Apr 10, 2014

4th Annual "Live Day"

I woke up this morning with a very full heart. When I looked over and saw my husband asleep next to me, I silently thanked God for allowing me to witness that. Everyday for the past 4 years I have cherished every morning when I get to see his sleeping face next to mine. I'm so grateful for it because 4 years ago it was almost taken from me. Today is my 4th annual "Live Day."

4 years ago today I was given a 10% chance to live. I was not expected to make it longer than a month. I had been living for over a year with a picc line in me that gave me the basic nutrients I needed. My hair was falling out in clumps, and I hadn't swallowed anything for over a year. I had a nurse that came and administered my IV to me 3 times a week. I laid on a couch all day, and crawled to the bathroom when I needed to go. I was too weak to walk, and too nauseated to speak. Dave had to bathe me because I wasn't strong enough to do it myself. It was one of the toughest times of my life.

After 12 surgeries in one year, all without any results. An amazing doctor, Dr. McKinley, came into my room and said that I had 2 options. 1. To live until I died, which wouldn't be more than a month if I was lucky or 2. Give him a shot to do exploratory surgery to see if he could figure out why I couldn't eat. I was terrified.  He told me even with surgery, my chance of living through it was about 10% but without it I would die for sure. After praying with my husband, we knew we had to try to save my life. We decided to have the surgery.

On the morning of April 10, 2010 my family was all gathered at the hospital.  I kissed my husband goodbye, not knowing if I would ever see him again, and they wheeled me off into surgery. I was so weak I could barely speak. Dr. McKinlay came in and told me what would be happening, and I said a silent prayer asking God to spare my life. I asked him to just give me one more day with my husband.  All I wanted was one more day.

After 7 hours of surgery, Dr. McKinlay came out and told my family that I was alive and well.  He told Dave that he found 5 feet of my small bowel that had twisted, and died.  It had ulcers throughout the entire thing, and he didn't know how I had lived this long.  He said he removed the decayed bowel, and I was in recovery and doing well.

I will never forget the moment when I first saw Dave.  Tears came to my eyes, and I silently thanked God for answering my prayers.  I was expected to be in the hospital for 3 weeks, and 3 days later I walked by myself, for the first time in over 6 months, right out of that hospital.  I climbed in my car next to my husband and he drove me home.  On the way we stopped and got an ice cream. I don't think anything has ever tasted so good.

The only reason I was able to have this surgery is because of the loving and gracious support of each of you.  All of you who donated to my fund to save my life, gave me a 2nd chance. I am eternally grateful for your love, and kindness.  Please know that it will never be forgotten. I thank God for each of you daily. I'm truly blessed to have the most amazing people in the world in my corner. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for letting me live to see my 4th annual "Live Day".

Feb 21, 2014

Someone who "Get's It"

I went in for my monthly doctor's appointment today, and had an amazing conversation with my doctor (yes, I said monthly). When I go in it's normally a really quick visit, I get my prescriptions and I'm done. My doc and I have a great relationship, but I know he's busy and he can't sit and chat forever.  Today was very different.  Today I talked to someone who finally understands.

I've known for awhile that my doctor and his wife have had infertility issues.  I know that they've adopted all of their children, and I also know that it still breaks his wife's heart that she can't give him a biological child.  We don't really ever talk about it though.  That is until today.

As I sat across from my doctor and we talked about how my health was, he stopped and said, "I watched your Oprah episode, and I've never asked you what the cause of your infertility is.  Would you share that with me?"  I was kind of taken aback, but of course I had no problem talking to him and letting him know.  

As we talked about what the cause is of my infertility and why it is that I can't give my husband a child, the conversation started to get really real.  He said, "Jill, you're going to have those moments when someone comes up to you in church and says something like "So when are you and Dave having kids?" and you're going to want to punch them.  It's okay to feel this way."  When he said that tears started to fall from my eyes.  I couldn't believe that I was talking to someone else that truly "Get's It."

I asked him if he ever had those moments when everyone in your family seems to be having kids?  He told me that it infuriated him every time he heard that one of his brother's wives was expecting a child.  It was even worse when it was an "accident."  He and his wife try and try, and nothing happens, but you "accidentally" get pregnant?!  How fair is that?!

I told him how I've been really mad at God lately.  Now you have to understand that my Heavenly Father and I have an amazing relationship. I tell him exactly how I'm feeling all the time, and right now he's on my sh*t list.  (That was supposed to be funny so I hope y'all laugh).  He knows when I hurt, when I'm mad at him, and when I think it's completely unfair that I can't have my babies.

I told my doctor how badly it hurts when people say, "Oh well you'll be a mom one day" or "There's lots of ways to have a family." I know they mean well but I just want to scream at them.  I love, "You can have one of mine." Really?!  Can I?  The best is, "There's so many children out there that need good homes. You'll find one to love."  Like it's going to the grocery store and picking out a can of soup.

He understood how hard it is to go to Baby Showers and put on a happy face for everyone, when inside you're dying.  He understands why I just send gifts sometimes.  He understood why I break down and cry when I get another phone call that one of my sister's is pregnant.  He understood why it's hard for me to hold babies.  He understood why I cry.  He understood why every month I wait for my cycle, and I cry every time it doesn't show up.  Even though it's been 5 years, I keep waiting for my body to become normal again.  

He understood why I get up and leave church all the time, because people are talking about eternal families, and how God's plan is for women to come and have babies.  Well apparently God didn't have that plan for me.  But mostly he understood why I hurt.  Why I have pain.  He just plain and simple understood; where most people can't.

It's so rare to feel "Safe."  It's so rare to be able to be somewhere and not have to constantly be reminded that I'm not a mother.  It's normal for me to go to my parents house and only be able to stay for a few hours with my nieces and nephews because the pain becomes unbearable.  It's a daily thing that I drive in my car, and cry as I scream at God for not allowing me to be a mother.  I don't care if he has other plans for me.  I don't care if he knows the big picture.  I know what I want, and what I feel like I need, and I want it now.  But it's never going to happen.  I'm never going to get pregnant, or give birth to my own child.  The hard part is fully accepting that fact.

I know my Father in Heaven loves me.  I know I am his child.  I know he understands my hurt, and my pain, and I know he comforts me.  Even though it hurts, I can feel his comfort and love.  I'm special to him.  He knows me so well, and loves me.  He loves me even when I don't want to love him.  He loves me regardless of everything else in this world.  He just simply loves me for me.

I hope everyone in my life can understand why I am the way I am. I hope each of you can understand why I don't show up to baby showers at times, and why it takes me a week or 2 to call and congratulate you on being pregnant. I hope you can understand that I truly am happy for you, but I hurt anyway.  I don't expect people to coddle me or tippy toe around me.  I just want you to understand that my pain is real, and it has nothing to do with you.  Not only does it have nothing to do with you, but you can't fix it.  Nothing you say will make it better or make it okay.  It just is what it is, and that's okay too.

I know I would make a great mother one day.  Thank you for telling me that, but please don't anymore.  I know that "I can have a baby someday" but I want them now, so please don't try to comfort me.  I appreciate your love, concern, and compassion, but just let it be.  I am going to feel this pain, and even though it sucks, it's something I have to go through, so just let me feel it.  Just let me go through the motions, and in a few days I'll be okay again.  

Talking to my doctor was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.  God knew that.  I believe that God told him to ask that question, because we normally we don't ever chat like that.  It was the best 45 minute conversation that I've had in a long time.  I'm so thankful for the love God has for me, and that he allowed my doctor to comfort me today.  Even though I still feel pain, I can also feel of his love.  I also feel of each of your love.  I appreciate it.  I love you so much, and you're each a blessing in my life.  Thank you for loving me.

Jan 31, 2014

Gastric Bypass, Adoption, and Thank You!

I've received so many emails I can't even explain.  Your heartfelt letters, thoughts, compliments, heartaches, and joys, have touched me deeply. I'm so honored to have the pleasure of being a "part" of your life.  You truly enrich mine.  Through all of the emails there has been 1 overwhelming topic; the issue of me not being able to have children.  That is what I would like to address.

The clip you saw on Oprah made it sound like because of the gastric bypass surgery I am unable to bear children.  That is not correct.  I had extreme complications due to the gastric bypass surgery in 2005.  In 2009 I had to undergo 12 surgeries in 1 year.  I was unable to eat anything. I was on IV therapy to keep me alive.  It's because of these surgeries, and these complications that caused me to be unable to bear children.

I know this makes gastric bypass sound bad.  If you've watched my previous shows you know that I would have the surgery again in an instant.  Gastric Bypass is not a bad surgery.  I was unlucky; that's all it was.  People have complications with risky surgeries. That's the way life is.  It's not anyone's fault, it's just the luck of the draw.  Life happens, and you roll with the punches.  I'm just so grateful to be alive, because I was almost gone a few times.

I also want to discuss adoption because SOOO many of you have made the comment, "You can always adopt."  Trust me, I know this.  If any of you have adopted you know the process.  You know the emotional toll it takes on you, and you know how difficult it truly is.  It's not like going to the store and picking up some milk. Adopting isn't easy.  I know Dave and I can adopt, and it's an option for us.  Please don't think that I'm not trying or open to EVERYTHING possible to be able to be a mother.

I want to thank each of you for your love, and concern.  I'm truly blessed to have such beautiful, and amazing people in my life.  You've truly touched my heart more than I can ever express.  The sweet comments I have received have meant so much to me.  They have brought me happiness on some days that have been pretty hard.  You are such wonderful people, and I'm grateful to have you.

Gastric Bypass changed my life.  It wasn't the surgery that made me who I am today, it's because of how I changed after having the surgery.  The steps I took to become the woman I am today would not have happened if I didn't have Gastric Bypass.  I'm so thankful that I made the choice to have the surgery and change my life for the better.

Life isn't great because I'm thin. I've gone through hell and back to become thin.  Trust me, life isn't fabulous because you can fit in a size 4.  My life is great because I wake up everyday and choose to make it great.  I wake up with a smile, and decide that even though I'm in extreme pain all the time, I'm going to be happy.  Even though I have nausea daily, I'm going to smile and love the life I have.  Life is great because I make it that way.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.  You are amazing people, and I'm grateful to know you.  Thank you for your love, support, encouragement, positive attitudes, and the emails that I have saved since I was first on the show in 2005. (Yes, I really have them all saved.)  On days that are hard, I read through them.  They bring me such comfort.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You all have truly blessed my life.

Jan 24, 2014

A Pain that only God knows

I woke up today in kind of a funk. I knew what it was instantly, because it's an all too common feeling. As I was thinking about the Oprah episode that is going to air this evening, I realized that this pain I was feeling was going to be told to everyone out in TV land. I don't know if that helps or makes it worse.  I just know that today I hate my body. Today I'm mad at God. Today I'm brokenhearted because I can't be a mom.

I sat in my studio making jewelry yesterday and as I made a particular piece for a mother, I was brought to tears.  I'm so honored to be able to make custom jewelry for women, to show off their family and the things they hold most dear.  At the same time, every time I make a custom piece, a little bit of my heart breaks.  What I wouldn't give to be able to make my own necklace with my children's names.  I would love to show off my babies around my neck.

I got an order yesterday evening for a baby girl turning 3.  What a fun age she is in.  I love it when I get to make pieces for little girls.  Her momma wanted something simple to show off her name, and to be dainty, yet beautiful. I was honored to make this piece.

As I thought about this little girl wearing her necklace, I thought about what it would be like to put a necklace on my own baby girl.  To give her a gift for her Birthday to show her how much I love her.  What a beautiful moment this mother is going to have.  These are things that I dream about.  These are the things that make me smile.  These are the things that break my heart.

I know there are so many big issues in today's world.  I know that me not being able to have children is so small in the big scheme of things.  Today it's a big deal for me though.  Today my eyes are wet from tears I have cried because I want to hold a baby in my arms.  Today my arms feel empty because I want a little child to hug me and call me mom.  Today I just feel empty.

I have the most amazing husband who comforts me through all my trials.  I have many health issues, I can't work, I hurt a lot, I'm weak a lot of the time, and even though everyone tells me how positive I am all the time; Dave gets to see my bad days.  He is there to hold me and tell me it will all be all right.  He's there to let me know that it's okay to have bad days.  He's there to comfort me when the pain is unbearable. He can help with all the physical pain.  

The pain of not being able to bear children is a pain that no one can help.  No one can  hug it away, or tell me it will be all better.  No one can understand unless they've gone through it, and no one knows the hole in your heart that you just can't fill.  It's almost a hopeless pain. It's the worst pain I've ever felt, and I feel so empty and alone.

On days like this I find comfort from God.  I know he listens, and even though he can't make it better, knowing that my Savior understands it all, brings me peace.  To know that they understand exactly the pain I feel, the pain that no one can understand; helps me cope.  I still have bad days like today.  I still cry, and feel sorry for myself, but at least I know I have someone to talk to.  I have a Father that loves me and will hear my prayer.  I have a Savior that will bring me peace.  I will be okay.

Jan 18, 2014

Oprah 2014

I wanted to let all of you know that my 4th Oprah episode is going to air on January 24th at 9/8pm Central Time, on OWN.  The show's title is, "Oprah: Where are the now?"  
I've kept my promise and let you all know!  You can watch my Davey for the 1st time on with me! I'm kind of excited for that!  

Thank you all for supporting, and loving me over the years.  It's truly meant so much to me.  I'm honored, blessed, and touched to have each of you in my life.


Dec 24, 2013

Christmas Grinch

This Christmas has been a lot harder than most. I normally get into the Christmas spirit, get my tree up, get the stockings hung, and have lights out on the house. Not this year. I asked Dave after Thanksgiving if he cared if I didn't put up the tree this year. I have been so exhausted and haven't felt great this year, and the thought of decorating for Christmas was overwhelming. He said that would be okay, but that I would probably regret it. In my head I just figured that the only reason you decorate is because you have kids right? I also send out Christmas cards every year. When the company screwed up on my card and I didn't get them to send out, I felt like Christmas was pointless. Why even try?! Nothing is going right, and I don't have anyone I really have to do Christmas for. You could call me the Christmas Grinch this year. Then something happened to change my mind. 

As I got all my presents for friends done, and delivered, I was feeling sad and a little depressed. I have never felt this way around Christmas. As I tried to figure out what was causing my sadness I realized what it was. I don't have any kids that I get to spoil. I was throwing somewhat of an adult fit because I don't have any children. I was so down and depressed, when I got a text from a family member telling me that they were pregnant. I felt like my heart stopped. I felt like I got punched in the stomach. I stopped functioning at that moment. Dave and I were watching TV and I couldn't tell you what the last part of the show was about. All I could think of is that God wants to rub it in my face yet again that I can't have children. Twist the knife in my heart a little deeper. I was done.

The next couple of weeks, everywhere I went I only saw the pregnant women. I saw women buying pregnancy tests, girls picking up jewelry were pregnant, I saw babies everywhere. Was I going insane, or was everyone in the world pregnant?!  I was so mad I can't explain. I was making jewelry to clear my head (something that I do often. I sit at my desk and hammer the crap out of jewelry) one evening when I got the feeling that I needed to call this family member. Up to this point I hadn't responded. I hadn't congratulated them, I had even acknowledged that I got the text. At that moment I realized how selfish I was. This wasn't about me. This was about a beautiful baby that is going to enter my family, and I should be thrilled. I should be so thankful for this precious new life. I picked up the phone and called. That phone call changed my Christmas.

As I sat on the phone and talked to this family member for 2 hours, I cried, I was honest, I told them exactly how hard this was for me but how happy I was for them. I shared in their excitement, I expressed my joy at getting to be an aunt again, and I let them know how much I loved them. More than anything, I let go of myself, and cared for someone else. I put someone else before me. That was something I hadn't been doing thus far this Holiday season.

This past week has been a whirlwind.  Even though I didn't get the tree up, my spirits were lifted by talking to this family member. I realized what an amazing thing life is. I realized just how special my Savior's life is to me. This is the time of year we celebrate Christ's birth. His coming into the world to save the soul of men. What an amazing thing. Because this family told me they were pregnant I was able to focus on others. I was able to focus on the birth of my Savior, and all he's done for me.

As I get ready for Christmas tomorrow, I sit here next to my husband. No we don't have kids, no I don't have presents under a tree, I don't have elf on a shelf, I don't have last minute Christmas shopping to do, and I don't have a baby girl or boy wrapped in my arms. But I have the arms of my Savior wrapped around me. I have his strength, his love, his guidance, and his friendship. He's blessed me with the greatest thing nothing can buy; the love of my husband. He's given me my soulmate, my best friend, the love of my life, the pure joy in my heart, and the reason I wake up every day. He's given me the greatest gift I could ever ask for, the gift of everlasting love. Something that he freely gave to all.

Although I don't have a tree up, and Dave and I aren't wrapping gifts for little ones right now, I can find comfort in the love that my husband as for me. I can find peace in knowing that God is in control of my life, and as long as I follow him everything will work out as it should. It doesn't always work out like I want it to, but it always works out the way it needs to.

I hope each of you have a Merry Christmas, a wonderful Holiday, and a very Happy New Year. I hope as you spend time with family, friends, or by yourself, that you know that you are loved. That you have peace in your heart that your Savior loves you.  He died for you.  He came to this earth so many years ago, to live a life of serving so that we could have all that we do. Take time this Holiday season to thank him for the gifts that we have. Find peace in your life, and love in your heart, and have a very Merry Christmas.