Thursday, July 5, 2012

Being Faithful While Living with Infertility

Today I'd like to welcome a very special guest blogger. Please say hello to my niece, Tiffany Blair Van Ingen. Welcome, Tiffany!

by Tiffany Blair Van Ingen
Infertility has been the greatest struggle of my life. It has brought me to my knees, it has made me cry myself to sleep, it has had me angry at God and questioning Him, it has caused stress in my marriage, and then caused me to rebuild my relationship with God which is now stronger than ever.

Being in my late-twenties, I'm surrounded by friends who are either pregnant, or have kids, some even pregnant with second or thirds. I have seven female cousins who all have kids, some still adding to their families. I love being around all of them, but I won't lie. It does make my heart hurt a little bit. Okay a lot. I'm not sure exactly why it is that I must go through such heartache. But I trust in God, that there is some sort of reasoning behind this struggle. Maybe I have even started to learn some of it already. I definitely feel more positive about it. I don't feel as angry. I feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

But one thing I've always known for sure – I was born to be a mommy. My heart still aches and yearns for a baby so much, so you can imagine that our child will be my world. My child will know on a daily basis how loved they are, how long we waited for them and how worth it this was, how much God loves them and what a beautiful and precious creature they are.

To my future Baby Van Ingen,

I hope you have my green eyes and curly hair. I hope you have your daddy's long eyelashes and olive skin tone. I hope you have his sense of humor, and my sense of fashion. I hope you will know every day that you are our world. That you are our little miracle from God. I hope we laugh together all of the time.

I hope you are better than your mommy and Uncle Kyle at eating your veggies. I hope you love that I will read to you every night until you are probably too old for it. I hope you let those stories take you away to faraway places full of magic in your sweet dreams. I hope that you will never be afraid to share your hopes and dreams with me. I hope you learn to play an instrument, your dad is learning and he will teach you.

I hope you have a close relationship with your grandparents. They will be so over the moon for you. I hope that you will play baseball with your Uncle, even if you are a girl, he would love to teach you, and I'll leave it up to you if you want to be a Giants fan or a Yankees fan. I hope that you will come to know the Lord and how much He loves you. I hope we can read the Bible together and talk about it afterwards.

I hope that you share mine and your father's love for Disneyland and we have so many memorable trips there. I can't wait to see how your eyes will light up the first time you experience the magic of my favorite place in the world. I hope it will be yours too, but if not, that's okay. I promise to buy you Mickey ears and stand in long lines to get a picture with your favorite character, even if it means chasing them down like your Grandma has been known to do. I hope you let it keep you a child at heart, and that you will never be too old to ride Peter Pan with me. I hope it's your favorite ride, just like it's mine.

I hope you share our love for music and love all kinds of it. I plan on playing lots of it to you when you're in my belly :) I hope we dance together. I hope we have summers filled with swimming, blowing bubbles, playing in sprinklers, beach trips with sandcastles and you feeling ocean water on your little feet for the first time, and ice cream cones. I hope you believe in Santa for as long as I did, and that I make all of your Christmases magical. I hope that you love birthdays as much as I do. I plan on making all of them special because your birthday will be my favorite day. I hope that you make me lots of art work in school, and pick me flowers from the yard for Mother's Day...or any day.

But most of all, I can't wait to see you for the first time. If I'm crying a lot, it's not because of the pain. It's because of how long your daddy and I have waited for you. How much I've gone through to finally bring you into the world, which by the way, I will never hold that over your head in a bad way, I just want you to know how much you are loved. It will be the best day of our lives. I hope in these next few months we will find out you are on your way. Really grab on tight when you get in there. I will make it a very comfy place for you, I promise :)
Your Future Mommy

If you know someone who struggles with infertility, try to be sensitive about things you say. You don't need to walk on eggshells.  Just know they have an aching heart and they appreciate when people show they care. Hopefully soon I will be able to say that I overcame infertility and my blog will be filled with lots of pictures and stories about our little one. Until then, we continue to pray for this child to come to us, and for God to give us the strength through this process.

About Tiffany Blair Van Ingen:
I'm a 27 year old wife, Christian, stepmom, sometimes student and wannabe artist. I love reading, photography, fashion, traveling and baseball. Anytime spent with my husband is my favorite part of the day.

Before endometriosis became such a huge part of my life, I was pretty active with things like dance, yoga and pilates, hiking the many foothills that surround our sleepy little town, and swimming. I do try to take part in a few of these activties when I'm up to it. As I mentioned, endometriosis is something I now deal with on a daily basis, as is intersitial cystis. In late 2007 after our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided we were ready to start our own family. I had no idea what kind of road was laying ahead. I suffered a devastating miscarriage in December of 2007, and from then on fertility drugs and doctors became a weekly thing. My cycles continued to become more and more painful, and pregnancy was not happening. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in November 2009 during a surgery after months and months of being so ill I was convinced I was dying. I finally had an answer, but it wasn't easy to hear.

Since my diagnosis I've had two more major surgeries, one which included the removal of my left ovary. I've become an advocate of educating people on this terrible disease, as well as the painfulness of infertility, and you'll even hear me educating doctors who think they have all the answers. Not only has this disease caused me physical pain, but emotionally it has been rough as well. Being a mom is something I will never stop fighting for. It's really the only thing I've ever known for sure that I wanted to do and would be good at. Not having it come to me as easily as it seems to come to others is something I spent years being depressed over.

However my love for God, and His love for me, has brought me to a place in life where I can accept it and understand that everything happens for a reason. He has a plan, and I have learned to patiently wait to see what is in store for us.

You can read more about this at my blog:

Some helpful websites for those living with endometriosis:


  1. whoa. thank you for sharing/exposing her heart about desiring mommyhood. i can't imagine the physical things you are dealing with, but i can relate to the emotional part.

    i really thought motherhood had passed me by, that i'd be relegated to being the world's best Aunt. i was blessed with a son in 2009 (i was a "mature" mother - meaning over 40 - 42 to be exact).

    my sister had similar issues to yours and she had a heart rending miscarriage as well (2008). the doctors told her that her body appeared to reject pregnancy. this April, she was blessed with a son who arrived a month early and spent his first month in the hospital - but he is now home and thriving. she is also a "mature" mom (42 yrs old).

    i know that this probably doesn't help (when i was your age, the thought of no child until 40 would've brought me to major tears) but i will be praying for you and your health so that the Lord can give you the desires of your heart (and that you won't have to wait as long as I did).

    thanks again for sharing your pain and educating people about endometriosis. *hugs*

  2. p.s.

    I love your letter to your future child. forgot to put that in above.

  3. Thank you for sharing this touching story.

  4. Thank you Tiffany and Suzie for sharing your story! I am so proud of the way you have grown with God through your struggles with this disease. It has been so painful, physically and emoionally, that it would have been easy to turn bitter and resentful. I have always tried to be your biggest advocate, but it turns out you have more support than you know! I will continue to pray every day that you and David will be blessed with the greatest gift one can ever receive! Love, Mom

  5. Tiffany, I share your pain as one who has been there - not with the endometriosis, but with a deformed reproductive system and an imbalance of too many male hormones.

    I didn't know this when I anticipated the birth of my first child at 21. The pregancy was normal until the baby came 6 wks early and required NICU care. But when the years went by and another child didn't come, I began to despair. I realize this sounds greedy to someone who has never had a child, but I never wanted an only child. I wanted my child to have a sibling so that if Nelson and I died, our child would have someone to cling with.

    Infertiliy tests showed my problem and sent me racing to my mom for answers. The question, "Did you take a lactation drug when you were carrying me?" I had to pull the answer out of her, but yes, she did. She wanted to stop nursing my sister when she discovered she carried me and the doctor prescribed a common drug at that time for this purpose.

    Thousands of women born in the late 50's to early 60's suffered the same fate as me in different degrees. Back in the 80's, almost every major US and Cdn city had a support chapter for women with this condition. My deformity is such that I have only 1 connected fallopian tube and 2 uteruses. The 2nd uterus is in the top corner where the 2nd tube should be connected.

    This means 2 things
    - the doctors said I have less than a 20% chance of becoming pregnant and called my 1st child was a miracle.
    - my pregnancies will early because my uterus isn't as big as normal due to the space taken by the 2nd 'nonworking' uterus.

    That explains why my daughter was 6 wks early - breech and all. It didn't solve my wish for more children.

    So we began a fertility program which included taking my basal temperature every morning, HCG shots to counterbalance my male hormones, progesterone suppositories to up my female hormones, and fertility drugs.

    I miscarried around 6 wks several times. Once, I miscarried at 3 months due to a blighted ovum. I'd been psyching myself for 5 babies and ended with none.

    After 2 yrs on the program, the doctor said to give my body a rest. He hoped my hormone levels had leveled out and with the lack of stress taking temps, etc might let nature take it's course.

    A month later, tests showed I was pregnant. I had to go on bedrest at 6 months due to complications, but my 2nd child was born healthy - breech - 5 wks early.

    My family was complete. Awed by God's blessing, we went back to church. I'd always had a personal relationship with Him, but I'd slacked off going to church after marrying my husband who didn't have one.

    But my story doesn't end there. God continually amazes me because 4 yrs later, he blessed us with a son - born 4 wks early and requiring only 5 days in NICU due to my health regime of eating to nourish the baby.

    2 months before my 42nd birthday, I gave birth to another son - 8 wks early and 4 lbs 8 oz, but needing only 10 days in NICU - again, due to my health regime of eating plenty of vitamins, fruits and veggies to nourish the baby.

    Both of my boys were conceived without benefit of any means other than my husband's love and God's blessing.

    God continues to amaze and bless me by the work His children are doing as they sing on worship teams and go out on mission trips to spread the news about His son.

    I hope by sharing my story with you, I've helped you realize that everything is possible with God.

    When you see the women, pregnant, or pushing strollers, remember that God had a hand in creating those little lives regardless of the circumstances, just as He is caring for you.

    He would not give you such a yearning in your heart if He didn't have some amazing and miraculous event planned to fill it. He may not bless you in the way you wish and expect, but know that when He blesses you, that yearning will be fulfilled. God will not leave you wanting.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. So many women struggle with infertility and the health issues that often accompany it. It's hard on marriages, hard on your faith, and talking about it openly and honestly is essential for healing and wholeness. SO, thank you again! Blessings on you, your family, and for your future!

  7. Ladies, thank you so much for your comments. Tiff will be by later in the day and I will be back at my lunch break.

  8. My heart always aches for those with infertility issues -- it is such a natural God-given desire to want to have children and it is so hard when that is unfulfilled for various reasons. I have struggled with childlessness too -- but in a different way. I didn't get married until I was in my mid-40s and didn't want kids out of wedlock. It was difficult to watch friends and family marry and have kids while I watched -- from the sidelines. I've always loved babies/kids. It was hard to attend the showers -- "your turn will be soon" the well-meaning moms would say not realizing how much it hurt me.

    By the time my husband came into my life, I had, with God's help, come to terms with the fact that I would never have biological children of my own. And the bonus for me was my marriage brought not just a husband but two grown children and grandchildren too.

    Yes, there are times it is still painful when I cannot talk with other women about personal experiences of the joys and trials of pregnancy, childbirth and child-raising.

    I love my stepchildren and step-grandchildren dearly while still wishing I had had the opportunity to give birth myself but I am so grateful for the family God has given me -- in this unconventional way!

    thank you for sharing your story so candidly!

  9. To "Anonymous" AKA My Mother..
    I know you have always been one of my biggest advocates and for that I owe you so much. Perhaps you would be willing to come and stay for a few weeks after baby is born and wake up at all hours of the night so your princess can get her beauty sleep? ;)

  10. Deb- Wow, what an amazing story. You are truly blessed and it definitely gives me hope. Being almost 28, I worry I'm running out of time just because of how far my disease has progressed and I've been told I'll be lucky if my right ovary (left one is removed) will last until I'm 35. But I know when the time is right it will happen. I will be starting IVF procedures hopefully next month, and hoping for the ultimate outcome ;) God Bless you and your family!

  11. LOL Try to keep me away! I look forward to that day for my own "selfish" reasons, but more than that I can't wait for you to know the joys of motherhood. Sorry for being anonymous today, having trouble with my regular sign in account. Keep the faith honey and I will always be there for you! Mom

  12. Anita, thank you for sharing your story! I couldn't imagine going through all of that. One of my biggest fears is having something go wrong during delivery or afterwards and having a sick baby. You don't sound selfish at all, I have a cousin who had trouble getting pregnant with her first. She ended up getting pregnant after taking fertility drugs and doing an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). After that she said she just yearned for another baby and felt bad telling me about it because I obviously have yet to have one. I can understand that feeling. I too would love to have more than one child, however due to how bad off my disease is, I'm not sure I will keep pushing my body. I'd like to just have a hystorectomy after the first so I can be done will all the pain and focus on being a mom. I don't want anything to keep me from that.

  13. Sorry, I hit send before I was done. Anita, God Bless you and your family!

  14. Niki, Thank you so much for the blessings, and thank you for reading! Yes infertility does take such a huge toll on everything. There were times I was unsure my marriage would even survive because I became such a nightmare while taking all the fertility drugs and only focusing on getting pregnant and not the needs of my husband. I still feel bad about that to this day, but as I said in my blog, God has changed my heart about it and my marriage is stronger than ever. I'm happy I was able to share my story, things like this still seem to be a bit taboo and I hope that will change.

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  16. Niki, Thank you so much for the blessings, and thank you for reading! Yes infertility does take such a huge toll on everything. There were times I was unsure my marriage would even survive because I became such a nightmare while taking all the fertility drugs and only focusing on getting pregnant and not the needs of my husband. I still feel bad about that to this day, but as I said in my blog, God has changed my heart about it and my marriage is stronger than ever. I'm happy I was able to share my story, things like this still seem to be a bit taboo and I hope that will change.

  17. DebH, thank you for your prayers for Tiffany. I know she'll appreciate them. Your story, and Anita's story are so touching and amazing. I hope and pray Tiff has equally wonderful results.

    Elaine, I'm so thankful you were blessed with step children and grandchildren. Bless you for adhering to your values in spite of the pain.

    Niki, Dina, Pam, thank you for visiting today.

    I have also been touched by endometriosis. My son was two when I had to have a hysterectomy at age twenty four. I was so thankful and blessed to have my son -and my sweet niece who was born ten days prior. I shed many tears and my heart was broken, but God saw me through it as only He can do.

    Stay strong Tiff and continue on your journey of faith. I know you'll be blessed.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Tiffany. What a touching testament to your faith in God and your love for a child.

    My story is nothing like yours, but I well remember what it's like to have empty arms while it seems like everyone around you is having babies. It's horrible.

    By sharing, I know God is using you to bless and comfort others.

    Thanks for inviting Tiffany, Suzie!

  19. Elaine- I know so much what you mean about people (who mean well) saying "It will happen when it's meant to." or my personal favorite "Just relax, stop trying so hard and you'll be pregnant in no time". Even after my miscarriage I had people telling me "Well, it happened for a reason". I just couldn't believe that someone would say that. I know miscarriages are so common but they are devastating to say the least and I think the first feeling you go through is guilt, and that was a hard one for me to get over. On my blog, I actually have a list of things that people said to me and how I responded. Never rudely, just getting my point across..especially to those who have never experienced it. I don't believe that God would put such a yearning in our hearts and then deny us of motherhood. Like you, I was also blessed with two stepchildren. My husband is 40, and I'm 27. I was 20 when we began dating, and almost 22 when we married. He had his children quite young (during his first marriage, not out of wedlock). So when I met them they were 9 and 12. Of course it can be very trying to blend a family, and I try my best but there have been plenty ups and downs. I do have a wonderful relationship with my step-daughter who is now 15. However, I think it's only natural for me to want a biological child with my husband and to experience pregnancy and all the fun baby stages. You are blessed to be able to call yourself a step mom and grandmother as well. God has a plan for us all, and it may not be exactly what we hoped, but he knows it's what we need. God Bless and thanks for reading!

  20. I'm sorry to be late here but I wanted to say that I appreciate this post- thank you for speaking so frankly, Tiffany. Someone I know just had a treatment that helped them conceive despite their endometriosis.

    I also have to say that I have a friend who was unable to conceive and it was difficult at times to know what to say because I was the opposite way and I actually felt bad about it. Just being honest about it all was so important.

  21. Thank you for reading Debra! I've heard about quite a few positive outcomes after having surgeries or being on medications for endometriosis. I'm not sure if it's because mine is so far progressed, but nothing has seemed to work so far, which is why we are just now starting the IVF process. I do really feel for people who have someone in their life that struggles with infertility/miscarriages because it is hard to know what to say, and there were a few I wasn't very nice to after my miscarriage. I feel bad about it now. But I'm sure you're friend appreciated being able to be honest with you. Thanks for reading!

  22. Lovely blog post Tiff! I pray that you and David will be announcing very soon that your bundle of joy is on the way, and that I have another great niece or nephew to love. I am a true believer in miracles, I see them daily in Megan and Evan. Your words are truly inspiring, and touching.
    I love you, Aunt Pat

  23. I do agree with you about being faithful while living infertility.
    infertility clinic


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