Our Journey to Baby C!

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Sep 26, 2018

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This has been a much requested story to share.

And while I’ve shared bits and pieces here and there in this little digital world, I’ve never shared it all in one place or the specifics… so today, I’m grateful/nervous to share the story of our journey to Baby C! It’s one of initial excitement, followed by confusion and our unexplained infertility journey, and finally, the best surprise we could have imagined: how we found out we are pregnant! It still feels surreal some days to say that (even 29 weeks in!), and I’m truly honored and praising Jesus that we’re expecting our first little on in December. Pregnancy is a miracle regardless of the process, and our story reminds me of that even more than I could have imagined.

However, it’s taken me this long to share for a variety of reasons… namely one being that I remember the difficult days of waiting and always wishing our situation was different. I want to begin by saying if you’re in those days… waiting for a change, hoping and praying for a babe, I want you to know that I’m praying for you. I know I did endless research during those days and prayed fervently for something/anything to shift… and while I know no two stories are the same, I remember being encouraged by knowing of others experiencing similar situations as us & hearing/reading their stories.

So I pray this post is an encouragement for you, and that you’d know that your story is not over. We serve a God of miracles, and whatever your faith stance is, I hope you know that I believe He is working in your life right this moment. I only am finally getting the courage to share this all because I shared privately via Instagram DMs with a sweet follower who popped into my inbox one day seeking encouragement and hope. When I thought my journey to baby was odd/unique, I discovered that she is experiencing much of the same as I had for the year of “trying” – which side note, I really hate that phrase… so won’t use it beyond this sentence. Honestly, I think it puts too much pressure in our hands to do something about something we don’t have that much control over in all reality!

But in conversation with my IG DM buddy, it was in that moment I remembered how much I would have been grateful to hear a story similar to my own during that year of waiting. So here I am, hoping that this story can encourage at least one person out there, and that it can give testament to God’s ability to work miracles and how much He really does “surprise & delight” when we least expect it!

It’s a long one, and strictly based on personal experience (aka, I’m not a doctor, so definitely consult a professional for insight into your own circumstances), but I am grateful to share my story in hopes that it can impact yours. Also, it may be a bit TMI for some people, so just a fair warning… but when you’re married to a urologist, very little is TMI! 😉

Ready for Baby

I’m currently writing this at 29 weeks pregnant. I can’t even believe it some days. While we only struggled with infertility for a year, it seems like we’ve been preparing for a baby for eons. From endless discussions about when would be the right time in the world of residency + owning a business and shooting lots of weddings, we began shifting years ago & saving money for when that day would come. We always anticipated getting pregnant easily… I think everyone does in some way. For years, I faithfully took my tiny little pill every single day, and truth be told, often experienced anxiety about what would happen if we accidentally got pregnant. It’s ironic now. I actually even had a panic attack at dinner one evening and had to leave the restaurant. (That poor waitress… bless her for dealing with me!)

But the time finally came where we were ready for a baby. We assumed I’d go off the pill, and bam, pregnant. That’s how it had happened for so many people I know… and so why wouldn’t it for us? We were both seemingly healthy, and felt called to be parents at that particular time, so… certainly it would be the case.

Our Unexplained Infertility Journey Begins

That first month was odd… I didn’t get a period. And I was traveling for work with quite a few friends who all KNEW I would be drinking if I could… so I had to share the news that I might be pregnant. It was around the time the pregnancy test should have been able to detect, but no signs of pregnancy, so I decided I’d wait a bit longer, test again, and see. I even didn’t drink a single bit of alcohol on our trip to London that year… so you know I was dedicated & hopeful.

Still no signs of a pregnancy, and no positive test, so we came to the conclusion that my body must be just not quite back on track post-birth control pill. “Hey, that’s ok, we have time! It’s only the first month!”

Well month 1 turned into month 4, still with no signs of Aunt Flow… during which time I experienced all the feelings of “what the heck is wrong with me, there is obviously something wrong?!” to “why is literally everyone I know pregnant right now except for me?!” Every day on social media someone new seemingly announced that they were expecting, and still, here I was wondering why my body wasn’t working like it should be? (I should also say that before the pill… my cycles were 100% spot on regular… zero concerns there, so this was abnormal for sure.) It was during this time I began to research – which Lord have mercy, Google is my best and most terrible friend. It is valuable at its best, and straight up dangerous at its worst.

I learned of things like “post-pill amenorrhea” and researched all about how to get your period back to a normal cycle naturally. Our family has a history of thyroid disorders, so I also began thinking that could be the problem. I had blood work done multiple times… and everything looked totally normal. My poor nurses & doctors had to endure many an appointment with me in that season trying to figure out just what was wrong. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them and their efforts and patience and now enthusiasm for us & our babe. In an effort to kick start my cycle, I tried the oral version of Provera (to treat menstruation problems caused by hormone imbalance). No luck… nada… once again: “what the heck is wrong with me?!” It does seem fairly abnormal that Provera doesn’t do at least something from what I could find. However, I say this all alongside that I am not a doctor, so don’t really know. And once again, there is only so much you can trust on Google.

Around month 6 came… and although it was before the year mark of when women typically visit a fertility doctor, my doctor went ahead and referred me to our fertility clinic. Long story short here, I was one of the cases of unexplained infertility – likely due to my hormones being thrown off and lady parts basically being “lazy” after so many years of birth control pills… resulting in lack of ovulation/cycles. It’s hard to really know what the deal even was, honestly. But I knew my options at this point: 1. wait it out and do nothing, 2. test my temperature every day to see if ovulation kicked back into gear, 3. take Provera for a second time, 4. start on Letrozole (similar to Clomid).

I opted for #2, believing firmly that I wanted my body to get back to “normal” if possible before opting for fertility treatments. I was absolutely open to them long term if needed, but knew something wasn’t quite right otherwise… so decided patience would have to be a virtue I adopted in this season. It was hard… I’m not patient. And when you’re used to being able to do xyz and see results, infertility and your body just not working how it should is extremely confusing and frustrating.

And speaking of adopting things… this was also the time that we began to revisit discussions on adoption. Chip and I have always both felt called to adoption, even before we knew each other. We believe that Lord willing, that could be a part of our story one day. We just never anticipated it would be so soon.

We had many exchanges over those months that sounded a lot like:

Lauren, exasperated & confused: “Chip, what if we can never get pregnant?”

Chip, calmly, as always: “We’ll adopt…” (thank goodness for a husband who makes this process better & eases my anxiety… could NOT have done this without him)

Lauren, realizing yet again this is the truth & a source of hope for a baby one day: “Ok, yes… you’re right.”

Moving on.

It didn’t necessarily make the lack of answers easier, but it definitely did bring us hope in a season where we weren’t quite sure what was to come.

In addition to taking the daily temperature in hopes that we’d see some spike in a cycle of ovulation, I decided at this time that if I couldn’t do xyz and see immediate results, then I needed to seek what it was that the Lord wanted me to pursue in this season.

Lauren Carnes Photography

(Fun fact: we were pregnant in these photos at Easter 2018 and had NO idea… makes me smile)

How I Managed the Season of Waiting for a Baby

I’m a doer… an “Achiever” paired with “Responsibility” in StrengthsFinder… an Enneagram 3. I like to work hard & see results… yet no results were coming. Instead, I prayed for a bit of clarity on the why behind the wait. And I quickly realized this was a season where I needed to take care of myself first and foremost… before being able to take care of anyone else. While I don’t have any scientific proof to back this up, I think that this time of waiting & focusing on improving my health overall played a huge impact in a few things: 1. my mental health & mindset while waiting, 2. my physical health, 3. my stress levels, 4. our financial health.

I knew that if I couldn’t do anything specific to see a change, then I just needed to be the best version of myself possible, regardless of if there was a baby in the picture… because there is nothing bad about improving your lifestyle as a whole!

This was a time where I:

  • was dedicated to daily devotional & Bible reading
  • committed to exercising 3 times a week
  • aimed to actually sleep 8 hours a night… and later committed to a 11pm bedtime (more on that to come below)
  • started talking more openly with friends about our journey to find a support network of encouragement
  • saving money every month for a hopeful maternity leave one day believing it would be one less stressor to know we had a bit of financial security if/when we had a babe (and it was…!)
  • using a Doterra essential oil on my belly for women’s hormones (called ClaryCalm!)
  • researched lots and lots of supplements & dietary changes, as well as options like a naturopath who specializes in fertility & hormones and acupuncture (both of which friends had had great success with for fertility and likely would have been our next steps if we got to that point!)
  • stopped working so dang much – stress levels needed to reduce, and so work levels needed to reduce

Additionally, some dietary/personal changes I made:

  • ate fertility boosting/hormone balancing foods daily like chia seeds & flax meal (this is how my smoothie bowl obsession began!)
  • took a maca powder & Vitex supplement daily (as well as a prenatal vitamin throughout this whole process)
  • began the switch to natural beauty & cleaning supplies to stop negatively impacting my hormones (Think Dirty app really opened my eyes)

Finally, we set time limits… “checkins” if you will… and decided that if by March 2018 (1 year from when we began the process) I still wasn’t getting a period, and there were still no changes, we’d reevaluate and explore next steps of either fertility treatments, adoption, or something else entirely. The reason we did this is because it would be easy in our crazy lives to just continue waiting… hoping for a change… when in reality, there was a chance my body would just never really change.

I had some more blood work done (no clues there)… was tested for PCOS (nope)… and ultimately felt as though if 1 year was a mark of when most people would first go to the fertility doctor, that felt like a good timeframe to wait until.

I secretly just hoped something would change before then so I didn’t have to make a decision about next steps…

because decisions, especially in the face of uncertainty… are hard!

acai bowl recipe

The Results of that Season of Waiting

Come early 2018… and even now, I truly was the healthiest mentally, physically, and emotionally I had been in a long, long time. Honestly, maybe since ever. I know that’s a bold statement, but even though it was a hard season, I felt grateful it wasn’t harder. I even still feel almost guilty (and it impacted me not wanting to share this story) that our journey to baby wasn’t harder. I for a long time was even in denial/didn’t want to call it “infertility” – because I didn’t feel like I had “earned” that title. I had heard countless stories of miscarriage and infant loss that made my story seem less bad, and therefore not worthy of sharing. It’s why I really never shared anything prior to getting pregnant publicly. I felt guilty complaining about our situation when I knew it could be harder. However, I’ve learned over time, that every story is worth sharing and has someone else out there who needs to hear it. I would have SO been grateful to hear this story from someone else while I was going through it… so I rest in that.

Everyone’s situation is different. No two stories are alike… and no two responses to infertility are the same… but I remember distinctly having a conversation with my mother-in-law in the kitchen while prepping dinner where she sweetly asked how I was really doing. I was honest. It was hard, but I had a great support system & doctors who were on my team, and believed that there would be a change. And in addition to that, I was grateful for the doors the Lord had opened during this season, that our story was not nearly finished, and to be feeling like I was actually taking care of myself for the first time in a long time. (now here I am writing this crying… remembering that moment when I realized that all of this season of infertility & frustration was not for nothing). Her response? “Lauren, you live a really full life.”

“Full” here wasn’t a euphemism for “busy” in this case, like I’d so commonly used it before. Instead, she used “full” in the way of abundant & joyful… one that was living life to the fullest, despite circumstances.

The only way that was possible was through Jesus and the support of my family & friends.

The new year came… no changes… and March came & went. We talked about… “well I guess it’s time to make some decisions,” but honestly, I was still dragging my feet, confused as to why my body was still not working.

Instead, I made the decision that in April I’d try one more thing: a bedtime of 11pm… because why would I expect myself to be able to have a cycle if I couldn’t even get on a normal SLEEP CYCLE? Seemed logical enough to me? Ha… and if nothing else, I like sleep.

Wait… Am I Pregnant?!

We didn’t believe it then… we still can hardly believe it now. If it weren’t for the ultrasounds, the ever growing belly, & the kicks all day long, I’m still not sure I would. During March & April, I started noticing unique things… that I didn’t realize at the time were pregnancy symptoms.

First?

OH MY GOSH THE SCENT OF HONEYSUCKLE & JASMINE IN AUGUSTA IN THE SPRING IS DIVINE.

And other nasty smells… woah nelly, enough to make you want to vomit.

I distinctly remember exclaiming how amazing the smells were on my daily walks with Sophie. Chip sometimes would join and surely thought I was insane in how baffled I was at the scents. But y’all, they were so good.

Next?

And if this blog post hasn’t been TMI yet, then it’s about to be… my breasts were sore as all get-out. I was actually thrilled about it because I thought maybe it meant I was getting back on track with my cycle again! I mean, that seemed logical again, right? I also randomly spotted shortly thereafter… and if I had known I was pregnant at the time, I’m sure it would have sent me into a tailspin of anxiety. But of course, the Lord is funny in that way, and all I could think was: YAY A PERIOD MIGHT BE COMING! Anxiety was replaced with joy, and more walks hoping for honeysuckle vines along the way.

I called a friend randomly one day… someone who had supported me throughout this journey – the same friend I had bought the Doterra essential oils from earlier in the journey – Caroline of Olive You Whole. Now if you know Caroline, this will come as no surprise, but she was bold on that call. We rarely chat on the phone… usually just via text, but this one day we happened to have a longer catch-up and I shared all the updates of how I had been feeling.

Caroline’s response: “Lauren… I think you’re pregnant.”

I laughed… nope… definitely not possible.

Caroline: “I’ve been listening to you thinking you were gently telling me you thought you might be and now when you just mentioned you think it’s a sign you’re getting your period again… I mean… I think you’re pregnant.”

Laughter again… that’s sweet and encouraging Caroline, let’s keep speaking that into being. 😉

But she planted a tiny seed in my head. I don’t think I drank after that just in case she might be right (caveat, SORRY BABY, I definitely had been drinking up until that point… whoops… but I definitely stopped after I found out, for what it’s worth…).

Chip left for Haiti a week later for a urology service trip. I had mentioned Caroline’s conversation to him, and we both had a good laugh.

But that week I couldn’t shake the fact that maybe I really was pregnant. I didn’t believe it could be true… I hadn’t had a period, or from what I could tell, ovulated, at all since a year prior when I went off of birth control (which really means I hadn’t actually ovulated and had a real period since… high school?! hot dang.)… but her hunch just stuck with me that week.

I was with family for a chunk of that week, same discussion as usual plus the news of breast soreness: “nope… no change… no news is the same news… I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

But I knew that I couldn’t let myself take a pregnancy test without Chip being in the country. WHAT IF SHE WAS RIGHT?! And then I couldn’t tell him abroad?! There was literally zero way. And what if she was wrong?… well… then disappointment & back to business as usual. I didn’t want to get my hopes up… so I just figured I’d wait and see.

Olive You Whole Family Photos

(a few photos of Caroline of Olive You Whole’s second pregnancy announcement shoot from years ago because why not when they are this precious of a family?!)

Pregnant!

I picked him up from the airport on Friday night post Haiti. We were on our way to his parents house for dinner. I wanted a glass of wine… but knew I needed to prove to myself I could have said wine. I told him we needed to swing by the drugstore to get a pregnancy test… Chip still thought I was a bit crazy. Truth be told, I thought I was a bit crazy too… but a girl will go to great lengths for wine. 😉 And honestly, while I tried to keep my hopes down… part of me believed it could actually be true I was pregnant! My friend/nemesis Google had said so during that week, after all!

We said our hellos and popped upstairs to bring Chip’s suitcase to his bedroom and for him to wash his face post-flight… and secretly for me to take the pregnancy test.

Chip’s at the sink, I’m not even done peeing yet, and CLEAR AS DAY two lines. (I still get the chills thinking about that moment.) I nudged Chip and pointed down… and our eyes met: equal parts excitement and disbelief. Those first few minutes are somewhat a blur. HOW? Wait… HOWWWW? What?! Certainly this is a false positive?! TEARS. all the tears. Chip praying over us and our baby. BUT WAIT, HOW?! Truly a miracle… we could not believe it.

WE ARE PREGNANT!

Reactions immediately after finding out we are pregnant

Meanwhile, his parents and sister are downstairs with Panda Express wondering why the heck it’s taking us so long to drop a suitcase… they even started eating without us. Ha, sorry fam! Definitely not exactly how we anticipated finding out in our idealized minds from over a year prior! 😉

We pulled our ish together, snapped a photo to remember that moment forever… and hoped our family wouldn’t suspect anything. Somehow we made it through that meal without them catching on. Down to dinner we went… with SO MANY EMOTIONS.

Caveat… I couldn’t drink that glass of wine. 😉

So then I guzzled water to take another pregnancy test to be sure… AND ANOTHER.

All were more than sure… nearly instantly.

Suddenly, in the matter of seconds, we went from struggling with infertility and no answers for a year… to parents. My heart races just typing that out. It’s a powerful moment… and one we certainly were not expecting that evening. But praise Jesus for his ability to surprise and delight us when we least expect it and for true miracles in getting pregnant when we didn’t even know if that would ever be possible.

It’s one of the absolute best moments of our lives.

That night that followed was a whirlwind… perhaps I’ll share the rest of the evening another time, but let’s just say it is most certainly one we will never, ever forget.

I actually took a fourth pregnancy test of a different brand when we got back to Augusta, justttt to be sure. And then promptly called my doctor for an appointment, having literally ZERO idea how far along I was. I told them I thought maybe 5 weeks based on my app? But who really knows when you have not had a period all year… They told me after receiving my voicemail that I didn’t even have to say “I’m pregnant” for them to just know. They could hear the excitement in my voice. *cue the tears of joy*

Such a surprise, in ALL the best ways!

They got me in for an appointment quickly for blood levels that confirmed I was, indeed, pregnant. Holy moly. They were much higher than any of us anticipated, which certainly caused some room for questions (and concern for us)… could be that we were farther along than we thought, that it was twins, or even that it was a molar pregnancy (which I had never heard of, but learned all about from yet again, Google, that week).

They immediately scheduled me for an ultrasound that week to get a better idea of what the status was… and praise that Chip could join! Sure enough, a baby, OUR BABY, was bopping around in there with a strong heartbeat! That is another moment I’ll just never forget. Come to find out, we were just a little over 8 weeks already! 2/3 of the way done with the first trimester!! WHAT EVEN?!

What a blessing & joy!

baby ultrasound

And we were able to swing it that the appointment was the day before we’d leave for Atlanta to celebrate an early Mother’s Day with both of our families… where we were hopeful we could share amazing & definitely surprising news! Let me just say, it truly takes an act of God to get us all together… but this was the ENTIRE crew: parents, siblings, even my sister’s fiance. Once again, a miracle that only He could orchestrate as possible!

Let’s just say that as the first grandchild on both sides for parents longing to be grandparents and truly invested in our journey & struggles, Chip & I will never be able to top that mother’s day gift! 😉 There were LOTS of tears… my mom in disbelief that I lied to her the week before (when I still didn’t even know I was pregnant ha!)… and so many hugs/passing around the phone to see the ultrasound video of our little bean!

baby announcement ideas for family

Of course, immediately after we found out was when first trimester sickness really hit me, and there was definitely a mixture of emotions that ranged from total joy to guilt (like I mentioned earlier) to anxiety that the pregnancy wouldn’t last… but once I hit second trimester, I felt a bit like we were out of the weeds… and finally shared the news with you all at 15 weeks. You can find all those updates & our announcement here!

Ironically enough, I had made the goal to have an 11pm bedtime each night starting in April… and it was surprisingly easy to accomplish that goal, seeing as I was plain exhausted… and had no idea why. Needless to say, I’m grateful for the extra sleep right now. 😉

It’s still hard to believe we’re already to the third trimester… I probably should share a second trimester update at some point with you all here, but with how many questions & requests we’d received for this story, it felt like a good time to share: of the waiting, the frustration, the hope, the transformation, and the miracle!

If you’ve made it this far in the blog post, then you truly deserve a prize, and I thank you for being invested in our story. Means the world that I have the opportunity to share this miracle with you all.

And wherever you are in your story: not even close but praying for the day you will be, excited for kids one day, in the season of tearful waiting and infertility, or even expecting your own bundle of joy or snuggling your own precious miracle, know that I am grateful you’re here, and praying for each of you. If you’re a hopeful mama, mama-to-be, foster mama, adoptive mama, mama at heart, act like a mama… then you’re worthy & beautiful. Just know that. You’re such a blessing to so many and your story is a valuable one, and He is still writing it every day. I always want to hear from you all, so never hesitate to comment below or reach out to me directly via my contact form or Instagram DMs. All my love to you!

  1. Megan

    September 27th, 2018 at 7:00 am

    Definitely still the best news and joy of 2018! So so excited for you and can’t wait to see you as a Mama. Praise God for this blessing and the blessing that you are to so many of us! Love you!

  2. Lauren Carnes

    September 27th, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    So unbelievably grateful for sure. So thankful to have you on this adventure with me and for your endless support & love, friend!! Can’t wait for him to arrive and meet all his aunties!

  3. Marilena

    September 27th, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Dear Lauren,
    I LOVED reading your story, it brought tears to my eyes! I wish you both lots of happiness in the beautiful life that lies ahead with your precious baby C! You are such a natural story teller, do not ever stop doing what you are doing! I wish I lived closer so I could bring you homemade meals when baby comes!
    xoxo M.

  4. Lauren Carnes

    September 27th, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    You are absolutely the sweetest, Marilena. Thank you so, so much! And gosh that would be DELICIOUS no doubt! 😉 I’ll dream of it!

  5. AnnaKate Auten

    September 27th, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I love this whole story so much. I love that you wanted to use that difficult season in a productive way, and I teared up when you said Chip prayed for you and the babe right after finding out 😭. So happy for you both!

  6. Lauren Carnes

    September 27th, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    It was such a special, special moment we’ll never forget! So grateful. Thank you for your support, friend!

  7. Karly

    September 27th, 2018 at 10:02 am

    My favorite kind of story. So happy for you guys, and have loved getting to share our weekly updates on Wednesdays with you through this journey!

  8. Lauren Carnes

    September 27th, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Thank you so much, friend, and likewise! So much fun!! Thrilled for you!

  9. Kim

    September 28th, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Just got chills and tears reading this. So incredible happy for you and Chip!

  10. Lauren Carnes

    September 28th, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Thank you so much, friend! We are so grateful – can’t wait for him to meet his Fox friends!!

  11. Holly

    September 28th, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    So so so happy for you!!!! It can be so hard waiting but it seems like you did it with grace and ease. 💜

  12. Lauren Carnes

    September 29th, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Thank you so much, Holly! Appreciate you! Hope y’all are doing so well!!

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