What I Love About Jill…
Jill & Mark
Durham, North Carolina
Jill is another friend-by-email. A friend endeared to me because she walks a similar path. I “interviewed” her (see below) and learned to love her because she gave me a glimpse of her heart. You will love her too, I am sure!
What I love about Jill…
1. I can relate to almost every response to every question I asked her.
2. She has powerful insights.
3. We have the same favorite scripture.
4. In order to share her feelings about infertility with her family and friends, she made a video on YouTube. I love to see proactive educating going on. Love it. Share it…
My “interview” with Jill…
How long have you been dealing with infertility?
I think every woman trying to get pregnant could easily list the number of cycles or months they have been trying to grow their family, but I’ll round it off to just more than two years…much less time than many couples, but longer than most.
What has been the most hurtful thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
“A&B, C&D, and E&F (siblings) got married after you two. All of them have babies already, so why won’t you two start a family yet?” I have to admit I was pretty shocked. I had thought about that situation as I watched nieces and nephews being born while we just couldn’t seem to connect all the dots, but I probably didn’t respond well when I heard it coming from another person. I think I gave some excuse about getting my husband through graduate school, so we could save some money before having a baby and then quickly changed the subject.
What has been the most valuable thing someone has said or done? How have you responded?
I am an elementary school teacher and the co-chair of a committee that provides breakfast to the staff once a month. Last month I was waiting for everyone to get their 2nd helping of food after the meeting before I could start cleaning everything up. As I sat there waiting Mrs. W. (a TA & Preacher’s wife) came up and said, “Jill, I’ve been watching you. I watch you more than you know, and I know you are struggling. I don’t know it because of talk (gossip), I know it because the Lord has told me. He wants you to know that it is for your benefit. If there aren’t struggles, you won’t grow. It will be okay. Now, I don’t know why you are having a hard time and I don’t want to, but I am 63 years old and I have struggled too. I know it can be for our good. I know the Lord has his purpose and that we can’t know it during the trial. I am praying for you, but we must walk with a song in our heart.”
I work hard to focus on work when I am at school and life when I am at home. I thought I had done a great job not letting infertility affect my attitude around the kids. Somehow she was able to see past the mask and recognize a soul who needed to be reminded of God’s love. I don’t know Mrs. W. very well, but I am glad she was willing come to me and share her promptings. I stood up and gave her a big hug with tears in my eyes and told her, “Thank you. I needed to hear that today.” (She didn’t know my first IUI cycle had failed just the day before.)
Where have you found strength? How do you cope?
At the beginning of the journey, I had to cope by finding something to take up all my energy for a few hours a week. I took 3 months of cake decorating classes because I figured it would be a skill I could use throughout my life. During the class I had to focus only on what I was doing, then when I took the cake to work, I felt proud of myself when the compliments came rolling in. As time has progressed, I have found strength through reading about women in the scriptures who also struggled as I do and by searching for church publications that can provide prospective and comfort. It has also been wonderful to talk with my own mom and dad about gospel principles, personal frustrations, hopes, and goals.
Of course the experience of infertility is filled with troubles, but what has been the most challenging part of your journey?
As a teacher, I am used to my days being planned to the minute. Similarly I have always planned my life in advance. I would finish HS early, go to BYU, get married, teach for one or two years, have a baby, be a stay-at-home mom, volunteer for the PTA, etc. The fact that this experience was not in the plans has completely thrown me off kilter. I am again thrown through a loop when another person’s life follows “my plan” while I still wait for things to be realized. It may seem silly that a simple idea of messed-up plans is most challenging, but I am a logical thinker who has always had control over my path through careful decision making that would lead me to my goal. When things don’t go as planned on this large of a scale, it feels as though I am losing control of my decision making process, and that is a very difficult idea in my world of checklists, plans, and goals.
The teachings of the Gospel are centered on families, how have you made sense of infertility within this framework? How have you found a place of belonging when it is easy to feel isolated and so different?
Even though people normally think of a family as parents with children, a husband and wife can be a family too. It took a while to let this idea take hold, but things have been much better since it has. I have found that it is easier for me to be friends with the ladies who are already done growing their family. Most of my friends are between 10-40 years older than I am. I am constantly learning from these women and they have already experienced situations that make them naturally more sensitive when dealing with others.
What advice would you give to other couples dealing with infertility?
Educate yourself. Be educated about your body, causes of infertility, infertility treatments, and the possible directions your journey can take. That way you can ask the right questions and make the best decisions when you are presented with options.
What is something you have learned that you would have not learned otherwise?
Infertility brings to mind the word “family,” usually with a hint of sorrow mixed up in the thought for those experiencing it, but for me dealing with infertility has lead me to find joy in my husband’s family. I have learned much about and from my in-laws. I have grown to appreciate the sister-in-law who could perfectly empathize with me as I started my journey, the single aunt who is a great example of the phrase “endure to the end,” and my mother-in-law who tries to support me in both word and deed. Even though my own family unit has not grown, my relationships with extended family has been strengthened and expanded beyond my imagination! I am continually grateful and happy to be so close to my husband’s family and truly know them. It is from those ladies that I draw hope for the future, strength for the present, and fond memories of the past.
Is there a scripture or Conference Talk that has been particularly helpful and comforting to you? Which one? Why?
Psalms 40:1-4 “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard me cry. He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God… Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust.”
This scripture helps to remind me that He is hearing my prayers, He is trying to make it easier for me, and He will bless us with a larger family if we can put our trust in Him and try to wait patiently.
Is there a quote that has been inspiring to you?
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out, don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out in the end. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” ~ President Gordon B. Hinkley
How has this adversity changed your marriage? What have you done to strengthen your marriage?
I think anytime you test a relationship and that relationship doesn’t break, it is automatically strengthened. I can’t and won’t judge couples who have had marriages weakened through their experience with infertility, but I am very thankful that our marriage has grown stronger. We both get frustrated at times, but it is during those times that we take an unplanned trip, go on a date, or find something productive to do. Instead of getting frustrated with each other or our situation we try to find joy in each other and fulfillment in our current state as a couple.