by Lani

Conceiving Courage

March 29, 2016 in Adversity, Book, Conception, Depression, Events, Faith, Family size, Fear, joy, Lani, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy by Lani

 

Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. -Joshua 1:9

Almost three years ago, Robyn and I hosted a Gift of Giving Life party at my parents’ home in Utah County. It was very well attended, and I was privileged to meet many beautiful women who have since become my friends in addition to reconnecting with other women who were already dear to me.

Robyn, Lani, and Robyn's sister

Robyn, Lani, and Robyn’s sister

At the time I was busy mothering my four children, my youngest being just over 2 and my oldest 9 years old. The previous summer and fall (2012) had been harrowing for me as I battled for my life with severe anxiety and depression. Finally having regained joy and peace and a solid foundation, naturally I was not inclined to do anything to jeopardize the calm I had so painfully won. And yet… deep down inside my heart I felt that there was at least one child who was still hoping to join my family. Meanwhile, my husband had very strong feelings against having any more children. And most of the time I was inclined to think he was right. I didn’t think I could do it.

As part of the event, we broke into two groups to discuss and share spiritual experiences related to pregnancy, birth, and mothering. Among the women in the group I joined were several seasoned mothers of very large families. I couldn’t believe my ears when they talked about how much “easier” it got as their families grew (in years and number). “The older kids are so helpful!” they shared.

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A friend of mine (who also had four young children at the time) and I were aghast as we shared our fears that we couldn’t possibly handle any more children, despite feeling that our families weren’t complete. These mothers assuaged our concerns, saying, “Right now you are in the hardest part! With lots of little kids and none old enough to help out. It gets easier!” Even so, my friend and I were still hesitant.

My hesitation eventually gave way to courage, however, and over the course of the following year I attempted weaning off my anti-depressant in order to prepare my body for another pregnancy. When my weaning attempt turned into an even more severe and prolonged battle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts (summer and fall of 2014), my intention of bearing any more children seemed impossible to retain. My husband and I just didn’t think my mind/body/spirit could handle it. So we did what we could to prevent pregnancy. In our then-thirteen years of marriage we had never had an unplanned pregnancy. And our prevention methods continued to work well for us… for most of a year.

Then, in May of 2015, I stared down at a positive pregnancy test after my morning meditation. Immediately I was overcome by so many emotions. I did not see that coming. It was not planned or expected or convenient. But nevertheless it was happening. Friends and family were also surprised but full of support and faith. Many separately shared their strong feelings that all would be well and that this baby would be a beautiful healing blessing to me and my family. I hoped they were right and courageously moved toward my baby’s birth.

It has now been almost a year since I stared at that surprisingly positive pregnancy test. My oldest daughter is nearly a teenager now. The other kids are 10, 7, and 5. And our sweet Baby Hope is 3 months old. Out of the most difficult and darkest years of my life emerged the brightest and most beautiful.

When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.

(Hymn #19)

Hope smiling brightly

I have been wanting to shout to the world, “They were right! They were all so right!” The seasoned mothers-of-many at the Gift of Giving Life party I hosted three years ago were right! Having a baby when you have several older kids to help is amazing. It is so much easier. And my friends and family who encouraged me throughout my pregnancy were right. This baby has been one of the greatest healing gifts of my life.

I am so happy. Life is so good.

good courage

If you are interested in hosting a Gift of Giving Life party, you can apply to be a hostess. A GOGL party is a gathering designed to get women (and men when appropriate) together in person to share how God’s hand has worked in their lives (in the area of giving life). It is an opportunity for people who wouldn’t normally to hear spiritual birth-related stories. It is also a great way to spread the word about our book.

We offer hostesses books at wholesale. You can pass on the savings or use profit to cover party costs. We have held many of these gatherings in different states with amazing results (friendships, fun, spiritual growth).

If you would like to apply to be a hostess please email us at thegiftofgivinglife@gmail.com for more information.

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by Lani

Processing Motherhood with Poetry

August 16, 2015 in Abortion, Family size, fasting, Fear, Lani, Love, Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy by Lani

BYU graduation with my incredible grand-Mother

BYU graduation with my incredible grand-Mother

So we moved this summer. In the process of unpacking, I found a composition book with notes, freewriting, story ideas, and poetry from the Creative Writing class I took at BYU during the last semester of my senior year. I was newly pregnant with my first child at the time and thus processing a lot of my mother issues. As usual, one of the ways I chose to do this was through words. The following are two poems I wrote in the early months of 2003 and another written more recently.

This first poem is about my stepmother. She came into my life when I was about three or four years old. My dad met her while attending graduate school at BYU after his marriage with my mother ended. Unfortunately, he was no longer allowed to teach seminary as a divorced man. So he went back to school full time and worked to support our family as a single dad of six. I was the youngest, and desperately in need of maternal love and affection. My dad’s new girlfriend, a former elementary school teacher obtaining her doctorate in neuropsychology, could work magic with small children, and I was smitten from the start. She introduced us to literature, art, history, theater, cultural diversity, music, and lots of new foods. Who I am today I owe in large part to her influence.

Seeds

581653_594088200611546_572607400_nLooking up
A pair of small blue eyes
Soaked in all the love that she emanated
From her tall, beautiful figure.
A little hand,
Fingernails stubby from nibbling,
Grasped tightly
Her warm, slender fingers,
Safe.
A child’s ears
Swallowed her voice–
Drank in deeply the tales
Of Arabian Nights and
Trees that gave and gave.
The growing heart
Embraced the seeds she offered–
Words, knowledge, safety,
Love.
And the seeds still grow.

The next poem describes many women who have mothered me over the years: my mother, my sister, my grandmother, my stepmother, my aunt, and others. As I pondered my pregnancy and the path of motherhood, I thought a lot about these women and having had a rather non-traditional upbringing wondered whether I would be a “successful” mother.

My Mothers

I’ve been saved so many times
By gentle hands and soothing words.
She, with the instincts of life and nature,
Drew me to her.
In nights when only light and noise were solace,
She rescued me.
When the darkness and the silence were unbearable,
Or when I wept, incapable of expressing my fear,
Surrounded by familiar prisons, she pulled me out.
She had so many faces, so many names,
But her heart is called Mother.
Mothers.

mothers

Some of my “Mothers”

And now my own heart strains
As the title bursts upon it.
It hurts, but the pain is also joy.
I fear the title.
Mother.
Can I be Mother?
Will nature teach me how to be a
A Savior–
A Mother?

Now, 12+ years later, I am Mother to four (and a half) children. I wonder all the time if I am really capable of taking on any more, but the truth is I have wondered this every time I have been pregnant. Somehow my children have turned out remarkably well, whether because of or in spite of my efforts. I try to remind myself that, even when I’m not nurturing them as well as I think I should be, they have a life full of love, consistency, and security that I could only have dreamed of as a child.

This last poem I wrote just two years ago. It has been on my mind a lot the past few days. Last week I discovered that I am presently pregnant with another girl. This was a bit (a lot) shocking as I had been anticipating the arrival boy-child who has been visiting me for the past four years. But one of the things that has enabled me to open my heart to this daughter is remembering the millions of girl babies who have been eliminated in areas of the world with boy-baby preference. Girl babies in these areas are far too often aborted (sometimes by force), killed at birth, abandoned, or channeled into the horrific sex-slave trade. There are 163 million females who would have populated Asia but are “missing” because of gendercide. That is more than the entire female population of the United States.

Two years ago, on June 2, 2013, I organized a day of fasting and prayer to raise awareness about this heart-breaking problem. Early that morning, I was awakened by the words of a poem forming in my head, demanding to be written. And when I re-read it now, carrying a daughter in my womb, my heart cries, “I hear you! I want you! I will be your mother!”

3:00 a.m.

When I hear
A baby cry,
Her voice
Her song
An invisible vibration of longing
Penetrates my mortal shell,
Gliding through flesh and bone
Like a delicate silver thread.
It throbs with urgency
As it wraps around
And around
saveagirlAnd around
My heart,
Bleeding ache.
And now
A hundred
A million
A hundred million
Tiny threads,
Bursting with a deafening silence,
Pull me from my sleep
Like newborns in the night,
“Wake up,”
Their silent voices throb,
“Cry for us,
Scream for us,
Mother.”

 A slideshow I made for the June 2 day of prayer… Some of the girls in the video were the daughters of people who participated in the event…

by Lani

Our Deliverance

April 1, 2014 in Birth Stories, Dads, Family size, Fear, home birth, Lani, Midwives, Miracles, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Priesthood blessings by Lani

When my second child was two-and-a-half, we starting thinking about conceiving a third baby, a thought that both excited and terrified us simultaneously.  Could we really afford another child?  How would we pay for the birth, being without maternity insurance?  Could I really handle mothering three children? Gently, the Lord communicated to us that we would be blessed if we chose to invite another child into our home and that He would ensure that we had the means to provide for that child’s birth and life.

A few months later, I became pregnant. Each day was a constant struggle between faith and fear as we strained to hold fast to the Lord’s assurances that we would have the money we would need.  And I had to make a decision—where would my 3rd baby be born? We had never felt comfortable considering home birth in the past, but we knew that having our third baby at home would cost thousands of dollars less than paying for a hospital birth out-of-pocket. Only a week after I got a positive pregnancy test, I was already agonizing over the decision.  My husband gave me a priesthood blessing in which the Lord told me that He would guide me to make the right decision for us.  This scripture spoke to me in my dilemma:

 

Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him (Alma 58:11).

 

I agonized more and more and settled on a hospital birth with nurse-midwives recommended by a friend.  I definitely never had an overwhelming feeling that it was the answer to my dilemma, but it felt fine in the beginning.  After three or four prenatal appointments, I had met most of the nurse-midwives and loved them all, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t quite the right path for us.  So we went back to the drawing board and opened-up that agonizing question again.  Only this time (and for the first time in my life) I was really open to accepting home birth as the answer, and so was my husband.

On Halloween night (2008), my husband and I spent a couple of hours praying for guidance, searching the scriptures, and exchanging our thoughts and feelings.  We felt that the Lord was leading us toward a home birth and that our next step was to pray and ask the Lord if this choice was right.  When I prayed, I asked God to please help us to receive a clear answer so that we could move forward with confidence.

Then I asked for a priesthood blessing. What followed was one of the most tender and beautiful spiritual experiences of my life—the kind that words feel inadequate to describe or explain.  The actual words of the blessing were marvelous, but more than the words was the feeling that overwhelmed me.  We didn’t get far into the blessing before tears were streaming down my face as I choked back sobs (and I don’t cry easily).  I felt the most incredible burning in my heart—like I was being filled with the burning, life-giving love of God.  There is nothing in the world like that feeling.  It completely overwhelmed me.  I don’t know if an answer to my prayers has ever been so clear. When the blessing was over, I just hugged my husband and sobbed in his arms with joy and gratitude for the beautiful gift God had just given us.

Our answer was clear: we were having our baby at home!

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We continued to seek the Lord’s guidance as we selected the midwives who would attend our baby’s birth, Mary and Nedra. And the Lord, my God, “did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith,” just as He had told me He would, through the scriptures, at the beginning of my pregnancy.

The blessings and miracles continued to pour down upon us.  In February, I attended a doula training workshop (offered for free as a gift to the community by the doula trainer) where I met many women who would become my friends.  One of them, Cassie, offered to be my doula and take photographs of my birth (again, for free).  She also took some maternity photos for us (like the one above).  Unexpected additional income came to us, with the probability of further additional income opportunities in the future.  Just as the Lord had promised, we found ourselves with enough and to spare financially, and our baby’s birth was completely paid-for by my 36th week of pregnancy.

Then, on April 1, 2009, my son made his debut. My water broke in the afternoon, contractions started a couple of hours later, and about five hours later, I was clinging to my husband’s arms over the edge of the fishy pool, moaning through the hardest contractions.

I could tell I was in transition when I found myself reaching my limit.  It was at this time that I turned to God.  I don’t think there is any other physical experience that brings a person closer to the veil between earth and heaven than childbirth—particularly the 7 cm to delivery span.  I silently cried to God: “Help me!” My mind wandered back and forth between my present physical surroundings and an otherworldly distant space.  Somewhere in that space I found myself calling to my deceased friend, “Catheryn, I need you now!”  I don’t know if it was her voice or my own that whispered in my head, “It’s almost over.  You’re almost finished.” My husband’s soothing touch and the words “It’s almost over” playing over and over in my head are what carried me through to the end.

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I moved to the bed for the delivery. Perhaps it was Mary’s oil and hot compresses, but I never really felt the “ring of fire.”  I didn’t even really know the head was out until I heard someone say, “His head is out!”  Then Mary said, “Reach down and pull out your baby!”  I grasped onto his warm, slippery shoulders and pulled him up onto my chest.  It was 10:55 pm on April 1—an April Fool’s day baby!

At first all I could see was the top of his dark-haired head and his slippery arms and back.  We touched and rubbed him—alternating between smiling at each other and staring at our baby—as the midwives draped a towel over him.  I breathed quickly in and out, saying something like, “Oh my gosh!” and then, “Is he OK? Is he OK?”  Mary smiled and calmly said, “He’s just fine!  He’s doing great!”  Everyone started talking and smiling and taking photos.  My husband felt a tear roll down his cheek and watched it land on my shoulder.

Afterward, I was so full of energy and endorphins that I couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t really sleep for at least a day.  Within an hour after the birth, I was up and showering.  Then I went downstairs to grab a bite to eat, almost as though my body hadn’t just given birth (intact perineum… woohoo!).  The next days, weeks, and months I spent in bliss, more deeply in love with my tiny little boy than I ever imagined I could be. I had never experienced anything like the intense, fierce bond I was blessed to experience with that tiny baby boy, despite having two older children (whom I loved).

When the Lord communicated to us all those years ago that we would be blessed for inviting another of His spirit children into our home (two years later, we invited our 4th), I couldn’t have imagined just how blessed we would be.  I know with all my heart that our greatest blessings and joys come when we allow the Lord to guide us in all of our decisions.

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by Lani

“Your family is complete”

September 9, 2013 in Babywearing, Dads, Faith, Family size, Guest Post, Holy Ghost, Intuition, Lani, Marriage, Motherhood, Personal Revelation, Pregnancy by Lani

“Your family is complete”
By Katie Winn

As a child and a youth I always admired mothers with large families. I was fascinated with their patience and love. It seemed to me that the more kids you had the happier the home would be. I loved the idea that each child would have a friend at all times and no one would ever be lonely.

I knew years ago that I wanted a large family. The Lord has seen fit that I should have six children. I love being their mother. There was a time during my fifth pregnancy when I couldn’t see an end to my baby creating. I wanted to have as many children as my body could carry. I truly wanted to leave the decision of the number of children I had to the Lord. I was willing to have 9 or more if that was what He wanted. I never wanted to be done.

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I remember conversations with my husband about never wanting to be done having kids, and he was not on board. It was a little bit of a touchy subject between us because I couldn’t imagine never having little feet in the house again. He was ready to move on to a new chapter in our lives, one that didn’t include lugging strollers and diaper bags everywhere. A new chapter when we could attend all three hours of church without having to roam the halls with a toddler not quite ready for nursery. A new chapter when we no longer had to change diapers. A new chapter when we no longer find sippy cups in unusual places filled with what used to be milk, but is now past the cheese stage and you have to throw the whole cup away because you know there is no way you can wash it out. I couldn’t fathom having those moments gone from our lives. I was hurt that he felt that way.

When my fifth child was about 6 months old I started to have the aching in my belly again. I had a physical yearning for baby number six. I started talking to my husband about it, and he was reluctant. He knew that it wouldn’t be the end he really wanted. I felt bad because I knew I wasn’t taking his feelings into consideration, but I knew through prayer and the Spirit that we had another baby who needed to come to our home. He trusted me and agreed to have ONE more baby. I was so excited and happy.

I conceived when my fifth baby was a little over a year old. Twenty weeks went by, and we went to our ultrasound appointment. I was really looking forward to it. We already had two girls and three boys. I thought it would be perfect if we could have another girl to even things out. When the technichian asked if we wanted to know the gender, I said yes. As she was moving the transducer across my belly, I saw for myself. We were having a girl. The tech told us what she was, and I was right. We were having our third girl, a perfect balance. Then I heard a voice say, “Your family is complete.” Tears streamed down my cheeks. I was not expecting that voice. I didn’t know what to think. This couldn’t be it! I was going to have many more babies. I wasn’t ready to have this be it. I never wanted to be done, and couldn’t believe what I had heard.

I enjoyed the rest of my pregnancy and looked forward to meeting my little girl. The pregnancy was normal, the birth went well. I snuggled my new baby all day and all night. I looked forward to nursing her every three hours. I loved carrying her in my ring sling. When she was six months old I approached my husband and said, “I think it’s time to have another baby.” I waited for the tingle in my belly, and the yearning in my chest. It didn’t come. I told him that I really didn’t feel that way, but I just had to test it.

I waited for the feeling to come. I have thought to myself that it should be time to have another one. I have friends who have announced pregnancies and had babies. I liked to look at their growing bellies and hold their new babies but didn’t feel the need to have one of my own. I was really done. The desire was not there. Now my baby has grown and is a month away from going to nursery. I have started looking forward like my husband. I can look forward to her going to nursery and being potty trained. I can look ahead (with an aching heart) to my children growing up and going to school and college and getting married. I can look forward to being a grandma. We are moving on to the next chapter, and I am OK with it.

I am grateful for the prompting I received at our ultrasound appointment. The Lord knows my heart, and knows that I was willing to bring as many children into this world as He wanted me to. He also knows my limitations and my weaknesses. He knows my strengths and my abilities. He knows my husband and his needs, too.

I love the Lord and the direction he gives me. I love that I have an eternal family and that my six gifts from God will be with me long after they are grown. I have learned over the years to accept the Lord’s timing. He knows what my plan is, and I am trusting Him in guiding me along the way.

IMG_9112-1Katie Winn is a stay-at-home mom and currently a student with the BYU-Idaho Pathway program. She has been married to her husband, Steve, for nearly 14 years. Together they have six great kids ranging in age from 13 years to 17 months old. Katie is enjoying juggling student life with church callings and the daily duties of being a mother and wife. She feels her calling as a mother to be the greatest responsibility and blessing.

by Robyn

Grand and Great Grand Multiparas

July 8, 2013 in Family size, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

RobynBirth-515

 

Or in other words, you have had lots of babies!

grand multipara is a woman who has already delivered five or more infants who have achieved a gestational age of 24 weeks or more.

great grand multipara has delivered seven or more infants beyond 24 weeks’ gestation.

So when you are having your sixth child (like me), does it get old? Lose its magic?  Become commonplace? My answer is no.  I’m so in love with my little baby and actually enjoying it even more than before.  Maybe that is because I know what to expect by now.  Or maybe it is because having a baby I didn’t think I would have feels like a tremendous blessing. Or maybe it is because I realize that my childbearing years are coming to a close and I ought to just savor what I have while I have it.  I’m not sure but I do know that I am finding so much more joy in this process than I expected.  I do know that I was quite blessed to have great support for the labor, birth and postpartum and that made a difference too.   I’m enjoying the little milestones and mourning their passing at the same time.  She will only be a baby once.

So are there any others out there who have had large families?  What has it been like for you?  Does the process have to lose its magic if you have already done it multiple times? And what is your advice to the first time mom?

 

The big V

December 17, 2012 in Family size, Sheridan by enjoybirth

After Rob and I decided we were really “done”  I said again,

“Why don’t you have a vasectomy.”

Not really my hubby, just a good scared man photo.

This was actually where this all began.  Way back in March our oldest son broke his jaw and arm in a mountain biking accident.  It was actually a very spiritually moving experience in many ways.

An unexpected blessing in that by meeting our deductible of $7000, we now felt we should get all those doctor visits we needed done.  Strange spots on my head, etc.  So at that point a vasectomy first came up.

“Why don’t you have a vasectomy?”

That discussion led us to actually question if we were really done and then decide to try no birth control (until my birthday) and see what happened.

This led us on quite a journey, ending with an early miscarriage and finally a feeling of being done.

Which led us back to the vasectomy question.

I was excited, Rob seemed OK too, until he read our book, the part that shares the church’s statement on

 

21.4.15

Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)

The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

 

Then he got very serious about the choice.  He pondered for a month and then we went to the temple.  He was more intense about this decision than he had in the decision to not use birth control.  Later he explained it was because he knew you couldn’t go wrong having a baby, but it could be wrong to get a vasectomy.

The time was running out

– if he didn’t do something by the end of the year we would be paying out of pocket.  The pressure was on.

After the temple, he felt OK moving forward with the surgery. It was a challenge to find a date that worked with Christmas Parties and a planned ski trip.  But he found a date and made the appointment.

Suddenly I didn’t want him to get it.  It was weird.  I still feel OK about being done, but not OK about this permanent change in his fertility.  Doing something permanent felt wrong to me somehow.  I was glad he was willing after a few months without condoms, it wasn’t fun when the condom fairy returned them.  Side note – I love Fertility Awareness Method, my issue is because I am pre-menopausal my cycles are weird and there are only about 7 days out of a 40 day cycle where I feel “safe” to have unprotected sex.

But I definitely felt unsettled about him having the surgery.

So 2 days before his scheduled surgery, I went to the Gynecologist (the morning after a skin surgery – we had months to get these appointments in and saved them all for December) and discussed other birth control options.  Some tears were shed, she agreed it sounded like a permanent choice wasn’t the one for us.  In the end I made a choice and

Rob cancelled his appointment.

Who knows why we had to go through this big decision making process.  I guess to help us grow.

Interestingly this had led to quite a few discussions with friends about birth control and vasectomies.

  • Many of my friends husbands have had them and I wonder if they even knew about the church’s stance before they did it?
  • How seriously did they take the choice?
  • Even though we feel “done” does that give us the power to change our body to permanently prevent procreation?

 

 

 

I finally feel done having babies

November 16, 2012 in Family size, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Sheridan by enjoybirth

I write this with a heavy but lightened heart.

My miscarriage shifted something within my heart.

For YEARS I have struggled with if we were done having babies.  I felt resigned to being done because my husband seemed pretty adament against having more.  But in my heart I wondered.  I never felt “done” like so many of my friends did.  So I just kept myself open to the idea.

I figured if it was meant to be it would happen.  Surprises happen sometimes.  🙂

Then with a little more active communication about the topic with my husband we got on the same page and started not preventing – I guess you could say trying…

Here are a list of blog posts of my journey to us “trying”

Then we got pregnant and had an early miscarriage

We have prayed

Rob and I have prayed and we have gotten the confirmation that we are done.

I guess if we really wanted to have another baby we could try again.

But we both finally feel “done”, we had never felt that before.  It was always this vague uncertainty before.  Now we have confirmation.  We can be done and we are both good with that.

Since then I have gone through a variety of emotions.

Sadness and Grief– I was sad to lose this little potential spirit.

Relief – It was surprising to actually get pregnant and then remember the reality of what that implied.  I didn’t have enough time to adjust to the new reality of a baby, before I realized I was miscarrying.  So I felt relief.  I think had I had more time to adjust to the idea of another baby I would have not felt so overwhelmed by it.

Anger  – I had already made the choice to “try” and shown faith, now I had to make another choice, would we keep trying?  I was mad I had to choose again.  I was also mad that we lost the baby.  At myself for not talking to Rob years earlier.  If we were younger we may have decided to keep trying.

Joy – for the 3 wonderful kids I do have here on this earth

Confused – Why do some people in a similar situation get a different answer???  I love the story I shared Wednesday.  They now have 5 kids and I still have 3.

Peace – All will be well.  God knows us individually and I got a different answer, because I am a different person.

Gratitude – For this experience and the chance to be led by the Spirit throughout the whole experience.

????????? – I am not sure what word/emotion this is.  As I write this I realize I would have been 15 weeks pregnant if I hadn’t lost the baby.  I would be feeling movements and would be feeling that goodness a second trimester holds.  I guess bittersweet.  I am sad to not be experiencing that.  I LOVE being pregnant and feeling the baby grow and moving and getting big and then HUGE.  I love all of that.  Knowing we are done means I will never experience that again.  That is a loss in and of itself.

Ariana Lovelace

T3 sometimes mentions how sad he is that our baby died, that he wishes it hadn’t.  I say honestly, “I wish she hadn’t too.”  Because in my mind and heart that little baby would have been a girl, my Ariana Lovelace.  My A in my D, C, B ___ naming pattern.

Despite that sadness I finally feel done.  My heart is at peace with being and saying we are done.

My life is full of boys and all our things – acting classes, singing, performances, scouting, soccer, church, callings – life!  I am OK where we are.

No more longing or wondering, just peace.  Which I will gratefully take. Especially as I have friends birthing sweet little girl babies and other friends announcing their pregnancies.  I can just feel joy for them.

I am not sure why I had to go on this journey.

I am not sure all that I have learned or will yet learn.  But I continue to hold my heart and mind open to learn whatever it is.

I think part of why I was able to heal quickly was the love and acceptance of my feelings and experiences as I shared them.  No one discounted my feelings.  That helped me to heal.  I have also intensified my praying,scripture study and daily meditation.  This experience has helped me to grow personally.

I know that some moms struggle to find this peace, I know that I am in a unique position of being older and having many children already.  My heart breaks for women who struggle to conceive or carry babies to term.  I am not sure why this is part of some women’s journey to motherhood.

How blessed are we to have the Savior to turn to for peace, comfort and guidance.  He is our redeemer and I sing praises to Him!

 

God had led this journey for our family

November 14, 2012 in Family size, Pregnancy, Sheridan, Temple by enjoybirth

I was so excited to have Corinne one of our readers share her experience of deciding to have another baby and the exciting miracle that followed.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I had this niggling feeling that we were done. I didn’t know if maybe adoption was in our future or if we just were going to be finished with three, but the feeling was very strong. So sure was I about this being my last pregnancy that I paid to have a maternity photo shoot and every evening when I nursed my newborn boy, I tried to relish this last nursing experience. I gave away all his clothes after he grew out of them and put his crib up on freecycle.

 

Three years later, I flew from Maryland to San Diego with my husband for our anniversary. On the actual day celebrating our 10th year of being married, we went to the San Diego temple to do sealings. It was a really peaceful time and despite the fact that we had not discussed having more children, at all, we were both given the same prompting in the celestial room that day: it was time to try again. We looked at each other with both fright and wariness – we discussed and discussed it but it couldn’t be denied. We were told to try again to get pregnant.

 

So, we tried because we knew it was the right thing. Despite nearly instantaneous pregnancies for the last three, it didn’t happen. And didn’t happen. And then one day, I had some crazy pain that led to an ambulance ride to the emergency room and emergency surgery. I had been pregnant without knowing it (having both a period and no morning sickness during that time) and had suffered a ruptured ectopic at seven weeks. One tube and one ovary were completely removed. It felt like such a kick in the face, being told by God to get pregnant and then have this happen. My feelings were hurt, I won’t deny it.

 

I was told by several doctors that I still had just as good a chance to get pregnant. So, after a few months, we started trying again. Months went by. That very distinct prompting began to fade as my youngest child got older and older. Soon, my “baby” was 5. I was really beginning to feel like maybe I was just allowed to be done. We took some months off, but that fall, the niggling feeling came back. It came back during my prayers. It came back in my own children beginning, without any prompting from me, to talk to me about wanting more children in our family, all three of them at different times bringing it up. My husband and I sat down and had another serious talk, reminding ourselves of what we’d been told to try to do. We decided that we would try for three more months on our own and then that I would go see a doctor.

The day I got that third period, I called for an infertility consult at my GYN.

 

And thus began one of the strangest, most exhausting, most emotionally charged experiences of my life.

 

Because here is the honest truth: my heart was not dying for a baby. My life was so GOOD, dare I say, EASY. It had its challenges but all three of my children were in school all day. I was busy but it was completely manageable. I had all kinds of time to tackle my calling, volunteer at school, have days to myself in DC seeing the sights. It was pretty awesome. So when we were referred to a fertility clinic, I said these words to myself, over and over,”we can try whatever they recommend, but we won’t do IVF. If we get to that point, it means we’ve done our best.”

 

So, we did all the testing. I did everything I was supposed to. The first time we did an intrauterine insemination (IUI), I felt like I was just going through the motions, nearly completely emotionally removed. I felt genuinely upset for a few hours when it came back negative but I bounced back really quick (amazing how not letting yourself care can do that.) I would say that partly, this was really just a defense mechanism. After the second negative IUI, I felt fine.

 

But that’s when things got REALLY tricky.

 

During my second IUI procedure, the doctor saw evidence around my ovary that indicated that my eggs were not getting into my fallopian tubes at all, probably as a result of the trauma to the region during my ectopic. He looked me in the eye and told me our only chance to obtain a pregnancy was to begin In Vitro Fertilization. IVF. That thing that I told myself would be the end of the road. It had now been nearly THREE YEARS since we were first given that prompting to try.

 

I went home and talked to my husband. As much as we tried to talk about it together, I’d never felt so alone. We were floating in this sea of “what are we supposed to do” and the weight of NOT knowing was nearly debilitating. I was feeling really done with thinking about it all the time.

 

So, like I learned in Sunday School, I made my own decision to take to the Lord and went to the temple.

 

The Temple

 

Here is what I wrote in my journal about this experience:

 

“When I went to the temple today, I was really ready to tell my Father in Heaven that I am done. I did ten family-file names and felt the spirit very strongly. I changed my clothing and went into the Celestial Room where I was alone save for the lovely matron in there who got to watch me cry for 25 minutes as I sorted through this biggest decision of my life.

 

I sat down, bowed my head, and I offered up to the Lord what I have done: I offered up 11+ years of childraising, 3+ years of trying to get pregnant, a pregnancy/miscarriage/near-death experience, the testing and 2 IUI procedures and being told that my body really can no longer conceive on its own. From the bottom to the top of my heart I gave it to him and asked him if it could please just be enough.

 

And I sat.

 

And pondered.

 

And cried.

 

And thought over all the different pieces of this.

 

And I wanted to just have peace so I could walk out the door and go home and move on with my life.

 

And I kept seeing images in my head of my own children with other, smaller children that I don’t know.

 

And I kept thinking of the joy that my own children give me. One random, specific memory came into my mind. It was this moment when we were at Crampton Gap and [my daughter] was using that tricky saw to try and cut wood. And it was so hard, and I offered to just take a turn and she wouldn’t stop. She told me she wanted to do it herself, her arms shaking with effort as she sawed that branch – and the look of triumph when she finished. For some reason, that moment, for me in the temple that day, was like a bolt of lightening, a revelation. It made the view in front of my closed eyes go black, overwhelmed and full of love and appreciation and joy – the joy and rejoicing in your posterity that I had just been thinking about over and over.

 

The words that came into my mind were that I needed to better appreciate the children I have now.

 

This is really important. It totally changed my attitude around the house today, totally. I need to remember what a gift these three children are.

 

And the other feeling I got was that I could choose – but that we would be blessed for the trying.

 

And I knew that if I did not try IVF, I would wonder my whole life if there were other people who belong in our family.

 

If it works, I know without a doubt that it will change this life of ours in ways that we can’t even imagine – some of it hard, some more joyful and fulfilling than anything I can even fathom. If it works, my big children will learn and grow from being older siblings, learn things that I cannot teach them myself. This is a hugely motivating thing for me.

 

If it doesn’t work, I feel like the Lord has promised me peace. I will know that I have taken our desire, MY desire, for more children as far as I can take it. I have allowed my heart to open up to the idea again, opened it up to getting my feelings hurt, I have found that desire that I know is a gift from God. And as much as I will mourn the lost possibilities if we do our three rounds and we still don’t have a baby, it will be something I can walk away from with no regrets. I will find ways to fill my life with children, just like I always have.

 

And once I decided to just move forward, I could finally leave the celestial room.

 

It was so not what I’d expected.

 

But when I came home and talked with [my husband], it was like we were reading each other’s minds. On the way home I had even decided I didn’t want to wait, I want to do it now.

 

And HE brought that up to ME, that he didn’t want to wait.

 

OH how blessed we are. What an incredibly spiritual path this has been for my beloved husband and I. If nothing, NOTHING else, it has brought us together in a way that no other blessing or trial has.

 

I’m on the verge of being grateful for this experience.

 

I have never had to go to the Lord like this before, and I feel like he is truly guiding me, guiding this. ”

 

Twins

 

And so, that winter, I did my first round of IVF. I let myself want it to work. I opened my heart to bringing another child into this family. And I got pregnant. With twins. I am due in a month.

 

It is the most astonishing, overwhelming, terrifying thing I have ever done, this twins pregnancy. My “baby” is now seven years old. My oldest child is twelve. It’s just not what I would’ve ever, ever imagined for our family. But the most important part is that I know it is RIGHT. Those moments I had in the temple are like an anchor, like the hand holding a kite string, and when I get so panicky that I don’t know what to do, I remember that I am not doing this on my own. I am reeled back in by my sure knowledge of the guidance I was given. Just this past Sunday in Sacrament meeting I was listening to the opening hymn and my heart felt so softened as I sang,

 

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.”

 

I have been amazed by the strength of his hand to uphold me and my husband. What I don’t ever want to forget, and what I need these two little boys that I am growing to know, is that, like the Brother of Jared in his barge being led across the sea, God has led this journey for our family. Even though we were scared and unsure of the way, even though we didn’t even always know that we WANTED to go, we followed where he led and I know that something special is waiting for us. I am astonished by how fierce my love for for these unborn sons is and how sure I now am that they belong to this family. I don’t think it will be without trials. I have no doubt of the challenges that wait us. I also have no doubt that my Father in Heaven is in charge of it.

by Lani

In Wisdom and Order

October 26, 2012 in Adversity, Book, Dads, Family size, Fear, Intuition, Lani, Marriage, Personal Revelation, Postpartum Depression by Lani

About a year and a half ago, I sat in this very spot and wrote a bittersweet blogpost. In it I shared some personal experiences relating to my fourth pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period. Here’s an excerpt:

We can’t know for certain whether there was, in fact, a vanished twin. But my heart feels it’s true. . . . And, even now, my eyes well up with tears of knowing… Yes, I know it now. I can feel it in my bones. I can see it in my tears and in the burning, overwhelming love and joy filling me and surrounding me. Yes, there is another child who loves me deeply and intensely, waiting… and hoping that I will have the courage to surrender again.

Then about six months ago I plunged into a pit of anxiety and depression unlike anything I had ever experienced before. With those illnesses came an intense repulsion of the idea of ever bearing any more children. The thought of discovering I was pregnant filled me with overwhelming horror. I was sure that having another child would be the death of me. And meanwhile I had just helped write a book called The Gift of Giving Life! 

One of the essays I wrote in the “Importance of Giving Life” section of our book is titled “The Spirit of Elijah.” Here’s an excerpt:

As President Spencer W. Kimball has said, “This is the great, irreplaceable work of women. Life cannot go on if women cease to bear children. Mortal life is a privilege and a necessary step in eternal progression. Mother Eve understood that. You must also understand it.” These words from the Savior can remind us of the importance of receiving these little ones into our arms and homes: “And whoso receiveth one such little one in my name receiveth me” (Matthew 18:5).

There were many times during the past six months when I thought to myself with bitter sarcasm, “I don’t even believe any of the stuff I wrote in that stupid essay anymore.” Satan was beating me black and blue and filling my head with all kinds of awfulness. At present, I no longer feel broken down by the fear and darkness, but I do still feel very hesitant to invite any more children into my womb and home.

Yet, I told my husband, children, and friends many times in the months following my fourth child’s birth that I felt impressed that there were two more spirits waiting to come to our family. But now, after surviving a long and hellish summer full of poor mental and emotional health, I can’t help feeling that bearing any more children may not be wise. Are we not also taught that we shouldn’t run faster than we have strength?

My husband is our family’s provider, and he also bears a heavy and heart-breaking burden when I am incapacitated by emotional difficulties. He wants to be “done,” in part because he wants to keep me strong and healthy and happy. Just the other day, I was staring from across the room at my friend’s adorable baby (one of the first times in a long time that I felt a twinge of baby hunger), turned to my husband with a pleading look, and said, “Isn’t she cute?” He replied, “We already have four cute ones.”

I think it’s often the case that husbands are eager to be finished with (or hesitant to begin) childbearing before wives are. In fact, it can become a source of conflict for some couples when one is certain that there are more spirits waiting to come to the family but the other disagrees or feels done. A few days ago, I encouraged one of our Gift of Giving Life readers struggling with this issue to share “A Father’s Sacred Support” with her husband (in the Unity chapter of our book). In that essay, I shared a quote from Marion G. Romney:

Unity comes by following the light from above. It does not come out of the confusions below. While men depend upon their own wisdom and walk in their own way, without guidance of the Lord they cannot live in unity. Neither can they come to a unity by following uninspired men.

The way to unity is for us to learn the will of the Lord and then to do it.

 A year ago, I thought I knew the will of the Lord for my family: more babies down the road. But now I’m not so sure. I just don’t know what to do about those two spirits I once believed were waiting for us to welcome them. And I couldn’t help feeling a pang of guilt, knowing that my womb may never again give life, when I heard Elder Oaks say a few weeks ago in Conference:
From the perspective of the plan of salvation, one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth. This is a worldwide trend. The national birthrate in the United States is the lowest in 25 years.

Oh how I wish I could be stronger, healthier, braver, and more capable. Oh how I wish I could completely open my body and heart to more of those children waiting for their turn on earth. But maybe it’s for the best that I simply give thanks for the four beautiful children I have been given and focus on nurturing them with more love and diligence. They deserve a happy mother.

In 1979, the Ensign published a question and answer relating to these dilemmas. The question was: “Is it our understanding that we are to propagate children as long and as frequently as the human body will permit? Is there not any kind of ‘gospel family-planning,’ for lack of a better way to say it?” The response came from Dr. Homer Ellsworth, gynecologist and former member of the Melchizedek Priesthood General Committee. A portion of his reply reads:

As to the number and spacing of children, and other related questions on this subject, such decisions are to be made by husband and wife righteously and empathetically communicating together and seeking the inspiration of the Lord. . . .  As I meet other people and learn of their circumstances, I am continually inspired by the counsel of the First Presidency in the General Handbook of Instructions that the health of the mother and the well-being of the family should be considered. Thirty-four years as a practicing gynecologist and as an observer of Latter-day Saint families have taught me that not only the physical well-being but the emotional well-being must also be considered.

I don’t know the right answer for my family yet, let alone anyone else’s family. But I have sort of decided to put off deciding for now and hope for further light and knowledge to be given to us in the future. For now I’m focusing on getting healthier, happier, and stronger, and I am doing so much better than I was before. I know many of you have been praying for me. Thank you for your love and prayers.

Have you struggled with these dilemmas in your marriage? Are you “done” having children? Has your physical or emotional health ever been a deciding factor in whether or when you would bear more children? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Calling = no baby?

September 7, 2012 in Family size, Intuition, Sheridan by enjoybirth

Not long after the Condom Fairy came, I got a new calling in church.

I must first start by saying that I had always envisioned being in Young Women’s one day while pregnant and with a new baby.  In my patriarchal blessing it talks about serving the Young Women and their seeing me in the beauty as a wife and mother.  What is more beautiful than a pregnant or new mom?

So when I got released and Bro. F went to offer me a new calling I thought it was going to be in Young Women’s.  That seemed like it would totally make sense.

So when he called me as the 1st counselor in the Relief Society my first thought was, “I guess we are not having a baby.”

I even asked, “Not Young Women’s?” I accepted the calling I was given.  I have no idea what that will entail, but I am sure Heavenly Father will help me.

After my appointment I was sad, because I felt like it meant we are not having a baby.

Which on the one hand is silly.  But I guess it would have been equally as silly to assume that if I had gotten called to Young Women’s I WAS going to have a baby.

I just keep thinking, “If it is meant to be, it will happen.”

I am trying not to be too attached to a specific outcome, just be open to whatever is meant to be.

I talked to my friends about it later and they helped me see that it doesn’t have to mean I won’t have a baby.  I know that is true.