what my grandma’s death taught me about infertility

my grandma dee dee and i were kindred spirits.

she passed away years ago. it was sudden for me. i remember when i found out, i was riding in the back seat of mrs. dub’s car after we had just had a double dinner date at fazoli’s. as a result, i will never eat at fazoli’s ever again.

when my mom told me, i erupted into sobs. mr. r immediately put his arm around me even though he didn’t know what was going on yet. within hours, 2 of my 3 siblings (the ones living in the same state with me) gathered together and cried.

i sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. i sobbed for days. i sobbed through the viewing. the sobbed through the funeral. i sobbed as all the grandkids sang one of the songs she wrote at the funeral.

i missed her.

when dee dee died, the heartache was intense. the crying was intense. but within a couple weeks, the sadness eased as regular life ensued. the loss of my earthly relationship with her wasn’t always on my mind any more. i wasn’t always mourning. as more and more time goes by, i think of her without feeling sadness. however, some days a picture, a memory, a question pops into my mind and i miss her intensely for a few minutes. then, i take a deep breath, call my mom, make a treat, kiss on her great grandchildren that she didn’t get to meet and those pangs go away.

in my religion, we believe that families can be together forever. i knew her death was not the end of spirit. i knew she was still there, somewhere and that i would see her again. having an eternal perspective always helps in deep matters like this, i think.

honestly, this is how i think of infertility (or sterility) too. for the r house, sterility was the death of the dream of being co-creators with God. that is something that, for whatever reason (and i believe i know the why for my individual self) was denied mr. r and i in this life.

at first, the information was horrifying. just like when dee dee died, mr. r comforted me, my family rallied around me, there was lots of sobbing and there was some intense sadness.

those first few days after finding out were rough–i cried at the gym. i cried at school. i cried in the car when i was alone. i cried myself to sleep.

there is, however, a part of me that i found in infertility and found it almost immediately: strength. the strength to overcome.

for about 2 weeks, i was in a slump. but, as the news began to settle, so did the sadness. lots of prayers were said. lots of miracles happened. i have written about those before. the most incredible of which was my change of heart. i went from feeling broken to feeling empowered, feeling special, unique. i think in these situations, God can bless us with that if we let Him.

just a few weeks after the shock of sterility was delivered, we put our adoption papers in. we only put our papers in after we had dealt with the grief for the most part. i wasn’t in mourning any more. i wasn’t a zombie. i was given a new zest.

there are still a few (very few!) medical treatments that are available to us, but they just don’t feel right for r family (i wrote about my recent panic attack about that here). we will always be sterile. and that’s okay. it’s one of the things that makes us special. we had some serious conversations as husband & wife about adoption and life and family and our goals. ultimately, our goal was to be parents. adoption felt like the perfect match for us. it resonated with us. it brought peace.

the idea of being a parent outweighed the desire to create life. adoption was the cure for our empty home and our empty hearts, it was not fix for the dream that died with the news of sterility. i will never feel a baby grow inside of me. i will never knew the sacred emotions of delivery. that is a part of being a woman that i will never know. that is the part of me that can’t participate in conversations with other women. at times, that is the part of me that feels inadequate–but thank heavens i don’t feel like that on a regular basis or i would be a disaster. lol. we are talking a few moments a couple times a year. i have developed thick skin, but sometimes, well, Barbara Eck Menning says it best:

“My infertility resides in my heart as an old friend. I do not hear from it for weeks at a time, and then, a moment, a thought, a baby announcement or some such thing, and I will feel the tug-maybe even be sad or shed a few tears. And I think, “There’s my old friend.” It will always be part of me…”

before children ever even came into our home, infertility was already in the back of my mind–it wasn’t when tyson arrived nor when gavin arrived, it came with a change of heart, understanding and a lot of miracles. it was a miracle that happened over a series of days. it was truly incredible. the Lord needed me to deal with it quickly because tyson was already on his way. i believe Heavenly Father amplified the healing process for me. the stabs and pangs of being denied something that is a basic function of the human experience were not as intense.

i would never know what it was like to use my creative powers in this life, but God did provide a way for me to be a mother through the grace of two brave women that we know and love and call nicole and joniece.

God had whispered to me why it was that He needed me to be different and why i couldn’t be a co-creator with Him in making life. i accepted that and the acceptance brought immediate peace. i believe God still speaks to us. i believe in continuing revelation. i feel lucky that i know the why and think about it often.

that said, there are still sad moments. (like on sunday morning.) i don’t even think they are bad days anymore, just sad moments here and there every few months. it’s very similar to the death of my grandmother. just as every now and again something will remind me of her so intensely that i will miss her to the point of a few tears, something will remind me that the gift of being a co-creator with God is being withheld from me. i will shed a tear or two, whine a little, pout, perhaps do some writing, some emotional baking and then i will hug on my family. just like it is when i miss my grandmother, those pangs are short lived, usually about 10-20 minutes.

here is the cool thing about feeling those sharp pains from infertility–they bring me back to the miracles. they allow me to open up my heart to my Father in Heaven and have him remind me once again of the unique roll i play on this earth, that i am different, that there is a plan for me, that He loves me, that He knows me. peace comes again and life goes on–just like it is with the death of grandma dee dee.

not everyone feels this way. some of you feel the intensity of infertility everyday. some of you feel paralyzed by it–i know because you email me about it and i weep with you. i don’t know exactly what you are going through, i don’t know all your emotions, but i have had a bitter taste and i can empathize. oh how i pray for you to be comforted and find your own miracles of healing in one way or another. some of you have a few bad moments here or there, some of you have bad weeks, months, years. some of you are blessed to not have these feelings. what a gift! either way, the common thread of infertility should unite us; only about 10% of the population knows the heartache we are going through or have gone through.

thanks for letting me lean on you when i was having a sad moment the other day. please know that i am here for you to lean on as well.

and thanks to the Lord for taking something ugly like the sudden loss of my dear grandma dee dee and turning it into something i can learn from. once again my favorite scripture rings in my ears. “The Lord hath anointed me … to give … beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).


  1. Tami says

    Thank you so much for this post. I could relate to so much of it, having had a similar relationship with my grandma. Infertility stinks, but I also have found a strength in my that I never knew existed. But I know its through my Faith in Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father that I am allowed to have peace.
    I just love your blog. :)

  2. Dustin, Darci, Britton, & Benjamin says

    I love it! I totally agree. Sometimes it seems like every time a bunch of women get together they talk about birth and breastfeeding. I'm so thankful to have friends that are blessed by adoption too and understand what it is like to become a mother through adoption. I love reading your blog and seeing that everything we go through is normal and there are people out there that understand. It makes those hard times so much easier.

  3. Dustin, Darci, Britton, & Benjamin says

    I love it! I totally agree. Sometimes it seems like every time a bunch of women get together they talk about birth and breastfeeding. I'm so thankful to have friends that are blessed by adoption too and understand what it is like to become a mother through adoption. I love reading your blog and seeing that everything we go through is normal and there are people out there that understand. It makes those hard times so much easier.

  4. Dustin, Darci, Britton, & Benjamin says

    I love it! I totally agree. Sometimes it seems like every time a bunch of women get together they talk about birth and breastfeeding. I'm so thankful to have friends that are blessed by adoption too and understand what it is like to become a mother through adoption. I love reading your blog and seeing that everything we go through is normal and there are people out there that understand. It makes those hard times so much easier.

  5. Mike and Kira says

    For sure any time you get a few women together, the topic of labor, delivery, pregnancy and breast feeding WILL come up! Haha! Luckily, that doesn't bother me anymore, because I can put in my opinions about motherhood now.
    I love that quote about it being an old friend. Ugh, I never would call infertility a friend, but it makes perfect sense, what a great analogy. I think adoption heals your heart a lot. You are no longer childless, but you are still infertile. I have random days or random times when it will slap me in the face and I don't even know why. But you are right, after time to sit and ponder, I can think of the blessings that have come to my life since struggling with this challenge over the past years.
    I really worry that in a few years when my baby/babies are a bit older, that I will revisit the terrible feelings of dealing with infertility. I am really worried about falling back into that dark place. I don't think I will, but I still worry :-(

  6. Ron and Jessica says

    Much of your post rang true for me too and I'm so glad you posted it! It's hard when infertility rears it's ugly head, but a little easier knowing we're not alone. There are some who understand and there's always One who understands. We all need to lean on Him more.

  7. Becky Rose says

    Wow! I was just crying moments before I read this about my father who I lost 4 years ago. While I'm not infertile, I'm 38 and have no babies. My husband had a vasectomy years ago and he's willing to have it reversed. We hope it works, we hope we can afford it. It's not covered by insurance. But anyway.. Thanks for being you and for the post about your grandma.

  8. ~Shauna~ says

    Thank you for posting this! You always have the perfect way of putting how I feel into words. This is exactly how I feel about our infertility and the choice to adopt. We are expecting our first lil angel, through the miracle of adoption, next month! While there is still lots of testing we can do it just felt right to go this route right now. Thank you for this blog and your amazing spirit!

  9. Carlotta says

    Amazing how much adoption connects people from both sides. Even though I am a birth mom so much of this is familiar to me.
    I am grateful to not be paralyzed by having placed a child, I am grateful that I too can wake up and go through out my day without being floored by placement emotions anymore. It is amazing how an experience so intense of any kind can be turned into a powerful learning experience and if we allow the Atonement to work like it was intended to, our pain can turn into a strength. Even though it is hard at times to feel those emotions that remind us of a painful moment in time; I have the thought that Heavenly Father allows us to be pricked for a minute or two to help remind us of the miracles that have taken place and if we allow it, like you mentioned, to be a moment where we reflect on where we have come from and how much we have grown.

    I will say it over and over again; as much as infertility stinks to me, I am greatful for those in this life who have been given such a trial so that in turn those that experience an unplanned pregnancy would be able to give their children a more effective life with all the fixings so to speak. Adoption is powerful that way, two sides find themselves in a rocky situation and are able to heal and benefit from each others trial.

  10. Jill says

    My mom passed away about 4 years ago of breast cancer. When she left, I was crushed. By the time she left it had been 7 years of infertility. She was my foundation and hope of a baby. When she left I never thought I would ever experience motherhood. It was not only her love from above that met my children but she guided them to find us. Since she passed away we went through at least six adoption before we finally we found by our little Kassie and Hunter. They found us with in 6 months of each other. I only wish my mom could be here to share it with me. My heart aches for her all the time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  11. Sheyann says

    I stand in awe of your ability to put such personal feelings into written word. :) And I love finding writing that speaks directly to my heart, and am able to relate and find words for the feelings I have also! :) Thanks!

  12. Nichole says

    What an absolutely beautiful post.
    I can't tell you how much I respect your positive attitude and your ability to see the beauty in your situation…to see that it makes you special.
    Just lovely.

  13. Rachael Moss says

    i am very curious to know what Heavenly Father told you. if you are able to share that, could you write me? i have come to terms with our infertility, but i feel we will never know in this life, why. and that is fine. but i am SO curious! lol! i understand though it being a private matter.

    loving the quote you had. so true. even though i feel i have accepted not being able to give birth, it creeps in there still. i just won’t allow it to devastate me anymore.

  14. Barbara Keesler says

    Paralyzed. Yes. That’s were I am lately. Your words are giving me the strength to move beyond what I expected my life to be like and to be open to HIS path. I know I need to let go of the grief to make room in my heart for a child. Thank you for writing so honestly and beautifully.