"By the grace of God and through science, I now have these five little miracles. And I feel like this gratitude undergirds my real philosophy on mothering, like the fact that I am here, and I have such gratitude to the Lord for blessing me with these children,” Natalie Kjelstrom says.
As the California sun shines through the windows of her home, Natalie Kjelstrom folds the large piles of laundry that her family of seven generates. As she folds, however, she isn’t thinking about what a drag it is, or how much she hates doing laundry for so many people. Instead, Kjelstrom said she thinks, “Wow, I have this laundry. Children live here. I’ve been blessed with these children who need clothes.”
LDS mom Natalie Kjelstrom was recognized as American Mothers’ 2017 California Mother of the Year for her outstanding motherhood. The reason is simple: gratitude.
Kjelstrom and her husband struggled with infertility for several years before being able to conceive their first daughter.
Kjelstrom’s first three pregnancies developed ectopically, meaning they developed in the wrong place, threatening her life and requiring surgery. After those three, three rounds of in vitro fertilization didn’t work. She then had a series of miscarriages. Her body was left damaged and barely holding on.
Now, as she folds the shirts of her four little girls, two of them matching for her twins and the one tiny shirt of her small son, her position is not lost on her. She knows what it is like to have an empty washing machine. She knows what it is like to have a footprint-free floor, an empty dishwasher, and a corporate, quiet, professional job.
She once asked herself what she would give up to have children, after long years of sitting in fertility clinics and hearing hard news.
“Over four years of all of those surgeries and my fertility journey, I realized I would give everything," Kjelstrom said in an interview. "I would give financial, emotional and physical, I would just give it all."