Heroic moms

August 2, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

More than morning sickness

It’s par for the course for pregnant mothers to suffer from morning sickness, but Catholic mom Karen Kuplack experienced a much more serious malady called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). During four of her 10 pregnancies, she suffered such severe vomiting that she received fluid and nutrition through an IV to avoid dehydration. (She was also very ill with her other six pregnancies, but they didn’t require an IV.) If the illness sounds familiar, it’s because the Duchess of Cambridge has suffered from HG during both of her pregnancies.

“Knowing that this horrible illness would result in a wonderful new baby got me through it. Don’t get me wrong, there were dark times, very dark times,” Karen told Catholic Digest.

Karen, who resides outside San Antonio, Texas, with husband, Christopher, and their 10 children, ages 21, 20, 18,15,14,11, eight, six, four, and two, says during her HG pregnancies, she was on an IV anywhere from four to 12 weeks. During those times she had trouble ingesting anything—in some cases even her own saliva would make her ill.

Her eighth pregnancy was her worst. Not only was she deathly sick, but she had seven children that needed her, and her husband was away in Germany for his work. “I had to drive myself to the hospital to have a PICC line inserted. This is a long, semi-permanent IV that is threaded through your brachial artery to just above your heart. It sounds awful, but it’s great for someone who has been constantly stuck with needles,” Karen told Catholic Digest.

“I came home exhausted and depressed. My house was a mess, and my husband wasn’t coming home. I had declined help for many years. I was famous for saying, ‘We’re fine!’ to people who offered help. Finally one of my friends, Michele, ignored me. She and her daughter came and cleaned my whole first floor, including the bathrooms. I sat there and quietly cried as I realized that my friends wanted to help, and by submitting to my pride, I was denying them the opportunity to help me and receive God’s grace.”

Karen feels that there needs to be more awareness and support for those suffering with HG. “Many women abort, even very wanted, babies because HG is so miserable,” she says. “All HG moms are heroes—they all put their lives on the line for their babies.”

Grandma takes in babies

Leona Lamb lived to be nearly 107; one wonders if she lived so long because of her generosity and never-give-up spirit in the face of tragedy.

In 1969, Leona’s 38-year-old daughter died from surgery complications. Two of her granddaughters, age three months and two years, came to live with Leona and her husband, Richard, at their home in McCook, Nebraska. Leona was 74 years old, an age when most people are winding down.

Emily Naugel, from Nampa, Idaho, told Catholic Digest, “My great-grandma never saw taking care of those children as a sacrifice; for her, taking those little girls into her home was the most natural thing for her do. She thought of it as a privilege.”

A year later Leona’s husband died, but she continued to care for the girls until they were both old enough to attend school. The two little ones had four older siblings, so to keep the family together, Leona would prepare a nice Sunday meal after Mass every weekend.

“Leona was always a fireball; she had tenacity and a strong spirit to pull through tough times. If she thought that going up and down the stairs was getting a little difficult for her, she would go up and down the stairs two of three times in a row to prove that it wasn’t going to get the better of her,” Emily recalls.

Leona never allowed herself to think of herself as old. She drove a car until she turned 100. “Great-Grandma decided after her birthday it was time for her to stop driving,” Emily says. Leona also lived on her own into her early 100s and remained sharp-witted until the end, dying in her sleep in 2002.

Emily says, “I remember my great-grandmother telling me she didn’t think she’d get married and have children. She didn’t marry until later in life and, despite coming from a large family, only had two girls. When tragedy struck she was able be a mother again, and she viewed it as an honor to help in any way she could.”

Mom takes on the army for her children

During the Persian Golf War, Lori Anderson, a sergeant in the army, was deployed. Her three small children, ages three, two, and six months, would stay with her sister because Lori’s husband, an army drill sergeant, worked long hours.

Lori felt a twisting in her gut as she watched her children board the plane; she felt torn between her duty as a soldier and her duty to her children. “Asking to be released from the army is difficult in peacetime; it’s close to impossible when your unit is preparing to deploy to war,” she told Catholic Digest.

“Before we left for the Persian Gulf War, I called my sister’s house regularly to check on the children. My oldest, Rachel, said, ‘We’ll be good if we can come home, Mommy.’ Suddenly, I knew. Even though I was excited and honored to be heading to war, my children needed their mom.”

Lori felt a part of her die when she told her commanding officer that she couldn’t go to the war with her company. “When the battalion commander called me into his office over my dilemma, he was very upset with me, and rightfully so. He chewed me out for the conflict I was causing because I might ‘open the floodgates’ of parent-soldiers trying to get out of going to war.”

As the higher-ups decided Lori’s fate, she had already brought her children home. She grappled with her humiliating decision. Wondering, “Did my comrades think I was afraid to go to war? Could I bear sending my soldiers to war, while I stayed in the luxury of our country?”

Lori received a general discharge; she would need to appeal for honorable status. “After all, my photo was on the wall of our battalion headquarters because I had earned the title of Battalion NCO of the Year. I was no slouch, so I also needed to stand up for my own dignity.”

On a happier note, her children were content and oblivious to all of the publicity their mom’s case was generating in local and national news outlets. “I was home to see my third child take her first steps. Ironically, she toddled across the room as the news broadcast that the Persian Gulf War had just begun.”

After being denied an honorable discharge, the decision was voided because the board failed to follow protocol. “This caused my case to require a decision by the highest commanding officer on our post. By a twist of fate, this man was caring for his grandchildren while their army parents were away at the war. He understood the unique needs of children whose parents were at war,” says Lori who resides in Troy, Missouri, with her family. Within days, she received notice of her honorable discharge.

“When I went through all this in 1990, I was afraid to ask what my dad (a 30-year army veteran) thought of my actions. I now know that my parents believe that because I spoke up about our vulnerable children, it changed the way the military views the families of service members.”

– catholic digest

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