Fifteen: My Year of Blessings


I look back to 1967 as a time of change in my life, a time of growing into maturity in many ways. I was fifteen years old, and in January we had discovered that my mother was expecting her sixth child. We were all excited, and mother couldn’t have been happier.

Then, without warning, my mother began to have a miscarriage. My father took her to the hospital, where she was given a powerful drug to prevent the miscarriage. The doctor told my father that if the drug was successful, there was a strong possibility the baby would be either mentally or physically deformed.

My father didn’t share this news with anyone, not even my mother, and under that heavy burden he became depressed. He was inactive in the Church then, and had no testimony to sustain him. My mother became despondent, and when she learned that she would be confined to bed for the rest of her pregnancy, her distress deepened.

I sensed acutely the sadness in our home, and being the oldest child, I felt responsible for doing something about it. But I didn’t know what. Then, remembering the counsel in James 1:5 to ask God for wisdom, I decided to pray.

I remember tearfully kneeling, all alone, pleading with our Heavenly Father to let us have our baby, promising that we would always love and cherish it, that my mother would not be able to accept the child’s loss. As soon as I had uttered these words, I felt a warm, comforting hand upon my shoulder. I was told that all would be well. I stopped crying and stumbled to my feet, anxious to tell my sweet mother the wonderful news!

I remember her surprise as I walked into her room. She had just sent everyone out. I didn’t give her a chance to say a word, I was so excited. As I finished telling her of my experience, she wept. I bent and kissed her, and left the room.

Later she called me to ask if I remembered what I had said to her. I said yes, and related the story again. She looked puzzled and said, “What else?” I really didn’t know what she meant. She said that when I entered the room my face seemed to glow. It told her not to fear, our Father in Heaven knew of her deep desire to keep her child. She would be granted that, and the baby girl would be perfect in every way. I don’t remember saying all that to her, but the Lord knew of her need to hear it.

On May 18, a new baby girl joined our family.

Two weeks later, however, my mother was back in the hospital. She had started to hemorrhage and was hospitalized for another two weeks.

Like most fifteen-year-old girls, I had had my share of thoughts about romance, marriage, and babies. But nothing I had ever dreamed of had prepared me for what I then faced. Not only did I have my father to cook for, but I had the four other children as well—breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. There was also the laundry to wash and, to top the list, a two-week-old baby to care for.

At times I thought I wouldn’t make it. But that new little girl and I developed a very close bond; I felt as though she were mine. I recall one day when a few sisters from our ward came by to help out by offering to take the baby for a while. But after all we had gone through to get this little one, I told them they couldn’t have her and ordered them out of the house. (I had a hard time explaining my actions!) My mother called all of the ladies later to explain how very tired I was, and that I didn’t mean to be so rude.

How happy we were when mother came home! She found a very fat little baby girl (and why not? I had thought if the baby cried she must be hungry, so I fed her constantly), and in spite of me, everyone had survived.

That little girl—now sixteen—has been a comfort and joy to our family. She saved her pennies, and at age seven she presented my father with fifty-one cents in the hopes it would pay for him to go to a clinic to be cured of his desires to smoke and drink. This proved to be the turning point in my father’s life. My parents have now celebrated the sixth anniversary of their temple sealing. What a wonderful experience that was to kneel and be sealed as a family.

[illustration] Illustrated by G. Allen Garns

Brenda Martinez, mother of one child is the Mother Education teacher in her Orange, California ward.