Our family is expecting a new little one in October, one of the reasons I lost all energy to keep this blog to up date. Today I have a blinding headache and overwhelming nausea. I'll be 15 weeks tomorrow, it's amazing how 15 weeks feels like 15 months when your pregnant. I try not to think about the number that still lays ahead.
One of my favorite things about this pregnancy has been the nurse’s faces when they ask “Is this your first?” I smile back and say “Oh no, it is my fifth” Then I watch as they try not to look shocked and recollect themselves before continuing on with the conversation, usually something along the lines of “Oh, well you’re a pro!” I have been to the hospital/doctors office many times in these first few months and each time it happens almost exactly the same. In the ER it happens several times per visit as there is always a different nurse coming in and that seems to be the popular question to ask.
Another question I get, though not as often, isn’t as easy to respond to because the answer is personal and complex and hard to sum up in a 5 word sentence. The question is this “Your pregnancies are so awful, why did you get pregnant 5 times?” It isn’t always in those exact words but the sentiment is the same. It doesn’t hurt my feelings when people ask, I get it. Pregnancy almost kills me, in fact last week if there hadn’t been a hospital and an IV I probably would have died. I struggle to function at all let alone function and take care of my kids. It’s hard, and awful, and I really really hate it. So I get why people look at me and think “WHY DOES SHE KEEP DOING IT?”
My closest friends and family know that the majority of my pregnancies weren’t by choice. I mean I guess I chose to do the thing that got me pregnant, so there is that but I had one (or more) birth control options in place at the time and fully expected them to work. Brielle beating out the IUD was probably the biggest surprise. While that is true, it is also true that I always knew there would be another one. I knew I would have kids (or wanted to at least) I knew after Kaden a little girl was going to come. I dreamed about her before I even got pregnant, I dreamed about curling her long blond hair into ringlets, a thing I have done hundreds of times since she was born. So when we surprisingly got pregnant only 10 months after Kaden was born I wasn’t all that surprised. I felt like I knew her already. After Taycee, I knew there was another one. I felt her presence so closely at times I would look over my shoulder. We decided to take things into our own hands and get pregnant on purpose. That proved to be my scariest pregnancy to date, Addi had complications before she was even born and when my water broke at 34 weeks I drove myself to the hospital in tears. It was too early, she needed so much more time. After Addi I needed time to heal emotionally. We weren’t sure exactly what we would be dealing with when it came to her and I needed some time to breath and adjust and process. Add to it the fact that Chris was finishing up his PH.D. program and we would soon be uprooted and moved who knew where to start fresh. Yes, I needed so much time. But even then I KNEW there was another one. A far off distant one, sure, but I knew our family wasn’t complete. When I started feeling sick in December of 2012 and it never went away, I knew. I took a test at 5 am in the morning and found out Miss Brielle wasn’t waiting for my time, she wanted to come now. Pregnancy was never easy, but I felt so strongly that each little spirit belonged to our family that it made the horrible pregnancies live-able. The IV’s and medications and constant vomiting were just the price I had to pay to get that little person here, and I always felt so strongly that they were mine that it made it somehow not as bad.
Brielle’s pregnancy was probably the worst of the four. I remember laying on the floor near the bathroom sobbing because I was certain I might die, which sound ridiculously dramatic in hindsight but felt so real then. Perhaps it is age that makes each pregnancy a little worse. Regardless after Brielle came we were done. Our family felt complete. There were no more little whispers or telling dreams. I had just made it through the most grueling pregnancy yet we had moved across country to start a new life in Virginia. We felt content and complete and I was 100% sure there would be no more babies in our future.
Summer of 2014 came and I was seriously considering homeschooling the kids. I had so many reasons, lists of them. I had done the research and found a program I liked. I was excited about it although a little nervous. I was just so sure it was what I should do except I never felt like I was getting a thumbs up from the Big Guy upstairs. Surly he had an opinion on the matter, these are after all His kids. Public school vs. home school would have huge impact on their life. I studied it all out, I had a plan I was just waiting for that confirmation that I wasn’t screwing it all up. August approached and a decision had to be made. I prayed and fasted and asked Chris for a blessing. I had decided to homeschool I just needed a little affirmation. I was so sure when he laid his hands on my head that answers were going to come. I can’t tell you now what words were said other than 3 sentences in when I heard these words “Jill, Heavenly Father wants you to know there is another spirit that is waiting to join our family.” My heart dropped. My body went into a sort of pregnancy PTSD and nausea overtook me. I wish I could say I handled it well, that I obediently rose up to that occasion and put my faith in His will but I didn’t. I cried, so many tears. I was angry and upset and completely unwilling to accept any of it. I begged Chris to take it back. I tried to find ways around it, another child in the next life perhaps, adoption, foster kids… I just couldn’t imagine being pregnant again.
There are a few things I am absolutely sure of and one of them is that Chris was meant for me. Heavenly Father created him to perfectly compliment and control all the crazy that is me. After many tearful nights he was able to calm my heart a little. He assured me he never felt during the blessing that that spirit had to come right now. We had time, I just needed to be aware. Here is the problem, remember my track record with birth control? Every month after that for the next little while I was in a panic sure I had gotten pregnant. Our life was all sorts of crazy back then. Brielle was just over one, Addi had just started therapies through the school system and that brought with it a whole new level of stress and concern, we were in a new place without any family and very few friends, life was good but also a bit overwhelming. I knew there was no way I could handle another baby, let alone the pregnancy. Time has a way of dulling things, and slowly my concern over another baby faded. It just wasn’t going to happen. There was always that tiny little nagging at the back of my mind that I was completely ignoring counsel I had been directly given, but it was a tiny nagging. I sold most of my baby items including bins and bins of baby clothes. We were done having babies, no question about it.
Summer of 2015 came and all of the sudden it looked like we might be moving again. A job in Washington had come up and it looked like it might be a really good move for our family. We prayed, oh how we prayed. Chris loved his job in Virginia and wasn’t nearly as excited about the job in Washington. But there were many other factors that were far more appealing about Washington. We were tied up in knots and unsure what the right move was. We fasted and prayed and studied out every detail we could but still nothing was clear. Then one night while on my knees again pouring out my heart about this huge decision we needed to make I felt a very distinct answer. “You will move to Washington and you will have a baby.” Well shoot. I told Chris I felt like Washington was the right move and secretly despaired over the rest. I was not having any more babies, babies try to kill me, I had four kids who needed a healthy strong fun mom. Our family was complete.
We did move to Washington and that little nagging turned into a big nagging. I agonized over it again and again, I told Chris all the reasons why it was a terrible terrible idea. Chris was a saint through it all and just quietly nodded and said “Honey, whatever you chose I will support” I spent so much time trying to talk Heavenly Father out of this idea. Didn’t he know how awful pregnancy was for me? Didn’t he know how it almost killed me? Didn’t he know I had 4 small children who demand all of my time and love.? Didn’t he know that it would require so much help and support from these people around us who we barely even knew? Didn’t he know that I would do it in an instant if it wasn’t SO HARD? Well of course he did. Then there was a moment during my scripture study that I came across the scripture in Mosiah 3:19. A scripture I had memorized when I was in High School.
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, WILLING TO SUBMIT TO ALL THINGS WHICH THE FATHER SEETH FIT TO INFLICT UPON HIM, even as a child doth submit to his father. “
And it hit me like a ton of bricks, Heavenly Father asks us to do hard things. There would be no test of faith no trial no growth if we were never asked to do hard things. How many times had I sat with my kids reading scriptures at night as I spoke these very words? How many times had we read about Nephi building a ship or Abinidi teaching king Noah or Joseph Smith giving everything he had for this gospel and I had born testimony to these sweet little spirits that in this life Heavenly Father will ask us to do hard things, things we don’t think we can do or we don’t want to do but if we have faith He will always help us do them. I felt so ashamed, I had been telling Heavenly Father for months that if it was just easier for me I would do it. If it wasn’t so hard, if it didn’t require so much, if I could do it on my own… if it required no faith and no struggle and, and, and…. I hadn’t been doing any of the things I tried so hard to teach my children to do.
It still wasn’t an easy decision. Being willing to submit to all the things which the Father seeth fit to inflict upon you, yeah that is hard. But my heart had been softened and 7 weeks later that spirit that wants so desperately to be here on earth was on the way. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope that maybe my obedience (however slow it was) might be rewarded with an easier pregnancy. Surly it has not, this pregnancy is proving to be the most difficult of them all. But through all of the ups and downs and ER visits and possible miscarriage scares there has been a deep underlying wave of peace. There are still many moments I lay on the couch begging for a reprieve from the misery, sometimes that comes, most times it doesn’t. But doing hard things isn’t easy, if it were we wouldn’t grow.
Heavenly Father moved us to Washington into the most wonderful ward. That was an answer to prayers we hadn’t even said yet. They have been so kind and loving and willing to help in any way. Accepting service has never been easy for me I am the girl who takes the dinners not the girl who gets them. I am learning, it has been a humbling process. Chris reminds me often that Heavenly Father moved us here because he knew we would need this kind of help, and I am always a little weepy when I think about how aware He is of every need present and future.
So there it is, my 2,000 word answer to that one line question. I do it because these babies are mine, and because I have been asked to, and because sometimes in order to become more than what we are we do hard things.