By Deirdre Davis
I’m so excited to announce that this ENTIRE week on the blog is devoted to strengthening marriage while dealing with infertility. This can be one of the hardest struggles a couple has to face together. To help share their own insights, we’ve got guest posters coming at you every day this week to discuss this important topic. Some have adopted, some have done in vitro fertilization (IVF) and some are still awaiting their miracle. All are amazing, inspiring people with amazing, inspiring stories. So, so SO excited to share them all with you!! So keep checking back and please share these posts with any friends you may have who need to hear they are not alone in infertility struggles.
First up is my friend Deirdre. Deirdre used to live in Iowa City and I LOVE her. She’s peppy, up-beat, a great motivational speaker and one tough cookie. I especially admire her unending energy to uplift others (as manifested by her daily encouraging Facebook updates :)). Her story is so inspiring and her family so beautiful! See for yourself. – Celeste
1. Tell us a little about your story of infertility and where your family is now.
We got married and knew we wanted to start a family right away. But after two years into our marriage we became concerned and looked into infertility treatments. We felt alone. Like we were the only ones experiencing this. My identical twin sister conceived her first two right away. My younger sister as well. We had no one to relate with or talk to. It was a quiet struggle! Lots of tears and questions. We got checked and got lots of lab work and tests done. They could not explain our infertility. It was an unknown. We started the process of Chlomid in a variety of dosages and amounts for about a year. Then tried artificial insemination and then moved to In Vitro Fertilization. Seven long, very long years!
We were so thankful to be in the military during this time to help cut down the excessive cost of this entire process. We went in for the long arduous process of IVF. There is so much that people don’t understand that I wish someone would have told me or explained to me. It’s very invasive! The process is uncomfortable and can be humiliating (think of an adult giving another adult a sponge bath). Each time I did the live cycle for IVF when they extracted the eggs from my ovaries I got ovarian hyper stimulation. My ovaries became the size of grape fruits! I was on codeine and heavy pain meds. It took a lot of prayers, faith, priesthood blessings and counseling with those we trust. Lots of shots, medication, monthly, daily tests and doctor visits and exams.
I went in to have my first live cycle done. They were going to extract my eggs from my ovaries to start the process. Lots of decision had to be made. They could not believe they extracted 30 eggs!! Which caused us to wonder why do we have infertility issues? They created our embryos and we prayerfully decided to implant two embryos! We were excited to do our first medical implantation of our miracle embryos.
We decided not to freeze the left over embryos. A mistake! I would recommend everyone freezing their embryos. Why? Because the first live attempt FAILED. Failed after all we went through! We had to go through a complete live cycle again!!
When that first time failed my faith was tested. I struggled. Thankfully I was doing things during those seven years to strengthen my faith for this very moment. I taught early morning seminary daily for four of these years. I was attending church and the temple. I was reading my scriptures. I was serving. Because of these things my lamp was filled with the needed oil to sustain me when at one of the darkest times in my life when I wanted to give up. Being faithful and obedient sustained me. I felt a calm come over me and words came to my mind “if you give up now you won’t be able to enjoy the blessings that are coming.”
A week after the failed attempt my dear friend (a visiting teacher) came over with a CD titled, “From Gods Arms to My Arms to Yours” I listened to it and fell on my knees and wept! My heart and mind opened up to adoption. I started looking into it, got a profile done on LDS social services, started the paperwork and started a family blog.
A few days later we met Jamie. By word of mouth Jamie’s parents, who were in our ward (congregation), heard of our desire and called us to come meet their daughter who was flying into town to have her baby! She wanted to place her baby for adoption. We went over and met her and talked for almost four hours! She saw our blog. We went home and the next day we got a call. She wanted to meet us!
She came to our house and in tears told us how for the first time in four long months after meeting with us she received the spiritual confirmation she needed to place her baby with us! She knew her son was to come to our home!!! She asked us to be his parents. To be his mom and dad! This 19 year old girl gave us a gift equal to the Atonement. A gift we could not give ourselves. Five months later our son Ashton was born! I was the first to hold him! He was ours and always ours, and he came a different way than we were anticipating. There are so many ways to build families!
When Ashton turned two, we returned to the military base and did another live cycle of IVF. Another time they extracted 30 eggs! We prayerfully again decided to implant two embryos and this time FROZE the rest! One precious embryo took. Our second oldest, Jaida, was born!
We waited another two years and then used two of our frozen embryos and tried again. This time both of them took and we got our twins Melia and Leilani!!
In October 2013 we knew there was still one more child meant to come into our home. We had eight frozen embryos. So in February of 2014 we decided to implant one. It failed. So we tried again and I forgot some important meds, so we had to cancel and then tried again in June 2014. We then tried again and prayerfully implanted two frozen embryos in July and one of them worked! We are having our 5th baby in March!!
If all goes well with this pregnancy and delivery we are going to adopt the remaining four frozen embryos so some other family can have a chance at having a child.
We feel so blessed to have five children with all we have gone through to get them here.
2. What is something your spouse did during this time that was especially strengthening to you?
We stayed completely faithful and committed to the Lord. This was such a strength. My sweet husband administered countless priesthood blessings. We listened to and talked through our pain. Drew made it a priority to be at almost every appointment. If he could not make it we made sure to communicate all that was happening. When IVF did not work he said, “please take yourself shopping. Get whatever you want. Make yourself feel pretty!” I will never forget that sweet gesture and it was just what I needed! We cried together and allowed each other to feel angry, confused and upset with no judgement!
3. What’s the best advice you have for couples going through infertility struggles?
Turn to God! Be believing and trust in him! Proverbs 3: 5-6. He knows us. He knows our families and our children. He knows what tests and trials we need and we need to trust in Him. Whatever His plan is, it is the best even though it may not make sense to you. Rely on the strength of the Atonement to carry you, uplift you and to edify you.
Rely on your spouse. Rely on each other. Don’t blame each other. Love unconditionally and remember both are experiencing pain and heart ache. Cleave to each other and none else. Explain in detail to your spouse what you have to go through. The women go through so much and it’s hard for the guys to comprehend. Don’t share personal things without the consent of the spouse. Even with close family members. A lot of the treatments and tests are very difficult, take a lot of humility and are private. Allow each other to talk through the uncomfortableness of these things and show compassion, empathy and love for each other!
There is so much emotion, pain, struggle, loss, emptiness and loneliness that comes with both adoption AND infertility. These paths are not easy and require a lot of support from each other and from God. It is not as simple as “JUST ADOPT” or “JUST DO IVF.” And just “doing something” is not adequate for all that is required to go through these steps; one needs to strengthen their faith and turn to God to know what to do.