For you created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14
I was born premature, 4 lbs., 6 oz. The one thing that stood out, other than my weight, was the way my face had developed in the womb. I was born with Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palette. For my specific case, my upper lip was rolled up in a ball to the side, there was no roof in my mouth and the skin that usually separates the two nostrils was missing.
There were many appointments made that included monthly checkups, speech therapy, orthodontic visits, and of course the many surgeries.
The surgeries helped repair the open areas so that I was able to do normal things like eat and drink or to simply just blow my nose. The first surgery was at 3 months and the 11th and last surgery was when I was 18 years old, a senior in high school.
When I was in college, I found out there were more things that didn’t develop when I was in the womb. In my sophomore year, I was having some pain on one side of my stomach and had a few scans done. The pain was taken care of, but I was informed that the scans showed I only had one kidney and one ovary on one side of my body. They never developed in the womb which is common with those born with cleft palette. I was never in any harm due to these organs not developing. It was just another item documented in my overflowing medical folder.
My parents and I began to think about the possibility of other things in my body that didn’t develop that we just didn’t know about yet.
When my husband and I got married he was thirty and ready to start having kids. I was ready, too, at the age of 26. I have always imagined having a big family.
My husband and I talked a lot about our future children and already had their names picked out. We thought getting pregnant would be a simple thing. It wasn't. We did everything.
We bought the ovulation test strips and then the Ava bracelet. I tracked everything each month. Month by month we were getting more frustrated. We assumed that our life would involve a lot of adopted dogs.
I prayed every day. With each month I felt more defeated and didn’t understand why this was happening. I never thought that the words "Fertility Clinic" would ever be suggested to me by my doctor. But we wanted to know why this wasn't happening for us. We wanted answers. And honestly, we thought it would bring us closure. To finally shut that door and move on.
We followed the standard process of getting "checked". We already knew that I only had one ovary. But we would soon find out that again there was more going on in my body that we didn’t know about.
I only had one fallopian tube and a unicorn uterus. Texas Children’s Hospital Organization defines a unicornuate uterus as “a rare genetic condition in which only one half of a girl’s uterus forms."
Our doctor at the Fertility Clinic was very hopeful that a pregnancy would happen for us. We had our doubts. I was praying every day. We tried a variety of treatments. Each month went by with a negative test thrown in the trash. Then we started IUI treatments.
The first one resulted with another negative test. We had a long discussion as to whether a second IUI was going to be scheduled. After all, this is an expensive procedure, especially when insurance does not cover it.
But more than that, the hurt that came from each negative test was creating depression that I didn’t want in my life. I fell to my knees later that evening by myself in the bathroom with tears streaming down my face praying to God the same prayer that every day I was praying. But this time it felt more like I was asking for God to just shut the door and let us move on.
The second IUI was scheduled, and we decided this would be our last one. Two weeks went by after the IUI was performed. We woke up early like we always do. It was December 23rd, 2019.
I took out the test, unwrapped the packaging and made my way to the bathroom. Upon completion I set the test on the counter and left the room.
My husband set a timer for 5 minutes and we just sat on the couch and waited. You cannot help but think negative when all you’ve had is negative results. The timer went off. We both made our way to the bathroom. I had to look twice and maybe three times just to make sure, but the test did indeed read "pregnant". We were shocked to say the very least.
We looked at each other not believing what the test was clearly showing us. I thanked God for this miracle but was already stressing over keeping this child alive for 9 months in the womb. We were told, with the size of my uterus, the baby would be tiny and come early. The weight on my shoulders felt so heavy.
41 weeks went by, and our baby was healthy as could be and camped out in my half size uterus. She was perfectly content curled up in my rib cage. Literally backing herself up every day telling me she was happy where she was.
41 weeks and 1 day pregnant I was told by my doctor that a c-section would be the best choice at this point. The c-section was scheduled when I was 41 weeks and 4 days. God blessed us with an 8 lb., 11.9 oz. healthy baby girl and everything went smoothly with the c-section.
Growing up I was always angry with God. I always questioned why He made me the way He did. I felt like I always had obstacles to overcome. Now looking back, I cannot help but be thankful.
I feel that through the struggles I always grew closer to God. Yes, God knit me in my mother’s womb just like He knit my beautiful daughter in my womb that I prayed many years for.
No, I did not develop how our world views a healthy baby. But God always provided for me and continues to do so. He was always there right by my side through the struggles.
I want to end this with one verse that has guided me my whole life.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I don’t know about you but when I read that verse, I feel protected by God. It may not seem like things are going the way you wished in the moment but to God they are going just as He planned it.
Looking back, I can say now that God’s ways were always better than mine. He provided for me, and He will provide for you. It may just look different then how you pictured it and that’s OKAY. “My ways are not your ways, declares the Lord.”
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Rose Marie Martin
Nov 05, 2021
You’re gorgeous inside and out! Nothing is easy, but God had a plan and that makes you even more thankful for your daughter. Loved reading your testimony!
Nov 04, 2021
Courtney, I remember vividly going to see you when you were born. Our girls were so excited to meet you. Melanie was 7 and we had talked to her about about you having a cleft lip and what that meant. We never thought about saying anything to Samantha who was 3 at the time. When we got to your grandparent’s house Samantha wanted to hold you so bad. I remember her looking at you and then looking at me and saying “mama she is so beautiful” My heart about burst in that moment as I replied yes she is! God had amazing plans for your life and they are still unfolding. Thank you for sharing His faithfulness in your life, it is an inspiration to my own faith walk!🙌🏻❤️
Nov 03, 2021
I remember the first Sunday your mom brought you to church, you were so tiny and beautiful. I too struggled with infertility, God had other plans for us. And Emily was our answered prayer. God always has a plan we just have to be willing to except it. Thank you for sharing your story
Nov 03, 2021
What an inspirational life story! May God continue to bless you, your husband, and your precious daughter!
Nov 03, 2021
Hi Courtney, you have told your story so beautifully. I so remember you as a baby. You were such a content tiny little thing and you love singing country music. I’m so happy you met a wonderful man and have a beautiful baby girl. God bless you for sharing.