by Robyn

A Woman’s Journey: The Six Periods of Creation

March 11, 2018 in Faith, Family size, Fertility, Gratitude, Grief, Jesus Christ, miscarriage, Parenting, Robyn, Savior, Temple by Robyn


Jehovah Creates the Earth by Walter Rane


Not long ago I found myself sitting in the garden room of the Idaho Falls temple pondering what was next for me. I had just had my third miscarriage since my last child. I realized that the repeated miscarriages meant that a chapter of my life was closing. I felt a little lost and confused. I had been in and out of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and birthing babies for the last eighteen years. I just didn’t realize that an end was coming when it did, so while I felt ready to embrace a new chapter I felt a bit melancholy about it too. 


One of the beautiful things about going to the temple is that, given our different circumstances, we will hear the same things but they will mean something new or different to us.  That day for me it was being reminded of the six periods of creation.  When God directs the creation, it is a beautiful harmony of events. Each creative period has its time and place. I had this ‘aha’ moment where I realized that I was not done ‘creating,’ I was just moving on to a different creative period of my life.  I felt like it was the Lord’s way of telling me that my family is complete and that it was okay for me to move on to the next stage of life that would no longer include, pregnancy, breastfeeding, diapers, and so on.


It was Dieter F. Uchtdorf that said, “Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter” (source). As women we do not move from one period of creation to the next in the same way or order. We each have different experiences, talents, gifts, and challenges that pull us toward a particular form of creation. For a long time it was childbearing for me. That period of time may be shorter for other women or longer.  It may not even happen in this life, but that period of creation will come, “If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.”


Participating in creating is an ongoing process. The focus of creation for me will just become a little different. I like Elder Uchtdorf’s suggestion, “The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create. That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come. Sisters, trust and rely on the Spirit. As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.” In the end I feel like I am still in the process of being created.  And, like the painting above, the Lord is directing it.  I can’t see everything from my perspective but He can, and I trust His wisdom and guidance. How grateful I am for the six babies who came to our family and the powerful experience that it was to carry them, birth them and nurture them. 


And so, I’m moving on to a new period of creation, relying on the Spirit to guide the way.  May that Spirit guide you in whatever period of creation you may find yourself. 


You may enjoy reading Lani’s poems that she wrote for the empty womb and this woman’s experience coming to know that her family was complete. 

by Lani

Healing Heartbreak

May 8, 2014 in Adversity, Book reviews, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Virtual Book Tour by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Brittney at Notes from a Been-There Mom. Brittney has shared some of her journey on our blog before–the birth story of her fourth baby, born with a cleft palate. Since that birth, she has experienced multiple heart-breaking miscarriages. Those losses have inspired her to partner with me in creating a book for moms mourning miscarriages: Light in the Mourning. You can read more about that project and how to submit stories HERE.

Three weeks before Brittney's first miscarriage

Three weeks before Brittney’s first miscarriage

Here’s an excerpt from Brittney’s beautiful post today:

Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot it a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)

Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.

Brittney’s post brought me to tears. I so appreciate her willingness to share her courageous journey. You can read the rest of her post HERE.


by Lani

Cherie Burton Book Review

April 28, 2014 in Adoption, Adversity, Book reviews, Depression, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Personal Revelation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

150602_426562187424709_1846303491_nToday’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Cherie Burton. Cherie is an amazing, powerful woman and mentor/coach of other strong women. Because of her family’s history with depression and suicide, she is passionate about helping others achieve health and emotional balance. Cherie was also Utah County’s Young Mother of the Year in 2011 and considers being a wife and mother her greatest calling.

I loved meeting Cherie last summer. After she contacted me to set up a meeting, I spent some time on her blog reading about the miraculous and beautiful adoption of her Elijah. It struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons. One being that I began having spiritual experiences with my own unborn son (also named Elijah) almost as soon as my fourth baby was born. I felt his presence among my children often, I dreamed about him, I saw him in vision. Reading about Cherie finding her Elijah stirred my own heart’s assurance that my Elijah wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

I love Cherie’s post about The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:

the-gift-of-giving-life-book-review-1I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

You can read the rest of Cherie’s beautiful post HERE.

2014-04-24 09.56.04 am

by Lani

She Understands me

March 3, 2014 in Adversity, Church History, Death, Grief, Lani, LDS History, Loss, Midwives, miscarriage, Motherhood, Music by Lani


“It is to me the crowning joy of a woman’s life to be a mother.” -Ellis Reynolds Shipp

Did you know that Dr. Ellis Shipp, one of Utah’s first female doctors (who trained many women to become nurses and midwives), wrote a hymn in the hymn book? I had forgotten until yesterday when my friend (who is mourning her second miscarriage) posted this on facebook…

As I sung/listened to this hymn today, I realized that the woman who wrote the words understands me. Some of her own babies did not make it past infancy, yet she pushed forward, continued to bear children, and went on to help Utah women as their midwife and first female doctor. She has been a hero of mine for years, and only became more dear to my heart through the re-discovery of this hymn. Even though it made me cry, her song brought me joy and peace today.



You can read more about Dr. Shipp’s wonderful legacy in Robyn’s post HERE.

by Robyn

A Twin Birth: Peace That Passeth All Understanding

December 30, 2013 in Adversity, Birth Stories, Conception, Faith, Fertility, Gratitude, home birth, hospital birth, Loss, miscarriage, Prayer, Pregnancy, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

I am so glad that we had a request for a twin birth story from one of our blog readers and that my friend, Heidi, was willing to share her experience.  Shortly after she moved to our ward we discovered that we both loved childbirth.  I consider it a privilege that I was allowed to be a part of Liam’s and Landon’s births.  I had so much fun reading back the story again.  I hope you enjoy their faith-filled journey.  –Robyn

A Twin Birth: Peace that Passeth All Understanding 

by Heidi Hellstrom

I don’t normally share my birthing stories by writing them down for people (besides myself), but I’ve had a few people asking me about it lately and I’ve been thinking a lot about it, so I feel it is the right time. It is my prayer that this story will help someone.

I lost my first baby. Then I had my son, followed by two more miscarriages. A nurse practitioner told me that it might be difficult to have any more children. Then I conceived my daughter. (Her story is a complete miracle, and I’ll share that some other time.) It was while I was pregnant with my daughter that we found out at my 20th week ultrasound, that I have a “heart-shaped” uterus. (I’m not sure what the medical term for it is.) It basically means that I will have a really hard time carrying a baby to full term, without losing it.  After my 2nd child was born, my doctor told me that “there is really no point in ‘preventing conception’ because you will likely never conceive again”.  I was very saddened by this news, but followed his advice, hoping that someday another miracle would occur. Fast forward 9 months. I was at my doctor’s office getting some tests done, when we found out that only one of my ovaries works, and only some of the time. Great! Now it’s going to be even harder to have another baby. But I wasn’t too fazed by this news. I knew that if it was meant to be, it would be. (We moved to another state shortly before my 2nd child was born.)

Several weeks later I was at my old doctor’s office (in another state) getting some more tests done, including an ultrasound. I was NOT there for a pregnancy test. He comes into the room and jokingly says “Well, let’s just make sure you don’t have any twins or anything in there!” and proceeds to start the ultrasound. While we were still laughing about it, a few seconds later his face gets really serious and he says, “Oh! You are going to have twins!” What?!?? We were both shocked. Later that day I was on the phone with my husband, trying to convince him that we were in fact going to have twins. He didn’t believe me. It actually took him a few days before he realized I was serious! Then all the fun began…

I had always wanted to have a home birth, with a midwife.  But in the state where we live, by the current law, midwives are not allowed to attend a birth of multiple babies, and especially where it isn’t in a setting like a hospital. So I had two options: 1) Try finding a doctor who would allow me to birth them vaginally and drug-free, or 2) Deliver them in the next State over, where I could use a midwife, and it would be in at a birthing center (free of the hospital chaos). However, option #2 would be a 2 ½ hour drive, while in labor. After a few months of praying about it, and many interviews with potential doctors, we decided that staying here would be the best option, for us.

I started taking the Bradley Method classes from one of my neighbours, who is a birth educator. In there I learn about the importance of eating right while pregnant and the great importance of eating LOTS of protein. My husband was SO great about making sure I got plenty of protein each day- which is especially important when carrying multiple babies. I also was blessed to have a neighbor who had had twins herself nearly 20 years ago. Throughout my pregnancy she would constantly bring me foods & drinks that were chalked full of protein. I’m so thankful for her! Another thing that helped me stay pregnant was taking fish oil capsules, twice daily. A midwife told me about them, and how she told her patients that it would help them carry the babies to full-term. I took two daily because I was carrying two babies.

I started bleeding somewhere between 11 – 15 weeks, and was put on bed rest for nearly two months. I was also put on bed rest several more times throughout my pregnancy. With two little kids at home, this was not easy. I was told that I better avoid stairs at all cost, if I wanted to stay pregnant. (I would have mild contractions every time I used the stairs. One time I even blacked out and fainted- that was in my first trimester.) It was difficult because in my home, all the bedrooms are upstairs and the kitchen is on the main level. My sweet husband would make some snacks and an easy lunch the night before, and in the mornings before he left for work, he would bring them upstairs so that I could feed my two older children during the day without having to go up/down stairs. Towards the end, I could NOT sit for longer than a few minutes without being in a lot of pain, because of the weight of the babies. I tried just going to Sacrament and then coming home after. But it got to the point where I had to stay home from church (for 4-5 weeks, or so). Everything hurt. I was completely exhausted, all of the time. I was blessed to meet a lady who had twin two year old girls. She warned me that I’d get to a point where I just wanted to be done, no matter what. She said she felt that way when she started having a few contractions, and didn’t stop them. She told me she regretted that because she believed her daughters were born “too early”, and she advised me against that. “Try to not go into labor,” she said. “The longer they are in there, the better.” I really wanted to “be done” but I remembered her words, and just tried to survive one day at a time.

Then came my 36 week check-up. (By this point, I was having weekly appointments.) Twin A and twin B had stayed pretty close together in the same size and weight throughout the pregnancy. But after reviewing this week’s ultrasound results, Dr. Cox was very concerned. Baby B (we chose to not find out their genders until they were born) had stopped- or greatly slowed down- in growing, and there was now over a pound difference between Baby A and Baby B. He said that we needed to schedule an induction, and the sooner the better. Up until this point, my husband was rarely able to come to my appointments, but this time he was there, and I was SO glad, as we had a very serious decision to make. That was on a Monday. Dr. Cox left the room for a little while so we could discuss it. I said a silent prayer. I usually don’t believe that most things the doctors/nurses tell you are necessary, but after praying I really felt that this was true, and serious. We scheduled the induction for Friday: I wanted to give my babies as much time in there as possible, and that was the longest Dr. Cox would let us go. Like I said, it was on a Monday that we got the news that we’d be having our babies sooner than expected. All Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I cried and stressed about it, and prayed. Then Thursday morning peace came. A peace that passeth all understanding. Peace that only my Father in Heaven can give. I knew that we were making the right choice for our babies. We still had family and friends that thought we were just “giving in” or making the wrong decision or that we should just plan a C-section, but that didn’t matter to me, because I knew from my Heavenly Father that I was doing what was best. Yes, I would have liked to deliver in another 2-3 weeks, but the time was now. I felt that if we didn’t get Baby B out soon, we would lose him.

That same week, I had an appointment Thursday. It was the first time I let the doctor do a vaginal exam, and I was between 3-4cm dilated. Since I was being induced the next morning, I wanted to try to get things going on my own, if possible. So they put in one of those balloon things… that was around 5pm. I sent my kids to a neighbours house, which was planning on keeping them all night and the next day. (So helpful!) My husband and I went out to eat. (A tradition when I’m in labor, haha.) The waitress kept giving me worried looks, and finally came over to ask Scott if everything was ok. I just tried to smile and said that I was in labor. Hahaha she didn’t know how to respond to that, so she said, “Oh ok! Well let me know if you need anything” and walked off. A couple hours later, it came out, along with my mucous plug, around 8pm. Dr. Cox said it would come out when I was dilated to a 5. Labor quickly slowed down after that.

Friday morning we went to the hospital for our 4:00am induction. We learned later that it is normally standard procedure to deliver twins in the O.R. “just in case” surgery is needed, but Dr. Cox had previously arranged for me to be in an actual delivery room (which was very sweet of him). Later he told me that he had faith in me that I “could do it”. J So when we arrived at the hospital and were checked into our room, we were waiting while a nurse finished bringing in a second warming bed and all the other stuff needed. They got me all hooked up and started the Pitocin around 6:30am. I was dilated to 4.5cm. I was soon turned all the way up to the highest amount, and they said that I was contracting a lot and regularly, but I didn’t feel much and they were all pretty tolerable. Scott and I played games, walked in the hall, got in the birthing tub (which was heavenly), tried different positions to keep things going, etc. That lasted all day.

Heidi H 1

Baby A was fairly easy to keep on the monitor, Baby B was very difficult to find, almost the whole time. I had to hold the monitor just right, all day, or we lose the heart rate again. At some point during the day, when things were still pretty easy, the anesthesiologist came into our room, introduced himself, and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him “Stay out”. I didn’t want the temptation of an epidural, especially when I knew from experience that I’d be asking for it later!

That evening Dr. Cox came in to check on my progress. I was at 5 cm. I cried, a lot. I was so frustrated that this was taking ALL day and I had only progressed a half centimeter. He suggested that he break my water to see if that would help kick things in gear. He would let us talk about it, and he’d come back in one hour. Originally on my birth plan I did NOT want my water broken, because I knew that I would feel EVERYTHING. Since I was having regular hard contractions, I knew this time would be no different, though I didn’t feel very many of them up until this point. I just felt crampy, like before a period. Scott and I talked about it, and I just wanted to get this over with so I could hold my babies. So when the doctor came back, I told him it was ok to go ahead and break my water so we could get things going. That happened at 7pm.

Almost as soon as my water broke, I started into full-swing labor. It was like someone had flipped on a light switch! They came fast and hard and right on top of the last one. Right before they broke my water, I called my doula and she came up to the hospital. I had never used a doula before, and I was very glad to have another woman there, who knew what it felt like and all the emotions that come with natural childbirth. She was very helpful in reminding me to not hold my breath, but to breathe, and when the time came, to breathe the baby down; keeping my voice low-pitched was actually very helpful (haha I was surprised how that worked). Shortly after my water broke, my sister arrived. She stayed up by my head the whole time, rubbing my forehead with a cold wash cloth. It was helpful to have that distraction, when I needed it. As I was nearing the transition stage, the anesthesiologist literally poked his head around the curtain and said, “Hi! I just wanted to see if you needed…” But before he could finish, I yelled “Get out!!” hahaha Later it made us all laugh, but at the time I was really annoyed that he waited until he knew I was in full-swing labor before coming in to ask if I wanted an epidural. Later I felt bad for yelling at him, and I told him I was sorry and hoped he had no hard feelings… but I did warn him.

This birth was SO different than my first two. Not just because I was carrying twins, but also I had invited people there to witness it, and I’d never done that before. In fact, one of the student nurses even requested to stay and watch after her shift ended. The doctor told her that something very rare was going to happen and she better stay to watch; rare being- a woman having a vaginal birth to twins drug-free. I didn’t mind. In looking back, I did have quite the audience haha! I would never have done that with my first two. Also, I literally felt prayers that day/night. It is almost unexplainable and indescribable, but I literally felt like there were angels arms wrapped around me. Like I wasn’t alone. Of course I know that I literally wasn’t alone, because of the other people in the room. It just felt like my heart was full. Full of my Saviour’s love for me and my babies, and all the people of the world. I’ll never forget how completely blessed and at peace I felt that night!

So right before they broke my water (at 7pm) there was a shift change, and I got a new nurse named Kathleen. She was an angel! The BEST nurse I have ever had. (We found out later that Dr. Cox had requested her a week before to attend me, if she happened to be on shift when I came in. That was cool that he did that.) So after I started feeling the contractions, Kathleen told us that the hospital just got these new birthing chairs and that no one had even used them yet. She asked if I’d like to try one out, and I said yes. It was like sitting on the toilet with a tall back to it that was slightly reclined, but not too much. The center and front of the seat were missing. It was perfect to allow for gravity to help Baby A come down. Since I was only at a 5 when they broke my water, the doctor and most nurses left, thinking it would take a while.  I only remember Kathleen being there with me, trying to make sure both babies were being monitored. Then all of a sudden I felt the urge to push and push now! I pushed once with the next contraction, but tried to do it inconspicuously so that the nurse wouldn’t freak out. She looked up at me and quickly asked if I needed to push. I lied and said no. Haha Sorry! I really am not sure why I did that! But there was no time to think because a half second later the next contraction was there and I REALLY needed to push! So I did. The nurse started yelling for someone to get Dr. Cox in here NOW. He came running in and was frantically trying to find gloves and a gown, but saw there was no time. He leaned over the bed (my chair was next to the bed, and I had my feet up on the side of the bed) and helped Kathleen catch Baby A as he came into this world. The doctor lifted him up to my chest and my husband announced that he was a boy. I’ll never forget it! We just did it! My first un-medicated, successful birth. Liam was born at 8:14pm, weighing 6lbs, 6oz. (So yes, I went from a 5 to a 10 in one hour!)

Right after handing Liam to me, the doctor was about to clamp the cord. I noticed and said “Don’t clamp it. Don’t clamp it.” He thanked me for reminding him and stopped. He had forgotten that was on my birth plan, that I wanted to wait until the cord had stopped pulsating before clamping it. Later my doula told me she was shocked that I had the presence of mind to notice/remember that. Looking back, I was shocked too!

After a couple minutes, the nurse wanted to take Liam over to the warmer, so I kissed him and let him go. THAT was one of the HARDEST things I’ve done. To leave my brand new, beautiful baby in the care of strangers, on the other side of the room, while I still had to deliver a second baby. I felt so bad for Liam. My sister must have noticed how I was feeling, and she left my side to go stand by my son until I could hold him again. That act of kindness meant a lot to me.

Within minutes of delivering Liam, I started contracting again. I was still fully dilated, and it didn’t take long for full-swing labor to pick back up again. Both twins each had their own sack, or bag of water. So Baby B (remember we still had not found out the gender) was happily floating around in there way up high, and frustrating all the nurses because the baby would not hold still long enough to get a good monitor on the heartbeat. Scott told me later that actually the baby’s heart rate had dropped way low while I was still sitting on the birthing chair (to 70; Normal is 120-150). Scott, Dr. Cox, and the nurses were all very worried but somehow managed to not let me know. Dr. Cox had me move to the bed (not very easy, mind you) to get an ultrasound of how Baby B was positioned; the baby was breach. Once I was in the bed, the heart rate went back into the normal range. They got my permission to do IFM because the baby would not hold still for the heart monitors on my stomach. Then, I wanted Dr. Cox to try turning the baby from the outside. I laid back (while contracting- not comfortable) and had to hold still and try to be very relaxed so that my abdominal muscles would be loose enough. Dr. Cox pushed and pulled and the baby rotated. It did not hurt. He did another ultrasound to make sure. I sat back up in bed. Then we just had to wait. The baby was still pretty high up. I was completely exhausted. I desperately tried pushing a few times (even though I knew it wasn’t time) just to try and speed things along. It didn’t work; it probably just made me even more tired! I asked the doctor to break Baby B’s water, and he did. (Looking back, I’m not sure if this happened before or after rotating the baby.) Then, as tired as I was, it was like another switch was flipped, and I knew that it was time to push. My doula filmed the second birth, and after watching this part, all I did was quietly say “ok”. Then it looked like my husband, who was standing next to the bed, snapped to attention and notified everyone that I was ready to push. (It’s funny to watch. I highly recommend filming the birth of your children!) After one, maybe two, pushes, the head was out. I had beforehand told Dr. Cox that I wanted to deliver the second baby. He reminded me of this but I felt so dead that all I could do was barely lift my arms. I reached down, pulled out my baby with one more push, and brought Baby B up to my chest. I literally was SO tired that I could not even lift my head or barely open my eyes, so I forgot to look to see what the gender was. My husband announced it was another boy! We were all surprised! The doctor himself didn’t even know the gender and we all thought it would be a boy and a girl. Landon was born at 9:31pm and weighed 5lb, 11oz. This time, the doctor remembered to wait until the cord stopped pulsating before clamping it. He handed the scissors to Scott to cut the cord, but at the last second, I decided that I wanted to. So I cut the cord that had held us together for approximately 36 weeks, 4 days. After 2 ½ hours of labor, I was now a mother of twins. I was so completely happy and dead tired at the same time.

Heidi H 2

They had to take away Landon pretty quick to assess his vitals and such. Both babies were unable to breastfeed, or even eat at first, and had to be monitored in the NICU (but were never admitted). Their breathing was very fast (100+ per minute instead of 60 as usual). They were getting enough air; they just had to work harder for it. After I was all cleaned up and had a little more energy, Scott and I were asked if we wanted to go to our recovery room, but I said I’d rather go see my babies first, in the NICU. Scott and I each held one baby skin-to-skin on our chests. I couldn’t believe how Landon just fit right inside Scott’s shirt, like a glove!

 Heidi H 3

When we finally were able to go to sleep that night, it was close to 1:00am. I’d been awake for 22 hours. A short time later, they brought me my babies and said their breathing had slowed down enough for them to try nursing. I believe that had they been sedated by an epidural or Nubian, that they would have been unable to work as hard as they needed for air and would have needed oxygen or a respirator in the NICU. They were both able to come home with us when we left the hospital.

I just felt so blessed by this whole birthing experience. I know that everyone there in that delivery room was meant to be there, and I also know that there were angels in attendance that day, helping me and others to know what to do. I’m grateful for the power of prayer and the gift of faith. I know that every story is different, but for me, I know that I did what was best for my babies. They are now 9 months old, and healthy. I have a good life!

by Lani

The Stories I Want My Children to Know

November 8, 2013 in Adversity, Conversion, Death, Faith, Family History, Forgiveness, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Traditions by Lani

Trigger warning: this post contains loss


Auguste and Wilhelm 1927

A few days ago I was reading my husband’s Aunt Kathryn’s journal entries from World War II. My father-in-law was born in Bielefeld, Germany. His oldest sister Kathryn was a teenager during the war. She spent years writing of air raids, alarm sirens, homes turned to rubble, hiding in the basement. Heart-wrenching stories, like this one:

10/6/44: Last Saturday, a major terror raid stormed across our Bielefeld. The destruction to the city is horrendous. I have to cry every time I walk through the devastated streets. Many have lost part or all they owned. Our Edith, our star is gone. . . . Her mother is dead as well. Nothing was found of her. Now Edith’s poor father has lost all–wife, daughter, and home. He volunteered for the front lines. I don’t think he will come back.

Kathryn’s mother, Auguste, became pregnant during the war. I ached for her when I encountered Kathryn’s words of what happened in the middle of eating dinner one evening:

1/18/44: Suddenly Mother became quite ill. She left the room and Dad followed. When I followed them, Mother was sitting in the kitchen and cried. She was in a lot of pain. Dad rode his bicycle to get Dr. Hartog. To make a long story short, Mother had to get to the clinic right away, and lost the baby.

We’ve been talking a lot about our ancestors lately in our home. For the past few Family Home Evenings we have shared stories of brave women from our family lines. I told my kids about my great-grandma Cassie losing her husband when she was eight months pregnant with my grandfather. My husband shared his British grandmother’s conversion to the Church. Sometime we will also tell our kids about Kathryn’s war experiences and their great-grandmother Auguste’s miscarriage.

This recent focus on family history stemmed partially from a discussion at church a few weeks ago introducing the new “Family Tree” story-focused portion of the Family Search website. Earlier this year, the New York Times reported some interesting research: “The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” How much your children know about their family’s story and roots turned out to be “the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.” Those children who know the most about their families tend to be more resilient and better able to cope during stressful situations (See “The Stories That Bind Us,” by Bruce Feiler).

One of the things that struck me most from our discussion at church on this subject was the importance of “telling it like it is.” The most helpful family narratives are those which give the full spectrum of experiences, the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs. Telling only rose-colored versions of the past doesn’t provide our children with as effective a narrative from which to build their own lives. Knowing that their parents and ancestors overcame difficulties and heartache gives our children not just people they can relate to on a real, personal level but also encouragement to overcome their own challenges.


60th Wedding Anniversary (1987)

So I will tell my children that their great-grandmother Auguste had a painful miscarriage during World War II. I will tell them that she endured that loss along with many other losses (of friends and neighbors) and with her hometown being turned to rubble around her. I will tell them that she survived all of that loss and heartache, saw the end of the war, and soon found the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will tell them that their great-grandparents left their homeland and came to America (to live among the very people who had turned their hometown to rubble) because of their faith. That is strength. That is forgiveness. That is inspiring.

These are the stories I want my children to know.

What stories do you want your children to know?

My Births Were NOT Spiritual, Or Were They?

October 29, 2013 in miscarriage, Sheridan by enjoybirth

So one of the questions someone asked at the Gift of Giving Life Panel last month was, “How were your births spiritual and how did you prepare for that?”

I answered that my births were not very spiritual.  I don’t know if that is really true, but the spirit of the question made me want to somehow let people know that it is OK if your births are not spiritual and that it was more looking in retrospect that I saw the spirituality of them, rather than during my actual pregnancy and birth.  Remember I had my births before I was part of the book and before I even had the idea that they could be spiritual.  I think that being open to that idea can open you up to be aware of all the spirituality in the experience, as I discovered.

Here is ways my first 3 births were spiritual.


  • Feeling warned by the Spirit that their was a problem with Devon
  • Getting a blessing before my cesarean


  • I can’t pick anything out, but using hypnosis helped me really connect with the baby and also let go of fear from my first pregnancy and birth.
  • When T2 was a few weeks old I had a pretty spiritual experience with him, where we connected very deeply and I saw a glimpse of who he was eternally.


  • Again a lot of connection with my mind, body and spirit because of hypnosis.
  • Being in awe of my body and how it could birth a baby like it did!

As a Doula

  • Here is where I have experienced spiritual births in a more traditional way.  It wasn’t until after I had T3 that I consciously was introduced to the idea that pregnancy and birth were spiritual.  That caused a giant shift in me and also in the way I was a doula.
  • Being a part of the creation of The Gift of Giving Life and reading all the stories and essays was eye opening.  Just being aware changed so much.  I then shared the idea of spiritual birth with my doula clients and saw that even with the idea being suggested, they ran with it and had amazing spiritual births.  I learned a lot from them.

My Miscarriage

I wish I had shared my miscarriage experience instead of jokingly saying, “I wish I could have another baby just to have a spiritual experience.”  Because while my miscarriage wasn’t a typical birth scenario, it was very spiritual.  My pregnancy only lasted a few weeks, but the journey to that pregnancy was long and filled with much prayer.  I blogged all about it and you can read my journey here.

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

Then we got pregnant and had an early miscarriage

A brief recap is:  opening myself up to getting pregnant and then my miscarriage were actually very spiritual experiences.  I learned a lot through them and my testimony was strengthened.  I think because I was open to whatever experience I was meant to have.  I was sad when I lost my baby.  With a lot of prayer and support from friends and family it is something I look back on with a warm heart.  I think part of that is I consciously chose to see it as a spiritual journey and to really open my heart and spirit to experiencing it.  That is what allowed me to flow through it more easily.

I was able to dedicate my hike to Machu Pichu (which I did the time the baby would have been born) to my baby and let her go, allow her to move on to wherever that may be.  Into a new body right now or choose to wait to come back one day as my granddaughter.  I am not sure of the details of how it all works, but I felt peace and I am grateful that I had that experience.  It has made me a more compassionate person and also helped me to grow in many ways.

by Lani

Trial of Faith

May 31, 2013 in Adversity, Atonement, Death, Faith, Grief, Lani, Loss, Marriage, miscarriage, Pain, Pregnancy by Lani

Trial of Faith
By Shaylee Ann

My heart ached.
My head pounded.
My faith was tried.
I was in agony.

My womb was empty of the life that once grew there.

I knew before we lost her that I would miscarry.
I was cramping.
I was bleeding.
I was calm.

The compassion I felt for the people I saw as I accepted the loss of our baby was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
I saw mothers with young children, and felt their deep love and concern as they raise sons and daughters in this fallen society.
I felt the pain and sorrow in the hearts of the people all around me.
I grieved for their trials and losses.

I asked the Lord,
Is this what I need to learn?
I prayed that it was, that I had learned it, and that my baby would stay with me.
I knew that my experience wasn’t over yet.
Still, I hoped.

The day came.
Her tiny body left mine in clots of blood and waves of peace.
I prayed, and the Lord was there.
I cried, and my heart was consoled.
My husband came to my side, and we accepted the loss of our baby together.
We distracted ourselves and carried on quietly.
Night came and tears soaked my pillow.

Then came the anger.

Why was my baby taken from me?
Why didn’t I do anything about it?
Why me? Why us? Why now?

I fought in an exhausted haze of confusion.
I didn’t understand.
We loved our baby.
What was happening to us?

I cursed the sympathy and begged for comfort.
I functioned merely on the adrenaline of anger and sorrow.
I wasn’t hungry.
I wasn’t thirsty.
I entertained the releasing thought of death.
Only my husband kept me going.

I gave into the loneliness, the agony and anger.
I questioned God.
I doubted my faith, my abilities, our future.
I succumbed to the numbing, damning influence of the devil.
I lacked confidence in my role as a mother.
I blamed myself.
Again, I wanted to die.

Still, my husband kept me going.

I realized at last that I am surrounded by love.
I am needed.

I craved joy.
I rested in the peace of the Lord.

Morning came, and though the sky was dark, my heart felt . . . light.
I laughed in genuine glee.
I smiled by the grace of His Mercy.

I live, though still in pain, with His healing balm coursing through my soul.

I have my Eternal Companion,
I have the Gospel,
I have family,
I have love,
I have faith.

I miss her with a fierceness that I never imagined would be a part of my life.
I yearn for her spirit.
I ponder on her mission.
I love her.

Yet, I await a new spirit.
I prepare greater than before.
Still, my faith in God, my love for my husband, for my children, and for my life keep me going.

My womb will once more be filled with life.
And I am happy.


by Lani

VBT #9: CJane on TGOGL

May 1, 2013 in Book, Book reviews, Fertility, home birth, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Preparation, Virtual Book Tour, Waiting by Lani

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from the lovely C Jane (and her sister Lucy). Here’s an excerpt:

Five years ago I wrote an essay called “The Hour Glass Theory for Segullah. It’s a piece about miscarriage, death, time and birth–the heavy things we feel. I wrote it to piece together the definitive answer we search for–when does life begin and when does it end?

I was honored when some of my fellow LDS sisters and birthers asked if they could publish my essay in their anthology The Gift of Giving Life–Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth. It’s a book about birth and spirituality in all of its shades from–infertility, c-sections, adoption miracles and unassisted homebirths to name a few. As a bonus to me, my essay appears right next to Nat Holbrook in the book. Nat and I have plunged into infertility together where we became sisters in the trenches. (I also have an essay called “To My Sisters Who Still Hope” that appears in the infertility chapter.)

When the book came out I gave it to my sister Lucy. “The Hour Glass Theory is about her miscarriage and I thought it was fitting for her to have the book. But even better, she’s now pregnant with her third baby (a boy, due in June) and is currently in nesting glory. She devoured the book (it’s a hefty compilation, full of brilliant ideas and essays) and I asked for a short book review.

Click HERE to read the rest of the post.

I love how she ends her post: “Mother’s day is coming up . . . and I am recommending this book as a gift to any mother (buy it here).”  Of course we couldn’t agree more. 🙂

by Lani

Miscarriage: What Friends Can Do

April 9, 2013 in Adversity, Grief, Guest Post, Lani, Loss, miscarriage by Lani

Miscarriage: What Friends Can Do

By Liz Johnson

When people ask me how many children I have, I don’t really know how to answer. The proper response is “four,” because that’s how many I tuck in at night – three beautiful boys and a darling baby girl. But in my heart, I want to answer “five.” And then I guiltily admit that I feel like I should want to answer “seven.”

I have had three miscarriages. In many ways, it’s such a cruel medical term for something that can be so profound and painful, but nonetheless, that’s the word we use. I lost my very first pregnancy when my midwife couldn’t find a heartbeat at my first appointment. After dragging in the ultrasound equipment, we discovered that she couldn’t even find a baby – I had a blighted ovum, which essentially means that a fertilized egg attached to my uterine wall, but a baby never developed. My midwife asked if I’d like to wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally, or whether I’d like to have a D&C. I chose to wait and see if the baby would pass. After the miscarriage failed to happen during that week, I chose to have a D&C one week later.

My second miscarriage (third pregnancy) happened when my son was only nine months old. I had gotten pregnant rather quickly, and we were in the midst of a cross-country move. I was six weeks pregnant, and after we had loaded up the truck and cleaned our apartment, I noticed blood. I was in between insurance coverage and didn’t have a doctor to go see, so the miscarriage wasn’t ever medically managed.

My third miscarriage happened after what appeared to be a miracle pregnancy – despite actively trying to prevent pregnancy, my husband and I had been at the temple and had both received separate promptings that we were to have another baby, and that we would have a girl, and what we were to name her. To our surprise, I found out a week later that I was already pregnant. We excitedly decided that this was obviously something that was meant to happen for our family. You can imagine my shock when, at 16 weeks, I woke up to the sound of my water breaking. A few minutes later, I delivered a still baby girl into the palm of my hand.

I guiltily admit that my first two miscarriages didn’t really affect me – I hardly even felt sad. I just chalked them both up to “things that happen” and focused on getting pregnant again. With my second miscarriage, I even felt a twinge of relief – I hadn’t expected to get pregnant so quickly, and the thought of having two children just 17 months apart (with my husband in his first year of law school) was a bit overwhelming. And so I generally stayed quiet about them. I heard other women talk about their grief and pain with miscarriages, and I just figured that we coped with these things differently. I didn’t know exactly what to say, since I couldn’t really relate.

My third miscarriage, however, was the single most traumatic experience of my life. Suddenly, I knew what these other women were talking about when they said that they were hurting, or that they were sad, or that they were angry. I had nightmares about it for months. I would think about it and have a physical reaction – my heart would race, my palms would get cold and clammy, and I would get so dizzy that I often verged on passing out. I had debilitating panic attacks with both of my subsequent pregnancies that ended up requiring medication. I admit that I was intensely angry at a God that would promise me a baby, and even give her a name, and then take her away before she ever took a breath. The grief process that followed this miscarriage was such a raw, physical, all-encompassing process that it took months and years to fully process… and sometimes I’m not even sure I’ve fully completed it.

Miscarriage is tricky. Just like in pregnancy, women experience the same basic physical event in wildly varying ways. Just like some women have horrible morning sickness in pregnancy and some get barely nauseated, some women are completely knocked to the ground by miscarriage, and some are hardly fazed. This doesn’t make one experience more valid or more real than the other – it just shows that there is a broad spectrum of experience in relation to the loss of a pregnancy. This makes it especially difficult to talk about, as well as find empathy and support. And most miscarriages happen so early in pregnancy that unless a woman reaches out, most people around her don’t even know she was pregnant to begin with.

This is complicated by our tendency to explain miscarriage, either based on our own experience or the experience of somebody else we know. I have talked to dozens of women about miscarriages, and the feelings they have about their babies and pregnancies vary dramatically. Some feel like their miscarried baby came to their family through a subsequent pregnancy. Some feel that their miscarried baby received a body and will be part of their eternal family, and that they will be able to raise them in the next life. Some feel that their miscarriage was simply a biological event and feel no bond nor tie to the baby that could have come from that pregnancy. None of these are invalid or wrong approaches – all mothers are entitled to their own personal revelation about this tender subject.

Despite it being a complicated and delicate matter, it’s crucial that we support women as best we can through miscarriage. If you have a friend who experiences a miscarriage, here are some ways that you can support her.

1 – Let her talk as much or as little as she wants. Some women need to verbally process things more than others. Some women will want to talk for hours and in lots of different settings, and some women will want to process it internally. Some women will need to discuss it for months; others won’t need to discuss it at all.

2 – Share your experience, but be careful not to project your own (or others’) experiences onto hers. As illustrated above, every miscarriage is different. It’s easy to say “I know how you feel” or something similar, but the fact is that you don’t. Instead of projecting your emotions and experiences onto hers, state your own experience, and then ask if she shares in it. Saying something like “when I miscarried, I was really angry. Is that how you feel?” or “my mom said that the first few days after miscarrying were really emotional – how have yours been?” can give her the opportunity to expound on her feelings and help you understand if her experience is similar to the ones you know about. It can also be validating to have you state your feelings first, particularly if she’s feeling emotions that she perceives to be atypical.

3 – Similarly, be careful about making assumptions about the status of this miscarriage as it relates to the mother’s family. While you may feel strongly that a baby you lost will be part of your eternal family, suggesting that to a mother who feels differently can actually be quite painful. I had a friend who lost a baby at 18 weeks, and despite the advanced state of her pregnancy, she did not feel any bond to the pregnancy, nor any reassurance that the baby was part of her family. In fact, she had a lot of peace in knowing that her pregnancy simply wasn’t meant to be. When people would try to reassure her by telling her that she would get to raise her child someday, it actually gave her a deep sense of guilt, because she didn’t feel any bond to the baby she had lost, and somehow felt that she was damaged or not coping properly because her experience didn’t mirror the experience of other women. Instead of comforting, these well-meaning platitudes actually injured her further in her healing process. We need to be careful to not prescribe a universal answer to a very individual question, as it can further complicate the grieving process.

4 – Just do something. So many times we’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, or not doing enough, but it hurts infinitely more to not do anything. Bring over a card or a small gift. Write an email to let her know that you’re thinking of her. Offer to babysit other children or bring a meal. Call her and ask if she wants to go out, or if she’d like visitors. If you don’t know what to say, then say that. Just hearing “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling, but I’m sorry, and I’d like to help” means so much. Even if a woman is coping just fine with her miscarriage (as I was after my first two), feeling that outpouring of love and support is really comforting. It’s better to give too much support than not enough.

Women who experience miscarriages, despite undergoing a similar physical occurrence, have wide-ranging and diverse reactions. This can make it difficult to fully support and understand. It’s important that we acknowledge and honor a woman’s experience, however similar or different it may be from others we’ve encountered, and allow women to grieve and process their experience in a way that best suits them. In doing so, we can provide some of the most genuine and sincere support possible.

LizLiz Johnson is the mother of four (five) and resides in Northern Indiana.  She has a BA in International Development and is two postage stamps away from being a certified doula (DONA).  She loves to write, bake, and sing at the top of her lungs while her children beg her to stop.  You can find more of Liz’s writings and rantings at her personal blog: