My Path to Motherhood

by Heather

I thought that since this is my first “official” post on this blog that I should give a bit of history about myself. I’m sure that eventually you will learn more than you ever wanted to!

My mother has four children. For the first three births she had medications and according to her the birth experiences were all traumatic.

Both my parents always told me that the doctor who delivered me was horrible and treated my mother very unkindly and actually lost his license a few months after I was born for malpractice.

During my brother’s pregnancy my mother had severe toxemia that went untreated and my brother was born blue and not breathing, luckily he has been breathing fine (except for mild asthma) ever since.

My little sister was born via forceps but the doctor placed them bad and she got forceps trauma on her face– one of her eyes was squashed and her head was a little misshapen. Today you would never be able to tell by looking at her– she is BEAUTIFUL– but we still jokingly like to call her “flat head.”

For my mother’s last pregnancy with my youngest sister she was determined to have a different experience. She studied, researched, practiced and got my dad on board with a natural childbirth. As a ten-year-old I could have cared less about how my new little sister was born, but I’ ll never forget the pride in my Dad’s voice when he told me that my mother had given birth to my new sister without drugs. I really had no clue what that meant but I remember him telling me about how he was there with her the whole time, how he used tennis balls to rub and massage her back,and how at the end she asked for an epidural but the doctor told her it was too late. I also remember my mother telling me that she’d never felt more powerful or more weak than she did during my sister’s birth and that she thought that was how God intended for women to give birth. From these accounts my little ten-year-old brain constructed an image of what it must look like to give birth; from them on out when ever I envisioned myself giving birth it somehow always included someone rubbing me with tennis balls and feeling powerful.

For the next ten years of my life I never thought about birth again…really I didn’t. Then I went to college at BYU and had no idea what I wanted to major in. About halfway through the school year I did one of my first long fasts, over 24 hours, and asked the Lord if he would help guide me towards the work He wanted me to do. I got the strong impression I needed to study for a nursing assistant certification. This was not the answer I was looking for. I kept telling God that he really had to be mistaken because I was the girl who passed out in the first aid section of her lifeguard training class and who was unable to give blood at the High School blood drive because she passed out when the nurse pricked her finger. I told God that he must know of my proclivity for passing out and I didn’t see how there was anyway I could make it through nursing school. Yet, the more I prayed the stronger the direction to study nursing came. So with a lot of faith I declared myself a “pre-nursing” major and signed up for a full load of anatomy, physiology and chemistry classes.

I really enjoyed my classes and it was in my Introduction to Nursing course that I learned about nurse midwives and knew that that was the reason the Lord had directed me towards nursing. I was suppose to become a midwife. I didn’t really know why but I knew that was what the Lord wanted me to do. So with that goal in mind I finally applied to BYU’s nursing program but I didn’t get in. The nursing program at BYU is really hard to get into and the semester I applied the lowest GPA they accepted was a 3.76. I was close to that but not quite close enough. I was really confused and lost and couldn’t understand why God would have sent me down this path only to find a dead end. For a whole semester I floundered and half heartily re-applied to the nursing program– knowing that I wouldn’t get in. In the end I chose to get my degree in Public Health. It was the perfect mix of eduction, biology, psychology, sociology, and medicine and I loved it.

During this time I met my husband and got married. When we got married having children was really low on my priorities. I wanted to “do something with my life” before I “lost” myself in motherhood. I wanted to travel, work and get my PhD (or at least my Masters) before I even thought about confining myself to the burden of motherhood.

Yet, like always, God had other plans for my life.

Right after our wedding my period completely stopped for almost a year. The doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong and no amount of hormones, medicines or ultrasounds made any difference. Up until the point that I lost my periods I’d never appreciated them. I’d always seen them as something gross and inconvenient. Yet once they were gone I realized what an incredible blessing it is to shed blood each month; to freely give the blood that bears witness to the continuation of life, the blood that represents hope. In that year I spent without periods I would have given a thousand PhDs and all the exotic places in the world just to have that glimmer of hope… the hope that one day I might be blessed with the greatest gift God can bestow in this life– a new life.

When faced with the possibility that I might never be able to have children my heart and soul did a 360 rotation. I went from thinking that children were something that I would have to fit around my life plan… to thinking that my life plan was something that would have to fit around my children. Those unborn children became my only desire and I promised God that if he would send them to me I would give my whole soul– body and spirit– to them. Yet I faced month after month with no blood and no hope. Still, when my soul despaired I always heard a voice deep in my heart that told me things would be fine and that I just needed to be patient.

So I waited.

During this year of infertility God sent amazing and unexpected people into my life. There was couple at our church activity who talked to Jon and I about who they were planning their second unmediated birth and were really excited about. They told us about hypnobirthing and about how the birth of their first child had been an incredible experience for them. I think that was the first time I’d ever heard anyone my age talk about giving birth without an epidural, not to mention someone who talked about how wonderful the physical experience of giving birth could be. Then there was the home birth midwife that I got stranded with at the bus stop with for three hours in Salt Lake City. It was a Saturday afternoon and for some reason the buses were really, really late. This midwife was LDS and was from California but she was visiting SLC for a midwifery conference. She spent almost three hours talking to me about birth and about some of the amazing experiences she’d had as a midwife. She sent me home on the bus with a copy of “Midwifery Today” and by the time Jon and I got back to Provo I felt overwhelmed with the spirit. I knew that this woman had been sent to me for a reason.

After that I looked into the possibility of becoming a Certified Professional Midwife through the Midwives College of Utah or a Certified Nurse Midwife through the University of Utah. Both options really excited me but every time I went to move forward with the applications things just didn’t feel right so I decided to wait.

Two weeks later I found out I was expecting.

While I was pregnant I took a doula training and attended my first birth as a doula (for one of my high school friends) when he my son 6 months old. Since then I’ve attended several dozen births and can honestly say that I am addicted to seeing babies be born. There is nothing more miraculous and beautiful and every time I see a new human being enter this world I am in awe. My husband says that once I am unable to have my own children anymore that I will have to become a midwife or I’ll go through withdrawals. Which is probably true. Yet I don’t know, because God always seems to guide my life in unexpected ways. For example, not long after my second baby was born I had been praying that God would help me find a way to share my passion and my love for birth and motherhood with other women. I felt like I had been given a gift that I wanted desperately to share. After several months of the same prayer I happened to stumble onto The Gift of Giving Life blog and saw what Felice and Lani were doing. I sent in my birth story and somehow, though I can’t quite remember how, they invited me to help them with the book. It has been an incredible two years and my soul and my testimony of womanhood has grown so much. I am so excited to see our book finally come out and it will be exciting for me to for me to see where God leads this project– and me– next!

2 thoughts on “My Path to Motherhood”

  1. Heather, I loved reading about your journey towards motherhood. I could definitely relate. You are a wonderfully strong and faithful woman.

  2. I loved reading this too. You are a treasure, and it warms my heart to know that your participation in this book was an answer to prayer. I love you so much!

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