Covid 19 Pandemic Entry 7 – The Road from Infertility to Motherhood

Reflection. That is something that I have been able to spend a lot more time doing lately. During the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020 one of the things that I have been so very grateful for is my family. I have a wonderful husband and three amazing children that God blessed us with, Aven, who is currently 17, MaCaedyn, who is currently 15, and Samuel who is currently 13. You might think, “Wow! That must be rough! Being quarantined with three teenagers!” Honestly, it has been a blessing. Though I admit teenagers are an entirely different being of their own, I love being with my children and I try to soak up every moment I can with them while they are with me. I know that on the timeline of life, the days of my children living at home are fleeting and so I am thankful for every day.

This past Mother’s Day 2020 was an interesting one. “Normal” plans of attending church and lunching publicly or with extended family members is not on the agenda due to the quarantine. Still, my crew had all kinds of wonderful plans for me! First, we all slept in, which was lovely. Then, I was showered with hugs, kisses, “I love you’s” and sweet gifts. I get hugs, kisses and “I love you’s” everyday, but on Mother’s Day, Christmas and my birthday, I get extra! Next, my husband packed a fantastic picnic and then, we drove to northern Arizona and spent the day at Christopher Creek. For me, there is nothing better than getting out to God’s great nature with my family. I appreciate all the marvels that humans can build, but there is nothing compared to the beauty of the natural world that God spoke into existence.

Being in nature cleanses me. Whether it be the beach, the mountains and woods, lakeside or hiking a desert trail. I love being outside with my family. But I admit, my favorite places of nature are where I can hear water flowing. I remember my Mema and Papa taking me to different places in the wilderness and whenever we were by a river, stream, or babbling creek, Mema would say, “Listen, it’s singing a little song!”

So there I was, wading through Christopher creek and laughing as Josh would teeter upon an unstable rock he stepped on and yell “Bad rock! Bad rock!” or watching my son Samuel fall into the creek time after time, after time, until he looked more like he had been swimming, and I I began reflecting upon how blessed I am to be a mother.

I am truly a blessed woman to have the family I do and be a mother, I know that and it is something I have never taken for granted. I have reflected upon it thousands of times in the seventeen years that I have been a mama, but this particular Mother’s Day during the pandemic, gave me an even grater perspective on how richly I am blessed.

The road for me to become a mother was not an easy one and that is the story I will tell you.

I have always had a very special love for children in my heart. I was an only child until I was almost ten years old. I remember the day my baby brother was born. It was one of the happiest in my life. I loved helping take care of him and watching him grow up. I remember it so well. His coming into my life lifted the love I already had for other children in my heart to a higher level. I began teaching and directing children’s choirs at my church at the age of twelve and fell in love with the sweet, innocent, sincerity that can only be produced through the vocal chords of a child. I am happy to say I have never stopped teaching and directing children to sing since and I never plan to.

I love children’s curiosities and laughter, to see their eyes sparkle with wonder and excitement and, of course, I personally believe the sound of their giggles are like seeds of healing joy that when heard can plant and grow happiness in even the most sorrowful heart.

I loved having children in my life as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult. They made me feel happy, young and they always gave me the opportunity to be silly, playful and imaginative.

I was twenty-five when Josh and I first got married and he wanted a baby right away. He told me that one of his greatest goals for his life was to be happily married and have children. I love that about him.

We were married in May and it was in the following month of June that I thought I had a miscarriage. I had missed my regular cycle date and then later on there came a day where I had horrible abdominal pain that was different from regular cramps. Sharp, cutting like knives, not dull, heavy and pulling. Though the pain spread through my abdominal area, it seemed to stem from one certain location on my left side. I went to the doctor and she thought that I was having an “early miscarriage”. Since this was different than anything else I had experienced through menstruation, I had no reason not to believe her.

At the time we were sad, but then it also helped us to understand that we were not actually ready for a baby. We were living in a one room apartment and I was working three different jobs while attending college. I was the director of the Arizona Girl’s Choir, the Music Minister of Parkway Community Church, and I had my own voice and piano studio and had over 40 private students. Josh was working and still going to college, so the experience helped us see the reality was it wasn’t time.

We decided to wait. We wanted to travel, buy a house, finish up what we planned to with school and have more financial stability.

We married in 1997 and by 1998 I was working full time at the church, Josh finished his two year degree, and we had bought a four bedroom, two and half bath condo. We had also done some traveling during that time, so we threw caution to the wind and decided to start our family.

After several months I felt something was wrong. I began reflecting over my bodies history remembering how things had been for me before marriage. I had never really had a regular menstrual cycle during my teen years. One of my doctors even had put me on birth control pills to try and regulate me. That didn’t fix the problem either, though it did help my skin through those challenging acne years!

As Josh and I moved along in life together we took steps of faith that someday we would have our own family together. We began creating a nursery. A room of hope where someday we would rock our babies, play with them, dress them, sing to them, cherish them. There were times when I thought I was pregnant as I would skip over a month or so at a time. But I would learn I wasn’t. I remembered that I would sometimes skip months in my teen and premarital years too. Remembering this led me to believe there was something going on.

During this time there were people around us at the church who were getting married and starting their families. We were able to enjoy learning a little bit of what life with a baby was like through them. We were very happy for them and loved all the children we were blessed to be around very much. They were all so precious and beautiful. Those were very blessed days that helped prepare our hearts for our own family. As time went on, I knew we were ready for our own baby. We had the home, had done even more traveling and were financially stable to care for a child. The longing I had to have my own baby was growing deeper within my heart.

I went to my gynecologist and had a conversation about my history. After asking many questions she believed I needed some testing. The first round of testing revealed that I didn’t produce hardly progesterone, only a very tiny bit, but nothing close to what would be considered normal.

That doctor referred me to an infertility doctor who worked with insurance companies. He put me through more tests, tests which not only tested my female organs and their fertility but also my patience and pain tolerance. Tests that leave a person in total and complete humility, which at the time I didn’t realize, but God was using to build great character and strength for our parenting skills in the days to come. Let me just say it like this, and for those women out there who have gone through the testing they will agree with me, you know a woman is really desperate to have a baby to endure it! Infertility testing is not easy–or cheap!

For Josh it was a bit easier, maybe even more enjoyable. 😉
We learned that he was strong (like bull) for his sperm counts. In fact, the day the doctor received his test results she literally opened the door to call her nurses in to see them.
For some reason she thought his name was Johnson and kept saying, “Johnson is Gold!”
I guess an average sperm count for a man is anywhere between 15 million to 200 million.
Johnson aka Josh’s count was over 260 million. Something that still makes him walk tall with pride to this day.

When my test results came in, we learned that I did not have any blocked tubes, but that I did have a common condition among women called PCOS, which stands for Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.

I have another blog for women with PCOS and symptoms it can cause with weight gain, but for this story I want to focus on the complications it caused me with infertility. In addition to the regular occurrence of cysts being present on the ovaries, PCOS can affect the levels of progesterone produced. Hmm, now we are getting somewhere.

Progesterone is a hormone which helps regulate a woman’s monthly cycles. BINGO! We have a winner! There was one answer to one of my problems! Progesterone also thickens the wall of the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant. If there is no fertilized egg, the progesterone drops. If there is a fertilized egg, the progesterone helps keep the lining of the uterus thick and strong to support the growing fetus.

I guess I should have warned you ahead of time that this would also be like a mini-class in reproduction. Just be glad I’m not taking the time to explain in detail what some of the tests for women are like or involve!

The doctor put me on progesterone supplements and also a prescription called “Clomid”. I can’t get too technical with this because there are things I still didn’t quite understand about it. I do know it was to raise my FSH and LH levels to help me with ovulation to produce more eggs… I believe.

The problem was that in order to take the drug, I had to make sure I didn’t have any cysts of threatening size on my ovaries. Clomid can add cysts on ovaries and it can also cause ovaries to swell. So if ovarian cysts are present, the medication cannot be taken so as not to cause the woman any harm or damage.

Month after month we tried this process and I was now in the third year since beginning my infertility treatments. I was becoming more and more desperate. I was trying my hardest not to covet the beautiful families which were blossoming all around me. In my heart, I wasn’t angry or jealous of the women who were having their own babies, I loved them and I loved their children dearly. It was that my heart was longing deeply to pour love into my own children. My arms longed to embrace my own babies. The nursery that Josh and worked on creating off an on in our home was silent and patiently waiting for the children to come and live there. We both were longing for that day to come.

The doctor knew I was depressed and asked me if I would like to try something new. I agree and he said we could double the amount of Clomid that I was taking.  After taking the meds for a few days I knew something wasn’t right when I could literally point to where my ovaries were located because of the pain they were in. They were on fire and so I stopped taking the medication. I was out of town when this happened so I didn’t get into the doctor. Then one night after I came home from my trip, the result of the double dose of medication hit me. I remember the night it happened vividly. I thought I had food poisoning because I had horrific pain in my abdomen and kept throwing up. One moment I was burning hot, nauseous and vomiting, in the next moment I was shivering violently and cold all over. My husband got me to the hospital and on the way a new pain began. Now, there were stabbing, sharp pains in my shoulders. I had no idea what was happening but knew that it could not be food poisoning.

The doctors at the hospital told me that my ovary had erupted. The double dose of medication either caused a large cyst to form and explode or there was one on the ovary that the doctor didn’t catch in the ultra-sound. Either way, it landed me in emergency surgery to cauterize the ovary. By the time the bleeding was stopped I had bled out over 60% of my body’s blood into my abdomen. It was the blood gases which were building up  in my abdominal region that were causing my shoulders to feel like they were being stabbed. Crazy right?

After all this happened and I was back on my feet, the infertility doctor, whom I will just refer to as Dr. AlmostKilledMe, told me that he wanted to try the medication again…

(crickets)

The exact same treatment which exploded my ovary, he wanted to do again.
Needless to say, I walked out of that office and never went back.

I began searching for new doctors that were covered on my insurance, but for our particular insurance program, the list was slim and the other doctors on the list were not taking new patients at the time. I had to be put on a waiting list.

More waiting. For women who are waiting to have their own child, waiting is depressing.

I kept quoting the scripture during this time, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and be weary, they shall run and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. At the time, I didn’t understand this verse and how the waiting would be good for me, just like another verse where Jesus said in John 13:7 “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” There is truth in both those verses that I didn’t realize at the time. I would understand on many levels later on what God was doing through this infertility and the patience of waiting that I learned during this time of was the strength of patience that I would use later on as a mother.

It was at this time that my mother decided to take out a loan on a home that she owned free and clear. She wanted to do somethings for herself and my brother, but also wanted me to go to one of the best doctors in the nation. His name is Dr. Jay Nemiro and at the time he was one the of top four infertility doctors in the U.S.

My mother, Bonnie LaFon, graciously and generously gave Josh and I $55K, no strings attached, to go to Dr. Nemiro because he did not work with insurance companies. It was a gift from God and an answer to our prayers.

Although Josh and I had a new awakening to our hope, the gift of the infertility funds didn’t come without challenges. There were some who thought it was completely ridiculous that my mother would do such a thing. Some said she was enabling us to “Go against God” in taking conception and creation into our own hands. Some said, “If it’s God’s will for Josh and Angelique to have a baby, they will without spending $55k.” We had a variety of things spoken to us, mostly by those we loved and cared about which made it all the more painful.

Comments like these from people are all part of the test.
Before Josh and I started the infertility treatments we had dealt with people giving us their advice and opinions on the matter. Sometimes it was put forth gently and with love, but sometimes it wasn’t. Some would say I was “causing my own infertility by stressing out over it.” That we just needed “to relax”, or “have a lot of sex” or “just let nature take its course.”

When you can forgive others for making hurtful comments about a circumstance that you are involved in and they are not, it builds your character. We did forgive all those who made their remarks and did not respond back to them in frustration or anger. The reason why I write about it now is because I want all those who read this blog who are going through infertility treatments to know, if you have heard comments like these or others and just need a shoulder to lean on, you can reach out to me. This is a place of understanding. A safe place where you will not be judged, mocked or ridiculed. But instead a place of prayer and support.

You will hear all kinds of things on this journey, but just listen to God. I fully believe that God gave us doctors and nurses, not to replace Him, but to be His hands extended to help one another. I also believe this was why Jesus asked Luke to be one of His disciples so that we would not be afraid to utilize the help that doctors have to offer. After all, God created the men and women who are the doctors and God is the one who gave them the knowledge they obtained to help us.

If a person had some other ailment and felt led through prayer to go to a doctor to learn more about their condition and possibly help it, that does not mean they do not have faith in God, it means they are using the resources God has given them for help. The danger of a person’s faith being hindered is when they put all their hope and trust in the doctor or science and not in God. A person must always take their situation of their health to the Lord first, and if they feel led to go to a doctor that should not be a judgement upon their faith. Even though I came across a doctor that made a poor decision which led me to a critical life and death moment, I fully believe that doctors and nurses are blessings from the Lord. God is the one who gave them the very special gift and heart they have to serve and help others. Not everyone can do it, that’s for sure. It is a special gift placed in their hearts by the Lord and when they go to work everyday, they are fulfilling the purpose God has for their lives. I felt God was in this 100%. It was His perfect timing and the movement of His hand which made it all possible.

We took the funds my mother gave us and went to see Dr. Nemiro. During our very first visit I learned that there were several tests which had not been conducted on me by other doctors in the past. This was probably because of insurance restrictions, but one of those tests proved to be the main reason I could not get pregnant the good old fashioned way. I had ASA or, Anti-Sperm Antibodies. Basically what that means is that my body produced antibodies that saw sperm as an enemy and would attack and kill them instead of allow them to do their thing.

No matter how many times I had taken the other medication, at that time without a miracle of God which I know was possible, I wouldn’t been able to conceive a baby without the assistance of surgery. So, that’s what we did. We knew that my Fallopian tubes were not blocked and were healthy so we elected to try the ZIFT procedure. ZIFT stands for Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer.

With this procedure, the eggs are extracted surgically from the ovary and fertilized in a dish. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are placed surgically into the Fallopian tube. The theory behind this treatment is that by placing the fertilized egg back into the Fallopian tube so it can travel and find it’s place of implanting on it’s own, it provides the fertilized egg a more natural process.

The first time that we went to extract the eggs all went well and we ended up with 2 fertilized eggs to place into the Fallopian tube. Before and after the surgery, I spent much time in prayer and I knew that it did not work. We grieved the loss of those two fertilized eggs and after some rest physically and mentally, I was ready to try again.

I will never forget the second day I went to have the eggs extracted… or should I say eggstracted. 🙂

The anesthesiologist did not show up.

I had the choice. Go ahead and do the procedure with a little bit of “twilight” meds which would not knock me out, just maybe take the edge off, or I could miss the chance at extracting the eggs and wait another month which meant going through all the medications and treatments to prepare for the extraction again.

My longing heart chose to go forward with the procedure and I can tell you I felt and remember it all. Even as I write this, I can remember the pain of it.
First, they clean you with a pretty decent sized sponge. They do this on the outside… and on the inside. That seriously was torture. Next, came the nice, long, sharp instrument that went up inside, punctured through the wall of the uterus and then into the ovary to extract the eggs. This was done on both sides. Nice huh?

The whole time I just kept thinking about the baby or babies that I would hold and love. The joy they would bring and the fulfillment I would finally feel as a mommy.

Once the procedure was completed, we learned we had 5 fertilized eggs to transfer, and this time after praying, I knew it had worked.  I felt different. I felt the surge of hormones in my body and I felt a spring of joy well up in my soul.

When we got the official word that THIS test was positive, we celebrated like we have never celebrated. All our friends and loved ones were so happy for our success and were rejoicing with us. Everyday felt like Christmas morning. I felt wonderful. Such happiness. I had no pain, no sickness, nothing but complete and total joy, joy, JOY!

I remember sharing this once with a woman who was pregnant and having a terrible time with illness. I felt so badly for her. She asked if I ever had experienced illness during pregnancy and I explained that I had not and that I attributed it to the incredible, constant oil of joy that the Lord had anointed me with. She rolled her eyes, laughed and mocked me, “Experiencing illness during pregnancy has nothing to do with how happy you are.”

Maybe for some, but not for me. I knew not ever experiencing illness during pregnancy was God’s way of blessing me for all the other pain and suffering that I had endured. The Bible tells us in Neh. 8:10 “The JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH!” And it was the great joy of the Lord that filled my heart and soul!

My dream had come true and I knew that God was the one who made that happen!! God spared my life from the first doctor’s treatment. God brought the gift of the funds to my mother and placed it in her heart to give it to us. God led us to find Dr. Nemiro and God made it possible for me to see him right away and not be placed on a waiting list. God revealed through Dr. Nemiro what my problem was and God was the one who created the incredibly amazing baby that we were going to have. Absolutely, positively everything that happened to us, the lessons we learned, the strength which was built inside us, the compassion we gained for others going through this, God used to work for our goodness and I give God the glory for it all!  I rejoiced in the coming of our baby through praise to my mighty, compassionate and giving God. Josh and I were finally going to have our own child and nothing that happened around us or even to us was able to penetrate that joy!!

There was never a moment, not in all these years, when I have not been totally and completely grateful for God answering my prayer in the way I had hoped. I would have loved to adopt a baby, I just had it in my heart to strive for my own and felt led to pursue it. I know several women who spent many years striving to have a biological child, but God had another plan for them. Some adopted beautiful, precious children who God knew needed them as their mother and they are totally and completely their children. I remember a beautiful song I once heard Marie Osmond sing called “From God’s Arms, to Your Arms, to Mine.” I firmly believe that people who open their hearts to adopt or foster children are examples of unconditional love and acceptance that whole world can learn from.

Then there are some I know who decided to just have furry babies in their lives and they do a great work caring for unloved animals in the world that God told us to care for. I know all these women to be very happy and consider them to be pillars of strength who looked upon God’s answer and choose to embrace it. I do not know them to be bitter or envious. They are very happy and consider themselves richly blessed. I must also give my public thanks to some of these women who walked down the road of infertility with me, especially one in particular named Becky Merryman. The Lord sent her as my own personal infertility angel and, Becky, I am forever thankful for the help, education, support and encouragement you poured into my life during that time. God knew I needed you because you understood what I was going through like no one else. I only hope that I can be for someone else what you once were for me.

I was almost at the end of my first trimester when I got up for my second trip one night to the bathroom. It was then I felt it. The ovary erupted again. Within seconds I was feeling the same pain that I had felt just over a year ago when it happened the first time.

I woke Josh and he got me to the hospital. This time, I asked him to take me to a different hospital. After the ovary had erupted the first time I was sent to Good Samaritan in Phoenix. They did help me by cauterizing the erupted ovary, but then sent me home with a blood hemoglobin count of 6. For those who might not know what that means, a healthy blood hemoglobin count is between 13.5 to 17.5 and for women it is from 12 to 15.5. Needless to say, I crashed and crashed hard. I had to be hospitalized a few days later and receive two more blood transfusions to go along with the first one I had after surgery.

This time I asked to go to St. Lukes Hospital. Big mistake. If I had gone back to Good Sam they would at least have had my records on file for having an erupted ovary the first time and they would have believed me. Instead, St. Luke’s decided not to believe me and just pumped me up with Demerol and morphine. They kept me in the emergency room for seven hours and did nothing but an ultra-sound. When the results from the ultra-sound came back we learned I was pregnant with twins… but for how long? The doctor told Josh, “We see there is some fluid in her abdominal area but we are just going to give her pain meds and send her home.”

Now, keep in mind, I’m pretty crocked from all the meds they were giving me, I am in unbelievable pain, pain that I never knew existed, and every few minutes I am hot and throwing up or freezing cold and shivering. This time the pain is not just in my abdominal area and shoulders like before, this time it is also all over my back. I can’t even lie down and different ones are taking turns holding me up. I remember my uncle holding my back in an upright position and then holding my head up in the front because I lacked the strength to do this on my own.

I knew I was dying. I literally could feel my life drifting out of me. I looked at Josh and with as much cohesiveness as I could muster I said, “I am dying. Please get me some help.”

Josh called Dr. Nemiro who did not hesitate for a moment but had me transferred by ambulance to Scottsdale Shea Hospital where I was taken into emergency surgery. Once inside we learned that the ovary had erupted again, as I knew, and had bled into itself so much the ovary was the size of a Nerf Football. Normally, an ovary is the size of a thumb, so this was significantly bigger, yet no one at St. Luke’s hospital did anything at all to try and help me.

Normally, when I write something I don’t like to call people out for their mistakes and if it is important to the story, I don’t name names. This situation was about life and death and boy did I come close to death. We also had to pay a significant amount of money because Dr. Nemiro did not work with insurance companies. So his fees were out of pocket. It was all a mess... but Jesus was with us.

Dr. Nemiro tried to perform laparoscopy surgery but I had too much blood in my abdomen to see anything. They had to cut me like a cesarean, all the while they had a scope to monitor the babies’ heartbeats. One baby kept struggling. Dr. Nemiro said it’s heart beat kept stopping during the procedure. Once again, I had lost over 60% of my bodies blood and my ovary had to be removed. We were told after it all was over and done with that 20 more minutes and I would have gone into irreversible shock.

I have to take a moment and just process that… twenty more minutes. That was it. Seven hours I was kept in an ER room and had Josh listened to the doctors there and just taken me home, I… we, the babies and I would have died. Thank You Jesus for being with us and for Josh’s obedience to act when he did.

After the surgery I had to have ultrasounds every other day to check on the babies. After about two weeks we did lose one of them. I knew it before the ultra-sound technician said it but I didn’t want to speak it out loud. After having as many ultrasounds as I had, I grew pretty good at identifying everything.

We went home that day and grieved the loss of our little one. I wondered if I had done too much too soon and contributed to it’s death, but the doctor reassured me I had not. It was just not strong enough to endure all that we had been through together.

For the next two weeks I still had to have ultrasounds every other day to monitor the other baby and see if she would live. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it was a she, but she did live. She was strong– and she still is… incredibly strong in will, spirit and body. God made her that way so that she would survive with me. I praise God for her life and I know that someday, we will see her twin, whom we named Skylar Reagan, in the glories of heaven.

After I healed from the surgery, the rest of my pregnancy went back to being just as perfect as it was before the ovary episode. Our sweet little baby made it and on March 3, 2005 our first baby, Aven Salei La Fon-Cox was born. It was  of the happiest days of my life. Josh and I cherished every single moment of being parents and having Aven in our lives was all that we had hoped and dreamed for and so much more!

Aven was a month premature I might add, but very healthy and beautiful. She was a footling breech baby and danced her way out. I remember every time I went in for an ultrasound they said, “She’s doing great, she looks healthy and normal, but her legs are measuring almost two weeks ahead of schedule.” Ha! That’s because she’s got her daddies long legs! I went back to work two weeks after having Aven do direct an Easter Musical production. Aven was brought into this world through cesarean and although I still had an incredible amount of healing that needed to take place, I felt nothing but the JOY of the Lord!

Although I loved the work that I was doing for the Lord at the time serving as Music Minister and Administrative Assistant, I was beginning to grieve my time away from Aven. I didn’t want to leave her everyday. I wanted to be with her every moment that I could. It was also hard for me to leave her because she had something called “torticollis” which involves the muscles of the neck. Because Aven was in the footling or standing breech position for so long, her head was pressed up into my diaphragm. This kept her neck in a bent position and caused her to have not only a weak, crooked neck, but her little face was also crooked. Something that straightened out as she grew and nothing that hindered her beauty! But she would choke easily and often. The doctors we saw gave us instructions on how to care for her which involved constant attention. Even when she was sleeping, for the first six months while she went through therapy, we had to allow her to sleep upright in a vertical position either propped up or held on our chest because she choked so easily when asleep. The doctors also were concerned about her being in a day care where workers caring for many children might not notice right away if she were choking.

All of this just made me want more and more to be a stay at home mama and not work outside of the home. The joy of being a mother was the greatest experience of my life and I didn’t want anything coming between me and the precious and fleeting time with my baby.

There were so many wonderful changes that came to my life from being a mother and I embraced them all. I became very thankful for my infertility treatment because I knew it had prepared me for being a mother. And then, God revealed something else to me which was incredibly significant and took me back to the scripture of John 13:7 when Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  A moment had come for Jesus to reveal to me something which helped give me great understanding my infertility. I can’t remember the exact date I learned this, but sometime after Aven was born I remember Josh had a strange memory come to him. Something that he had forgotten about for years but suddenly remembered. He said that he had been told a story about me by one of his family members. It was told to him many years ago back when he was a kid and I was a very young adult, maybe still a teen myself. The rumor was that I had an abortion.

When I first heard this it took me a moment to process. Did I hear that right? That I had an abortion??? Me? A person who has loved, taught and worked with children for the majority of my life? Are you kidding?? Once I had a hold of the information an explosion of feelings shot through my mind, body and spirit. Pain, anger, confusion, bewilderment all went roaring through me. Why on earth would someone say something so cruel about me?

At first, I couldn’t understand it and I wasn’t angry that he told me or that he had been told by one of his family members. I honestly felt that God put that information to his family so that I could learn it. I had never heard it before, not from anyone. Who told it didn’t really matter. What mattered was it wasn’t true. I was never pregnant before I was pregnant with Aven. Not even in the times I thought I was or thought I had a miscarriage when Josh and I were first married. Dr. Nemiro explained that when a cyst on an ovary erupts, it can cause pain and bleeding, and so sometimes the symptoms can be mistaken for early miscarriages, especially if a monthly cycle had been skipped.

I don’t believe that God placed infertility upon me anymore than I would believe God placing illness on someone else. That is not how God works. He doesn’t punish us, Jesus took all the punishment needed for sin and GIVES us healing! Our troubles come from our enemy who seeks to destroy us in every way possible. We live in the world where sadly bad things often happen. I believe that God works through those circumstances to help us, teach us, mold and shape us, to bring us into a closer relationship with Him and to bring something beautiful from the ashes. Just like it is written in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” After spending time in prayer about this painful rumor, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. I began to see how God used the circumstances of my infertility to prove that rumor to be false. I don’t know how many people heard and repeated it but for those who heard the story of my infertility it should bring up some important questions. How could a woman who could not conceive a child without the help of extreme tests, shots, medications, and surgeries to get pregnant, spending over the $55k given for treatment possibly have had an abortion? The answer… she couldn’t. The truth is… I didn’t.

I prayed and thanked God for revealing to me the story. I did not know of it until Josh spoke it and I thought, how amazing that of all the people in the world, the man who would one day be my husband and father of my children heard it. Why? So he could let me know that it was out there and so that I could find more understanding about my road of infertility.

Now,  in a world where abortions are common and in some places even celebrated into legislature, there may be some reading this who may wonder why is it important that I learned such a story was out there about myself and why it would bother me so much. I can answer that with three words:  my children’s ministry. My life’s work is in serving and protecting children. This is part of God’s plan for my life and He knew that story could rise up and come against me in the future if it kept going. Again, and always, God was and is with me, working for my good. Even when I didn’t see it, even when I didn’t understand. He was there. Now, I do see it and I do understand and I am so thankful for everything I went through because it not only killed out that wicked story, it also transformed me into the mother and child advocate that I am today. The only thing I wish could have been different is that Josh and I could have paid for the treatments and my mother could have kept all that money for herself. Other than that, I know every circumstance taught me something I needed to learn and brought me closer to God, and I would never trade that for anything. I also feel it is important to say that I personally do not cast judgement on anyone woman out there who has had an abortion and

Never was I pregnant before Aven, and never have I had an abortion. I love children dearly and have devoted my life to serving, protecting, providing for, caring for, educating and hoping to make them happy. I firmly believe that outside of the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ, our children are the greatest gifts our Heavenly Father God can bestow upon our lives.

I have learned that God does work in mysterious ways and I could see how my journey through infertility would not only help me become more compassionate and understanding of others who walk that road, it would make me so grateful for every moment I got to be a mother and also set my name and reputation of serving children free from any wickedness that was spoken to try and destroy it. God can use anything, including infertility for something good.

Fast forward about eighteen months after Aven was born and I started feeling strange. I told Josh, “You know, if I didn’t know better, I would think I was pregnant.” But of course, in our minds that was impossible, right? I had all these things wrong with me, I couldn’t possibly get pregnant without surgery and medication. But…

With God ALL things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

I was right, I was pregnant. God blessed us richly by healing me so that I could conceive a baby the good old fashioned way, which is so much more fun than infertility treatments. 😉  And FREE!

I learned the wonderful news of our new precious baby the week of Thanksgiving 2004 and oh my goodness we were beyond grateful! When I learned that I was pregnant with another precious child, I resigned from my job. I wanted to be home and not miss a moment.

(I began writing this blog after Mother’s Day in May 2020 and worked on it off and on. Today is June 17, 2020 one of the happiest days of my life!)

On June 17, 2005 Josh and I were blessed yet again with our beautiful, sweet, loving MaCaedyn Janei La Fon-Cox whom we loving call our Kooshla bear. I was in baby heaven and was never happier. After two months, MaCaedyn was involved in a crazy accident which is another blog for another time, but again, and always, God was with us and protected her life.

Aven loved being a “Big Sissy” and always wanted to hold and take of “her baby”.
We were so in love with these two precious girls and thought we were richly blessed when God decided to pour out even more blessings upon us. MaCaedyn is a beautiful child, not just on the outside but also on the inside. She gifted musically and has a tenderness, love and compassion that runs deep within her. She works with me constantly for our family’s organization for children in need, The Huggabear Children’s Project, Inc. and I see her working in ministry with children with me for many years to come.

Eighteen months after I had MaCaedyn, even though we were using birth control, I got pregnant again!!! This time with our beautiful boy, our “brother bear”, Samuel Braeden La Fon-Cox. He was an early Christmas gift for me coming into the world on December 12, 2006. I know I am partial, but he seriously was one of the most beautiful baby boys this world has even seen and he is growing into a beautiful young man. The girls are definitely going to be swooning in the years ahead!

The joy of being able to have my own children is something I honestly didn’t know I would ever experience. I asked God and He answered me. The joy that these three children have brought into Josh and I’s lives is absolutely irreplaceable, priceless and constant. I know that my life would never be as full and rich if I didn’t have them. Yes, they are all three firecrackers, we don’t have an easy one in the bunch. But I know God has a plan for all of them.

This past Mother’s Day and today with MaCaedyn’s birthday, I reflected upon all these things more than I usually do. This is a strange time for the world. The Covid19 Pandemic has changed things greatly, some for the good and some for the worse. But for me, these days with my family being so cozily secluded in our home have been priceless and precious. I know that there are so many others out there in the world who are not as blessed as we are. Many are alone, many are with empty nests and cannot have their children or grandchildren with them. Many have lost loved ones due to this crazy killing Covid. So I am extra thankful and know I am extra blessed.

God is so good to me. I could thank Him every minute of the rest of my life and it still wouldn’t be enough for all that He has done for me. So, I write my stories and share them with others who might need encouragement.

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus or our Heavenly Father God, Jehovah and would like to learn more about them, please never hesitate to contact me. My personal email is thehuggabears@gmail.com

I always want to talk about Jesus and the goodness of God and will be happy to help you.
If you are walking on the road of infertility and just need a safe place to talk, I am here for that too.

Always remember that Jesus loves you, no matter what and He told us in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”

Jesus knew we would have trouble in this world, that’s why He promised to never leave us. In closing I just want to say a prayer of thanks…

Thank You Father God for answering my prayer to make me a mother.
Thank You, Father God, for giving me the father for my children that You have and
Thank You, thank You, THANK YOU for the children that you blessed me with!
I love them with all my heart and soul and will always be so grateful that You made me
a mother!

Amen!

20+ Pounds for 20+ Years – A Letter of Love to Women with PCOS

To the Reader…

Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. I hope it might be of some help to bring some knowledge about PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrom) that you may not have known before.

I want to make sure that all who are reading this know that I am not a medical professional nor am I trying to recommend or convince anyone to make the same decisions I made regarding their health. I know there are many who believe in the care of doctors and many who don’t. Please do not think I am trying to persuade anyone for any type of treatment. I am simply giving you the facts of my story in the hopes that there may be someone out there who can benefit from my personal experience and what I have learned. Thank you and I hope you will continue reading on!

I have always been grateful for my life and for the body that I have. I have never been upset that I wasn’t taller, being short (5′ 3.5″) makes wearing heels more fun! I don’t compare myself to other women. I have not been jealous or intimidated by other women’s sizes or figures, or beauty, nor do I judge other women for their size. In fact, I can enjoy looking at a woman and appreciate her beauty as a creation of God with no qualms or insecurities on my part. I try very hard not to judge a person by their outside “cover” or outward appearance. I keep my focus upon as much of the person’s heart as they will allow and know them by the fruit they produce.

Until I was 30 years old, I never weighed more than 110 pounds. I don’t say this to brag, just to pass along information so you will have a better understanding of my story. When my husband, Josh, and I began trying to start our family with no success for a year, I knew something was wrong. I then began going through the ever humiliating, emotionally draining, mentally exhausting and highly expensive testing of infertility. Through that process, I learned that there were a few things wrong with me, one of them being that I was diagnosed with PCOS or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is actually quite common among women.

After almost four years of treatment with various doctors and having a near death experience, I went to an amazing infertility doctor, Dr. Jay Nemiro, who did more testing and discovered I had even more things wrong with me and was not able to get pregnant at all without extreme medication and surgery. Dr. Nemiro then put me on an extensive–and expensive, treatment plan. During this time, I went up to 120 pounds and really liked the way I looked. I had a bit of shape to me and didn’t look so much like a “stick person”.

After another year of treatment and another near-death experience, (which Dr. Nemiro saved me from and is a story in the infertility blog I’m working on) God richly blessed us with our precious baby girl, Aven Salei. Thank You, Jesus! After that, I was told by my doctor that my body did a “reset” and all which was once wrong with me was wrong no more. Of course, I knew that it was the healing power of Jesus Christ setting me free from infertility and making it possible for me to have more children without the costs and pains of infertility treatments.

After having Aven, I had no trouble getting pregnant–none at all. I got pregnant with MaCaedyn “a-naturelle” and was even using birth control when I got pregnant with Samuel! The Lord had completely healed me of my infertility—again, that is part of my infertility blog, still yet to come.

With each blessed pregnancy, I gained 50 pounds and would lose all but about ten pounds after Samuel was born. (Nursing, good diet and exercise do the trick ladies!)

When I reached 40 years of age, my metabolism came to a screeching halt. Though it was a new challenge for me, it taught me to be more disciplined with what I ate and to work out harder than I used to.

When I turned 43 I had a few other things change within my body. First of all, I turned positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. From what I was told by my RA, I have no levels of that particular arthritis, but I do have the auto-immune complication and problems with my hands functioning properly. There is pain in my hands, wrists, and toes, and there are days when I hurt from head to toe, but that can improve from day to day depending upon what I do. The biggest challenge I deal with is the tremendous weakness in my hands and wrists. I have learned how to function differently and what to do to help my hands, so all in all–in my opinion, having no levels of RA was God’s way of intervening for me so the situation wasn’t worse.

You will never hear me say, “I have arthritis.” This is a condition that God did not create me to have and therefore I do not claim it. I always state that “I am battling arthritis” and to be honest, I am grateful that is all I have when there are so many people out there battling life-threatening conditions.

In addition to having this new battle for my body, I also became “Perimenopausal”, which means I was in the early stages of menopause. Now, I know you are probably thinking, “Wait, she said she was 43 years old, isn’t that too young for starting menopause?” I would answer that you would be correct, though ages for women beginning that process can vary. For me, I think that my female organs were always so confused and pathetic at functioning they decided to just go ahead and give up.

At 43 I began battling RA and started “The Change” as some call it, again, thankful that was all I had to battle. I was determined to handle all of it with the healing help of Jesus Christ, education, good diet, and exercise. I tightened up my regiment and really started studying more about the different foods out there which could assist me with handling both conditions.

It was about this time that I got into juicing. I love the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” with Joe Cross, and I was given the lovely gift of a fantastic juicer. I began juicing fresh fruits and veggies daily, giving it to my family… accept my girl, MaCaedyn, I am still praying for the tastebuds of MaCaedyn, and I was loving every juice I made.

For two years I kept up with my healthy diet and tried to keep my exercise regiment strong. I was able to stop taking meds for the RA and only take an ibuprofen occasionally when needed, which made me very happy, but when I turned 45, I started to gain weight.

At first, I didn’t panic. I knew that I was in the beginning stages of menopause, so I visited my doctor to see if there was anything I could do to help the situation. Tests were done and I learned that my hormones were going pretty crazy and hormone therapy was recommended.

I prayed and thought about it for a period of time and decided to give it a try for a period of time. I began treatment, but after a year I didn’t see any improvement in my weight loss.

I then turned 46 and the battle with the mysterious weight gain continued–only it was getting worse. My husband and I planned a trip to celebrate my daughter MaCaedyn’s birthday at Disneyland and while we were there we would be celebrating our 19th anniversary of married bliss! That day we went to the beach and I remember being so sad because my swimsuit barely fit me and I did everything I could to keep myself covered up. I calculated that I had gained fifteen pounds over the course of the past year but I could not figure out why.

If I was eating poorly or not taking care of myself by exercising then I would have had a better understanding as to what was happening, plus due to the battle with RA, I was very careful about not eating gluten, sugars, starches, nightshade veggies, etc. But my doctor assured me that the hormone therapy was supposed to be helping my weight to balance. If that was the case, why was I constantly gaining weight and not able to shed a pound of it?

The situation was now beginning to affect me mentally and emotionally. I was frustrated, confused, tired, embarrassed and all of it was bringing me into depression. What I was doing was not working for me and I knew that something had to change. I went back to the doctor and after more tests and discussions I decided to stop the hormone therapy as I had read that can sometimes cause weight gain in some women. Even after six months had passed without hormone therapy, there was no change. The weight did not go away, in fact, it kept coming.

I for one believe that God can heal us instantly (I’ve had that happen several times) and I also believe that God can heal us over a course of time. So, instead of just trying to push this situation away from me, I wanted to see what it was God wanted me to learn from it.

As I said before, weight for me with myself or with other people was not an issue. I never judged anyone for their weight, looked upon them poorly or with disrespect. I like to look at the heart of a person and not keep my focus on the outside. Having said that, I have never experienced what it was like for people who battle their weight. I never understood how hard it was to lose weight. I never knew what it was like to dread opening the closet or the drawer and get dressed. I never knew their private pain or understood their personal struggles.

When I looked at my situation as a lesson from the Lord instead of a problem, my spirit became quiet about it. I turned my eyes from myself and placed them upon others who I knew were going through the same thing or had been battling their weight for years.
When I did, God filled my heart with great compassion. Although I didn’t know all that they might have gone through with their weight, I felt that I wanted to treat them with some extra special care and love and make sure I let them know that they were beautiful, important and loved.

This brought me great joy and although I didn’t give up trying to lose my weight, I was not angry about it.

Now, if you are anything like me, you know your body very well. I’ve lived with mine for quite some time and I know when there is something not quite right. Although I had come to a more peaceful place with this particular situation, still, I knew I wasn’t done trying to figure it out. I kept praying for help and felt led to go back to the doctor, only this time, I couldn’t see my usual doctor so I chose to see someone different.

When the doctor arrived, she had with her a nurse practitioner who was shadowing that day. They asked if she could visit me and of course, I welcomed her to do so. While discussing the situation, the nurse practitioner was looking over my doctor’s shoulder and quietly said, “I see that she has PCOS.”

This caught my attention, “I was diagnosed with that years ago,” I replied.

“Well, that can cause insulin resistance in some women,” the nurse practitioner replied.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“It means that instead of your sugars being burned, they are being stored as fat,” she explained.

I paused to take this information and process it, then asked, “What can be done for that?”

“If you chose, you can take Metformin, it is the same medication–”

“Taken for diabetes,” I interrupted. I knew this well as many of my extended relatives, including my mother, are diabetic and take Metformin.

It was not a hard decision for me to take the medication as I knew I had prayed for so long, asking God for help with my weight and to figure out what was wrong. As I said before, I believe God can heal us without any help from anyone, as I have had it happen many times, and I also believe that God gives us help through doctors who He has given the knowledge to help us.

I began taking the Metformin that week and the weight started coming off! The next week I set a goal for myself. My twentieth anniversary was ahead of me on May 13th and my husband had planned an incredible beach vacation for our family in Oceanside to celebrate our beautiful love and marriage and I was going to lose twenty pounds by that time.

Long story shorter (too late), I did lose those twenty pounds and so I pressed on with the weight loss, deciding that I was going to be happily married for as many years as the Lord blessed me with and so I would keep working to lose weight and get myself strong in body, mind, and spirit so that I can be with my husband, children and someday grandchildren for as long as possible. Twenty plus pounds for twenty plus years is what I decided to do and I am happily still walking that healthy road.

I am grateful for this experience for several reasons. It taught me so much more compassion for others who struggle with their weight. It taught me to never think that I have all of the answers for people and their weight loss–not that I ever thought I did, but I have had experiences with people like that and though I’m sure they mean well, their words can sometimes bring shame or embarrassment to the situation instead of support. A person who is struggling to find help for themselves should not feel shamed but encouraged. It also taught me more about the PCOS condition that I battle, and that it can cause unwanted weight gain– but there is hope!

Before closing, I would like to say—and I say this with much respect and kindness, please, if you are a person who does not believe in doctors or taking medication, please do not send me your anti-doctor or anti-medication comments. Everyone is different and people must make the choices for themselves that they feel are best. I am not trying to influence anyone to make any choices for themselves. I simply wanted to write this blog to share what I experienced and learned because I thought it might help someone else who might be experiencing the same thing and is also searching for answers. I just want to help anyone who is out there living with the same confusion and frustration that I had to know they are not alone.

I also want to encourage women out there to never quit trying to find answers if you think there is something wrong with your body. You know yourself best, so listen to your body! It also doesn’t hurt to get that second opinion. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes upon your records and a different mind of ideas can be a good thing! And always know, above everything else, God looks at your heart, (1 Samuel 16:7) not the physical heart, (which is also important to take care of for your life and family!) but the spiritual heart. In time, the outside beauty will fade away and grow old, but the beauty of the heart can last forever!

God bless you and thank you for reading!