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Friday, December 7, 2018

God, Do You Have One More Miracle?

On Sunday 11th, I woke up from a dream. I was with Canyon, Chandler and my mom merrily walking up a shallow creek in some canyon in Sedona. It was beautiful, calm, enchanting when the water started getting deeper. There was an area up ahead deep enough where people were jumping in. Suddenly I noticed Canyon was gone. I knew he had fallen underwater, so I took a deep breath and went too find him. Under water was murky and I couldn’t see anything, but I started feeling around and I immediately felt my son.
It was at this moment in my dream I had a conscious thought which was, I’m so thankful this dream isn’t a nightmare. I’ve had many dreams where my kids are drowning and despite my efforts, I cannot reach them.
So, thankfully, in my dream I pulled Canyon up and upon noticing he wasn’t breathing, patted his back with just enough force to push whatever water he’d swallowed out of his mouth.
Canyon then lifted his head and smiled at me. When I awoke, his smiling face was the last thing I remember seeing. I again consciously thought, I’m so thankful that wasn’t a frightening dream. I knew it could have been, but it wasn’t because everything had worked out so nicely.
Check on Canyon.

Putting Canyon to bed the night before. 

Because of the dream, because of Canyon’s beautiful smile at the end, something bigger was telling me to check on my son.
I didn’t want to. First of all, he sleeps with his 8 year-old sister Eden so if anything was wrong, she would come and get me. It was Sunday morning, early, and I didn’t want to wake either one of them. But mostly because I am the mother of a six-week old baby who keeps me up during the night and I was beyond tired. Getting up to check on my peaceful, sleeping 3 year-old was not a priority of mine, but still. . . something nudged at me so with the little energy I had I knew I was getting up.  I quickly told my husband about the dream and then, grudgingly got out of my warm cozy bed to check on Canyon.
The blinds on my bedroom windows were closed, so although the sun was shining my room was dark. The hallway was dark. Eden’s room would have been dark too, but she’d slept with her desk lamp on. I’m so thankful there was light in her room because without it, I wouldn’t have seen Canyon clearly.
He was flat on his back, stiff, pale, wide open eyes stuck, blank stare, catatonic, a slight shaking of his head, again, again – was he even breathing.
Instantly, he was in my arms and I was yelling out to my husband, “Canyon’s having a seizure!” I was out the door to the car and Derek was right behind me. It was a race against time. Every tick, tick tick of his head, his sweaty cheek – no, it was drool, his rigid body against mine, my reassuring words doing nothing, absolutely nothing, “It’s alright Canyon, Mommy’s right here!” But, it wasn’t alright.
I hadn’t feed the newborn baby for hours. She was asleep in her crib, but anytime she would wake up and need a bottle. Eden had awoken frantically when I grabbed for Canyon. She was now crying by the front door. The older kids knew what was going on and they were rubbing their eyes, trying to wake up to reality. This was Canyon’s 4th seizure in 2 ½ years, not like this was common, not like this was even normal, but now, I knew it was. Something was wrong. The doctors would no longer be able to blame it on a fever, or just a one time thing. Canyon did not have a fever now. Before going to bed the night before, he had not a single symptom anything was wrong, but now, I knew our little boy was sick.
Canyon’s first seizure, around 8 months old, had been the result of a spike in fever. I was giving him a bath because he was sick with a cold and I was trying to bring down his temperature. I had given him Tylenol, but he was still hot. While in the bath, he quivered, like he’d had a chill. I pulled him out of the bath and wrapped him in a towel. I had laid him on the bed and noticed he wasn’t trying to wiggle away from me. It was a game he had played as a baby when I changed his diaper he would wiggle and giggle until I tickled him back, but Canyon just stared. My son Chandler was with me and I asked, “What’s wrong with Canyon? Do you notice he’s acting weird? Why isn’t he looking at us?” I picked Canyon up and he went limp. He started convulsing and I screamed for Derek to call 911. I held Canyon near, but within a minute I noticed he was turning blue. By the time the paramedics rushed into the house, I was giving Canyon CPR on the kitchen floor. One of the paramedics grabbed him and we were off to the hospital.

Canyon's first seizure at 8 months.

During that first seizure, I’ll never forget the emergency room doctor’s reaction. Once Canyon’s vitals were stable, he joked with the nurse, “How many of these do we get a week?” I’m sitting there trembling because I feel like my son could have died and the doctor was super casual like this happens all the time. This was called a febrile seizure. So, when Canyon had his second seizure about 1½ years later, even though it was awful and frightening, I felt confident everything would be ok. 
But the last two seizures had not been caused by fever. Canyon’s symptoms were totally different then the first two. He didn’t convulse, he didn’t foam at the mouth, and he didn’t turn blue. It was like he just checked out, or as the neurologist had said, ‘It’s like his brain is shutting down.” Other then the slight twitch of his head, he didn’t have typical seizure symptoms. The neurologist wasn’t even sure if it was a seizure, although he continued to call it that. Even worse, once Canyon’s seizures started, whether febrile or other, he couldn’t pull himself out of it. Once he started a seizure, if we didn’t find him I wasn’t sure if he would make it out alive.
So, this fourth seizure, I didn’t know what to expect. Would the doctor laugh about it later, like “Oh, just another day at the office?” But this was not the case. This was horrible. Once in the hospital, the doctors took over. Canyon’s clothing was cut off, tubes put down his throat, IV’s in both arms, and questions – how long had he been like this? What was his medical condition? Could I step aside while they did an x-ray? A cat scan? Had he had any sort of trauma? Head injury?

They were moving Canyon from the ER to the pediatric ICU. The nurse pushed the gurney down the hall. For a mother who always has something do to, always has a child in her arms, always has a task at hand, I had nothing. Derek and I followed and I felt totally empty. I was wearing the same shirt I’d fallen asleep in. My hair was a mess, I hadn’t washed my face, I was full of milk and needed to feed my baby. We walked and there was this great unknown, the mystery of our son’s health, a waiting game, listening to the oxygen machine assist Canyon breathing and as we walked into the elevator my eyes filled with tears. Where was my perfect little boy? Who was that child on that hospital bed hooked up to all that equipment? Would my son come out of this normal? I felt like I was living in someone else’s life. Where was my perfect world with my perfectly healthy children? I’d been given so much. Canyon had already survived three seizures. He had been given miracle after miracle after miracle. I’d been here before, asking God, begging. Could I ask again? God, do you have one more miracle for Canyon?
Please, I begged. Please.

Derek and I waited by Canyon’s side until they wheeled him out for his second MRI in four months. He would have another EEG. Both came back abnormal. What was causing the seizures? All his other lab work came back perfect, except there were more tests and we would have to wait for the results. These tests were looking for diseases. Genetic disorders and conditions I’d never heard of. He might not recover.
Dear God, please heal our little boy. I can’t live without him.
It’s at this moment I realized, Why me? Why should I have this miracle when so many live with this reality? A sick children, the loss of a child, an unknown illness, a horrible diagnosis? Why not me? Why not Canyon? It was like a lottery nobody wanted to win. Was our time up? We had seven children, all healthy, all perfect. Was this our fate? Did our family need this to learn how to be more patient, more loving? What had I done wrong? What did I need to learn?

The hours and days were long, but after three days Canyon came home. 

This is where I slept, or at least tried to sleep.

He had recovered, but I know he’s still sick. Epilepsy? They’re not sure. He could be completely fine, although the mind plays horrible games. Typical daily occurrences like Canyon having a fall at the park. Is he alright? Did his body fail him? Does he talk the same? Does he look the same? Is he walking different? Derek and I have watched videos of him from before the seizure. Is he the same?
They are not sure how long he’d been it in that seizure, why he had it, what is the cause of this abnormal dangerous condition, if it was even a seizure at all, if he has epilepsy or something else, what is going on with his brain, specifically his white matter, will it happen again, when? Daily medication has been prescribed and after a brain MRI, EEG, blood work and therapy we came home and have done our best to pretend like everything is all right.

We pray all the time. There’s something shocking about listening to your three-year old pray “Dear Jesus, please help me not have a seizure.” I slip Canyon’s medication into his morning drink of raspberry tea.
I look back at that dream and I know God is with us. I know God spoke to me. He had Canyon come to me and say “Mommy, I can’t breathe. Come fine me.” Without the dream, I know I wouldn’t have woken up. I wouldn’t have checked on Canyon that Sunday morning. He may have gone hours longer and it’s very likely we wouldn’t have him here with us today. I remember the dream being peaceful. Even when Canyon was underwater, even when he wasn’t breathing I never panicked. I never felt out of control. I wonder if this is meant to be so I can apply those same feelings to what we’re going through. It takes great faith to be calm and peaceful about this, but I’m trying. Every time I put him to bed at night, I wonder Will he be alright in the morning? When I'm up with the baby at night, I check on Canyon. I'm on edge? Does he look alright? I might jolt him awake just to make sure. I hold onto him and cry. I tell him I love him all the time (I did that before anyway).

We have so many praying for us, so many wonderful meals, hugs and meaningful conversations. My Relief Society President, a dear friend of mine took Ruby and cared for her day and night. As a family, we have pulled closer together. We will keep you posted on updates. Canyon is doing great. Currently, we are waiting to meet with the neurologist on December 13th. Thank you for your continued love and prayers.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Our Miracle Ruby

Since the start of this pregnancy, I had a feeling it might end a bit dramatic. I mean, this entire experience has been hinged on one miracle after another, one leap of faith after another, more prayers then I can count and with so much on the line – my health, the baby’s health, trying to keep up with the needs of those all around me – I really felt some giant momentum that I’ve never experienced before with one enormous event after another happening around here. 

I have these memories etched on my mind the last few months and I can capture them in these photos.

God kept providing me the strength to move forward through the amazing experiences and the difficult ones. I have felt so much peace, no matter where I’ve been – whether it’s in the hospital pediatric ICU praying Canyon would survive yet another seizure, 

Chandler graduating 

and preparing to leave for two years to live in a foreign country as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

This is the last picture I took of him! I'm not sure when I've cried so hard.

When we received his mission call we could not pronounce the name of the town he would be serving (Cabanatuan Philippines) or the language he would be speaking (Tagalog), so there was that! And then finally, around 28 weeks pregnant seeing the beautiful face of my unborn daughter  in this ultrasound - she was perfect!

I’ve just about experience every emotion I can muster!

But with all these experiences I finally made it to the day my 7th child would be born and I was correct – it was not going to be like my other deliveries! Like every thing else going on around here, I was going to have to dig deep, toughen up and be stronger then ever before. 

I had an ultrasound Friday the 21st of September and according to her measurements, the baby weighed in at 9 pounds. I haven’t shared everything medical that’s going on, but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes about 8 weeks prior. It’s a condition where my blood sugar was too high, so it transferred to the baby, which caused her to gain weight and possibly be born a bit disportionate (macrosomia), meaning her shoulders or stomach might be a bit bigger than the rest of her body. In addition, I had what’s called Polyhydramnios, in which my body made to much amniotic fluid. There are many risks associated with this condition including placenta rupture or umbilical cord prolapse (this is when the cord drops out of the mother during labor and the baby might die because the cord becomes cut off and the baby no longer has oxygen).  Too much amniotic fluid also can be a sign of abnormalities in the baby. It can affect her breathing once she’s born, her urinary tract and more. These two reasons are why I got so big – too much sugar in my blood and too much fluid. 

Three weeks before I had her.

I changed my diet, started on medication and even had to take insulin shots every night. Still, I had great faith this baby would be perfect. I’d had contractions for the last two weeks, strong contractions and I’d been in the hospital twice – once because the baby’s heartbeat was irregular (which later turned out fine) and another time because I thought I was in labor. Because I wasn’t 40 weeks (full-term), they sent me home. It’s a miracle my water didn’t break and that I didn’t go into labor because if I would have gone into labor on my own, my baby may have not made it.

I had an amazing 46th birthday on September 24th and wanted her to come on my birthday, but the day ended too quickly and I knew she would come on her own terms. The next day, Tuesday September 25th, my doctor called me at 8:30 in the morning and told me to come in to discuss induction. I had no idea, but as soon as I saw the doctor she said “We need to deliver this baby today.” She had reviewed the ultrasound from the Friday before and found Ruby’s stomach to be abnormally large and too big for me to deliver her naturally. My doctor said “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but in my professional opinion, we need to deliver your baby by c-section.” She knew I’d had big babies, but that was when I was younger, lighter in weight and I hadn’t had the gestational diabetes. She told me because of Ruby’s abnormal size stomach (which by the way would go down just a few days after birth and she would be fine) it was most likely she would become lodged in the birth canal and could die. I was shocked. Up until this point, we’d had no indication Ruby was disportionate. We knew she was big, but this was now a very real problem. At first I was stubborn. Honestly, having a c-section is one of my biggest fears in life. I never in a million years thought I’d be in this situation. I only gained about 30 pounds this pregnancy (20 of it was baby and amniotic fluid), so I thought everything was under control. I was no bigger then when I’d delivered Canyon, actually a few pounds lighter. I felt confident I could have her naturally, but my doctor sat down and said, “I know you think you can do this, and maybe you can, but Laura, I know how much you love your children and if anything happens to this baby I’m not sure I can live with myself. You need to understand it’s very likely she will get stuck. You’ll deliver her head and then the rest of her may not come easily. You have so much fluid, she’s not in position for birth, so the minute I break your water, she could become lodged. You need to understand she could die. As your doctor, I need to know you understand that.” I’m so stubborn! In my heart I thought, “Of course I can have her naturally.” I didn't share any of my thoughts with the doctor, but she must have sensed my hesitation because a third time again she said if the baby becomes stuck, she could try to break the baby’s shoulder or her arm to get her through, but there was no guarantee she would make it. Something happened in my heart, like a dial. It’s one thing to keep a positive attitude, but it’s another to understand the risks of the situation. I started to think about Ruby, not my own fears. Forget my fears, was I not hearing what the doctor was saying? My baby was in jeopardy and I had to make a decision. Did I really understand how serious the situation was? I finally opened my heart to what the doctor was saying. I called my husband and after we talked we agreed, a c-section it was. The peace I felt totally surprised me.

I had about two hours before I needed to be back at the hospital. On the drive home I was praying “Please let my baby be alright,” when I had the thought from the spirit “You are to go in prayer and ask God for a miracle.”  I knew if I asked God had a mighty miracle for me, that because I’d prayed for this baby and had great faith while carrying her, I could ask the Lord for this miracle right now. Hadn’t God already given me too many miracles to count? He certainly had one more. I came home and my dad gave me a beautiful blessing. He felt impressed to direct this miracle into my life. I had not told my dad my prompting from earlier, so it was very spiritual to have him feeling the same way I had. I’ve never heard my dad cry during a blessing, but he could barely get through it.

My mom drove me to the hospital (Derek was leaving work and would meet us there) and I couldn’t believe the peace I felt. I could do this. I would do this. Today was the day I’d been waiting for. I was prepared. I’d tried to be healthy, physically fit, emotionally strong, our home was in order, the kids were all prepared. It was time to finally have her. When I walked into the delivery room, my doctor said according to my size and amniotic fluid levels I was as big as a woman giving birth to full-term twins. I felt like I had a giant water balloon the size of a beach ball inside me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, if I should be given a prize or if I was in some sort of trouble, but yes, I was huge. I could barely walk anymore. Getting up and down was almost impossible. I was given spinal medication to numb me from the chest down. I was strapped on a table and a sheet was put up so I couldn’t see what they were doing. My heart rate went up and I think I was going into shock when Derek walked in. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Derek started to talk to me, but I couldn’t talk back. I stared into his eyes but couldn’t say anything. I was about to be cut open. This was just a bit too much for me. I started feeling a world of vulnerability, past emotions from sexual abuse started to surface, I was so exposed and I had no control over my body. I wasn’t going to be able to do this. My doctor encouraged me to breath, “Just breath,” she said and I felt the tears swell in my eyes. All I could do was stare into Derek’s eyes, find that comfort, seek that love, take his courage, feel his protection all around me, he was my husband and I knew he was there for me with everything he had, but I was still struggling. I was told if I didn’t start breathing normal they would need to sedate me. Suddenly, in my mind the words from my favorite childhood hymn hummed a melody for the song “There Is a Green Hill Far Away.”

Over and over again, I said these words and the comfort they brought me, thinking of my Savior on the cross, knowing that He knew exactly where I was, He understood the vulnerability, the fear, the physical pain – all of it spoke to me in those beautiful words.  There’s a part of the hymn that says ‘Oh, dearly dearly has He loved and we must love him too.” Those words just kept going through my mind. I didn’t feel any pain while they were working on me and in about 10 minutes my doctor just lifted the baby out of all that water. Looking back on it, it was very spiritual to have a baby, a queen, brought into this life just lifted out of water like that, like a baptism of sorts. Derek was right there and they handed her to him. I couldn’t speak. I just stared and tried to focus on breathing normal. The miracle of the entire experience was she did not have a large abdomen, her blood sugar was normal and she weighed less than my last baby. However, because of all the amniotic fluid, her cord had dropped and she did have umbilical cord prolapse. If my water would have broke on its own, the umbilical cord would have fallen out and she would have lost oxygen. Oh my goodness, this has about thrown me into a bit of a trauma, to think that my precious Ruby wouldn’t have made it at the last minute.  To consider this scenario was too much. I just couldn’t! She’d made it and that was the miracle I’d been promised.

Derek had her in his arms and I couldn’t get over her hair – she had a lot of it and it was dark brown, almost black. I’d never had a baby with so much dark hair. My baby’s are blondes, born with peach fuzz on top. She weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces, a very normal weight for a baby of mine. The nurse took Ruby’s blood sugar and it was totally within range. Ruby’s body was shaped perfect with no large abdomen. All the concerns we’d had before birth just melted away. She was perfect.

The first few hours after she was delivered the room wouldn’t stop spinning and if I opened my eyes I threw up . . . so, all I could do was have Ruby placed in my arms so I could kiss the top of her head. I stayed in the hospital for two days and felt ready to finally take the plunge, those first few moments home were wonderful, but then I had to get to work. Pain medication, propped pillows in bed, nursing, pumping – all on very little sleep, but day by day, every moment I felt a tiny bit better. There were a few set backs, but Ruby is an amazing sleeper so I started to get a few hours here and there. Vase after vase of beautiful pink roses were around my house, floral arrangements, pink outfits, booties, baby blankets, diapers, bottles, greeting cards, amazing food – it was all there waiting for us. I’ve had so much support and it’s meant everything to me and my family.

A few days after I came home, my neighbor Diane came over (with dinner, bless her heart) and she said her husband Frank was born with Cerebral palsy, which can be cause by a lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) related to difficult labor and delivery. My doctor hadn’t even discussed this, but there are so many miracles that we received and I am so thankful for that darn c-section. It was more pain then I’d ever been in, but one thing I’ve learned about child birth is eventually, at some unknown moment in time, you will feel better. You will have a day where you think, “Wait, I actually feel a little bit like my old self.” And before you know it, you’re moving on to brighter days.  Knowing Ruby is my last is very comforting. I never have to do that again and I’m so happy about that. Ruby is the baby I’ve been dreaming of for all these years and it’s almost surreal now that she’s here.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Wait, What? It's A Girl!

Last Friday will definitely go down in our family’s history as one of the most amazing and exciting days of our lives. I woke up last Friday and felt I needed to write a bit about this pregnancy and what I was going through. I always feel so much support from those of you out there who read my blog and I needed some loving arms around me. I spent the morning writing and it felt validating. Writing helped me clarify my thoughts even more and I felt capable in this pregnancy journey. I was having a boy, I was half way through and I was overcoming some difficult emotional, physical and spiritual tests. Life was good.

I published my blog post (you can read that post here) and later that afternoon, headed down to Phoenix for my first ultrasound. At 20 weeks, I knew they could and would determine the gender, but through a blood test at 12 weeks, I already knew it was a boy. My friend Chandra was in town, so along with Eden and Canyon there with me, the ultrasound tech lead us to the room and we got started. She checked measurements, we listened to the heartbeat and then she started checking to confirm gender. Now, when I took the blood test from a company called Sneak Peak, there was a stipulation in the set of instructions. It said the test, which I could conduct from the comfort of my own home, would be 99% accurate. The instructions also said to not have the packaging handled by a male, not to conduct the blood test in a bathroom that a male had recently used and to scrub your hands, including underneath your fingernails to prevent any contamination. Wanting an accurate read, I left my house, my five boys, my boy-dominated bathrooms and went down to my parents with the test. My sister Anna was in town for Easter and she helped me follow the instructions perfectly and conduct the test. After washing my hands with hot water and soup, scrubbing my fingernails and drying my hands on paper towels just out the package, I went into the bedroom where Anna was staying, pricked my finger with a little contraption in the Sneak Peak box, and slowly watched as little drops of my blood filled a small vile. When finished, we snapped the lid on the container, placed the blood sample in a box, sealed it and off it went to the post office. I couldn’t wait for the results confirming I was having a girl. As you all know, that wasn’t the case. Just a few days later, it was confirmed in an email that my blood work, as the email stated showed with “100% accuracy” I was having a boy. Signed, sealed, delivered – a little boy was on his way.

I know very few people put so much emphasis on the gender of their baby, but I have a story about this baby and it just wasn’t fitting the narrative I had been feeling and quite frankly, witnessing.

After I had Canyon, I was done having babies. Six children, five boys and one girl was great and Canyon was healthy and strong. Eden was a trooper and loved having a baby brother. Through intermittent fasting (you can read about that here), I got my health back, I was moving along in my writing goals, I’d published 3 very personal books and a coloring book in 2 years, I opened a publishing house, was traveling, speaking, working with Rising Star India and I passionately wanted to travel there to meet the girls I cared so deeply about. Canyon turned two and potty-trained himself, he was more and more independent each day and life had returned to a lovely routine. I’d made it out alive, so to speak when on Thanksgiving day, I found out a dear friend of mine had suffered a heart attack, fallen and had a brain bleed. His chances of survival were practically zero. Derek and I committed to fasting the next day for him and so powerful was that fasting experience I decided to do another 30-day fast in which I would fast 16-18 hours a day. This meant I would fast every day until Christmas. The experience immediately took on a very spiritual purpose. I couldn’t wait to feel closer to my Savior and Heavenly Father, especially over the holidays.

On the third day of my fast, I prayed for my friend in the hospital when a feeling overcame me. “Pray for a baby,” the prompting said. What? I wasn’t even thinking about having another baby. Was this about adopting a little girl? “Pray to have a baby,” I felt again. Wow, I knew enough about how God speaks to me to understand I needed to obey this prompting, so I did. In that quiet moment, I opened my mouth and prayed for a baby. What happened left me speechless. A love came over me so strong, so powerful that not only did I pray for a baby, I plead for her. And I knew it was her. I could feel this wonderful opportunity that this was a gift I was asking for, even pleading for. Derek and I had tried adopting a girl from India a year earlier, but because of our age (we were too old), we didn’t quality. Did God have something else in mind? My prayer became fervent and when I was finished, I wondered what had just happened. I carried on with my day, checked in with my friend’s husband and he was slowly making progress. He wasn’t out of the woods yet, but he was stable. The next day, as I neared the end of my fast, I went into pray. Again, the feeling came strongly over me, “Pray you will have a baby.” Again, I opened my mouth and spoke to Heavenly Father, “Please grant me this baby,” I plead. The love that poured over me left me in tears, like sobbing. I knew who she was. I wanted her so bad. I'd seen her in a dream and so had Eden. Would God really grant her to me, to our family? This experience happened one more time, the next day and I finally told Derek. This wonderful husband of mine, who has loved and nurtured me since the day we meet, completely was on board, but was I? Logic set in. This was crazy. I was 45 years old. Could I even get pregnant? And would I have a girl? After having five boys, it certainly didn’t seem possible. I did some research and found at my age, there’s about a 4% chance of becoming pregnant without some sort of fertility help. There were ways to "try to have a girl", timing ovulation, changing the bodies alkalinity, etc., but I was skeptical. And yes, I was doing well, but things were still challenging in my home. I had two particular boys who seemed to be “testing” most of the time, a son graduating and preparing to leave on a mission, a cherished daughter who I was eager to spend as much time with as possible and a two year old who still wanted to be carried, cuddled and well, be the baby. Before all this happened, I was thinking of going back to school for a master’s degree and really pushing through on some of my career goals. Publishing books, working, traveling, volunteering, and so on. Did a baby really fit into the equation? No, but deep down I knew she was there and I wanted her more then anything else. God had told me if I asked, she could be mine.

This is why the results I was having a boy completely through me off kilter. Not only had I prayed for a girl, not only did I get pregnant right away, but I had been told a girl was coming to me. It’s one thing to ask God for a particular blessing, it’s another to be told by the spirit to prayer for a special blessing God has in store for you. I was instructed to pray for a baby, for her. I can’t think when I’ve ever been told by the spirit to pray for a specific purpose. Usually, when I pray for something, those desires come from my own heart.

So, there I lay at this ultrasound last Friday knowing the test originally said 99% accuracy, but my email confirming the blood work said male DNA was 100% detected in my blood stream. In my mind, I didn’t even have the 1% chance the test was inaccurate and I’d let that ship sail months ago any way.  There was no way I was having this girl, EVER and I'd accepted that, but the technician was having a difficult time finding the gender, “I think the baby’s legs are crossed,” she said. She had me get up, drink some more water, wait about 10 minutes and this time, she had me lay on my side. I wasn’t sure if all this was to determine the gender, or for more measurements and I’d learned since having six babies, just let the ultrasound tech do her job. Don’t ask a ton of questions, she can’t say anything until a doctor looks at the results anyway.

“Tell me about this blood test you took? How accurate are the results?” she asked. My heart skipped a bit. What was she asking? Why?

Don’t even go there, Laura, I said to myself, but my heart was practically beating out of my chest.

I told her the results were 99%, well according to my test, 100% accurate, and she continued her search. “I’m just not finding any male parts on this baby and I’ve been looking,” and she sounded determined. “I’m about 99% this baby isn’t a boy. This looks like a girl, but let me get my supervisor.”

Wait, what????? No way!!! But, no, I’m sure with a little more effort, they’ll find something sticking out there, confirming it’s a boy.

The supervisor came in and started searching. My eyes were glued to the screen.  There was a little bum, two legs, but where was the boy part? I’d seen enough ultrasounds confirming it’s a boy to know what to look for, but nothing.

“Why don’t you turn and lay on your other side,” the supervisor suggested. Like a beached whale (I’m already that big), and now in a third different position, I rolled myself and that giant belly over, more searching when she typed on the screen, “It’s a girl.”

“This is a little girl,” she said and showed me the proof. I gasped. I practically choked. Chandra just stared. I don’t think Eden had a clue what was going on. “You’re having a girl,” the supervisor said enthusiastically and at this point, there were about five other employees in the room. By now, everyone in the clinic knew what was going on. I was speechless.

How could I say, “I knew it! I’ve been told all along this is a girl. I have had signs every where, in nature, in impressions, in dreams, she was a girl. I'd been told her name. I’ve seen her. I know her. She’s mine. She’s always been mine. I’ve been searching around the world and into eternity for her. God granted her to me. He told me she was mine if only I asked. Of course she’s a girl!”

And physically, I’d felt so different with this pregnancy. I wasn’t gaining crazy weight, like I had with my boys. My nose wasn’t fat, my face wasn’t puffy. I wasn’t getting wide, but instead my belly was sticking straight out. My hair was crazy thick and growing so fast, my skin was nourished, my cravings were healthy and sugar made me sick. This was way different then when I carried my boys.

But, I just quietly took it all in – her warmth, her presence, her gift, her female spirit. She was real and she was really coming. She was mine forever.

I feel like a princess. I wake up and say out loud, “It’s a girl.” I say her name. I’m starting to open up to my impressions again, to have faith in how God speaks to me, to be vulnerable to whatever the spirit wants to tell me, to trust myself again. 

I’m not ready to look backwards, to consider how much this trial hurt my ability to understand my impressions, to hope I handled it the best way possible, to know I would have loved another boy with all my heart. This was a tough one and my sister-in-law Sasha, who gifted me the gender reveal test feels awful. “Will you ever forgive me,” she pleads and we just hugged and laughed. She’d used Sneak Peak for her recent pregnancy and it had been accurate. She has a precious 8-week old baby boy to prove it. Now that I've done a bit more research into this type of blood test, I must have had some "boy" DNA on my hair, or perhaps my shirt that contaminated the blood work. I guess even leaving my home didn't clean out all the boys I have around me. “We’ll always have Sneak Peak,” I said to Sasha. She's already been to Target and cleaned out the girl section for this baby. When I called my sister Becky, she cheered on in her usual fashion, always supporting me, always cheering me on. "I knew it," she said! On our date night, Derek and I stopped to pick up some of her first outfits too. 

(On our date Saturday night.)

It’s so surreal. Just last week at Goodwill, I found some darling little boy clothes and there they are, sitting in a box in my closet. I’ve already told Sasha I have a box of clothes and shoes for her little baby boy.

I’m so thankful I followed through on what God told me to do. I am 45, pregnant, sick as a dog, some days barely getting by, loving on my kids, preparing wholesome food when I can, thankful beyond words, closer to my husband then I’ve ever been, living in a state of gratitude and grace, and leaning on friends and family. I just marvel at this life. 

(My oldest and my youngest at church on Sunday.)

People keep reminding me I’ll be pregnant through an Arizona summer, but I’m all in, praying for this little girl to be healthy and to know she’s loved from here to heaven and back.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Learning Another One of Life’s Lessons

I have been very guarded with my feelings during this pregnancy. Partially, because I was so very open and vulnerable with how I felt during my pregnancy and delivery with Canyon.

Anyone who has followed my blog would probably wonder why after such a difficult pregnancy and delivery, many emotional breakdowns, health problems and most likely a midlife crisis, why would I even consider getting pregnant again? Six children is enough, plus I had Canyon at the ripe old age of 42, which was already pushing the biological clock. Why take it all on again? The answer is simple. Canyon has literally been the glue of our family, the constant joy and laughter. He’s everyone’s best friend. 

We all love seeing the world through his eyes, through his language and laughter. He’s such a light in our family that I have had love literally overflowing in my heart and I wondered, “Could I do it again?”  This ride is just too good. Let’s bring on another little bundle of joy and see the blessings he or she can bring.

Of course, I was certain I’d get a she. After five boys, a girl can slip through, right? Timing is everything. It was my time to have a girl. God knows my heart, He hears my prayers. Let’s get Eden’s sister here after all. I went all in, full faith, full on prayer, full on power of positive thinking and bam, she was coming!

From the start, I’ve tried to be very positive. 

(after getting my hair done last week)

Even when the morning sickness came and my bedroom started spinning, because most days getting out of bed still is a major accomplishment. Finally at around 10 weeks, the morning sickness was so bad I had to start on medication, which left me even more tired, but I could do it. I know how great the reward. I am a very driven person with many personal and professional goals, but they could wait. I have physical fitness goals, but they could wait too.

I knew what I was getting myself into, but everyday, I do have to pick myself up. I can do this. I’m strong enough. This was the right decision. I have so much support. My husband is amazing. 

I spent a lot of time outside, taking long walks and spending time with my kids at the park. I found so much comfort in nature, in the wind, in the sun, with birds. I felt like everything around me was there to comfort me, to be my friend and send me encouragement. I would call my sister or mom and tell them about my experiences, how the world around me was lifting me up and validating what I was going through. It was amazing and magical. 

(This painting really spoke to me.)

This little girl I was carrying was full of love and the world was already celebrating her arrival. Everybody, even the cashier at the store told me “You’re having a girl. Oh, it’s obvious by how you’re carrying her.” My dad’s friend, a gentle kind man who is very quiet spoke up one day and confirmed what he'd been feeling, “It’s a girl.” Everyone around me seemed to be having the same impressions as I was.

When I found out I was having a boy through a blood test at 12 weeks, it really shock my faith. You’d think by now, I’d keep that window open, perhaps I could be having a boy, but no, this was really tough for me. What happened? Why was this very special request to have a girl denied? I immediately pushed away my intuition. It had failed me. It was difficult not to become cynical. I didn’t want to see anymore birds, especially humming birds which at the start of my pregnancy were around me all the time. If you’ve read my book Starving Girl, you know I have had very special experiences with nature. I feel God everywhere. I listen to my heart and follow promptings. Finding out this next baby was a boy, it was like my personal inner guide had been completely wrong. Would I ever learn to trust in my instincts again? Not trusting my intuition, questioning my ability to read into the experiences around me, wondering why I keep dreaming about this little girl and I was told her name – I had to say good bye to her – forever, because this is the last time I’ll be pregnant.

Boy. Hello, little boy. I want to know you. Who are you? Are you alright? Do you know I love you? Even though I’m having a really difficult time, I really do want you? I know your patient with me. I love you.

I’ve had a whole lot going on emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, but I’ve stayed close to my mom, my sister Becky, my husband, several close friends and when the days are too tough, I reach out to them (or most of the time, they’re already there reaching out to me). One very difficult day, I was very sick and could not get out of bed when a neighbor came over. She recently returned from a mission in Africa and came to check in on me. She sat at my side and poured out her heart, how she made it through nine pregnancies, how she relied on God as a mother, how everything works out even during the difficult times. Her visit felt like a gift from God and her faith still lifts me when the difficulties of pregnancy take over everything. I’ve had visits, texts, encouraging messages, food, love, support and more. I ran into a friend at the grocery store who didn’t know I was pregnant yet and when I told her, she wrapped her arms around me, offering encouragement and love. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. I felt her love and support to the core.

(I'm wearing my feelings on my shirt. I love this guy so much.)

I’ve never been so sick, so tired, so worn out, but not overwhelmed. No, I’m very focused on my children right now, on loving those around me, on taking long walks and reconnecting with nature and birds, water, sun and wind. 

I’m slowing trusting myself, trusting God knows what’s best for me and trusting I’m strong enough to do this. I would do this again. I want this precious boy and he knows that. I feel the baby moving and I tell him “I love you.” He’s already brought joyful anticipation into our home. The kids can’t wait to hold him, play with him and love him. Life is a beautiful path, not always the path we thought we’d be on, but nonetheless, it’s simply beautiful.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Another Boy Due In September

A few weeks ago, I spent most of the week writing about the joys and challenges of raising boys.  You see, we’ve overcome some pretty big hurtles as a family and I was feeling somewhat confident in my boy-raising skills. I don’t like to share personal details, but let’s just say boys have a way of humbling a mother, making her decide if she’s going to fall apart or become stronger.  I’ve had my days of falling apart, but more and more, I feel like I’m getting stronger.  My boys and I are communicating better, they all have amazing friendships with each other and the rewards are plentiful.  There’s a lot of laughter in our home, good food, lots of exercise, weight lifting, completing homework successfully, I’m mean, where on our way.  I love teenagers and I feel we’ve grown a lot as a family.  My oldest son Chandler just received his mission call to the Philippines, he’s graduating from high school and has some great opportunities that await him at ASU when he returns from his mission. 

So, this blog post about raising boys was just about finished. I wrote my tips and secrets to surviving a house full of boys, when we had a major episode that reminded me, “No, Laura, you are not out of the trenches. Who are you to share how to raise boys when most days you are drowning in laundry, tardy slips and sibling bickering?” I have high expectations and when they are not met, I take it very personally.

That blog post has been deleted until further notice.

But the truth is, I’m so proud of my boys.  Each one is such an incredible person, I want to share their successes, their personal victories, their own “best” moments because I see these moments more and more.  I am so thankful to be their mother and many of these victories, I hold tenderly in my heart and ponder the grace of God, the blessings of having such a wonderful and committed husband and the freedoms of living in a land where the opportunities for success are plentiful.

I’m expecting my 7th child, a little boy due end of September. I spent the entire month of December praying and fasting for a little girl.  I’ve spent nearly two years of my life practicing daily intermittent fasting.  I’ve read in the scriptures about how God hears the prayers of mothers and can grant a child to a willing mother. Was I willing? Had I done enough to petition the Lord for a daughter? Was I deserving? And what about Eden, my little girl who had prayed countless prayers for a little sister? I knew God would grant me my hearts desire.  Isn’t belief faith? Aren’t we told to have faith? I did. I knew she was coming this time.

Even at my age, I conceived a child without a glitch and I couldn’t wait to tell the world the power of prayer and fasting. I couldn’t wait to testify that dreams come true, to share the light of my new baby daughter with others. It was the perfect ending to my story of trying to adopt from India, how at our age, my husband and I didn't qualify to adopt, how I cried for her until finally, I accepted she’s not coming from India, maybe I could have another little girl on my own.  My pregnancy with Canyon just about did me in, but I’m stronger now, I knew I could do it.  For her, I would go through another pregnancy.

Right away, I became sick with morning sickness.  Some days, I didn't know how I was going to make it.  The fatigue has been difficult, but I take long walks outside and spend lots of time at the park with Eden and Canyon.  Spring in Arizona has been so beautiful and being outside helps. If I lay down, I feel worse, so I keep going and moving my body.  I've been doing yoga almost every day and it helps with body aches. 

And then, through a blood test at 12 weeks we found out we are having a boy, our 6th boy. 

I was alone with my husband when we read the results of the blood test.  Silence, breathless, shocked, he just held me while I sorted out my feelings.  Finally he fell asleep, but I was up all night. Didn’t God know the plan?  How much I needed this girl?  Didn’t he hear all my prayers?  What had I done wrong? Why wasn’t I worthy? Through my tears, I asked many questions until finally I fell asleep.  I woke up with swollen eyes. I returned the girl clothes I’d been collecting.  I didn’t want to see any pictures of my friend’s beautiful little girls all dressed up, doing summersaults, wearing flowers in their hair – no thank you.  Just line me up for more trucks and dinosaurs. I would be fine. But, for weeks, I wasn’t fine. It made me wonder, "When did I fall under the assumption that God answers every righteous prayer?" There are countless examples of prayers that are good and holy that are not answered.  As I listened to General Conference, a leader of our church talked about our new prophet President Nelson.  President Nelson's daughter Emily passed away from cancer in 1995 at the age of 37. Heartbreaking, President Nelson felt helpless not only as her father, but he was a medical doctor and an apostle.  He still couldn't save her and his prayers to save his daughter's life went unanswered. This example really helped me to put things into perspective.  God has His own plan and His own timing. It's up to us to trust in Him.

Then, something amazing happened. Slowly, with great awakening and amazement my sons pulled me out of my funk.   
(On Easter Sunday, we told our kids they we're having another brother. Canyon is holding his baby brother's Easter egg basket.)
I didn’t know it was happening at first, but it was like my “boy sensors” went on high alert.  My five amazing sons, all wanted, darling, affectionate, funny, successful people, they just take my breath away.  I know their not perfect, but they are mine and I will always fight for them. Their tall stature and strong muscles, dedication to the gospel, passion for sports and exercise, desire to do well in school, their fun friendships, their darling girlfriends, how everyday they become more and more like their dad who I love and adore – I just observed, completely humbled I am their mother. Yes, I’m here cooking food (most days unless I'm too nautious), running them around to sports and school activities, friend’s houses, church events, and on and on, but they are doing this too. Despite my weaknesses, they are doing all they can to become the men God needs them to be.  My insecurities and mistakes haven’t messed them up.  They are going to make it.  Not only can I do this, I am doing this.

How do I feel about having another son?  I am in awe.  I can’t believe it.  

I am so thankful he is healthy and strong. I am going to have some amazing daughter-in-laws some day.  As a family, we continue to sponsors three little girls in India.  We love and pray for them.  There are ways to support little girls without giving birth to one.  Hopefully one day, Eden and I will sponsor 100 girls of India.  That’s our goal, and if you’d like to purchase our coloring book My 100 Daughters 
Available on Amazon
or donate to Rising Star Outreach, that will help us get there. Eden was thrilled to find out she's having another brother.  She will be the little mommy helper to two darling baby brothers.

We have a name for our son.  I think about it and smile.  I already feel very close to him. He came to us and we love him with all our heart.  I can’t wait to hold him. He’s coming to a home ready to love and support him.  My friends and family are so supportive.

He has a daddy, a sister, brothers and a mother who will hold him tenderly, attend to his needs and show him the way.  I’ve worked things out with God. I trust He knows what He’s doing and I’m so grateful to be having this little boy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Overwhelmed? Who Me?

On my way home from Utah this summer, I asked a stranger at the airport to take a picture of me with my kids.  

This was me, off the plane, pulling luggage, dragging a car seat, baby on my head (stroller lost in baggage department and was never found) waiting for my ride home.  This is the part of mothering that makes me feel like a circus performer. I mean I had to do all this down an escalator.

I’ve had many of these moment where multi-tasking is like an 8-course meal you cook, serve, eat and clean up after, where there aren’t enough hands, not enough hours in the day and it could either break me or make me. More and more, I see the humor in these moments of utter chaos, the love, the commitment, the craziness.  I think of my ancestors, the sacrifices they made.  I think of those who go without or who carry babies on their backs while they work in a field and I’m like “Keep it in perspective, girl. You’re just fine.” 

In this picture, my muscles were burning, my head pounding, my shoes hurt, I needed to pee, but I was a mom so I kept it together.

Mothers are amazing work horses.  We get the job done.  We don’t complain.  We’re strong, fierce and determined. And yes, occasionally, we ask for help.

A few days ago, my two year old Canyon came like a race horse out of the bathroom.  Buck naked, he ran to the open door where I was talking to my neighbor.  Canyon loves watering our flowers in the front yard and as fast as a whip, he ran out ahead of me.  I had at least a minute to grab him, didn't I? But no, he decided to start running, those little buns just staring back at me.  I was in flip flops people, but I could catch a two year old, I mean really, how fast could he run.  HE MADE IT FIVE HOUSE DOWN THE STREET BEFORE I GOT TO HIM.  We looked like a scene out of the book NO DAVID, where, you guessed, David is running down the street naked (this is my kids favorite page). Half way down the street, I just started laughing and thanking God I've been running at the track lately because I was in a full on sprint!  When I finally tackled him, we just laughed and I tickled his tummy.  Oh, it was good times, but in my early years of mothering, I probably would have been a wreck, all bent out of shape and yelling.

Here's the culprit, fully clothed, that mischievous spirit shining through.

I’m starting another blog on intermittent fasting.  Not sure if it will be here or on another site, but please let me know the questions you may have about starting intermittent fasting, the benefits and more?  Message me on my facebook page (My Dear Trash) or leave a comment below.