Christina’s Story

The Story of Three: Charlotte Emmalin Riley

When you dream of being married and starting a family, infertility is never a thought. That’s how my dreams started in 2008 when my husband and I were married. After years of trying and a chemical pregnancy, we decided to seek help in 2010 and opted to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). They did the battery of testing and found that I had Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This came as no surprise to me because I already suffered from a genetic disease known as Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). PKD was the reason we tried to start having children right away in the first place. My husband had joined the military shortly after we were married and in that lifestyle, people have children young.

We soon learned how nasty PCOS was as I was having super irregular cycles, cystic acne, and hirsutism. After the copious amounts of testing we had done we wanted to proceed with IVF, that is until we discovered just how costly it was. I began fundraising and just when we finished our last round of testing the military moved us across the country in 2011. Our journey was put on hold until we could get the funds and find a new RE to help us become a family of three. I started a GoFundMe and was able to raise about $400 but it stalled out from there.

I felt defeated. My dreams of being a mother were torn to shreds and I had come to the realization that it just wasn’t in the cards for us. So I opted to go to school and start the career path that I never truly wanted, but thought I’d make the best out of this situation. During that time I had a few more chemical/early pregnancies and never understood why they wouldn’t stick. I graduated in 2017 and the military opted to move us yet again across the country. To say I didn’t want to go back was an understatement. I had finally made a somewhat okay life where we were and I was finally trying to be happy.

After our move, I started hunting for new churches and a job. We finally found an amazing church to plug into and I found a decent job to put all those degrees to use. Yet still, something was missing, I longed to be a mother and my husband longed to have a large family. Then towards the end of 2017, we opted to try something different. We started praying and thanking God for the blessing we had yet to receive. We started purchasing items for this child we had yet to conceive after 3 losses. I still don’t quite understand why, but this somehow helped me. I think it was the hope it placed in us.

Then in the fall of 2018 one night at church I heard very clearly that God said by the end of the year you would have a baby. There were just a few more months left in the year and I was certain we would be parents. However, God’s timing isn’t always our own. His plans are so much more immense than we can fathom and sometimes these words are meant for a certain season in time. We ended up conceiving in the fall of 2019 and actually had made it to a few ultrasound appointments. Shortly after Christmas, I went in for yet another checkup only to be told my baby was no more and I had had what was known as a missed miscarriage.

I was so devastated, how could this happen? Why would God make a promise and not keep it? I was angry with God and how he had gotten my hopes up, yet again. Around New Year’s I passed our baby at home, it was excruciating in every sense imaginable. I was physically in pain from having to birth our child that stopped developing and my whole being felt shattered. The months after this was a blur, I put a post on Facebook to notify friends and family that we had another loss. This is where God truly stepped in. When I felt the furthest from him he surrounded us with so much love and support through his people. Our friends and family supported us through this time bringing meals, flowers, prayers, and baked goods. Needless to say, I did not feel up to eating anything and I just wanted to hide away forever.

But God. He showed up and kept showing up! I started grief counseling which allowed me some phenomenal coping mechanisms to help me through my grief. I started to heal and we decided to try yet again for our baby with the same strategies we implemented in 2017. We were praying and thanking God for the blessing yet to come and we were buying in anticipation of His blessing. We opted to see the RE we saw back in 2010 and start testing again because now we knew I could get pregnant and stay pregnant for longer. However, we needed to know the “why” behind why our pregnancies weren’t sticking past the first trimester.

They did a battery of testing and found out I have what’s known as Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS), which is a clotting disorder. It is an autoimmune disorder that is associated with pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, thrombosis, autoimmune thrombocytopenia, fetal growth restriction, and fetal loss. What the RE surmised was that a clot developed either in the umbilical cord or the placenta, which caused us to lose our sweet Waylon in December. They also continued with similar testing to what they did in 2010 and on our last day of testing we were told that I would ovulate soon. We obviously inquired to see if we could try again soon as we had to hold off a whole month to complete the other testing needed. We got the go ahead.

Due to issues with my husband’s back we were only able to try again one time when usually people will try for a few days. Yet somehow 10 days later I just knew. I took a digital test and it read negative, but still, I knew. I was so certain it was shocking because usually those negative tests immediately send you down a spiral of horrid emotions, but not this time. I waited until 14 days later and retested, it was a faint positive. I immediately called the RE’s office to let them know and they called in Lovenox (blood thinner injections), progesterone, and an antibiotic for me as I had an inflammation of my lining and they didn’t want it to cause us to lose the baby. 

Every week we would go into the RE’s office to check on our baby via ultrasound and every week we heard a resounding your baby looks perfect. Yet I was still filled with dread. At 10 weeks they usually “graduate” you from the RE clinic. Since our loss was after 10 weeks I asked if we could stay until 11, they appeased us. Once we graduated that uncertainty and fear was still there but it slowly began to wane. I kept thanking God for this blessing that he gave us and I kept trusting him. When we hit 14 weeks I finally started to believe this would actually happen. We finally had a due date that felt possible, December 8th, 2021.

I was so thankful that during this pregnancy she constantly let me know she was there. I felt her move at 7 weeks, confirmed at our RE’s office on ultrasound. I consistently felt her move throughout this pregnancy even though I had an anterior placenta. A friend let me borrow a doppler so I could check on her heartbeat each night and this was a lifesaver. For when I had a doubt I would pray and listen to that strong heartbeat.

When you think about being married and having a family you never think that it would take 13 years to make it happen. You never think about the pain of so much loss. However, throughout this journey, I’ve been able to share my story to encourage other women to have hope and faith that God will provide. He wants us to procreate, He wants happiness for his children, and He wants us to bring up the next future. Don’t lose hope, keep on praying and thanking Him, and remember your story may not look like others, but it leads you to your testimony.

Photos taken by Madison Morse Photography – Madison Morse and Live.Laugh.Photograph – Robin Taylor.

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