This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
By Melissa Norris
Just two. Living in a metropolitan area of the United States, the irony is that the only time I use this phrase to describe the number of our children is at church. We often jokingly explain, “We wanted a big family but our other kids are on backorder.” And though there is always a smile on my face, and often a twinkle in my eye, too often I have felt the pain return uninvited, like a tsunami that cannot be restrained.
We married older than many LDS couples and rejoiced when our first child was born. Several years and many fertility treatments later, the realization of secondary infertility sunk in and we recognized that this daughter had truly come to us through a miracle. With an unplanned (by us) five-year gap in our children, we joke that getting our second child to earth was an expensive prospect and we felt uncontainable joy welcoming this second miracle daughter. Years passed, with more failed fertility attempts and multiple miscarriages, yet more peace. As my potential child-bearing years are at a close, I occasionally have painful experiences (like when I finally gave away baby clothes that I held onto for many years and then sobbed for days).
Through time the Spirit has repeatedly testified of God’s patience, compassion, and perfect love for me. Several personal and profound lessons over this decade and a half of potential childbearing years have strengthened my relationship with God and been a conduit to feeling the enabling, redeeming, and compensatory power of the atonement.
The first lesson is that my responsibility is to have a mother heart to every child that crosses my path in mortality. This is the most profound tutelage that earth life will give me to prepare to become like my Mother in Heaven. The second lesson is that while my current family may be smaller than my heart hopes for, I need to channel all that I am on my current family. This is enough, and will bring me continual joy. Third, the very thing that I feel as my mortal burden is what other faithful women wish for. Several friends have vulnerably and intimately expressed the stress of too easily becoming pregnant, having “surprises”, or their burden of feeling overwhelmed with the number of children they have. My compassion has grown. Fourth, I have repeatedly experienced the sweet impression that the specific number of children I have in mortality (whether two or twenty-two) pales in comparison to the eternal increase that awaits, but how I choose to mother my current two daughters is the sacred, holy duty I will report to my Heavenly Parents about. They will not compare me to others, they are preparing me to become like them. Finally, my desires are known to God. Through our years trying to grow our family all He has asked is that I lay my desires at the altar and do what is in my power. This continued demonstration of my desire is my bold statement of my testimony of eternal families.