On Sunday I realized that this week is Nationality Infertility Week, and I immediately went back to my first-ever blog post about my struggle with fertility. You can read it HERE, and read DJ's take on it HERE. Reading these two posts broke my heart and totally made me cry. It took me back to the place I was in, which was so raw and painful. About 4 months after that initial post (and nearly two years of trying to have a baby), I finally was able to get pregnant with Lexsi. After having her, it took 8 months being off of birth control before I got pregnant with Mia (and no, I wasn't nursing). After Mia I never went on birth control and it took me 13 months to get pregnant with Pyper. I'm just not a very fertile person. I'm used to that, and it's mostly okay. I've been thinking a lot this week about fertility and where I am now in comparison to where I've been.
Something that struck me as I read that first blog post I wrote about my struggle with infertility was that I said that I knew that I'd understand why I've had this trial some day. Since it's been 4 years since I made that statement, I began to wonder if I've really gained any clarity since then, and I feel like I have. I still don't know everything and every reason, I'm certain. But there are definitely some things I've learned along the way:
First, I've learned compassion. I've learned to be really, truly empathetic to those around me who struggle with infertility. I feel like I can be a really great listening ear and really really understand, which is something I've realized that everyone needs. Sometimes our biggest trials can help us connect with and help others in ways we never could have without those trials. I have several people who are very close to me and I love dearly that have and/or are struggling with infertility, and believe it or not, I'm grateful that I've been in there shoes so that I can understand their feelings and do my best to help them through this awful time.
Side note/tangent: I've seen lots of blogs this week on infertility, and many of them say things along the lines of, "You don't know what I'm going through because you've only been trying to get pregnant for 3 months." I have a serious problem with that. Just because someone hasn't been trying to get pregnant as long as you have doesn't mean it's not a real, painful struggle for them. You never know what someone else is going through, so don't say things to demean them. I only had to wait 20 months to get pregnant with Lexsi. Others have to wait 10 years, and maybe still don't get the blessing of having biological children. Does that make my struggle any less significant? Absolutely not. We all need to learn to lift each other up in any time of need rather than act like it's not a big deal because it hasn't been a trial for someone else as it has been for you.
Next, I've learned-- really really come to understand-- that Heavenly Father is in charge. Not me. Not my plans. Not being on birth control or not. He's the boss of my life, and that's the way it should be. I trust Him completely, and that's something I couldn't say when I started this process, at least when it came to when to have a family.
Along those same lines, I've realized that it was a blessing not to be able to have my kids when I first wanted to simply because of my age. NOT because I wouldn't have been a good mom at 22. It has nothing to do with that. But at that time, I obviously had no idea that my babies would need to be born via c-section. I don't have any other option if I want my babies to get here safely. Because of that, I don't get to have the family I've always imagined. From the time I was young, I always said I was going to have 6 kids. The doctor I had with Lexsi told me I could definitely have 3-4 since I had to have c-sections. My doctor with Mia told me he could guarantee me 3. At the time, I was pretty upset about it. 3 was certainly not enough. Then, when I was on the operating table delivering Mia, the doctor remarked how thin my uterus was. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but later I started to understand the implications of that. If I have a thin uterus, it's not likely it will be able to handle housing a lot more kids. It just won't. It's not safe for the baby or me. Because of that, and since I've had a year and a half to process that information, I've kind of come to the conclusion that this is going to be my last baby. I'm not saying that is a definite. I would LOVE to have more! And my dream would to be able to get to 4 and hopefully have a little boy in our house too. BUT-- if the doctor tells me it's unsafe to have any more kids, that's it for me. It's not worth risking my life to try to expand my family. Now, to bring this back to my age-- if I had gotten pregnant immediately and discovered I could only have three kids and be done having them by the time I was 25? That would have been much much harder for me to handle. Instead, I'll be 28 when Pyper is born, and really, my body is feeling it this time around. This pregnancy has already been much harder on me than the others, and I'm not even that old! So the thought that this could be my last is easier to swallow. Again, I still hope that it's not. But if it is, I know Heavenly Father will help me handle it. Will I have hard days when I wonder why the heck my body can't handle having more kids? Uh, yeah. When my sisters and friends get to keep having kids and I don't will it be hard to deal with? I'm sure it will be. But I do absolutely trust that Heavenly Father will do what's best for me and my family. I know that whenever I'm done having kids, it will be a challenge but it'll be okay. I have already thought a lot about fostering other kids as well. There are SO MANY children who need good, supportive homes and if my body isn't equipped to give birth to very many, I can certainly help be a mom to those who need me. Biological children are not the only ones I can love and nurture. Just because my child-bearing days are over does not mean my days of being a mom are! Heck, even if I never fostered another child, I am going to have 3 beautiful, spunky, wild girls of my own to raise! Having three little girls in less than three and half years is enough to keep me busy for many many years to come! So really, I'm grateful for the perspective that dealing with infertility has given me.
So in the end, infertility has blessed my life. Not in ways that I ever expected or really even wanted, but I can see some positive outcomes now. Do I think infertility is awesome? Ummm... no. It's literally the hardest thing I've ever dealt with. It sucks. So bad. But no trial is fun. I truly believe that this trial has made me a better person. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father has helped me find the positive in the negative, to avoid becoming bitter, and has ultimately blessed me with the most incredible family in the world-- even if it's not the family I always imagined. I saw a quote once that is basically my life motto now:
"My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn't go as planned, and that's okay!"
So, if you're dealing with infertility, hang in there. I know how awful it is. I know you might not want to hear it, but Heavenly Father really DOES know what's best and he has something amazing in store for you. No on plans on being infertile. Unfortunately it happens much more frequently than I ever knew. Just hold on. And if you need someone to talk to, pick me! I get it. I'll listen and not judge or give you unsolicited advice. If you DO want some advice, here it is: Read Alma 36:17-21. ESPECIALLY verse 21. You are going through something excruciating. Because of the depth of your sorrow, you are going to be able to have such amazingly great joy! Even if it feels like no one understands you, trust Christ. He does. He's been there, He's experienced your pain. So turn to Him and know that even though it's not okay right now, one day it will be.