Angel Babies

“Oh, Joanna.”

“The baby stopped growing at five weeks. There is no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.”

Andy and I stared at the ultrasound screen, searching for hope. But there was nothing. The strangest part is we were devastated, but we weren’t surprised. Instead of being filled with joy about my pregnancy, I had been consumed with worry and fear for eight weeks. I couldn’t sleep at night. When my doctor told us the news, it almost made sense.

I couldn’t stop the train of self-blame running through my mind. Was it something I ate? The thyroid test I put off too long? A work out I tried? Stress? Weak prayers?

Fear and doubt followed soon after. Would I be able to have more children?

There were bouts of total calm and random attacks of uncontrollable crying. There were waves of gratitude. For Carter. For Andy. For an early not late-term miscarriage. For those who prayed for our family. For Christ and the comforting touch of the Spirit.

The miscarriage happened when I was at the EPAPA graduation, celebrating with former students and colleagues. Between speeches, hugs, pictures and laughter, I ran to the bathroom every few minutes as my body bled. Though the clash of conflicting feelings was jarring, this timing felt like a tremendous blessing.

The EPAPA community of students, parents and teachers became my second family when I worked there. My students will always be my babies – even if they think they’re so grown –  and my colleagues became my closest friends. Graduation was a reuniting of family members in a celebration of dreams fulfilled. The love and joy of the occasion lifted my heart and spirits. I was genuinely happy. It’s crazy, but having a miscarriage during graduation gave me the love, hope and strength to endure my heartbreak. God truly works in mysterious – and perfect – ways.

He blessed Andy and me in other ways as well.

When Carter was a newborn, he used to smile and babble up into the corners of our room, gazing intently at nothing my eyes could see. I think he was talking with angels.

A few weeks before the devastating doctor’s appointment, Andy and I lay in bed trying to put Carter to sleep, but Carter goofballed around. At one point, he played at our feet laughing hysterically and babbling toward the corner of our bedroom. Andy and I laughed, flabbergasted because we had done nothing funny. Carter Bao Bao, I remember asking him, Are you playing with your baby brother? He’ll be here with you soon.

IMG_6568
Carter told dad the big news with his Big Brother shoes. We will save them with hope it will happen one day.
I believe we live as spirit beings before we are born to gain our physical bodies. I felt sure that the baby’s spirit had come down to pay his big brother a visit.

After the miscarriage, I couldn’t stop thinking about this bedtime moment. Was it the baby coming to say hi, I’ll be with you soon? Or was the baby saying goodbye, see you in heaven? Had his spirit entered the embryo developing inside me? Did the baby I lost have a spirit? Or was it just a collection of dividing cells?

One day, Andy hugged me and whispered, Our baby’s spirit didn’t come down yet. We didn’t lose one of our children. A feeling of peace washed over me. I knew he was right.

And like that, I began to heal and feel hope again.

I know I have a Father in Heaven who watches out for me. He sends me angels. I have Carter. I have Andy. I have family and friends who lift me with love. I have so many people to love. Even in times of deep pain, God finds ways to ease the burdens and give me peace.

I hope that my angel babies are still up there waiting to come down to join my family. They will come when the time is right.

Spiritual Lessons from Unemployment

It has been three weeks since I quit my job at Reset; it turns out there is a period of adjustment as one becomes accustomed to new wings and flight. Taking a flying leap off a cliff is a paradox of exhilaration, terror, romance, boredom, excitement and occasionally piddling around the house in my pajamas. I am learning a ton.

Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence

I wish to encourage every one of you today regarding opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose… Beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts…Don’t give in. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness…Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.
-Elder Jeffery R. Holland

As I studied my scriptures last week, I was prompted to re-read Elder Holland’s speech, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence”.  It is my new anthem for this period of time. Moments of great illumination are often proceeded by great opposition; great opposition also follows moments of clarity and personal revelation. I can’t give up and I can’t doubt the path. 

Patience

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. – Hebrews 10:35-36

Basically, I suck at patience. On my mission, companionships focused on developing a Christ-like attribute each week. I hated the weeks we chose patience, faith and optimism. Those were the weeks that everyone fell out of the bap pool, all our investigators and lessons disappeared, people were rude on the street, or I ended up in the hospital. The Lord doesn’t mess around when we ask to become more Christ-like; He tests us to teach us. Since quitting my job, I have been inspired to study this personally elusive quality and am learning about patience in beautiful new ways.

I usually don’t know how to function unless I’m going ten thousand miles an hour doing fourteen different things at once. I don’t know how to relax. I’ve always had many things to throw myself into 5000%: a cause, a job, a passion, people. As I learn how to align these passions with my family and shifting priorities, the Lord wants me to slow down and take my time. It is hard. But, I’m learning to differentiate between inspiration and impulse, revelation and misdirection. I’m learning that I can still throw myself headfirst into many things; they are simply rearranged differently. Patience is not just for getting through hard things, it is also in waiting faithfully for the good ones. It is pushing forward in the Lord’s time even if I don’t yet know what I’m pushing toward.

Floating Forward

The Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
–Ether 6:5-6

I often think of these scriptures when I am enduring my own personal tempests. They remind me that storms carry me toward my own promised lands. The last few months were a violent tempest that blew me across an ocean. I may be a little beat up, but I survived and I’m stronger. Now, I’m floating on the water, the sun is shining and the breeze is pleasantly cool. I have a tropical drink in one hand and I’m soaking up the warm rays.

At first, I was slowly going a little bit crazy.

I felt like I wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t rushing around trying to survive a storm or work overload. But, I’m learning that there are many ways to press ahead on the Lord’s path. We don’t only grow and progress in tempests; ships can still move forward when the weather is nice. I can learn and grow, receive guidance, and head toward my promised land in peaceful, happy times too.

Whaaa?

There is still work to do; it is just different than the work I’ve done before. The gentle wind and lapping waves are still carrying me in the right direction. I need to put in work and trust in God.

And be grateful for calm seas and a warm sun.

Teach at Home

We might all ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our church calling or professional pursuits? – Elder Tad R. Callister

This quote hit me hard one morning as I listened to Elder Callister’s talk in my car. I was coming home from work exhausted and drained. I spent weekends recovering from the week. Carter was getting my leftovers.

I’ve realized, it’s time to turn back home. Carter needs me. He is my son and my most treasured student. I will have no greater impact anywhere in the world than here, with him, in our home. It’s time to teach.


There have already been so many miracles in the last few weeks. Opportunities, connections, experiences, tender mercies and miracles popping up all over the place. I’ve been amazed. I know in a year or two, I will be able to look back to this time and say, OH. This and this and this are why life unfolded so surprisingly. I will be able say specifically, this door opened, this was made possible, I was prepared to, our family was prepared for… and I am so grateful. The Lord knows what He’s doing and His plan is infinitely more perfect than mine.

Plus, now I’m not missing as many of these parenting gems!IMG_4091