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Stephanie Nielson of NieNie Dialogues: Sharing Her Hope

Jamie Lawson - August 07, 2012

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Stephanie Nielson. Photograph by Jed Wells.

Another Miracle

On April 3, 2012, the Nielsons experienced another miracle—the birth of their daughter Charlotte.

“For a long time, I didn’t want to ask if I could have more children because I wanted it so badly,” Nielson recalls. “I didn’t want to hear ‘no’ from anyone.”

But about two years after the plane crash, she was ready to know. “I wanted another baby before the accident, so I was definitely ready,” she says.

Nielson was thrilled when the doctor told her it was possible—her lower abdomen was one of the few areas that wasn’t burned in the accident. In fact, after she gave birth, doctors were even able to reuse the stretched skin from her stomach for other parts of her body. But carrying a baby to term would be a very painful endeavor.

“I had to go off all my pain medication,” she explains. “And my skin didn’t stretch because it is scarred, so the normal weight gain was painful, but it wasn’t anything I had to have surgery for. I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew that I could do this. When she came, it was a tender mercy. I think about myself lying in the hospital, and my outlook was so dim. I was sad and lonely and frustrated. If I had had a glimpse of where I am right now, I would never have weakened. This is something I pictured myself doing, and I’ve worked really hard to get here. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and hope.”

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A Firm Foundation

Because of the accident, Nielson says her family has learned to rely more completely on the gospel. They have also grown stronger and gained a new perspective on life.

“It’s brought us all closer and made us realize how valuable and how short life can be. What really matters is love and relationships,” she says. “I want my children to remember that there were miracles that came from our experience. We’ve learned so much and gained so much strength and knowledge and a deeper testimony of what we’re doing. As hard and difficult as it was, I’m grateful, and I feel so proud of where we are. For being so young, our kids have gone through a lot and have come through it wonderfully.”

The Nielsons’ marriage has been strengthened, too. “Christian is amazing,” she says. “He’s been the one who takes care of me. And because he was also burned, he knows how I’m feeling and what I’m going through. You can complain all you want to your husband about being pregnant, but he won’t really  know. We understand each other’s wounds and are more reliant on each other.”

“We are so blessed to have the knowledge that we have,” she says. “I can’t imagine going through the accident without a testimony of the gospel plan, of the Savior, without knowing there is a God. Our family fasted and prayed and relied on the Atonement so much. Everyone is going to have problems and challenges, but it’s so much easier having these things. We are so much stronger than we think we are. I am so much more than a human going through some problems. I’m a daughter of God getting through this with God’s love and help. That’s what I like to tell people—and myself.”

She adds, “There is divine purpose in all that we do. We can be grateful for what we have and make it into something better. We can gain strength from our experiences rather than dwell on how horrible they were. There is a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to grow from trials, and it’s up to us to do that. We have been given all the tools and more to get through anything that comes our way.”

This is the cover story of the July/August 2012 issue of LDS Living. Read more about the issue and order a copy here: LDS Living July/August 2012 issue.

Also, find out more about Stephanie Nielson's positive outlook on life in her new book, Heaven Is Here. You can also watch an inspirational video, "My New Life," with Stephanie talking about her changes and blessings since the accident.

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© LDS Living, July/August 2012.
Comments 1 comments

blinko said...

03:16 PM
on Jul 29, 2013

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Dear Stephanie, I just finished reading your book Heaven Is Here. I have never written to anyone like this before but I was so moved by your story and have been through tough times in my own life that I felt I wanted to reach out to you. In 1990 three months after graduating with a Masters Degree in counseling I was in a car 1 accident that changed my life forever. I ended up after five years of constant pain,headaches,vertigo and vomiting to discover I had a blood clot on my brain stem.I had four brain surgeries to try to mend things but am left in constant pain and vertigo. I too went through a crisis of faith and fear of how I would ever be able to be of use for God and my family again. My husband and children, our two sons had to deal with so much and take over so much of my responsibilities. We lost half of our income and I had been the one carrying our medical insurance, my employer fired me for being on too long of a medical leave. There were days I was too sick to get dressed and out of bed. The steroids for the brain swelling made me gain weight and all the medicines for depression made me worse and nothing made me better for so long.There were days when the prayers of others made my day and gave me strength to go on. I felt I had lost everyting that mattered my career most of all. I had to see that my work was not the definition of me. I wondered how I would recover but through it all I learned the things you talked about. My relationships to my husband and children mattered more to me than the praise I got from doing therapy.I learned to go to God when I was weak and tired and in pain.I had two operations on my back,surgery on my ankle and a hysterectomy in the next two years. I felt I would never get better I recently had my knee replaced and need surgery on the other one. I have now found that on the days when I feel physically awful that are the days when God works through me to help others recover from their emotional pain.I specialize in treating women and children who were sexually abused. I want to thank you for sharing your journey and will pray God will continue to bless you with health and healing in the years to come. Thank you for sharing your story. Sincerely, Barbara Linko, bgillespie13081@yahoo.com
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