|Photo Credit: Tiffany Feger, Fishy Face Photography|
Even as a young child, I had a strong desire to be a nurturer, and that feeling has stayed with me into adulthood. My deepest desire was to get married and have lots of children. Now fast forward almost three decades later. My husband and I have a five year old son, and we have been praying and hoping for more children. After we decided to try for a second child a few years ago, I began to feel impatient as it was taking longer than I had hoped. I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. After the blessing, I felt a sweet reassurance that things would work out, and I felt renewed strength and patience.
We continued on with daily life, and I slowly began to realize that I was amid a trial, one that I’m still not sure when it will end. I relied on my usual tools to get me through the hard times: prayer, scripture study, fasting, reading my patriarchal blessing, attending the temple, and asking for priesthood blessings from time to time. I trusted in God’s timing and figured that it would happen when it was supposed to happen. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions I felt, I would say that I remained steadfast.
Infertility is a very tender and personal subject. It’s often a silent struggle. You want to talk about your feelings, but it can be difficult and awkward to bring up in a conversation. Plus it’s complicated, as each couple has their own variation and story. Often well meaning friends and family members make comments or suggestions that seem hurtful rather than supportive. I also didn't know that you can have fertility problems after having a child, which is referred to as secondary infertility. Infertility is more common than I had previously known, affecting about 15 percent of couples in the United States (American Fertility Association).
Recently we found out that it is unlikely we will ever be able to conceive a child naturally again. This came as a huge shock to me. I knew that we had some minor issues, but I felt confident that we would be able to resolve them soon with the right kinds of medications. Although we have faith that the Lord is able to work through these complications, we are also faced with the real possibility that we might not have more children or that we might have a chance at just one more child with expensive and invasive fertility treatments. I long for the family I thought I would have. I was suddenly thrown onto a new path and I am trying to figure out how to navigate through this new course. I’m trying to understand and follow Heavenly Father’s will for me. I am trying to figure out what lessons I am supposed to be learning from this.
This is where real faith comes in. I thought I had faith and trust in the Lord, but now I am being proven. I am in the refiner’s fire. A real trial of faith that I hope in the end leaves me with deeper faith, love, and understanding of the Atonement.
“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” -Ether 12:6
I am a person who feels things deeply, but without showing it sometimes. I keep my feelings inside and then process them bit by bit. So in my mind I have all these irrational questions like: What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad mother? Do I not have enough faith? Sometimes I pretend that I don’t care anymore because having no feelings is easier than dealing with continual heartache and disappointment. And then I remember Jesus Christ, my Savior, and how He bore all things for me. And I think about Proverbs 3: 5-6.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
I have learned that it’s ok to have all my feelings and to process through them. It doesn't mean that I am not trusting in God or that my faith is diminishing, but I need to turn to the Lord when it’s hard. Through my range of complex and intense feelings, I often see the tender mercies of the Lord.
I feel sad when my son tells me he wants a brother and a sister. Then I laugh when he tells me, “But not the baby kind. I want the kid kind.”
I feel honored when my friends tell me they pray for me and then I feel humbled to have such friends. I feel true happiness when those same friends tell me they are pregnant and then I wonder when it will be my turn.
I feel extremely blessed to have my son and I get mad at myself for complaining that I only have one child when I know that some people go through their whole lives hoping for a child. But then I remember the night he was born and I can’t stop craving that feeling.
So where are we now? We are considering our limited options and how they will impact our family. We have a lot of decisions ahead of us. In the meantime, I try to stay busy with trivial things like painting the bathroom a different color or fun things like traveling the country with my husband and son. I will continue to pin nursery ideas onto my Pinterest board and my husband and I will keep talking about our favorite baby names. I also take time to serve, which is always uplifting. I have had unique kinds of service opportunities that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to fulfill if I had many children.
Above all, I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for our family. I know that miracles happen and I have the faith that if it's the Lord's will, we will be able to have more children. I also have the faith to happily move forward with our family as it is. One day I’ll have a perfect understanding of my whys. But for now, I’ll settle for a “perfect brightness of hope.”
|Photo credit: Shae Smith|
Additional resources for infertility and supporting couples dealing with infertility: