Ben and I were married October 18th 2014 in the Dallas, Texas Temple. It was one of the most spiritual days of my life, mostly because since my parents divorced when I was 16, I thought I would never get married, especially not at 19 years old. I was always head strong, independent, wanted my own career. Ben came along my first semester of college, we were friends, then dated a little later and marriage was finally something I could handle. When I was in high school, I prayed everyday and asked my Heavenly Father to bless me with a husband who would never leave me, who would love me forever, and I know without a doubt that Ben was the answer to those countless prayers.
When you get married in the Mormon community the first thing people as
k you about is children. “You need to start having children.” or “Wait until after you graduate!” Back and forth people tell you, “have kids” “don’t have kids”. And I will admit, I did not want children for a very long time. It wasn’t until around almost a year when Ben and I decided to talk about when we wanted to start our family. We went back and forth saying, “yes” “no!” “this is a good time,” “Lets wait a couple years.” “I want a baby now!” During these couple weeks it was a roller coaster ride of changing our minds and changing them back, we didn’t make any decisions yet, but at the end of August we found out I was pregnant.
Ben was so excited, and so happy. During this time was a testimony to me that he loved me, and loved our family. I, on the other hand, was freaking out. I was scared about school, work, grad school, and so many other things. It wasn’t until a couple weeks after finding out when I finally felt calm and at peace with the newest addition to our family. We started doing all the cute things, buying clothes, picking out names, coming up with cute ways to announce I was pregnant and the gender reveal. When we first saw him on the ultrasounds, we knew he was a boy. It was fun, and this little baby brought to much joy into our lives from the very beginning.
Months and weeks go by, I start to crave different foods, I start to feel the baby moving, Ben feels a couple kicks. People congratulate us, we picked out a name, William. January 20th was our gender reveal, and we were so excited. But what was excitement turned quickly to fear of the unknown. Our doctor saw a cyst on the back of Will’s head, he suspected encephalocele, but wanted for us to get another ultrasound to determine more about the cyst. That same night we drove to the hospital, with so many thoughts going through our heads. My mom says; “you age 10 years over night as a parent.” We aged about 100. That next day we waited for our Doctor to call us with any news on the baby, and when he did, it got worse. They did find the cyst that our first doctor saw, but they also found that Will’s head was significantly smaller than the rest of the body. This obviously rose a lot of questions about the outcome of our baby, and we were scheduled for another ultrasound that following Monday with a prenatal specialist. Families prayed and fasted, our names were put on the temple prayer roll, and we waited.
Will was diagnosed with encephalocele. A neural tube defect, where his head was unable to close during development. This causes his brain to grow outside of his skull, and causes extreme growth abnormalities and deformities. The reason the cyst was caught on the back of his head, was because his skull wasn’t covering that part of his brain. And the reason his head was so small was because the brain was not growing inside of his head.
You can probably imagine how we felt that night, crying, screaming, asking God “Why?” That night we prayed to God to heal our little boy, and make everything better. Why didn’t be answer our prayers? Why didn’t the fasting work? Ben and I go to church every Sunday, we serve in church callings, we read our scriptures and pray. Why did this happen to us and our sweet little Will?
In Daniel Chapter 3, we learn that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were told by king Nebuchadnesszar that they would be thrown into a furnace if they continued to worship God. They answered the kind saying; “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” BUT IF NOT. We read of so many times in the Bible where people are healed from their trials, and God delivers them from trials, but why is it that sometimes he doesn’t?
We can do everything right, we can make very few mistakes, we can serve others, have babies, give money to the poor, get married, and do everything right, but this life will still bring us heartache and suffering. Even our beloved Savior asked his Father “…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Mathew 26: 39. Christ, who has done everything perfect, asked God if there was another way where he didn’t have to suffer, and God didn’t take his pains away, even for his own Son.
I believe that cliche that says “bad things happen to good people.” I have seen it in my own life, in the life of my friends and family. I believe that we can do everything right, and heartache will still come either from the choices of others or the laws of nature. But, I also believe this simple but profound truth, “And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” 1 Nephi 11:17. I know that I’ve hurt these past couple days, and will continue to hurt. I know that Ben hurts, and I know that we are sad, that our baby will most likely not survive birth. I know that I will probably not get to bring little William home from the hospital, dress him up, take him to my friends house. I probably won’t have to loose sleep, or have thousands of dirty diapers in my house. I know that I will probably go through the pains of labor and birth with no baby to show for it. I know all of those things that make me sad, angry, upset, depressed. But I also know that Jesus Christ was there when we sat in the doctor’s office and cried, when we drove to Idaho Falls and back, that night when we found out the horrible news and only got 3 hours of sleep. He was there, he was with us, and he wept with us. And because I know Christ was with us, I know the love that God has for me, my husband, and my baby. I don’t know why bad things happen, but I do know that God loves all his children, and that makes me have hope, happiness, and love.
I want to close with a quote out of a book But if Not by Joyce and Dennis Ashton. “We must have the same faith as Sharach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution.
But if not… Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease,
but if not… He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear,
but if not…Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity,
but if not… He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones,
but if not… we will trust in the Lord. Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not… He will make sure we are loved and recognized,
but if not… We will receive a perfect companion and righteous children,
but if not…we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and His way, be delivered and receive all that He has.”