Give Me Children, or Else I Die!

Growing up, the greatest desire of my heart was to be married and have a large family.  My husband and I couldn’t wait to begin our family!  Things didn’t work out like we hoped they would.  We struggled for years with infertility.  After months, then years of disappointment, I could so relate to Rachel in the Old Testament who also struggled for many years with infertility.  As you may recall, Jacob very much wanted to marry Rachel, but her father required him to first wed Rachel’s older sister, Leah, then wait seven years for Rachel.  By the time Jacob married Rachel, he no doubt had a family with Leah.  Rachel had a hard time having children.  Genesis 30:1 explains, “And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and said unto Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die.’” 

Jacob and Rachel at the Well, by Wilhelm Friedrich

It probably sounds dramatic, but I could identify with Rachel’s heartache.  We had been trying for a few years to start our family, and had said many prayers pleading with the Lord to help us with this righteous desire. At the beginning of a new year I said a prayer asking the Lord to help us have a baby by the following Christmas.  Our prayers were answered when our daughter, Bethany, was born on December third.  We were overjoyed!  What a blessing that sweet babe was in our lives!

We were absolutely delighted to discover we were going to have another baby about the time Bethany was to turn two and a half.  Sadly, I miscarried about 14 weeks into the pregnancy.  I guess ‘sadly’ is an understatement.  I was devastated.  Though we continued to try to have children for many years, I never again became pregnant.

It was so hard to understand why our righteous desires would not be granted by the Lord.  Many children are born into homes where they are not wanted, or will be abused or neglected.  We could provide a loving home, and would cherish any children the Lord sent us.  I know life isn’t fair.  I could accept having to wait, or perhaps not be granted our desire to have more children.  I just didn’t understand why children would have to suffer by being placed in a dysfunctional home environment when we could give them a wonderful home.

Over the years, many well-meaning (but tactless) people peppered us with questions about why we didn’t have children, or didn’t have more children.  One woman at church asked me weekly if I was pregnant.  When she got a negative reply week after week, she asked me what was wrong with me.  Our Bishop at church pulled us into his office to suggest sexual positions we might try to aid in conception.  Awkward!  When we moved, our new Bishop’s wife, who was the mother of eight, asked us how many children we had.  When I told her we had one, she said, “How did you escape the curse?”  Some were openly judgmental that we had only one child.  A couple in our new ward asked us if we felt guilty for not doing our part to multiply and replenish the earth.  None of these experiences made it any easier to deal with the challenges we were facing.

We decided to try to adopt a child.  It took about 18 months to fill out all the applications, have a series of interviews, and have background checks done.  Once that was all done, we were supposed to be put on a twelve month waiting list but were told it would be about three years before a baby would likely be placed in our home because there were so many deserving applicants.  Since we thought it was going to be quite a while before we could have a baby placed, we decided to not even tell our families or friends that we were trying to adopt.

By this time, Bethany was nearly five.  We decided preschool would be really good for her.  On the day I took her to her first day of preschool, I had a pretty tough day.  It just didn’t seem right that I should be taking our little girl to school, and go home to an empty house.  I always thought our home would be filled with little ones.  That day, I prayed fervently that by the time Bethany was in Kindergarten the next fall, could we please have another child in our home?

The following Monday evening, we received a call from the adoption agency asking us if we would like to come pick up our newborn son in the morning!  We were ecstatic!  We were shocked, since the call came only one month after we were told we couldn’t have a baby placed probably for years. Our sweet baby Joel was a perfect addition to our family.  We all doted on him, especially his big sister, Bethany.  For weeks, as I would hear his little newborn noises wake me to come take care of his needs, I would get butterflies in my stomach as I realized anew that I had a baby!  Life was good!

Over the years, we went through all kinds of infertility tests and treatments – continuing for several years after Joel’s birth.  Finally, we realized our little family was complete.  I was very grateful for the children I had, and loved being a mother.

Just a couple of months after Joel graduated from high school, his father died unexpectedly.  After some years of grieving, eventually I found a new love.  When I met Don and we quickly became serious, I was delighted that he had five children.  At last I would have the large family I always longed for!  I call my new kids my bonus daughters and son because they really are a BONUS to me!  If you have ever heard me say, “I gave birth once, but I have seven kids”, now you understand what I mean!

In talking about answered prayers, Jeffrey R. Holland once said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”

If you are waiting on answered prayers, hang in there!  The blessings will come!