Kristi and Carlos met in graduate school and married soon afterward. When they began actively trying to have a family, they had no success. “I had a gut feeling something was wrong,” Kristi remembers.
She went to her Ob/Gyn and shared her concerns. The doctor waved them off. “She didn’t want to be aggressive about it. We were young.” So, Kristi saw another Ob who referred her to a nationally-renowned RE. “She ran millions of tests, which she requires before she’ll do any treatment, and she discovered Carlos had a god-awful sperm count.”
They decided to try a round of Clomid with IUI. Meanwhile, Kristi began researching male factor infertility. “I read all these sobering statistics and thought, ‘It’ll never happen for us.’ I was convinced ‘It only takes one sperm’ was a crock. We wanted 30 million!”
So, anticipating failure and constrained by a very limited budget, they began researching affordable next steps. They found CREA, an infertility clinic in Carlos’ hometown of Valencia, Spain. They talked with CREA’s International Coordinator and discovered IVF there would cost 4,000 Euros, about 20% of the cost in the U.S.
They could combine their trip to the clinic with a visit to Carlos’ family, keeping costs at a minimum. Excited about the possibility, Carlos felt optimistic. But Kristi hit a wall.
“I was so tired of the constant tug-of-war with God. I was thinking about infertility all day long, feeling immense stress because I couldn’t see how this was going to work. That’s when a good friend gave me her copy of Pregnant With Hope, The stories about people letting go and trusting God really hit home for me. Especially the story about Michelle.”
A few days after finishing the book, Kristi went for a drive. “I remember this moment so well. All of a sudden, I realized how incredibly tired I was. I wanted to give up the fight. I said, ‘God, I’m finally giving you all the control. If it’s in your will, I want to be a mom. But I’m not gonna fight you any more. I get it. I’ve been so stubborn. I’m sorry. I’m done.’”
The next day, she and Carlos met with their RE and shared what they’d learned about CREA. To their surprise, the doctor recommended it as one of the few international IVF clinics with state-of-the-art procedures and success rates comparable to her own. Then, she mentioned her plan to travel there for joint research into a new procedure.
“I started feeling better,” Kristi said.
A few days later, as they were heading out to celebrate Carlos’ birthday, Kristi decided to take a pregnancy test. “I almost dropped to the floor. I know what negative looks like, and this was not negative. Carlos kept asking me, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ I kept saying, ‘I know negative. This is not negative. This is not negative!’”
Baby Isabella came home on Christmas Eve — after a nerve-wracking pregnancy, a very eventful delivery (Kristi had a negative reaction to her epidural that caused uncontrollable seizures), and an extended stay at the hospital.
So, what did Kristi learn from this journey — which turned out to be briefer than what she’d braced for? “I realized infertility makes you so grateful — and overprotective!” she said, laughing. “I didn’t want to leave her at the hospital when they sent me home. All I could think was that I needed to be with her. I said, ‘God, I’m more nervous than ever! How will I make it through a lifetime of worrying about her? Please, let me bring her home soon!’”
“Have faith even when the odds are totally against you. And don’t think you can control this. I thought I knew IUI wouldn’t work; I was wrong. I thought we’d have to go CREA for IVF; I was wrong. I was sure I was going to have a boy; I was wrong. I thought I could control how it all unfolded; I was wrong.
“I was wrong about everything. God has the ultimate say on all of it. And part of what He said to me was, ‘This is not about you. You’re not in control. Let go, and let me do it. I’m glad I listened.”