I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A MOTHER
By Rachel Wilson
I always knew I wanted to be a mother.
I knew I should go to college and plan on having a career because you never know what might happen but, despite my expectations, I found my husband in college. I was 19 when we started dating and he was my first kiss, first boyfriend, and best friend. I tried to dump him a couple times so I could go out and kiss all the boys, but it never stuck. He was the best. We got married my junior year and I knew I’d finish school before we tried to get pregnant. But I knew once we had kids I wanted to stay home with them and soak up all the baby time I could! So after I graduated in neuroscience (which is exactly as cool as it sounds) I got a boring office job that offered health insurance so I could get pregnant, pay for the kid, and quit!
God had a different timeline for my life.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, starting your period is the rudest, most unpleasant way to be told you’re not getting what you want. During this magical time of my life, I was getting it TWICE a month.The first couple months I thought it was a fluke thing, and then I started getting used to it, and finally after probably a year and a half I realized how long it had been and thought “How am I supposed to get pregnant if I’m never NOT bleeding?” We were constantly on and off birth control trying to figure out what would help it regulate. I went to a general practitioner doctor’s office but left without any answers. My sister was pregnant (as was literally almost every other person I associated with) at the time and she told her doctor about my issues and he said the greatest words I could ever hear: “Send her to me, we’ll get her pregnant.” Hallelujah, I found my hero!
I went to his office a few months later and he did an internal ultrasound, and there in my ovaries were perfect little strings of pearls that meant I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). (I’ve looked at other images of it online, and I have to say mine are still the prettiest cysts I’ve seen…. just sayin’.) But this was NOT good news. It’s one of the leading causes of infertility in women, and means that extra adipose tissue (fat) is screwing up your hormones. It was a double gut punch to my emotions, “you don’t get a baby, AND you’re fat.” I went home in tears. I had been hoping we were just having bad luck, the confirmation that something was actually wrong, while not a surprise, was a hard reality to face. But people with PCOS get pregnant all the time so all hope wasn’t lost yet! The doctor wanted to test my husband’s “stuff” too. So after a semen analysis the doctor brought us into his office and I go the worst news of my life. His “boys” were not swimmers, they barely treaded water.
I was infertile. My husband was sterile. And my arms ached to hold a baby.
I remember going to work the next day to a job I hated, where I’d been almost two years, and thinking “Is this going to be the rest of my life?” I was on the edge of crying all day. I wanted to give up. The doctor had told us that artificial insemination might work, but that we’d probably have to do in vitro fertilization (IVF) which costs over $10,000. My husband was in law school and we were living on student loans. It would be years before we’d even be making enough money to save up! This day was my breaking point after that two year struggle. I felt almost completely out of hope.
Now that we’ve talked about the physical and clinical side of that time of my life, I need to go back and talk more about the emotional and spiritual side. As I mentioned, getting married and being a mom was the only life goal I was sure I wanted. As I also mentioned, during the hardest year of my life when I was trying and waiting and LONGING to get pregnant, pretty much everyone else in my life was getting pregnant. I went to so many baby showers (at least one a month, sometimes 2) I won every game! I was a professional baby showerer. All growing up I was told that being a mother is the greatest thing you can do, and it’s what we’re divinely designed to do! It’s what Heavenly Father wants us to do. So why wasn’t it happening? How was everyone else able to do it so easily, sometimes accidentally! And I couldn’t? I never felt like it was my fault, and I never “blamed God” or felt bad feelings towards Him because of it. But there was a lot of pleading “why?” and “how long?” But I had received answers to prayers saying I would have children and that this was all for my good. So I just kept going.
I doubled down on all my spiritual efforts. Extra scripture reading, extra heartfelt, pleading prayers, extra service, extra participation in church, extra “good attituding” during my trial, and still it seemed to drag on and on. I received counsel to keep a journal and I think it made all the difference. I always took my lunch break in my car and would say a prayer and eat lunch while I read scriptures and then a fun book. I started writing in my journal in that time too. It helped me sort out feelings and come to important realizations.
One day doing this I remembered a quote my sister had taped to the mirror in our bedroom when we were teenagers, not word for word, but something along the lines of: If we want to receive the same glory as Abraham, we have to be tried as he was tried. And I remember thinking, well I’m not being tried as Abraham was, but I AM being tried the same way as his wife! I started delving into scriptures about women and realized almost all the great women in the Bible suffered with infertility: Sarah, Rachel (my personal favorite), Rebekah (who only had her twins), Hannah, Elizabeth, and one I especially connected with though we don’t know her name, “the woman with the issue of blood”. After years of being afflicted, and spending all her money on physicians, and being denied temple worship and other privileges because of “uncleanness”, she heard of the Savior coming near and, with faith I can’t hope to match, believed if she could just touch His garment, she would be healed. I prayed to have her faith and to be healed, not by touching his garment, but just by pure faith knowing He could heal me! Having all these scripture heroes to look to, while still feeling afflicted, I also felt like I’d been let into a club of sorts. The club of women who had struggled with infertility, but also with their life’s expectations. A group I think we all fit into at certain times in our lives. That somehow this infertility was God’s way of saying “I think you’re good enough, just like these women, that you need to go through this.” It comforted me knowing I was in good company.
With that knowledge, and remembering the answers to prayers I had received, we kept trying, we kept going, with hope and faith, knowing that it might be years before we had enough money for IVF. The doctor put me on a low dose birth control pill for one month to try to regulate things and a thyroid pill and sent me on my way. That was in October. The next February I got the best news of my life! Without AI, without IVF, despite what the doctor had told us was possible, I was pregnant!
I was blessed with a very comfortable pregnancy, a great birth, and an amazing baby. This taught me that Heavenly Father really is like our earthly parents. He doesn’t like to see us struggle but He knows what we need so we can learn and grow. But when we’re finally through that trial He wants to bless us as much as He can! And when I finally had my baby I couldn’t believe how blessed I had been. I sobbed with joy as I cried, and whispered, “My baby” over and over as I examined her head to toe. I was so full of love and gratitude.
After I had my baby, more and more of my friends ran across trials of infertility, miscarriage, and losing babies. I realized that in a very small way I knew how they felt, I could empathize. Any time a woman is denied that greatest gift of motherhood, it is agonizing. My short term infertility was just the very tip of the iceberg, so many people have gone through so much worse. But I felt like we were almost part of the club, a sisterhood of women who knew what it meant to be denied motherhood (even for just a short time). I ran across the musical The Man of La Mancha that had this song that resonated with me so much. I sent the lyrics to my friends to help express my shared “unbearable sorrow” but knowing that it was a calling given to us from God to strengthen us and make us greater. It doesn’t make it easier, but it helps me be stronger knowing I can do hard things given to me to bear.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march
Into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lay peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe
To reach the unreachable star
(The Man of La Mancha, The Impossible Dream)