My husband and I decided to have a baby. It was a year before the pregnancy test came back positive. I felt good, I landed a new and interesting job, made a lot of new friends, became a Girl Scout leader of five kindergartners including Mandy. But, I had worries, because of two previous miscarriages before my eight-year old daughter. I had needed some diversion: My father had terminal cancer. We had problems getting along, and even though we had some friendly phone conversations, it was hard to get through my overly talkative stepmother just to talk to him on the phone, much less get to go see him. I had hoped that the baby might help us to settle old differences and maybe become closer.
I described the ultrasound pictures to him over the phone, and he seemed pleased with the antics of his new grandbaby in the womb. But, Dad died on May 16, 1988, much earlier than the doctors expected. My doctor found a problem with the pregnancy--placenta praevia--which would make it necessary for me to rest at home. He okayed my trip for the funeral, a service in Atlanta then a graveside service 260 miles away in Cuthbert, GA. My stepmother made a mistake that resulted in my Dad's two brothers being a 10-hour drive away still when the funeral started. A week later I was admitted to the hospital, and two weeks later my son was stillborn. We named him James Arvie Cole.
I felt absolutely forlorn. I was angry and hurt and very bitter and unforgiving about a lot of things. If someone had asked me then what blessings I had received in my life, I probably would've been totally blind to them. I was still praying a lot, but I was too absorbed by grief to be thankful. It took time to be able to see any good coming from all this.
I needed answers. My friends at work didn't know what to say to me. I heard a lot of "you're young; you can have another baby" -- exactly what I didn't need to hear. I worked in a building with over 100 people, most of whom I had told I was pregnant and I still looked pregnant, so I was running into a lot of people who asked "how's the baby?". I went to my church and asked my preacher what happens to babies that die through miscarrage. He said he didn't know. I yearned to find someone that knew. The local newspaper had a support group section. I joined a support group called SHARE for folks who have lost babies through miscarriage or in the first month. I found friends there who would listen, and heard speculations on where our little ones were now. Comfort, but no answers. The most valuable lesson I did learn there, however, is when a person is grieving for a loved one, they need someone just to listen to them talk about that loved one, over and over if need be. There are no "right words to say", no magic phrase that helps the pain go away. Grief can't be hurried along, and it takes a lot longer than most people think who haven't lost anyone close to them. Heavenly Father gave me that group in answer to my prayers. I was to have several such detours on my road to finding my answers.
A few months later, my preacher died of a heart attack and there were leaders of the Unity Church that came and spoke. I still didn't find my answers, though the seminar they offered us on grief when younger people die unexpectedly taught me a lot. I kept on praying.
Finally, we decided to try again. It took a lot longer. I would go for pregnancy tests and cry when they were negative. In October 1989 one came back positive!Mandy and Dannis by newly planted SHARE tree in Atlanta in 1989, This is the only picture of Dannis while pregnant with Baby Chris, lost at 5 weeks pregnancy. This happened the day after this picture was taken.
I was ecstatic for a week, then devastated when I had yet another miscarriage. I was desperate for answers. About this time, my best friend started taking the missionary discussions because of a mutual friend of ours who was Mormon. She suggested that the missionaries might have the answers I sought. I was afraid that they were going to pressure me or ask me questions that would show how dumb I was about the Gospel. But I finally got the courage to attend the 3rd discussion. I had decided by the end that I wanted to be baptised into this Church. I had thought I was too stupid to read and understand without a preacher to interpret for me. What a wonderful gift, to be able to do this AND to have additional Scriptures like the Book of Mormon which was even easier to understand! I received a new set of Scriptures as a gift and started putting the Topical Guide to good use. It was not long after that I found Verse 9 in Psalms 113 which states. "HE MAKETH THE BARREN WOMAN TO KEEP HOUSE, AND TO BE A JOYFUL MOTHER OF CHILDREN. PRAISE YE THE LORD. I prayed much over this verse, and soon became pregnant with my younger daughter.
I had a lot of time to think and reflect while I was pregnant with this, my sixth child. I still missed the other four that did not live. I took so much comfort in knowing that at least James Arvie Cole was with Heavenly Father in the Celestial, as are all children who die before age 8. I was able to see that I was showered with blessings during my pregnancy with Jimmy. How excited I was over the positive pregnancy test; how I enjoyed telling everybody that I was going to have a baby; how I enjoyed feeling his little kicks and talking to him and watching him on the two ultrasounds I had! He played with his little hands and sucked his thumb and danced around in there like a little bucking bronco! When I held him for the last time, I remember the feeling of awe that I had--he was only 16 weeks along, but he was perfect. Little tiny fingernails at the end of long fingers. A beautiful little face that had my nose and Reid's mouth. Yes, I am sad that he didn't get to come home, that I never got to dress him, diaper him, feed him. But he gave me 16 wonderful weeks of maternal joy, and how could I not be grateful for that? I have his birth certificate with the tiniest pair of footprints thanks to a nurse who cared enough to try several times to get them. They are a blessed reminder of a very special little boy who is now living with Heavenly Father. I am so proud that such a righteous soul chose me to be his mother on his way to the Celestial.
The adversity in my life has taught me to be a little more patient, a little better at not taking things for granted, has broadened my understanding of others' problems, and has proven to me the great power and blessing of prayer. Children are great blessings to a marriage, no matter how difficult the road to their little lives.