March 03, 2016

My Story

My story was published today on Design Mom- you can read it here.  Last year I sent her my story in an effort to raise awareness for when I was running for the Face of Accreta.

Gaby told me my story was too long and I never sent her a revised draft.  A few weeks ago she sent me a note saying her editor had cut it down and that it was in queue. 

I flipped over to her blog tonight after watching the Republican debate and was surprised at the amount of comments that has been deleted or edited to remove rudeness.  It seems that my birth story has turned into a bit of a pro-life/pro-choice debate.  

I felt myself defending my choice to keep Ben to a group of strangers.  As I was typing, I KNEW that all I would need to do was invite these women to my house for one afternoon to feel how alive and beautiful and beloved this child is in our home.  Not one person who has met Ben would think I should have aborted him.  

Having eight children is not for everyone. Choosing not to abort a life-threatening pregnancy is not for everyone.  Being a stay-at-home mother is not for everyone. Having cows, chickens, and a horse is not for everyone.  Not everyone feels the same passion for speaking out, blogging, or being involved in the community that I do.

We waste too much time in life trying to live like other people.  

This is MY life.  This is our story.  Todd and I made many choices in life that brought us to the decision to bring Ben into this world.  And we feel BLESSED to have him.  We feel BLESSED to have all of our eight children.  (God grant us the patience to deal with our blessings- ha!)

Yes, physically Ben's birth was VERY hard.  It was hard mentally.  It impacted me, my husband, and our children.  My extended family and friends suffered as I suffered.  Ben is almost three and his difficult birth still affects my life daily.  We moved across the country months after Ben's birth and that is still hard.

It is hard to have a large family.

Sometimes I would give anything to have my health and strength back, anything except my little boy.  He is worth the sacrifices I have made to give him life.

I believe you can't give God a crust without getting a loaf.  I've given God my crusts and He has given me eight of the happiest, kindest, smartest, most helpful, sassy little kids ever.  And, I'm ridiculously in love with my Mary Poppins practically perfect husband.  


I'm not sure I would choose health trials, but they have taught me so much.

No, I'm not a perfect mother.  I'm sure my kids will need therapy later because I'm weird.  They might grow up to have eight kids or they might grow up not wanting children at all.  

They will have to choose.  
You will have to choose.  
And, I chose.

I'm choosing every single day.

Today, I had two little girls home sick, one with the flu and the other with strep.  I had a potty training little boy who agreed with me that it was time for new carpet in the family room.  I had two middle school daughters who were in the High School Musical and two sons who cooked dinner, cleaned up, and carried on a lively dialogue as we watched the Republican debate.  My husband worked late teaching a night class and made me laugh as he barely choked down one sip of the black pepper tea a friend of mine told me to drink.  

I spent too much time and money online and too little time mopping my kitchen floor.

Tomorrow a carpet cleaner is coming and I'm ridiculously excited.  I also agreed to dog sit my friend's giant Doberman puppy (she's up to my waist).  I'm a little nervous.  I feel 80% physically healthy and 80% mentally healthy, and I'm ok with that.  I have great friends and a great family.  

Honestly, if I could change anything about my life, I would be healthier, have a little more money and hire a housekeeper (just until Ben hits kindergarten).  But, I wouldn't wish away one of my children.  I wouldn't wish away the trials of my life.  Because, my greatest gifts came well packaged.  

Thank you for reading my story even as you are writing yours.

Here is a poem I love that I read again tonight...
My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
(Corrie ten Boom)

Here is the comment that my sweet and eloquent Aunt Sandra wrote on the article.  I'm just copying it here because I want to remember it.

One of the great joys of my life is to be Jenifer’s aunt. The openness with which she has used her experiences to educate others on this condition has touched tens of thousands of lives on continents around the world. She has shared her story through her writing and on tv. She and Ben have led blood drives to celebrate this birthday to ‘pay back’ & honor the hundreds of people who saved her life that day. She has done more than our society could ask to help others learn about the risks and the need for early detection of this condition. No one enjoys putting their lives out there in this sort of public forum, least of all a mother who is herself still dealing with intense medical issues while raising 8 ‘sassy’ kids (as she describes them). I am a lefty-liberal pro-choice feminist (whatever any of that means). And I can tell you this vibrant, loving woman embodies the very best of our human instincts for survival. I have had the privilege of hugging young Ben and seeing the sparkle in his eyes. Whatever some of your readers think they might know about Jen and her faith, they can’t come close to understanding how down-to-earth, grounded, and loving an act bringing Ben into this world was, decisions that had to be made and reinforced time and again over months and months. Even as we in her extended family watched her body struggle to regain blood flow and oxygen, we were comforted in the knowledge that she was fighting for her family with every ounce of strength she had. And on those days, I envied her faith, because lacking a religious background myself, I was struggling to find the hope she relied upon. Even if the worst had happened, I would never have second guessed her. Jen’s choice was as legitimate as any other option out there, and she put her life literally on the line for it. Her story tests us so-called feminists. Are you really ‘pro-choice’ or just ‘pro-your-choice’?


Aflyonmyhomeschoolwall said...

Your life is lovely--crazy and hard, but lovely. I'm sorry that there are mean people in the world who criticize you. I'm glad you're strong and brave enough to speak out in defense of your choices and to remind others that they have their own choices.

JoKnows said...

Sounds like you have a full, wonderful life! I read your story and thought you were very brave. And you are so right, it's YOUR life and you make your choices as you see fit. :)

Montserrat Wadsworth said...

Oh Jen, how I love you!

Arthur V. / Gene D. W. said...

Hug's to a lovely mother of little green Ben too!

Amber said...

People just aren't going to understand and it's hardly worth trying to convince anybody of anything -- we all see life through our own lenses and interpret the meanings often very differently. Just do your best, live the way you choose and do the things you want-- and let those who don't understand do the same. Easier said than done. There simply aren't easy answers to complex situations. Hang in there and take care!! :)

Sallie said...

I can't read your story enough, it gives me hope as a mother. It makes me love my sweet babies even more and my faith is more full. Thank you so much for being a face of hope :)

Sallie Ferguson

Brooke said...

I love that poem. I regularly read "The Hiding Place" and have seriously considered the name Cornelia though Steven gags on it.

It's so sad that so many people would argue or find fault with a real-life person's REAL LIFE. But the world is weird. I appreciate your story and your willingness to tell it. "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling next to angels."

Christine suldinger said...

Well said my friend. I wonder though if people dont really understand that you would have needed a hysterectomy even with an abortion. Which made the choice really no choice for me. My little girl is the best blessing I got out of the Accreta and I wouldnt change having her either despite ongoing medical issues. Love the poem too. I need to remind myself a little more often that God has a different perspective then I. I am so glad you made the choice that you did because you became my Accreta hero that way. Trough your blog I found the strenght I needed for my trial. You and your cute little green guy are amazing

Anonymous said...

I just saw this. And then I googled. And maybe I couldn't resist chiming in. I hope you don't mind - you were doing well on your own in that tough crowd. But I can only imagine the bits that were deleted, and it made me feel the need to respond...Love you. Aunt Sandra

Noelia said...

May you be blessed today and always Jenifer.
Thanks to your story I found many things ... Strength, Will to persist and desire to continue choosing my own path. You said yes to Ben, as well as the greatest woman said yes to the biggest Life has come into this world (even if it meant at that time a sentence to be stoned to death). You're amazing, thank you for writing your story and be such an inspiration.
I found your blog looking for information on what is today my case Placenta previa increta.
There is so much uncertainty and you just wonder if there will be someone else who has survived something that that you are about to live.

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