Cathy Burningham: Giving All To Give Birth
Cathy Burningham and her husband, Kirk, just celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary. Upon getting married, the couple knew they wanted to have children as soon as possible. Now, a decade later, the couple has gone through four rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and four rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF). On this week’s episode, Cathy shares how she and her husband have sought to find joy amid infertility, and why she has come to find that motherhood is not limited to those who have given birth.
Motherhood is so much more broad than just bearing children.
President Henry B. Eyring quote Cathy loves
Helpful infertility links:
CDC link on infertility
2:44- Journey With Infertility
8:43- No More Waiting To Live
13:20- Combatting Feelings of Failure
18:11- Not A Hail Mary
19:42- What Not To Say
27:33- What To Say (And Do)
31:46- Purposefully Strengthening Marriage
36:16- Role of Covenants Through Infertility
38:47- Plans in a Pandemic
44:17- To Those Struggling
46:59- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00
An article in the Mayo Clinic's website says research has shown that women with infertility have the same levels of anxiety and depression as do women with cancer, heart disease and HIV. Many societies do not understand that infertility is a disease so couples get blamed for their condition. But Cathy and Kirk Burningham have come to rely on words President Henry B. Eyring says his mother shared with him: "If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill." While the Burninghams would love nothing more than to welcome children into their home. They know that infertility is no one's fault, but rather an opportunity to trust God more fully. Cathy Burningham grew up in Los Angeles, California. She graduated with a degree in sociology from Brigham Young University-Idaho and currently works in management and accounting for a variety of clients throughout the country. This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question 'What does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?' I am Morgan Pearson. And I am honored to have my friend Cathy Burningham on the line with me today, Cathy, welcome.
Cathy Burningham 1:18
Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.
Morgan Jones Pearson 1:21
Well I could not be more grateful for your willingness to do this. I'll tell listeners upfront. So I met Cathy, when I first went to Brigham Young University, Cathy was in my ward. And I remember just being so impressed by you, Cathy, the person that you are, you have a light about you, and you always have. And then we've just been friends on Facebook for years since then. And I kind of have this like mental list always in my mind of topics that we need to address at some point on this podcast. But I never want to force it. And so infertility has been one that I've been like, at some point, we need to do an episode about this, but I want to do it with the right person at the right time. And just last week, I saw Cathy posted on Facebook about her 10 year wedding anniversary. And I started to think about how over those last 10 years I have noticed here and there just post from from you, Cathy about infertility and about you and your husband, Kirk's journey with that. And all of a sudden, it was like, you need to reach out to her. And so here we are, Cathy is willing to go along with my, my crazy plan. And I'm really, really, really grateful for that. So to start us off, you've shared a statistic with me, which is for women between the ages of 15 and 49, 1 in 5, which is 19% of women, are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, which is a significant number. To start out, could you tell us a little bit about you and your husband and your experience with fertility just to give us a little bit of background?
Cathy Burningham 3:11
Yeah, absolutely. And thanks Morgan again for having me. And you are fantastic. So I'm excited for this. So my husband and I, we've been married for about 10 years now. And during that time, we never waited to try to have kids. So we started off the bat, we were both 27. So we were a little bit older. And we're like, you know what, let's just see what happens. And so just a little background on fertility. So normally doctors want you to try for a year just you and your spouse. And if you can't get pregnant in that year, or in some cases, depending on your age, about six months, then they can start these treatments. So there's different treatments. And I do want to say like this is my fertility journey, right. I don't want to speak for everyone because everybody kind of has their own story. But this is what we've experienced so far. So we started out with Clomid, Clomid is a type of medication. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. It's pretty common. PCOS is what it's termed as. And because of that, my cycle is off. I don't have the regular every 28 days cycle. And so Clomid kind of helps you with the timing. It helps with ovulation, things like that. And that didn't work so well for us clearly, you know. From Clomid, we moved on to intrauterine insemination, also known as IUI. An IUI is where they take the sperm, and they insert it directly into the uterus. So again, everything is timing in that when we had injections, things like that. So they're basically just trying to get that semen sample as close to the eggs as possible to fertilize. And so then from IUI, you go to IVF, and IVF is in vitro fertilization, and I think that's one that most people have heard of is IVF. And what that is, is basically they surgically remove an egg from your ovary. And they take the sperm and they basically fertilize outside of the body. So that's what in vitro fertilization is and then you create embryos. And from that embryo, then they insert it in the uterus at a specific time and like the perfect location, so it kind of gives you the maximum opportunity for that embryo to grow into a baby. So that's kind of the background on that. So those are the things that we've done. We did Clomid, we've done, I believe, four or five rounds of IUI. And we've done four rounds of IVF. So we've done quite a bit of these fertility treatments. But yeah, that's kind of been our experience. And I've had, I want to say five surgeries, and that's not super normal. I've had ectopic pregnancies and other things. So that's part of it. But that'sessentially what our last 10 years have been in a nutshell.
Morgan Jones Pearson 5:49
When you say ectopic pregnancy, what does that mean?
Cathy Burningham 5:52
So ectopic pregnancy, it's where the baby is growing outside of the uterus. In my case, it was growing in the fallopian tubes. And that happened more than once for me, actually. So it is kind of a scary thing. So that's what an ectopic pregnancy is.
Morgan Jones Pearson 6:09
Okay. So, I will admit, Cathy, that prior to you and I speaking, I've known that this is like a heartwrenching process, I understand why that would be. But I don't think I fully realize the extent to which the fertility process can consume someone's life. So tell me a little bit about what it is about this process that just makes it all consuming across the board.
Cathy Burningham 6:39
So I feel like I feel like fertility kind of takes over everything a little bit. Or it can at least, it's really expensive. So it hits your finances, it can really hit your intimacy. That's a big one, right? Your emotions are high. Hormones are kind of all over the place. I feel like when you're going through this treatment, it's already hard. But it's almost like you're at that time of the month x 10 with all the hormones that they're injecting into you. So it is hard, but they give you this calendar, especially for IVF. And they tell you when to start medication, when to stop a medication, when to do your vitamins, when to start an injection, when to stop an injection, when to start another injection. I've had up to three or four injections in one day. And it can affect your health. So like I remember one time, one of the treatments wasn't working, they gave me another medication. I guess I didn't eat enough. I threw up like four times that night. So it can be very, very consuming of your emotions, I think. And it is a roller coaster. I mean, you can feel discouraged, right, you can feel disappointed, depressed, hopeful. So lots of emotions kind of go into play with fertility, so it can really take a toll timewise. You have all of these doctor's appointments, when I was doing IUI due to my polycystic ovarian syndrome, they would have me come in every day or every other day to make sure that I wasn't overstimulating is what it's called. So like they're stimulating the eggs so that you have the best chance to fertilize essentially. And so they want to make sure that it doesn't overstimulate, they don't pop. I've had friends that end up in the emergency room because they overstimulated. So it's just a really, really intense process. And I don't say this to scare people off by any means. But I say this just so that you are aware to anyone that is going through this it does consume a lot of your time and energy.
Morgan Jones Pearson 8:41
Yeah, one it makes complete sense. Why would one thing that I thought was interesting, is you said that you and your husband used to put off making plans? Because it was like, what if you're pregnant? And I totally understand that. But then you had an experience that changed that for you. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Cathy Burningham 9:02
So the first year of our marriage, like I said, we were trying with no fertility treatments. And after the year, I started having some stomach problems. And so we said, 'You know what, let's just hold off on doing treatments until we kind of get this stomach issue resolved.' And so it was Christmas Eve, and I remember this very clearly, because I woke up that morning, my family was all in town visiting. And I told my husband, I'm having some pretty sharp pain and it's not going away. It's getting worse. And so I told him, I said, I think we need to go to the emergency room. And so we went to the ER. And while we were there, the doctor came in and was like 'So you're pregnant?' And I'm like, 'Oh, no, I'm not pregnant. Like we've been trying.' And he's like, 'No, no, like you are pregnant. Your test came back and you are pregnant.' And we were so excited. I mean, we've been trying to get pregnant for a while, right? But then we realize, 'Oh my gosh, we're in Emergency Room, this is the worst place to find out that you're pregnant.' So that was when we found out that I was having an ectopic pregnancy. And I had never even heard of an ectopic pregnancy. So they did ultrasounds, and that's when they found that the baby was growing in the fallopian tube. And so at that point, what they do—there's no way that the baby can survive in the fallopian tube, like there's no way to do that, at least not yet. I don't know if in the future, they might, but it's not like they can take it and put it in the uterus, that would be great if they could have but they can't. And so at that point, women have died from this because it puts your life at risk. And so they gave me a type of medication, it was an injection, it's called methotrexate, I believe it's a type of chemo drug. And that helps to end the pregnancy. And so this was Christmas time. So it was already kind of an emotional time for me. And I remember that week feeling to kind of off and I thought, 'Well, maybe it's because I'm losing the baby, it's probably the medication combination of everything.' And then on New Year's morning, I went to the bathroom. And I think I was gonna take a shower, I don't remember the specifics. But I couldn't see anything, everything went black. And I told my husband that everything was black. And the next thing I knew I was being rushed to the emergency room I had passed out. And so the methotrexate didn't work, the baby was continuing to grow, because what they do to see if it's working essentially is they're called HCG levels. And those are the levels that kind of tell you what stage in pregnancy you are, how things are progressing, things like that. And so they want to get those HCG levels to zero or negative like as quickly as possible. And so I was going in every day to get my blood drawn. And I was at like five, so it was supposedly working. But apparently the baby was growing anyway. And so they had to do an emergency surgery. And after that my husband was like, 'We are no longer putting things off' because what if I died? Right? I could have died. It was pretty a traumatic experience. And so we went from, you know, 'What if I get pregnant?' like not planning things to where 'We can just change things, if I get pregnant, let's live life, let's enjoy each other. We don't have to put off our life, because we're trying to have a baby.' And so it really changed our focus. And it makes things so much better. Because all of a sudden, fertility wasn't kind of running our lives. We were enjoying our lives together, and hopeful for an addition to our family. So that really changed changed our perspective on things.
Morgan Jones Pearson 12:38
Well, I love that because I had a Relief Society lesson years ago where somebody talked about, like how we often wait for something to happen to us. And so her example was, you know, as a single adult, it's like, 'Well, I'm not going to decorate my house for holidays, because I'll do that when I'm married.' And then she was like, you don't have to wait to decorate your house until you're married. And so I think there are so many things where it's like, well, you know, someday I'll do this. And it's like, well, there are things that you can start doing now. And you don't actually have to wait for life to happen to you. But I understand that that's hard when you're trying to time something and all of that. Another thing, Cathy that I've heard multiple people express, women, is that they felt like less of a woman when they were unable to get pregnant or that they felt like they were letting people down. And I think you can feel like you're letting your husband down or you're letting your parents down or you know, whoever, how have you combated those feelings? And how has your husband helped you recognize that you are letting anyone down?
Cathy Burningham 13:53
So I totally felt that way. And I don't think I completely recognize that I was feeling that at times. But when I met my husband, he wanted 10 kids. And I remember his sister was like joking with me. 'Just so you know, Kirk wants 10 Kids' and and I was like, yeah, that's not going to happen, especially if we were 27 right? But I'm like, I'd love to have kids like maybe four, three, whatever, and I used to [think] before we were married and really understood the extent of what we were going to kind of go through. And we even then actually thought about adoption, which is kind of a cool thing. But nonetheless, I remember like he wanted 10 kids. And at one point, I think I was just having a really off day. And I told him like I feel like I'm not fulfilling my purpose as a woman because we grew up in the church. Family is the focus and I think that is absolutely wonderful and that should always be the focus, right? But for women I think we grow up with this divine calling of motherhood and of being a wife and when all of a sudden, you're trying to do your best to fulfill this calling and you feel like you're letting your spouse down, like you're almost letting the Lord down. Or maybe he's not trusting you enough. And so I remember like, like having all these emotions, and my husband, he's just fantastic. And I apologize if we get a little emotional, because this is an emotional topic. But I was feeling all of this, and he sat down with me, and he said, 'You are enough for me.' And this is a man that wanted 10 kids who loves kids. And he said, 'You are enough for me, I love you. And if we don't have children, I will be happy.' And that makes me feel so relieved. But on top of that, he said, 'If we live our covenants, we will have children for eternity. So don't even worry about it, we will have children forever.' And it completely changed my focus of everything. I mean, why are we on this earth? To become like our Heavenly Parents, to have eternal families, and I was so close-minded, that 'Oh, my gosh, I'm going to be, however old so soon, I only have this much time left to have kids or whatever it is.' But in the eternal perspective, this is such a short time. And so I'm so grateful for my husband, for not only letting me know that I wasn't letting him down, but that I was enough. And he reminded me, I've had callings with Young Women and Relief Society. And we were mothers in so many different ways. You know, I don't think Heavenly Father would send women here. I know women that haven't gotten married, that haven't had children and I don't think they're any less of a woman, any less of a mother because they can't bear children. And so I think there are so many opportunities for us to help with nieces and nephews or in Primary or Young Women or even other women that we're working with. I think motherhood is so much more broad than just bearing children. And so I am so grateful to my husband, I'm so grateful to this day because we still don't have kids. But we're so much happier. And we have such a different perspective on eternity, on our covenants, on trusting the Lord. And that's kind of been my experience with those feelings. But I definitely did feel that for a long time. And I think every once in awhile those thoughts start to creep in. But that's where you go to Lord every day and you read your scriptures and kind of remind yourself to not allow those thoughts to really creep in anymore.
Morgan Jones Pearson 17:37
Well, and I love what you said about there are so many ways to be a mother and, and I personally, I think of different women throughout my life, obviously, like, tremendous gratitude for my mom. But so many women have mothered me, and some of them never had children. And how grateful I am that, that that responsibility of motherhood is not limited to someone who has borne you. You told me Cathy that you feel it's important to not treat IVF like a Hail Mary, which I'm sure can be easy to do. But what what exactly do you mean by that?
Cathy Burningham 18:22
So kind of going back to the whole feeling inadequate, for a long time, I wanted to do IVF but it's really expensive, right? And I was kind of scared because I'm like, man, if I can't get pregnant with IVF. Like, that's it. Right? Like, that's it for me bearing children. And the reason I say that is because that's not the case. There's so many ways that you can be a mother, like we were talking about. There's adoption, there's foster care. And I know a lot of these things, they're not super simple, right? I've had people tell me like, 'Well, you can always adopt,' but the way that people say it, it's like, you can just run to the grocery store and pick up a child. Right? Like they make it sound so easy. And it's not that simple, obviously. And I mean, we hope to adopt, we hope to move forward with that. So I'm not putting that down in any way. But I do think I was treating IVF like it was like our last resort to be parents. And it's not, it's really not and I don't know if other women feel that way, if other couples and I should say couples feel that way with IVF, I do know it's a fantastic treatment. A lot of people have had success with it. If you don't have success with it, that is not your last resort to being a mother or to finding happiness or things like that. And so that was kind of what I meant by that Hail Mary.
Morgan Jones Pearson 19:41
Yeah, that's really well said. Another thing that you mentioned, and first of all, I'm like who says this? kBut I know that people say stupid things. So you mentioned that some people will ask whose fault is that? Meaning is it your husband that has an issue or is it you that has an issue? Why is this question so harmful? And what are other things—because I imagine there are a handful, like you just mentioned that you can always adopt, there are other things that people can say that can also be hurtful?
Cathy Burningham 20:14
So, yeah, that question. First of all, it's none of your business whose fault it is right? Like, I'm sorry.
Morgan Jones Pearson 20:23
Let's just get that off the table right now
Cathy Burningham 20:25
Like that is none of your business and who cares? Who cares whose fault it is, and my husband, and I wish he could have been here. He's sick today so he was unable to join us. But he did make a comment. And he said, It's not anybody's fault. Like if you're a couple, it's a challenge that you're going through together? And I guess you could say, it's my fault, in our case, right? Like, I have PCOS and things like that. But my husband has never been like, because of you, we can't have children. Right? Like, that would be so hurtful. And that would be so harmful to our relationship. And like he said, we work on it together. And I mean, in that case, it's like, you know, it's not like we asked for this, right? Like, it's not like a few years ago, we were like, Please mess up my fallopian tubes so that I could have an ectopic, right? Like, it's not a fault. And so I've never really understood why people asked me that question. And again, it's just harmful. And I think it's important in a relationship to never focus on whose fault it is either. Because it's not anybody's fault. It really isn't anybody's fault. It's the challenge that you're going through together. And so thank you for that. But some other some other things that I've heard, I mean, I feel like I've heard it all. But one of them is when, it's a very valid question to ask, Do you have children? Right? Like, that's a very valid question. Like it's normal in the church, if you meet a couple like, 'Oh, do you have any kids?' And for the most part, my husband, and I would just say not yet, and people get it. I mean, one in five women are struggling with infertility, right? And I think the statistic is, like one in four have struggled with miscarriages or things like that. And so I would say, if someone says no, or not yet, just leave it there. But I've often had people push. And you know, well, why haven't you had children yet? And what struggles do you have? And the follow-up question, whose fault it is, and things like that. And I've even had somebody that I just met. And I think it was a little bit personal that day, because she asked me straight up, 'How has infertility strengthened your relationship with your husband and Jesus Christ?' And not that that's a bad question, by any means but I just met her, and we had lost three babies that year. And so I think I might have given her like, kind of a short answer, as much as I could muster, and I ran out crying. And, it was just one of those things that again, it wasn't a bad question. There was no ill intention. I know this person, she's great. But in the moment, it was just hard for me to answer such a personal question. You know, another thing that I've heard, and my husband is especially sensitive to this one, but I've heard, 'I'm sorry you can't have a family.' And my husband is so quick to say, 'Cathy is my family. She is my wife, any children would be a wonderful addition to our family. But we have a family.' And so I think there are certain things that people say, and I know that 99% of the time, there's no ill feeling behind it, it's just a question. But it can be harmful. And another, this is just another example but we were preparing for an activity. And we were setting up for this activity. And there were some kids that were pulling down the things that we were putting up, and they were being kind of wild. And so I asked the mom, I said, Hey, can you please ask your kids to stop pulling things down? And she was like, 'Well, you don't have kids, so you don't understand.' And I didn't respond to that, because I didn't know how to respond to that. Thankfully, my friend was there. And she's like, 'Well, I do have kids, can you please tell them to stop? We're trying to make this work.' And I really appreciated my friend kind of stepping up at that moment. But I think it was kind of an inappropriate to respond, 'Well, you don't have kids yet.' Like, I don't understand what the purpose of that was. I was a child, right? I was told not to pull things down when people are setting things up. And so I think I've heard a lot of different things, but most people, they have the best intentions. Most people just care and they love...but just to anybody, those kinds of questions or comments usually are probably not the most appropriate or maybe extra sensitive to some people.
Well I hate to keep bringing this back to being single. But it's the thing that I know to compare this to. When I first started attending my neighborhood ward, I had made this decision to transition from the YSA ward to the neighborhood ward. And I walked in and I was feeling nervous, and the lady at the door and granted it was during COVID. So I understand that she was trying to help, you know, with seating, and there were specifications about how close people could be. But she said, 'Are you with a family?' And when I said no, she said, 'Okay, you can sit on this back row.' And fortunately, I'm not somebody that's easily offended. But I'm like, if I was like, that's the kind of thing that you might not come back from. And so I think just being sensitive to what we're saying is important. And of course, we can talk about choosing not to be offended, and all of those things. But if all of us are a little bit more mindful of what we're saying, it makes a big difference. I also think it's really easy in this situation, to make assumptions about people like, oh, they must not want to have kids, they must be putting that off, and they must be consumed in their careers and all these things. And to your point, it's none of our business.
And just to kind of piggyback on that, I remember being in Relief Society, and they didn't really know me very well, at the time. All they knew was that I was married, and that I worked a lot. And so they were giving a lesson on motherhood. And the teacher looked straight at me, and was talking about how we need to stop putting our careers first and focus on being mothers and focus on having children. And I wouldn't have taken it personally. But she was staring straight at me. And I just thought I'm like, 'If you only knew, if you only knew,' but I didn't say anything, you know, and it was okay. And later on, she came to find out that we've been trying and things like that, but it was just kind of a funny thing, where I'm like, oh, okay, you think that I don't care about kids. And I'm just putting my career first and really even if I was, you don't need to do that. Yeah. I've had a couple of experiences with that, too.
Morgan Jones Pearson 27:29
Absolutely. Well, I think those are all really helpful things. In that same vein, what would you say have been the most helpful—you mentioned that example of your friend kind of stepping up—but what are examples of helpful approaches from those around you in being a friend during a time like this or an experience like this?
Cathy Burningham 27:48
So I have to say, my husband and I, we hit the jackpot when it came to support. I mean, we could not be surrounded by more love. And this is kind of funny. So at first, my husband gets really quesy when it comes to like medical stuff and injections and things like that. And so my mom was doing my daily injections. And so she I think it hurt her more than it hurt me if I'm being completely honest. And she would do this thing where she'd be like, 'Okay, one, two, hold on, hold on, hold on, I can't do it.' And I mean, I would just brace myself, and then she started again, 'Okay, one, two, hold on, let me say a prayer. I can't do this.' I just remember thinking like, well, one, it was a little stressful, because I'm like, 'Just do it, please.' But at the same time, I'm like, Oh my gosh, she loves me so much that she can't bear to do this. Like it hurts her more than it hurts me. And so my parents have just been absolutely fantastic. And my husband now he does it. And he's a champ. And he's just one and done, which is great. But I had a friend one of the times that we lost a baby, my friend sent me a gift. And it was this angel, this little statue of an angel and just kind of letting Kirk and I know that we were being watched over and that we were loved. And that was really neat. I've the same friend actually. And this is kind of funny. So we were doing a cycle of IVF. And she says, 'Can I bring something by?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, you don't need to, but I'd love to see you. She brought a bag of potatoes. And I just thought that was the most random thing. And she actually apologized. She's like, 'I'm so sorry. I know, this is so random. But this was the only thing I could think of to bring you...potatoes.' And she was actually apologizing for this. And I'm like, 'No, thank you. Like that's so nice of you to even think about bringing something,' right? And normally we have a ton of potatoes with buying from Costco and they're there. Well that weekend or that next day, and I think it was snowing at the time, my husband was like, 'Well, what are you craving?' I'm like, 'I'm actually craving potatoes like I'd love to have like baked potato or whatever.' So he comes in and he's like, 'It's a really good thing Chrissy bought by those potatoes.' I'm like, 'Oh, really?' And he's like, 'Yeah, they had all gone bad.' And so my friend here was thinking that she did something kind of ridiculous, she was actually inspired because that was the one thing that I was craving. And that was what she had brought by. And I think just just reaching out just caring, you know, on a day that someone might find out if they're pregnant or not pregnant. Maybe not asking, because if it's bad news, it's kind of hard to deliver bad news. But maybe just, hey, I'm thinking about you. Just want to tell you, I love you. So we have just had so much wonderful support. And I remember one day I was having a really, really hard time, it was probably one of the hardest days that I'd had. And right as I was asking Heavenly Father for help my friend called me. And so just being in tune, I just feel like I have the most in tune friends, the most wonderful family and so those have been some really neat things that I've experienced. So it's as hard as fertility can be, it's as wonderful as you can find it with people around you.
Morgan Jones Pearson 31:06
I love what you said about the potatoes, because we had this lady on this podcast who was going through cancer treatment. And she talked about how she had a friend, not of our faith, who showed up with a plate of orange chicken and it was exactly what she was craving at the time. And she calls it the miracle of the orange chicken. And so I think it's just funny because it seems like 'How dumb that I'm bringing this person this thing?' But then turns out like it just shows you how aware God is of us and how much He cares about us even like something as small as a bag of potatoes or some orange chicken. Infertility, obviously, because of everything that you described, emotionally, spiritually, financially, can place a huge strain on marriages. But you and your husband just celebrated your 10-year wedding anniversary, I wondered how would you say this experience has brought you closer together? And how have you learned to approach this as a team?
Cathy Burningham 32:09
Yeah, so it definitely is a team effort. And I think one of the things that really helped my husband and me was realizing that we are different. We've had plenty of arguments, you know, especially with this fertility [struggle]. Emotions are high, hormones are high. I'm pretty chill for the most part. I mean, I can have anxious moments and things like that. And so when I started on these hormones, my husband was so surprised, like, 'What is going on?' You know, like, 'Why are you crying all of a sudden, like, why are you so mad at me?' And I didn't even know that. I mean it was the hormones. And so I think a friend of mine has suggested if you ever find yourself arguing or having a hard time in your marriage, go to therapy, go to therapy early, because it can give you a perspective from from a trained professional that can kind of help you guys through this. And I think for me, I thought maybe he wasn't as invested or wasn't as interested in the treatments that we were doing. And I mean, it's kind of one of those things. So for women, we're prodded, we're poked, [we have] surgeries, like it is just physically intense. Whereas the male, he kind of just gives the sample. And it's so much more simple for him. And so for me, I thought maybe he just wasn't as interested. But when we went to therapy, I remember the therapist was like, 'Are you guys considering divorce?' And we're like, 'Oh, no, like, not even close to that.' And he's like, really? Like, no. And he's like, oh, okay, and I'm like, 'We just keep getting into the same fight.' And we just need some help. And sure enough, we both said, our part. And once the therapist kind of explained what we were talking about or tried to kind of help us with what we were feeling, I was like, oh, that's what you've been feeling. And same thing vice versa. And so it really helped us. So I think it's really good to be purposeful in what you do because it really can mess, like I said, with your finances, with your intimacy, right? Couples already struggle with intimacy. I think that's kind of a common one. And so when you put in that there—you have to do it at certain times. Like you have to be intimate at certain times and not at other times and things like that. It's just homework. Like it's not fun. It's not helpful. And so I think being purposeful, like I said, we no longer lived in this, 'What if I get pregnant?' So we traveled, we really enjoyed traveling, we really enjoyed even just turning off our phones and turning off everything and just laying down and watching a movie together. And so I think it's really important to do that. And on top of that, I think it's so essential to involve Heavenly Father in every aspect of this process. Because I've known a couples that have gotten divorces due to this fertility treatment. And in our particular case, it's made us stronger. It's brought us closer together. And I think it's because we involved the Lord in it, we would ask Him for help when we were arguing, we would ask Him for help when we were feeling sad, when we were feeling fearful, to help us to be guided to help us with our intimacy with everything. And so it really was—it really has been—a blessing for us, we've kind of turned it to the Lord. And I think that's why it's made us stronger. And my husband, he's my favorite person, I love being around him. And he's my best friend, you know, I mean, he's just great. And so I'm really grateful that this has not torn us apart, but brought us together. And then again, having that perspective that my husband has, having children will be a wonderful addition to our family. And so we want to be happy as a couple, and we want to enjoy being a couple. Because when we do have children, they're going to get married, and they're going to have their spouses for eternity, I'm going to be with my spouse for eternity. And I like my spouse, and I want to continue to like my spouse. So I think it's really important to be purposeful in reconnecting and enjoying each other.
Morgan Jones Pearson 36:15
Well, and I imagine speaking of that so two people, a husband and a wife, make covenants to one another. And I imagine that covenants have played a part in this and I wondered, how have you seen the power of your temple covenants? And how has the Lord become a bigger part of your marriage as a result of this experience?
Cathy Burningham 36:36
So I've kind of talked a little bit about it, right? But we really have made it a focus to put the Lord first. I remember pre-pandemic, and this had a lot to do with my mom [because] my mom worked at the temple so we would go with her, and we would go every week to the temple. And that was absolutely wonderful, no matter how things, you know how hard things were. We lived in Los Angeles so [no matter] how crazy the commotion would be, when we were in the temple, all of a sudden, we just remembered an eternal perspective, you know, not the stress as of right now, but the eternal perspective of we'll be able to have kids forever so I do think that plays such a big part. Again, involving the Lord in everything that we do, remembering that if we keep our covenants, the Lord will always keep His covenants, He will always keep His end of the promise that we can be together forever, that we can have a family forever. And I've also been really grateful for the Scripture stories. Because in the Bible, there's a lot of women that struggled with infertility. And you know, Sarah and Abraham, they struggled, right, and Elizabeth and Zechariah, Rachel and Jacob, Rebecca and Isaac, this happened with them. And I've been really grateful to read about them, because they're no less wonderful, right? They're no less amazing. It's not like they weren't keeping their covenants, not like they weren't keeping the commandments. And the Lord was not giving them children because they weren't doing the right things. And so I think I just, I keep a perspective of they continued to keep the commandments. And I can imagine they were such better parents, because they were so focused on the Lord and trusting of the Lord the whole time. And so that's been something that we've really tried to do with my husband is just really turn to the Lord, focus on him, keep the commandments, fulfill our callings. I think it's been a little bit harder with the pandemic, just getting out and things like that, and trying to not get sick, but but for the most part, just really trying to stay close to the Lord.
Morgan Jones Pearson 38:44
Yeah, it's super well said. You had an interesting experience in March of 2020. So this is at the very beginning of the pandemic that you said helped you trust in the Lord. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Cathy Burningham 39:00
Yeah, so I know the pandemic hit everybody hard, right? It was life changing for everyone. And I guess March 2020, was kind of the beginning of that year and some experiences that I had. So we had finally decided that we were going to do IVF. And we had had family members that did IVF previously in Europe, they were living out there. And it was a fantastic fertility specialist, and [these relatives] have kids from that treatment. And it was going to be cheaper for us to live in Europe for a couple of months and do the treatment out there. So we decided that we thought that's what we were going to do. And we were set to fly out on March 17 of 2020. And, I mean, I still feel like I went to Europe, because of how much we had planned. We had our apartment. I mean, I would check the maps to kind of see what was around there where the clinic was, and I worked for Hilton at the time, so we were gonna do some traveling so we were just so excited to just be a couple for a couple of months in Europe and do this thing that we've so desired to do, right? And so, as the pandemic was getting closer, because I worked in the travel industry, I think I kind of learned a little bit more about it and how it was affecting the world because Hilton is worldwide. And I was being told by so many people, 'You need to cancel your plans, like you need to not go out there.' And my husband and I were very, very, very close to the Lord and really tried to kind of weed out all of the extra noise, and just follow the spirit. And we kept feeling like moving forward and moving forward. And so in my mind, I'm like, 'Well, maybe we're just gonna get there, and we'll just be isolated and do the treatment. And we'll be fine.' You know, that's kind of what I was thinking. But it was a couple of days before we were supposed to fly out. And I remember this overwhelming feeling of 'Cancel everything now.' And my husband came to me and told me the exact same thing. So we had had the same feeling at the same time, and come to find out that, if we had canceled it even a day or two, before, we probably wouldn't have gotten our money back, or would have been a lot harder to because at that point, the pandemic was so far in that they gave us our money back, they gave us our credit, whatever it was. And it was really neat, too, because I mean, you know, we get invested so much time and money into this. And so the Lord was so kind to help us in this cancellation of everything. And I remember at the time, I was just I was devastated. Because I was so excited to move forward with this treatment. Elder Bednar gave a talk in October of 2020 and he talked about how the Lord essentially gives us tests, right? Like, he proves us to see how we'll react. And at the time, I remember really praying with my husband and being impressed by him and feeling myself that we would we just said Heavenly Father, we trust in thee we trust 100% that this is that you knew this would happen like this is not a surprise, right? And we needed to have that experience. And so I'm really grateful for that. And we just we took it one day at a time and we went from wanting to travel to being stuck inside with the pandemic, which that was a little bit hard to but we did do IVF that year, we were able to have embryos, which is a huge blessing. And that year, I had another ectopic pregnancy and anyone that was sick, that was in the hospital, anyone that struggled during that time with the pandemic, I really feel for them, because when I was having the ectopic pregnancy, the previous ectopic pregnancy, my husband was with me, my family could come in like I wasn't alone. But this time I was by myself. And I remember going to the hospital, and seeing all of these beds with people that were so sick, and I was just putting this area with just two curtains next to me and feeling so alone. And my husband, he stayed actually in the parking lot the whole time. And I remember praying to Heavenly Father and wanting to leave because I didn't want to be by myself. It was so hard to go through another ectopic pregnancy and to go through it during the pandemic and afraid of catching COVID, afraid of starting this treatment again of methotrexate or whatever it was, and just having this overwhelming feeling that I wasn't alone. And I just remember Heavenly Father just giving me this overwhelming feeling that everything was gonna be okay. This was again a part of His plan for us. And I'm really grateful for that, because I feel like I've never felt so close to the Lord and my husband as we did during that time. And so, the pandemic, though hard has been one of the greatest experiences for us in really coming closer together and closer to the Lord.
Morgan Jones Pearson 44:13
Beautiful, thank you so much for sharing that. Cathy, what would be your parting word of advice to couples because I imagine, if this is like other episodes, I imagine that there will be people that will be sent this over text message or a friend will mention it and they will be listening to this for the very first time because they also are dealing with infertility. What would be your parting word of advice to those couples?
Cathy Burningham 44:45
So I think a couple of things one thing that really comes to me is a lot of people have told me just relax. You know, if you just relax, you'll get pregnant or whatever. I think I think just being purposeful in realizing that you can't just relax like you have a calendar that's telling you that you can't relax and you're feeling sick. But it's just really taking the time to go to therapy, to cut back at work, if you can just use things that are good for you, you and your spouse, go to the Lord and ask, 'How can this be a little bit easier to process?' And so just being purposeful in that, I would say being grateful, I think there's so many great things going on and so finding Gratitude has helped us immensely. Like I said, having great friends, having great family, not being afraid to set boundaries as well. I think it's okay, like, I don't usually go to baby showers. Not because I'm not happy for people, because I am, I'm so happy for people when they get pregnant, I'm glad that they don't have to come through that whole mess, right? But I feel like in baby showers is when I tend to get asked the most questions about fertility. And so, so I've kind of set a boundary there or with people who feel like they can tell you what to do, or you know, what you should be doing, I think it's okay to set boundaries. And also just being very okay with being sad, or feeling disappointed, allow yourself to feel all of those feelings, because it's very real feeling and you don't want to dismiss it. And so I think it's part of the growing experience, to allow yourself to feel all of the range of emotions, and to not lose hope to remember that, you know, there is a purpose in this and that you will be parents no matter what whether it's now or in the future. And so I think those would be some of my parting words to people to just kind of be okay with what is happening, and still enjoy the moment and enjoy the good times.
Morgan Jones Pearson 46:47
Thank you, Cathy. This has been so helpful. And I think that those that listen will just be so grateful for the wonderful person that you are, and I'm grateful. So thank you. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Cathy Burningham 47:06
So, I mean, it's heart, might, mind, and strength, right? It's just kind of giving your will to the Lord. But I think for me, what has really helped me to know and desire to be all in is to really trust Heavenly Father, I think in those moments where I have the tendency to maybe want to question and it's okay to ask questions. Like, I wonder why this is happening. Like, what can I learn from this? Right? Like, that's okay. But not questioning the Lord. Like, why did you do this to me? Or why did you allow me to feel that so I really think it's trusting the Lord and knowing that He is an every aspect of this and that He is with us and, and so I think for me, being all in is really trying to give my will to the Lord and trusting Him and moving forward with what He wants for us.
Morgan Jones Pearson 47:54
Thank you so much, Cathy. It's been wonderful chatting with you and I just am so grateful.
Cathy Burningham 48:00
Thank you, Morgan.
Morgan Jones Pearson 48:04
We are so grateful to Cathy for sharing her experience on this week's episode. A huge thank you to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six Studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai