When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Katy

Katy recently commented on one of my posts sharing a little of her experience and I asked her to write this post. It’s a beautiful testimony of continually trusting in God and His plan, even when His plan changes.
Katy and her husband, Mark, have been married for 15 years. They met on a blind date while attending school at BYU-Idaho. Katy earned degrees in Nursing and Music. Their family now lives in Northern Utah, and they have been blessed with four energetic children: ages 13, 11, 10, and 6. She spends most of her time as a homeschooling mamma (long before COVID and homeschooling was “cool!”). She works extremely part-time as a yoga instructor and QNRT practitioner for adults and kids, working within the specialty niche of addiction and trauma.

I was recently reminded of Abraham’s reaction when God told him his wife would bear a son in their old age. In the Bible, it says he questioned, scoffed, and laughed, but as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we have what we call a “Joseph Smith Translation” of this verse. JST says, “[he] fell on his face and rejoiced” and he repeated the promise with joy rather than questioned it (Genesis 17:17 or JST 17:23).

Sometimes when we are given big promises by God, it can be easy to question! We wonder how in the world something that impossible could become possible! I know that’s where I started in my own trust in God and His seemingly bold and big promises to me many years ago… I was so far from Abraham-like faith!

All I’ve ever wanted to be was a wife, mom, and homemaker. I just knew that was what Heavenly Father wanted for me too. I was only 19 years old when I married Mark. As newlyweds, I had a preceptorship in the NICU. As I cared for these teeny, tiny babies for 12 hours at a time, my heart longed more than ever before to start our family! Yet priesthood blessing after priesthood blessing, prayer after prayer, prompting after prompting, I was told it wasn’t time yet. My answer always was that my education was important to my future and the ways I would be able to give to others according to God’s plan. It felt like we had to wait forever, but a few weeks prior to beginning our final semester before graduation, we knew it was time to start our family!

After a smooth pregnancy, we were delighted to welcome Sennika earth side! We were thrown into the seemingly endless days and nights of snuggles, feedings, diapering and soaked it up as sleepy yet delighted new parents. I was finally beginning to live my long-held dream! I was a stay-at-home mom to our precious growing daughter!

We were utterly shocked when the prompting came again much sooner than we expected. We conceived our son, Gavin, when Sennika was only 9 months old. We have zero regrets and clearly knew it was time. Over the years, we have seen reminders and evidence that this marvelous decision was made right! It was an even more challenging pregnancy for me than Sennika’s pregnancy.

In addition to intense morning sickness, one morning when I was only 26 weeks along, I woke up to heavy red bleeding and uterine cramping. Being a nurse, I knew well it wasn’t good news. We had so many tender mercies that morning to quickly get the medical attention we needed. My heart broke as we could actually see on the ultrasound that part of the placenta had pulled away. The placenta is the organ responsible for delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the baby as well as helping remove wastes from the baby’s system. It doesn’t regenerate and it can’t “restick” after it’s pulled away.

Gavin was thankfully doing okay, but I was admitted to the hospital so we could both be closely monitored as we waited to see what would happen next. I began having regular contractions. That night was a long night! 26 weeks was too soon for Gavin to safely arrive! We didn’t know if he would do well if he came that early and was born in our small hospital. I laid in the hospital bed counting contractions, feeling so alone. I cried and I prayed wondering what the coming hours would bring for our precious baby and our little family.

We were able to get the contractions to stop. Within a few days, we were both stable enough to go home! I took the remaining months of my pregnancy as easy as possible, and we had weekly appointments to check on us both. The biggest risks we were facing were: Gavin could stop growing because the remaining functioning part of the placenta couldn’t keep up with his needs or we had a high chance more of the placenta could pull away, resulting in immediate action needed to save both our lives. We prepared for the real possibility that he would end up coming early; however, Gavin was born at 38 weeks. He was also healthy and strong! We were so grateful! Now we had two beautiful children who filled my days (and nights) with long hours… and lots of diapers, but so much love and joy!

Although Gavin’s pregnancy had been a roller coaster, our doctor couldn’t find any reason to worry about it happening again in a future pregnancy. We chalked it up as a “fluke,” and soaked up our little ones! We knew we weren’t done adding to our family yet. Once again, we got “that feeling” sooner than we expected and promptly acted. Once again, I quickly conceived when Gavin was about 9 months old; however, this time, I miscarried.

After taking a few months to heal, we tried again, and immediately conceived Leland. Once again, morning sickness hit hard. And once again, I woke up to heavy red bleeding with cramping one morning. This time I was only 16 weeks. We could pick up Leland’s heartbeat by doppler in the ER (it was a Sunday), so at least we knew he was still with us; however, we had to wait until the following day to see him on ultrasound at the doctor’s office. There he was! Wiggling around happily; however, since we ruled out the cervix as the source of bleeding, it meant it was once again part of the placenta detaching.

We held on for about a month, then our doctor referred us to a perinatologist, or specialist. Because of how early the placenta had pulled away as well as a combination of other concerns, he wanted a second opinion. We ended up splitting our appointments between the two doctors with appointments either weekly or every other week for the rest of the pregnancy.

What a wild and intense ride this was for our little family! We had many needs with two toddlers and Mom on bedrest! Emotionally, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was hard to hold on some days. We faced similar risks as we did during Gavin’s pregnancy; however more so with 10 additional weeks to wait and see. For a time, it felt every appointment would only bring one more piece of bad news to add to the list.

Many moments my heart was so heavy with worry and fear. I even sewed a tiny burial outfit for Leland “just in case” where we were given such grim hopes he would make it. Week by week, we inched forward. I did my best to love up Sennika and Gavin while also taking care of myself and tiny Leland through months of bedrest. Through a series of God-sent miracles that would easily fill 3 long blog posts alone, Leland was born at 39 weeks! Amazingly, there was only about a 3 inch square of his placenta still functioning, yet he was healthy, strong, and weighed in at a “whopping” 8 lbs 9 ounces! His fat rolls had fat rolls! 🙂 No slowed growth as we agonized there likely would be!

We now had 3 healthy babies in only 3 years! Our house was busy, noisy, and full of growing children! It was heaven on earth for my mamma-longing heart!

Our doctors still didn’t have answers for us. As blessed as we had been with living miracles, we knew we weren’t done yet. We continued to easily conceive, but miscarried three times in a row. The last pregnancy was actually a set of twins.

This was a difficult stretch for me. We had prayed for miracles during Gavin and Leland’s pregnancy and we received them! I had witnessed with my own eyes, knowing full well the medical impossibilities of what we had experienced… yet God had somehow always compensated and prepared a way! Why were our miracles all used up now?

At times I wondered if it’s because I didn’t have enough faith. At times I wondered if it was because I wasn’t a good mom. At times I wondered if we were just crazy! Why did we keep getting promptings to continue trying when it kept ending in miscarriage? We were on the verge of just giving up.

After being led to read a particular Ensign article as a couple, we prayed with a new perspective and openness. Rather than a generic “please bless us” prayer, we decided to ask to be guided to the right solutions. This brought information across our path we hadn’t known of or considered before. Maybe the placenta challenges and the miscarriages are actually related? I brought my research to my OBGYN. He listened. We talked about it. We decided to add in a baby aspirin the next time I had a positive pregnancy test. We came back to Heavenly Father as a couple in prayer. We were reassured this was right and additionally, all would be well!

I conceived within about a week. We made it past the 12 week mark! We thought we were in the clear for another miscarriage but at 13 weeks, there was bright red heavy bleeding late one night. As I felt the gush and confirmed what was happening, I felt my heart drop into the floor! “You told me this was going to be okay, Heavenly Father! You know what my family and I’ve given over the years! My heart can’t take another miscarriage or high-risk pregnancy! I can’t put our little family through that again!”

Where I was only 13 weeks along, I knew it wasn’t worth going to the ER unless my bleeding became too heavy to manage at home. We packed a duffle bag with a few necessities, let our parents know in case we needed them to come stay with the kids if we had to go in, and went to bed. I cried myself to sleep praying this little one would be able to stay and I could be strong enough to face the coming hours.

The next time I opened my eyes, it was morning! I was still pregnant! We got into the doctor’s office right away. There was our tiny baby, another boy, happily swimming around on the ultrasound screen. He had a strong heartbeat. The cervix was ruled out as the source of bleeding. Once again, that meant it was the placenta. The bleeding was too heavy to see clearly with ultrasound this time. Being so early on, I took it easy and we waited a few weeks. We came back to the doctor every two weeks. There wasn’t anything that could be done to save our tiny baby if he came this early. All we could do was monitor him and the bleeding, pray, and wait.

Finally, around 20 weeks, the bleeding had clotted off inside the uterus well enough that we could see clearly through ultrasound what was going on. There was an accessory lobe! Sometimes the placenta (or other organs) can grow an extra piece! Since Shipton had continued to keep up with growth at the expected rate, our doctor was confident the accessory lobe is what had pulled away… basically growing the extra piece and the extra piece pulling away simply canceled each other out! It was as if we had a “normal” pregnancy again! Our baby was fine! My body was fine! I was let off bed rest and given instructions to move on with life as if normal. We continued to monitor for any cramping, bleeding, or anything unusual, but Shipton was just fine!

Shipton was born at 38 weeks; he was also healthy, strong, and another 8+ pound baby! After the placenta was passed, the midwife pointed out it wasn’t actually an accessory lobe. It was two placentas of equal size with a single umbilical cord coming from the center of both placentas and the sac around both placentas. Shipton was an identical twin. There is no way of knowing if the bleeding that night was another placental abruption or if it’s when I miscarried Shipton’s teeny twin (who had stopped growing too early on to see in our early ultrasound at 7 weeks).

Wow! We had been through so much! We were so grateful we persisted through 4 miscarriages and another roller coaster pregnancy or we wouldn’t have our Shipton! Although it was a rough ride, Heavenly Father kept His promise to us: all was well in the end!

Our doctor had done further testing during Shipton’s pregnancy. We still didn’t have answers. We also didn’t know if the aspirin had worked or not where, again, we weren’t sure why we had the bleeding. Were we finally done? Is our family complete? That thought brought us peace in new ways we hadn’t experienced before giving Shipton life. We took that question to Heavenly Father when Shipton was only a few weeks old.

We were given a beautiful answer that brings me to tears as I type this here. He basically said, “If you want to be done, I totally get it. What you have given has asked so much of you. But if you are willing, I will send more.” Having been blessed by miracle after miracle, how could we doubt? We knew God would provide a way. And the thought of adding to our family again was thrilling to know how much we love each one of our children. So for the first time in our married life (knowing how fortunately fertile I am), we left it 100% in God’s hands. Every other time, we had “picked our month” to conceive, this time, we let Him choose for us.

… But I didn’t get pregnant! That had also never happened before! I had literally conceived within one month or less of stopping protection 8 times before. We left it in His hand for about 10 months… nothing.

Within about 24 hours of each other, Mark and I were both introduced to the idea of adoption. We both immediately felt right about it, yet, ironically, we both worried what the other spouse would think where it was so “out of the box” for what we had pictured for our family. It was such a tender conversation as we realized our mutual promptings. He told us He would send more children if we were willing—He didn’t say how! We began walking in that direction.

We concluded we wouldn’t make any commitments just yet, but we would start researching the process as well as praying for the miracles we needed in order to add to our family in this way. We concluded we needed a bigger house and a better paying job in order for it to be possible. We expressed to Heavenly Father our willingness and asked for help with these things if this was the right direction.

Literally within two weeks of beginning to pray like this, Mark received an out-of-the blue phone call from the CEO of the company he was working at. Mark hadn’t vocalized anything about our prayers and he hadn’t applied or interviewed for a new position; however, the CEO offered him a new job anyway! We were getting an increase in pay, and since we would have to move to Utah, we could also get that bigger house we knew we needed! We would need to start the new job in 6 weeks. Again, everything fell easily into place with miracle after miracle as we quickly and easily sold the house, found one in Brigham City, and completed our home study for adoption.

I found two verses in the Bible during this whirlwind of a time while deep cleaning, packing up our home, house hunting, and also tackling the mountain of paperwork and requirements to become home study approved. It is one I would return to often as the coming days ahead would lead to questioning, doubting, and ultimately realizing my role in the required miracles for God to fulfill His promises:

As the Children of Israel had finally escaped from Egypt, imagine their panic and horror as they realized they are being followed by Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea is ahead. There is no escape! There is no way through! Listen to what the Lord tells them, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew you today…the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” God was beginning to teach me how to “hold [my] peace” and trust Him—even in the seemingly impossible. Just like He created a way for the Children of Israel that day when there was seemingly none, He would make a way to fulfill His promises to me. My job was simply to “hold my peace” and let Him take the helm. It would take me a while yet to fully understand that.

We purchased a new home with 5 bedrooms. With how quickly the other miracles had fallen into place in only two months, we were confident we would have our next child in our arms very, very soon. As we moved Shipton into a toddler bed, I set his old crib up in the nursery. I painted and decorated the room. Our home study was finished! We could literally get a call and have a baby in our arms with only a few hours’ warning! All that was left to do was wait for our baby! We were ready!

Weeks went by… then months… then years. As our adoption.com profile only connected us with “adoption scammers,” we spent time considering and pouring into many other avenues: creating two more profiles on other adoption profile websites, creating and sending out “pass along” cards to our family and friends inside our Christmas letter, creating and maintaining an adoption blog and FB page, seriously toying with the idea of an international adoption after we were asked to consider adopting an HIV+ 3-year-old .Sometimes having a “friend of a friend” or extended family member trying to connect us with an expectant mom yet nothing actualizing from it, and Mark and I even did the parenting classes (40 hours per time per parent) for Foster Care. Nothing. Where were these children we were told are coming to us?

I finally took the crib down and donated all of our baby items. It hurt too much to walk past that empty nursery day after day. The empty nursery seemed to taunt me, and soon, my faith. It brought those ugly questions to the surface once again. I “knew” this miracle wasn’t happening because of “my failings”… I wasn’t faithful enough, good enough, or close enough to the Spirit. Along with the darkness and the doubt, other even uglier questions also surfaced in my heart. Why do babies come to couples who literally throw them away in the dumpster, abuse them, neglect them, hurt them, or simply don’t want them? Why can so many couples easily conceive or have easy pregnancies, yet choose not to when others who desperately want a child or more children struggle so much? Maybe God really isn’t there because how could God allow these injustices to happen? Maybe we simply imagined all these impressions up ourselves. Maybe God doesn’t really know me or love me. “Hold thy peace.”

I did my best to work through these painful things with Heavenly Father. Priesthood blessing after blessing, prayer after prayer, time after time of opening my scriptures and worshiping in the temple, He reassured me to wait and see… continue to trust. He hadn’t forgotten me! He loves me! He sees me! I am “good enough”—I always have been! The hard pregnancies and adoption hopes not actualizing had nothing to do with my value and worth! My value and worth does not change or fluctuate based on what is or isn’t happening in my life! He has a plan not only to save and exalt His children collectively, but I also began to realize He also has a plan for each of us individually too. He has a plan for ME! Part of that plan for me included having these experiences… these painful and stretching experiences that have taught me more about compassion, trust, trauma, and love. So, we basically kept adoption open over in a corner of our lives and moved forward as best as possible, pouring into the 4 miraculous gifts we have been given already. These combined experiences gave me an almost natural gratitude for stepping on Legos and the endless loads of laundry and piles of dishes—they were daily and constant reminders of how very much I had already been given!

In the October 2018 General Conference for our church, there were multiple talks that pricked our hearts in this arena. Mark and I began tossing around the general idea of possibly revisiting pregnancy. I was surprised by how open to the idea Mark was. I wasn’t. My heart was so hard. I was so scared and worried. I was no longer “naive” about my prenatal history. After so many pregnancies and only one normal one even with all the exploring we did medically, holistically, and spiritually, what are the chances we would have a low risk pregnancy or not miscarry? I knew I couldn’t handle it. Rather than completely closing off to God, I bared my heart to Him instead.

God surprised me. He answered my concerns by inviting me to learn more about the Atonement. After deep studying one day, a phrase in a book I was reading jumped out at me as if written just for me, “Her faith was based in trust and not in blessings, and would, therefore, withstand any trial.” I realized I had been basing my willingness and faith on conditions. I was basically telling Heavenly Father what to do, and that I was only willing to get pregnant again if He would give me a guarantee that everything would be fine this time. Did I trust Him enough to trust Him without conditions, reservations, and desired blessings?

We decided to set an appointment for me to travel back to Idaho and speak with my old OBGYN about our tentative plans. He might have some new leads since it had been a few years since our last pregnancy. He also shares our faith, so the combination of faith and sound medical advice would be helpful to us as we weigh this. I know not everyone may agree, but because of how much my previous pregnancies had impacted our family, Mark and I decided to bring the kids into the ongoing discussion. They had a few concerns, but were mostly excited. My three oldest kids started praying for me to conceive twins again! We have to hit pause on pregnancy for just a minute because there were several other things happening all at once too.

One day shortly before the thoughts of another pregnancy were even set in motion, Shipton proudly showed me his unintentionally vulgar art project (he spelled Ship with a t instead of p), which I decided to share on FB for anyone else needing a laugh. An expectant mom saw it, thought it was funny, and spent the next few weeks going back to my old posts, reading everything current I was sharing, and finally felt courageous enough to reach out to me.

We chatted back and forth as long as possible the morning she sent me a message. I shared our adoption blog and FB page with her. I updated her on the recent changes in our lives I hadn’t updated on the blog yet, including being honest in wanting any serious expectant moms to know up front about the possibility of our own pregnancy. I also told her my 15 year old sister had moved in with our family, and my parents had recently asked us to consider adopting her too. We were able to get a decent preliminary conversation back and forth in that tiny window of time, and I realized she probably really was “real.” I turned off the electronics and hopped on my flight.

I’m sure you can imagine that I cried for most of that entire flight! How many babies will there be in 2019?! I couldn’t believe the irony, that for years of waiting and waiting, there had been absolutely no children as promised. Suddenly, there were babies and adoptions everywhere! With the kids praying for twins and having conceived twins the previous two pregnancies… at this rate, what are the chances there wouldn’t be 3 babies and a teenager joining our family in one year?! That would double our children from 4 to 8!

After I got back home, the expectant mom and I continued to chat back and forth. Two days after she reached out to me, I sat in the doctor’s office with my old OBGYN. I explained to him the promises we had been given and that we weren’t done adding to our family, our efforts with adoption, and our recent promptings to revisit pregnancy. I told him I needed him to be frank with me. Every other time he walked into the room when I had been bleeding, I was admitted to the hospital, or told our babies had no heartbeats, he had a giant smile on his face. He was so upbeat and positive and encouraging. He cheered me on from week to week through these pregnancies. His confidence and reassurance had carried me through so many heartbreaking and scary moments in my life. That day, however, he was solemn and looked at me with a seriousness I had never before knew he was capable of. “Katy, don’t do it.”

“But didn’t you hear President Oak’s talk at Conference,” I began… “Yes, Katy. And he wasn’t talking to you. He was talking to families who aren’t willing and who are in a situation to have a healthy pregnancy. It is too big of a risk to your own life to get pregnant again. Think about your four beautiful children. Can you risk leaving them without a mother and Mark without a wife? Don’t get pregnant again!”

And as soon as he said it, I knew it was true. This whole compartment in my heart of babies and motherhood had been sealed off and was so highly emotionally charged. I was giving away my heart to God over the years, but only in one tiny shard at a time. I was finally ready to hand Him my whole heart.

I called Mark while driving on the highway, coming back home to Utah. We cried together at this surprising loss. It’s one thing to shut the door temporarily and an entirely different thing to close it permanently—especially when we don’t feel ready to. Mark and I both love being parents! The thought of never again carrying and giving birth to a child in this life was hard to comprehend. Little by little as we studied it out together with God, that was exactly what He was asking of us. I did one of the hardest things (up to that point in my life) and finally handed my whole heart over to Him, trusting Him that this was right.

Things progressed relatively quickly with the expectant mom. Mark and I cried and cried as she shared with us through a Zoom call that she was as sure as possible about adoption and as sure as possible about choosing our family. We were finally matched! Our baby girl was coming soon!

As her housing arrangements changed, the three of us made the decisions to have her temporarily move in with our family while she worked to get on her own feet. She wanted to live close by so we could be involved in the pregnancy as well as be an active part of her baby’s life after the birth. It was still a little hard to believe, but as we went to appointments together, she handed me the ultrasound strips of the baby, insisting she was “ours.”

Mark and I had to make one of the toughest decisions of our lives. We realized that in order for our own family to have what we need, we needed to send my sister back home to my parents. It was unexpected and painful and happened with short notice. We were left reeling and hurting.

After being matched for about 4 months and living with our family for 3 of those months, 24 hours after my sister went home, the expectant mom texted me. She had decided to parent her baby. We wouldn’t be adopting her baby after all.

From our years learning more about adoption, particularly about adoption trauma, we knew this was absolutely the best outcome for the baby, the expectant mom, and their little family as well as my sister and parents and our own family. An open adoption where the birth family is invited to be a part of the child’s life is a second choice—we believe to be considered only after the birth family isn’t possible.

I’ve chosen to take some time and space away from my sister and parents and I’ve chosen to stay in contact with the birth mom. The birth mom later shared with me that it was living with our family, observing us up close, and seeing how much Mark and I love being parents—and how I love motherhood with my whole heart—that gave her the courage to make the changes she needed in her life in order to parent her baby.

It was such a bittersweet time! Mark and I feel so grateful to have played our part in keeping this little family together and inviting reunification with my sister and parents, yet we hurt deeply for our own family’s losses. These were such a complex loss for people around me to understand (or even myself to understand). Now I can articulate: We were planning to adopt my sister until 5 days before she went home. Also, this baby wasn’t a baby that grew inside my uterus, yet she grew inside just as each of my babies have. She grew inside my heart. These were basically miscarriages of sorts. It’s so weird to grieve for something that wasn’t even yours, yet the more space I gave for myself to acknowledge both of these as losses, the more progress I made in grieving and, eventually, healing. Wise words my old OBGYN told me after my first miscarriage, “Loss is loss no matter when it happens. And you need to find ways to grieve your loss.”

It took us a few months to even begin to regroup, and a long time to fully grieve and heal individually and as a family. I had many days where I couldn’t get out of bed until late morning. I felt so confused and broken and empty. Why had this happened?

I could see that God has plans for my life—bigger than my current ability to comprehend! Maybe “sending more children” was a way to speak to me so that I could start stepping in the right direction of all He has in store for me and the ways I can be an instrument for others? Maybe it was time to start living life as if there will be no more babies and additional children coming to us? To quit putting my life’s work off because I’m wanting to leave life open and uncommitted so that we could respond to an adoption situation at the drop of a hat? In this process of seeking to add to our family, my life’s work had become clear. I knew why I’m here on this planet and what my Heavenly Father needs me to accomplish. Maybe this is why He has led me the ways He has?

Mark came to me several months later. “Katy, I know we aren’t done adding to our family yet!” As I took it to God and spent time pondering, I knew he was right. Talk about a yo-yo on my heart! Just when I would start to settle into the idea of no more pregnancies, or adoption, or babies I felt yanked once again back into that place of endless churning.

 As we came together again as a couple after I’d had time to consider, he said, “I really think we need to get pregnant.” Oh that was even harder to hear! Did he not understand what I told him the OBGYN had said? Was he willing to risk being a widower and parenting our children without me? Why would he even think this when we had already closed the door to pregnancy in this life? My heart couldn’t handle one more loss! I told him I wanted to be open to the impressions he was having, and I was going to need some time to work this out with God.

I was at a training and away from home for a week straight. While at training as my heart weighed heavily on these things, I asked one of the group leaders for a priesthood blessing. He didn’t know what was on my heart and mind. He didn’t know the long journey God had been directing us down. He didn’t know we were considering another pregnancy and holding to the hopes of another child… and yet, in that blessing, I was told, “Your child is coming to your family,” and a few other precious and private things. As he took his hands away, I asked him if he really said that. He reassured me, yes he had, and that part was the clearest part for him in the entire blessing. He knew he needed to say that to me in that way.

In a tender phone call to Mark that evening, we marveled together. We decided to spend the time we needed exploring and getting clear on “how” this child was coming to us.

I came home late Saturday night, and went to the temple early Tuesday morning. As I waited for my turn, the scriptures fell open to Ether. I read about an ancient prophet coming to the Lord as he was trying to cross a seemingly impossible ocean with his people. He was told to go figure out a solution to provide the necessary light to their boats while they traveled. As he did the very best he could with what he had available to him and his knowledge, he returned with complete faith, knowing that if the Lord would but touch the stones, they would somehow give light to their journey ahead. He could “hold [his] peace” and let the Lord work the miracles for him.

A peaceful feeling settled on my heart, and I felt my Heavenly Father nudging me to see the application in my own life. I felt God was saying we needed to follow that pattern: do all we can to figure out a solution, return in faith, and He would “touch those stones”—He would bless whichever avenue we deemed best (pregnancy or adoption) to bring this child into our family.

Mark and I discussed it. We felt to write out a pro’s and con’s list of adoption vs. pregnancy. As we worked this list through with God at our side, it became (surprisingly to me) clear to us that pregnancy really was our best choice all around. As hard as it was to hand my heart over to God and close the door on pregnancy in this life, it was even harder to allow Him to pry my heart back open to the idea once again. I can’t explain it easily, but I can see it was one more part of my personally tailored journey and His plan for me. He really did tell us to close the door; He really did tell us to open it again. I believe we all will pass through at least one Abrahamic trial in this life. Like Abraham, we will be asked to sacrifice something so great and so seemingly impossible we simply cannot do it in our own strength. Like Abraham, the only way is “through.” And, like Abraham, as we “against hope believ[e] in hope…[and] stagger not at the promise of God through unbelief,” it will also be “imputed to [us] for righteousness” (Romans 4:18 , 20, 22). As we “believe on [God]…[our] faith is counted for righteousness” (JST Romans 4:5). In speaking of faith, Moroni tells us to “dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). Did I really trust God this much… to take such a huge leap of faith, fully expecting Him to catch me and my family?

This question sat heavy in my heart all summer long. I allowed God to quietly and gently perform the remaining necessary spiritual heart surgery over the course of the following months. Through another series of miracles too long to detail, I had people, tools, and knowledge cross my path. The tiny glimmer of hope grew into budding faith. I began to believe I really could trust God in all things, including life and death. Little by little, people from different places within my many, many communities began stepping forward to help carry me through the preparations for this seemingly impossible promise to be fulfilled.

I finally reached a point where I knew—with my Savior at my side— I could do what needed to be done: healthy baby, full-term baby, placenta abruption or other high-risk scenarios, miscarriage or stillborn, premature baby, yes, even if it meant giving up my own life if necessary. I would risk my life to bring this child into our family. I could trust God to take care of me and my body, my baby, Mark, and our other children no matter what happened. Through Jesus Christ and His grace, I could do it, and I would. I finally realized “all” I had to do was let go. I had tried to hold myself up for so long! I had fought so hard to preserve my life and the lives of my children! I had tried to make adoption happen! I finally realized in a way I had never been able to see before: I am not in control of any of it. I cannot control life. I cannot control death. God is in control.

We planned to conceive in April, but then the Spirit whispered March, not April. It made zero logical sense! But that peaceful feeling persisted. I “h[e]ld [my] peace,” and we jumped.

We conceived within days of acting on this prompting. I forgot how quickly the morning sickness hits! Just as I had my first suspicions and symptoms of obvious pregnancy, things started to shut down around the country from COVID. The big seminar: canceled until further notice. No need to rush on finishing recordings any more. My training: canceled and happening online later this year. Mark’s work trips: canceled. Our tight schedule in order to finish all these things was literally wiped clean overnight. The whole world stopped, seemingly just for me. It gave me all the stillness and flexibility I needed to truly soak up, love, and celebrate the new life growing inside me. I was reminded for the millionth time just how amazing God is! He knows! We CAN trust Him!!!

I didn’t carry this baby for long. I began spotting. I was so surprised. We thought for sure this baby would “stick” after everything our communities did to help us prepare. As the bleeding picked up, I filled the tub as I have had so many miscarriages before. As I lay there waiting to pass my baby and crying, I realized it had to be this way. In order for it to be a true and full test of my heart, I had to believe there was a child joining our family earth side. I had to be willing to give it all. Now God was mercifully ending this pregnancy and guaranteeing my continued life in the most gentle miscarriage my body, mind, and spirit has ever had.

I have never felt such peace before as I did in that moment. Heavenly Father knows how very hard this whole process has been for me, but especially the rigors of this very last step. He sees how I have finally learned to give Him my whole heart and my will through this process. And He is so proud of me! Especially that we would trust Him enough in the timing of one month earlier than made logical sense to us. He wanted to give the gift of a still world to me for this brief pregnancy; that bonus gift was based completely on our willingness to trust Him. In that moment, I realized I had finally learned to let go of everything and trust and love God in ways I never understood were possible. I have never felt so much love in my entire life as I did in that precious moment with God. The following months (and surely years and years to come) will be about stabilizing out in this new place and discovering unseen places to explore in its depths.

We didn’t plan to ever share this publicly where it is so tender to us, yet it feels right to do so now. For the first time, Mark and I are finally at peace. We are still fairly young. If there were ever an opportunity to adopt within a situation our family could say yes to, of course we would! Otherwise, we have peace we have accomplished what is needed. There will be no more pregnancies. There will be no more maintaining adoption profiles or adoption pages. We are “done.”

Although it turned out far from how I expected it would, Heavenly Father has absolutely fulfilled His promises to me! As the twists got crazy and the turns seemed like they would never come back around, it didn’t seem like He would be able to. I can now recognize I was still trying to hold myself up. There is no way I could have made it happen, but nothing is too hard for the Lord! Nothing is impossible for God! We can choose to trust. We can choose to let God. We can allow Him to work in our lives.

I’m not a finished product; I expect to have a long life of learning and growing ahead of me… yet this vista in my journey has been more breathtaking than I ever imagined it possibly could be! I know I have angel babies waiting for us to raise in the millennium! Our children who needed to experience mortality are miraculously here on earth; they are ours to walk with through this life and forever!

And most of all, I am amazed at the massive overhaul these tender experiences have made possible inside my heart! I now know we can *always* trust God; I know His promises will *always, always* be fulfilled as we exercise faith based on trusting Him. He literally is love; He only parents for our betterment! His sole purpose is for us to return to our Heavenly Parents having become like Them. He has a private and personally tailored plan for each one of us—that is one of only a handful of solid and constant things in this ever-changing world. Because it is solid and because it is unchanging, it is true! We can always trust truth!  And we can always trust God… that He really is leading us along in His wonderful plans and designs for us as well as growing us towards our part in His collective plan for all His children. May God grant us the grace and strength to remember, to always praise His name, to let go and let God, to trust Him, and to “hold [our] peace” while He works miracles in our lives to fulfill His promises to us.

All my love,~Katy

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Markie

I have been following Markie’s Instagram account about her sweet little baby girl, who was born with CHD, for a few months and she was another brave and willing soul that wrote her story for me to share. I am so excited to follow their family on their new journey to adoption!
Markie Ostler is a stay-at-home mom from Lehi, Utah. She has a loving husband, a 2-year-old son, and a daughter in Heaven. She is a mourning mother who is determined to find a cure for Congenital Heart Defects, the same disease that took her 5-week old baby girl.


I remember telling my sister that I felt like “something bad” was going to happen to me or my family one day. We were driving back to her house from the Coca-Cola Factory in Atlanta, GA when I told her that I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I remember telling her that maybe I was on “borrowed time” and that I could lose my husband or son in a terrible car accident, or something along those lines. I just remember feeling like my life was perfect and nobody has a “perfect life”. Sooner or later, something heartbreaking was going to happen.

A few months after we had this discussion, my husband and I got the news that baby #2 was on her way. I had always wanted a family of boys. Everyone who knew me knew that having a daughter scared me. What if she were just like me? I was too sassy and stubborn and I didn’t give my parents enough credit, as they tried to “wrangle me in” growing up.

After just 9 weeks of pregnancy, we were able to do a chromosome test that confirmed what I had already thought… we were having a baby girl.

I was at a shopping mall when my doctor called me to tell me the gender. I had already asked my husband if our doctor could tell me the gender over the phone and then I could relay the message to him. He worked crazy long hours during that time of year and he knew it would be cruel to make me wait for him to get off work to hear the news! I immediately called my husband and told him the gender. He was elated. While I was scared to have a girl, he always said he needed at least one “daddy’s girl”.

The first few months of this pregnancy was a blur. Baby girl was giving me a run for my money with all the morning (all day) sickness. Honestly, I barely functioned. Most days I laid by the toilet, while my son unloaded the bathroom drawers and cabinets for entertainment. I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t clean, I could barely sit out on my porch to get some fresh air. I swear, the only thing my son and I ate for that first trimester was goldfish crackers. One day I remember eating a jello fruit cup for breakfast and leaving the house to run an errand. Bad idea! To this day, I cannot even think about eating one of those again.

Baby girl didn’t just make me sick, she also gave us a few scares. I bled a lot the first few months of my pregnancy with her. Enough that I thought I had miscarried on 3 separate occasions. I remember those days vividly. I remember thinking “Maybe this is the terrible thing that I will go through”. To my surprise, baby girl was still swimming around in there, strong heartbeat and all. My doctor hugged me, and I cried after she found the heartbeat. Happy and relieved tears.

All of these scares, plus a CHD diagnosis at my 20-week anatomy scan, I was just thinking how this little spitfire was already keeping us on our toes! CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defects, which means that her heart was underdeveloped and she would need several surgeries after she was born to correct the issues. While she was healthy and strong in my belly, as soon as she was no longer attached to me, her heart would have to take over and do the work on its own. Without surgery, she would get really sick, really fast. I remember saying that she can just stay in my belly forever. I will keep her healthy, as long as she stays put!

Everly Jo Ostler was born November 6th, 2017, weighing a whopping 6 lbs 2 ounces. Her middle name was given to her from her dad’s middle name, “Andrew Joseph”.

For the first few days of her life, Everly’s heart overcompensated for its defects and she was able to be snuggled by many people who loved her. She received her first open heart surgery at 3 days old, and another at 9 days old. After 1 month of complications, even coding a few times, things were finally looking up for Everly and she was moved out of the ICU. I remember December 8th like it was yesterday. Andrew was rocking Everly in the rocking chair, Urban was playing with his toy cars on the ground, and I was decorating her hospital room with a Christmas tree and colorful lights. To this day it was the happiest day of my life. Us 4 together as a family. No nurses, no doctors, just us… I will always look at that day as a gift from God.

Everly passed away the next evening on December 9th, 2017. She was healthy, happy, and on the pathway to be home by Christmas… Everly’s heart stopped. There was nothing else they could do. It was her time to return home.

The doctors and nurses that were present when she passed, all had tears in their eyes, along with us. It may sound crazy and even a bit inappropriate, but I remember saying to the staff, “I think she was meant to go a few weeks back, but y’all are too good at your jobs and kept her around longer than God had originally planned..”

I heard a story through the grapevine that would change my perspective on life, for the rest of my life. It was about a woman who had suffered a miscarriage. Shortly after she lost her baby, she had a dream about the preexistence. In her dream, a young woman, whom she didn’t know on earth, but recognized in her dream as her best friend, ran up to her, hugged her, and said the following…

“Guess what!? Guess what!? Heavenly Father said that my choices have been so righteous here, that I don’t have to go to Earth to be tested!! He told me I would need a body and after I got one, I could immediately come back home. The best part is, I chose YOU to be the person to give me my body!”

They both rejoiced and embraced. They were so excited to share this bond with one another! In the preexistence, they were THRILLED for this to come to pass.

This story has helped me tremendously. It helped me realize that not only did I sign up for this unimaginable pain, but I wanted it and was honored to be chosen to go through it! I truly feel so blessed to do this for her. Everly chose ME to help her gain her body and I would go through this over and over again, infinity more times if she needed me to.

At Everly Jo’s funeral, our Bishop said that Everly felt so much love when she got here, that she wanted to fight for her life and stay with us as long as she could. We gave her a reason to want to be here, and she is now giving us a reason to make it back home to be with her.

I know that having Everly has made me ‘want to be’ a better person. I know that this is God’s plan. I know that I rejoiced in the pre-existence when I heard this plan. I know that Everly is perfect. I know that she doesn’t need to be on this Earth and go through the trials that we all face every single day. I know that she was with us for the exact amount of time that she was supposed to be with us. I know that she continues to be near me. I know that Urban has a close relationship with his sister. I know that he sees her when he talks and giggles toward a blank wall. I know that she is with our future children. I know she has told them how loved they are and will be when they join our family. I know that every day she isn’t in my arms, I will ache for her. I know that when it’s my time to go, her and I will have the most beautiful reunion. Same with her and her daddy.

Although my arms ache for you, I will take that pain if it means you don’t have any.


When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Kay

Kay sent me a message via the contact form on my website and told me she’d be willing to share her story. And it’s National Infertility Awareness Week, so this was perfect timing.
Kay West is a wife and mother of two adopted children. Her family is Canadian, and her life is the story of city girl meets love of her life, country boy. They marry, and together they set off on an adventure of infertility, adoption, and moving to a strange new land. Kay is a speaker, writer, a great listener, and a supporter of all women navigating their way through this crazy thing called life. You will often find her with a book in hand, chocolate ice cream in a bowl, and a cute pair of shoes on her feet. Kay blogs over at Three Toques and a Tiara where on Monday she shares a little of their life story challenges and happiness, Wednesday a little spiritual uplift for midweek, and Friday she shares 5 simple things that made her week. Come join the fun over there at threetoquesandatiara.com or on Instagram @threetoquesandatiara.
IMG_0006 The thing about hardships is that they ebb and flow with the tides of our lives. For me, our infertility trial seemed to ebb forever, then it flowed, and we found balance again. Then we began the adoption part of our journey, and it ebbed and flowed more frequently, but they were less dramatic, the waves not as threatening.

No one told me there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to have biological children. After a couple of years of “trying”, my husband and I went to the doctor, who sent us to a specialist. After more tests then I can remember, and more time I felt was wasted, the specialist concluded we had “unexplained infertility”. He even went so far as to ask us, “Huh, why aren’t you getting pregnant?”

Those were the days when people assumed to know us and our situation. They assumed we were selfish and didn’t want kids. Perhaps we cared more about money than we did about having a family. Maybe we had decided to finish school first, or, heaven forbid, we just weren’t interested in having and raising a family. When people make assumptions or think they know what is going on, that is when the questions start to come.

Some tried to be polite, “When are you having children?”

Some more forthcoming, “You’ve been married an awfully long time. Any children coming soon?”

Some downright went for it, “Still no children?”

I learned to put on a brave front, but every time a family member or friend announced their family was expanding by one, or sometimes two, my heart would break just a little. No one told me that once the specialist determined what was “wrong” with me, I would undergo multiple procedures, put on several drugs, and basically put through hell for the next couple of years.

Never mind the financial expense, the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual taxes were great. Emotionally it drains you, every month wondering if this was the month it would happen, only to feel the let down when it didn’t. Physically the monthly blood work, which led to bruising, the poking and prodding of my body, the general discomfort, and even pain after a hysterosalpingogram or an IUI. The different drugs they put you on that make you angry, or sad, and throw your hormones off balance for years to come, not to mention your weight as well. Mentally preparing yourself for another disappointment, or pain that was now coming from the bruised arms. Mentally trying not to feel like a failure, a broken person, someone who wasn’t whole. Spiritually wondering why Heavenly Father didn’t want me to become a mother. Why wasn’t I worthy of that blessing?

No one tells you that if your husband isn’t a saint, an absolute rock, you might not make it through together. The toll it takes on husbands is just as great, because husbands love their precious wives, they want to be their heroes, and this will be a problem they just can’t solve. All they can do is hold your hand through it. Thank goodness I am married to a saint. My rock.

After those two years, my husband and I decided together to put an end to the infertility treatments and continued on with life. My spirit continued it’s yearning to become a mother. I can see so clearly how we were guided by the Divine to adopt our two children.

When you go through trials it is easy to think that Heavenly Father isn’t there for you. My husband reminded me that the relationship we build with our Heavenly Father is only strengthened through trials as we turn to Him and trust Him. So when I wanted to turn from Him, instead I turned to Him and prayed with all my heart. For months, that prayer never once left my heart.

While visiting teaching all of a sudden, this kind sister I had visited for months told me about her family member who was in the process of adopting. After that, two other people I had spoken with on a fairly regular basis talked to me about people they knew who had or were going through adoption. I never initiated these conversations, the Spirit did, and I knew it in my heart that Heavenly Father had answered my prayers.

My husband agreed and we began the adoption process through LDS Family Services. Almost exactly 9 months later, we held our son in our arms, 24 hours old. A year later our daughter joined our family, 36 hours old.

Sometimes in life, the waves are threatening. Just as the Savior invited Peter to walk with Him on the water the waves came and Peter began to doubt, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)

When the waves in our lives begin to threaten, we need to turn to Him, to trust Him. This valuable lesson I learned helped us through many more trials that would follow because our little ship did not sail smoothly. The adoption process brought its own stress and difficulty. It was followed by a miscarriage and a D&C. Then we lost another child we were trying to adopt after having her for the first year of her life. Our daughter is special needs due to some choices made by her birth mother during her pregnancy, which followed to severe bullying in middle school, and now on another adventure of homeschooling her.

Through all of this, I learned that no matter what, the Savior is there to take us by the hand and guide us across the water no matter how threatening our waves. I never would have been as strong today without our first big trial. My relationship with my husband would not be what it is today without all our trials. Through it all, together, my husband and I have leaned on one another and on our Savior to guide our ship safely through.
Today our story is that our life still comes with times that are hard, but a little less so. Times where the Lord’s Hand is more evident and the struggle is not so unbearable. Times where we can feel and see the hardship as the blessings they are intended to be. Maybe even times when our boat doesn’t need a sail at all because the currents will carry us peacefully along.

Today we are able to look back and completely see the Lord’s Hand in our lives. He guided us every step of the way. He led us before, during, and after those trials, and continues to lead us still.

If your own boat is empty, and the waves are threatening you in any way, the one thing you can keep it filled with is faith, and hope, because the waves will soon become still, and your way back will become more clear, and the understanding that you are never, ever alone will become more abundant as you make your way back to the shore. Whatever your hardship is, whatever your challenge, there is always Someone guiding your boat safely back to shore. Whether your tide is ebbing or flowing, your ship will eventually make it back safe and sound, and may just be filled with more blessings than you ever thought your little boat could hold.

Ours was.