"God had planned something better for us…"
Hebrews 11:40
 
Our story begins on March 23, 2002.  This day goes down in history as the greatest day of my life.  This is the day I was married to Michaela.  We had a "perfect" wedding.  Everyone we ever knew was there.  The church was teeming with people.  I, of course, cried like a little girl.  Michaela laughed.  It was great.  We were great.  Perfect wedding, perfect honeymoon - perfect marriage.  Yeah, right.
 
A few years into this perfect marriage, we decide its time to start making the perfect family.  So we tried.  Then we tried again.  And again.  And again…  Fast forward about 9 months (all of which were months we were guess what?  yep - trying.)  No dice.  Not even a false positive.  So we go to the doctor.  She says “Oh, no worries.  Take this and try some more.”  The "this" was a drug called Clomid.  (Side note:  Any of you ladies who are the least bit familiar with this drug know that one of the side effects closely mirrors Mad Cow Disease.  Only slightly inconvenient at this point…)  So we keep trying, only this time we’re just absolutely certain Michaela won’t be intentionally peeing on a stick for no reason.  We’re certain because we have…
 
(Drum roll…angelic choir singing “Hallelujah”…BIG BOOMING JAMES EARL JONES VOICE…):
 
CLOMID!!!!
 
It’s like Superman’s cape! 
It’s like Indiana Jones’ hat! 
It’s like Popeye’s spinach!
It’s like…
 
…a total let down.
 
Nothing.  Nadda.  Zip.  But Michaela was a little crazy for a few months.  Woo hoo! 
 
OK, so it’s been nearly two years and no baby.  That’s OK I say.  We’re going to a different doctor this time.  So we go see him.  He says, “Oh, well – you never should’ve been on Clomid.  What we need to do is start all over and work on the TIMING.”  Of course!  The timing!  That makes sense.  Because I hadn’t already read everything printed in the English language about ovulation and the best TIME to be doing all this.  No – I knew nothing about the follicular phase versus the luteal phase.  I knew nothing about basal body temperatures or follicle stimulating hormones or luteinizing hormones.  No – we’ve just been guessing until now.
 
Fair enough though.  He did stay in school a little longer than I did, so we give him the benefit of the doubt.  Well, we try to anyway.  Everything was rolling along OK with this guy until we go in for some blood work and one of his nurses almost sends Michaela into cardiac arrest.  Granted, she does have a slight fear of needles (OK, maybe more like a ridiculously radical, world-is-coming-to-an-end-right-this-very-second type fear) but still – the woman must’ve poked her 18 times before she finally gave in.  Meanwhile, my wife has passed out and is drooling on herself …and me…
 
Needless to say, Doctor # 2 didn’t work out.
 
After much discussion, research and a whole lot of prayer, we’re on to Doctor # 3.  Now, we feel good about Doctor # 3 because, not only is he a FERTILITY SPECIALIST, he is also an active member of our church.  Our first meeting is actually at his home.  We already feel so much better.  We think, “…why didn’t we go to him to begin with?”  Interesting how the irony of that question will ring even more true in the years to come – but I digress.
 
So we have our first appointment in his office.  He and his partner (also an extremely gifted man) are both very thorough, and neither of our previous doctors gave him much to start with, so we end up “starting over” with Doctor # 3 too.  Yes, we’re growing weary, but that’s OK I tell Michaela.  This time we’re in the right place and this is going to WORK!
 
We spend the first few months fact finding.  We’re charting, we’re doing blood work (Michaela’s getting better and better at this), we’re checking out my equipment, and of course all the while we’re still trying.  Of course, we have just gone through another procedure where Doctor # 3 (actually, Doctor # 3’s partner – but now is not the time to get technical) injects some dye into Michaela’s fallopian tubes to make sure there are no “obstructions.”  I’m sorry, this seems awfully similar to calling the Roto-Router.  What is it BESIDES EGGS that can actually plug up a fallopian tube?  Is this really a problem?  Evidently it is, because they have developed this whole procedure to check it out.  (This is also pretty funny.  They gave Michaela some Valium to “calm her nerves” before the procedure; don’t think I didn’t take advantage of that 15 minutes in the waiting room.  Everyone in the room was laughing.  Michaela too.  Only she didn’t know we were all laughing at her.  But now I really digress…)
 
Doctor # 3 feels he now has a good grasp of Michaela’s cycle and some baseline info, so he starts digging deeper.  He says we should skip the drugs and go straight to IUI.  Quick lesson in fertility: “IUI” stands for “Intrauterine Insemination” – basically giving the, uh “tadpoles” a one-way ticket on the Midnight Train to um "Utera."
  
So, we do the IUI thing 3 times.  (Side note:  Leave it to me to find the humor yet again...  During this process, Michaeala has to lay on the exam table with her feet above her head for 10 minutes - and they actually made the mistake of letting me stay in there with her.  Yeah, I found the button that makes the table go up and down.  Hee hee…)  Where was I?  Oh yes – no luck with the IUI’s.  During this period of about 6 months, Doctor # 3 decides he is relatively certain Michaela has Endometriosis.  So certain, in fact, that he says he needs to complete a minor surgery to rid her of it (temporarily of course; one can never be completely rid of this condition - so I learned).  He says this will clear things up and we should have smooth sailing.  This is music to my logical, problem-solving ears.  Michaela seems to think it makes sense too. 

So, Michaela undergoes surgery to eradicate the Endo, as they call it.  And he did it.  I know.  I saw the before and after pics.  Pretty weird.  Anyway, now we’re all hyped up.  The doctor got her all cleaned up inside, and now all I have to do is WINK at her and she’ll get pregnant!
 
Ha.  Wrong again.  We have two more IUI’s and guess what?  Eeny, meeny, miny, NO.
 
Now we’re faced with a decision.  Option 1: Throw in the towel.  Option 2: Sign up for the Big League.  The NFL, the PGA of fertility…
 
…IVF.
 
We’ve heard about In-Vitro Fertilization and all the controversy that surrounds it.  We go in for a consult with Doctor # 3 and he lays it all out for us.  There is of course, a schedule; there are regular appointments; there is blood work.  Worst of all: THERE ARE SHOTS.  Lots of them.  At one point in the process they are given DAILY.  Michaela almost faints just from talking about it.
 
We talk to our parents.  We talk to God.  We talk to each other.  We decide to do it.
 
The process begins with completely shutting down Michaela’s natural reproductive system.  Doctor # 3 takes complete control of this.  That’s why we have the shots.  Each shot is typically some form of one of the various hormones required for successful pregnancy.  Some in the hip, more in the tummy.  And never mind the blood work.  Michaela’s arms could be stunt doubles for a hard-core heroine addict’s.  By the end of this thing, I could be an RN.  I just hope no one we know ever saw us in some of the parking lots where we had to perform some of these lovely injections!  (The shots had to be given precisely at whatever time you began the first one – regardless of whatever you may have going on.  That meant I literally had to run out on a break if my band was playing a wedding, poke my wife in her rear end with a needle, and run back in.  Nice.  Yeah - glad no one we knew happened to catch those little rendezvous...)
 
So, this goes on for the better part of a month, then it’s time to harvest some of Michaela’s follicles (a.k.a "eggs”; let's call them "Kayleacles") and stick them in a Petri dish with several million tadpoles (I'm digging those odds).  Now, the idea here is that hopefully at least one out of those several million Toddpoles starts going steady with at least one of the Kayleacles and they end up living happily ever after in Petriland.  Okay, I’m not usually one to play the odds, but like I said, they seem pretty favorable and, this time – I’m actually right.  We end up with not one but THREE potential Todd or Michaela Jr’s.  So now we’re finally seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.  It is finally time for (dum-dum-dum….): THE TRANSFER.  This is the part where, in a completely sterile environment, Doctor # 3 will get Todd or Michaela Jr. to pack a bag and move from their home in Petriland to a more permanent residence in Uteraville. 
 
Now, I have to tell you that this is a pretty flippin' cool thing.  Up until now, the medicine, science and technology has really been dominant.  Even within the transfer itself, this stuff rules.  However, there is one point in the procedure where, for me – God shows up and lets you know He’s there. 
 
If you’ve ever had the chance to see any of the “Matrix” movies (if you haven’t and you like sci-fi, you should), this moment I am about to describe is much the same as a scene from one of those movies.  I believe the term for it is “stop-motion photography”.  It’s where things are either blowing up or racing by (or both) all around, everywhere and suddenly, all motion comes almost to a screeching halt and the subject character is seen moving in slow motion, completing an action that, in real time, would take all of a millisecond to happen; say, for instance, firing one bullet from a gun.  OK, well the transfer of an embryo from the Petri dish to Michaela’s tummy is like that. 
 
We’re both in an operating room, bright lights on, nurses readying the table (and Michaela), me sitting idly at her head with my stylish surgical cap and gown, the cap reminiscent of those hair-net things the large woman behind the cafeteria line in seventh grade was wearing, Doctor # 3 rushing in, uttering something vaguely like English, another orderly coming in bearing surgically sterilized instruments that would only be at home in some b-rate horror movie, another orderly brings some random supplies, everyone talking about what they’re going to have for lunch, or what they had for lunch, or what they should’ve had for lunch, someone cracks a joke, maybe me, more meaningless chatter, chatter, chatter, then, POOF….
 
…it is eerily quiet…
 
…someone has turned all the lights off except the lone surgery lamp that hangs from the ceiling…
 
…a mysterious Doctor # 4 has appeared to my left, almost magically, and he’s standing next to an incubator…
 
…inside the incubator is that Petri dish…
 
…Doctor # 4 inserts his hands into the gloved holes of the incubator and, with amazing grace, draws the contents of the Petri dish into a special syringe…
 
…all the while there is a beautiful light-green glow coming from the area just above the Petri dish; almost like a little halo…
 
…Doctor # 4 slowly and methodically traverses what would normally be about three steps to Doctor # 3’s position, but it seem more like three miles…
 
…Doctor # 3 receives the syringe and with the most patience and ease I’ve ever seen, injects their contents…
 
…a period of 60 seconds must expire while Doctor # 3 is withdrawing the syringe, all the while he must be counteracting the withdrawal by exerting extremely slow positive pressure on the syringe to prevent any of its contents from coming back out…
 
…the 60 seconds is almost up…
 
…3…2…1…
 
And POOF!  Cue lights, cue chatter, cue miscellaneous orderlies, and Doctor # 4 is nowhere to be seen.
  
It was a completely different experience for Michaela, but I was mesmerized.  Even though it didn’t work (and it didn’t work again the following year) – it still gets me, just thinking about it.  And that was just us.  Infertility is a much bigger issue than most realize.  And these guys are so completely committed to what they do.  24/7/365.  There are no breaks.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for them.  Many would argue that they are playing God and what they do goes against the teachings of the Bible.  I disagree.  Michaela’s dad actually said it best:
 
“If God decides to give you a child, He will give that embryo a soul.”
 
That’s it.  Yes, I think God was there in that operating room with us – both times.  And every other second of every other minute of our lives.  I think that just happened to be a time (didn’t hurt that I was praying quite diligently either) that He chose to reveal Himself to me.  Looking back, He also showed me that, just because He was there, that doesn’t mean He answered my prayers the way I was hoping He would.  But He did answer them. 
 
It actually turns out that He had already answered them about three months prior to that last IVF procedure – I just didn’t know it at the time.
 
I had agreed to help chaperon some of our youth on a quick trip to Tyler, Texas.  The “Winter Jam” was being held at the “Oil Palace” with such names as Jeremy Camp, Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, NewSong and Stephen Curtis Chapman.  In fact, Stephen Curtis Chapman is entirely to blame for awakening Michaela and I to the curve ball God planned to throw us.  He was one of the last artists to perform that night in March 2007.  I was tired, not really wanting to be there much longer, and Stephen had just taken a break.
 
Rather than bring up the house lights and let everyone grab a coke or bathroom break, he started talking to us.  He shared a video narrated by his daughter, Shaohannah (“Shaoey”).  The video contained footage that will be forever burned in my brain.  Footage of orphanages with rooms the size of small gymnasiums FULL of babies.  The babies were lying on their backs, most of them with no padding or blankets, in cribs that had no space between them and just enough room for someone to walk in front or behind.  Rooms with quite literally HUNDREDS of orphaned babies and maybe 1 or 2 adults to take care of them.  The worst part?  These rooms were stone-cold quiet.  As Stephen explained it, these babies had cried so long and so hard to no avail.  No one had come to their call.  So they just gave up. 
 
At this point, I was crying for them.  And me.  And my wife.  I had found the answer we had needed for so long.  So many years of unexplained disappointments.  So many times we had cried together from the pain and sadness and anger.  This time I was crying for joy.
 
When Michaela and I found out later that summer that we would not be able to have our own children, we were OK.  We were actually relieved.  Someone had finally given us a straight answer.  No – it wasn’t easy to hear.  But at least now we could move on.  Remember how I mentioned the irony?  Well, maybe it’s not irony.  Maybe it was just God.  Many of us ask the same question throughout our lives: WHY, God?  Why do you let me suffer?  Why do you allow all the pain and heartache in this world if you are a loving God?  Why does this suffering even exist if you are who you say you are?
 
We ask this question because we are human and we want answers.  The real question is whether we choose to let God work in our lives or not.
 
I had asked myself, “…well why didn’t we come to Doctor # 3 right at the start?  Why did I make it so hard?  Why?”
 
The answer is this:
 
God knew all along.  We haven’t even seen Baby Quinn yet.  We doubt she’s even born.  But God knows her.  And He knows me and Michaela.  And, in His perfect timing – which we’ve only just glimpsed every now and then – we will finally meet.  And it WILL in fact, be PERFECT.