Wrestling with Infertility, Part 1

Today begins our interview series with Sandra Crawford Williamson, Founder and CEO of Crawford Consulting and a woman of marvelous faith in the Lord. This week, Sandra is sharing a particularly painful part of her story with us: her struggle through two years of infertility and four miscarriages.

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4word: You have wrestled with infertility issues in the past. Can you give us a little background on that?

Sandra: Well, I was married to my career for 15 years and had little time or thought for anything else. And try being a single, never married, 35-year-old female CEO who wants to date. Whew, that's an entirely different story!

Then, God orchestrated an amazing series of events that led me to Jeff, and we were married just before my 37th birthday.  Like most successful female executives, I had a timeline for my family life. I guess God pretty much agreed with my plan because we conceived our first baby after being married seven months. Jenna was born easy breezy after a textbook pregnancy when I was 38.

Because I sincerely thought Jenna was the result of my efforts (eating certain things, drinking only water, taking my prenatal vitamins, keeping my ovulation calendar, etc.) I thought it would happen again, and it did. When Jenna was about one, we began trying to conceive again and did within months.

This time, my control freak timeline was not in God's will. When I was at 13 weeks, I went in for my level two ultrasound and found out the baby had a cystic hygroma. The doctor said it was very likely that she couldn’t live outside of the womb. I was devastated, but that wasn’t the end of the bad news. That evening, my OBGYN called to say my pap smear from my 10 weeks appointment had come back, and I had full-blown cervical cancer.

Four weeks later, Baby Kathleen’s heart gave out, and she perished. I had to have her removed, and then once I’d healed from that, I began treating the cancer. I had one cancer treatment, and I was completely healed. It was miraculous. Even the doctors said they didn’t know how it had happened.

Once I healed from all of that, Jeff and I tried to get pregnant again and couldn’t. Even after the incredible journey I’d just been through with God, I still thought I could fix this on my own. I went out and found the best fertility doctor available, but nothing worked.

4word: What treatments did you try? How did they affect you and your relationships?

Sandra: We tried pretty much everything: ovulation kits, calendars, then we escalated to testing to ensure us that all of our parts were working. Next, we tried IUI, which I called the “turkey baster technique.” Those failed treatments led us to IVF, which is a brutal, exhausting, physically demanding process.

More that that, it is a mentally challenging process because you are the one keeping up with your injections, little vials of powder and liquid medications that you have to mix, measure, draw and inject.  There's no nurse to do it for you.  There were many nights of 20-minute mental warfare with myself trying to get the courage up to jab that need in my gut fat. The absolute worst were the progesterone in oil injections that went into my upper thigh muscle with a huge needle.

The most amazing part of my story is that after God healed me from cancer and four miscarriages and got me off of the fertility train, I completely changed my prayer life.  Rather than pray, "give me, give me, give me a baby," I prayed for wisdom and clarity on how to face His amazing will for my life. I felt a sense of ease and freedom because I had finally surrendered this whole issue to God.

And then after two years of drugs and loss and 8 weeks of a new prayer life, I missed my cycle and thought I was going into early menopause at 41. But, praise God, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was challenging for a multitude of reasons, but Jonah was born perfectly healthy in July 2009. He is truly a miracle from our Heavenly Father.

4word: What was the hardest part in all of that?

Sandra: The hardest part for me was losing four babies but having nothing to hold, no one to bury, no graveside at which to sit and weep. You go home from the hospital broken and empty, and because there is no service or burial, it's like it never happened. And because society has no idea what to say or do, most people do nothing or say really silly things. I just wanted to shout from the rooftops, "hello people I lost a child!" But instead I buried it inside and tried earnestly to give it to God.

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That’s all for part one of this interview. Read Part 2 here.