Alison invited me to Mormon Momma with the hope that I could bring the perspective of a Latter-day Saint woman who is married, but does not have children. I said yes, because I agree with her that this is voice that is under-represented in the LDS culture. I am just like you, except I don ?t have to bring Cheerios to church. My childless state is not by choice, but it is the part of the vineyard of life I am in. I am infertile and that ?s just fine.
I remember sitting thru many a lesson in Young Women on the joys of motherhood and the celebration of marvelous blessings of this righteous calling. (Although, with me as a teenager, I ?m sure my mother questioned how marvelous ? it really was). I knew that I always wanted to be a mother, no matter how syrupy motherhood was presented or how unrealistic my leaders made it seem. I realized then, as I do now, poopy diapers are not marvelous in any way. But, knew deep down in my heart, that motherhood was the right thing to want from life, and I wanted it for my life. However, I knew that my path to motherhood would be uniquely my own. How unique I did not know.
As I graduated high school and signed up for classes at the local community college, including a few at the Institute, I thought for sure that I would find a nice returned missionary within the school year and that he would be 21 and I would be 19 and we would be married in the Temple and live happily ever after, have a zoo of kids, a mini-van and a dog, the end! I always pushed the voice telling me that life really wasn ?t going to be this easy for me, to be to the back of my head. (I really am like you, I hear voices too!).
Nineteen came and went, as did the returned missionary I ?d managed to snag. Twenty dawned on me, as did 21. I went on a mission, and thought for sure that Heavenly Father would reward me for all those days of getting chased down the street on my mission with a handsome husband and a car full of kids. Nope, didn ?t happen. Off to BYU I went for three years, and still no husband. I graduated, moved, graduated grad school, moved, started my career and still my visions of motherhood were not happening. There were times I was mad at the Lord for not doing things my way! Didn ?t he know my eggs were shriveling up? That my clock was ticking? There were times I felt inadequate and unworthy for the blessings of the Gospel because I was with out a husband and with out children. How could I be a good LDS woman with out these things? How could I possibly contribute to Zion with out a husband at my side and a babe on my hip?
As the experience of singledom passed for me I began to see in small ways the blessings and the wisdom of the Lord for the events and order of my life. I was being prepared by my trials for the blessing of my husband. We came together when the time was right, when we ?d had the necessary trials which made us stronger and when the Lord wanted us to be together. I thought to myself, Lesson learned, wait on the Lord ?s time table, bring on the babies! ? (Well, bring on the babies after I paid off my student loans and worked for a couple of years to reduce our debt.)
After a few years of working, I felt a very strong impression that it was time to quit my job and start working on having children. My husband was very happy about this and fully supported my decision to quit working. I thought that because I ?d had such a strong impression to quit my job, having my children would be easy. Boy was I wrong! We had no problem conceiving, but holding on to a pregnancy and staying pregnant has been our unique trial.
My personal struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss have touched all the areas of my life mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. Being a member of the LDS church thru the trial of infertility has been a learned blessing, and has felt like a curse some of the time. As I came home from the hospital after my first D& C, my arms were empty and my heart ached for the baby I would never hold. We had to untell ? everyone we had told, and had to wonder what the reason for our loss was. As the days and months progressed we found we were expecting again. Every night I pleaded with the Lord to allow this baby to live. It wasn ?t to be, and again, we came home from the hospital with very empty arms and very aching hearts.
Going to church was hard. I went to take the sacrament, it became the highlight of my week and a very necessary reminder of the personal nature of the Atonement in my life. However, after the first hour I wanted to go home, and for over a year and a half I did. Sitting thru Relief Society was painful beyond words. I felt that none of these women could possibly know how I felt. My terminally pregnant friend often made comments to the effect that Latter-day Saints who were not having families with at least six kids were not faithful. Some of the friends I had entrusted with this very personal experience, chose to gossip about me and my struggles. It was not good for my mental state to come home and find an answering machine full of messages from people I knew by name only, which knew about my miscarriages and wanted to know details. I also felt so inadequate and so unworthy to walk into a room full of mothers because I had no children of my own. I often asked myself how could I possibly contribute to the ward, the world, and life. I felt I had nothing in common with anyone in my circle. How my faith was being tried!
But in this trial, I ?ve found some very sweet blessings. My husband, who I had to wait years for, comes from a family with a mother, and many sisters with fertility problems similar to mine. These women have blessed my life in ways I never thought possible. My husband had been able to give me many priesthood blessings, from which we ?ve both benefited. As the months have passed I ?ve also had the time to study the human body and how it works, and how specifically the female body works. I have had the blessing of finding an amazing OBGYN and peri-natoligist (high risk OB) who have both helped put me on the path to better health, and have assured me that they will be with me till the day I deliver, whenever that may be. I ?ve had the chance to realistically examine my life, my faith, my expectations and what I want from my mortality. I ?ve also been able to serve my own family and my ward family in very specific ways. Finally, I ?ve found that more women and LDS couples suffer from some form of infertility at some point than I thought. I know I ?ve been directed to, and have had specific people placed in my path that have helped mourn with me, but also have offered me tremendous hope and comfort for my future. These sisters have wept with me, held my hands, dried my tears and have shared my experiences. I ?ve been blessed to know that my previous trials have prepared me for infertility, even though it ?s taken me time to realize this, and that this trial is preparing me for even bigger blessings.
Infertility has given me the chance to trust the Lord and to learn of him. I don ?t want anyone to feel sorry for me; I ?ve done enough of that on my own. My unique journey to motherhood has given me the chance to examine my life, and to see the blessings in my life. I continue to make my way and to find where I fit in the Church and the LDS culture, however I take comfort in the promises that I will have the blessings I am promised and which I pray for. I have the Cheerios ready for the day when I might need them, but until that day comes I am learning to be thankful and enjoy where I ?m at. I don ?t know what the journey ahead holds for me, but I ?m sure, whatever it is, the Lord will make it uniquely my own.