Amberly’s Story

My name is Amberly, and my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in July of 2023. We met in my husband (Dale)’s hometown in Wisconsin doing youth ministry together. We were both in college at the time, but dated long distance- I was in school in Chattanooga, TN and Dale was finishing his degree in Chicago. We got married in the summer of 2013, and started our married life in Nashville. Before we got married, we were having the conversation about starting our family. We knew we couldn’t fully control what the Lord had in store, but we also knew that we needed to be good stewards of our time, resources, and relationship. We are both goal-oriented, and we set out with a plan: we would wait to start trying for babies until five years into marriage. 

Fast forward to 2018- we weren’t quite ready to start a family. I was finishing up my Master’s Degree, and we still wanted to travel to Europe. We both had peace about these choices, and life continued on. It was frustrating at times when well-meaning family or friends would inevitably ask the question of “So…when are you going to have kids?!” Those closest to us knew: we wanted to accomplish some things first! We purchased our first home and I completed my graduate degree and graduated in December of 2019. The next thing on our list was Europe. 

Then…2020 happened. Our Europe trip was put on pause as the whole world tried to figure out what was happening. 2021 came around, and we decided to go to Turks and Caicos to kick off our adventure of starting a family. 2021 came and went. 2022 came, and went. Our doctors were stumped- we were the healthiest we had ever been. One year in to our journey of trying to conceive, I talked with my OBGYN. He wanted to do some testing on Dale first, and then do some testing on me. Everything came back as normal and healthy- doctors continued to be stumped, and continued to say “Just keep trying!” We were diagnosed with the annoying label of “Unexplained Infertility.” We carried on, but the weight of this journey was beginning to become very heavy. My mental health got to a scary place. Our relationship was still us, but infertility had sunk its nasty claws in to so many aspects of our lives: finances, friendships, faith, our sex life, our mental health. When I think back to that season, it feels very gray. We were going through the motions of life. Sure, we had shiny and fun moments, but it was HARD. One particular week in October, I had five different friends tell me they were pregnant. In one week. I felt like the butt of a really and truly terrible joke. 

In December of 2022, I took a pregnancy test. It came up positive. We were absolutely thrilled, of course. We told everyone- our church small group, our families, our friends, our co-workers. I went in for my first appointment and the doctors told us that my HCG wasn’t increasing like they wanted, and the pregnancy wasn’t viable. We were devastated, but held on to hope. We went back for tests, and the worst news was confirmed: we were going to miscarry.
Mid-January of 2022 during our first ultrasound appointment, the doctor told us what we never wanted to hear- there was no heartbeat. A few weeks later, we had a D&C. I think back to February Amberly and just cry. I want to give her a hug.

I was confused, angry, sad, jealous, and heartbroken. There were so many questions my husband and I had- from “Why, God?!” to “What happens next?” 

Gosh, I just remember feeling so alone and so forgotten. 

My husband and I deeply love the Lord, and we are active members of our church. We knew all this was in His hands, and we knew there were so many people who loved us that were praying for us. I’ve been a Christ follower since the age of 6- my relationship with the Lord had been tested, but nothing to this magnitude. The heartbreak, feelings of betrayal, and frustration was so palpable in this season. I felt like we had done things the “right” way- accomplished our goals, saved money, served faithfully…and THIS is what we get in return- not only infertility, but now…a miscarriage. We were so, so, so, heartbroken. 

In March of 2023, I decided it was time for a new OBGYN. I set up consultation appointments with a doctor in a new practice. We instantly clicked. A few days later, I was on a spontaneous trip with some girlfriends to Disney World during my Spring Break from teaching. I was feeling slightly annoyed- I had started my period earlier in the week. But, I was feeling hopeful with my new doctor and our new plan- if we weren’t pregnant by May, we were going to try Clomid. 
Early April, I was back at the OBGYN to look at some bloodwork and ultrasounds (my prolactin was oddly elevated, and the ultrasound in January had revealed a cyst they wanted to check out). We were going to get a referral to a specialist to look at my prolactin levels, and the new ultrasound was clear of any cysts- praise the Lord!  In chatting about Clomid, my doctor was telling me about the timelines and upcoming blood draws I would need, starting around day 21-28 of my cycle. “Wait a minute!”  I said as I pulled out my period tracker app. “I think we’re near that now, could we go ahead and do this blood draw?” I opened up my app, and saw that I was supposed to start my period that day. “Well, that’s odd…” I remember saying, “I don’t have any PMS symptoms!” I remember getting teary and looking at my OB. She grinned and said, “Well, we will see you back in a few weeks either way, but I hope we are here next time for great news!” 

That was Easter weekend. The following Monday morning, I took a pregnancy test. Patience has never been my strong suit. 🙂  My test was positive. I remember waking Dale up and saying, “COME LOOK AT THIS PREGNANCY TEST.” Later that night, I took another one. It was instantly positive. We cried and cried and cried. Relief. Joy. Fear. Worry. Shock. 

As of writing this, we are at 27 weeks with a baby boy, and due in mid-December. There are so many emotions swirling around inside our hearts and heads, but the most prevalent is gratitude. There are definitely feelings of nervousness, worry, and fear in this season. My therapist (who is INCREDIBLE) assures me this is all very normal. I still sometimes forget that we’re pregnant. We had our first baby shower yesterday. When I got home, my husband said, “This is for US. This is for OUR baby, not a friend’s baby. OURS.” What a gift, this little life.

I am well aware of the fact that not everyone’s story ends this way. I have to remind myself almost moment by moment that I am pregnant with a healthy and growing baby until I’m told otherwise. I frequently feel the worry monster lurking on the edges of my thoughts, and I have to recognize these feelings and then give them to the Lord.

I don’t know why it took us almost a year and a half to get pregnant, when doctors told us we were healthy. I don’t know why we miscarried our first pregnancy. But I do know that through it all, the Lord was near, even when I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) feel His love and gentleness. What a treasure. 

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

May you know and unmistakably feel the ever-present love of Jesus. He is the King who sits on the throne and loves YOU. 

The Sandbergs
Amberly, Dale, Bandit (our very spoiled Labrador), and Baby S

Amberly wears a black dress and the rainbow skirt.  The skirt flows out behind her.

Amberly wears a black dress and the rainbow skirt.  The skirt flows out around her.

A white onesie lays on top of the rainbow skirt.  It reads "He answered 1 Samuel 1:27".

Amberly wears a black dress.  Her husband stands beside her and they both have a hand on her pregnant belly.

Photos taken by Amanda Mae Steele Photography.

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