This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.

By Lori Jackson

When I was a little girl, I dreamt of one day being a mom. I would care for my “babies” as if they were real. As I grew, many of the choices I made had motherhood in mind. From the countless hours I spent babysitting, to the classes I chose in High School and College. I was determined to be the best mother to my unborn children.

When we decided to start our family, our son came fairly easily. It was when we tried to add to our family that I found myself in a phase of secondary infertility. I remember pleading with Heavenly Father to allow me to bear more children, and month after month I felt myself slipping deeper into despair. This was what I was put here on earth to do, and yet my body was prohibiting my ability.

Once I finally saw a doctor, it was a whirlwind of tests, procedures, and eventually, surgery to remove an endometrioma the size of a small cantaloupe on my left ovary. Upon checking into the hospital, I was required to sign a consent form for a radical hysterectomy should the doctors deem necessary. Cancer would not be ruled out until they had performed a frozen section during surgery.

All I could think about was my great desire to have another baby. My unsettled feeling that our family was not complete. I knew we had a daughter waiting to join our family; yet, I was terrified I would come out of my operation without the ability to get her here.

We were eventually blessed with four beautiful children – including three daughters. My desire for more children was quieted with the overflow of diapers, laundry, and crying babies. I knew time was precious and I needed to treasure each moment. I knew because everyone that had been there before warned of how quickly time would go – and it did.

They all grow up, become independent, and the tides change. Suddenly you realize you need them more now than they need you. Arriving at this crossroads has been very strange.

The walls of our home still echo with laughter, ring with screams of sheer joy, and vibrate with stomps of frustration. Whenever I feel sad or lonely, I listen carefully and can still hear. Who knew letting go would be so hard? The emptying of our nest has not been at all what I expected. I feel excitement at the new adventures ahead, but I remember with tenderness the times I never thought would end.

Lori Jackson Family