For someone who wanted a bunch of kids, I was certainly not looking forward to a third pregnancy. I was puzzled by my feelings. My first two pregnancies had been uncomfortable but uneventful, and there was no real reason why I should dread a third one. But here I was, looking at pregnant women as if they had leprosy or some sort of terminal illness. Why would anyone choose to be pregnant? The thought crossed my mind often. But I’d better get started, I thought. My number two will be four by the time number three is born, so it’s about time, right?
No sooner had I taken a pregnancy test than things started to go awry. In gratitude, I will tell you now that I have been very fortunate in bearing children. This not a story of life-threatening complications, but of surrendering one’s will for the benefit of another — in this case, mine for my baby’s. So, at two months along, I looked five months along… you get my drift. At four months along, my hormones began to spin, and I dove off an emotional cliff and into a deep, untouchable depression. The Lord has been kind to me by giving me some very brief trials to grow my compassion. This depression lasted only one week, but I will ever empathize with those who are clinically depressed. No amount of talk can reach you.
By four-and-a-half months I was on crutches. Too much of the connective-tissue-relaxing hormone Relaxin collapsed my hips and loosened all my joints. I had difficulty readjusting from sitting to standing, lying to sitting. I could only walk a few feet. At Six months I looked like I was overdue. An x-ray showed only one baby, not twins. I was as big around as I was tall. One day at that six month mark, my hips held together. I rejoiced! Let’s go for a walk, I thought. I waddled down the street in our downtown shopping area, and met the eyes of a sweet lady nearly a block away. Her neutral appearance suddenly transformed into one of marked pity, as she eased toward me saying, “Aw, aw.” When we encountered each other, tears welled in her eyes. She placed one hand on my shoulder, another on my stomach, and she moaned, “Oh, oooohhhhhhh.” (Meaning, “oh you poor, poor thing.”) She bowed lovingly away. I was shattered. I thought I was doing so well! I ended my day out, and went home.
About this time the baby began to express his true personality. He was tearing me apart. As far as I knew, babies had no material objects with them in the womb, but this one had an axe, mace, and hammer. At night I’d lie on the couch and moan, as he turned somersaults and wielded his weapons. Was he grabbing my internal organs and yanking on them? I could have sworn he was. One night my husband took pity on me. He came to my side in the living room to give me a priesthood blessing.
We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the Mormon Church. It is the full restoration of Christ’s primitive church, and so a prophet and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ stand at its head. As in Christ’s Church of old, those to whom Christ has given His priesthood power can heal in His name. There is no professional clergy, and as it was in ancient times, all worthy men called of God can have this power and authority. My husband is one of these. He has had the ability to bless his wife and children by the laying on of hands to convey comfort and prophecy and healing, as the Lord wills.
The blessing began: “The Lord understands your pain.”
Here I was, a fat, burdened, pregnant woman in pain. But the Lord perfectly understood. Somehow, His unimaginable suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross enables Him to understand even this — His daughter’s discomfort. I was instantly humbled. Pain, what pain? Never mind, never mind. You have other children who are truly suffering. Succor them. Those were my thoughts, as I was abashed by His infinite compassion, His respect for what I was going through.
Then He told me there was nothing He could do.
My emotions reversed. What? Nothing? He explained that this was the nature of the child, and that I would have to be prayerful in raising him. Now that was something to look forward to….
That baby boy was a week late, sneezed like a 60-year-old man, and rolled over and over at three weeks of age. He was a brilliant, intense, and rebellious toddler, a tantrum-thrower who would bang his head against the wall when he was frustrated. But every day that he gained more power over his environment, he got happier. He’s 38 now. He has a master’s degree and a very successful career, and a family of his own. He was so driven to develop his talents. He writes, he’s an artist, he sings, he dances, he reads hard books, there’s not much he can’t do. The best thing for me was that he never rebelled as a teenager, but grew his faith in God and served a faithful Mormon mission. He continues to lead his family in righteousness.
I learned much through this trial. First, God does understand our pain, no matter what it is. Second, I had told Heavenly Father that I wanted to do His will in all things. God grants unto us our free agency, but He allowed the free agency of this special child to dominate my own. I willingly gave myself to be the vehicle whereby this child could begin his earthly journey. As he matured, I did everything I could to enable him to control his intensity and to focus it, to develop his talents and use his remarkable intellect. Sometimes, the needs of one person can trump the wants of another in Heavenly Father’s plan for us. If we allow it, because we realize God is blessing another person through us, it sanctifies us.