Forgiving Myself

Have you ever made a decision that you regret, and you wonder how you can forgive yourself? We all have our things we regret that we need to forgive ourselves for, big and small. Forgiveness can be hard, but I think the hardest person to forgive is yourself. This is something I have been dealing with since August’s birth.

August will always be very affected by his birth, and so will I. One of the hardest struggles I have had is forgiving myself for the choices I made. August was born at home. This was a decision I didn’t make lightly, but it’s hard not to wonder what would have happened under different circumstances. Would the outcome have been better? Worse? The truth is that we will never know. It doesn’t really matter anymore, but that hasn’t stopped the haunting questions from popping up.

How Could I Ever Forgive Myself?

How could I ever forgive myself? How could I live with myself? Add to that the judgment that I know has come my way from others for the same reasons I judge myself. But the biggest judgment I have to deal with is my own.

One thing I have noticed is that I can feel like I have forgiven myself for a time, but then something comes up. August needs a surgery,  we have discovered a new difficulty, we start a new therapy, someone says something, etc. This new thing can throw me back down, and it feels like I have to start over.

At first, I felt like maybe I didn’t really forgive myself the first time(s), but I don’t feel that way anymore. I have started to see forgiveness as an ongoing process. I don’t think that just because I am back to blaming myself I didn’t do it right the first time.

Forgive Until Seventy Times Seven

In Matthew 18: 21-22 it says:

21  Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

This does not only apply to others. It also applies to ourselves. We should be just as kind and merciful to ourselves as we are with others. Have you ever been in a relationship where you forgave someone, and then they did something that brought it all up again? Sometimes you have to re-forgive, and it doesn’t mean you never forgave in the first place.

The relationship I have with myself makes a big difference in how hard I am on myself. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. I do things that make me upset with myself. This happens over and over again. As I continue to work on my relationship with myself, forgive myself for being human, and love myself, it becomes easier to forgive myself. If I get down on myself and stop taking care of myself, my relationship suffers, and it is harder to be forgiving of my faults.

Forgiveness Is A Process

I used to think forgiveness was a one time thing. That can be true in lots of circumstances, but it’s much harder when it is something that affects you or someone else for the rest of their lives like August’s birth. It is something we all have to deal with every day, and it is easy to be reminded just by looking at his arm and seeing his challenges.

I have learned that forgiveness is a process. No matter how much I want it to just be done and over with, I am coming to the realization that I may have to continue to forgive myself for the same decisions many more times. I think it might be a long time until I can permanently stop blaming myself. But, I have had some experiences lately that have helped me understand forgiveness better and have some hope that I can truly forgive myself for good.

How Do I Not Blame Anyone?

Our brains naturally want to blame someone or something for things that happen. We want it to make logical sense. That has been one of my struggles with forgiving myself. If I forgive myself, then whose fault is it? In this situation, I can blame myself, God, or the midwife. The midwife is forgiven, and it hasn’t been a problem for me to continually feel forgiveness toward her. I naturally go to blaming God. He’s an easy person to blame, and logically, it makes sense that it’s His fault. But, I have learned that blaming God is not helpful. It is confusing to be mad at Him. It is not helpful at all to disconnect from Him and give Him the silent treatment. If I get a choice, it is better to be mad at myself than at God.

I have been praying to understand how to put blame away. It’s much easier said than done, but I do think it’s possible.

Acceptance

The definition of acceptance in the dictionary is:

  1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.
  2. the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable.
  3. agreement with or belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.

Wow, right? If we can accept our circumstances, there is nothing to forgive. Can I truly accept what happened during August’s birth? What if I agree that it was what is best? Can I consent to receive the circumstances instead of what I wanted? What if I think of it as my will? If this is God’s will why couldn’t it be my own? I think acceptance is a big key. But how do we get into a state of acceptance and stay there?

Gratitude

Gratitude is powerful, and I think it is key to acceptance of difficult circumstances and forgiveness. Gratitude has been scientifically proven to rewire our brains so we can see the positive. There are many health benefits that come from practicing daily gratitude. I have practiced gratitude a lot the past few years, but I have needed lots of reminders of its power and importance.

A mentor of mine taught me a concept called Gratitude 2.0. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going great, but what if we are grateful during hard times too? A new level would be to be grateful FOR the hard times. Practicing gratitude for the hard things can feel strange and hard at first, but it really works. It has been powerful to thank Heavenly Father for the hard things that have come my way and as a result of August’s birth. As I have practiced gratitude for what happened at August’s birth, it has changed how I look at things. My brain doesn’t have to blame anyone. I can accept it because I can be grateful for all the many blessings that have also come my way. In the end, the blessings far exceed the difficulty. There is nothing to forgive.

An Equation To Forgiveness

I truly feel that as I focus on taking blame out of the picture by focusing on acceptance and gratitude, forgiveness will come for good. There might be times I feel like I’m starting over again, and that’s okay. I can forgive myself for that too.

 

Nothing is Impossible With God

Greg and I have decided we would like to invite guests to share their stories. We hope this blog can be more than just our blog. We know there are so many inspirational people and stories out there, and we want to let others share their messages of living with purpose, faith, and hope. If you would like to be a guest on our blog, please click here to apply.

This is our first guest post. Melissa Vaughan has been a friend of mine since college. She is someone who has a gift to see the good in very difficult situations. Melissa has dealt with some very difficult things, and she is an inspiration who shares her light with others.

You can find her blog here.
Here is her Facebook profile.

Because each of us is a unique individual, each one of us has a story to tell.  We are all different and walk a different path yet we all walk them together.  We each have something to contribute in this world to help each other so we don’t feel so alone in it.

My life has had its challenges. However, these past few years have been life changing.  To share my story I would have to go back six years ago to when I was contemplating marriage for the second time.  Yes that’s right. I was married before, but only for three short months. It was one of the shortest marriages ever! My then husband immediately questioned our marriage and his attraction to me, which contributed to me going into a deep depression and ultimately leading him to leave our marriage. He admitted that he could not give me what I needed or wanted.  Looking back I now respect his decision which I know was not an easy one for him to make. It also left me feeling certain that I would never marry again.

A New Relationship and a Special Blessing

Then I met Jason. He changed everything for me.  It was only a few months into our relationship where we discussed marriage.  I expectedly had many reservations, especially since everything was happening so fast. But this is where God played a very important role.

While I was living in California I sought the counsel from my then branch president, who led our small church congregation at the time.  I asked him for a priesthood blessing.  A priesthood blessing in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is a “prayer for healing, comfort or counsel given by a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, who lays his hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing”.

I happened to write down some of the blessing in my journal that day,“ You will marry Jason and you will have children.  You will also battle with cancer, but if you both stay faithful to your covenants and Gods commandments then you will see insurmountable blessings”.

It still makes me tear up today when I read or write about it.  At the time Jason and I were both taken a little off guard with the part about cancer, but we also didn’t think too much about it.  More than anything I felt at peace with moving forward, and we were married a few months later. We were sealed for time and all eternity in the San Diego temple on May 16th of 2013.

Life Was Really Good

Life was really good for a while. After two years, Jason and I unexpectedly got pregnant, which ended up being the greatest blessing of both our lives.  We both had great jobs, we had just bought a house, and life on all accords was going great.  Even with all of this, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was still missing.  Spiritually I felt somewhat hollow, even though I was praying fervently for God to fill this emptiness and doing whatever possible to seek out the spirit.  It was only a short time later that life would be changed forever.

Everything Changes

Jackson was just 10 months old when the symptoms started. It began with pneumonia, and then was followed by bronchitis, strep throat and sinus infections. It was endless.  I ended up making an appointment with a primary care physician who couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. Then began the fevers, chills and difficulty breathing, along with severe pain. Certainly there had to be something wrong. I knew my body, and this was not normal.

I began seeking out different specialists who were all at a loss as to what was causing my symptoms.  It was then that Jason and I thought back to my blessing which I had just received three years prior.  We both knew that I needed to be diligent in pursuing a diagnosis. This eventually landed me in hematology/oncology.  It wasn’t long after that that the Multiple Myeloma was discovered.

Initially I was shocked, yet it also felt expected. I knew enough about Multiple Myeloma to know that it’s not an easy cancer to have. It’s usually diagnosed in older adults, and is also incurable, which means eventually it turns terminal.  But I didn’t have the time to mourn my diagnosis. I immediately went into fight mode.

I Went Into Fight Mode

Quickly after my diagnosis I went through IVF, which was both expensive and extremely difficult. But we did get our one and only miracle embryo.  I began and completed seven months of treatment and miraculously went into a complete remission, which was quite unexpected.

It wasn’t until then that the magnitude of my diagnosis set in.  I had just gone through this life altering experience, but somehow I had to go back to living a normal life again knowing that it could change at any moment.  With this new found perspective, I was determined to make something more with my life. I felt prompted to quit my job, so I did, and spend more time with my family, which I also did.

The Cancer Came Back

Soon after, the fevers started again.  One day I was kneeling down, and completely pouring my heart out to God.  I was feeling so overwhelmed because I had just quit my job, and now I was experiencing these debilitating symptoms again. I pleaded with Him to just please help me feel better to let me have my life back. The sole purpose I had gone off treatment was so we could have our miracle baby, but when I realized it wasn’t going to happen, my heart felt completely broken.

After praying for a very long time that day, I did feel more at peace, but also had an undeniable impression that this trial was far from over.  My symptoms soon began aggressively where I found it difficult to breath along with pain and fevers.  I was certain that my cancer was back.

The testing began, where they indeed found that my cancer had returned. But my specialist was convinced something else was wrong.  So began another tiresome search. I was passed back and forth from one specialist to the other, and then back again. Everyone was at a loss as to what exactly was going on.

I decided that I didn’t want to spend my life in and out of doctors’ offices. Instead, since my cancer was there but not advancing quickly, I would begin living my new normal in hopes my symptoms would disappear.  Well instead, things got progressively worse. I had an acute onset of muscle weakness, and was now finding it difficult to walk, breathe or swallow.  It was really very scary.

One of the Hardest Days of My Life

I still remember the day that the neurologist sat me down after my muscle biopsy to tell me that my muscle is now shrinking and dying, but they didn’t know why.  My mind would go to the worst possible place, which ultimately ended in a long hard battle towards death.  I had made peace with dying from cancer, but not from something unknown.  It was one of the hardest days of my life.

I remember Jason holding me as I sobbed. Just the thought of leaving Jackson so soon was unbearable.  I thought about him coming into my room looking for me, and me not being there.  It was all too much for me to take. It was the first time in my journey where I felt very alone and hopeless.

Relying on God’s Power

It was also in these very dark moments that I knew I needed to call upon God’s power.  I received another priesthood blessing, which I recorded some of in my journal.  “God is aware of you and your struggles, but have faith in His plan. The doctors will be inspired. They will know that this goes beyond their own knowledge, but comes from God,” I immediately felt an unmistakable peace come over me.  I knew Heavenly Father was in charge and, regardless of the outcome, it would be okay.

It has undoubtedly been a struggle since, especially trying to pinpoint a correct diagnosis. It has been a battle I never saw coming, and a constant roller coaster of emotions.  I’ve had to consistently seek out the Lord’s help to combat those feelings of sadness, hopelessness and doubt. However when I sincerely pray, sincerely study my scriptures and really listen, I can always feel my Heavenly Father close by.

Living day to day, we often don’t spend our lives thinking of our mortality although each of us will face it someday.  Even myself – having an incurable cancer, and knowing it will turn terminal. I still don’t think of it every day. My experiences have no doubt changed my perspective on life and how I want to live it.

Finding Joy in Trial

Not my entire journey has been a struggle though. There have been some incredible moments, including reaching level 1,168 in candy crush. I can eat whatever I want and won’t gain an ounce, and my husband will rub my feet on demand.  But, most of all that void that was once there is no longer vacant. l will always be grateful for this gift of life. I’ve had to learn to let go and trust in Him, which has ultimately given me the freedom to live out my best life and be at peace with whatever may be. Even if that means I will leave my husband and my sweet little boy early.

My hope is that I can teach my son and others how to cope with life’s many challenges that will surely come, by turning to a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who is always the source of lasting peace and healing in this life, and also in the life to come.

Is Knowledge Really Power?

Why Knowledge can be paralyzing if you let it.

When I was in college, my professor posed a question: If you know your child will have a 50% chance of having a life-threatening disease, will you choose to have this child? She told of someone she knew who repeatedly had children with a deadly genetic disease. She had multiple children who passed away very young, yet she chose to take the risk and bring more children into her family. At the time, I didn’t have enough life experience to have an opinion. However, it is a discussion that has stuck with me all these years. Interestingly, that is the same scenario our family has been given. Each of our children had a 50% chance of having vEDS. We just didn’t know it until we had 6 of them. And now 3 of our children will have a 50% chance of passing it on to any biological children they choose to have.

Would Things Be Different if We Knew Earlier?

We didn’t know that Greg had vEDS until 2 years ago. By then we already had all six of our children. I have often wondered what would be different if we knew when he was younger. Would I have still married him if I had known? Would we have biological children at all? How many children would we have? I am sure this knowledge would have shaped our decisions, and our family and life would likely look very different. This knowledge would have changed everything.

Looking at my family now, I’m glad we didn’t know. I’m grateful that we didn’t have to knowingly choose to bring children into the world with vEDS. But then I wonder why this knowledge would make my children less worthy of life.  Sometimes knowledge can be paralyzing.  I love each of my children, and I’m glad they are part of our family exactly as they are. The ones who have vEDS are not lesser at all. Their existence is miraculous. They are whole, gifted, and beautiful. Their lives are just  as valuable as any other child’s life.

Asking Hard Questions

I have had some discussions with one of my children that have left me in tears afterwards. Questions have been asked that I have had to really think about.

“Is it okay for me to get married?”

“Would it be wrong for me to have children?”

This makes me think that maybe knowledge isn’t always power. Sometimes knowledge is scary and mean and life altering. Knowing that you have a life threatening illness when you’re young alters so many things. I have told this child I think they are just as worthy of getting married and having their own children as anyone else out there. I will support whatever they decide to do, but I hope they don’t make their decisions out of fear or shame.

The Real Truth

The truth is that any person could be completely healthy one moment and have a traumatic accident the next. Any person could get cancer or some other life-threatening illness at any point in their lives. The difference between other people and my family is knowledge. Why does knowing what your challenges might be somehow make it harder to feel worthy of having your own family? Why would our children deciding to have biological children become a moral discussion? Is it wrong to bring children into the world knowing they could have some challenges and what those challenges will be? What is the difference between bringing children into the world not knowing what their challenges will be? I honestly don’t think there is a difference. All of my children’s lives are worthwhile, and I am glad they are all here, vEDS or not. 

Don’t Let Knowledge Take Your Power

I think knowledge can be powerful. The reasons we decided to have our kids tested for vEDS outweighed the risks of knowing. Because we know which of them have vEDS we can take precautions to keep them safe, we can have an emergency plan, and we can have a medical team at hand if needed. This knowledge can save their lives. That is power because it gives us more choices and options than not knowing would.

But knowledge can also take away your power if you let it. You can give your power away by making decisions out of fear. You can let your circumstances make your decisions for you. If you feel like you don’t have a choice, you are giving your power away because you always have a choice. Always. Your power IS your choices. I hope my children always remember they have choices. They can have a family, a career, and chase their dreams, even though they know they may have unique challenges getting there.

My Battle with Depression Brought me Closer to Him

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything on our blog. Taya has encouraged me many times to write something, but I haven’t felt like I was in a position to do so. 2019 has been such a difficult year for me in more ways than one. I have often felt like I was just struggling to survive, let alone live with purpose. I finally feel like I am ready to write something of value to someone else. I have to say that I a grateful for the opportunity to put my thoughts and experiences down in written word because sometimes it is just too hard to vocalize them.

With my diagnosis comes so many challenges. I won’t even attempt to write them in any particular order of importance or severity because it seems like they are all just as weighty. There is the uncertainty of each and every moment. We have learned that our life is so unpredictable because I could be having a good day and then find myself in the ER that same afternoon. We also know that I have passed this health condition on to three of our children. We have already seen a few rough situations for our children who have vEDS. My condition is not just my condition; it impacts the whole family. When I don’t come home from work at my normal time because I stopped at the ER, Taya has to somehow explain to our children what is happening. Oftentimes we don’t really know. The nature of vEDS is so unknown in many respects because each person’s experience with it is so different. Because of this, there are so many doctor’s appointments, often with little results or direction. All of these reasons, and more, have made life difficult. I have felt the weight of that so much this year.

I Thought Things Might Get Better, But They Didn’t

 

Near the beginning of this year, I was struggling mentally and emotionally. We had a family humanitarian aid trip to Mexico planned and I was looking forward to that, but I wasn’t very excited about anything else in my life. The trip to Mexico came and went so quickly. It was so fun to experience a new culture and to try to forget myself for a few days. I didn’t expect to return to Utah feeling sorry for myself because of all the poverty that we experienced, but that is exactly what happened. I feel like I sunk into a deep hole that I couldn’t get out of by myself.

I felt like things were so bad in my mind that I decided to get some help. I scheduled an appointment with a therapist. As with any good doctor, I needed to wait over a month to finally get in. There were some days that I didn’t feel like I could wait, but I knew I needed to, so I did somehow.

Getting Help

Finally the day of my first appointment came. I was nervous, not knowing anything about my counselor. As the hour of my appointment got closer and closer, I found myself wanting to cancel my appointment because I was so uncomfortable. Instead, I stuck with it and went to my appointment. I was glad I did. I wouldn’t say that the first visit was earth-shattering or anything, but it was a start down a path of healing. My therapist works with people on a spiritual level, involving the Gospel in each session. After the groundwork was done in the first session, my therapist and I dove deeper into my thoughts.

At this same time, I was struggling in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. How could He abandon me to this life of pain and grief? How could He just stand by and watch my family and me suffer with the life sentence of vEDS? I have had other moments in my life in which I felt abandoned. This was another time, another huge time, of abandonment in my mind. I had been feeling like God wasn’t listening to my prayers. He wasn’t there for me and never would be because I was just destined to live my life in misery. I tried to listen to uplifting music, tried to read my scriptures, but found myself not believing that the messages of peace applied to me.

I talked about all of this with my therapist. She and I talked about my feelings of being abandoned by my Father. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about at the moment, but there came a moment when I felt an absolutely overwhelming feeling of love. I felt like arms were being wrapped around me. It was such an unmistakable feeling that I know from other times in my life can only come from my Heavenly Father. It was such a wonderful experience that I wanted to bask in it forever!

God Only Knows

My therapy session ended with multiple soaked tissues and me feeling 50 pounds lighter spiritually. I got in my car and took a deep, cleansing breath. For the first time in months, I actually felt like my Heavenly Father was there and that He loved me. I turned the car on and began to drive home. I had the radio on like I usually do. In an effort to bring the Spirit into my life, I listen to Christian music most of the time. This was no exception. However, I believe it was no coincidence that the song on the radio was playing at the exact right time for me. I had heard it so many times before, but this time it meant so much more. The song is “God only Knows” by For King and Country. Here are the words to the song (in part):

Wide awake while the world is sound asleepin’
Too afraid of what might show up while you’re dreamin’
Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you
Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you
Every day you try to pick up all the pieces
All the memories, they somehow never leave you
Nobody, nobody, nobody sees you
Nobody, nobody, nobody would believe you
God only knows what you’ve been through
God only knows what they say about you
God only knows how it’s killing you
But there’s a kind of love that God only knows
God only knows what you’ve been through
God only knows what they say about you
God only knows the real you
There’s a kind of love that God only knows…
See the entire music video here

He Understands What I’m Going Through

This brought tears to my eyes again. I tried to sing along, but all I could do was listen to the words and hear my Father speaking to me, letting me know that He does know me, He loves me, and is watching over me. He didn’t have to do that. He could have just left me with the wonderful experience in my therapist’s office. But He didn’t. He showed me that He truly does care about me and I am valuable to Him enough to give me a special experience like this.
This song means so much to me now every time I hear it. It will never get old to me because of the unique way in which my Father used it to speak to me. It reminds me of a scripture that I was introduced to when I was in the first few days as a missionary at age 19, now more than half of my life ago. It is Alma 7:11-12. It reads:
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
This is talking about how Christ knows each one of us personally. He is the only one who knows exactly what each one of us is going through. I don’t understand how exactly He did this, but I am so glad that He did. I am so glad that I can go to Him for peace and comfort when all other sources just don’t cut it. It takes faith. Sometimes it takes extreme amounts of faith to get past all the doubt and fear to even reach out to Him for peace.

Finding Peace

Sometimes, even when we muster up all the faith that we can possible muster, the peace doesn’t come right away. Sometimes it takes more struggling and more grief and pain than we think it requires, but I know that the peace comes. I know that because I have seen it so many times in my life. The peace simply comes because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us and they love to bless us. We can trust that the peace will come and that the timing will be perfect and unmistakable.
One thing I have become sensitive to over the last couple years is that we are all struggling with something or will at some point. If you find yourself struggling right now and can’t see a way out, please don’t give up hope. Keep praying and searching and just watch and wait. The peace will come and it will be so delicious and refreshing. If you aren’t struggling, know that someday you will and that you will get through it. It may take so much longer than you expected or wanted, but your Heavenly Father will be there to help you through. Sometimes you will feel like He isn’t; that he has abandoned you. Remember that He doesn’t do that. He allows us to struggle so we will turn to Him. When we do, He will take care of us and make sure everything works out for our good, whether in this life or in the life to come, it all works for our good.

What it Really Means To Live Like You Are Dying

I have been thinking about the time right after Greg’s diagnosis today. It was a very scary and uncertain time. After Greg was released from the hospital he continued to have dissections for months. We were in and out of the ER countless times. It seemed like it would be any day that he passed away, and we lived day to day. We didn’t dare plan anything too far ahead because we didn’t know if it was realistic. It was unsettling to go to bed at night and wonder if Greg would still be alive in the morning.

We tried to be perfect “just in case”. We were extra diligent in so many ways, and a lot of them were really good things to be diligent in. The problem was that we did them more out of fear than anything, and we made a lot of changes overnight, which is not realistic. What if this was the last time I talked to Greg? That would mean I would regret it if we parted with any kind of negative feelings toward each other. If the house wasn’t clean and he died today wouldn’t that make things even worse? If Greg died tomorrow and we didn’t have family prayer or scripture study our last night together what was that teaching the kids? They would surely remember it forever! What if? What if?

It felt like we had to make the most of every moment. Suddenly, we felt like we had to do a lot of things NOW because when else would we do them otherwise? We needed to create memories and try to make every moment a memory. We needed to try new things together, do lots of things as a family, make special efforts with all of our relationships, etc.

Living This Way Wasn’t Real

What we soon realized was that living this way is exhausting. We were living in fear. It wasn’t real. All the problems we had always had in our family and relationships were still there, we just weren’t dealing with them. We were trying really hard to cover them up because if we didn’t cover them up, maybe we weren’t making the most of the time we had left. Everything was being dealt with on the surface.

After a couple months we were tired, and we missed the everyday (somewhat) uneventful life we used to have. The reality and heaviness of our situation and the emotions we had been shoving down were starting to come up. It was inevitable. You cannot bury things like that forever. Eventually they come up. I don’t know if or when we will be open about how this has affected our relationship, but for now I will say it has been rough. Really really rough.

We both had our own emotions to deal with, and we had a LOT to process. Greg was dealing with the reality of his mortality and I was dealing with the reality that I could be raising 6 kids on my own soon. We still didn’t know which of our kids had vEDS, and that was extremely stressful too. We had a lot of things to work through, and burying them could not happen any longer.

What Live Like You Are Dying Really Means

When I used to hear the phrase “Live Like You Are Dying”, I thought it meant to do everything you ever wanted to do, have good relationships, make every moment a memory, etc. Exactly what I just described above. I think most of us think that. It’s a great thought, and I think those things are great goals, but you can’t get there overnight. If you do, you are pretending, and you can’t do it for long. Life is full of great an amazing things, but you can’t avoid the less amazing things. They are going to be there no matter what, and it’s important to embrace them and continue living a less than perfect life, always striving to improve.

Our perspective on life is a lot different than it was before the vEDS diagnosis, and it’s also different than right after the vEDS diagnosis.  We still want to make the most of the time we have left. Step by step we have made a lot of positive changes in how our family functions. We do a lot of things we would not have done before the diagnosis because we want to do them together. The difference is that we don’t do these things because we’re afraid we won’t get to do them if we don’t do it now. It’s not fear based at all.

Being Okay With Imperfection

We are also okay with the imperfectness of life. Our moments together are not perfect and memorable, and that is okay. We are willing to think about next year and even the year after that. That is very good progress. And if something we planned for the future doesn’t happen, it’s okay. No one event, deed, or trip is going to make or break our time together. It is a culmination of all the years, events, deeds, and trips we have taken. I believe that in the end the small, seemingly insignificant moments are the most important and the ones we cherish the most. Things like cooking dinner together, sleeping next to each other, watching TV, riding in the car. Those things are important, and I often take little snapshots in my head to hopefully remember them better down the road.

To me, living my best life means making positive choices and changes one day at a time, experiencing life one day at a time, forgiving myself for not being perfect, and being okay with things not always being wonderful. That is what I think it means to live like you are dying.

Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

August is sick today, and I’m staying home from church with him. We have been reading books and looking through scrapbooks. He brought me a scrapbook from before he was born, and it ends at Christmas, 2015, which is just a week before he was born. One week before our lives would change forever with the addition of August and also the trauma from his birth and the consequences of what happened. Looking at these pictures has made me pretty emotional. The people in these pictures have been through a lot since then. Life was pretty stable back then, and we were just living life day to day. We had our trials, but they weren’t huge or earth shattering. The earth shattering stuff was coming very soon. I see August’s birth as the beginning of our world turning upside down. August’s birth was not the joyful event it could have been. It was a very pivotal experience in my life and for our family, and it was definitely earth shattering for me. 

I was such a different person. In lots of ways I wish I could go back to that person. I had such a lighter burden. I didn’t have trauma coming back to haunt me when I least expect it. I wasn’t aware of the heavy reality that half of my family has a life-threatening disorder, and I didn’t have to worry that things could change any minute. It was easier to look to the future with excitement. 

How do you go on when your earth shatters? It’s hard to not get stuck in the past and want to become the old you. I have found myself trying to become what I once was many times. I think it’s natural to try to somehow get back what you once had and to long for what was. But the reality is that you can’t go back. You can only go forward and make the best of what you have now. I have realized that my life is much richer because of the hard things that have happened. My perspective is different, and I am more likely to enjoy what I have today. I have gratitude for the little things that I never thought of before. I have been able to heal from much of the heartache, see miracles, and see the light and goodness in the world around me.

Danny Gokey sings a song called “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again” that reminds me of this, and has helped me put things in perspective as I have come to terms with my reality. Here are the lyrics:

You’re shattered

Like you’ve never been before

The life you knew

In a thousand pieces on the floor

And words fall short in times like these

When this world drives you to your knees

You think you’re never gonna get back

To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning

Just let that word wash over you

It’s alright now

Love’s healing hands have pulled you through

So get back up, take step one

Leave the darkness, feel the sun

‘Cause your story’s far from over

And your journey’s just begun

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak

And every scar

Be a picture that reminds you

Who has carried you this far

‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could

In this moment heaven’s working

Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

Your heart to beat again

Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

I think it’s easy to live in the past. It’s easy to look back at those ‘before’ pictures and long for what was. What was seems so much easier. It WAS so much easier. I do miss those times, and I’m grateful for amazing memories of when life was lighter. That ending of a time of my life was also a new beginning. It was the beginning of some really hard things, but it was also the beginning of a lot of learning and refinement for me. It was the beginning of a new me. I’m a different person now, and I am grateful for that in many ways.

I am in a much better place than I was a few years ago, but I have recently realized I’m still coming to terms with things. I hope I can someday live with more optimism about my future. I hope to be able to better remember that I don’t have to always carry a heavy burden because of Christ and His atonement. I have a testimony that burdens can be lifted because I have had it happen time and time again. He is how I have made it this far. It is a daily choice to let Him help though. Sometimes I take the burden back without even realizing it. Life gets harder when I try to do it all by myself.

I am grateful for what I have now. Life is good. I know that years from now I will be able to look at family pictures of us now and say, “What a great time. What a beautiful family. We have so much to be grateful for.”

The City of Brotherly Love

This is the view from August’s hospital room window at Shriner’s Hospital Philadelphia.

It’s May 26, 2016. Greg, August, and I are in Philadelphia for August’s first surgery. Surgery happens tomorrow. We had just arrived in Philadelphia late the night before after a rough day getting there (delayed flight, rerouting to a new airport, etc, etc).We were so grateful to just be in Philadelphia. After the pre-op appointment, we had all day free, and it was our only chance to do some exploring while we were in Philadelphia.

To say we were culture shocked would be an understatement. I had never been East before, and it had been many many years since Greg had. We were shocked by how different everything was. The streets, the people, the rules of the road, everything. The Ronald McDonald House, where we stayed, was literally in the ghetto, as was Shriners Hospital where August’s surgery would take place. It was eye opening to see the poverty these people were living in. It was beyond anything I had ever seen before. Folks, there is no ghetto in Utah. Ogden doesn’t even hold a candle to this!

Being Tourists For a Minute

We decided to go downtown and see the Liberty Bell and surrounding tourist attractions. It was really great to see all these historical sites. We walked around and explored for about 2 hours, and then we decided we better get back to our car to put more money in the parking meter so we could explore some more.

We walked to the place we thought we had parked, and our car wasn’t there. How weird. We could have sworn we knew where we parked. We figured maybe we really parked a block over, so we walked around the block. Still no car. Where was it!? The adrenaline was pumping through my body as my mind raced with the possibilities. We walked around for quite awhile, hoping we were just disoriented and didn’t remember where we had parked. Finally, we went back to the place we both knew we had really parked. Still no car. In Philadelphia there are parking officers (not sure what they are really called) on each block. We found one, and asked her if she knew what happened to our car. She said that it had been towed. She explained that we had parked in a “no stopping” zone. It was in front of a little dip in the sidewalk that didn’t appear to be used for anything. I hadn’t been paying attention when we parked (Greg was driving), and Greg assumed you weren’t supposed to stop in the middle of the street (seriously driving is so different there than here). It really didn’t appear to be a place we shouldn’t park!

The parking lady told us our rental car had been taken to an impound lot about 3 miles away. She told us to call a taxi. We had never called a taxi before! We had no idea how to do this! We also didn’t know how expensive it would be. Only 3 miles? Why don’t we just walk? So that’s what we did. We walked. It was a much more treacherous adventure than we thought it would be. It was much more humid than we’re used to, and it felt hot even though the temperature was pretty moderate that day. I was wearing flip flops, which isn’t great for a long walk.

The Impound Lot

When we got to the impound lot, there was quite a long line. Greg and I had decided to try to tell them our story: We are ‘foreigners’, and our kid is having major surgery early in the morning. Please give us a break! We waited in the line for at least half an hour. There was a couple in front of us named Scott and Carly who we chatted with while in line.  

When we finally got to the front of the line, the lady wouldn’t listen to our story. She didn’t care. She was abrupt and rude and seemed so hardened. As I sat at the impound lot for awhile after this, I realized that everyone has a story. No one means to have their car towed. I’m sure she has heard everything in the book, and she just can’t listen anymore. With the cost of the fine, towing, and impound lot, we ended up having to pay over $300. To top it off, we realized that we left the proof that this was our rental car at the Ronald McDonald House, which was about a 30 minute drive. The impound lot would not let us take the car anywhere. We were stranded again. It was very discouraging. We were not feeling any sort of “brotherly love” in this city known for brotherly love. I was feeling pretty sad about how we were being treated and how the past couple days had gone.

We were exhausted, hot, sweaty, and anxious about our big day tomorrow with August’s surgery. It was late afternoon, and we really just needed to get back to the Ronald McDonald House so we could get some rest and prepare for the next day.

True Brotherly Love

Scott and Carly overheard what was happening. We were stranded and not well equipped for knowing what to do in the city, and they realized this. They had had a car towed that day too, and I’m sure they were exhausted from the experience as well. Even so, they generously offered to drive us to the Ronald McDonald House to retrieve the paperwork so we could get our car back. To drive from the impound lot to Ronald McDonald House and back to the impound lot to get the car was an hour. That’s no small sacrifice, especially for complete strangers.

This was a very touching act of kindness that we so desperately needed. It helped me remember that there is so much good in this world. We had had a really rough couple days with a very big and stressful day coming up. So many things had gone wrong. The stress, anxiety, and negativity was overshadowing everything else. This one act of kindness shone a light on things in my mind. It was a great reminder that when you really look, the positive is stronger than the negative. One act of kindness made a huge difference in how I was seeing the world around me. I was able to remember all the amazing people who were praying for us, the people who helped us get to Philadelphia, the blessing of having a world renowned surgeon working on my son, and the list goes on.

I am grateful for Scott and Carly and their example of service and love. They truly made a very stressful time brighter. It goes to show that small acts of love and service can go a long way.

Goodbye, Baby

I was in hard labor with August, and it was around 10:30 PM. I had spent a lot of time learning Hypnobirthing, and August was my 2nd baby I birthed with this method. It was hard to concentrate though. Owen was crying. Maybe he sensed what was happening. Maybe he knew that his life was about to change. Owen was only 19 months old when August was born. He was still a baby in so many ways. I asked Greg to please get Owen because I knew he wasn’t going to calm down by himself. My friend, Natalie, was there for the kids, so she took charge of Owen’s care and tried to get him back to sleep. The rest of August’s birth story is here.

Owen was still awake an hour or so after August was born. As I headed out the door to go to the hospital, I clearly remember holding Owen’s face in my hands, giving him a kiss, and saying, “Goodbye, baby”.  As I walked out the door I had the thought that those words were more than just telling him goodbye for the night. I was really kissing my baby goodbye in a way.

Growing Up Fast

I have always been amazed at how much my kids grow up when they are no longer the youngest. Owen was no exception, but I think he had to grow up in more ways that my other kids did. He lost the mom he knew. He lost the life he knew. August was a difficult baby. There were days he would scream all day, and he wanted to be held constantly. I couldn’t put him down when he was awake for at least the first year of his life. August had therapy appointments, doctor appointments, and got all kinds of attention. He became the center of my universe. On top of that, I was a mess emotionally. I had a lot of work to do to come to terms with what had happened.

Owen has spent a lot of his childhood at therapy appointments where he was supposed to sit quietly and watch. Therapists have come into our home to see August, and Owen has had to watch, and only join in when invited. He has always been the extra kid. Therapists always do their best to include my other children, but the fact is that they are working with August, and that is their priority.

One day as we were getting ready to go to one of August’s therapy appointments, Owen asked, “When is my appointment?” My heart broke. This was an eye-opening moment for me. Since then, I have made special efforts to make sure Owen gets special experiences and opportunities. I know it’s not the same as the special attention August has always had, but I hope he can see that we are trying our best, and that we cherish him just as much as we cherish August.

The Positive

Owen has been affected by what happened at August’s birth more than any of my other children (besides August himself). He will be forever affected, as will our entire family. Owen has dealt with some unusual circumstances, and he has had some unusual behaviors because of it. He refused to even think about potty training until he was 4. He wanted to keep his crib as long as possible, and he still insists on using a sippy cup. Owen has had a hard time wanting to grow up and stop being a baby. I can see that a lot of that is because he wasn’t able to be a baby for long. That was taken away from him too soon.

As difficult as things have been for Owen, and as sad as I am that it couldn’t be different for him, I can see how his early experiences can and already do benefit him. Someday I hope that he can see it too. I hope that because of his experiences he will be more kind, more empathetic, and more accepting. I hope he will be more patient with those who are different than he is. I hope he will be able to look at any child, no matter their abilities, and see a friend. There is so much good that can be gained by his experiences, and it’s important to see that and be grateful for it.

Always My Baby

Owen’s 5th birthday is coming up in a few days. I am so grateful for him in our family. I know that his place in the family is not a coincidence. He needed to be born when he was. Owen is a light for us. He is funny and happy and bright. He has made me smile through my tears more times than I can count. I really don’t know where I would be without him in my life. He definitely knows how to push my buttons, but he also knows how to brighten my day.

Owen’s birth was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. After August’s traumatic birth, I had a very hard time thinking about Owen’s birth. As strange as it sounds, I was angry about it. I was strangely jealous of myself, and that I got to experience something so beautiful. It was troubling to me that I had such feelings about it. I am grateful that now I can think of Owen’s birth and be grateful for the beautiful experience it was. That day I got to say hello to my beautiful baby in the most beautiful way.

Days Like Today

Greg is at the Emergency Room right now. I don’t think I can count the number of times he has been in the ER since April 2017. It’s a lot. At least every 3 months, usually much more frequently than that.  I usually don’t tell anyone. I don’t like to get people worried. I don’t like the attention. I don’t like it when everyone calls me, and having to tell the same story a million times. But today, I told a couple really close friends, and I realized that maybe it’s important to let people know sometimes. It means a lot to feel the love and concern of others. Sometimes it’s good to remember I’m not alone, that I have people who care.

These days are hard. I try to go about life as usual, even though my mind and emotions are not on daily tasks at all. I don’t tell the kids unless it’s necessary. There’s no point in getting them worried too. There is so much uncertainty in my life. Days like today shake me up and bring that to the front of my awareness. What if this is it? Do I need to start planning for a funeral? Will things ever be the same? What if instead of Greg dying he is disabled? Can I handle that?

I am a homeschool mom of 6 children. I want to continue that. I feel strongly that it is what I am supposed to do, and this decision is 100% a decision of faith. Days like today make me wonder why this is the right thing for our family. How is it going to be possible for me to continue this if/when he dies? What if he is disabled for a time? What would I do? How could I possibly be a homeschool mom, caregiver, and somehow provider as well? How can I do it all?  Reality is I can’t, and that scares me.

My mind jumps way too far into the future. It is emotionally draining. It is hard to live like this. I didn’t think I was angry until I slammed my bedroom door to be alone. But I am angry. Angry with God. Angry with life. I am sad today. Sad that this is my reality. I’m sad that I don’t know how many more days like this I will have to endure. I’m sad that I never know if tomorrow will be another rough day, or if we will be spending it in the hospital. It’s hard to make plans too far into the future. It feels like a never-ending roller coaster. We never know if we’re going up or down or upside down.

My strategy has become: Don’t worry about anything unless I need to. That is so much easier said than done. I think I do a pretty decent job of it, but I think it is inevitable that some anxiety and uncertainty creeps in. I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.

Despite all this, I have also been given some peace today. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who truly never makes me deal with this alone. Sometimes it feels like it, but if I really look, I know that isn’t true. I am grateful for angels on earth, and also those who are unseen. Those around me have truly shown me the power of prayer, service, and love. They are amazing examples to me, and I am grateful that they have helped share God’s love with me today and in the past few years.

August’s Birth Story

Today is August’s 3rd birthday. As a sort of ‘therapy’, every year I rewrite the story of his birth as a way to see things with new perspective. I am still working on healing from his traumatic birth and its consequences, and it has been amazing to see the story evolve through the years from something very negative to something with a more positive light. This year, after I wrote it I surprisingly decided to post it. This is a big step for me because it is a very vulnerable story. Up until now, I haven’t been open about the details of his birth.

I have kept the details to myself for a lot of reasons, but mostly to protect those involved, including myself. My hope is that this is tasteful and as honoring as possible to everyone. I don’t intend to cause harm to anyone or to imply that home birth is bad or wrong. I simply wish to tell my story and August’s story as it happened. 

August’s Birth Story

It was 1:00 am the morning of January 2, 2016. We had celebrated New Years the day before with Greg’s family, and we were tired after a long week of celebrating the holidays. Everyone was asleep, including me, when -POP- my water broke. I felt it pop, and jumped up to see if it was true. Sure enough, there was a big gush. This was such an exciting moment! I was exactly 38 weeks along, and I was so happy to get to meet my August earlier than I imagined might happen. Two other times my water broke at exactly 38 weeks. I didn’t realize then that was a sign that August has vEDS. I didn’t know it meant his birth was a high risk one. I didn’t know that it wasn’t MY body saying it was ready to give birth, but August’s faulty collagen that caused the water to break. Labor didn’t start until that evening, and only after lots of work to get it going.

I had planned a beautiful birth at home. I did not make this decision lightly. A lot of time and effort had been put into visualizing, practicing relaxing, preparing to have a natural birth, and getting the house ready. I had hired a doula and a knowledgeable midwife. For many reasons, I felt that having August at home was the best place for everyone. It was going to be peaceful and beautiful. I felt good about this decision, and I was excited for the experience.

It wasn’t until late that night that my labor had progressed to the point that we knew August was coming very soon. We had filled up the birthing pool, and I was in it in intense labor. It seemed like it took a long time for his head to emerge. I knew it was coming long before it actually did. August is my 6th baby, and this was very unusual for me. It was taking so long. My babies usually just come out. I could tell the midwife was getting concerned. 

My doula and midwife talked me into turning around, and when I did, August’s head finally emerged. Everything from that point is a blur, and I question the accuracy of what really happened, even though I have replayed it in my mind countless times.

When Things Took a Turn For the Worse

Suddenly, the midwife was telling me I had to stand up. Ha! Yeah right! I told her I couldn’t, but she and the doula pulled me up anyway. After that, the midwife came up behind me and pulled August out by the head. I am unsure what gave her the knowledge that something was off, but I don’t think his head was all the way out when I was in the water.  That caused the midwife to think his shoulder was stuck, which can be an extremely dangerous situation, especially in a home setting. I have gone over and over this moment in my mind, asking questions. What could have been done differently? Was such force necessary? Was his shoulder really stuck? Or was it just panic that his shoulder could be stuck? What caused such panic? Did the midwife save his life? Did she cause more damage than was necessary? I don’t know, and I realize now that it doesn’t really matter.

The first word I remember being said after he was born was a swear word (I don’t remember what it was). I turned around and saw August, completely disconnected from me. His cord had ruptured (a huge red flag that he has vEDS). He was not breathing, and he was unresponsive. We don’t know how long the cord had been ruptured before he was born, and he was without oxygen for however long that was. The midwife started smacking his feet and doing CPR, and 911 was called. This was around 11:00 PM. No one knows the exact minute he was born.

Calm In the Storm

There were so many emotions swirling around. Panic, fear, shock, etc. It was chaos. But the only thing I felt at the time was PEACE. Amazing, right? I felt such unimaginable peace. I knew he was going to be okay without a doubt. That is a miracle to me, and one of the reasons I can look back at this memory with gratitude. I know that there were angels surrounding us, providing peace and comfort and help.

The midwife told me to talk to August, and when I did, he started to respond a little bit. She put him in my arms while she blew oxygen into him, and I talked to him. He was so limp and lifeless. This wasn’t the beautiful moment I envisioned of me holding him for the first time. But still, I had peace. We had a connection, and I knew of his strength and determination. I knew he was going to be okay. The EMT’s showed up, and took him away in the blanket I had chosen for him to be wrapped in the first time.

While the EMT’s were at my house, they asked me if I was okay. I honestly didn’t even know. I was sitting in a pool of blood, the placenta still hadn’t been delivered, and I was definitely in shock. My doula told them I was fine, and I decided I would believe her. She was right. I was totally fine, and strangely this was the easiest recovery I ever had.

Oh, how grateful I am for my doula. Without her, things would have been so different. I can’t thank her enough for her calming influence that night, as well as her help processing the trauma later on. Because even though I felt peace during this scary event, after the birth was different. Every time I would think about August’s birth, I would feel the other emotions that were swirling around me, not the peace. The trauma affected me very deeply, and for a good amount of time it consumed me.

I took a quick shower, and the midwife, doula, and I went to the hospital (Greg had gone in the ambulance with August). August was on a ventilator, and in pretty rough shape. They had considered cooling his brain to protect it from further damage, but he had tested borderline, so they didn’t do it. He was very bruised. It was hard to see my baby in this kind of condition, especially when we didn’t even plan to set foot in the hospital. After visiting August for a little while, I was taken home to get some sleep. I didn’t get much sleep that night, as I relived the birth over and over and over, trying to make sense of it.

The Journey Begins

The next morning, Greg and I cried together, and then he went to the hospital. He called me to say that the nurses were reporting that August’s right arm was completely unresponsive to stimulation, and it wasn’t moving at all. Just as I knew that August was going to be okay the night before, I knew that his arm didn’t count in the definition of ‘okay’. I knew we were in for a long road.

When I got to the hospital, I found that the nurses were right. No movement. Nothing. His arm was paralyzed. We were told that he had a Brachial Plexus Injury, but that it would probably heal on its own. A Brachial Plexus Injury is when the nerves of the brachial plexus (in the neck/shoulder) are stretched and/or torn. This injury is a result of him being pulled out by the head. August’s injury is global, which means it affects his entire arm. We would later discover that two of the nerves were completely torn and the other 3 were a huge jumble of scar tissue. His injury was severe, and it would not get better on its own.

The NICU doctors were saying that August would be in the NICU for about 2 weeks. August had lost a lot of blood and oxygen, and he was in bad shape. He had a blood transfusion, which helped a lot. He wasn’t allowed to eat for 3 days. My full term, 8 lb 9 oz baby was starving!!! When he was finally allowed to eat, the amount was increased slowly, which was so rough for all of us. August wanted more, and I wanted to feed him! It was also so hard to have to ask if I could hold him and only be allowed to hold him for a certain amount of time. Everything about having him in the NICU was just hard. August surprised all the doctors (but not Greg and me), and was released from the NICU after only 8 days.

To make a very long story short, August’s arm did not get better on its own. He has had two surgeries so far. The first one was a nerve graft where they took nerves out of his calves and grafted them in to repair the nerves that had torn. The second surgery was a tendon transfer because his shoulder had dislocated. I am quite sure more surgeries await, one most likely in the next year (when we can meet up with our surgeon in Philadelphia). August’s arm impairment is now moderate/severe. He has fair use of his shoulder, good use of his elbow, and poor use of his wrist and hand.

The effects of the lack of blood/oxygen have also started to show. August has severe apraxia of speech, which means he struggles to motor plan movements of his mouth to form words. He says only a few words functionally at this point. He is incredibly smart, and he understands everything that is going on. He has created his own little sign language to tell us what he needs and wants. August works very hard and has made amazing progress, but still has a very long way to go. I imagine that as he grows, we will continue to find things that he struggles with.

Some Important Lessons

Photo Credit dianeowenphotography.com

August will always be affected by his birth. Every day of his life. It isn’t fair that he has to pay for the decisions and actions of other people. This fact has been hard for me to accept. It has taken me his entire life to be at peace with this. Sometimes I still am not at peace about it. I don’t think it was necessarily part of God’s plan for him to have such a traumatic birth. I think that we are given agency, and there are natural consequences for our choices. It is possible that if he was born in the hospital, his birth would have gone without a hitch. It’s also possible it would have been just as devastating. We can’t really say, and the what ifs and could have, should have, would haves are not worth it. They get you nowhere. I promise. I have done it over and over. I have tortured myself with the questions and beaten myself up more than I can express.

I have dealt with a lot of guilt about my decision to have August at home. I have blamed myself for what happened. And something important I have learned is that blame is toxic. We all want to do it. We want to know who is at fault so they can pay for it. But in the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, and the finger usually can’t only be pointed in one direction. What happened happened. There is no going back. The best thing that can be done is to accept what is and make the most of it. We can find joy in the journey. I know I have been able to find a lot of joy in this very difficult journey with August.

I have forgiven the midwife. But forgiving myself has been the very hardest thing to do.  I feel, however, that I have finally been able to do it for the most part. I think forgiveness is a process, and sometimes I have to go back and do a little more work. The truth is that I made the best decision I could with the knowledge I had. If I had known that Greg had vEDS (and that August had a 50% chance of having it too), I would have never had August at home. If I had had even one complicated birth previously, I would not have had him at home. I am human,  I can’t foresee the future, and I didn’t have the very critical information about vEDS that I have learned since Greg and and half of my children were diagnosed (including August). We all make decisions that may appear to be ‘wrong’. Some have bigger consequences than others.

I recently had a very special experience that has helped me forgive myself more fully and given me a lot of peace about what happened to August. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that I know that August has been compensated for what happened to him. He has been given abilities and strengths that are amazing. Some of it comes from going through hard things, but not all of it. It is a gift from God. August has been given the gifts and tools he needs to make up for it all and then some. He can to still do what he was sent to Earth to do. I know this is true, and it gives me great comfort. August is amazing. He has already touched lives, and I know he will be a powerful influence in many other lives because of the things he has gained from his traumatic birth.

Photo Credit dianeowenphotography.com

I have learned a lot through the experience of being August’s mom. August has taught me about true love. I have learned about healing and forgiveness. My faith has been strengthened, and I have witnessed miracles. They didn’t come in the ways I wanted them to, but they came just the same. August himself is a miracle. He has taught me so many things through his example of determination, perseverance, and patience. I am grateful for the ways I have learned and grown. I am a different person than I was on January 1, 2016 in so many ways.