Carol Orton (44) grew up on a West Coast dairy farm before studying fine art at Rhodes University and becoming an art teacher. She married Jayson, a heritage consultant, in 2010 and they live in Muizenberg, Cape Town. Here, Carol talks of their long struggle to have a baby…

‘We feel so blessed by this sweet little girl,’ says Carol.  |  PHOTO: Tonya Hester

’I met Jayson at a birthday party through a mutual friend. We chatted about design and heritage issues and his intellect (and striking good looks!) attracted me. After a short relationship that involved a lot of emailing (he was away studying at Oxford University), he proposed to me at the waterfall in Skeleton Gorge. I was 38 when we got married, and since we knew we wanted a child, we started trying immediately. It wasn’t difficult for me to conceive, but over the next four years, I lost eight pregnancies. The experience was too unpleasant to describe. I think Jayson’s way of coping was to focus on his work, while I withdrew. It became difficult for me to share in the joy of friends’ pregnancies and babies as my number of miscarriages increased.

Through all this, we kept hoping everything would work out despite the repeated losses. Our specialist blamed the miscarriages on my age and suggested egg donation, but I wanted to rely on God. I’d turned to Him in my early thirties at a very low point in my life, and he transformed my spiral of misery. Difficulties had still come and gone, but I no longer felt alone with them.

In June 2014, Jayson and I joined a home group through our church, Muizenberg Connect, and received incredibly powerful prayer from the men and women there. I remember vividly how one lady prayed that I’d be a mother holding my baby in my arms. It was the first time we’d met these wonderful people, and we left inspired by their faith. When I tested positive for pregnancy again four weeks later, I had some bleeding and thought to myself, ‘Here we go again…’ My usual doctor was away, so I saw his colleague who prescribed hormonal support plus blood thinners, a treatment that sometimes helps women with recurrent unexplained miscarriages. Thankfully, the bleeding stopped, but I was only four weeks pregnant and didn’t allow myself to feel relief. I waited to see what would happen and my baby stayed with me!

‘I don’t think there are always reasons bad things happen’

I was put on bed rest during the second trimester, supposedly until my due date, for fear of a possible loss. Despite the recommendation for bed rest, I had peace by this stage that everything would be fine. Bed rest was boring! After nearly three months, I decided I’d had enough of lying down and returned to a more active lifestyle (as far as is possible when heavily pregnant!) and carried our baby full term.

I cherish the memory of our little girl’s birth. Despite the high-risk pregnancy, Rachel was absolutely fine, but I became overwhelmed with exhaustion and anxiety within a few weeks. Ironically, after all the years of hoping and trying, it was a shock to be a mother, and I had to take medication to cope with the anxiety. But by the time Rachel was three months old, I was managing well without it. She brings incredible joy to our lives. She smiles happily when she sees us first thing in the morning, loves meeting people and laughs so easily. We feel so blessed by this sweet little girl!

What we endured doesn’t make sense to us. I don’t think there are always reasons bad things happen, but I do trust that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us. I believe that when we trust in God and obey Him, he can unfold His plan for our lives. It’s very hard to do this when we’re focusing too much on our own plans, and when terrible things happen that we struggle to accept. But for us, Rachel is proof that God can turn any situation around.

The reasons for miscarriages and loss are varied as we live in a fallen and broken world. I don’t believe they are what God intends. However, I think His plans can and do prevail when we draw close to Him, they just might not be what we would imagine. Sometimes adoption (which we considered) might be a way of growing a family. You just need to pray and draw close to God to discover the plans He has for you – a very nice surprise could be just around the corner!’

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