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.
I planned on having twelve kids. My patriarchal blessing promised they would “leap from my womb.” Then I married at age 37. We tried everything including IVF. My cycle had always been like clockwork and I ovulated as expected, but the truth was, my reproductive system was on its tail end. The whole process was pretty hopeless, but we were hopeful and we wanted to do all we could. During this time my husband was called as bishop and everyone assured me miracles would follow.
On our second anniversary, pursuing adoption finally felt right and we jumped right in. We recruited friends to help make and distribute flyers and pass along cards. We joined a support group. We participated in adoption walks and took classes to qualify as foster parents. That was all very educational and fulfilling and faith-promoting. I’m extremely grateful for the friendships I made, but more importantly my relationship with Heavenly Father and the insight I received into his plan for me and his love for all his children. Finally, with less than a week’s notice, we adopted a little girl. She was perfect and regularly brings joy to all around her.
My period was due about the same time she was born. I finally decided I better take a pregnancy test. The results were so shocking my husband insisted we take another. It was an easy pregnancy, but I experienced fear and anxiety like I’d never known. We gave birth to a little boy. With a series of complications and a hostile hospital staff, the birth experience did not go as hoped. After 24 hours of labor they told me my uterus was getting tired and I needed a c-section. The next couple of years continued to be a challenge despite the much appreciated support from friends and neighbors. My husband and I had a lot to work through. I think I was suffering a bit from postpartum depression, and PTSD related to my son’s birth. I finally came to understand that the birth was just as traumatic and painful for my husband as it was for me.
After nearly two years of nursing, my period still hadn’t returned. Despite this, we felt the need to discuss contraception. I wasn’t interested in doing anything. I’d spent my whole life hoping for children and I couldn’t bring myself to consciously prevent. I couldn’t wrap my heart around that decision. I knew that God requires us to make decisions and act for ourselves, but so much of my reproductive life had felt out of my control anyway, I just prayed that whatever his will was, I’d be happy with it. Finally, after much prayer and discussion with my husband I accepted that my two children were enough and I could be content. As my friends were giving birth, I realized that I was no longer envious. After another year I went to the doctor and discovered I was going through early menopause. I came home relieved to have an answer. My two babies are total and complete miracles in every sense.
One of the biggest challenges my husband and I faced, all through the process, was trying to be on the same page. Everything from IVF to contraception left me feeling emotional and confused. My husband was very involved in maintaining momentum and executing decisions. I couldn’t have gone through the hoops of adoption without his clearheaded and determined efforts. When I was in labor, he gave me a blessing that brought me peace. I turned to him when the doctors recommended a c-section. While working through the emotional roller coaster that ensued, and trying to decide if contraception was necessary, I found myself wanting to argue “my womb, my choice,” but as a covenant family I realized we had to be unified. He needed to feel safe as much as I did.
My son was born strong and healthy, but he did have an unexplained wound on his head. When I see that scar I am reminded of the very real struggle we all went through to become a family. None of it would have been possible without our testimony and faith in Jesus Christ and God’s plan for us.