I have been married to my wife, Diane, for five years, two months, and four days (happy 5.2.4th anniversary, sweetie!). Diane is such a wonderful wife, and she is my best friend. We serve together, we play together, we watch "Cake Boss" together, and we generally just love being together. Being married to such a good person is a dream come true, and I count Diane as the greatest blessing in my life.
|Diane Dalton: Best. Wife. Ever!|
At that point, Diane and I decided to meet with her OB-GYN to see what the problem might be. Fortunately, the doctor was able to identify some problems (endometriosis and ovarian cysts) that surgery would help to clear up. Diane's surgery was painful, but we remained optimistic and hopeful. After Diane's recovery, we began trying again to get pregnant. Unfortunately, after more months of trying, we still hadn't had any luck. We went back to the doctor who put Diane on some rigorous medication that put her into temporary early menopause, in an effort to kill any lingering endometriosis. Once the medication treatment was completed, we just KNEW that we were on the right track!
However, after another full year of trying to get pregnant on our own, we still had no success. Everywhere we went, it seemed like people were having babies (or eight babies in the case of Octomom). It seemed that all of our friends were pregnant or already had two or three kids of their own. We were always excited when someone we care about got pregnant, but as time continued on, it was hard to not feel some level of heartache or frustration at our own inability to conceive. Perhaps more difficult was the ever-present questions from well-meaning fellow church members: "How long have you guys been married now? Three years?" Then, whether they actually asked the next question or not, we knew they were thinking it: "How come you don't have any kids?" We knew that people didn't mean to be rude, and we always tried to laugh it off, but it wasn't always easy. Somehow, Diane managed to keep a positive attitude and remain optimistic that each month, the next month would be the one! We bought a crib, a changing table, a car seat, and "Diaper Genie" (you have three wishes!). We even logged on to a photo-morphing website called makemebabies.com to see what our future kid would look like:
|Future kid: I like to call him "Gunther".|
We instantly felt at home at the fertility clinic, and we were so grateful to have doctors who dealt specifically with infertility and knew how to help people get pregnant. In the summer of 2011, the clinic hosted a barbecue for all former and current patients (no babies were barbecued at the event) at "This is the Place" State Park in Salt Lake City. It was funny to hear some of the conversations between patients: "You have twins too? Were yours fresh or frozen?" (meaning, "Were your embryos stored in the freezer?"). At the barbecue, there was a drawing in which the grand prize was $5,000 off of one round of in-vitro fertilization, an expensive but frequently successful treatment for many infertile couples (if I remember correctly, second prize was $25 prenatal vitamins. Sweet!). We put our names in the drawing, hoping that out of the 300+ couples there, we might have a shot at the big prize. Well, you can imagine our sheer joy when the doctor pulled out that last slip of paper and said, "The grand prize winner is.....Diane and Steve Dalton!" Diane immediately jumped out of her seat and began screaming/crying. She ran up on stage and gave the doctor a huge hug. To be able to do in-vitro at almost half price was such a blessing! We were so excited and knew that our chance to be parents was finally here.
After meeting with the doctor, we began the in-vitro process a few months later and were ready to retrieve Diane's eggs in early January 2012. The retrieval was a success and the doctor was able to retrieve 12 healthy eggs. Two days later, we learned that nine of the eggs had fertilized! The next day, seven of the embryos were still growing, and everything was looking up.
However, suddenly, Diane began to feel intense pain in her abdomen. She tried to ignore it, but in her own words, "it was like I had giant balloons swelling inside of me". The pain became excruciating and Diane hurried to the fertility doctor. To our dismay, the in-vitro medication had caused Diane's ovaries to "hyperstimulate" and it would simply not be possible or safe for the doctor to implant the embryos at that time. We were crushed. As three more days past, seven more of our embryos died, and we were only able to save two embryos for the freezing process. All hope was not yet lost; we would just need to be patient for a few months until Diane's system returned to normal.
Six months later, in June 2012, we were ready to once again attempt implementation of our two surviving embryos. Since we were still relatively young, we were very confident that at least one of the embryos would turn into a healthy, happy baby. On the morning of the surgery, we were full of excitement. Our miracle was finally going to occur!
But then we received a call from the doctor. In the thawing process, both of the embryos were damaged and appeared to be dying. This couldn't be happening!!! Those embryos were our one chance! We still did not want to give up, and we asked if I could come to the lab and give the embryos a Priesthood blessing. The lab said that no one had ever done that before, but they said that we could certainly give it a try. As I sought the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, I blessed those little embryos to survive if it be God's will. I then asked that Diane and I would have the faith and courage to continue onward if things did not work out. Unfortunately, the embryos did not survive and both died a short time later. Our hearts were broken.
And now, here we are today. Do we know exactly why we have to go through this trial? No. Do we wonder why other people seem to be able to get pregnant just by looking at each other? Yup. Is having children the greatest desire of our hearts? You bet it is. But have we lost our faith? Absolutely not. A couple of years ago, Diane was up at Stake Girl's Camp. While there, she remembers vividly a phone call from her older brother, saying that he and his wonderful wife were pregnant with their second child. Diane was SO happy for them. But at the same time, she felt heartache that she could not get pregnant too. She went off alone and as she looked up at the stars, she wondered in her heart when it would be her turn to be the mom she had prepared her whole life to be. As she pondered and prayed, at that moment she felt an overwhelming feeling of peace that Heavenly Father knew exactly where she was and that He loved her so much. She felt reassurance that someday the righteous desires of her heart would come to pass.
I'm not going to lie--waiting for kids is hard. But, we are so grateful to have each other and to have our faith in the Lord. We recognize that everyone has trials--whether illness, financial pressures, loneliness, or even the death of a loved one. BUT, each of us are also children of a loving Heavenly Father who wants more than anything to give us joy and happiness. As it says in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, "ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny." Our Heavenly Father, and his beloved Son Jesus Christ, love us more than we can imagine. They weep when we weep. They feel pain when we feel pain. But they also cheer when we cheer and feel joy when we feel joy.
Diane and I know that we will be able to have children someday, whether through other fertility treatments, adoption, or even just in the next life. Until that time, we will continue to trust in the Lord, be patient, and grow closer together as a family. After all, nothing matters more than that.
And please link-up your own blog posts about your personal thoughts or testimonies of The Family Proclamation for others to read below: