When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Stef

I had the privilege of hearing Stef share her testimony/story at SALT Retreat last fall. I talked to her a little bit in between sessions and as we got talking about sharing our stories she said something that I have never forgotten, “It’s not for attention, it’s for connection.” She has been through a lot with the loss of her son, and more recently, IVF and a miscarriage.

Stefanie has suffered depression, anxiety, PTSD,  pain and loss silently more than once, but after her son died of a congenital condition at ten months old she promised to make something good come from her grief. With a heart broken open she threw out her fear-induced silence and vulnerably shared a difficult journey of healing.
Even after such a nightmarish trial she achieved the happiness she knew Heavenly Father meant for her. Life hasn’t been free of trial since then, but she learned so much about her faith and strength that she has navigated subsequent trials from a more hopeful place. Because after all, hope heals.


Everything was going according to plan, college, marriage, kids. That is, until our first son, following 3 girls, was born. His pregnancy, like the others, was horrible but otherwise normal until he was born unable to move.

An infant, so tiny and even more helpless than most without the ability to move, was already moving our family toward more love and closeness. We struggled to comprehend what this might mean for our family and grew closer over prayers and frequent visits to see the newest member of our family those first few weeks in the NICU. But when I was alone with my thoughts, the familiar team of anxiety and depression began making their comeback.

Despite Brody’s weight gain and therapies multiple times a week in the first months, his ability to move continued to digress. The uncertainty of his future life relentlessly chipped away at me at a rate faster than I could combat. God made himself known as much as possible. There were silent walks hanging my head, face shielded from strangers beneath a hat, while He sent my favorite sunny rain to help wash away my tears. Earthly angels about His errand came to my aide with wonderful messages of hope and tangible support of dinners and babysitting, but when Brody stopped eating, my despair spiraled into depression.

It was then I experienced my darkest hours. I tried to focus on all the blessings we had received to that point, there was elation every time I met his eyes and felt the strength of his trusting spirit, but it was met with fear. I was falling deeply in love with a child and I wasn’t sure he would stay long on this earth.

With no new information at doctor’s appointments, we opted for a g-tube and decided to have extensive genetic testing. The results would take weeks but would most likely give us a diagnosis and therefore prognosis of what to expect for Brody’s future. The appointments became fewer and farther between to which I was somewhat grateful. This allowed us an opportunity to work toward accepting our new normal and find moments of joy.

On Brody’s six-month birthday we sat in a foreign hospital room. As we waited to meet a doctor for the first time we struggled to connect with my husband on Facetime – all so he could hear our biggest fears spoken,

“His condition is degenerative, life-limiting and terminal.”

The day after Brody was diagnosed, I made truth of a statement I had uttered many times, “I just want to stay in bed all day.” I slept that day away sometimes cuddling Brody, sometimes letting my family step in to offer his care. Once the day was over, I knew there was nothing left but to take that first step out of bed, and then another and another.

Now we knew. Brody would be physically and mentally limited, and may only reach adolescence. We began a new set of expectations. We learned to love and appreciate every moment with him.

Brody lived 4 more months and passed away at home 6 days after his 10-month birthday. Though his funeral was hard, I felt so much love and hope in those moments. He had helped us grow strong enough to be the ones available to comfort others. We knew where Brody was, we knew he was with his Father in heaven in a perfect body.

Heavenly Father stayed close through my grief. Enough faith remained firmly within me that I knew I would be ok eventually. That thought carried me back into public places such as a drive-thru or a grocery store. As I slowly reintroduced myself to the fast-paced world around me, I was so bare that I saw humanity in its rawest forms.

Here I was, living the unimaginable and I was just a number in a crowd. Or was I? If I looked closely, could I tell what other people were going through? Not usually. Perhaps their timid smiles hid difficult circumstances just like my own. I saw people differently, and I began to thank them as best I could for their simple acts of kindness toward me…though they knew nothing of what I was living. I called this extra effort toward gratitude, #brodymoves. It meant I could do hard things and still be grateful.

God continued to put caring people in my path but I also had to learn to move forward on my own. Though I didn’t recognize it at the time I began a journey of self-reclamation. I questioned who I had become, my spirituality, physicality, my purpose. Where would I find those things again?

I fought to regain every piece of what made me who I was, every ounce of what I believed. I fought for the presence of a will to continue better than I had been before.
I cried, begged God for permission to quit, and thought of ways I could leave this life without giving up on my family. My answers all started with two things, “look inward, look upward.”

I was guided to things from my past. Who had I been? Who would I be now? How would I merge the two people before this life event and after this life event? Old yearbooks with pictures, signatures, and comments reminded me of my old self. It had to be within me somewhere. How would I bring it out and continue building on it?

Physicality would be the first thing I would fight to reclaim. If Brody wasn’t able to use his muscles, I should honor mine. I should use my physical abilities to fight toward the first step of reclamation. I would take back my body, and take it to a peak condition I knew was possible but had never achieved. I would use my muscle to fight for my life – to believe for myself that I was this “strong” that people were using to describe me.

I reluctantly started sharing my journey to healing on social media. I wondered if it might appear as if I was somehow exploiting my son for attention, when a pleading prayer resulted in my answer, “It’s not about attention, it’s about connection.”

My hope is that those who find this account or any other helpful, supportive community will know they are not alone.

I wish I could tell you in person it will all be ok. But the next best thing I can do is share my life and joy as an example of overcoming that darkness.

I know it will be ok. No matter what happens, no matter the torment we have been through or might soon go through. It will all be ok. You can find the powers that need to be present in your life. You will, and maybe already have, feel opposite ends of the spectrum for every emotion but I promise you your trials can turn into the most beautiful hurt. They can transform wreckage into building blocks to help you climb to a place higher than you have ever before experienced.

Heavenly Father honored me with 10 borrowed months caring for one of His chosen angels and continues teaching me through my son’s short, impactful existence.

It has been my pleasure to share with you all here, and I wish you a meaningful journey of this life ahead, as for me I will continue my journey to live well after loss.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Emma

I was able to meet Emma at the Lift Event I co-hosted a couple weeks ago. She shared her heart and I just felt this strength radiate from her as she did so. She is an amazing woman, doing amazing things. I admire her perseverance in having children, despite so many miscarriages, and following through on the promptings she received.
Emma is a wife of almost 20 years, and mother to six miracle children. She lives in Riverton, UT. She started a blog, Awaiting Rainbows, one-year ago.
 She started this blog to help remind herself and her readers of the good that happens along the way, especially during challenges. She shares guest stories about the miracles found in the midst of trials, recipes she loves, and her love of service through helping Hearts Knit Together, a non- profit organization. She’s on a mission to remind all that blessings come even through the darkest days.

Having children has been harder than I ever, ever could have imagined. I would never wish the sorrow I have felt month after month and day after day at times when we would lose another baby, and then all the months waiting to get pregnant and then lose the baby again. Yet somehow, through 16 pregnancies, 6 angels made it. And I am eternally grateful for this gift. For those reading my story who are still waiting with empty arms and hearts, I hope you know I pray for you. Some may never have successful pregnancies, and my heart aches for you. I firmly believe in a beautiful life after this one where sorrow is no more. And where my arms are so full of squishy, cuddly babies. I hope my story will give you the courage to Keep Trying. Keep Believing. Keep Trusting in God’s plan for you.

I want to share the string of miscarriages that happened after my fifth child, Jared. When this child was almost 3, I found a lump in my breast, I was 35. Over the next two years, there were mammograms every 6 months to make sure nothing had changed. Finally, I was cleared. Everything stayed the same and was my “normal”.

I was feeling happy about my five kids. But before I had my fifth child, I felt so strongly there was a daughter that needed to come. When we found out he was a boy, I felt a little confused. So after all this mammogram stuff was done, I went to the temple and prayed. “Is there one more? I have no kids in diapers, it’s nice. Vacations are easier, everyone can get themselves a snack.” More powerful than anything I’ve ever felt, was a strong impression that yes there was another girl. She needs to come. Everyone in the temple around me was in tears because the Spirit was so strong.

So I tried to tell my husband about this experience. He really struggled to believe me. But like the kind supportive man he is, he said ok even though he had a lot of doubts. I thought for sure since that impression was so powerful, that I wouldn’t have to lose any more babies (at this point I had lost 8). I got pregnant a couple months after we started trying. I scheduled my early ultrasound. While waiting in the waiting room (they were running behind-never good when you have a full bladder), I began to have severe pain in my back. I asked to relieve my bladder a little. That seemed only to make it worse. I told the lady at the desk that I thought something was wrong. They let me lie down. After only 5 minutes, I was in such pain I wanted to jump out of my skin. They quickly got me to the ultrasound. Couldn’t find the baby. I went to the bathroom. I could barely lie still enough for the ultrasound because of the pain. They found the baby. Once again the words, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” They then said they thought I was passing a kidney stone and could I make it on my own down to the ER. My husband had our 4-year-old at work because I thought it would be a quick appointment. I called him, he said he would find someone to get Jared, and he would be there as soon as he could. Then I called my dad. He couldn’t even understand me through my tears except that I said I was going to the ER at IMC hospital. It was confirmed I had blood in my urine…kidney stone likely. I was already starting to feel better though after the several times going to the bathroom-drinking all that water was a mixed blessing of sorts. And they confirmed my “missed abortion.” Why do they call it that? I hate that name.

We went home. We told the kids that mom was sick and needed to rest. I started bleeding the next day. I switched doctors after this. I wanted a smaller office where I wasn’t one of 400 people seen that day. I needed a doctor that I felt like he cared and had all the time in the world for me. My neighbors came through and recommended my current doctor. I have the greatest doctor! So we met him, told him my story, and he wanted me to start on my progesterone earlier than my previous doctor. I soon became pregnant. I felt so sure this would be successful, I didn’t insist on a 6-week ultrasound. So when 12 weeks came along, I was so excited to see this baby. My husband was with me and the doctor began looking for a heartbeat. The jovialness in our conversation immediately went quiet. I knew. I knew what he was going to say. “Emma, I’m so sorry. But there is no heartbeat.” Baby made it 8 weeks and 5 days. And he handed me a picture of my tiny baby. And we cried. And cried. And cried. And then the doctor told us that because of how much tissue there was, I needed to have a D&C to make sure I didn’t hemorrhage. He would send the nurse back in in a few minutes to see when we wanted to schedule that, but to take all the time we needed to cry. Twenty minutes later, I rushed out of that office trying to grasp what my reality was.

How could this happen? I KNEW there was another baby. Why couldn’t I keep any of our babies? Telling our kids was so hard. Mommy needed to go to the hospital. The baby that was in mommy’s tummy went back to heaven. The baby is ok. Mommy will be ok. And you know what? I did KNOW. I knew I would be ok. But it was still hard. The next day was hard. I was scared. My first D&C was horrible. I passed the egg sack right when I got home. The surgery hadn’t been done properly. I told my new doctor my fears. He looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “That will not happen.” He put me at ease. The anesthesiologist actually asked me what I wanted, which was the lowest dose of ibuprofen, he told me he too would take great care that all would go well. And it did.

But here’s where it got hard. My husband and many others began to doubt what I felt in the temple. They would say things like, well, maybe that was the girl and you lost her. Maybe you don’t need to try again. You’ve lost so many. I know they were trying to be helpful, but it was very hurtful. I prayed that night after I found out I had lost the baby. I prayed for a glimpse of that baby. “Please, could I just know a little bit about this baby that I would never hold in this life?” I was blessed with a vision of that beautiful baby and details about his personality. How strong he is. Just like his dad. That gave me much-needed comfort. So when those times and days of tears came, I could use that to help me try to move on.

Well, our miracle baby was born. She is now 19 months old. And my husband tells me every.single.day that he is so happy we have her. She is the apple of his eye. And she knows it too! She can get him to take her on 4 walks a day sometimes.

What I want to impart through this very long story, is that through all this sorrow, I had to still be a mom. I had to still be a wife. I had to still serve in church (two callings, in particular, were given days after a miscarriage). How do we keep going in the midst of sorrow that sometimes is beyond overwhelming? We take it one step at a time. We take it one minute at a time on some days. We put our trust in God because no one else can help us. Jesus Christ is our companion in trials. He carried me through much of my childbearing years. We can do this life. We can be molded into a compassionate, faithful person. We just have to keep going. Because someday, all the tears will be wiped away.

These things were keys to me making it through all those years.

  1. Prayer
    2. Scripture study/Reading the Conference talks
    3. Going to the temple
    4. Serving others
    5. Taking life in chunks-I can do this for 5 minutes, etc

I love you all. If praying is hard, try serving. When we look to the needs of others, somehow our burdens seem less heavy to bear. Pick one thing and just try to do it a little more. These experiences allowed me to offer words of true empathy as I have been able to visit with friends, family, and neighbors who have gone through the loss of a baby too. When we use our challenges to bless others, we also are lifted. We become stronger than we thought we were.

This quote by Brook P. Hales is so wonderful.

“Sometimes, our prayers are not answered in the way we hope, yet with time we learn that God had greater blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated.”

And my blessings are indeed very great.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Caitlin

Caitlin and I went to the same jr. high and high school. Last week she posted about the 5 year anniversary of the stillbirth of her son and was willing to share her experience with it.
Caitlin Bowen is a stay-at-home mom of five. Leo (7), Thomas (6), Nola (3), Rudy (almost 2), and baby Isaac who is watching over from Heaven. She and her husband Tyler have lived in Virginia for 6 years and are now happy to be back in Utah by family.

Photo by Lauren Taylor Photo.

That night I was so restless. I woke up around 4 am in a complete panic and I knew something was wrong, I could feel it in my heart. I couldn’t remember if I had felt kicking the day before or not. I woke my husband Tyler up and he tried to comfort me, but I could see the worry in his eyes too.

My appointment was at 8 am that morning. We didn’t have time to get a babysitter, so I went alone while Ty watched our two boys. I have never felt more nervous or uneasy in my life than I did driving to that appointment. Looking back, I realize the Holy Ghost was warning me, telling me something wasn’t right so that I wasn’t completely blindsided. As soon as I was called back I looked at my doctor with tears in my eyes, trying so hard to compose myself, and I asked her if we could do an ultrasound even though I didn’t have one scheduled because I was worried something was wrong. She was so kind and told me not to worry, that I had a perfectly healthy baby and we would do an ultrasound to put my mind at ease.

As soon as she began the ultrasound I knew he was gone. Her face dropped and tears rolled silently down her cheeks before she even said a word. There was no heartbeat. I was staring through watery eyes at a lifeless little body up on the screen. She turned off the machine, took my hand, looked at my face and said, “I’m so sorry”. Before she could get the words out I said it for her. And she said “yes. I don’t know why, but your baby has died.” She held me and cried with me. Our baby was too big for a D&C and I would have to go to labor and delivery to be induced like I was with my two little boys.

I didn’t want to tell Ty over the phone, so I texted him and told him to put a movie on for the boys. The moment I walked in the door I knew he already knew too. He cried and we held each other. To me that was much worse than finding out, I couldn’t stand to see him so crushed and heartbroken. That night neither of us slept. Not for even a minute. He rubbed my back and tickled my hair all night long, telling me it would be okay and telling me how much he loved me. I would not have made it without him.

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Friday, June 21st at 11:10 Isaac Bowen came into this world. Weighing an ounce under 1 pound. I did not know how painful silence could be. I was handed his tiny body and I cried. I stared at him in shock. Mostly because I didn’t expect him to be quite so cute. Tyler and I laughed through our tears when we realized he already had my husbands’ eyebrows just like my other little boys, and the sweetest dark fuzz coming in on the top of his head. His nose was perfect and he had the tiniest little round cheeks. We held him and admired him for most of the day. That night we left the hospital, holding each other tightly, empty-handed. As we walked down the hall we could hear the cry of a newborn and my heart absolutely ached.

The weeks and months that followed were so much harder than I could have ever anticipated. The worst part was healing from childbirth with no baby to love and take care of. When my milk came in I had to bind myself to try and get it to go away. It was such a painful time physically and emotionally. I kept thinking that if he had only survived one more week he would have been 23 weeks and been born alive he could have made it. I wondered if I had done something wrong. I questioned myself constantly and doubted my abilities to take care of these tiny human beings that God had entrusted me with. I had never struggled with anxiety before, but as time went on I stopped sleeping. My heart would pound so hard at night I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. I was so scared of something else happening to one of my boys or to Tyler it began to paralyze me. Suddenly, scary things that had only crossed my mind from time to time now consumed me.

As my anxiety grew, so did my feeling of negativity. For a very long time, only close friends and family knew about Isaac. I have wrestled for quite a while with thoughts that my feelings aren’t justified because I knew many others who have gone through so much worse. I wondered what people would think when comparing me to a mother who had lost a baby at full term? Was my grief validated or was I weak for feeling so much pain and heartache? In my mind, I have lost my child. But what would others think? One day that changed. I don’t know why, but I finally decided that regardless of what others thought, I knew and I knew the Lord knew that Isaac is my son and I had lost him and it was okay to grieve. I finally felt like it was okay to mourn him in front of others, to love him and to talk about him. As I did this and really started to rely on my Father in Heaven, my heart started to heal.

I think about Isaac every single day. There are still days I miss him so much it makes my heart physically hurt. I think the hardest part of losing a baby is to constantly know somebody is missing. Missing from pictures and birthday parties and missing from so many “firsts”. But I take so much comfort and peace knowing exactly where he is. I look forward to the day when we will embrace and I won’t have to miss him anymore.

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So for now, we will love him, talk about him, honor him and learn from him. He has taught me compassion, patience, love, understanding, and so much more. We are here to be tried and tested, and I know for a fact that we can use our trials to strengthen our families and ourselves. We can use what we have learned and felt to lift others around us and hopefully make this world a better more wonderful place. I have been taught that even after something so painful, life is still so full of joy! And even though we are missing someone, I know he’s always close by. What a privilege and honor it is to be his mom. I feel so blessed to have an angel watching over us.

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: Catherine & John

I met Catherine and John at the Ogden Temple. I work there and they came to volunteer and we were cleaning the bathroom so we had all night to chat. As I was getting to know them, one of the questions I asked was if they had kids. They told me they lost twins and a little girl, but what truly impressed me was that they said it with hope and faith in their voices. They then proceeded to tell me how they don’t look at it as a loss but as a beautiful future to look forward to raising their children. I was in awe and knew I had to ask to share their story.

John and Catherine got married in May of 2015 and currently live in Utah. John grew up in Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. He is 27 years old and graduated from Nyssa High School in 2009. John won many local tournaments in wrestling and he loved it all through out high school. After high school, he served a mission in the Bangkok Thailand Mission, and after his mission, he studied supply chain management at BYU Idaho and graduated with his Bachelor’s in 2016. He currently works in the IT department of his company. Catherine grew up in Layton, Utah and graduated from Layton High School in 2010. She enjoyed dancing from age 3 up until college. She was on a competition dance team all throughout junior high and high school, and also enjoyed coaching. She served a mission in the West Virginia Charleston Mission. After she returned home she studied at BYU Idaho and graduated with her Bachelor’s in University Studies with a minor in Marriage and Family. She is currently a homemaker.

The following is from their blog. Catherine’s perspective is first, and then John’s.
God Has A Plan: Our Story

I am writing our story now because it will be easier for me to remember all of the details that I don’t want to forget and hopefully it can help someone else. Everyone’s stories are different and we all have different struggles and trials that we will have to go through. I believe, though, that as we share our stories and our lives with others that it brings people closer together. I know that I have been blessed by blogs that women have shared about their struggles and stories so I hope that mine will be of some help to someone else.

It all started June of 2015 when John and I decided that we should get off of birth control and try to start our family. We both had received promptings from the spirit that this was something that we should do. In my mind, I thought then that having kids would be easy, right? Well, it wasn’t. Every month I would hope in my mind that the pregnancy test would come out positive so that we could start our family. It was a tough 14 months of always wondering when it would be my turn. We found out I had some health problems in April 2016 and I was going to go see an endocrinologist in September.

Well, everything changed when we found out I was pregnant on August 16, 2016. I had just come home from Bear Lake and was feeling super nauseous and it didn’t go away for a couple of days. I thought it was just heat exhaustion but I thought, “what the heck, just take test.” I was shocked as I saw the plus sign and found out that we were pregnant. I called my husband and we were so excited.

When we went to our first appointment after our trip to Thailand on September 12, we were excited and even more surprised to find out that we were having twins. I knew the chances were high coming in because my mom was a twin and her twin had twins. I just didn’t think that it was going to be my first. We were worried about my recent health problems but pregnancy does crazy things to your body and it actually leveled out my hormones that we were worried about in the past.

As the weeks of pregnancy went by I would try and mentally prepare myself for what my life would be like with two twin babies. I was preparing myself for the change of life. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing that I would ever do and that my whole life would change. I had all of the lovely signs of pregnancy such as nausea, constantly having to use the restroom, sore back, heartburn, having to find new clothes to wear with my growing belly, exhaustion, etc. I will admit that some days were hard but now looking back I wish I would have just lived in the moment and not taken those things for granted.

We were ecstatic when we found out at 18 weeks that we were going to be having twin boys. We started talking about names and putting up cribs and getting ourselves ready to be parents. I had so much joy when I would go to my appointments and watch our babies move and hear their strong heartbeats. One of my most prized memories is being able to feel them both in my tummy.

Everything changed on November 29, 2016. All day I had been feeling sharp pains and cramping in my tummy. It was different than the Braxton Hicks that I would feel from time to time where my belly would get really hard. I didn’t think much of it because it would only happen two times in an hour and last for 10 seconds. In my mind, I thought it could be round ligament pain or Braxton Hicks or dehydration so I just went about my day. Later in the evening, it started to get worse about once every 20 minutes. From around 10:30 pm until 2:30 in the morning it was happening every 10 minutes. I went to the bathroom and found a pinpoint of blood in my urine. I knew something wasn’t right. I woke John up and I called my midwife and she told me to go the hospital.

We ended up going to the hospital and the nurses took us into our first room where we got checked out. We got a urine sample and they tested my temperature and my blood pressure. They hooked me up to some monitors and watched the babies heartbeat. The nurses were surprised that they were able to get two strong heart beats with twins at 21weeks. We knew babies were healthy and that calmed my nerves a bit. They got the urine sample back and thought that I had a kidney infection so more tests were going to be done. I had some relief with that and thought everything was going to be okay.

When one nurse decided to check my cervix she knew something wasn’t right. They brought in another nurse for a second opinion. As she felt my cervix they both got concerned looks on their faces. I was dilated to a three or a four and they could feel the amniotic sac. My mucus plug had come out and babies were preparing for labor. The nurses talked with the doctors and were waiting for what should be done. They started hooking me up to I.V’s and put a catheter into my bladder (which was a terrible feeling). They put me with my head up in a diagonal position so they could take the weight off of my cervix. They told me I was going to be in the hospital until delivery and were going to try and keep the babies in until at least 24 weeks. They were hoping that the muscles of my cervix would relax and labor would be stopped.

About an hour later I received a call from a doctor who basically told me he didn’t think that I was going to be able to stop labor and that I would be delivering that day. They said they could try and stitch up my cervix but they didn’t recommend it because of the health risks since I was already dilating. Another doctor came in and double checked my cervix and agreed with the doctor on the phone. I had what they called an incompetent cervix which means that my muscles weren’t strong enough to hold the weight of pregnancy. They said there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and even if they had checked me a week ago they wouldn’t have been able to tell.

I immediately felt peace. That morning when I first had started having contractions I had felt like I needed to pray that I would be able to accept whatever would happen with my babies. After the news, I, of course, had waves of sadness all day but I felt comfort and knew that God was with me. John was a great support to me and my parents were able to be with us all day which brought a huge strength to me. The nurses that we had were a tender mercy. One of the nurses, named Laurel, was actually good friends with my mom and delivered my younger sister Teresa. She always came by my side and answered my call light when I needed something. Our last nurse, named Kellie, was actually one of the sisters that John home taught when he went to the single’s ward. The Lord blessed us with wonderful nurses who just wanted to help make our stay as comfortable as possible. I feel very blessed.

Once we knew that we would be going through labor and delivery they wheeled me to our delivery room for the day and prepared me for the epidural. I had been so nervous about it but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. That was around 8 or 9 am. They gave me medicine to start contractions and to dilate me to a five. For the next six or seven hours we laid in bed waiting for me to dilate. It took a long time and I just sat there numb waiting. Finally, around 4 PM I felt pressure and felt the need to push and I knew that the babies were coming. We called my midwife and she came with the nurses and got ready for delivery.

Liam James was delivered first at about 4:30 PM. He was 14 ounces and 10 and 1/2 inches long. He died during labor. Kelvin Reed was born about 10 minutes later and was 12 and 1/2 ounces and 10 and 1/2 inches long. He was a fighter for about an hour. We watched his cute little heartbeat and saw his cute little fingers wanting to grab a hold of ours. When we would think he had passed his little heart would continue. He died around 5:45 PM.

We truly felt their spirits with us and are grateful for the time that we had with them. I had always really liked the name Liam and we had felt impressed to name baby A Liam. Later as we remember that the name meant “Guardian” and “Protector” we truly felt that he went first to pave the way so that we could spend some time with his little brother Kelvin. We don’t know all the answers but we truly know these boys had a special bond in heaven and they will continue to be with each other and support each other until we meet them again.

After they were born we were able to hold them for as long as we wanted. We had a volunteer photographer come and take pictures of our little boys. They picked out little outfits for them to wear. They gave us many tangible things to remember our little boys. We had a support group come and give us resources to help with our grieving. We have received so much love and support from many of our friends and family and we are eternally grateful for the support system that we have.

Now that I am home and have been able to face that yesterday wasn’t a dream I can grieve and ponder over things of an eternal nature. I don’t know why certain things happen. I could sit here and be angry at God for wondering why I couldn’t have had a miracle or why my deepest desire to be a mother has been pushed farther forward. It’s always so tempting to ask why? Which I think is okay. It helps us to ponder greater things. What I keep remembering is how grateful I am to know that I am a daughter of God. I know that God loves me and has a plan for me and what I need. Since I know that I also have to accept that my two little boys also are Sons of God. They are His and He has a plan for them too and what they need. He gave me the opportunity to carry them in my belly and to give them a body for their own progression and growth. I am grateful that He is a merciful God and He allows families on earth to be forever. I will admit I am nervous to try and have children again. The doctors are very hopeful that I will be able to have children in the future. These babies taught me what my imperfect body is capable of and what I need to do to carry their future siblings.

Most of all I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. This time of year we remember his birth and the purpose of why He came. Why a man who never did any wrong had to go through every type of pain for us? Why He gave up His life so we could have ours again? I am grateful for the resurrection and the Plan of Salvation. I am grateful for the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, that teaches us these certain truths. I am grateful for the temple and that I can go and feel of my Heavenly Father’s love and have a place that I can feel close to home.

A Father’s Struggle

There’s a lot of things that I don’t know. I’m not sure why Liam and Kelvin had to die. Everyone likes to say that their spirits were just too precious to endure the trials of this world, that idea just hasn’t ever worked with me. I’m planning on having other kids and they aren’t going to be any less precious than Liam and Kelvin. I’m not sure if Heavenly Father just wanted them on the other side to do His work there, because I think that plenty of kids die due to the poor choices of other people and not necessarily due to God’s will. I’ve never really been one to believe that every bad thing that happens, happens because God made it happen. I know that He respects agency and allows things to happen… but I think that a lot of the time trials are produced as people walk contrary to the will of God. I’ve heard the analogy that strong winds make strong trees and how opposition makes us stronger, but I think I see things just a little bit different.

I actually don’t think opposition itself makes us stronger, the Atonement makes us stronger. Trees get stronger when they face strong winds because they have the opportunity to do so and that’s what they use their God-given abilities to do so. But if I grab a piece of paper and tear it in half, the paper will never be whole again. In that way, I don’t think that opposition is what shapes us, the use of our agency shapes us. Opposition provides the heat that softens the clay, and we can choose to respond according to Heavenly Father or the Adversary.

Whenever I face a situation in life where there is something that I don’t understand I try and focus on the common road or the things that I need to do no matter what. For example, whether God moved our children to the next world because he had a work for them to do there, or it was just a natural result of the fall, the route does not change for me. My job is to be the best example I can so that my boys can learn from my life, my job is to love my wife and care for her, to serve God and not waiver in the faith. That is the common road, so what I don’t know becomes less important to me. That’s always worked for me until I finally had a little bit of alone time the night after my boys died. Everyone was gone and I finally had a moment to myself, Catherine was tucked in and I didn’t need to be as strong anymore. I went into the living room and was totally overcome with grief. I had a couple questions, and I needed answers and I knew that God could provide them.

Having a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, I knew exactly where my boys were and I knew where they were going to end up. I have an idea of the caliber of people they are going to become, but I wanted to know how they were doing right then. When most people think of children arriving in Spirit Paradise I think we imagine their minds being unlocked and all of their memories restored. I believe that all men will eventually have their memories of the pre-existence restored, but it’s hard to say when it occurs exactly. Perhaps it comes line upon line as we grow towards perfection just like everything else, but I’m not sure. I also know that people have the opportunity to learn and grow and accept the Gospel in the next life, and part of that Gospel is exercising faith which means there must not be a complete knowledge of things or else there would be no room for faith. I also know that my wife and I would have the opportunity to raise our deceased children during the millennium.

But with all of those things that I knew, there was one big hole of things that I didn’t know. If my children can’t remember the pre-mortal life, and they will be returned to me as an infant… then does that mean they are going to remain as an infant intellectually in Spirit Paradise until they are returned to me? The thought of my helpless premature sons not having their parents there to hold them, and not having the intellectual capacity to understand why is what sent me into my grief. Personally, I don’t have anyone on the other side of the veil that I know and trust. I have grandparents there, but none that I ever associated with more than once or twice. I wanted to know who was going to be there caring for my boys and holding their tiny bodies while they waited for me to be there with them. And the thought of them feeling at all confused or abandoned just wasn’t doing great things for my emotions. I am wired to provide and protect, but right now I couldn’t do either for my boys.

I did pretty good throughout our stay at the hospital, felt at peace and was ready to be there to strengthen everyone else that seemed to be taking it a lot harder than me. My thoughts were constantly turned to my wife and the sweet sisters in my life: Sarah, Teresa, Jacqueline, Tara, and Lani… and how they were going to deal with the loss. I felt the need to make sure everyone was okay, and not because I was trying to run or hide or because I felt obligated to, but because I just care so much about them and the way that they process all of this. But when it was time to say goodbye to my boys, when I was holding them in my hands and preparing to set them in a cart and say goodbye, I couldn’t help but think about all of the plans I had.

I loved being a missionary, I still do whenever I can, I was so excited to sit them down and role play missionary lessons. I wanted to teach them to love and serve and work. Most people that describe me would describe me as a hard worker, and that is something that I wanted to share with them. I was excited for twin boys because I could teach them so much more than how to teach the gospel and how to extend commitments. I could teach them how to work with a companion and to bounce off of each other as they work together to bring someone closer to Christ. I was gonna teach them to wrestle and never quit, to love their mom and respect women, to control their emotions and use the priesthood with power… all of the things that I have learned since I committed myself to Christ. And here I was staring at them, and knowing that they were going to go to the spirit world instead. It wasn’t that I was losing those opportunities, it was not being sure if they would understand that this isn’t what we wanted. As I stared at Liam I couldn’t help but feel so proud of the man that he was, he looked so strong and able to do hard things. I felt like he could carry mountains on his back if he wanted to. I’m not sure what would have happened if Kelvin would have come first, but I don’t think the process would have been quite as easy (just since his body was less mature). It may seem silly but it just really felt like Liam coming first was an act of courage that maybe they requested in Heaven so that everything could work better for everyone else. It was hard having his spirit pass before I could hold him, but I was proud of his courage none the less. Kelvin had the heart that just wouldn’t quit. Nurses said he was gone twice and both times we still found his heartbeat. I was proud of the love that I felt he possessed as he fought to stay in the presence of his mortal family.

I have been writing talks and planning the things that I wanted to teach my boys for years. But I only had a few brief moments alone with Catherine and the boys while they were still in her belly to teach them everything that I knew. Just a few moments before things changed and they left her belly to enter this world, I put my hand on Catherine’s stomach and tried to summon every ounce of priesthood power in my body. I counseled them to have faith and serve God with all their hearts. To love their mother and watch over her as they learned from her. I told them to watch her and use her as a guide for the type of person that they would marry one day as well… and I believe that they heard me. Later when they were born, Reed (Catherine’s Dad) and I took them in our hands and gave them names and blessings. It was a sacred moment for everyone I think.

But at the end of the day, I still needed to know how they were doing and what they were able to comprehend. I found my answers in chapter 15 of the Teaching of the Prophet Joseph F Smith. A lot of the things I learned he said directly, and other things I had to draw connections and listen to my spirit. I’ll let you read the chapter for yourself if you’d like to see which is which.

I know that their spiritual bodies reached a full level of maturity before they were born.

I know that in the spirit world their spirits continue to exist in that capacity.

I’m not sure if they remember the pre-mortal existence or not but I personally don’t think that they do (at least not right away).

I believe that they have the ability to communicate even though they never learned a language on this earth.

I believe that someone is there to teach the plan of Salvation to them and that they will accept it quickly.

I believe that someone will teach them about us and who we are, and how much we love them, and I believe that they will feel that love and love us as well.

I know that they will be resurrected in those tiny bodies that we laid them down to rest in, and then they will grow towards perfection (and I think that it might be that way with all of us).

I know that the blessings given to them will be fulfilled, and I know that they will be alright.

I felt very blessed to find my answers so quickly. I believe that bad things happen in life, and when those bad things happen we will need the guidance of the Holy Ghost to teach us and tell us how to act. That is why it is so important to go to church and partake of the sacrament and to read the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon) and pray every day. That is why we do those things so that His spirit will always be with us just like it says in the Sacrament prayer. Hard things happen in life, and when they do you’re going to want His guidance. I am grateful for a father that helped me get started in the Book of Mormon as a 14-year-old boy, and for a prophet that challenged us to read it. The testimony I gained from that first completion of the Book of Mormon has completely carried me through every trial I have ever faced since.

I am thankful for a wife that I don’t hesitate to invite my sons to learn from and look up to. I believe that all good things come into our lives by way of the Atonement, but they all come for the purpose of our eternal marriage… and I am grateful to be married to a woman like Catherine that makes me feel like I have already been given everything that my Heavenly Father has. I can’t think of a greater blessing than to be with her and my children for eternity, and we’re already there. It isn’t some distant promise for me, it is already here. And I am grateful for a wife that has made that possible.

Everyone keeps asking what they can do, and it means a lot that they do, but I am happy to say that Christ already did it. The Plan of Salvation is set and the Atonement has been performed. Catherine’s health is doing good so far, so we’re doing okay. The only thing I would ask people to do is to love their families a little more. Read the Book of Mormon, say your prayers, do everything you can to walk uprightly before the Lord so he can be with you through the trials… because trials come. I would ask you to look out for others in need and share your testimony, do the things that you need to do and exercise faith in God.

I know that this Gospel is true. Jesus Christ lives, and because He lives so will my boys. Families can be together forever. The Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and he restored these truths to the earth. God is real. I hope that these things can find their way to another father, or anyone for that matter, that finds themselves in a place similar to where I found myself. And I pray that you can find strength and fortitude in Christ.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned: Kenzie

McKenzie and I served in the same mission and I officially met her at our mutual companion’s wedding. Her and her husband, Braxton, had their little boy, Trevor, with them. He is so cute! And since then I saw through mutual friends some of her posts about the loss of their little girl, Maely. I started following her on Instagram and knew her story would be a blessing to others.

McKenzie was born in El Salvador and adopted along with her twin brother when they were babies. She loves her Latino roots and learning more about that culture. She graduated from BYU with her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. She loves living in Utah surrounded by family and the mountains. She and her husband Braxton met while serving missions in south Texas. They have two special kids and a Wheaten Terrier puppy named Neville Longbottom. McKenzie strives to spread awareness for Down Syndrome and infant loss in any way she can, especially through social media. She finds so much joy in being a wife and mom, serving in Young Women’s in her ward, and in all things Harry Potter.

“Keep trying, be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”  -Gordon B. Hinckley

Growing up in the LDS faith, I learned that as long as you do your best to obey God’s commandments, that you would be blessed. I learned this in church lessons, by reading scriptures, and through my mom’s example (my dad passed away when I was a baby and she raised us as a single parent). This was instilled in me at a very young age and always stuck with me.

Several years ago, I was home for the summer from BYU, and going to the Young Single Adults ward. For our ward activity one week, we were going to get to have a small, private little devotional with Elder D. Todd Christofferson. I was really excited because even though he and his wife lived in my home stake, we rarely got to hear from him in person because Apostles are busy! I don’t remember everything he talked about that day, but I’ll always remember one thing he said; he told us that as long as we were doing what’s right, he believed “that you will have the righteous desires of your heart.” I truly took that to heart and remembered it constantly; it was great motivation for me to continue trying to live a Christlike life.

Eventually, I got married to an amazing guy! I had served a mission in Texas, and upon returning home, I went on a couple dates and explored some dating opportunities. After a few weeks, I started spending time with an elder I had known from the mission; our friendship quickly progressed into a dating relationship, and we were married a year later. During our sealing, the sealer (who is a family friend) talked about some trials in marriage like infertility but said he didn’t think that would be one of our struggles. Immediately that statement from Elder Christofferson crossed my mind; having kids was one of my biggest dreams and clearly a righteous desire, and I took this to mean that we’d have no problem in that regard (Phew!). When Braxton and I were first married I always told him that I wanted three things: a puppy, a baby and to go to Disneyland (Please feel free to laugh, I am right now!). A little over a year later, we found out I was pregnant! We even went to Disneyland that same summer- check, check! Life was honestly going exactly the way I had expected and planned it to, and I couldn’t be happier. I was doing what was right and felt that I was indeed receiving those righteous desires of my heart.

Halfway through that pregnancy, we found out our baby could have Down Syndrome. My husband and I were pretty crushed. It wasn’t what we wanted and didn’t see how it was going to work. With a lot of patience, faith, and trust, we accepted God’s will. Once our son was born it was ok! We weren’t stressed and knew that he was meant to be ours. Parenting a child with Down Syndrome has its challenges; Trevor is physically and cognitively delayed, which requires a lot of therapy. Braxton and I always felt that if Trevor had a sibling close to his age, it would be the best therapy he could have. We knew a little brother or sister could help his development better than we could! When Trev was almost a year and a half old, we found out I was pregnant again. We were so happy that he was going to be a big brother! Once again, everything was going right.

At my first prenatal appointment, we did a blood test to find out if this baby had any genetic problems like Down Syndrome. When the test came back negative a few weeks later, we were relieved. We were going to get to enjoy pregnancy this time around. We knew we were having a girl (that genetic test tells you the gender of the baby), and of course, I went right out and bought cute clothes and started a board on Pinterest for baby girl nursery ideas (I was just a little excited). I lived in this state of bliss for a couple more months until we went in for my 20-week scan. The nurse had a hard time seeing much during that ultrasound, so my doctor sent me to a specialist. I went to that appointment alone, not thinking it was going to be a big deal at all… Oh, how wrong I was. During that ultrasound, I laid helpless on the table in a dimly lit room as a perinatologist read a huge list of things that were wrong with my little girl. I was in complete shock. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be right! I asked what this meant for my baby’s outlook on life, and the doctor stated that he expected her to be stillborn or die minutes after birth. This is when the tears came. My world came crashing down. Somehow I made it home and called my husband to leave work. My mom and sister were there and I explained what was happening. No one could believe it. Later that night we went to Braxton’s parents’ to talk to this family about our baby. Everyone was distraught. I can easily say that was the very worst day of my life.

One of the things I really struggled with after this news was anger. Anger that so many people were able to have 4, 8 or even 12 kids who were perfectly fine and I couldn’t even have 2. I was so angry that my excitement over being pregnant at the same time as my best friend, sister, and sister-in-law (who were all having girls, too), was taken away. I was so mad that I was figuring out burial and funeral plans instead what outfit my baby would wear home from the hospital. She was never going home with us. I was so mad and heartbroken for Trevor, that he wasn’t going to grow up with his little sister. But most of all, I was angry with God. How could this be what was right for us? I was a good person who had already been through a lot of hard things in life, so why was He adding this on top of it all? Didn’t He see that we were trying to have kids, just like He’s commanded us to? I was supposed to have this righteous desire. It didn’t make sense. I didn’t want to pray. I didn’t want to go to the temple. I just wanted to be away from Heavenly Father.

A week after we received this news, the fall 2016 General Women’s Session of stake conference was being broadcast. I went with my mom to the stake center to listen to the messages. When President Uchtdorf spoke about faith, I was flooded a wave of emotions. His talk was titled “Fourth Floor, Last Door” and was all about faith. I’m sure that talk was helpful to many who heard it that night, but I needed it desperately. In my head, I knew all the things he was saying, but my heart needed to be reminded of the truthfulness behind his words.

“Faith means that we trust not only in God’s wisdom but that we trust also in His love. It means trusting that God loves us perfectly, that everything He does—every blessing He gives and every blessing He, for a time, withholds—is for our eternal happiness. With this kind of faith, though we may not understand why certain things happen or why certain prayers go unanswered, we can know that in the end, everything will make sense. All things [will] work together for good to them that love God. All will be made right. All will be well.”

The next week some of my dear friends who knew what we were going through, invited Braxton and me to go to conference with them downtown. In that Sunday morning session, I cried and cried as I listened to President Russell M. Nelson’s talk about finding joy, no matter our circumstances (Joy and Spiritual Survival). He stated, “My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. . . Just as the Savior offers peace that ‘passeth all understanding,’ He also offers an intensity, depth, and breadth of joy that defy human logic or mortal comprehension. For example, it doesn’t seem possible to feel joy when your child suffers from an incurable illness or when you lose your job or when your spouse betrays you. Yet that is precisely the joy the Savior offers. His joy is constant, assuring us that our ‘afflictions shall be but a small moment’ and be consecrated to our gain.”  Once again, I knew this was exactly what Braxton and I needed to hear. I was definitely in survival mode, drowning in grief. But Heavenly Father was aware of that and inspired those talks for not just me, but hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. He was trying to tell me that even though having and raising kids is indeed a righteous desire, He has something else planned; I just needed to hold on a little longer and trust in Him.

After Conference, I resolved to try and let my anger go. It didn’t just magically disappear, but I learned how to deal with it better. I knew that my baby girl would NOT want me to use her short life as an excuse to pull away from my Father in Heaven. Satan is so sneaky and will use whatever he can to tug at us little by little until we’re far from our Heavenly Father. I wasn’t going to let that be me. I reread those messages many times in the weeks that followed and can truly say they carried me through some tough days.

A couple months later, the day came when we held our baby for the first, last and only time on this earth. Maely Grace was born at 31 weeks, 16 days before Christmas. She lived for an hour and 6 minutes. In that short period of time, Braxton gave her a name and blessing, Trevor got to interact with her, and we took as many pictures and videos as we could. And just like that Maely was gone; she took her last breath and slipped away without me even realizing it.

The days that followed were some of the most difficult ones I’ve ever experienced. They were filled with an excruciatingly painful physical recovery, planning for and having a memorial service, welcoming a new niece into the family, lots of tears but also an outpouring of love. I cannot begin to express the heartbreak one feels upon seeing their child in a casket and placing it in the ground. How grateful I am to know that Maely isn’t really in there and that we’ll get to be together with her again.

Almost a year has passed since that time; Maely’s first birthday is coming up and my emotions are all over the place. I long for and miss her. I’m so proud of her for making the choice to come to earth for such a short time because she knew how important it was to God’s plan of Salvation. I’m grateful that she showed us that now is the time to pursue adoption (something we always wanted to do, but later on in life). I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say that I’m grateful for this trial, but I AM grateful for what it’s taught me. I’m more patient, understanding and charitable than I was before. I have a *small* glimpse into what it’s like to suffer from depression and anxiety. I know how it feels to truly think you’re alone. At times I’m still angry and sadder than I can bear. But that’s when I really lean on the Savior and rely on His atonement to pick me back up.

As I think back to Elder Christofferson’s words about receiving the righteous desires of our hearts, I still believe them. He didn’t say that they would all happen in this life; He just said we could have them if we did our best to follow the Savior. So that’s what I’ll do! I’ll strive to find joy, trust that it will all work out, and keep faithfully trudging along to my fourth floor, the last door; the day I’m reunited with Maely Grace. I know Heavenly Father loves me. I know he wants to grant me what I most desire, and that He will- in His own time and in His own way.