Rebecca calls her son Reese her miracle baby.

When she was in her early twenties, she noticed that something was very wrong with her health. She had hot flashes day and night. She was miserable. When she sought treatment, doctors ran tests and discovered that she had premature ovarian failure. The only way she would ever have children would be to adopt.

This was hard news. She and her husband were devastated. They fasted and prayed for things to be healed and fixed. Eventually she had an experience where she realized that God might not give her exactly what she was asking. She continued to pray, but changed from telling God her desires to asking that God’s will be done.

At the time, she and her husband worked at the same place. They had to wear clean suits, covered head to toe with only their eyes showing. She began having stomach pains, and they lasted for about a year. The pains came and went. Often pain bothered her as she would go to sleep, so she would roll over, thinking it would eventually go away. It didn’t.

One night at work, the pain came and got stronger, and stronger. She doubled over and had to have her husband called from another part of the facility to take her home. Between their workplace and their home, she threw up eight times. She could not rest comfortably and had a fever. Finally she told her husband she needed to go to the hospital.

At the emergency room, the doctors ran tests and discovered that she had appendicitis and had to be operated on immediately. She was shocked. Staff wheeled her in for the short operation. Forty-five minutes later she woke up, wondering what happened. Her appendix came out before it burst, so that was good. She stayed in the hospital for monitoring for three days.

She soon realized that she had not had any hot flashes while in the hospital or afterward. She felt amazing. Rebecca had scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist for late September, about a month or so after her emergency appendectomy. She wondered if she should keep the appointment since she had started to feel so much better. She decided to go anyway.

When she went to the specialist she reported that her hot flashes had stopped. She reported that she had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. Previous doctors had told her she would never get pregnant—that not even in vitro fertilization would work for her. The doctor suggested an ultrasound to find out what was going on. The ultrasound showed that Rebecca was pregnant. She was in shock.

Naturally Rebecca and her husband were thrilled. She immediately wanted to tell everyone, but her husband, being the mischievous sort, said, “Let’s wait and tell everybody all at once, because we’re all going to be together at Christmas.” He said this in September.

A few weeks later, Rebecca had another ultrasound to make sure, and sure enough a small life was growing in her. Rebecca said it was so hard to wait until December to share her news. “When you are a woman and things happen with your body, you want to talk to your mom. At the very least you want your mom, because your mom understands. I was good, and I didn’t tell her anything.” She did end up having to tell her sister in order to enlist her sister’s help getting her parents to travel to be with the family at Christmas. When everyone came down, Rebecca was a bundle of nerves, so excited to tell everyone.

Nathan bought her some maternity shirts and wrapped them, and she got him some rubber ducks and a onesie. They saved the presents for last and pretended they had forgotten to unwrap them.

Her parents came in. Her stomach was in knots. She tried not to shake. She was so excited. Nathan was taking a nap, so she went and woke him, saying “We’ve got to do this or I’m going to explode.” He came downstairs and said, “We had these presents we had set off to the side that we forgot about.” They opened the presents in the kitchen. Rebecca opened hers first, and the shirts didn’t give it away. People didn’t notice they were maternity tops. Then her husband, Nathan, opened his present.

Everybody was so confused. They all knew what had happened with the doctors, that she couldn’t get pregnant. Everyone was dumbfounded, totally perplexed. Rebecca finally had to say, “I am three months pregnant.” Everyone instantly began crying. Rebecca had never seen her father cry—ever. Tears were running down his face. He hugged her. Everyone wanted to know what happened. She told them the story of her appendicitis.

Rebecca felt very blessed by her pregnancy because she has never felt better in her whole life than she felt then. She said, “I knew that he was a special spirit, and that he was going to make us a family. He was going to be this amazing thing that would be in our lives all of a sudden—this little baby. It just goes to show that even what you think might be impossible, it can be possible.” The experience confirmed her belief that through God all things are possible. She could not wait to have this new little person in her life to share her adventures.

After Reese was born, she felt fine for several months. Then the hot flashes started coming back. Rebecca had been on a natural high during her pregnancy, and now she came back down to reality. She took hormones for awhile, then tried enduring the hot flashes. She began having issues with depression and exhaustion.

After a few years Rebecca began getting migraines three to four days a week, sometimes so bad that she would throw up. She knew something else was wrong, more than just the thyroid issues she had been diagnosed with at age 15.

Rebecca would come home exhausted from yoga classes. She couldn’t go through the day without taking a nap. When Reese was two or three, she had started having these more serious issues, and she felt horrible as a mother. She was so tired. She didn’t have the energy to play with him, to take him to the park, or really even go outside.

Rebecca remembers lying on the couch and saying to her small son, “Reese, I’m really tired. Can you just watch a show while mommy takes a nap?” Sometimes she would fall asleep without even telling him. She remembers Reese pulling a blanket over her, putting his stuffed toys on her. He wanted to take care of her. She felt so bad, because she needed to take care of him, but she couldn’t.

Her husband, Nate, knew it was a bad struggle for her. She had depression along with her physical problems. Her hormones were out of balance. Her hair was falling out. Her fingernails were flaking off. Her skin was pale and dry. So many things were just wrong.

Finally, at the fitness center Rebecca attended, she randomly met a lady who was helping out there. The woman told her that she worked at a wellness center that specializes in thyroid problems. She suggested that Rebecca go in for a consultation. The program would be very expensive, and she and her husband were not thrilled about the price, but they decided it would be worth it.

She had been to so many doctors. She had asked them if they needed to check adrenals or check her for Graves disease or Hashimotos. They always told her that the treatment would be the same. She said, “You go to so many doctors, and you hear the same thing over again, and they give you the same treatment, and you still feel bad. You still don’t feel right. You know there is something wrong, but you know they are not listening. So I was frustrated.” She had had it with doctors, but she decided to give the wellness center a try.

The wellness center tested many different things—her thyroid, several other hormones, her liver, vitamin D, cholesterol, saliva. They discovered that she was in stage 7 adrenal fatigue. Her liver was overburdened from her thyroid. As a result, she had to change her diet, eliminating all inflammatory foods. It was a huge change, because she had to eliminate eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, peanuts, sugar, fruit juice, beef, pork, and shellfish from her diet. She had to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains such as quinoa and buckwheat. She could have chicken, turkey, and fish, non-peanut nuts, water, and almond milk.

She wondered what she would do without ice cream, brownies and pizza. For the first few days she was just hungry as she tried to figured out what to eat. She didn’t push her diet on Nathan and Reese. Within the first week and a half, she began feeling better. As she tried reintroducing foods, she realized what foods caused what problems. She stopped getting sick all the time. Her migraines went away. She started sleeping better, and had more energy. Rebecca could get through the day and take care of Reese. She could do fun things with him, take him places, and actually function as a mother. She felt better than she had felt for years.

When Reese got to a certain age, Rebecca and Nate felt that he needed siblings. They felt they were not done with kids. They wanted their family to be bigger. She and Nathan had talked about how cool it would be to adopt after having a few kids before they even got engaged. Rebecca said, “I have always felt very strongly that I needed to open up my home to kids who needed a good home. I remember feeling this way even as a young child.” She remembers watching Dateline, learning about foster care. She thought, “I’ll take them. I’ll take all the kids. I’ll raise them myself.” She has always felt that passion.

She and Nathan had a cousin of his stay with them while her family was moving. That experience showed Rebecca that she could enjoy having a positive influence on children other than her own. Rebecca taught the girl to sew while she lived with them, and she eventually made her own wedding dress when she got married last spring.

Rebecca loved having the cousin, and often invited the girl’s friend over, too. She loved feeding them. “Just knowing that I had that opportunity for my home to be a safe haven not only for my family but for others as well, I just felt so strongly that I needed to share that as much as possible.”

Rebecca and Nathan knew that in vitro and adoption would not work for them. It seemed natural for them to try foster care. They are working on becoming foster parents. When Reese says his prayers at night, he prays for a baby brother or sister, or that they will get a foster child soon. Rebecca noted, “There is such a need for foster parents. I don’t know what it is about me, but if it’s kids that need a home, … my doors are open.”

Her heart has always gone out to kids. She grew up with a great family life. Her parents never fought. They had what they needed. They took a family trip every year. She loved having no major family issues, and wants to give that to other kids.

Caregiving is probably one of the most rewarding and trying things that you can do. I can’t think of anything else in the world that has more polar opposites than being a caregiver. One day everything is amazing, and you have so much love, everything is going great. Then the next day, everything falls apart and you have to work through it. At the same time I’m grateful for both of those days, for the good ones and the bad ones, because it gives me an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Thank you for sharing your story, Rebecca. I wish you luck in your foster caring adventures. I honor your caring heart.

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