So, maybe He wasn’t trying to kill me after all…

When I was 27 years old I was fairly certain God was trying to kill me.

I was reminded of this upon recently reading about an old acquaintance’s plans to adopt a baby after two birth children, but not perhaps as you might initially be thinking as you read this account of the hardest season in my married life — a season that lasted, oh, about five years.

Reading the adoption-plan story also made me consider my standard response to the numerous people who ask me whether or not my husband and I are having more children.  For a canned response, perhaps it falls under the category of “TMI”, but it encapsulates my thoughts on the subject,  “Well, we’re not planning on it, but we’ve done nothing permanent to prevent pregnancy, nor will we do anything permanent, and two of our five were conceived when we weren’t ‘planning on it’, so you never know what God has in mind.”

Back to when I was 27:  I had a one-year-old boy and my oldest son was three.  My second son had been a surprise:  I had decided, after one, that one was more than enough, and I privately extended grace to all the mothers of “only children” over whom I had stood in judgment.  I also — seriously — asked the Father for forgiveness for my wrong attitude, rooted in abject ignorance, over how difficult mothering is, and how one child can truly feel like plenty — very fulfilling.   So, there I was with my two boys, and daily, I felt like I was barely, barely, barely keeping my nose above water.  Literally, every day, I felt like I was drowning, only to just survive another day.

Then, I found out that I was pregnant again.

I remember laying on my back on the floor of the family room one night, early in the pregnancy, after everyone else — including my husband — had gone to bed.  I was weeping, laying it all out there before God, in ugly and brutal and heartbroken honesty.  I told him that I was sorry I didn’t want the pregnancy, sorry that I was having great difficulty accepting His choice for me, sorry that I was even having those thoughts, and so on…  I had to lay there  — a position of my choice, being entirely vulnerable, before Him —  and in all seriousness, confess to Him that if He was intending for this to literally kill me, that He was going to have to help me trust Him on that, too.  It was just… too far beyond me to consider that this pregnancy, and the resulting baby, could be for my benefit at all.  So, I considered that maybe that God wanted that baby’s life so dearly, for such a specific and important purpose, that He would need to sacrifice mine in order to bring that little one into existence.  I’m not being melodramatic.  I was completely serious, and that was the best I could come up with:  That the baby needed to be alive, even if it killed me.  Even if God killed me.  “Though [You] slay me, yet will I trust in [You]…” reverberated in my mind, alternated with, “Lord, I believe;  help my unbelief!

I didn’t tell anyone for several weeks.  Because of my emotional state, and physically, too, I felt like crap on several different levels, and I just didn’t want to confront both the slack-jawed, wide-eyed, “Pregnant??  Again???” and its polar opposite, the squealy, jumping-up-and-down, “Oh, that’s so wonderful!!!” reactions.

I should tell my Aunt Gloria more often how her letter to me, upon hearing that I was pregnant and not too pleased about it (I’m not even certain how she came to know of my discomfiture with the pregnancy) pretty much saved my sanity.  Aunt Gloria, a devout Catholic and mother of five wrote a card which spilled out onto a letter, all of it affirming me as a mother and encouraging me to trust the Father’s plans for my life.  I read that letter multiple times daily for the length of the pregnancy.

It is AMAZING how the simple message of, “You can do it.  God will help you” can transform one’s thoughts and attitudes and feelings.

Things didn’t improve after Wesley’s birth, though.  Those were truly dark days in my memory.  They were awful.  I was physically ill and mentally… I don’t know if “unstable” is accurate, but I truly felt as if I were coming unglued.  I’d already been diagnosed with “mild to moderate” depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and a few other physical difficulties, most of them chronic… and I was mothering an extremely sickly newborn, a 2yo, and a 4yo, all of whom needed me, not to mention my long-suffering husband.  I’m not sure what he thought of me.  There were times where he’d come home from work, ask me what was for dinner, and I would literally melt on the floor of the kitchen, a puddle of sobbing tears.  I didn’t know what was for dinner.  I couldn’t get my thoughts in order enough to figure it out, nor could I get myself… sorted enough whilst mothering three small children to make dinner, even if I could figure out a menu.  And I felt like a TOTAL FAILURE for it.  He’d walk over to the pantry, pull it open, and peruse.  “Let’s see.  We have taco shells and refried beans.  Do we have any ground beef?  Or some chicken breasts?  Yes?  OK.  Why don’t you make tacos.”  And he’d pull me to my feet, scoop up the boys and go hang out in another part of the house while I dried my eyes and set to work.

When Wesley, my third son, was 14 months, he was diagnosed with celiac disease.  It’s really a long story, both his diagnosis, and how it led to my own.  It turned out that celiac disease was the hub of the wheel from which radiated various aspects of my ill health.

Looking back, after I had healed dramatically and quickly from multiple, serious health issues, I really felt that I had been hurtling down the path to schizophrenia.  I do not say that lightly.  I have read a number of the descriptions of schizophrenia, and I either fit the bill to a “T”, or I was rapidly descending in that direction.  Although there is still more research needed on the exact connection between celiac disease and schizophrenia, multiple medical studies have also shown that there is a distinct connection between the two disorders, and that a subset of schizophrenics (not ALL of them, mind you), heal completely enough on a gluten-free diet to bring them to a “drastic reduction” or even a full remission of schizophrenic symptoms.

Now, this is purely speculation on my part;  I was never diagnosed as a schizophrenic…  But for this and the celiac-diagnosis part, I truly feel like my precious third son, whom I would not have chosen for myself, saved my life.  More exactly, God saw my need (the need for a diagnosis, the need for health, and the need for my tender and wonderful Wesley) and filled the need in that pregnancy and birth.  He is wiser than I am, for certain.  And, what really… slammed me — like a speeder into a brick wall — about the whole thing was that the very event that I literally thought would be my demise was the vehicle that God had intended for my wholeness.

So, how does this tie into the adoption story?

Now, PLEASE DON’T GET ME WRONG:  I am all in favor of adoption.  I feel that the heart of God harbors particular and special blessing for those who choose to graft into their family tree a child who otherwise would have no home.  There is absolute beauty in adoption.

But, the particular story I read mentioned surgery that would make pregnancy nigh impossible, and that the parents had felt they were “done” after two children.  That part, for all the reasons listed above, made me cry.  Like, weep.  And, I’ve been near tears for the last 24 hours or so, reflecting on this, translated to my own life.  WHAT IF MY HUSBAND AND I WOULD HAVE MADE THE SAME DECISION AFTER OUR TWO???  It would have seemed reasonable, wouldn’t it have?  I already had two children, and I was in poor health, mentally and physically.

When I had those three boys:  newborn, two, and four, slipping downward in just about every way, was it possible — even remotely possible — for me to see myself restored to health and even wanting MORE children????  Not at all.  Not even a sliver of a chance.  There was NO WAY that I saw what God had in store for me, no way I would have believed it, had He allowed me to glimpse it, even.

I’m not tossing stones at the above-mentioned family.  It could be that the plan of God for them — not to mention the child whom they’ll adopt — depended on Him bringing them through the process He did, resulting in a family of both birth children and those adopted.  But, just reading the story reaffirmed to me my commitment to NOT do anything permanent to prohibit pregnancy.  Doing so… seems too much like me, in my foolishness, trying to make the decisions that God, in His all-seeing, all-knowing, all-understanding, outside-my-timeline wisdom, is trying to make on my behalf.

Now, of course, that whole thought might open the can of worms/blessing (depending on your perspective) of being “quiverfull“.  Just to let you know, my husband and I have lightly discussed that perspective on a few different occasions, and we have decided that such is not the route to which God has called us.  AND — please let me strongly state — that I feel and think that being in peaceful harmony and agreement with my husband on a topic on which our salvation does NOT rest, is more important than the dogma in question.  I think I could probably easily be talked into being QF.  But, that’s not the road our family is taking, not the way my dear husband feels led, and I’m not the least bitter or even questioning about it.  I’m at peace with that.


That was a long post, and I’m not quite sure how to wrap it up tidily.  Suffice it to say that I’m pleased — more pleased than ever — to trust the trajectory of my life to God my Father, who knows way more than I ever will, and who cares for me infinitely more tenderly than I can comprehend.  And I thank Him very much for all five of my children:  Ethan, Grant, Wesley, Audrey, and Fiala, each a grand gift from His gracious hand to our family.

Dear Wesley, God's plan for our family

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 6, 2011, in Babies, Celiac Disease, Character Development, Christian Living, Christianity, Encouragement, Extended Family, Family, gluten-free, God/Christianity/Church, Health, Introspective Musings, Medical Stuff, Memories, Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy, Sad Things, The Dear Hubby, The Kids and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Karen, some of your blog posts give me SO much insight into who you are. I guess I was too young, too immature and totally in my own (trouble) teenage world, but I had no idea you went through such tumultuous obstacles.

    It’s immensely encouraging to know you overcame them.

    ~ Cassie

    • Ha! It’s immensely encouraging to me, too, to know I overcame them!! (“with the blood of the Lamb, and the word of His testimony”, right? Or something like that.)

      Most people didn’t know what I was struggling with. Maybe Nancy and Martin only. Part of it was I was ashamed at how poorly I was handling life, and part of it was that I literally just didn’t KNOW how poorly I was doing, until after I was healthy. From retrospect, I can say, “Damn. That was awful.” But during it? It was just life.

  2. Karen,
    I can totally relate to you. I also had three boys very close together, and I can remember those days of just sitting there wondering how I got into this mess! And, would God really please save me?!?! But, as I look back a decade ago, I’m glad He did what he did. Sometimes he uses our children to bring us closer to Him. And, in your case, you received some stately health care that saved your life! Thank you for sharing! More women need to know that they are not alone in the adventure of motherhood!!

  3. Girl, aside from the Celiac thing, maybe I could have written this post. I so remember being completely overwhelmed and scared when I saw that fourth pregnancy test and looked at my little babies. I couldn’t even tell Gana that I was pregnant for several days until I sorted it out.

    We worked through that, but my sixth pregnancy…..whew. So much spiritual warfare (I recognize in retrospect) was going on, but in that moment, I just felt like I had lost my mind and soul. There were times that I did consider checking myself into some sort of mental hospital or something. (There is mental illness in my family, so I thought perhaps something was wrong with me.) I know what it feels like to feel like you are actually drowning, to be so overwhelmed that you can hardly get out of bed. There was this dark cloud around me that I just couldn’t shake no matter how hard I tried or how hard I prayed. I walked in a fog for months.

    I remember that towards the end of that pregnancy God spoke so clearly that with the birth of this baby He wuold restore my joy. I held onto that word like it was my life-line. My sanity depended on it.

    The minute Saraa was born, that oppression or depression or whatever lifted. And my husband and I both laughed. And it has never been that way since.

    So, interesting, the walk of faith and having babies.

    Your post brings to mind the Scripture about a woman being saved in childbearing. Your Wesley really did save you. God is so amazing.

  4. Wow, what a moving post. Makes me want to a) go back in time to 27-yr-old you and help you cook some dinners and change some babies and b) praise God for bringing you through so beautifully. tx for sharing.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Karen. Very encouraging. There were definitely times when we had the girls when “drowning” was absolutely the feeling. I still haven’t come around to see the other side of that situation yet–not sure if I ever will–but this post is certainly encouraging to lead back and trust God to carry us down the path of His fulfilling will.


  6. Thanks for this post. I think that as moms there are moments when it feels so overwhelming. I had a dark period after my 2nd was born and it was hard to understand why I had to go through that. I am glad I persevered and he is a big blessing in my life. I now have 3 and I love it!

  7. This post is a symphony of healing. I love it!

  8. Wow! I stumbled across your blog while searching Ore Ida tater see if they were gf. I’ve nosed around quite a bit and read a bit more, and am amazed. I was amused by our similarities with the celiac, reading and even our curriculum choices, but when I read this, it was as if I could have written the post. God has set me free from so much and the journey through was very very difficult. I give God the absolute glory, but the reality of being undiagnosed during that time resonates with me. I want to know more about this mental health connection and celiac and will research. As if I didn’t have enough to say about celiac before this! Blessings!

    • Dawn, I’m happy you visited, and love your comment. It’s pretty amazing that, going through all of this, I felt really alone… but so many of us celiacs have similar stories!! 🙂 YES. HUGE connection between CD and mental health. Some docs even say that depression is the most common symptom in celiacs. As I understand it, the same peptide that triggers a self-destruct response in the small intestine bonds to neurons in the brain and acts as an opiate, slowing down message.

  9. Karen, This is probably the best post I have ever read of yours. Most likely due to it being so transparent and real about what mothers feel like with what we go through. I can relate to (many) times of depression and feeling like a failier. It makes me sad too that I wasn’t aware of your hard times to be there to lift you up and encourage you. I am so grateful to God that you are on the other side now and full of health. Love you much.

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