Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Story of Samuel (Part 2)…Behind the Name

How did Samuel come to be Samuel? Why is he not Joshua or Jeremiah or Levi? What makes his name so special to me?

Here is the story of how we named our son.

Every month that I did not conceive, I would pour my frustrations out  to the Lord. I would cry, yell, lay in bed for hours. My heart felt like it was shattered into a million pieces. How it could shatter every month for 22 months is beyond me, but it did. After crying out to the Lord for answers and not receiving them, I would give God the silent treatment. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to Him. I felt betrayed. I would see parents – bad parents, parents who cursed at their children, who neglected them; I would hear stories of women who aborted their babies because it was an inconvenience to them, or parents who would beat their children and I was so angry that God allowed those people to have children, but not Mike and I, not some of my best friends who wanted children just as badly as we did. It all seemed so unfair and I couldn’t bring myself to be honest about my feelings before the Lord. Ignoring Him, while going through all of my churchy duties seemed easier. Then as the months went on, I felt more and more desperate. I felt like I was falling apart. My relationship with Mike suffered. I felt hopeless and helpless and angry all the time. Sometime during the last 6 months or so of infertility treatment, I broke down and was honest with the Lord. Part of me feared punishment for my attitude but I knew the faithfulness and love of my God, so I poured out heart to Him. And of course, He picked me up and comforted me. He led me to the book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. As I read the first chapter, I was amazed that this story that happened thousands of years ago, could have been my story now.

1 Samuel 1:1-20

Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.  And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.  This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.  And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters.  But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.  And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the LORD had closed her womb.  So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.  Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” 

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish.  Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.”

And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.  So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!”  But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.  Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”  And she said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.  So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD.”

Like Elkanah and his family, Mike and I love and serve the Lord. We have walked with Him as faithfully as we could almost all of our lives. Obviously, Mike doesn’t have 2 wives, but just as Peninnah provoked Hannah, the men and women I spoke about earlier played the same part in my life. I can also relate to Elkanah asking Hannah if he was not better to her than ten sons. I am sure Mike felt like that. I remember him asking me if God did not give us a child, if he (Mike) would be enough for me. I also remember not answering his question. I also spent many hours praying to God, telling Him that if He gave us a child that we would dedicate the baby to the Lord. We would do everything we could to raise that child up to follow Christ.

I also find it so interesting that Eli the priest thought Hannah was drunk as she was pouring out her heart to the Lord as she wept in anguish. I always wondered if people knew my bitterness of soul or the way I cried out to the Lord some days that they would think I was a crazy person. I love the way Hannah describes her feelings – She uses phrases like “to make her miserable”, “she wept and did not eat”, “bitterness of soul”, “wept in anguish”, “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit”. Oh, how I know those emotions intimately! I have felt those things so strongly I didn’t think I would make it through the day.

I love how the story says that God remembered Hannah. Elkanah knew his wife and the Lord thought of her at that moment and He opened her womb. I sometimes wonder if it was the same when I conceived. Did God think of me at that moment and open my womb? I am overwhelmed at the thought!

When Mike and I found out that we were having a boy, we knew his name was Samuel. There was no other name that fit him so perfectly, no other name that is more of a testament to our journey or the faithfulness of our God.

My favorite passage of this story is 1 Samuel 1:27 which reads: 


This Scripture is on the wall above Samuel’s crib. I sometimes go into his nursery, sit in our rocking chair and let the tears flow. We are so blessed! I am due in just about 4 and a half week and I can’t wait to meet our miracle baby, this child we prayed to receive for so long. I can also relate to Hannah’s prayer in Chapter 2.

And Hannah prayed and said: 

“My heart rejoices in the LORD; 
My horn is exalted in the LORD. 
I smile at my enemies, 
Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 

“No one is holy like the LORD, 
For there is none besides You, 
Nor is there any rock like our God.

I understand her excitement and awe of God and how He works. If we had not gone through the excruciating journey to have Samuel, we would not be the people or parents we are today. We may not understand why God did things the way He did, but we know that there is no other rock like our God, and as we raise our precious child, we will stand firmly on the ROCK of our salvation.

The Story of Samuel (Part 1)…My Journey through Infertility

It has taken me months and months to be able to write about my son. I am not sure why today I feel ready; maybe because I don’t feel like I’m going to make it all the way to 40 weeks and I feel like the time is ticking away, or maybe it’s because people have been asking me lately to share his story. Either way, today is the day.  Bear with me as I know this post will be quite long.

Mike and I were married on October 7, 2006. We were both 23 years old. We knew we wanted to wait a couple of years before starting a family. In the back of my mind, I always had a nagging fear of a diagnosis I was given at age 16. I was told I had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Then after running a few more test, the doctors told me that because my Testosterone levels were not high, I probably didn’t have it, but either way I wanted to be prepared so I started researching it. PCOS is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look (facial hair, weight gain, acne). If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease

Not only did I have the fear of NOT GETTING pregnant, I had the fear of GETTING pregnant. On top of the PCOS (which I was re-diagnosed with after Mike and I started trying to conceive), I have Degenerative Disc Disease, for which I have had two failed back surgeries, and I also have Fibromyalgia. My desire to be a mom trumped my fears though, I knew without a doubt this is what I wanted and no amount of pain or bed rest would keep me from trying to have a baby.

Mike and I started TTC (trying to conceive) September of 2008. We tried for almost a year with no results so I went a saw a fertility specialist in June of 2009. This is when I was re-diagnosed with PCOS. My periods were very out of whack so it took until January of 2010, with hormone treatment, to get my cycle  regular enough to start infertility treatment.  The time between June and January was extremely frustrating, feeling like we were just wasting precious time. During that time I had a test done called a Hysterosalpingogram or HSG, in which  radiographic contrast (dye) is injected into the uterine cavity through the vagina and cervix.  The uterine cavity fills with dye and if the fallopian tubes are open, dye fills the tubes and spills into the abdominal cavity. This shows whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. You can imagine the pain of this procedure, not to mention the lingering pain afterward. By God’s grace, the test showed my tubes were not blocked! There was a chance I could conceive, I just needed to actually ovulate.

In January of 2010, I started treatment for my infertility. I started taking a medication called Clomid. Below is a chart stating the chances of conceiving with different treatments of  unexplained infertility (which is what I had).

Type of Treatment                        Approximate Chance for Pregnancy Per Month

Try on own – no treatment                                                          1.3-4.1%

Insemination, no ovarian stimulation                                    3.8%

Clomid + intercourse                                                                     5.6%

Clomid + insemination                                                                  8.3%

Injectable meds + intercourse                                                  7.7%

Injectable meds + insemination                                              17.1%

From: Guzick D, et al: Efficacy of treatment for unexplained infertility. Fertility and Sterility 1998;70:207-213.)

So as you can see, for 13 months, Mike and I had a 1.3 -4.1% chance of conceiving. After starting the Clomid,  it was bumped up to 5.6%. Not the most encouraging number, but we were willing to give it a try. Clomid was originally developed for treatment of anovulation. The medication will often induce ovulation in women that do not develop and release an egg (ovulate) on their own, such as in women with polycyctic ovaries. That’s me! Each doctor is different in how the prescribe Clomid and how to take it, but this is what I had to do – On day 3 of my cycle (day 1 being the day my period started) I would take 100 mgs. of Clomid each day through day 7 of my cycle. Clomid has some nasty side effects, such as blurred vision or vision problems (spots or flashes), breast tenderness, dizziness, enlarged breasts, enlargement of the ovaries, flushing, headache, hot flashes, lightheadedness, mood changes, nausea, pelvic pain or bloating, stomach pain, and vomiting. You name it, I had it. I have to say the worst side effects I experienced were the pelvic pain and the mood changes. Sometimes the pain in my ovaries would take my breath away and make me double over. I did not feel like myself. I can’t explain how I felt, I just knew I didn’t feel right.

So after taking the Clomid for 5 days, on day 10 of my cycle, I would have to start testing to see if I was ovulating and Mike and I would have to start timing intercourse , every other day until day 20 of my cycle. At first it was just weird. Those of you who have struggled to conceive and have had to do this, you know what I mean. Whether we were in the “mood” or not, it had to happen. After 7 months of this, it became torture. Not only did we have to deal with the emotions and disappointment of not conceiving every month, but we had to deal with losing the feeling of intimacy with each other. We no longer saw each other as lovers, or being intimate as a special blessed time, but as a chore, an obligation, a forced act in order to make a baby. I went through times of feeling worthless, knowing that Mike wanted to be a dad and I couldn’t give him a child. There were times I wished he had married someone else, so that he would not have had to suffer through this. Mike was always supportive; he let me take the lead. I knew he would continue this treatment for as long as I wanted to, and that made me feel even more guilty. I was putting him through this, all because my body didn’t work right. He would always tell me that it wasn’t my fault, that it was no one’s fault, but that didn’t change the way I felt. I felt I had ruined his life, that his dreams were shattered because of me. My relationship with the Lord also suffered. There were weeks of silence between us; I felt angry and betrayed. There were also times of unexplained feelings of hope and comfort I knew could only have come from the Lord. I am still blown away at the faithfulness of our God when we stray or can’t face Him because our feelings and thoughts.

Because the long-term side effects of using Clomid were not very documented and what I had read really scared me (higher chance of ovarian cancer), I decided that although my doctor would have let me take the Clomid for up to 12 months, we were stopping at 9 months. Baby or no baby, 9 months was it for us. My body, mind, and spirit could not take it any more.

We pretty much gave up hope of having a biological child (since In Vitro Fertilization was not an option for us because the chance of multiples is so much higher and we weren’t sure how my body would be able to carry one baby to term with all of my health problems, and let’s face it, the money). I started researching adoption, domestic and international. We decided we would save up to adopt and that was how God was going to give us a child. For me, my goal was not to be pregnant, my goal was to be a mom. I wanted to carry a child and experience that miracle, but if God chose to give us a child in another way, I was okay with that. Mike was a little more reluctant, but he was willing to be supportive and go along with my plan since my desire was so strong.

I became pregnant with my miracle baby on the 8th month of Clomid. I took a pregnancy test on day 30 of my cycle. I didn’t think there was a chance I was pregnant, but I felt compelled to take the test that morning. Mike was at work and I called him and told him that the test looked positive. It was a little test strip that came with the ovulation test strips I bought. It looked positive, but I wasn’t sure, so I took another test. This time it was on a regular, one line or two line kind of test….I waited 5 minutes and then looked at the test – NOTHING! Not even the control line showed up! By this time I was almost hysterical…Was I pregnant? Was I not? It was like someone was playing a really mean trick on me. I took a 3rd test and it was definitely positive!  I stared at the test for a good 10 minutes, tears running down my face, playing out the rest of my life in my head, feeling like the whole process was worth it, but wondering if I would ever get my relationship back with my husband, worrying I would miscarry this baby I had prayed for everyday for almost 2 years.

So that’s how it happened. That’s the journey we went through to conceive our precious baby boy. This was not easy for me to relive, not easy for me to type out for the world to see, but I hope it brings encouragement to people, men and women who are struggling with the same thing.