WASHINGTON – In light of National Infertility Awareness Week, second lady Karen Pence is going public with her personal and painful struggle to conceive.
In a rare interview with the Federalist, she shared how it took her and her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, six years to get pregnant.
"We were ready to start our family, and it just didn't happen" she said. "And when you experience that, all of your friends are getting pregnant, all of your relatives are getting pregnant."
"I remember my little niece looked up at me one day and said, 'Auntie Karen, why don't you have any babies?' It can be a very heartbreaking," she recalled.
Pence says she wanted to be a parent more than anything.
"I didn't care about fame or fortune, big house, fancy career, nice car. None of that has ever been important to me. I just wanted to be a mom," she said.
'How Could God Put This Desire in My Heart And Not Bring Me Kids?'
According to the National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples have difficulty getting pregnant. Pence went through several expensive procedures with no luck. She says it was a real test for her faith.
"My main thing was -- how could God put this desire in my heart and not bring me kids?" she said. "It made me question Him a lot. I kept thinking we'd be these great parents. 'We're ready. We want kids. Why don't You bring us kids?' "
The couple looked into adoption and had been matched with a birth mother when Pence found out she was pregnant with her first child.
They felt like it wasn't right to go through with the adoption out of consideration for other couples and decided to withdraw from the process.
Still, the second lady is a strong advocate for adoption and says she would encourage any couple struggling with infertility to consider it.
After their son was born, Pence was able to conceive two more times. The Pences had three children within just three years.
A Matter of God's Timing
Looking back, she says it all came down to God's timing.
"It was really a matter of just letting God bring us kids when He was ready to bring us kids, and that's where they come from, and so we just had to wait until He was ready," she said.
Pence says she's a better parent for having gone through this trial and it helped her to have a grateful heart even on the most challenging days.
"I would have moments where I'd think, 'Wait a minute, you almost didn't get to have this.' And I think the fact that I realized I might be someone who never could have children, that I cherished the fact that I was able to have children and really valued that a lot more," she said.
Her goal now is to encourage other couples struggling with the same problem and to let them know they're not alone.
"You know, I just would want to encourage them and let them know I get it," she said. "It hurts; it's very frustrating. It can really be difficult to deal with."