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: Stephanie

Stephanie and I “met” through Instagram and have become friends through messaging each other back and forth. She is amazing and I respect her so much. I finally asked her if she would share her story (I don’t know why it took me so long), and I am so glad I did. It is a story that has gone on for her entire life and hasn’t ended yet.
Stephanie is a wife, mother of two boys, and 3 guardian angels. She is passionate about sharing her struggle with depression and anxiety in hopes of being a light in someone else’s life and to be a voice to end the mental health stigma. Cheerwine soda and peanut M&Ms are the way to her heart.


I remember being 6-years-old standing at the top of our driveway, in the dark, yelling at my mom to not get in the car and leave. She had been drinking and ran out of beer and was going to get more. Huge tears fell down my face and I recall screaming at God, “This cannot be how my life is going to be forever!” My first encounter with the Holy Ghost happened (I had no idea what this was at the time), “You are going to change the course of your family forever!”

As years went on and my soul took the blame for my mom’s drinking, I began to have no love for myself. I felt that if I could only make my mom love me more then she would stop drinking and our life would be better. I didn’t understand then that she was just doing the best she could in her current situation and she ha no ill will towards me or my brother.

During this time of my life, my Nana was my saving grace and my best friend. She would often rescue us from the really bad days of mom’s drinking. She loved us, took us to church, and also spoiled us big time!

My parents divorced when I was 12-years-old, leaving a new kind of hurt – that of a broken home and uncertainty about life, love, and faith.

The April before I turned 16-years-old, my nana passed away. I was beyond mad at God! How could he take away the only person in my life that had loved me unconditionally, cared for me, and was the anchor to the rocky ship my life had been sailing on?! I hit rock bottom.

Once I turned 16, I dropped out of school, got a job, and started finding ways that I could numb out the sadness, confusion, and grief that I dealt with daily. I turned to what I knew, drinking and smoking. When that wasn’t enough, for a brief time (thankfully) I tried cocaine as well as throwing myself to any man that would show me the slightest attention.

This is when I had my second encounter with the Holy Ghost (once again not knowing that at the time), I literally saw two paths. The first was the path I was on and that if I continued on this path I would surely die at an early age, and the second path would still be difficult but I would be on course to change my family’s life forever.

So I decided to go with the second path. I got my GED, decided I wanted to be a dental assistant and started taking the classed needed to get my certificate. Things were going in the right direction. I met my first husband at this pivotal time in my life and I clung to him. He was older, had a good job, and was stable, something I hadn’t had consistently in my life.

We got married after dating for five years and two years later had my first son. Life was great! However, I didn’t understand that all the trauma that I had suppressed from my childhood would come up out of nowhere like a raging storm! I started having panic attacks (which took me several more years to realize), began to be very depressed and anxious. I decided I needed help and was then diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This was brutal to my marriage and being a new mom. I often wondered if this would ever end and several times prayed that God would just take me. The struggle of not knowing what kind of fight I was going to have to face in my own mind each day sucked the life out of me.

I began working out because the medication for me was worse than being depressed and anxious. The side effects were horrible and I didn’t feel like I was getting any better. A bi-product of working out and eating better was my self-confidence began to grow and I found myself not making good choices again, this time in the form of infidelity. After a year of this, my husband and I got divorced. I’m not sure how many “rock bottoms” one person can experience in a lifetime but this was another one for me.

So I moved in with my mom and stepdad. I’m 26-years-old, with a 2-year-old, and a huge amount of baggage following my every move. The fling that contributed to my divorce ended (imagine that) and I was single for the first time since I was 16-years-old.

Dating was no fun at all. I literally hated it, and came to the acceptance that it was just going to be me and my son for the rest of my life living at my parents and I was OK with that! I was still working out and dealing with my depression and anxiety as much as I could, mainly shoving it under the rug and putting on a good face that everything was OK.

I was in several direct sales businesses trying to make some extra money. The group I was with at this time often hung out at a hookah bar (flavored tobacco, google it). It was close to a college so there were lots of young people to talk to and become friends with who would want to make extra money and join my business. Well, one of those people was Kyle.

We met through a mutual friend at the hookah bar, and over time became super close. He was the one I would call after the horrible dates to confide in and ask for advice. He joined the business and we enjoyed each other’s friendship but that was as far as our relationship would go. He was 5 years younger than me and he had a girlfriend.

After a year of being friends and getting tired of our friends telling us we should date (after he and this girlfriend had broken up), he asked me out. During this time I learned that he was a less active member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. I had no idea what that meant. He just kept telling me that I needed to meet with the missionaries if I wanted to learn more (whoever they were).

January 1, 2015, I met the missionaries on accident and they shared with me what they believed and asked if I would go to church that Sunday and I did. From the very first meeting, I knew what they were teaching me was true, I felt as if so many of my questions from my childhood were finally getting answered. I got baptized on February 14, 2014, and Kyle and I got married on July 4th. We had our youngest son in October of 2016 and things were going so so good. I had a totally new outlook on life.

February of 2018 I was able to become a stay at home mom, which had been a dream ever since my oldest son was born. And once again to my surprise my depression and anxiety reared their ugly heads! I once again got on medication and started reading books, listening to podcasts, and working out like crazy.

In October of 2018, while things were finally seeming to get back to normal, I got the strong prompting that we needed to add another member to the family. Against what I wanted I came off the medication and we started to try. It had taken 6 months to get pregnant with my other two so I figured we would have some time. God had different plans and 4 months later, on Valentine’s Day of 2019 I found out I was pregnant. I was so shocked that it happened so fast and I was very excited to be adding to our family. 3 days later I miscarried. I was beyond upset because I had truly felt like this was something we had been asked by God to do. I started questioning my faith and really wanted to go back to my old ways. I received a blessing and got clear answers that this was part of God’s plan, and yes even though it truly sucked, I would one day understand. So we went on with life (the best we could) and kept trying once I was cleared from the doctor. 4 months later (June 2019) I found out I was pregnant again, this time I was not excited at all. I was super anxious and feared the worst, which happened again 2 days later. This time I wasn’t mad at God, I was mad at myself. My body must be the issue. I hated my body and stopped working out. I started eating everything and anything chocolate. I couldn’t understand how this could happen again and I just knew it had to be something I was doing wrong. The doctors didn’t have any answers either and just told me to give it time and try again. So that’s exactly what we did and in September 2019 I was pregnant again!

I changed doctors and we found out one of my hormone levels was too low to keep a pregnancy so they supplemented me. I went in every 2-3 days and had my levels check to make sure the pregnancy was progressing and after 3 weeks everything was great, no concerns and they scheduled me for an ultrasound. This was a super stressful day and I was so worried about something going wrong. To my disbelief, I was able to see a strong heartbeat and everything looked great!!

They wanted to do a follow up ultrasound the following week to measure again and keep a close eye on me. My mom was able to go with me to this appointment and I was so excited for her to be able to see that this one was going to be ok. The tech kept asking me if I was sure that I was far along as I thought and some other questions that raised concern to me. Then what she said next, I can still hear today. She said, “I am so sorry but there isn’t a heartbeat.” My heart stopped and I screamed out loud to God, “How can you do this to me?! Why are you doing this?! No, this cannot be happening?!”

We were taken to another room to talk to my midwife and I called my husband to tell him and then immediately called a friend to have someone meet me when I got home to give me a blessing. I was given the option to just let my body do what it needed to naturally or schedule a procedure and they would remove the baby. I chose to have the procedure because this time I was 9 weeks along and they would be able to test and see what had caused the loss.

I was numb, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I wanted to give up so much. I once again was praying every day that God would just take me away. I couldn’t handle the grief and all the emotions that I was dealing with. During this time, I showed up in my church calling, put on a happy face, and made it seem as though I was sailing along, doing just fine. On the inside, I was dying. I really wanted to leave The Church and go back to the things of my past to numb myself from all of this. We found out months later that the baby was a girl (we call her Faith) and that she had a rare chromosome disorder and that she would have either passed at some point further in the pregnancy or shortly after birth.

If it wasn’t for the women in my life that wrapped their arms around me, loved me when I didn’t feel I deserved to be loved, brought me Cheerwine and peanut M&Ms, called, texted, brought me food even when I didn’t want to eat, and most importantly let me borrow their faith I don’t know where I would be today. I call them my sister tribe. One of them kept inviting me to bible study and I wouldn’t show up. But then the day before the procedure, against all that I wanted to do, I went. I sat there, didn’t say much and listened even though I didn’t want to be there at all. One thing I heard that struck me to my core was that the more we struggle and suffer, the more we are becoming like our brother Jesus Christ.

This was the answer I needed, this was what I needed to know. That through all my struggles and suffering my whole life, I would never suffer as Christ did. That doesn’t mean that I’m going through these things in vain. My whole purpose in life is to become more like Him and this is how I am able to do that.

When I feel myself slipping back, I go for a run or have an impromptu dance party. I let someone in my sister tribe or my family know how I am feeling and ask for help. And I trust that God has the big picture and that I am only seeing a snapshot.

I don’t share all these very personal things with you for sympathy, I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened. My hope in sharing my story is that you will be able to reflect on your own life and see all the ways God and Jesus Christ have truly shown up in your life. Especially the times when you felt they were the furthest away. Look for Them in those moments, because I promise you, just like Christ showed up to Peter when he was fishing, He will always show up for you!

I see you. In so many ways I am you!

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.