A few months ago I was sitting in Sunday school class listening to the teacher and other friends in my Ward give incredible insight about living a Christ-centered life and trusting in God while keeping our spirits strong and faithful even through the most difficult challenges in our lives. “God will help us through our challenges. Only Christ knows our deepest pains and struggles and He will comfort us, and guide us,” they said. These people were SO convicted. SO faithful and secure in their beliefs. I, on the other hand , having just gone through a most difficult and challenging time in my life, was a feeling a little weary. A little tattered. My faith was feeling a little exhausted and weak. But while I sat there in the presence of these bright spirits and felt my own spirit lift in hope and optimism just being around them, an image came to my mind. It was an image of a race. I saw myself running at some undetermined point in the middle of a race of an unknown distance. I was exerting myself a great deal and feeling somewhat taxed. I contemplated dropping out or at least stopping to walk for a bit. But then to my great relief I looked around and realized I was not alone. I found myself surrounded by a large pack of very strong, very capable and comfortable runners. And we were not loligagging. We were clipping along at somewhat of a break-necking pace. When I realized I was smack dab in the middle of this large pack, the pace at which I was running suddenly felt easier. My body seemed to rejuvenate and the camaraderie of others carried me onward. So it is in life sometimes with our Faith. With our motivation to keep pressing onward. Sometimes we are strong enough to lead or help push the pace near the front, and sometimes we just need to tuck in and draft. And tuck in and draft, we should. We were not meant to do it all alone. God sends others–our friends and family to help lighten the load, to help make it seem easier and possible and to just keep going. Christ works through others to hep buoy us up and carry us onward. And strength does return. Sometimes God gives strength from within yourself and sometimes he sends it through others. He never leaves us alone though. He will always lift us up if we let him.
What a beautiful morning! Crisp air, birds chirping, billions of earthworms splayed out all over the sidewalks. Vibrant green baby grasses stretching their leafy arms, lining the edges of a wet dark muddy trail. Oh, how I love springtime rain. Traveling to school this morning, Abe rode his bike and Bre chose to run with me. I couldn’t help but smile as she gingerly pranced back and forth down the sidewalk letting out Bre-squeals every time she thought she stepped on a worm. As we arrived and Abe locked up his bike, glancing down at the ground he exclaimed, “EWWW GROSS!” and I chuckled at my children’s aversion to our slimy Oligochaeta friends. Are those MY children? I certainly had no aversion to worms when I was their age. On rainy days such as these back in the late 1980′s, I could be found collecting worms in mason jars and building castles for them on our strawberry hill. Sadly, today I didn’t build castles for them. In fact, today I need to ask forgiveness from Queen Oligochaeta for ruthlessly murdering many of her little ones. No doubt, if I had a worm-guts-inspecting microscope I would find on the tread of my running shoes intestinal smudge of no fewer than 24 innocent worms. Many apologies, Mrs. Queen.
At least I got a nice run in! I think it was close to 4 miles. Not sure because I no longer wear a GPS running watch ever since I stopped caring about distance and my watch also decided to stop caring too. The last time I wore that watch was on Thanksgiving Day when it said I ran 14 miles in 59 minutes. Yeah, not so much. It was probably closer to 7. And it felt great! Today’s run felt pretty good too. Better than I have felt in weeks, actually. In fact, it was the first run in weeks when I haven’t had to stop and walk for part of the run or haven’t had that MUST LAY DOWN feeling when I returned home. Anemia will do that to you sometimes. This is my third bout with anemia and its probably the most severe. I don’t remember ever feeling this light-headed and dizzy throughout the day, although as I said in yesterday’s post, I do believe there are many more culprits causing my symptoms besides just low iron.
After I made that “woe is me” post yesterday I started feeling a little sheepish. Its a little intimidating to be that open about personal emotions in such a public place. But this morning on my run I was glad I did it. I feel grateful that I’m finally to a point where I can get things out “on paper” so to speak. I wondered though, if I should do a quick recap of the past couple of years, since I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog for quite some time. I’ll try to give a “Cliff’s Notes” recap.
April 2011-Limped my way to the finish line of the Boston Marathon and continued to limp and have hip/quad pain for the next 6 months.
August 2011-Hip Labral Repair Surgery with Dr. Philippon.
October 2011-Realized there was no way I was going to heal from surgery quickly enough to train for and run the Olympic Trials Marathon in January.
November 2011-Found out we were expecting #4!
December 2011 through April 2012-Severe Morning sickness a.k.a. Hyperemesis gravidarum. I was puking 5X/day many days. Zofran helped a bit but then I had major drug headaches instead. Exercise? Forget about it. Being a fun Mom? Not usually. Cooking? Mostly left to Aaron. Why do people call it “praying to the porcelain goddess” when it is actually more like “groveling at the foot of the porcelain pit?”
July 28, 2012-Kelsie arrived in her own beautiful, frightening way (surprise breech home birth).
August 2012-The eye of the storm. Amazing month of fun and celebration, including Awesome Abe’s Baptism and visits from both sets of parents. Symptoms of Aaron’s ulcerative colitis were coming on quite quickly though and we started to clean up his diet call Doctors and a nutritionist for help.
September and October 2012-Aaron was ravaged by disease. Pain-stricken, bed-ridden, unable to work or be present as a father, he lost 50 lbs in two months and was hospitalized for a week with no real improvement. We tried every diet under the sun indicated for Ulcerative Colitis, nothing helped. He took high doses of steroids and anti-inflammatories which didn’t help either. We cried a lot, prayed a lot, and received a TON of help from family, friends, and neighbors.
October 27, 2012-Aaron’s colon perforated on what will be remembered as the scariest day of our lives. Whisked away in an ambulance at 3 a.m., Aaron was becoming septic quickly. After a very stressful 8 hours of testing and examination amid extreme pain, the Dr. finally found the perforation in a CT scan and Aaron was rushed to the operating room for an emergency colectomy.
November, 2012-Aaron continued to lose weight after surgery, had a stomach pump in for nearly a week, got down below 130 lbs until we finally demanded that he be put on IV nutrition. His body was still not digesting properly even with the dead colon removed. I was driving to the hospital every day, sometimes twice a day to see him, praying we’d see improvement soon. Meanwhile, back at home our oldest, Abe was experiencing severe depression and anxiety as well as major manic episodes that I probably wasn’t dealing with properly. I eventually pulled him out of school for 6 weeks in an attempt to reduce his stress and anxiety. In mid-November the Dr. sent Aaron home from the hospital but that night tortured him with cramping and vomiting complete with him passing out, me calling 911, and sending him back to the hospital as the kids kissed him goodbye from his place on the stretcher. Finally, the week before Thanksgiving Aaron came home to stay. He stayed on IV nutrition and saline for calories and hydration at night and slept in a hospital bed to enable him to stay more upright for a few weeks. Adjustment to the ostomy bag was interesting and challenging. While he was finally no longer losing weight, Aaron’s digestion was still not right and his stomach often cramped after eating. Aaron’s family came to visit for Thanksgiving and entertained our kids all week! My sister and brother-in-law took Abe home with them to Utah for 10 days to give us a breather. On Black Friday, we went to see brilliant Natropath, Doctor Lundell who did blood tests, fecal tests, and muscle testing. Dr. Lundell prescribed the removal of all gluten, dairy, fruit, any form of sugar, oats, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, black pepper, and probably a few more things I am forgetting. Whats left, you ask? Most organic vegetables, grass-fed meats, organic chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconut oil and milk, long-grain rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.
December, 2012-Diet shift. We threw out 99% of the items in our pantry and started over with gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free whole foods. Aaron took charge of the cooking and grocery shopping at first and guided me as I explored how to cook within the parameters of his new diet. It took me longer to adjust to the new diet than it did Aaron, but I got there. Christmas Break 2012 was perfect. Mom came to visit again and we had a lot of chances to reconnect as a family and heal from the trauma. Aaron’s strength was coming back quickly. As Aaron returned as a healthy, stable father in our home, Abe started healing too. Abe and I had been going to psychotherapy every week for a while, which was helping and we also removed sugar from our home, so blood sugar and moods were more constant.
January, 2013-On New Year’s Day Aaron and I did a hike/run to the top of Green Mt. together (12 miles round trip with 2,000ft of climbing). It was nice to be alone together in the wilderness and realize how blessed we were to have Aaron’s health coming back so quickly. Abe returned to school in the new semester and changed into the other 3rd grade class so he could have a fresh start.
February and March 2013-Everyone in the family had bouts of stomach flu and/or upper respiratory infection. Kelsie kept getting sick and had a 10 day stretch of high fever and lethargy that caused some concern. I started to feel extremely exhausted all the time, dizzy, had a couple episodes of what I can only describe as anxiety attacks and started to struggle with mild depression. Finally got my blood tested and boosted my Iron and Vit. D intake. I dislocated my shoulder twice in one week the last week of March which was painful and unpredictable, but its healing now.
As I stop to write it all down, its clear to see that there have been an unusual high number of life storms in our family over the past couple of years. But everyone has storms. And every storm cloud has a silver lining, right? Sometimes I need a little help finding that silver lining. Sometimes I simply need to sit still and look closely. With binoculars. And then I can see that even amid the storms, there were SO many times I felt at complete peace. SO many times I felt God’s love and watchful care. SO many tender mercies when other people showed up to help just when I needed it most. My friends, family, and neighbors were God’s hands. God never left me alone. And there were times when I would be nursing Kelsie in her room with the door closed and savoring the miracle of her life. Feeling in awe of her innocence, peace, and happy spirit. Kelsie was not engulfed in struggle and challenge, she slept, ate, and played with her siblings all day. She was cared for and safe. And that made me feel safe too.
I can’t really explain everything I’ve learned and how I’ve grown through our trials but I’m pretty sure knowledge and understand will come over the years ahead. One obvious benefit is that our diet is much more whole food, GMO-free, and clean than it ever was before. Our appreciation for health is much greater. It was truly miraculous how quickly Aaron started gaining weight and healing after he started eating better. I believe his healing was also a direct result of all the hundreds of loved ones praying and fasting for him.
Its now April and everything is feeling new and fresh in the world. Aaron is strong, working a lot and running every day. Abe is doing well in school and back to his normal happy self. The girls are healthy and happy. Its been 6 days since my Iron IV and I’m already starting to feel my energy levels rising. Amazing things are happening all around. This afternoon I was nursing Kelsie alone in her room and overheard the funniest conversation where my 4.5 year old, Ali was explaining to her friend, “Soon, my Dad is going to get a surgery so we wont be able to see his small intestine poking out into is ostomy bag anymore.” Her friend gently affirmed and happily agreed (as if she had any clue what in the world Ali was talking about!)
Here’s to seeing the silver lining!
Kelsie and I went to visit our midwife a few days ago for our one month postpartum and well baby check-up. Kelsie is weighing in at 10 lbs 2 oz, a pound and a half gain since birth! We keep checking her hips to make sure she doesn’t have hip displasia, something to watch for in babies who were born breech. Thankfully, Kelsie’s hips appear to be fine. After asking me about the usual postpartum Mom and baby stuff my midwife asked me if I had journaled about Kelsie’s birth and if my memory of it was still feeling as intense as it was right after. I told her I had written the story down a few days afterwards but that now a month later, it was already starting to fade in my memory. She asked if I still thought it was the toughest and most intense birthing out of all four of my children and I re-affirmed, it absolutely was. While she was looking at her notes I asked her how long I actually pushed for because WOW that was the longest segment of time in my life. It felt like at least an hour of intense body wrenching and mind numbing pain. But no, not even close. ”Twenty-one minutes,” she said. Just twenty-one minutes.
For the whole last trimester I visualized a perfectly smooth, relatively short labor. Having done this three times before I knew that each birth brought its own unique challenges and I hoped that those challenges would be easier to tackle this fourth time around. I hoped my body would have some muscle memory and be able to complete the task a little faster than usual. I visualized a birth consisting of all of my favorite things from Abe, Breanne, and Ali’s births.
Abe was born in the hospital 12 hours after my water broke, not without some sweat and tears. My nurse-midwife accidentally started the IV of penicillin (required since I was a carrier of group B strep) without any saline to dilute it and it felt like my arm was on fire for a few minutes until Aaron helped her figure out her mistake. Then, after checking me for dilation and recording 5 cm for two hours in a row my nurse-midwife told me I was not progressing quickly enough and she was required by “hospital protocol” to give me pitocin and help keep things moving along. Is the “hospital protocol” to administer pitocin after just two hours at the same dilation really in place for the safety of the mother and baby, or is it to increase delivery room turnover rates, thus increasing hospital profitability? A conversation for another blog….anyway, the pitocin undoubtedly picked things up and a few hours later I was ready to push. I pushed for 90 minutes and Abe came out cone-headed, but happy. I didn’t tear much, was up walking around within the hour after birth, and went home the next day. Yes, there were some less than ideal events imposed by “hospital protocol” but in the end it was a pretty great first birth. I mean, I walked out the door the next day with a healthy, 8 lb 10 oz boy, what else could I ask for?
My second birth experience was an improvement from the first. I opted for a homebirth and found a great midwife to support me. We avoided the 20 week ultrasound where they scare you with, “Your baby may have this condition or that complication, but we wont know unless we do further testing,” we didn’t test for group B strep either which meant I had no IV burning up my arm during labor, my midwife checked the baby’s heart rate intermittently throughout labor and I didn’t have to have big strap around my bellie for constant monitoring, also no pressure to perform, rules about how quickly I had to dilate, or threat of pitocin. Just Aaron, our midwives, and me enjoying the freedom of “Kennard home protocol.” Labor moved along quickly and smoothly, just 5 hours from start to finish and only a few minutes of push time. Abe, who was 20 months old at the time slept through the whole thing while we labored just down the hall in the master bedroom. He even slept through my very LOUD pushing at the end and didn’t wake up until two hours later, when we came to our bedroom to find a new baby sister. Beautiful.
Ali’s birth was similar to Breanne’s. Same primary midwife, same bedroom, same peace and freedom. Labor came on slowly throughout the day and it was really only a few hours of hard work near the end. The midwives left Aaron and I alone in our bedroom for most of the time so we could labor alone together. The kids were playing at our friend’s house and were brought back home to meet their new baby sister just minutes after she was born. Three times within four years I was blessed with healthy, happy, peaceful birthing, and I thanked God many times.
My “perfect ideal” for this fourth birth would have been to go into labor after we tucked the kids into bed and then have the baby before they woke up. No complications, no stress–just a seamless addition of a new family member. Was I asking too much? Maybe. But I certainly wouldn’t get it unless I asked for it, right? And I certainly wouln’t have a super amazing perfect experience unless I visualized it. So visualize, I did.
I strongly believe in the power of our minds. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” “What you think about most of the time is what you’ll get.” Things like that. So I saw a perfect healthy baby and a quick, pleasant birth. I believed it would happen and things were lining up for it to happen. At my final prenatal visit, my midwife felt the baby’s position and was quite sure baby was head down and ready to rock and roll. I had already started feeling some “pre-labor” symptoms that I recognized from before so I told my midwife I thought the birth would be that week. At no point in my mental preparation or in the prenatal visits did we foresee a surprise breech detour but I do believe that God sends us on detours in life maybe so we can experience something new or empowering, or learn something profound. Maybe just so that we can learn to adapt. Most certainly so that we can grow.
Twenty-one minutes. Twenty-one minutes is probably about how long it took me to run my first 5K back in high school. Ready, set, GO! La-di-da…up this hill, down that one…oh there’s the finish line, I think I’ll sprint now…and its over. I’m a little tired but oh, that was fun. This twenty-one minutes, the final twenty-one minutes before I met my fourth child was much much different. Exciting, yes but not super fun and definitely not easy.
My water had broken 12 hours earlier and labor slowly progressed all night. For the first time in months, Abe woke up in the middle of the night and came upstairs to find me leaning at the kitchen table moaning through a contraction. He quietly observed me for a few minutes and I told him he was going to meet his new sibling that day. He was happy and wanted to be nearby so he rested on the couch for an hour or so until Aaron put him back to sleep in our bed, promising we’d wake him up when the baby came. Morning came and all three kids were awake and excited that I was in labor. Our friend, Michelle came to pick them up and we told them we’d call them as soon as there was any news. The next few hours passed by without much event. Some tears and complaining provided by me (after all, I wasn’t getting that quick labor I had envisioned.) A lot of positive affirmations and lower back counter pressure so thoughtfully provided by Aaron. I was pretty tired from being up all night, but birthing doesn’t provide much opportunity for rest. Birthing provides opportunity for work. And let me tell you, that final twenty-one minutes was work.
After being told my baby was in the frank breech position and wondering HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO PUSH THE HEAD OUT LAST!? There was a minute in there where I found myself “hitting the wall” in absolute desperation, sobbing and screaming “I need to go to the hospital! Lets go to the hospital! They’ll get this baby out now!” at which point one midwife shoved a spoonfull of honey in my mouth and the other midwife calmly explained, “Nan, you are fully dilated and this baby is COMING. Trust me, it is much safer to deliver a breech baby right here at home than it would be in the car on the way to the hospital.” She was right. At that point it was illogical to attempt getting in the car and driving to the hospital; time didn’t allow us the option. Besides, my midwife knew what to do. She had caught no less than seven surprise breech babies before mine and everything was fine. As those thoughts went through my mind and the energy from the honey infused into my muscles and brain, my logic returned, I got my “second wind,” stopped complaining, put my head down, and got to work. I visualized myself laying on the bed with a healthy, alert baby on my chest. I knew I’d be in that spot soon.
For the record, pushing out a breech baby was much different than pushing out a vertex baby. It felt like two steps forward, one step back with each push. Or like I was in the final mile of a marathon where the race official announced “Attention Nan Kennard! YOU get to run an extra loop today! Please turn here, this will be your route to the finish line.” While that slippery little bum ever so slightly inched its way out I knew the finish line was near, just not exactly HOW near or what kind of finishing kick I would have to lay down in order to reach it. Thankfully I had Aaron and two awesome midwifes patiently urging me onward. Wow, I could not have done that without them. In fact, I think my support team was even more than just Aaron and the midwives. There were moments when I felt strength beyond myself. Strength from God.
When Kelsie’s legs popped out it felt like a catapult sling-shot right below me. The midwives quickly helped me turn from my position on my hands and knees to an upright position sitting on the birthing stool. As her body came out, Kelsie’s arms had stretched up around her head so my midwife had to reach in and pull the arms and shoulders out one at a time. In case you’re wondering, yes that hurts. Once the arms were out, one midwife began fisting me in the abdomen with all her might to put pressure on the top of Kelsie’s head while the other midwife gently pulled on Kelsies chin to pull her head down into a more favorable position. They both told me to push like I’d never pushed before and what felt like minutes but must have only been seconds later, Kelsie was there! It was just 90 seconds between when her bum came to when her head came. The goal with breech birth is to get the head out no more than 5 minutes after the first part of the body. If it goes beyond that 5 minute window and the head has still not been birthed, the baby may have trauma. Kelsie only took 90 seconds, thank goodness!
They put her on my chest and I rubbed her body to stimulate her to breathe. Even though she had not opened her eyes or taken her first breath I could feel that she was there. Life was in her. Her heart was beating and she was still getting oxygen from the umbilical cord, but still no breath. Moments later the midwives had her on the floor pumping air into her lungs while Aaron and I pleaded with God and Kelsie to please breathe! It couldn’t have been more than twenty seconds but felt like an eternity before she took that first good breath and let out a heart-warming wail. That first cry was the most welcome baby cry I had ever heard. She let out a few more little wimpers and opened her eyes big and bright, then she was placed back on my chest and we just stared at each other for a good five minutes. So happy to finally meet each other.
Ahhhhh…..it was finally over. That was the most I had ever yearned for a finish line in my entire life. And what a perfect finish line it was. An 8lb 9 oz, 21 inch long, 15 inch head amazing little baby girl. Apparently a 15 inch head circumference is off the charts, above 100th percentile, whatever that means. Miracle, is what it means to me. We witnessed a miracle to see the biggest part of her body come out last, just 90 seconds after of the rest of her body. Because it could have turned out a lot differently. I’m grateful for two brilliant midwives who knew exactly what to do. I’m grateful that midwives are still trained in breech delivery in a day and age when Doctors are no longer taught that art. Doctors are taught to attempt to turn breech babies and if they cant turn them, cut the woman open. I’m grateful that the midwives, Aaron, Kelsie, and I were all no doubt watched over and assisted by guardian angels. Grateful that what could have been a complicated, risky detour turned out safe, healthy, and happy. Had we decided to jump in the car and go to the hospital in that moment when I was frantically yearning to, we could have had a much scarier scenario. We may have been resuscitating Kelsie on the floor of the car or on the hospital lobby floor. Or maybe we would have made it in time and I most certainly would have been rushed directly to the OR for a Cecarian moments before I could have pushed her out anyway. So yes, I’m grateful things went the way they did.
Now five weeks later, I look at Kelsie with amazement. Her entrance into this world was quite an exciting adventure and I’m sure she’ll continue her life as such. Abe, Breanne, and Ali absolutely adore her and can’t stop touching, kissing, and holding her. We have what feels like a BIG family now with four awesome kids. Yes, its busy and crazy and hectic at times but also fun and loving and abundant. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Life is truly amazing.
On Sunday afternoon I spoke to my Grandma Morgan for the last time. Mom held the phone to her ear as I told her how much I love her and what a positive influence she has been on my life. I told her to give Grandpa Morgan a big hug for me when she got to the other side. Thirty minutes later, Grandma passed away. She was 88 years old. My Grandpa Morgan preceded Grandma in death by nearly 30 years. I can’t even begin to count the hundreds of times throughout the years Grandma has expressed her loneliness and desire to see Bob again. When my brother, David called to tell me Grandma had passed away my eyes swelled with tears as I imagined the joyous reunion between Grandma and Grandpa taking place at that very moment.
I was eleven months old when my Grandfather died and Grandma said I was always so cuddly and willing to hug her as long as she needed while she was mourning his loss. She became a widow so young, still in her 50s. All those hugs to Grandma when I was an infant must have bonded me to her because I have always felt a closeness to her. Grandma was a big part of our lives growing up. She lived close to us and watched us when Mom was in the hospital, requiring that we all work hard to clean the house before Mom got home. She also took us out for ice cream on special occasions, helped us can peaches, pears, jam, and applesauce in the Fall, took us on fun outings, supported us in school choir concerts or sporting events, and began feeling like an immediate member of our family. Grandma more often than not joined in on Sunday dinner gatherings, campfire dinners in Mueller Park canyon, water skiing at Pineview Reservoir, camping in Yellowstone, and of course visiting Brigham City for “Peach Days” and stopping by to visit Grandpa Morgan’s grave afterwards. Even after I went to BYU, Grandma came with my parents to the NCAA Championships in Furman, SC to cheer our team on to first place.
Dave, Grandma and I going on the Heber Creeper train through Provo Canyon in, I’m guessing 1992.
Gramdma not only supported us by being there, she was a wise counselor, a friend and listening ear, and someone to laugh with. She taught us by example how to work hard, save our money, serve selflessly, listen compassionately, follow through with our commitments, laugh, and enjoy life. She always used to tell me a phrase that she and Grandpa Morgan wholeheartedly believe, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, its how many times you get up and try again that count.” She exhibited perseverance and faith in everything she did. She was generous and enjoyed treating people to nice things and fun memories. I often remember she and Mom bickering about who was to pay the bill for dinner at a restaurant for special occasions and Grandma always won. Grandma was a joy to have around. I never once remember being bothered by her or having disagreements with her. She was easy to love and fun to spend time with. Without stepping on toes and only when appropriate, she humbly offered sound advice and faith-filled experiences. She and my Dad had a great relationship and Dad said he lucked out to get the best mother-in-law there was. I suspect she and Dad have had the chance to reunite since Sunday as well.
Grandma lived a full and wonderful life and as much as I know I will miss her, I am grateful that she is relieved from her pain and infirmities and has passed on to the next phase. I am grateful for her influence in my life and I will do everything I can to tell my children about her and teach them the lessons she taught me. When Aaron and I went to visit Grandma in July she told us what a blessing my Mom has been to her. Mom has been Grandma’s greatest help and support through the past many years and especially as she required more help the past year. She was there for Grandma to help her through the last few months of frustrating memory loss, more and more dependence on others, moving into assisted living, selling her car and home, falling and having to recover from falls, requiring a walker and sometimes a wheelchair, and most importantly, needing a friend to be there and support her through life’s challenges and changes as she closed out the final chapter of her life. After Grandma fell one last time on Saturday night, Mom stayed with her all night to make sure she was comfortable and safe. Later on Sunday, Mom, Uncle John, Aunt Carma, and my brother Dave were there with Grandma as she took her last breath and they said it was very peaceful and serene as Grandma was received by loving arms back into the presence of those who have passed on before. I am looking forward to flying to Utah on Friday to celebrate her life with our family and remember together what a wonderful woman she is and how lucky we are to have been touched by her. God be with you ’till w meet agin, Grandma! We love you!
Three pregnancies and births, six moves, 21 days of homeless camping and living out of our car, hundreds of poopy diaper changes, miles and miles of running together and supporting each other in races, thousands of road trip miles, tens of thousands of tears shed, a thousand MORE smiles shared, hundreds of thousands of dollars of business debt and subsequent payoff, hundreds of temper tantrums, millions of hugs, kisses and snuggles with kids, innumerable moments of pure gratitude, 3,285 days of waking up next to each other and I love him even more every day.
Its hard to believe that nine years have passed and we’ve almost spent a third of our lives together. Back in March, 2002 after spending all of seven weeks getting to know each other, Aaron posed the question, “Do you know where this could go?” I smiled and in a moment of boldness and confidence replied something to the effect of, “Yeah, we could get married.” Nine weeks later, there we were kneeling across the altar. While I don’t believe four months from first acquaintance to marriage is right for everyone, I have no regrets and have enjoyed (nearly) every minute of it. I’m not gonna lie, a great marriage doesn’t come without its struggles and set-backs but as we’ve seen those through, its been pretty darn amazing.
I knew very soon after I met Aaron that I wanted to spend the rest of my life and eternity with him. The same attributes that I fell in love with nine years ago are still making me smile today. Probably the first thing I realized I loved about Aaron when I first met him was his optimism and carefree attitude about life. He has such hope and faith in the act of living an abundant life. He knows how to bring joy and positive outlook to any dreary day. His idealism balances out my realism and lifts me to a higher plane. He enables and inspires me to dream big and make bold moves. I love (though sometimes I pretend to be stubbornly unamused by) his endless sarcasm and fun jesting. He keeps it light and fun and disarms me when I get too serious.
Another favorite aspect of Aaron’s character that I’ve appreciated through the years is his persistence. I know I’ve tested his patience on many occasions with my doubts or concerns in our endeavors but he has always been gentle and kind in hearing me out and helping me address whatever mental struggle I’m going through. He is my Yoda. Not every woman can say they have their own personal life Coach and guidance counselor available any day at any time of day, but I can. And he’s not just any random counselor, he is a brilliant, God-loving, faith-guided, wise, loving husband who always keeps my best interest at heart and genuinely wants the best for me, our marriage, and our family. What can I say? I am one lucky girl.
Not only is Aaron a great husband, he is a fabulous father too. One day I caught him cuddled up in the hammock in the back yard with all three of our kids heaped upon him. He was telling them all about his Mom who passed away before they were born and my Dad who passed away a few years ago and how they are looking down upon us and hoping we make good decisions and live good lives. He was teaching them about eternal families and what a wonderful blessing it is that we get to be together forever. It warmed my heart and brought a huge smile to my face knowing that our children are being guided by such a gentle, wise, loving man. Just the other day Abe was telling me about his conversation with Aaron as they were jumping on the trampoline earlier that morning; “Daddy doesn’t really want to work…he’d rather play with us all day.” How lucky our kids are to have a Father (really a kid at heart) who genuinely wants to be an integral part of their daily lives and make memories with them as he teaches and guides them.
Its been an adventurous, amazing nine years. I’m SO grateful I get to grow old with you and enjoy many more amazing years together. Lets keep making it great! I love you, Aaron!
Usually when an uncomfortable, inconvenient mishap occurs in my life my immediate reaction is to feel discouraged and upset. Then I take a step back and remember that every time these things happen they lead to growth, gained wisdom, and eventual blessings. From my experience, whenever God is preparing me to receive something amazing he first tests my faith with a challenge. Maybe he’s testing me to see if I am ready to receive the gift he has in mind or maybe its simply to help me feel even more grateful as I feel the stark contrast between less than ideal circumstances and amazing vistas. ”Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6
Our BYU Cross Country team indubitably experienced this phenomenon right before the 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. We were favored to win the NCAAs that year and we looked stronger than ever in the Mountain Region meet a few weeks before NCAAs. Shorty after the Region meet our top runner, Misa suddenly started unraveling and was not feeling good mentally or physically going into NCAAs. Maybe she was over-training or had just been going too hard for too long and needed a break. Whatever the reason, we were all a little worried. Everyone was trying to talk her back into feeling confident while praying that she could pull it back together for one last great race at the NCAAs and hopefully lead our team to the win. A few days before the race, we departed SLC for Greenville with a layover in Atlanta. As chance would have it, just as we landed in Atlanta there was a security breech in the Atlanta airport and all flights out were cancelled. We sat in the Altlanta airport for a few hours while Coach tried in vain to get someone to give us our checked bags off the plane so we could drive to Greenville. Finally accepting the fact that our bags were stuck there we got a few rental cars and drove the remaining 3 hours to Greenville, arriving at our hotel after midnight on Friday night before the Monday race.
After checking into the hotel a few of us went to our trainer, Kevin’s hotel room door with cups so he could share his saline solution with those of us who wore contacts and had put our contact lens cases in our checked bags, which were stuck in Atlanta. In our team meeting the next morning we all proudly affirmed that we had heeded Coach Shane’s incessant promptings to carry-on our racing spikes and uniforms in case something like this happened. Our training shoes and running clothes on the other hand…well, those were in our checked bags still in Atlanta. Only a few of my teammates had the foresight to wear their running shoes on the plane. The majority of us, myself included chose sandals. ’Cmon, we were going to the South after all. Its so WARM there.
We were all a little worried that we would not get our running shoes and clothes in time to run the course and do some strides to loosen up our travel legs. Coach may have been slightly upset with us for not being fully prepared for this exact circumstance. It was stressful and Coach Shane spent a lot of time on the phone talking to the airline and airport personnel. Finally around 4 or 5 PM on Saturday, our bags arrived in Greenville and we went straight to the course to loosen our legs. Misa was still feeling flat and unexcited to race but the rest of us were just grateful to have our shoes and clothes and looking forward to our Sunday rest day before the race on Monday morning.
On Sunday we all went to Church together and had a restful day concluded by a team devotional. Our team captain, Tara read “The Little Engine That Could” and we shared our thoughts about the impending race. Coach Shane reminded us to trust in ourselves, in each other, in our training, and in the Lord to help us do our best. Our words of faith and encouragement to each other brought the light and excitement back into Misa’s eyes and we all felt happy and grateful for the peace in the room. It was one of the most powerful devotionals I had ever been a part of. As we ended with a group prayer, we all felt unified and close. We were so aware and tuned into our friendship and trust in each other that it didn’t even matter what the outcome of the race would be because we all knew we were each going to give our best for each other.
The next morning as the NCAA Championships got underway we toed the line together with great excitement and confidence gained from the night before. The gun went off and after a fast first quarter mile the course took a sharp turn to the right and one of my teammates Sarah, who was running a few spots ahead of me stumbled and was pushed flat on the ground. My teammate Amy and I saw it happen and said, “Sarah! Trust!” as we went by. Sarah quickly jumped back up, only losing a few seconds. I had been the 6th runner for our team all season and Sarah had consistently been 4th or 5th. As she got back into her groove, I was impressed by her toughness and tried to draw strength from her tenacity. Misa, Jessie, Tara, Lindsey, Sarah, Myself, and Amy all gave our BEST that day and finished remarkably well, securing 1st place by a margin of 86 points.
For me, the moral of that story is to have faith and know that struggle and discomfort is given to us to test our faith and patience. This week I have have been struggling with some discomfort and nerves. After coming off a great run in the 15K championships and then heading straight into two big training weeks with lots of quality interval work, I felt GREAT and my fitness continued to improve. As any runner knows, its a fine line between training optimally and over-training and I may have taken a step or two over the line. By the end of those two solid weeks, I had a sudden outcropping of problems in my left leg. You name it, its tight…glut/hip/hamstring/calf/plantar facia….all tight. After taking Sunday off (as usual) and trying to work out the tightness with ART, massage, and ice while continuing to run, I found myself limping through the last set Tuesday’s workout. I stopped, told Coach I was finished, and jogged back to my car. Coach D and the rest of the team returned a few minutes later and Coach, Aaron, and I made a plan for recovery which included pool running, swimming, elliptical, whatever I could do to keep moving while allowing the pains in my left leg to recover. Three therapy sessions and three days of cross training later, the problems subsided and I decided to run part of the workout on Saturday. It felt okay but I could tell my plantar facia was still not happy. Sunday morning just getting around the house was a limpathon and I have since resolved to stick to cross training as long as needed until everything feels really good. While it is definitely a ”less than ideal circumstance” to be struggling with pain two weeks from Boston, I also recognize that a little extra rest during my taper may be a blessing in disguise. I know that my fitness is great and I have prepared well for this marathon. ”The hay is in the barn,” so to speak. Now its time to rest, recover, and work out the niggles before the big day.
I had the pleasure of listening to LDS General Conference for a combined 8 hours on Saturday on Sunday and was strengthened by the messages I heard. Aaron’s former Mission President, Elder Kent Richards gave a fabulous discourse on Pain. He said, “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education; to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation that we gain the education that we have come here to acquire. Pain brings you to a humily that allows you to ponder.” So here I am, pondering. Taking note of the things I could do differently next time to avoid this same circumstance. Praying that I can overcome this trial. Pleading with God for a speedy recovery so that I will be able to give one last gutsy effort of this season in Boston. I am mentally ready and physically fit and I have faith that my body will cooperate.
For more uplifting encouragement, I also enjoyed a Sunday morning talk by Elder Paul V. Johnson as he spoke about overcoming trials and tribulations.
My week in training:
Monday- 8 miles with strides
Tuesday – 10 miles with 4 miles of intervals
Wednesday – 60 minutes of pool running
Thursday – 45 minutes of pool running
Friday – 60 minutes of pool running, a half mile of running, and a 30 minute bike ride with Bre in the toddler seat (so fun).
Saturday -12.5 miles with 4 miles at MP