“Dear infertility, you can’t have me. My God is bigger than you.”
These were my fighting words as my husband, Donny, and I faced a five-year journey with infertility.
During a time when we were struggling financially and experiencing other health issues, infertility could have broken our marriage, but God spoke to us through his Word, giving us strength to carry on despite facing one of the most difficult challenges of our lives.
Donny and I met in a sober recovery program. We have a past history of addiction—we got sober when I was 19 and he was 20—but that’s a story for another time. After our marriage, we started having problems. We were struggling financially, living with Donny’s mom in California. Donny had applied to several physician assistant programs without getting in and was also suffering from Crohn’s disease. I was a social worker in child welfare, which was emotionally draining yet spiritually fulfilling.
When we started trying to have a baby, that soon became disappointing. Doctors said we had unexplained infertility, and we tried six failed Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) treatments. Each time doctors said everything looked great, but nothing would happen. After disappointment upon disappointment, we hit an all-time low. I had an emotional affair; Donny checked out with pornography. Our marriage was in crisis.
Although we had been baptized a few years into our relationship, we opened our Bibles for the first time and were convicted by Scripture. A lot of people get divorced over stuff like this, but we confessed to each other, quit engaging in sin, extended forgiveness and chose to start fighting our battles together. Scripture came alive during this time. It was a joy to suffer for Christ (James 1:2). We knew he’d see us through.
Eventually, God led us to Utah, where Donny had been accepted to PA school. I started seeing a new fertility specialist, who diagnosed me with endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I had two surgeries to examine and treat the endometriosis, including the removal of my fallopian tubes, which were filled with scar tissue.
The night before surgery, I repeated Scripture—“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous,” (Joshua 1:9) and, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Despite being one of the worst experiences of my life, I knew that God, based on his Word, would not leave or forsake me.
Infertility was taking its toll, though, and each day, I felt the heaviness of heartbreak. Some days were worse than others, and I’d break down crying. I remember screaming and crying out to God—heartbroken, desperate, longing for a baby and not understanding God’s plan. I felt like I would die from the pain. Meanwhile, Donny’s Crohn’s disease had spread to his stomach and landed him in the hospital.
Our situation looked hopeless, and it would have been easy to turn back to drugs or alcohol, but we continued to seek God and stay sober. I refused to listen to Satan’s lies that God was abandoning us. In my darkest times, I studied God’s Word eight hours a day. It wasn’t out of obligation. I needed his Word like water or bread. It was the only thing that gave me peace.
At this point, our only hope for a baby was in vitro fertilization (IVF).
We had seen God’s hand in so many things—he had healed our marriage, and he healed Donny’s Crohn’s disease. (Donny is in remission after finding a new doctor who prescribed different medication.) We knew God could give us a child, but we also knew we could be okay in the waiting if he didn’t.
For IVF, I had to take shots to enlarge my ovaries—I ached from all the shots. I had ultrasounds to determine when my eggs had matured, then had a trigger shot to release them. The surgery to remove the eggs was very painful. After injecting my husband’s sperm into the eggs, we waited about five days to see if the embryos would develop. During this process, we found genetic problems with some of our embryos. Had I gotten pregnant before I could’ve lost the baby. Even in this we saw God’s hand.
Continuing to cover the process in prayer, we scheduled a transfer last March to insert two of the embryos into my uterus, then waited to take a pregnancy test. One took.
Throughout my pregnancy came other concerns. I developed gestational diabetes and also had various hormone treatments to make sure I didn’t lose the baby.
I had a C-section at 37 weeks. After five years of infertility, we were close to bringing home a child. Still, there was uncertainty. How would the surgery go? Would she really be born alive?
Our daughter Trinity is four months old now. Going through infertility has made it hard for me to relax as a mom and trust that everything is okay, but God is showing me how to be the mother he’s called me to be. He’s giving me patience for the hard days and strength for the late nights.
Infertility made us better and stronger people because we allowed God to change and refine us through our suffering. Our faith was tested in the fire.
We know not everyone may have a child, but we also know God will never leave or forsake us. Scripture talks about running our race with endurance, setting our eyes on Jesus. If I had been desperate for quick fixes, my life would be in shambles, but because I trusted God, it’s more beautiful than I could’ve ever imagined.
As told to Janae Rempel
Katie Willows was born and raised in California and moved to Utah three years ago with her husband, Donny. She works as a social worker in a hospital and has formerly worked for Child Protective Services and as a substance abuse counselor. She has been sober 16 years. She and Donny have been married six years and attend Greenhouse Community Church in Saratoga Springs. Katie loves hanging with her husband and 4-month-old daughter Trinity, reading the Bible, watching movies and TV shows, working out, laughing and serving people. She serves every year at Royal Family Kids Camp in California, a camp for foster youth.