Disclaimer: This is my personal story about my fight with infertility, and the eventual miracle the Lord blessed me with. Everyone has their own story and their own views. I am not trying to preach in this post, but I do want to give a home to those who are hurting and let them know that they aren’t alone.
I am the oldest of six kids. The first four of us were each what they call “Irish twins,” each being about 18 months apart. My poor mother went crazy with all of us and our antics. We were like a pack of wild animals! But my angel mother wasn’t deterred. Then, when she was done having babies, she fostered two more. I was so surrounded by kids that the idea of not being able to have any of my own never even registered on my radar.
Fast forward many years and I was married and wanted to start a family of my own. The first year we were married I was convinced I was going to be like my mother, so I was very careful with the birth control. After we had been married a year, we decided it was time — and I got pregnant right away. In my mind, this child was already starting high school, when 10 weeks into my pregnancy the OB couldn’t find a heartbeat. I was devastated.
Now, something I didn’t realize when I got married was that men and women deal with pregnancy differently. To a woman, the positive pregnancy test is a breath away from holding that baby… And a few weeks of puking will dedicate you to that child in a way that makes it very real.
For men, pregnancy is simply a “save the date” invitation. He is waiting and doesn’t get fully invested in the baby till he holds him or her (or them!) for the first time. Until that time, he is supportive of the pregnancy because he is dedicated to you — so I didn’t understand why my husband wasn’t as visibly devastated as I was. He was hurting in his own way, but it would have been fairer to him if I hadn’t expected him to act like a woman.
About the time I was recovering emotionally from this experience, my husband graduated from college and we headed off on a great adventure. We moved 2,000 miles to start his first job in Philadelphia PA. What an amazing town! It is both the heart of the American Revolution and some of the leading medical care in the world. So, when I lost two more pregnancies, I went to an amazing doctor for help.
She was supportive, experienced, and smart — and she found the problem. Now, if you have never been blessed to have diagnostic tests for infertility, you are very lucky. I can’t imagine anything more embarrassing, invasive, and painful — both physically and emotionally. So when a friend tells you she is enduring this gauntlet for the sake of a family, give her a big hug. She needs it!
Every infertility story has a point where the woman in the leading role goes insane. I was no different. Every month is a cycle of hope, holding your breath, potential elation, followed by crashing into a deep depression. You have hope because you have experts helping you overcome your obstacles to motherhood. Then you hold your breath waiting for a positive pregnancy test. You are elated if your cycle is even one day late, and you are deeply depressed if that test is negative.
It’s a loop that can be hard to understand unless you’ve been there or have someone you love who has been there. It’s terrible! You can only take that kind of roller coaster for so long. And my poor, unfortunate husband got to ride it along with me. It tested our marriage to the limit. I couldn’t take it anymore — and to make matters worse, the doctor wanted to start IVF because nothing else was working.
I started looking around. My coworker was in the same boat. She was on round seven of IVF and had mortgaged everything she owned in her efforts to start a family. I read the material about what was involved in the procedure. (Want to be scared out of your wits? Read that pamphlet!) About that time, I found a magazine article about a woman who walked away from all the infertility stuff, and how much peace she found because of it.
I decided I needed a break from this infertility business. We had been at this for five years. My sweet husband was supportive. The cost had been high both emotionally and financially, and I know he needed a break too. But I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and ending it all completely was very hard for me. So we went to our bishop and asked for a priesthood blessing. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a blessing is when a priesthood holder places his hands on your head and waits for the inspiration of the Lord. Through these blessings, the Lord gives you direction, healing, council, and comfort through blessings — and I needed all of the above.
I’ll never forget the feeling of peace and purpose that came over me when our bishop placed his hands on my head. The Lord told us that He needed our service at that time, and that if we would serve Him, in time He would bless us with a baby. I was elated! I would have climbed the highest mountain if I’d been asked to in that moment.
It wasn’t more than two weeks later that the Lord made good on His request. My husband was asked to be a part of the leadership for a newly formed Young Single Adult congregation, the first of it’s kind in that area of Philadelphia. In a congregation like that, there are no services for children, and couples with young children are never considered for leadership in those groups. I saw immediately why the Lord would ask us to serve before having a family, and it brought me peace.
Our service in the Susquehanna Branch became one of the highlights of my life. We were the same age as most of those attending the congregation, so we got to feel more like older siblings than parents to the group. We could relate and meet needs in a unique way. Our group became our second family, and we saw them several times a week. I loved every minute! We got to form lifelong friendships and we made so many memories. I forgot all about infertility. The peace of letting go was amazing!!
A couple years into our adventures, I got a very big surprise. The day I had prayed for had arrived. I was pregnant! I’ll never forget telling my husband about it. I told him as he was about to leave for work in the morning. He seemed like he was super cool, calm, and collected — that is, until he broke the handle off of the storm door as he left. I never fixed it while we lived there because it was such a sweet memory.
I went to my doctor the next day. I was high risk and had to have ultrasounds every week for the first trimester. I’ll never forget how stunned my doctor was. She kept saying over and over “You did this all by yourself. You did this all by yourself!” I gently reminded her that the Lord had done this, not me. I firmly believe that every baby’s birth is the Lord’s will and has His full involvement.
God didn’t stop blessing me with the pregnancy. I couldn’t take some of my medication, got terrible headaches, and generally felt awful during the pregnancy. So I asked for a priesthood blessing. In this blessing, God told me He appreciated my sacrifice. And that He would be my medicine during the pregnancy. Every time I felt sick or off, I prayed. And without fail, I was blessed every time with a feeling of relief. It felt like a warm pitcher of water was poured over my head. The pain melted away, and I felt good again. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a blood disorder that was magnified by the hormones of pregnancy. I should have had a stroke or some major blood clot, and I know that those prayers to the Lord saved me major complications.
After a long and difficult pregnancy, my beautiful boy was born perfect and whole. He is the light of my life and brings joy to my heart every day. Since his birth, I’ve learned more of what a miracle he is. Turns out, I had more medical conditions I wasn’t aware of — the kind that should have killed me during pregnancy and almost killed me afterward. But the Lord was true to His word. He gave me the gift of motherhood and blessed me to live to get to enjoy it.
Every time I get to tell my story, it’s another chance to share my witness of God’s goodness and grace — and every time I see my little boy smile, I remember all those nights I begged the Lord to let me be a mother. I am so grateful for this journey even though I hated the struggle and frustration of infertility. It wasn’t easy, but it has made me more grateful for my blessings. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have valued motherhood as much as I do now. Before this, I just assumed I would be like my mother, overwhelmed with children. But now I value every day with my boy.
A few years after my son was born, I had to have a hysterectomy. It was the sweet release from my long road with infertility. And when the pathology report came in, I was stunned. Not only did I have a blood disorder that should have killed me during fertility treatments, (which I found out about after a pulmonary embolism), but I had five more separate conditions, each of which should have eliminated me from having a baby. I used to wish the Lord had given me more than one child, but now that I see the whole picture, I know what a miracle He handed me. He had to pull some big heavenly strings! I will forever be in His debt for this enormous gift.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.