When I was 17 and a Senior in High School, I had my life planned. I'd meet a devastatlingly handsome, Gilbert Blythe-esque character while in my first year at BYU. We'd date for a year or so while I struggled, half-heartedly, with giving up my dreams of becoming a world famous art critic. As soon as I was married, we'd realize that we needed to have children immediately and as soon as we hoped it, it would happen, we would welcome our first born child, a boy, into the world. I would go on to give birth to enough boys to have a family basketball team and several girls who would be tom-boys and lovely ladies too. I always wanted a large family and, afterall, I knew that the Lord wants everyone to have large families.
If you know my history, you know how far from that my life has been, but for anyone who might not know the story...here goes:
I graduated from Highland High School (Go RAMS) in 1992 (gasp...choke...gasp, again). It had been a magically wonderful year, as any good Senior year should be. We tossed our caps from the beautiful "H" Rock overlooking the Salt Lake Valley and cried as we thought of the good times past and how some of us might not see each other again. Then, it was off to college. I had looked forward to attending BYU for as long as I could remember and thrilled at the idea of getting out on my own and having the kind of fun every BYU freshman had.
After finding out the Y groups aren't as much fun as everybody always said they were, I steadily felt disapointment after disapointment with my experience at BYU that first year. I was homesick, scared of failing my classes, and to top it all off, I hadn't had a date for the whole year, basically. Aside from meeting wonderful friends and enjoying the company of some of my dearest friends from high school, my experiences were not very positive. So, I transfered to the University of Utah (gasp...choke...gasp, again).
I spent the next few years floundering between different educational experiences. I enjoyed my time at the U, but still wasn't feeling very satisfied or happy with where I was and what I was doing. Oh, & I still wasn't dating. I applied to and was accepted to the Winter/Spring semester for a study abroad at BYU's Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem. It was an amazing experience and I learned many things...1.) I really enjoyed the educational premise and experience of BYU and that I should return there and 2.) though I would be turning 21 soon after I returned home, I would not need to go on a mission for our church (for female members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 21 is the earliest age at which one can serve as a missionary). Happy to feel that I finally had a direction and purpose, I returned home from Israel excited to move back to Provo and finally get on with getting the education I really wanted. Oh, & I still wasn't dating.
Almost as soon as I stepped off the plane in Utah, I began to wonder if I had made a mistake in thinking that I should be going back to BYU. I hastily applied for re-admitance to the U and vascilated between which University I should attend for a very unhappy month. As time drew near for a decision to be made, I was almost in a panic. I felt very direction-less and confused.
This is probably not the time to chronicle the detailed experiences I had leading up to a very momentous decsion in my life. So, I will be satisfied with saying that I came to KNOW that the thing I had been wrong about when I returned from Israel didn't have anything to do with attending BYU, but it had everything to do with serving a mission. Without going too far into it...I had a very special experience in which I felt completely guided by the Lord to change course and to step on to a path which terrified me to the center of my soul.
I deferred my enrollment to BYU to go on a mission for our church. My calling was, eventually, to serve in the Canada Toronto East mission. I was blessed to work with both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking people in the beautiful Toronto area for about a year and a half. I guess it goes without saying here that I had not been dating?
My arrival home from my mission then took me to London England for about a year. As the end of my mission drew close, my parents were called to missionary service (my father serving as a mission president). I lived in the mission home (which was a beautiful three bedroom flat) about a block away from Hyde Park. Taking classes with the BYU London study abroad, whose "center" was on the other side of Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, was a wonderfully fun and exciting addition to my university experience. It was delightful and refreshing and led me to some important events in my life. I think I should say here...I STILL wasn't dating, which may go without saying since the only young men I was in contact with were between the ages of 19 and 21 and were missionaries - who can't date.
One of the important decisions I came to while in London was finally arriving at a place where I knew what I wanted to do for my major. My life-long love affair with books, reading, writing and language led me to settle on English. I returned to the states and BYU again to focus my energies on graduating. I spent a wonderful full year at BYU and then took a short break to spend another six months in London. Hey, I wasn't dating and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend some more time in the most wonderful and amazing city in the world. Did I mention, I still wasn't dating...Actually, I was. I was doing a lot of dating. I went on about 500 first dates & accepted most "line-up" offers that came my way. Another subject...for a later post.
During my last full semester at BYU (I took Spring and Summer terms to finish my degree) I ran into one of the former missionaries of my parents'. This was not an unusual event. I ran into one of the former ELM missionaries almost every day, but this one ended up to be pretty significant - 15 months later we were married. The story of how I really ended up connecting with my husband, will be the subject of another post (or two...it's a VERY long story).This much I will say...Gilbert Blythe has nothing on this man!
At last, I could finally commence to fulfill my long-held dreams of having a huge family! I knew that at 27, I might have to pare down my original dreams of 12+ children, maybe now we could only have 10 or at the least 8.
This dream really began to fade away before I even got engaged. I had been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 24 and shortly before I became engaged, I underwent laproscopic surgery to preserve the chances of my being able to have a child. Happily for me, the surgery went well and the prognosis was good. The best way to reverse endometriosis is to get pregnant. My husband and I were both hoping for a large family and so we didn't wait very long before we started "trying" to have children (I hate that saying, it sounds so gross!). After six months had passed without my becoming pregnant, my doctor was getting quite worried since my best chances of becoming pregnant would have been soon after my surgery.
Feeling very worried about what was happening to our future, my husband and I called upon the Lord and after a year of trying (and enduring the many comments of good-intentioned people who asked us why we weren't trying to have children yet) and failing. My doctor was ready to take the next step which would be articial insemination (another gross term). Because my husband was getting ready to begin a Masters degree, we decided to wait until we were settled back in Provo. Sometimes funny things happen and miracles come when you least expect them. Before we were settled at all...I was very happy to see two very dark and vivid lines on the home pregnancy test early one morning in September 2002. The very next day...I was on the floor of the bathroom, which is where I stayed for the next 5 1/2 months.
Hyperemesis Gravadarum would be my plague for about the first 6 months of my pregnancy. HG isn't just like bad morning sickness, it is really a debilitating and serious condition. I lost about 17 pounds before my 10 week prenatal visit. Unfortunately, I didn't know enough about what I was going through to ask my doctor for more help. I was on medication which made me drowsy but did sometimes help me to keep from vomitting. I made three visits to the ER to be re-hydrated, one time requiring 7 liters of IV fluids before I even felt like I might eventually need to go to the bathroom (just you try to drink 7 liters of fluid and not feel like you need to visit the restroom...if you can do it go to the hospital, you're sick & yes, I was that dehydrated). The help of my parents, co-workers & especially my husband (who drove from Salt Lake to Provo, a 45-60 minute drive depending on traffic, twice a day on each day that I had to be at work; not to mention all the house cleaning, cooking, etc. that I was completely unable to do) got me through those first awful months of pregnancy. It seemed like an eternity.
When my little girl arrived safe and sound in May of 2003 (when I was 28) I breathed a sigh of relief and said a prayer of gratitude. It took me some time before I could even stand to think of ever being pregnant again. Actually, I don't know if I could ever really feel great about the thougt of being pregnant again. At some point, I just had another one of those unspeakable sacred moments when the Lord made it plain to my mind that it was time to start trying again. Re-read the paragraph about how hard it was to get pregnant the first time to find out how difficult it was the second time. It was almost an exact repeat except I never even considered going ahead with artificial insemination...I just gave up and left it in the Lord's hands. Yep...HG again...yep...worse. Good thing this time, I knew that I could push to get more help. This time, I had a PICC line (a catheter in a vein of my arm to deliver IV medication and IV fluids).
My little girl had a few fun months of watching lots of Disney Channel and movies while I laid in bed hooked to my IV, that is until Daddy got home, made dinner, gave me more medication (the one that made me fall asleep) and had some fun with his little girl before he put her to bed. Children are amazingly resilient and she was so kind. When I would be hunched over next to the toilet, she would come and sympathetically rub my back and say, "It's OK Mommy. I'll help you." We were all very happy when I started feeling able to cut back on the medication and start acting like a human and a mom again.
My baby boy arrived 2 weeks early in June of 2006 ( I was 32). After he was born, the doctor asked me, "Wasn't he worth all of it?" To which I replied, "maybe not all..." Just kidding...of course, I said that he was & he really is. Both of my kids are totally darling and so much fun. But now you are asking..."Are you ever going to think about another one? I mean you are already 33 and you don't have many child-bearing years left."
My response is this: MYOB. Actually my response is...that is really something that will just have to be known by three individuals. My husband, myself and the Lord. I've been wrong so many times before about what was going to happen in my life...as you can plainly read. I don't think I'll ever be the mother of 10 children in this life, but who knows what is in store for us. Not me....