I have had as many miscarriages as babies born: four of each. After I survived a foreclosure and bankruptcy, I thought I could handle any trial that the Lord sent me. So He tested me, and boy, was I wrong. The financial trials were humbling, but the next wave of adversity hit me to the very core of my being.
I have always known when it was time to have a child. And, for the most part, I knew who was coming. I felt confident in the spiritual connection I had with my babies before they were born. My husband and I even chose their names before we ever had the first one. The first three came relatively easily. I had a miscarriage between the third and the fourth. That was heart-wrenching, but I got pregnant again within a few months. And I soon saw the reason for the delay in my son’s coming— the pregnancy I lost was due in July 2007; but in July 2007, we were in a state of transition and chaos. So it was a blessing.
In June 2009, my husband came to me and said, “It’s time to have another kid.” And I said, “Are you sure? Because I don’t feel that way at all.” But since this is not something that my husband usually does, I went to the Lord. And I got the same answer: It was time.
The Doctrine and Covenants is one of the books of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the Mormon Church. Doctrine and Covenants 101:4-5 says, “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.”
For me, the chastening was about to begin.
It took a few months, but I became pregnant for the 6th time. I lost the baby at the end of March, right before General Conference, the worldwide meeting for members of The LDS Church. At General Conference, the prophet and apostles speak to the members, and I felt the Spirit as I listened to their counsel and teachings. I became pregnant again and lost the baby just in time for the October session of General Conference. The messages again brought me comfort during my time of distress.
Almost a year later, I became pregnant for the 8th time. I would not let myself get excited until I knew that this baby would live. When I had my first ultrasound, he was alive and moving but something felt wrong. I told myself that maybe I was just freaking out because of the previous two ultrasound experiences, but I wouldn’t get excited until I knew for sure. I prayed and begged the Lord to let my baby live. But in my heart I knew. When I went in to the doctor a few weeks later, there was no heartbeat. I was almost too numb from the pain to cry. I had been begging and pleading with the Lord to let my baby live. I could feel my child’s presence, and I knew he was there. And I felt when he was gone.
It was March again. The third loss in a row was two years after the first. My heart was broken. The pain was so raw that I felt numb, and I didn’t know how I was going to go on. I had put my heart and soul into trying to have another child. I knew it was time. I knew I had two more babies. Didn’t I always know when it was time? But I had just lost 3 babies, and maybe I didn’t have any more. I was distraught, desperate and depleted mentally, physically and spiritually. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of my family when all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and sob.
For me, the trial was twofold. Going through the first trimester of pregnancy over and over again felt like the movie “Groundhog Day.” I was exhausted physically, and my body was showing the signs. And spiritually, I really began to wonder where I stood with the Lord. I wondered if I was really receiving the personal revelation that I thought I was, why was everything going so horribly wrong?
Relief Society is the women’s organization of The LDS Church, and every year we have regional meetings. At that meeting, a woman spoke. Her words brought me comfort and peace. She talked of her health trials, and told a story of how she was trying to make dinner for her family when she was so weak she could barely stand up. So she decided to make spaghetti (or something like that… I don’t remember the specifics of the meal). She put the meat on the stove, turned it on, and was so weak she had to lie down on the floor and rest. And then she got up, stirred the meat, and put the boiling water on the stove. And then she lay down again. She repeated this over and over until she had finished making dinner. And her family was grateful. I realized that, little by little, I too could return to my family. I could start by making dinner. And playing games with the beautiful babies I did have. And slowly but surely, I could return.
This was also Easter time, and I didn’t want to spend the holiday at home. Also, I was mad at Heavenly Father and didn’t want to go to the temple. But I wanted to go to the Salt Lake Mormon Temple. That is one of my favorite places on earth. My grandma said we could stay at her house. We spent three days on Temple Square, taking our children to see the sights and basking in the warmth of the days and the Holy Spirit that resides there. I was free, for a time, of the sorrow and pain of my life. And I had fun with my family. My husband and I went to the Salt Lake Temple, and I felt the love of my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We went to the LDS Visitor’s Center on Temple Square and went to see the Christus statue. We stood at the feet of the Savior and showed our children the nail prints in His hands and feet, and I felt His love for me.
That was a year ago, and the year has not been easy for me. But, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, my healing began on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. My husband was inspired on that trip, and he bought me a replica of the Christus statue to put on our mantel, so that I could see the Savior watching over me.
The summer came and went, and October General Conference began. President Henry B. Eyring, the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk titled “Where is the Pavilion?” He tells the story of his daughter-in-law, who had a similar trial. She finally asks the Lord to give her a divine errand. I realized that I needed the same thing. And so I prayed and asked the Lord what I should do. My youngest baby is going to kindergarten soon, and I will be home alone. The Lord did not answer my prayers with another baby. He still hasn’t. Instead, he led me to writing and editing opportunities—things that I love to do. He helped me to rediscover who I am. And he helped me see that I still matter to Him.
One of my favorite scriptures is in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Prophet Joseph Smith, who restored the gospel to the earth through the power of Jesus Christ, was in jail in Missouri in 1839. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:1, Joseph asks: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” In verses 7-8 the Lord answers him, saying, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.” And then, my favorite, in Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8, the Lord continues, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
That last sentence gets me every time. I know that I am not greater than the Son of God. And through His sacrifice, He knows how to succor me. And He will (and does) carry me through my darkest times.
This trial is not over for me. But there are some things that help me to get through. The first is the love of my Savior. I feel that love as I sincerely pray, read the scriptures and attend the Mormon temple. The second is the love of my family, specifically my husband. The first couple of times I lost my babies, I felt like I was the only one who cared. My husband finally said to me, “I am sad, too. I’m just trying to be the strong one.” To which I replied, “I feel so alone when you don’t tell me how you feel.” My husband has been my rock through this. He has stood by my side, and he has listened to me and taken care of me. Our relationship has been strengthened as we have tried to see this trial through each other’s eyes. I have also had inspired friends and family members reach out to me in times of desperate need. More than once I have heard, “I don’t know why, but I was thinking of you and felt like I should call.” I knew why that person called—the Lord had heard my cries and answered my prayers.
Throughout these last three years, I have felt myself shutting down because of the pain. A couple of years ago, my kids and I started taking piano lessons together. I have been learning to play the LDS Church’s Hymns Made Easy. Sometimes, the only time I could release the pain was when I was playing the hymns. I would sit and play the piano and cry. With tears streaming down my face, the words and the music would speak comfort and peace to my soul. One of the hymns that spoke to me is “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” The first two verses read:
“Come, come ye Saints. No toil nor labor fear.
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you, this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive our useless cares from us to drive
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! All is well!
“Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!”
As I played this hymn, I would think of the trials of the early Saints. They endured much hardship and loss. I knew that I couldn’t feel sorry for myself or wallow in my pain. I had to let it go and take comfort that Heavenly Father would provide me with the grace I needed to get through the days. He will never forsake me. And if I want the blessings, I can’t quit now.
I know that the Lord lives and that He loves me. I know my Heavenly Father has a plan for me, and one day I will know why I went through this trial. I think I am beginning to get a glimpse right now. I am grateful for the knowledge and peace the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into my life. I am grateful for the beautiful music that brings peace and comfort to my soul. I still have hope that one day, the Lord will grant me the blessings of having two more babies. And if He doesn’t, I know He will be by my side.