagine. For one I would never know if the embryo became a pregnancy and I had other biological children out there. I would also not get to "pick" the family. I would have to relinquish all control, of the raising of my flesh and blood, to a family I didn't even know. Also, this was a physical piece of Joel. Could I knowingly hand something so special over to someone I knew nothing of?

The fact remained I had 2 embryos that were the last remaining part of my husband on this earth. This was half me and half Joel. I looked at my son, who once was a tiny embryo himself and look what he had become, the greatest blessing of my life.

I still agonized over the decision for months. I prayed about it. I talked to my mentors, friends, and family about it. This decision was at the forefront of my mind and one I thought about constantly. I will admit, I worried what others would think of me and if they would approve of my decision. I worried that walking around with a pregnant belly would lead to wrong conclusions.

I did rely heavily on earlier conversations with Joel. I had asked him what he would want me to do with the embryos should anything ever happen to him. He answered, unequivocally, he would want me to have our baby. Knowing my husbands wishes made the decision all the more clear.

In the end I knew whatever decision I made I had to be firm on. There would be no going back. No matter what others thought or whatever may come my way, I had to be firm in what I knew God was leading me to do.

After many long months I finally came to the conclusion to go ahead and put the embryos in and leave the rest in Gods hands.

The more resolute I was in my decision the more I realized I truly wanted this baby. I wanted more than anything for Milo to have another immediate family member. But one thing I have come to a deep conviction about through the loss of Joel, is to trust the heart of God for me. I prayed it would work but I also prayed above all for Gods will to be done and for Him to get the maximum glory for what was to come.

I started the IVF process in January. Only my family and dearest friends knew what was happening. I asked them all to pray the same thing-that Gods will would be done. My doctor tried to quell my expectations and told me my chances would be much lower this time due to the fact that these embryos had been stored for so long. I was fine with whatever the outcome, because I trusted Gods heart.

In March I got the amazing news that I'm going to be a Mommy once again, to one little baby. We are all thrilled. When I touch my belly and think about how someone that's half me and half my husband is growing inside, well...it's almost beyond comprehension. What a miracle my first child was. And truly what a miracle this child is.

When I told the news to one of my girlfriends she said "wow Sarah, your and Joel's love story continues." I loved that perspective. It is true. Our children, although brought to us in perhaps unconventional ways, are a testament to our love and were both deeply wanted. We went through much to have them and it made us look at parenthood in a new way, ever appreciative for the chance to be a parent. We struggled for 5 years, we wept, we dreamed, we prayed and God heard and honored our prayers.

There's another story that continues and that is Gods story for my life. As I walked through this IVF procedure the second time God reminded me almost every day "I am writing your story in such a way that no one will get the glory but Me." That is true. As I surrendered my desires I acknowledged Him as the author of my story and asked Him to write the story He wanted to write.

It's certainly not like other peoples story. It's a story of heartbreak but also a story of triumph. But always in the end it's a story about a glorious God who brings beauty to ashes, far above anything we could ever ask or dream.

And very soon I will get to hold a piece of that beauty in my very own arms.