To share my story I want to start after I left high school. I could go over before that but I feel like where I need to share is when I began my adulthood. At 18 I hadn’t been given much trust, or ability to really get out into the world and learn. I was really naïve when I look back, this isn’t to give an excuse but to share my mindset. I had made a mistake then, I felt deep shame from this mistake. I despised myself and my support system instead of lifting me up they put me down further, they taught me that I shouldn’t ever mess up; it was better to do it right the first time than to make a mistake and fix it. The pressure I felt from that was so overwhelming, I didn’t know how to handle it. I spent the next 2 years unhealthily coping with my shame.
After 2 years I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore so I made some changes to my life. I had been taught about the atonement but from my family I had learned a conflicting message, which was more ingrained in me, when you make a mistake you have to struggle to get forgiveness if you get any at all. Despite how difficult that seemed, I was ready for the task.
When I started making better choices for myself and getting closer to Christ (Love the quote ‘when you choose Christ you choose to change’, I have seen this in my life) I had this vision for my future. For those who aren’t LDS I’ll paint the Mormon fairytale. When we are young we are taught that the perfect marriage for us is to be sealed in the temple, to marry a return missionary and start having babies right away. This is not doctrine of the LDS faith, this is the culture of the people. I think even those from other faiths can relate to something similar to this; there is some sort of expectation that is ideal. For those who do this, it’s wonderful and I am very happy for you. For those who have a civil ceremony then get sealed in the temple later, it’s almost like a secondhand wedding. It’s all usually hush, hush. My friends who have done this, they’re almost ashamed to tell anyone they’re getting married. How unfortunate is that?
I knew when I started dating my husband at the time we would probably get a civil ceremony, there were several factors included in this but I knew this was the man I should marry. I was torn because it meant no temple marriage and he wasn’t a return missionary; I could see the intentions of his heart and that was enough for me.
I had a civil ceremony, I was happy and enjoyed my big day. I knew I would be sealed to my husband a year later (that was tradition if you had a wedding outside of the temple). Only when the year came we wouldn’t be able to get sealed, in fact we still haven’t been sealed 4 years later. The first year I mourned that loss of what I had planned to happen, my expectation. I was upset that my story isn’t the way I had wanted it to be and it was so different than what the ‘fairytale’ should be.
During the first year of our marriage I also had to mourn that I wasn’t going to have children right away. This may seem silly to you but I was taught that one of the greatest blessings of marriage is to have children and be a mother. I still believe that now, but back then I let it define me and what I was doing. I felt lost. My husband did not want to have children until we were sealed in the temple for several reasons which I won’t get into. It took a lot of discussion, prayer, and patience for us to finally have our daughter.
When I was finally pregnant at 18 weeks we were told that there was something wrong with her and if it was what they thought it was, then it was fatal. Those were almost their exact words. I barely finished and hung up the phone when I bawled. We did genetic testing and had no answers. We had to wait until she was born to figure this out. When she came into this world she was completely healthy, the only issue was her arms. Her shoulders were rounded and her arms were straight with bent wrists. She was given the diagnosis Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita in her upper extremities type Amyoplasia.
That whole first year I was always worried about if what I was doing was right for her, I mourned things that would be difficult for her, and if her treatment was good enough. After that I stopped fretting and realized if I stayed in tune with my Heavenly Father then I would know his plan for her. It’s been great, we chose a different place for therapy which has led to meeting some great people and fantastic opportunities for her.
Since then we had another child, my little boy. My daughter P’s type of AMC is not genetic, so my son A was a typical baby. I feel like my challenges now are am I listening to the spirit? Heavenly Father has certain opportunities that he wants me to take and I’ve done the best I can.
I share this with you because if you really take a look at my life and wrote a pro/con list just based upon events then it would appear there has been more negative than positive. You wouldn’t see how much effort my husband puts into building our connection, the confidence I have in myself for knowing I can do hard things, the joy in seeing P accomplish new goals and the cuddles that little A gives me. These are just a few of the small moments that have made a great life. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
I’m sharing this because I wanted those who are working on this to have hope. For those who haven’t begun, know it isn’t too late to start. And for those whose stories are similar– don’t hide.