When we were married, my husband, Bryce, never thought that we would struggle to conceive.
However, month after month, the pregnancy tests were negative. After a while, the emotional and spiritual toll began wearing on me in particular. I became spiritually exhausted from building up my hope every month, only to be let down. We really struggled to understand why the Lord would withhold this blessing—a righteous desire and a commandment! We were blessed in many ways, just not in this one.
We decided to seek medical assistance. The hope we had felt months before returned, and we were certain that we would finally conceive. But after several treatments the results were the same—all negative. Again we felt emotionally and spiritually depleted, and at times we felt like Heavenly Father wasn’t listening to our prayers.
Eventually, several different specialists advised us to try in vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the most advanced treatments available. On one hand, we were relieved to finally have a potentially good treatment option. On the other hand, we were extremely intimidated by the physical, financial, and emotional cost of IVF. After an extensive decision-making process, we proceeded with an IVF cycle.
While we tried to save up the money for the treatment, we also worked hard to replenish ourselves spiritually. While we had always been faithful about prayer, scripture study, and temple and church attendance; we still felt abandoned by the Lord in this trial. As we increased our efforts to be closer to Him, the Lord’s guidance in our lives became more evident.
During our first treatment, Bryce and I both received beautiful priesthood blessings, which offered enormous amounts of comfort and reassurance. The process was extremely difficult, but in the end it worked, and I became pregnant!
Sadly, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. The weeks that followed were filled with overwhelming grief.
Months later, we looked seriously into adoption, but we both felt strongly that it wasn’t right for us at that time. With some encouragement from our doctor, we decided to try one more IVF treatment. More priesthood blessings came with even more beautiful promises—among them the promise that I would bear my own children. Our joy was indescribable. However, just hours later we learned that our second attempt had been unsuccessful. We were completely devastated.
After our second failure we felt more abandoned by God than ever. We felt hurt and angry, and we pulled away from Him. We still went to church, but our prayers were trivial, and we didn’t delve into the scriptures as we had previously. Neither of us had much desire to attend the temple. We knew this was not an appropriate response to our trial, but we didn’t care.
We lived in bitterness for a year before deciding that while infertility was our most heartbreaking and difficult trial yet, pushing God away was certainly not making our infertility, or our lives, any easier. We began to be more diligent about our prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance.
Since our marriage, my husband and I had discussed often what we wanted our lives to be like, including our desire for me to be able to stay home with our children and for him to have a flexible schedule that would allow him time with our family. We kept these things in mind when making financial or career decisions. We worked hard, and while the Lord endorsed the lifestyle we were creating, His purposes were not the same as ours. We thought we were building a lifestyle to allow us to focus on our children, but God was actually creating a way for us to serve Him first.
We felt impressed that we needed to serve in the temple, so we submitted our names and were called as ordinance workers. We hoped our service would satisfy our desire to participate in something with eternal significance, since raising children wasn’t an option at that time. While our work there did not replace our longing for children, it did heal us in other ways and quickly became one of our biggest blessings.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once told of a friend who had been a stake president prior to serving as a temple worker. Elder Bednar’s friend said, “I wish I had been a temple worker before I was a stake president. If I had . . . , I would have been a very different stake president. . . .
“Serving in the temple has expanded my vision.”1
Bryce and I feel the same way. As a result of our service, our appreciation and love for temple work has grown exponentially. We believe we will be different as parents, as people, and in future callings because of the unique opportunity we’ve had to serve as temple workers in our youth.
The impact of this calling was so great that we soon began referring to our infertility as a blessing, because without it we likely would not have been able to serve in the temple until all our children were grown.
Through the years, we revisited our options for having a family many times. Each time, we felt strongly that adoption was not the answer. We visited with our bishop, who had been a source of great counsel and comfort to us over the years. He suggested that we needed to follow the Lord’s will regardless of the outcome.
Eventually, we had another strong urge to do something about our childlessness. It took a lot of time, but finally I accepted the idea of a third IVF treatment. During the process that followed we witnessed many miracles; the Lord’s involvement became plain to us. God connected us with a new doctor, and by the time we left his office both my husband and I clearly knew that the Lord wanted us to try again. We trusted that the Lord was indeed mindful of our situation, that He was guiding our lives, and that we would be blessed for following His plan, even though it was very difficult.
After our third treatment, the Lord blessed us with the righteous desire of our hearts and our son, Cael, was born last summer, just after our sixth wedding anniversary. We know that our battle with infertility will not be over until our family is complete, but we find comfort and strength in knowing through experience that the Lord does keep His promises.
All the things Bryce and I have been promised through priesthood, patriarchal, and temple blessings are being fulfilled. We have received the desire of our heart and I have borne my own child. We have learned many things from this trial that we could not have learned any other way. Heavenly Father does not forget us, and He does know what’s best for us.
Another theme in the priesthood blessings I received over the years was that I could share my story with others and bless their lives through my experience. I know that at times it may seem the Lord’s promises are empty because we cannot envision their fulfillment. Having honestly questioned whether Heavenly Father would ever deliver the blessings He had promised me, I am now certain that that no matter how far off those blessings may seem, He always honors His word. It may not be in our timeframe or in our way, but it will happen. And sometimes, as with my situation, the Lord may temporarily withhold blessings from us so He can give us blessings and experiences that could come no other way.
- David A. Bednar, “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,” Ensign, May 2009, 97.