Wednesday, December 23, 2015

INSPIRING WOMEN {Kaylene Zobell}

I love doing this series and meeting these inspiring women each month. Kaylene was nominated by Ashley Peterson. She sent me a message one night with the most kind words about Kaylene. As I read her message I knew that she needed to by this months inspiring woman! 

Ashley wrote "Kaylene Zobell is the mother to one of my past students. Last year, when her daughter was in my class, she was pregnant with her 7th child. During her pregnancy, her little boy Nash was diagnosed with cancer. And by little, I mean like 4 years old. While all the stress with this little guy was happening, she ended up having her baby 5 weeks premature. This beautiful little girl was only 4 lbs 11 oz and had to wear doll clothes for the first part of her life since nothing else fit! Anyway, throughout all of this, her other kids remain active in sports, tumbling, dance, and still manage to keep up with all of their school work because of how supportive she is to all of them. I have never once heard her complain or feel sorry for herself. She always has a smile on her face to match her bright, outgoing personality. The word I would choose to best describe her is "uplifting". No matter what is happening with her, she is constantly looking for the positive and using it to lift others, whether intentionally or not." 

I am so grateful that Ashley pointed me in Kaylene's direction. She was so kind and fun to be around. I could see the love between her and Nash. That boy is one special kid. He has an entire team rooting for him! 

This world really is amazing. There is so much heartache, struggle, and evil. But amidst all the darkness there is light, goodness, and beauty. There are good people all around fighting a good fight. I'm so thankful that I am surrounded by such amazing people who just want to live their life the best they can. Such inspiration. Thank you for being willing to share your story, Kaylene. You are truly an amazing woman!

Here is her story... (written by her sweet husband, Coby Zobell)

I was content with 4 children, however Kaylene started having those
motherly stirrings and not so easily convinced me we had more children
to bring to earth. I admit I was reluctant for overly selfish reasons
and even feared the thought of more children. Needless to say at
present we have 7 adorable, amazing children. 

Our 5th child Nash came to us 4 plus years after our fourth child.
As I held him for the first time I was overwhelmed with gratitude and
the fears and reservations I once had vanished. That wasn't all
though. I had a very distinct impression about this special new boy
that he would be a great person and leader at some point in his life.
These thoughts and feelings were immediately shared with Kaylene as
they were so poignant to me. It was a very powerful revelation- one I
will never forget.

In 2014 just after Nash turned 4 he was diagnosed with (ALL) Acute
Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We were devastated at the news and diagnosis
not fully understanding the treatment or outcome of this type of Cancer.

We arrived at Primary Children’s Medical Center a day after the
initial news and spent almost a week there doing more tests,
procedures and introducing chemotherapy and steroids to Nash. Kaylene
not giving a second thought for her own comfort slept beside our
little boy the whole time in a small hospital bed. Being 7 months
pregnant she patiently attended to him along with doctors and nurses.
Several weeks into treatment with chemotherapy, and steroids Nash was
put on a high risk treatment plan. The Cancer in his bone marrow
wasn't clearing at a normal rate which worried us and still does today.

Cancer doesn't just effect the patient but the whole family. We
brought Nash home to a house full of concerned, desperate children
wanting answers. They thought he was dying and that maybe time was
short for him. We gave them hope, assured them he was going to be
fine, that the doctors were the very best, but Nash and our whole
family have a long road ahead. “Nash will undergo three and a half
years of chemotherapy treatment to beat Leukemia” we told them. In our
minds that seems like forever. To Nash and the kids their concept of time is different.

One of our concerns revolved around this rigorous treatment plan
involving one and two trips a week to SLC as well as several extended
stays at a time for the first year. We thought how do we keep our
other kids involved in football, basketball, baseball, softball,
dance, ballet, piano, horseshoes, golf and everything else in-between?
To me I had very little worry. I know the type of woman and mother I
married. Kaylene has been nothing short of amazing being able to
juggle and keep up with a thousand things at a time. She is a perfect
example of prayer and faith. Of dedication and commitment to our
family. I like to think of her as a Super Mom able to do it all. 

It would have been easy for us to tell our kids to take a break from all
of the mentioned activities so we could dedicate ourselves entirely to
the treatment schedule. We have had family, friends and community
rally around us in support to make our crazy schedule continue as
normal as possible. Kaylene has always been an exceptional mother.
Always putting the needs and wants of her family first. Observing her
in action this past year makes me eternally grateful for this choice daughter of 
our Heavenly Father.

Our little fighter Nash, I believe, is very aware of his eternal nature
and is mature beyond his 5 years. I can’t help but look back to that
day holding him as an infant and say he is leading us through all of this.                                       
-Coby Zobell

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


This months inspiring woman is Ann! I met her for the first time when we took her photos. I could feel her strength when I sat and talked with her about Carter. She is a wonderful mother with a sweet spirit. I am grateful I was able to meet her. She has taught me that God has a plan for each of us, even though it may be a difficult one. We have to move forward with faith and trust our feelings.

Here's her story...

I have always had this nervous, anxious, excited feeling when it is ultrasound time.  It is the first time to see our baby- the little eyes, nose and mouth -the fingers and toes. I can hardly wait to find out if it will be a boy or a girl.  But of course, I’m always nervous that the ultrasound will show something that is unusual.  With my first two pregnancies, I had those same feelings. Fortunately, their little bodies were perfect. This time, I was on my third pregnancy and I felt like I didn’t need to worry anymore, that those feelings of something being wrong weren’t necessary. 

The Ultra Sound
My husband and I scheduled our appointment early that morning so we could wake the girls when we returned from the ultrasound and share with them the good news. I remember sitting in the chair as they did the ultrasound. Already, this ultrasound was different than my previous two.  Two ultra sound techs were present. The one was a rookie, and the other tech was there to observe her work. Immediately, this ultrasound seemed longer than the others and somewhat tedious. It began taking so long- I wanted to just ask “Is everything okay? Are you finding everything you need?” But I figured she was just new so it was taking longer.
Once the ultrasound was complete and she had entered the necessary data, the tech pointed to the anatomy- we were having our first boy! We were so excited for this news!! Our first boy! I remember walking out of there and being so happy.  We went home and woke our girls up and told them they were going to have a brother.  They were so excited!

The phone call
A few hours later I got a call from my OB. I wasn’t able to answer my phone so he left me a message to call him.  With my other two previous pregnancies, usually the doctor didn’t call me for a few days so I knew at that moment something must be wrong.  My husband was very positive and said maybe he just was able to look earlier at the results this time because we scheduled our appointment so early. I was hoping that this was the case. The doctor explained that the ultrasound indicated that there may be some abnormalities. They thought my son might have Spina Bifida. He wanted us to go see a specialist tomorrow morning to get a confirmation. 

The Diagnosis
Thinking about the first ultrasound, I had some hope that it was wrong because the girl was new and just maybe she had taken the image incorrectly.  I read all about what Spina Bifida was that night.  I had heard of it, but I really didn’t know what it was.  As I started reading all the things that might happen to our little boy, my eyes filled with tears.  We went to the specialist and had some more ultrasounds done.  It was confirmed that he did indeed have Spina Bifida.  The doctor sat with us in a room and reviewed some medical books and other information with us.  It was such an overwhelming feeling, so much information- pages and pages filled with things that may affect our son’s body. 
At first, all I could think of was why me, why do I have to go through this? And then, my thoughts turned to my family.  Will I be able to be a good mom to a baby with special needs? Will I be able to still be a good mom to all my children? Will I be able to provide them all the individual time and attention that they each would need? How will this affect our other kids? Will they be mad at their brother because sometimes they might have to miss out on things? And my thoughts turned to my husband. How was he dealing with all this? Would he blame me? Would he blame himself? Would he be able to help me raise this child? The next couple of days were so hard.  It was so hard to not cry every time I thought about our son. It was hard not to cry every time we told somebody.  I remember thinking, “is this what it’s going to be like forever? Will I always have these thoughts of sadness?” I felt like there was this big dark black cloud weighing down on me ALL OF THE TIME.  It felt as though all the happiness had been sucked out of me and all that was left was fear, doubt, and sadness. I was so worried that I would feel like this forever. I hated that feeling. I wanted it to go away more than anything. I just wanted to feel happy again.  After about two weeks of feeling this way, things really started to change. I think the shock of everything had worn off and the weight of it all was passing.

Our Decision
                  We had been told about a surgery that they do for babies with Spina Bifida. The procedure entailed surgery on me to get access to the baby. At which point, they would repair the baby’s spine while he was still inside of me.  It’s a difficult procedure for both the mother and the baby.  They have to perform the procedure before 26 weeks so we were on a time crunch if we were going to do it.  I had to have some tests done to make sure we qualified for the surgery.  And finally some good news- we qualified! We started to put a plan in motion. There was so much to consider… so many details. There are only 4 hospitals in the US that perform this kind of surgery. Luckily, we were close to California so we started to make plans to go there. However, I would have to leave our two young daughters for at least 2 weeks for the surgery in California. After the surgery, I would be on bed rest until the baby came. The effects of the surgery would most likely result in the baby coming early. Most babies that have had this fetal surgery were delivered at 32-34 weeks.  So, I would be on bed rest up In Salt Lake City, four hours away from my home until the baby was born.  And then, we would have to wait to take our baby home when he was fully recovered. So, I could possibly be away from my home for 3-4 months!!

A Change of Plans
I felt like things were working out and then our plans began to unravel. We were now going to have to go to Texas and have the surgery. Thankfully, we had some family down there that we could stay with which made things easier.  The hospital in Texas told us that they would do the surgery but that I wouldn’t be able to come home until after the baby was born. This was going to be most difficult. This would mean for 3-4 months away from my husband and daughters? Who would take care of my daughters? So much doubt started to fill my mind. I had felt so certain, but now doubts began to fill my mind.  With all the doubt, I kept planning for this trip. I kept telling myself I was just worried about my kids I was just being a “mom” and didn’t want to leave them.  Part of that was true, I didn’t want to leave them. I haven’t ever really been away from them.  Part of me didn’t want to do this surgery. I didn’t want to have to go through everything they were going to do to me.  But, the other part of me would do anything for our son in order for him to have the chance at a normal life.  I would ask my husband daily, “do you still feel good about doing this surgery.” He would always reply, “Yes, everything will be okay.” His faith always comforted me and made me feel like we were doing the right thing.  However, just days before we were leaving, I had a total emotional breakdown. 

What now?
I just didn’t think I could go through with it. I didn’t think I could leave our daughters. I was so worried about them and plain and simple, I just didn’t have a good feeling  I asked my husband to give me a Priesthood blessing  that night to help me calm down.  After the blessing, I felt peace come over me. I felt like everything was going to be okay.  We were leaving in few days and I felt like I was able to get everything done that I needed to do and get ready to go.  The night before we were leaving, a bad feeling came over me. I told my husband that I just couldn’t go. I felt like I was choosing between our children. I felt like if I did the surgery, I was choosing our son over our daughters and if I didn’t do the surgery, I was choosing our girls over our son. How could I make a choice like this? I was so worried that I was going to make the wrong decision.  My husband and I knelt down together and said a prayer.  We both felt like we shouldn’t go through with this surgery.

For two hours we sat and talked and cried trying to figure out what we should do. While I was always the one with doubts about the surgery, now my husband felt like me. We were both having doubts. He didn’t feel surgery was the best choice either. I just kept asking him, “are you sure, are you SURE?” I must have driven him crazy. Gratefully, my husband is truly amazing and I couldn’t have gotten through this alone.  He was always there comforting me when I needed it and helped us make the right and best decision for everyone in our family.  After finally deciding not to go do the surgery, we went to sleep. I woke up the next morning expecting to feel differently, that perhaps maybe I had just needed a good cry. But for the first time in four weeks, I finally felt at peace! Peace for our son. I knew that he was going to be fine and that Heavenly Father had a plan for him. And maybe I didn’t fully understand that plan.  But Heavenly Father knew what was best for him and for whatever reason we weren’t supposed to do that surgery. 
I began to understand… sometimes when a trial comes you first think, “how do I fix this? How do I change it?” But sometimes I don’t think that’s Heavenly Fathers plan. We are not meant to fix or change things but to learn to adapt and accept things.

Here he Comes
 A few months later, I had to leave my husband and our 3 year old daughter.  I went to stay with my mother -in law with our one year old daughter until the baby came. The doctors wanted me close in case the baby came early.  This was hard to be away from my husband and daughter for 2 ½ weeks but the time went fast. My mother-in- law was great. She always had something for us to do to keep us busy.
The night we went into the hospital, I was so nervous. I had only met with my doctor two times. I was delivering in a place that was unfamiliar, and the doctor was going to induce labor which made me so nervous! Fortunately, I did not have to have a c-section. However, the labor was very hard on my body. It was by far the most painful thing I have ever been through. I asked my husband to give me a blessing while I was in labor because I was in so much pain and just really needed this baby to come out.  He gave me a blessing and he since then has told me that, that was the most powerful blessing he had ever given. He said he could just feel the power of the priesthood in his hands as they were laid on my head. He said he had never prayed so hard. 

His Arrival
Several hours later, our baby boy was born. We named him Carter. Immediately after birth, they took him through a little door in the room to take care of his needs. I didn’t get to even see our son for 4 hours!! Before they transported him to Primary Children’s Hospital, they brought him by my room and I got to look at him and touch his little hands and arms.  He was so happy.  Because my labor went longer than expected, he couldn’t have his surgery until the next morning.  So for 24 hours, I didn’t get hold him.  The surgery was three hours long. The procedure involved closing up his back and correcting his spine.
Carter Colt Forsyth
A lot of people ask me if I was nervous while he was in surgery, and honestly I wasn’t ever scared or nervous for him. I knew that this surgery was saving his life and that everything was going to be okay.  He did great. Our son is such a fighter and is so strong. He recovered so well.  We were able to take him home five days after his birth.  He is such a miracle- 90% of Spina Bifida kids have hydrocephalus. This is where the spinal fluid doesn’t flow properly through their bodies and builds up on the brain. If not treated, it will cause death.  The whole reason we were going to have the surgery while he was in the womb was to prevent this condition. 
Our son has been blessed with not having hydrocephalus.  He has some bladder and bowel issues that all kids have, but he will always have.  I have to catheterize him twice a day and he is on Mira lax to help him poop (quite normal). He was also born with clubbed feet. We had to cast him for 2 months and then do surgery on his feet to fully correct them.  He had to wear braces on his feet day and night for 3 months and now he wears them just at night until he is 4 years old. When he was born, his legs and hips were really tight and he couldn’t make them go flat. We had to do a lot of physical therapy to help his hips get to where they are now.  He still has physical therapy about twice a month.  Most of this is just to make sure he doesn’t fall behind.  He does really well with everything that I have to help him with.   Carter’s level is L4 which is really low on the Spina Bifida scale.  He is able to feel and move everything but his feet.  But despite everything that we went through, I would not change any of it.
Our son is truly amazing! He can do so many things. I know we have been so blessed.  We have had so many people praying for us and I have felt those prayers.  I have never felt anything like the power of prayer like this before. The only way I can describe it is “It’s like a force around me that was just always there comforting me when I needed to be comforted.” I’m so grateful to all the people that prayed for us and continue to pray for us. I know it’s because of their prayers, Carter has been so blessed. I’m so grateful for my husband. He truly is the reason I was able to get through all of this and continue to get through it daily.  We still have a tough road ahead. But during the times when I have just felt so defeated, he was always right there helping me get through it, and he always just knew what to do and say. I love him so much and I know that I can be the mother that I want to be and need to be because I have his love and support.  When I look at our son I do not see a birth defect, and I do not think Spina Bifida. All that means to me is-split spine and the limitations that may come with it. Rather, when I look at our son, I see Carter Colt Forsyth. He is limitless. I don’t want our son to be everything I want him to be. I want him to be everything that God has intended him to be.

*To learn more about spina bifida and Carter’s story visit the Forsyth blog at

Friday, October 30, 2015


Meet Shawn, she is this months inspiring woman!

As I read through Shawn's story I was immediately brought to tears. I have in no way gone through what she has but her words gave me a sense of peace. The trials that I have been going through lately have been so overwhelming. Reading about her strength and testimony opened my eyes and gave me such comfort. 
Thank you, Shawn. 
Thank you for sharing, for opening up. 
This story has helped me and I know it will help so many others.

Here is her story...

It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of a storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
The greatest storm of my life hit on the 10th of March 2014. My world shattered with the silent birth of my son Jaden John Cosper. Still in shock, that would continue through the months ahead, I took my limp baby boy in my arms and kissed his cold forehead. He was so perfect! How could this be? How could someone so small and perfect, alive just hours before, die and leave such a gaping hole in my life and in my heart? What started as a night filled with the butterflies of eager anticipation had turned into some sort of nightmarish vision, from which there are times, even now, that I try to wake.
We had so excitedly anticipated Jaden’s arrival. We had prepared for months for him to come home with us! I spent countless hours preparing and decorating his room in old fashioned airplanes. Oh, how I love his room! We shopped for all things boy! We had a dresser and closet full of the cutest little outfits you could imagine! We traded pink and bows to blue and planes. I was so nervous for a boy, all I had known was girl, but I was so unbelievably excited for that little boy to come and all the adventures he would bring.
The time finally came on Sunday the 9th. It had been a normal day that started out as any other. I was very pregnant; in fact I was scheduled for an induction early Tuesday morning only two short days away. However, while at my mom’s house for dinner I had started having contractions. I was sitting on her couch watching my stomach do the wave from our little guy doing his never ending summersaults (Jaden loved to move! He hardly had any “quiet” moments, day and night you could watch my stomach wiggle) when the contractions started. They were coming pretty fast and lasting awhile but they weren’t very “strong” (painful) compared to the ones I experienced with my first, so I wasn’t really convinced that it was real labor just yet. My mom, however, persuaded me into going home and putting Brynlee to bed, and getting ready to head to the hospital, so I did. After I got home and put Bryn to bed I hopped in the shower. Contractions were still coming and he was still moving about like crazy. I assumed that they were just Braxton Hicks contractions since he was still so active and they still weren’t hurting at all. So when my water broke in the shower it was a HUGE surprise!
Sam ran around getting the bags in the car and trying to make sure we had everything we needed while we waited for my mom to get to our house to stay with Brynlee who was 18 months old at the time. Brynlee had woken up out of her sleep (which was not normal) and started calling for me. I went into her room to put her back to bed and tell her that we loved her. As I picked her up she wrapped her arms around me and started sobbing. She hugged me like she never had before and wouldn’t let go. We weren’t sure what was wrong so Sam gave her a blessing to calm her nerves and then we left her with grandma to put her back to bed.

We left for the hospital excited, nervous, and anxious to become parents again. When we got to the hospital we checked in as normal and were taken to the room I was going to be delivering in. I changed into the hospital gown and settled in the bed as they asked all the routine questions and hooked me up to the monitors. The nurse searched for his little heartbeat with the monitor but was unable to find it. This was not usual for Jaden he was normally pretty easy to find, but Brynlee was always a stinker and would hide from us and if we were lucky to find her right off she would immediately move and we would have to search again, so him “hiding” didn’t raise any concern for us. The nurse didn’t act concerned at all either and said that they were just having a night that all the babies were hiding so she was going to get an ultrasound machine to pinpoint exactly where he was. When she came back into our room with the ultrasound she told us that this particular machine didn’t always work super well and that she “sucked” at using it, but it warmed up the fastest and was the quickest to use. That didn’t help us put too much confidence in her so when she still couldn’t find a heartbeat we still didn’t feel worried.

The nurse called for an ultrasound technician to come with the big machine and check. I started to feel a little panicked with an ultrasound tech coming, but Sam reassured me that everything would be alright. The technician was taking a long time getting there and as we waited the panicky feeling kept getting stronger. I texted my mom and to tell her what was happening and that she should come to the hospital. My mom had my little sister come stay with Brynlee and she headed to be with us. My sister called my dad to have him come to the hospital as well. Both my parents showed up before the ultrasound tech that didn’t come for almost 45 minutes. In that time I started pouring my heart out in prayer for everything to be ok. I pleaded with God to let this be ok, let our baby be ok. I remember specifically telling Him that I could not do this, that we could not do this! Sam and I would not make it through losing a child. I begged and pleaded, but the peace did not come, not in the way I was wanting. I had an overwhelming feeling as I said that I didn’t think we could do this, that everything would be ok, that WE would be ok! But I knew in that moment that this wasn’t ok. I knew something was wrong, but I hadn’t lost all hope. I refused to believe anything until I heard it straight from them. When the technician came she set up the ultrasound and turned the monitor away from me so all I could see was the soft glow of the light on her face as she rubbed the wand across my stomach. All I had to go off was her face and my dad and Sam’s as they watched the screen for some sort of hope. She was silent as she kept moving the wand around and my dad just kept shaking his head so I looked only at her waiting for her to say, “There it is, there he is”, she was my last glimpse of hope. But she just continued to gaze at the screen in silence as she pulled the wand away from my belly and then looked at me with tears in her eyes and whispered, “I’m sorry” with a lump in her throat. In that moment my worst nightmare came to life, my heart and my world were shattered. All I wanted was to wake up and for everything to be normal, but there was no waking from this nightmare. What followed was a period of the most intense grief I have ever experienced. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to breathe! Our hopes, our dreams, and our future were gone, just like that. I was lost. How could this happen to me? He was perfect! He was perfect the whole pregnancy, there had never been anything wrong, there was never any concern. How could he be gone now? He was just moving. I watched him. I felt him. How was I supposed to go on now? What would I do with all his things? What would I tell people? How would I live? I had so many thoughts running through my head all in a moment. Then I just went numb. The shock set in and I don’t really remember much after that except looking into Sam’s blue eyes filled with pain as he hugged me and just held me as I cried. I couldn’t breathe. The only word I could get out was “no”. I said it over and over as I gasped for air through my sobs. I cried harder than I ever have before. My mom ran to both of us and just held us as Sam held me and my dad just stood there and cried.

The shock came over me pretty hard. I had stopped crying and was in a daze. My mind had just shut down. I couldn’t think or focus. It was almost like an out of body experience. I just was. There was no emotion anymore. I was in this dazed state when I realized my doctor was standing next to me. He hadn’t said anything. He stood there with is hands on our shoulders and cried with us. I kind of snapped back in that moment and broke down again. He was such a wonderful doctor! He felt so much with us. He just stood and cried with us until we were ready to talk. After some time he explained that I would still have to deliver the baby as normal. They would come in and give me the epidural and give me Pitocin to try and speed the process along and make me as comfortable as possible until it was time for me to deliver. The doctor then told us after I delivered we could hold him and keep him with us as long as we needed.

At that point I remember thinking; I don’t want to do that! I can’t do that. Just get it out of me and let me go home! I didn’t want to deal with birth or the after birth effects. I couldn’t see him as my baby in that moment. I still feel guilt over it now, but in my utter and complete shock, I thought of him as a tumor almost that just needed to come out. I didn’t want to hold him, or see him. They needed to get him out and let me go home. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to hold my daughter, the child I still had. I needed to hold her. I needed the comfort of my home, my bed, and my things. I needed to be out of this nightmare! I think I felt that if I could go home to my own bed I would wake up and this would all have just been a horrible dream. But this wasn’t a dream, this was life, my life, and I wanted nothing to do with it! After the doctor left I must have voiced some of that out loud because I distinctly remember my mom’s sweet, comforting voice saying, “Oh honey I know this is so hard and this hurts so much! But you will want to. He is still your son and you will want to hold him and see him and memorize every perfect little thing.” I had been so emotionless and numb from the shock of it all, but the tenderness of my mom’s voice sunk in. I felt again. This was my baby. He was mine. He IS mine! I started crying again.

Shortly after anger set in. I was angry with God. Why did He not listen? I knew I couldn’t do this, I told Him that. Then I was angry at myself. I felt like I failed our son. I could not bring him life outside my womb. It was my job to love and protect him and I didn’t. I failed him. I failed my husband in giving him a son, my daughter in bring her brother home, my parents in their first grandson, a nephew, a friend… whatever he would be I failed everyone! Just a few short hours before I felt him moving and now he was gone. How could this happen? How could my body fail us all so horribly? The questions all started rushing through my head again. At all those awful thoughts I became physically ill. Sam held me while my body started to uncontrollably shake and he was able to help calm me down and settle my body some. My contractions started coming really hard about this same time, another reminder that this wasn’t a dream, this was real. I cried harder.

The anesthesiologist came in around this time. Because of all my shaking we struggled getting the epidural in. It took almost 20 minute to get it placed, but once it was my body finally relaxed some. And with that relaxation I hit another dazed state, I felt emotionless. I don’t remember much at all of the next hours that passed. I slept some, but mainly I just sat not saying a word. At some point a nurse came in and brought us a packet of information on how to start making “arrangements.” Arrangements? I HAD made arrangements. I had arranged his room, his clothes, I cleaned the house spotlessly. I had arranged everything! Sam and I now had to make THE most impossible arrangements. Where would we bury our son? When would we hold the funeral? We had to pick a casket. Flowers. Songs. Speakers… So many decisions had to be made at such an unbearable time! I couldn’t think about anything, how was I supposed to choose anything in that moment?
My contractions started harder. It was time. I was ready to push. Only I wasn’t ready at all! This was it. That was the last I would have of him. I wasn’t ready. How was I supposed to birth a dead baby? I was so terrified. What was he going to look like when he came out? How was I supposed to deal with the silence? I didn’t want to push. I didn’t want him out. That would be the last of him as part of me. I wasn’t ready. My body started shaking violently again and I just cried.
Our doctor came in and all was ready to go. I didn’t push long, he came really fast and easy. I saw him and immediately fell in love! He was 8lbs 6oz and 21in of perfectness! He had so much hair. The nurse took him to clean him off, Sam followed her to be with him.

While Sam and the nurse where bathing our sweet Jaden, I was with the doctor finishing up all the after birth mess. It wasn’t until then that they found out what caused this to happen. I had way more amniotic fluid than I should have (which never measured high on any ultrasound through the pregnancy.) When my water broke because of all the pressure from the amount of fluid I had it completely shredded my amniotic sack like a water balloon hitting the ground. Pieces of it went everywhere and one slung shot around Jaden’s umbilical cord and wrapped around so tight that it completely cut off all his oxygen supply. The doctor said that he would have been gone within 5 minutes of it happening and even if we would have been at the hospital they likely wouldn’t have been able to get in fast enough to save him.

As I looked over at my baby boy being held by his daddy… it hit me. Brynlee knew! She knew he was gone before we even left the house. She felt it. She knew before us what we would face when we arrived at the hospital. She cried for me, for our family. And she had hugged me like she had never before in that moment. I knew they had such a special bond. We have had so many tender mercies come through our sweet Brynlee and have been able to learn a lot about Jaden through her. I know that Jaden was with her that night, until I delivered him and he was in that room with us! I knew it. I felt him! Sam brought him over to me and put him in my arms. He was so perfect and beautiful! He had a full head of dark wavy hair! His lips were just like Brynlee’s. And he had my chin. He was a solid boy! His hands were as big as his 18 month old sister. He had the chubbiest cheeks and just looked so perfect and healthy in every way!

We hadn’t named him until this time. Sam and I looked at each other and immediately knew his name. Jaden John Cosper. It fit him perfectly. The name Jaden means “Jehovah has heard.” And John means “God is gracious or a gift from God.” Jaden has absolutely been a gift to our family! I knew in that moment he would be one of our greatest gifts! I didn’t want to ever let him go!
We were moved to a room at the very end of the hall where it would be more quiet and peaceful for us to spend time with him. We had visitors throughout the day, mainly family that came to see him and hold him. Sam and I laid in the bed together holding Jaden between us for hours. We napped with him in our arms. We held him and kissed him. We sang to him. And we memorized every little thing about him. His fingers, his toes, his ears, his hair, he was just so beautiful! We had him and held him for 15 short hours that day. Sam and I spent the last few hours with just each other and Jaden. We held him and each other until the mortuary came to pick him up. That moment was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I couldn’t let him go! I just clung to him and sobbed and begged that this still wasn’t really real. Like if I prayed hard enough he would just open his eyes and take a breath and everything would be ok. But he never took a breath. Sam hugged me so tight and took our sweet boy from my arms. He walked with a gentleman down a hall and laid Jaden on a gurney to be taken to the mortuary.

For that short minute I was left alone in the hospital bed unable to move. I felt so empty and it felt like an eternity. Sam came back into the room and we just held each other and cried! We stayed that way until the nurse brought all the discharge paperwork in and my mom got there to pick us up. A sweet nurse that had been with us from the beginning wheeled me out and sat with me while Sam got the car. She hugged me and just cried with me as I sat there with empty arms and an even emptier heart. Leaving the hospital was harder than I could ever explain in words.

Leaving with empty arms and such an empty heart also left me with an empty testimony. I again felt only anger and desolation as we entered our home full of baby items waiting for Jaden. All I could do was cry. We held Brynlee and tried to play with her but we were all feeling the pain. I must have been a hard reminder for her because she didn’t want anything to do with me. She would get mad and hit my stomach and yell, “no baby” which only made me feel more empty. That night was really rough and fitful. None of us slept much. I cried all night and questioned. Why me? Am I not a good mom? What did I do to deserve this? With each question my anger became stronger.

By the time the funeral came 3 days later some of that anger subsided. And that day was the most peaceful day I have ever had. I knew I had not been left alone. I knew not only was Jaden by my side, but my Savior was there comforting me. A day that I would have thought would be so horrific was one of the best. I knew I was not forgotten! He broke through my anger! He was healing my heart.
Life since then has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs with A LOT of downs. My life was forever changed. It was a struggle learning to live again, to navigate through this new life. Nothing would ever be the same again. I was not the same person. I couldn’t be. And I had some friends and family that struggled with that. Death makes people uncomfortable and so they ignore it, and in doing so I was ignored. I lost friends, but I also gained some of my very best friends through this journey. I don’t say this to lose hope for others, but I want to be realistic. Life after loss is HARD! Life will never be the same. People leave, people say dumb things, and it hurts. It is hard. But there is hope!
I struggled as I said with my testimony for a while and that went up and down until one night in my prayers I had such a strong feeling come over me, “I know that your loss has stolen from you the person you thought you’d be. However, it hasn’t stolen from you the person I knew you’d be. You have a purpose. You are still needed.” This changed my perspective and I gained such a deep testimony that I wouldn’t have been able to any other way!

Part of our struggle in this trial was the damage my amniotic sack ripping apart did to my body as well. We were informed that getting pregnant again would be very difficult and may be impossible. I wanted a baby so badly! Our arms were still so empty and we wanted so badly to bring a baby home. I wanted to be pregnant and feel a baby move inside again. Sam and I prayed over what we should do and we felt so strongly that we needed to start the adoption process.

Adoption is something I have always felt so strongly about and wanted to do since I was a little girl myself. Sam and I talked about adopting since we were married but we always thought we would after we were done having kids of our own and more settled in life. So adoption wasn’t a new thought for us. But we were worried that people would think we were just trying to replace the baby we lost. Jaden would never be able to be replaced, just as having him didn’t replace Brynlee. Jaden is our child and always will be! The hole he left in our hearts is his! It will never be filled by anyone else. And so we pursued the adoption route. It was a big process but we pushed through it really fast. We were so eager and so anxious to bring a baby home. Adoption in itself is a rollercoaster! We met with and talked with 3 birth mothers. In February of 2015 we were chosen by a sweet mother. She had a little boy born the first week of February and we went to pick him up and bring him home with us. We had him for only a few hours when she changed her mind and he was taken back. We were heart broken. It was only a month away from Jaden’s first birthday. The hardest part for us was getting all the baby stuff out and ready again and having to pack it all back up so close to his birthday. It brought so much of our pain and grief back to the surface. I again questioned, what am I supposed to do now? Why again?

Sam and I had been trying with no luck in getting pregnant through this entire adoption journey as well. So we were feeling really down and pretty hopeless after this loss. Brynlee was so disappointed! She wanted a baby so bad. I wanted to be able to give her a baby brother or sister more than anything!! Well only 3 days after our Daniel was taken back by his birth mother, we had the most wonderful surprise! I was pregnant! It was a miracle and it couldn’t have been better timed! We were being watched over and our prayers had been heard!

Quickly after the initial excitement of this new little one growing inside ME came sheer terror! Pregnancy after loss is the scariest thing I have ever done! Every day I would wonder if there would be a heartbeat. I almost come to expect there not to be. I know many times I prepared myself for there just not to be one so that I could deal with it if there wasn’t and that I could be pleasantly surprised when there was. Because I was considered high risk I had more appointments than usual, but it still didn’t calm my troubled heart. I still had the same amazing doctor who was with us through Jaden’s whole pregnancy and delivery so he understood my fears and concerns. He worked with me so well through this pregnancy and would squeeze me into his busy schedule any day if I was having a rough time and just needed to hear the heartbeat. I went in almost every 2 or 3 weeks through the whole pregnancy. I was monitored very closely with monthly and sometimes bimonthly ultrasounds to check my fluid levels. We had a few scares and some ups and downs in the pregnancy with my fluid, but overall the pregnancy went very well.
We welcomed our sweet rainbow baby, Jaylee Rae Cosper, to the world on the 6th of this month. She has been such a blessing in our home! Our “Rae” of light! She has strengthened my testimony and has taught me so much in her little life. Rainbows do come! Even in the midst of the storm you can find them. We are never left alone. Brynlee has been our sunshine through all of this! There was always light, but she needed her rainbow to come as well. The storms may howl around us, or we may be left with the horrific aftermath that leaves us questioning, but I promise you, your rainbow will come! The tender mercies will come, pray for them, and watch for them. Our burdens will not be removed, but He will send comfort! In John 14:18 we are promised by our Savior, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Believe in that! Hold on to that! Turn to Him, He is always there! There are bad days, hard days, there is no denying that. But they are just that. Days. And sometimes they come more often than not. But it doesn’t make it a bad life. Life is beautiful and wonderful! As intense as my loss was, I came out on the other side with new friendships, a greater appreciation for family, a better perspective on life, and a deeper testimony of the plan of happiness and the love the Savior has for me. Life is good! Oh so good! 

Here are some photos of sweet Jaden...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

INSPIRING WOMEN {Stacy Hellqvist}

As I sat down and read Stacy's story I was immediately brought to tears. Being pregnant is supposed to be filled with excitement, nausea, wonder, and joy. You aren't supposed to constantly worry for your life and your unborn child's life. To go through something as devastating as that and to do it with such grace is so inspiring. Stacy has taught me a great deal about eternal families and eternal love.

While we took these photos of Stacy we sat and talked and she told me about her sweet Cece. After we left I immediately told my husband that there was a special spirit I felt while being with her. There was this peaceful feeling I felt while being around Stacy. I'm positive that spirit was Cece. I'm sure anyone that goes around Stacy feels the same thing. Cece may not be here physically but she is here spiritually, always watching and looking over her sweet mama.

Here's her story....

Super human senses had begun to set in. I knew I was pregnant before the little white stick told me so. Everything was so perfect… We heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks. We announced to our families around Thanksgiving time. A June birthday, what fun parties we would have! I was going to be a mommy.
12 weeks in, after going to the bathroom there was blood in the toilet. Strange… I made an appointment with my midwife and we figured it was probably just a bladder infection, because baby, cervix, and uterus were fine. After the antibiotics I was still seeing blood. 14 weeks we discovered that the bleeding was vaginal, not urinary. An ultrasound revealed a 10 cm blood clot in my uterus. That’s right I said CENTI-meters, which equals about 4 inches. They said it would probably just break apart and I would pass it and all would be well. Over the next few weeks, pieces of the blood clot came out, but the bleeding persisted.
A blood test revealed my HCG levels were double what they should be at 16 weeks gestation, so I was referred to the High Risk OB. After the ultrasound, the Doctor had to call one of his colleagues in Salt Lake City to get a second opinion on his findings. I was grinning at the little hands, feet, and face that would appear on the screen during the ultrasound. I could see what in their words looked like “honeycombing” of the uterus. The doctor rubbed his eyebrows a lot; he had bad news to tell me. A ‘mole’ (molar pregnancy) had formed alongside a normal fetus. It was an extremely rare condition, in the doctors 20+ years he had only seen this 2 other times. Statistics, numbers, probabilities, and so on were printed off and read to me. All we had to go on were other studies that were done on women who had the same condition over the past 20 years. All that stood out to me was the 50% chance of the baby’s survival. Those were still decent odds, right? I didn’t cry until I called David, who was out of town working at the time. Things in my life always seemed to work out, so why would this time be any different?

The goal was to make it to 32 weeks gestation. Pre-term delivery was probable, so we’d be lucky to make it that far. The doctor said he was surprised I wasn’t “sicker than a dog” in his words. So I thought since I was feeling so well, I’m sure to make it to 32 weeks! Pre-eclampsia was something we were to watch for. So I tested my blood pressure every day. I went into the doctor every week to check on my health and the baby’s growth.
18 weeks; David was still out of town working, and we wanted to find out the gender of our baby together, so the ultrasound tech wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope. David was right the whole time; he knew it was a girl. She was growing well and was right on track. David started calling her his ‘little Honey Bee’ because the tumor that she was growing alongside looked like honeycomb.

24 weeks; the bleeding had persisted week after week but it wasn’t a lot so they weren’t too worried. I was doing great and she was growing perfectly. It was just a small space for her in there since the tumor was also growing along with her.

Wednesday, February 25th, David and I enjoyed some chocolate lava cakes and ice cream just before going to bed. Pregnant mommy was very appreciative. Around 3 am I was slowly coming out of a deep sleep with an intense feeling of needing to urinate. Suddenly there was gushing, I knew it wasn’t urine, I’d had this kind of gush before. Except instead of the gush being watery like it was the first time, it was very bloody. Blood soaked me and the bathroom floor. I wasn’t contracting so I knew I wasn’t miscarrying. Not knowing what to do, not wanting to call 911, and not wanting to go to the hospital, I called my Doctor (He took my case very personally and gave me his cell number in case anything like this was to happen) and he told me I needed to come in. Even though I could tell he was asleep when I called, he arrived at the hospital shortly after we did. My baby girl’s heartbeat was still going strong, but my blood pressure was at about 195/125. Pre-eclampsia had set in, and I was staying at the hospital till I delivered. We were hoping it would be another 4 weeks before I had to deliver, putting me at 28 weeks. The only reason they would deliver her before that was if they felt like they were going to lose me. I was given steroids for her lungs, and magnesium sulfate to prevent me from going in to labor. The heart monitor tied to my tummy lulled me to sleep every night. “I’m here, momma, I’m still alive, and I’m fine in here.”

Sunday, March 1st, 3 am, another gush of blood woke me. Throughout the day nurses and doctors kept a close watch on me. I could hear the lady next door easily delivering her baby. Actually, all I could hear was her nurse counting and telling her to push. I thought to myself “March 1st… that’d be a nice birthday…” David gave me a blessing that day just before we had the sacrament brought to us. A couple of the nurses joined us in partaking. I kept having little thoughts and feelings… I said to David, who was sitting on the couch next to my hospital bed, “I think it’s all going to go down today.” He asked what made me say that. And I replied “I don’t know, I just feel like it is.”
It was about 4:45 pm and I was in the middle of my second blood transfusion, from all my blood loss, when suddenly I felt a huge gush, and a large blood clot come out. The doctor came in and watched to see if it would stop or slow down. The blood just kept coming. Nurses began swarming. It was time, I was starting to bleed out. I was handed a strange fruity concoction to drink. The NICU doctor, the anesthesiologist, and the High Risk OB were all on stand by because they knew this C-section would probably be an emergency one. Within 5 minutes I was on the operating table with a nurse holding a mask over my face telling me to take deep breaths. “Breathe deep for baby” she’d say. This is when the panic and the fear hit me. I was crying; it was strange how calm I’d been up to this point. “What if I don’t wake up?” I’d never been put under before and I was scared for my life and my daughter’s. Only oxygen flowed through the mask, but the second the NICU doctor stepped foot into the room, I was put out.

Celestial Elsie Hellqvist was born March 1st, 2015 at 4:56 pm, weighing 1 lb 9 oz and measuring 11.9 inches. Every body wanted to be there to watch the delivery, even the security guards stood by and watched. When the tumor was removed, I’m told it was quite the spectacle to behold. Scooped out of me and put into a bucket, were what looked like large tapioca balls.
Celestial was very active for a 24 week baby. The doctor said she even let out a little cry. Her first night in the NICU she did marvelously. The first time I saw her I was breathless… I didn’t know what to say... she was beautiful.. she was perfect… her hands and feet were just like her daddy’s, her nose was a miniature of mine. I’ve never experience a love like this before.
Her second day she got really sick and David wasn’t sure she would make it, but she fought her hardest and steadily got better. After a few days, I was finally able to hold her for the first time, skin to skin… Heaven was in room 6 at the NICU.
As days passed, she endured much. She had air outside her lungs that the doctor had to suck out with a needle, severe brain bleeds on both sides of her brain which made cerebral palsy a likely outcome, and she wasn’t pooping.
My HCG levels were monitored closely. Before I delivered they were at a staggering 740,000. At 24 weeks they should be down around 1200. It was the tumor that caused my hormones to skyrocket. Once I delivered and the tumor was scraped out of my uterus, my hormone levels tested at 40,000. They were headed in the right direction, until another test showed that they had doubled. I had large ovarian cysts I didn’t know about until after I delivered. Large ovarian cysts + elevated HCG levels = Cancer. Malignant Neoplasm of the Placenta to be exact.
While discussing with the Oncologist when to begin Chemo treatments, my heart dropped when I saw that it was the NICU that lit up on my phone. The nurse told me to come to the NICU as soon as possible. Celestial was sick, very sick. She was doing so well the day before then her health just turned a corner and took a dive. An infection had gotten into her bloodstream, her kidneys had shut down, and the fluids they were giving her were building up. “I don’t think she is going to make it.” The Doctor said. Never have I cried harder in my entire life. Racked with sobs, my heart was on fire.
After much thought, prayer, and discussion, we made the decision that it was her time to go and to remove support and hold her one last time as she passed. Doctors and nurses carefully removed all her IV’s, feeding tube, breathing tube and monitors, and placed her gently into her daddy’s arms while I sat on his lap. In that moment, she was so alive. We loved on her, kissed her, sang to her, and cried. She was beautiful and perfect. We kissed her sweet face, and she passed in our arms at 1:46 pm on Friday March 20th, 2015. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, was hold my precious baby girl as she passed away. And yet, it was the most spiritual and peaceful, love filled moment. Heaven was once again in room 6 at the NICU.

“As we wait with those who are dying… we brush against the veil, as good-byes and greetings are said almost within earshot of each other” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell

David and his dad built a Viking ship for Celestial to lay in that would fit inside the casket the mortuary provided, which David painted to look like outer space. My sister in law made a tiny little dress for CeCe out of the wedding dress we both wore when we were married. She looked like a tiny princess laying there with lace draped over her. The funeral service was beautiful. 100 balloons that we had people write messages to Celestial on were released. The aunts and grandma’s of Celestial sang this rendition of “I am a Child of God”

I am a child of God, and He has called me home.
My earthly journey’s through but still, I do not walk alone.
He leads me, guides me, walks beside me helps me find the way.
He welcomed me with open arms, I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I have gone ahead.
My earthly life was brief but oh, such peace and love you gave.
You loved me, held me, stood beside me and though I can not stay.
You gave me so much to help me and I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I will wait for you.
Celestial glory shall be ours, if you can but endure.
I’ll lead you, guide you, walk beside you, help you find the way.
I’ll welcome you with open arms, one bright Celestial day.

Her name is in that song twice. It’s perfect. She’s perfect. My sweet baby girl. Our little Honey Bee. 

Stacy Hellqvist was nominated by multiple people to be featured in my "Inspiring Women" series.