Finding Hope in Infertility: A Personal Journey
It has been a year since my last blog post. Like many others, 2021 was a challenging and busy year for my family. But now I am ready to get back into it and share many of the insights I have learned along the way. To start, I want to share something that was one of the biggest struggles of my married life: infertility. It does not get talked about much, and when it does, it is painful to those who open up. It is painful but hopeful to those going through it and sometimes misunderstood by those who did not have that trial in their life. Becoming a mother has always been something I wanted. It never occurred to me that I had a problem conceiving because the women in my family tended to have their babies in their thirties and others into their thirties. For the longest time, I felt that was the normal at least for my family, so I did not think much of it. I gave myself a goal: get pregnant by 29 so I can have my first baby by 30. My 29th birthday came and went. We had been married three years. Nothing. I was frustrated because at that time I wanted things to work out my way. I was so used to planning and having things always go according to plan, which God had been breaking me out of the habit for a few years already. However, I was still hanging on to my will about my goal towards having a family. My husband kept encouraging me that it was okay. So, I let it go and gave myself a new goal: get pregnant when I am 30. The summer after I turned 30 was a busy season because my mom had hip surgery. I was able to fly out to Hawaii to be there for her during her surgery and help her recover. I remember that my comfort during that time was: if I was pregnant or already had a baby, I would not have been able to fly out and help my mom out. At that time, I was humble enough to see God’s big picture. He knew I would be needed to help my family out that year in different ways. Later that same year, I was praying hard in a sacred place hoping for a positive answer (literally). The answer to my prayer was, “yes, I was pregnant.” I was overjoyed! Knowing my history of late periods, I decided to wait until enough time had passed to take a pregnancy test. I purchased my test probably two weeks later, took the test, did not like the answer, and retook the test to make sure because “hey, the answer had been yes.” Negative. I was crushed. I did not understand what was going on. Why was I given an answer that I was pregnant a few weeks ago? Why was it negative that day? I remember it was the same day as our ward’s Christmas party. We were re-enacting the nativity, “A Night in Bethlehem.” I was so bummed that day, that I could not feel happy. I could not enjoy the event. When I saw the couple that were representing Mary and Joseph with their baby on stage, I lost it. I had to leave the room. I found myself crying in an empty room sad because I did not have a baby. I think that was the first time it hit me that something might be wrong with me. After that experience I wrote Accepting God’s Will in the Midst of Doubt. I did not explain what my struggle had been in that blog post. I was having such a hard time processing everything; I just could not openly talk about it. Now you know. The song I picked for that blog post had been such a powerful song for me at the time, and then listening to Hillary Scott talk about how she had followed through with God’s plan and lost the baby gave me comfort that I had tried to do the same. A few years down the road, I finally had peace about that particular experience. I had been pregnant. Had I taken the pregnancy test that same day I got my answer, it probably would have been positive. I had had a miscarriage so early in the pregnancy that I did not know it. The day after I took that pregnancy test, my period came. That was the miscarriage, and I had not been aware of it for the longest time. After that experience, I vowed to never take a pregnancy test again because it was so emotionally shattering to see a negative result. I would just let nature do its thing. Thank goodness I made that decision, because there were many “negatives” over the next three years. I do not want to focus on all the “negatives” and those feelings. I want to share with you what gave me hope. What helped me through it, what changes I made over those years, and how I slowly gave up my will. Covenant keeping women in the Bible struggled with fertility: Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elisabeth to name a few. I studied their stories. Their unwavering faith and hope for the promised blessings to come gave me hope. Way before I knew I would deal with infertility, I wrote Nothing is Impossible: Sarah’s Miracle in admiration of her experience and how God helped her see His plan all along. Another story, Hannah’s, really made an impact in my life when I was struggling again with the same issue. I had felt provoked many times by my “adversary” to the point that I had depression and did not know what was happening to me. The emotional roller coaster was tough especially when those I cared about did not seem to struggle like I did. My heart was grieved many times, like Hannah’s heart. My heart-felt prayers, too many to count, were like Hannah’s—I promised to raise any child I was granted the opportunity to have in the gospel and with a testimony of Jesus Christ. I too felt that I would “lend” my child to the Lord if it was required of me to do so. Hannah passed the test with flying colors and was rewarded with five more children. See 1 Samuel 1:6-8, 10-11, 24-28; 1 Samuel 2:20-21. A childhood friend once posted on Facebook about the struggle Elisabeth had with fertility and had waited well past the twelve-week mark, five months to be exact, to allow others to know she was pregnant (Luke 1:24-25). It reminded me that many women silently mourn due to infertility issues and miscarriages. It is hard for women when they do not or cannot fulfill their destined motherhood roles. Her post reminded me that I do not grieve alone. Elisabeth was destined to bear John at a specific moment in time, despite her longing to be a mother long before she conceived. Putting God’s timeline into perspective helped ease my sadness.
One year, I came across a very powerful song that resonated with me and my desire to have children—“Rachel” by Nashville Tribute Band. Please give it a listen. We know we should not compare ourselves to others, but we do it anyway. My “sister” in my case were all my friends. When you want to get pregnant and have fertility issues, it just seems like everybody else around you is getting pregnant but you. Like in the song, I always thought “why can’t it be me?” Towards the end of the song, the words “God’s time is not mine” kept encouraging me that I had to trust God in this trial and allow His will to be made manifest when it was the right time. The last verse also put things into perspective that the Savior perfectly understood all my feelings throughout this trial.
My husband and I had decided that rather than going through infertility treatments, we would use that money towards adoption. But every time we tried an adoption resource, it did not work out. Over time, I started researching infertility and ways to increase our chances of getting pregnant. Four things that I came across during my research: the “Get Pregnant Naturally” podcast, the “Restoring Fertility: Yoga for Optimal Fertility” DVD by Drs. Brandon Horn and Wendy Yu, there was only one thing off in my bloodwork that was treatable with a B-Complex vitamin, and there were emotional and stress roadblocks that I needed to eliminate for the miracle to happen. The podcast was amazing in that it helped me recognize so many things I needed to work on. I was also amazed at stories of women that could get pregnant in their forties after they made the necessary changes they needed to in their lives. The yoga DVD was very helpful, but it was hard for me to be consistent with it due to my work schedule. It was comforting to know after I finished testing with my OB-GYN, that there was nothing wrong, other than a small hormonal imbalance. But the biggest change that lined up with God’s timeline was doing therapy for my depression and eliminating stresses from my life, the biggest one being where I worked. Over the course of a few years, these made the possibility of getting pregnant a true reality.
A year ago, I finally had the feeling again that I was pregnant. I was shopping for my friend’s baby shower, and decided I wanted to buy a pregnancy test because I was already past the usual number of days that I got my period. But I wanted to wait a few extra days. A few days later, I had a dream that I was pregnant and told my husband during a game of Scrabble. I woke up hopeful. But we did not own Scrabble. So, I bought the game after work totally relying on faith. On the way home, I prayed and asked if it was true that I was pregnant. I also let God know that I did not want to take the pregnancy test unless it was going to say positive this time because I was not sure if I could handle the negative emotions. I got the green light to “go ahead.” The second happiest day of my life was that afternoon, the first being my wedding day. It indeed was true this time, it was positive, and I was out of the window of early miscarriage. We played Scrabble that night, and my husband learned he would be a daddy!
I felt like Elisabeth the next few months. I did not want people to know until I was past the first trimester. Only close family and friends knew. Everyone else found out on our seventh wedding anniversary.
I write this post to the hopeful parents. I write this post to the women who silently mourn. I write this post to those who have had miracle babies, however God decided to grant you your child. I write this post to whoever wants to understand the struggles of infertility. All our stories are different. But we are united in our faith, dreams, answered prayers, and hopeful prayers