I wanted to share our story so others would have hope, know that we have compassion and understand better than anyone what it's like to lose a child, lose another, lose hope, and then continue to survive. When something tragic happens you feel as though your heart will break and you cannot keep living And yet you do, you keep breathing, the sun rises and sets, the city bustles around you, and you feel frozen in time.
But you will survive, you will put yourself back together, and you will have hope again. And you may not get the things you want, but I promise Heavenly Father will give you what you need.
No one told me growing up that this would happen, or that it was even possible. In fact, when I first got my period I was so happy I practically announced to the neighborhood that this meant I could have children! (I had just read a book about an African girl who had to go through a special ritual since she was now considered an adult and marriage material at 13). But that's a side note.
Anyway, a few years later I began to have severe pain. At first it was just once a month for a week, then it progressed to having severe pain for 2 weeks a month, then 3 weeks. I was 14. I am now 25. The doctors didn't know what to do, and told me I had endometriosis. Basically I grow small little tumor like blisters that cause severe pain and grow back, even after being surgically removed. (twice). And they cause severe scarring, which I did not know was possible.
But the doctors said that I would grow up and have a baby and the baby would kick my body into gear and my endometriosis would go away.
Years later, I met my amazing husband, and we were engaged! We wanted a child, so we started seeing the fertility specialist. They gave me a shot to put me in menopause to kill off any endometrial implants. It made me very sick, and caused more pain. It caused my bones and joints to hurt, it is not something I would ever recommend. I had just turned 24. It was supposed to last 3 months, by that time Ken and I would be married and they said I would be ready to have a baby.
At his birthday- weight= 140 lbs
Married after the menopause shot- weight 145lbs
It continued to hurt and keep me in menopause for another 6 months. The fertility doctor decided to put us on a medication used for breast cancer patients hoping it would work for me and I would have less side effects. And it would give us a baby. Instead, it gave me 30 pounds of swelling in 3 days, that the doctors at the ER had no idea how to get rid of.
The swelling went down some, but here we are at the hospital. Normally my feet are wicked skinny and skeletony looking. weight= 160lbs
We decided to go through another surgery and try other medications to help with the side effects I was still suffering from the shot. The medications to help with the joint pain added to more weight gain.
25 years old, just had surgery to burn out endometriosis, Christmas time. Weight= 200lbs
We still didn't have a baby, but the doctor told us that it would be fine and we would be able to have one and my endometriosis would go away and the joint pain would stop. I still tried to function and be happy and do normal people things, but I was getting bigger, and not better.
Here I am at the Gilbert Temple open house- weight 210lbs
So with all the weight gain, still no baby, and still joint pain we decided to stop the fertility medication and "fibromyalgia" medication. (That's what they said my joint pain was I, even though it was from side effects of the menopause shot).
After stopping the medication I lost 30 pounds by Easter!
Here I am last weekend at the Disneyland Party. Weight= 180lbs
So why am I showing you all these pictures of weight gain and talking about endometriosis? Well here it is: I gained so much weight so fast, I have stretch marks, my body looks like it has had a child, and yet I have no child.
My husband and I sacrificed everything to try and have a child. We had painful surgery, took painful medications to help make my body ready to have a child, which made things more painful, and decided to not use pain medication because it doesn't work for me. And I now hate hospitals because they give you pain medicine and send you home with no clue how to help you.
But here is the infertility part. Despite all of this: we lost 2 babies. After stopping all the medication we finally conceived. And then due to the scarring from my endometriosis, I cannot carry a baby past 6 weeks. This happened twice.
And there went my hope. I would never be cured from endometriosis, and I would never have my own child. And we were still fostering, which was so painful. It was hard to look at the children without crying. All I want is a child of my own, and I don't get to keep these ones, and I won't be able to ever have a child of my own.
Here I am at Easter, I found out I was pregnant for the second time! But had no idea that I would lose it in a few short weeks. Even though I lost a second baby and learned I could never have my own, I was so happy to be blessed enough to be pregnant for just a few short weeks. I will never forget that joy and that miracle, even though it did not end the way I had hoped.
We decided to foster children through all of this, which has been awesome and a great distraction. Ken stays home and we do it as a team. Even though I have pain, I'm still able to function and care for these children. It helps me overcome and forget the pain to help little children who are suffering and need the love and compassion we so desperately want to provide! Also extra strength tylenol helps. Although I have no child of my own, I still get to be a mother! (Although Mother's Day was really hard, I had just lost our first baby and we don't get to adopt the kids we are fostering.)
So through the last year and a half we have given everything, spent everything we needed to try and make it happen, tried all kinds of treatments, saw all kinds of specialists, all to find out that it will never happen for me. It's still a struggle for me to look in the mirror, and still have to wear maternity shirts because I'm still chunky and my endometriosis makes my belly swell like a pregnant person. Whenever I see a pregnant person I usually cry. It's been getting better though as each day goes by, and Ken and I are starting to see the path Heavenly Father is laying out for us. Also, I love that people are pregnant because children are so important and they need to come to Earth, it just makes me sad I can't bring them here.
I thought I would be one of those miracle women that everyone told me I would be- "stop thinking about it and stressing and soon you will have your own healthy baby in your arms". But that is not what our Loving Father In Heaven has in mind for us.
And I do say Loving because HE is. We have had serious tragedy and trial after trial, but Ken and I have grown closer together, we had to in order to get through the awful grief. And despite our other immense trials that we have been facing while all of this is happening, we feel peace and comfort. And we have had so many miracles, miracles you would only hear of in the Scriptures. Miracles of healing in other ways, miracles and blessings of financial stability so Ken can be here at home with me and the children and we can get through this as a family. We found a new specialist who has been able to get rid of the bone and joint pain from all the medications I used to take. And he is healing my organs that have been damaged through years of side effects from medications the specialists had me on to try to keep my body ok to have a baby.
So things have been so sad and full of grief, but so many blessings and miracles have happened. And some are so special that I can't even begin to tell you what blessings we have received. The children we foster are doing well, and we love having little people to love on, especially through this hard time.
Here we are tonight enjoying a show, with a house full of kids with ear infections and colds, but we are blessed to have children in our home. We are finding happiness in other ways. And we don't have a happy ending with a baby yet, but we decided that we want to adopt a disabled child through foster care. In the meantime, Ken and I are trying to support each other as we continue to grieve, change our goals and expectations for our life, and plan for the future.
Our Father in Heaven has a divine plan and mission for each of us. We are all so special to Him, and though we may feel like we are alone or forgotten, He will never leave us. The atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is not just for repentance, but to take our sadness, sorrows, burdens, sicknesses and sufferings. We are never alone. He knows us, He knows what we are going through, and He will send us the things we need. I'm still learning how to give him my burdens and sorrows, but the closer I grow to Him, the more healing I achieve and the more happiness I feel. Maybe if we could have our own children we wouldn't be so willing to adopt a child with disabilities. Now we just need that child to come along!
Maybe some of you are going through difficult things, or having trials similar to ours. Or maybe you can understand the grief of losing a child, or losing the hope of recovering from a bizarre chronic condition. Or maybe you can understand what it's like to cling to your spouse to get through the storm.
Even though you've seen the stages of the physical challenges I went through to have a child, hopefully you can see the spiritual trials we have fought and overcome. And my body is still healing and my heart is still healing, but through the atonement we are healing. And we are putting our faith and trust in the Lord and taking each day at a time. It's never too late to pray, to ask for help or guidance, and don't be afraid to sacrifice everything for something worthwhile. Despite gaining 60 pounds and feeling crummy for a long time, I am so glad I fought to the end, to know that we did everything we could. Both of us making sacrifices to achieve that feeling of confidence and knowing that our Father in Heaven is proud of our effort and sacrifices means the world.
Yes life is full of trials and struggles, but it is full of beautiful miracles. They may be small, but one thing I have learned is to be thankful for the small daily mercies and miracles. I write them down, I talk to people about them, and these miracles and mercies help me know the Lord is watching over me, and we can make it through.
I hope you can see and feel the Love our Heavenly Father and Savior have for each of us. Things will be hard, but you will make it through. You will continue to see the sun rise and the sun set, and the city will continue to bustle around you. Don't be afraid. We survived and so can you. And our journey is most definitely not over, we have more trials in life to face I'm sure, but we know that together as husband and wife and with the help of the Lord and the amazing gift of our Savior's atonement, we can make it. And so can you.