22 May FAITH LIKE A CHILD – FOR A CHILD
I’ll begin this story back in 2011, when my body went through something that I didn’t even know it could, and I experienced pain like I’ve never experienced before. It was Easter Sunday, and I had just spent the weekend back in Amarillo with my family. As I drove back to Cisco, TX that evening I felt fine. In the middle of the night, I woke up to the worst pain I had ever felt. It felt like someone was beating my stomach with a hammer. I fell out of bed and crawled to the bathroom thinking I was about to vomit, but never did. While curled up in a ball on the floor, I managed to get to my phone and called my dear friend Caryn to come and get me and take me to the hospital. Caryn came with her husband Russ, who picked me up and put me in the back seat of their car and raced me to the hospital.
After we arrived, they got me a hospital bed and, at this point, I thought my appendix had ruptured or something that serious. The doctors did a cat scan, which was awful because of the “lemonade” they made me drink beforehand. They discovered I had a huge mass on my uterus that needed immediate surgery. At this point, I was so ready to be out of the pain, that I was all for them opening me up right then and there. Thankfully, however, my precious friend
Caryn stayed by my bedside and was able to think in her right mind – unlike myself. Since the mass was on my uterus, she suggested I see her gynecologist in Abilene. I agreed, so long as they could give me some pain medication. In the ambulance, as the pain medication kicked in, I began feeling much better, and even serenaded the paramedics along the way.
I saw Dr. Norton and he decided to admit me into the hospital to run some further tests. Dr. Norton thought that I had “twisted ovaries,” also known as ovarian torsion. He believed they had untwisted, which caused my intense pain, but had also caused an infection. My abdomen was so sensitive you couldn’t touch me from the chest down without me trying to kick someone across the room. When I ate, it felt like I was eating broken glass, causing pain all the way through each intestine. Dr. Norton then decided to have a gastroscopy done. My stomach was fine, and the antibiotics helped get rid of the infection. I started to feel better and was released two days later. Dr. Norton said he wanted to see me in a month to check the mass out again.
I returned home and went back to work, coaching softball at Cisco College. A month later at my follow up appointment, Dr. Norton informed me that the mass was the size of a softball, which I thought was ironic given the fact I was a softball coach. I remember thinking, “It would be the size of a softball.” He decided to do a laparoscopic surgery to see what exactly was going on.
As I left his office, with my surgery scheduled in a couple of weeks, I began to pray to my Lord and Savior like I had done a million times before, but this time was different. This time it was about something going on inside my body that I couldn’t control, something that could affect my future husband and the ability to bear children. I had to fully give into His plan and know that He was truly the ultimate Physician. I had to lay it down before Him–100%–completely. God spoke to me driving back to Cisco and said to my heart, “It will be okay and you will be blessed with children.” I felt a wave of peace come over me and knew whichever way they came, by adoption or by birth, He would give me children.
During the surgery, Dr. Norton found an intense case of endometriosis, along with two cysts on my ovaries. He was able to remove the mass and preserve my reproductive organs. He told me that in 25 years of practice, this was the second worst case he had ever seen. In the first, he had to do a full hysterectomy on the woman. He informed me that the chance of infertility was high and that I should try to have children in the next 3 to 5 years. This sounded like a lot of pressure, given the fact that I was very single at the time.
In 2013, I met my husband Matt. We like to call ourselves “match.com-mers.” Matt likes to joke that I met 67% of his criteria so he clicked, “Yes!” Of course, before we got married, I shared with him that the chances of me struggling with infertility were very high. He accepted every part of me and knew that adoption would possibly be the only option for us. We married in June 2014. We began trying to get pregnant from the start and for a year and a half we were unsuccessful. My gynecologist suggested we go the In-Vitro route, so in January 2016, we went to C.A.R.E Fertility in Fort Worth.
I know that a lot of people try to separate God and science, as if the only option is either one or the other; but the Lord is the Creator of all things. “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created,” Revelation 4:11. He can choose to bless us with children in so many ways that are truly miraculous and we may never fully understand.
As a believer, I truly believe that He places people in our lives for a reason. Some are there for a very brief time, while some may be only seasonal, and others are with you through your whole life. He placed the doctors and nurses in my life for a reason. I had a first-row seat to how amazing, intelligent, kind, caring, and somewhat angelic these people were through this whole process. But I also got to see first-hand how miraculous our Lord is through science and technology, and no matter the process, He created life and He is in charge! I learned so many things that a woman’s body could do – it was simply spectacular!
Matt and I went through a lot of tests, me more than him, obviously. Guys sure do have it a lot easier, don’t they? My fertility doctor, called Matt and me “overachievers.” They were able to retrieve 23 of my eggs. Of those, 14 were fertilized and became top notch embryos! After hearing other people’s stories and reading some statistics, these kind of numbers were staggering. I remember waking up in the recovery room after they retrieved my eggs, to hear the doctor of the woman next to me tell her they had only recovered 3 eggs and that the chances of them being healthy enough to still go through fertilization were very low. That had been her third time attempting this procedure. She sobbed and was so devastated. My heart ached for her and I just wanted to tell her that she could have some of mine if she wanted.
On April 26, 2016, our little embryo was picked out from the bunch and implanted. I have a picture of what he looked like when he was only a bundle of cells. It was amazing! We also were able to watch them implant the embryo and the doctor pointed him out on the sonogram screen. It was really fascinating to witness how amazing, creative, and miraculous our God is! We found out we were having a boy and named him Keller Cash McNeely. Cash in reference to the “cash” we forked out to have this sweet little boy. He is priceless and well worth every penny! Our son Keller was born January 16, 2017. I’d go through all the pain, surgery, tests, needles, discomfort, and miles traveled a million times to bring Keller Cash into this world again. The Lord gave me strength that was unimaginable.
Keller has the sweetest and most kind spirit and personality. He is such a blessing from the Lord. He brings such joy to our lives and it still blows my mind the plan the Lord had for us, way better than any plan I ever had for myself. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.” (Psalm 127:3)
Since Keller was born, the tenderness in my lower abdomen has never gone away. I had my yearly checkup in February 2018 and talked with the doctor about it. It wasn’t normal to still be tender after a year. In April, I decided to go back in and have some sonograms done. The doctor found that one of my fallopian tubes possibly had hydrosalpinx, or fluid in the tube. I didn’t even know this could happen, let alone ever even heard the word “hydrosalpinx.” So, I had my doctor literally spell it out for me. She informed me that because I’m planning to do In-Vitro again, she wanted me to go back and see my fertility doctor. More than likely the endometriosis and adhesions had blocked off the tube which makes the fluid buildup. The fluid in the tube is toxic and will either wash out the embryo or kill it after implantation. Usually in this case, they would have to remove the fallopian tube before they could do another implantation. I met with my fertility doctor in May and she did some more sonograms and wants to do a HSG test as well as a hysteroscopy to see if the tubes are truly blocked and dilated before we jump straight to doing surgery.
Once again, I went into prayer and handed this all over to the Lord. I called all my prayer warriors and we prayed for healing and for the Lord to take over. I had zero control over what was going on and thanked the Lord for His promises. My favorite verse is Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This scripture has carried me through so many challenging circumstances. When these procedures were to be done, I prayed that my doctor would find 100% nothing wrong so that we could move forward with our next embryo implantation. At my next appointment my doctor found nothing wrong with my tubes or anything else that would harm another implantation! Praise God! However, she informed me that my endometriosis isn’t just mild, but a severe case and will cause a lot of pain until a hysterectomy is done. But until then, we are now able to move forward into Phase 1 of starting the next implantation. We are super thrilled to hopefully make Keller a big brother and we know he will be the best at it!
Throughout this whole journey, I can truly say that I had days of not understanding His plan for me, but I never lost faith in my Lord and learned to truly submit to His plan. Matthew 18:3 says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” To have faith like a child. I truly embodied this verse and have always tried to practice my faith in this way. I wanted to humble myself before Him. I wanted to look up at Him with honest and faithful eyes, waiting for His commandments, waiting for His discipline, waiting for His arms to hold me, waiting to feel His love just like a child yearns from their parents. By living my faith in this way, approaching obstacles in this way, He has brought me a peace and understanding that only the Lord can give. I knew, no matter what I was going through, He was there for me. It is the Lord who goes before me. “He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
During this process, I met people who had gone through struggles with fertility as well. Some had positive outcomes and some were not as fortunate. I also had different comments expressed to me that I had “taken matters into my own hands,” that I was “playing the hand of God,” or that “I put my faith in myself instead of in the Lord.” I even had someone close to me say, “Wow, you just took God right out of it, huh?” All these negative comments didn’t upset me, instead they made me feel sorry for these people for not understanding our Creator. See to me, God being the Creator of all things, He created the process of reproduction. He created every cell within our bodies. He knows exactly how each organ works in our bodies. He knows that we live in a fallen world and that we will see struggles as human beings.
I didn’t take my God out of the circumstances, He was right in the middle of it. He told me He was going to give me children, and I know deep in my soul that no part of my body and nothing in this world was going to prove my Creator wrong. I found strength in myself that was undoubtedly from the Lord. He blessed us by putting these doctors and nurses in our path – intelligent and caring people. He created them to excel in science and gifted them with huge hearts to serve others. These were also people put into my path for me to witness to and share the Lord with. I got to see God the Creator create our precious 14 embryos. I believe in life at conception, so I know, even at this stage of their lives, they have souls and the Lord has a special plan for each one of them. We may have to use all our embryos ourselves, but if not, we are able to donate them to other struggling couples who were not as fortunate as we were. I know if we do donate our precious embryos to a couple, they will not only have healthy babies, but cute ones as well!
See, this story doesn’t end with us, and it’s not just about Matt and me. This has connected us with so many other people. Some we will be able to meet and hopefully share the Lord with, and others we won’t get to meet, but they will be a part of God’s greater plan that we can’t always see or understand ourselves. I do know this though, that being an effective witness is first and foremost living our lives in a way that others will want to know more.
No matter what circumstances come my way, I will serve the Lord and be a light for Him. I will share the Good News of Jesus dying on the cross, forgiving us of our sins, and rising three days later. I can take any pain, challenge, obstacle, and heartache along the way, knowing my days are numbered and all of this is temporary – trusting that I will one day get to share the Kingdom of Heaven with my Lord and Savior. I know that He can bring others to know and love Him through the obstacles that we ourselves have gone through. Our purpose on this earth is to love the Lord and further His Kingdom. I will do my best to live by this everyday given any circumstance I go through. This I do know.