Testimonies & Conversion Stories

"Testimony of Doug Pounds "

After two and one half years of marriage, the news came back positive; the clear liquid in the vial turned blue. My wife was definitely pregnant. What bliss. We were going to start a family. Oh the dreams. Would it be a boy or girl? What excitement! That was Sunday. On Thursday Jacki headed off to her Cursillo-- floated off really! On Sunday morning as she served as altar "girl", Jacki received word as she was praying that it was twins. But that's another story!

Ten weeks later and the doctor was concerned. No movement yet detected. No heartbeat yet heard. An ultrasound was suggested just "to check things out". Now concern and worry overshadowed our bliss. Is everything all right? Will our dreams be shattered? We were told the best time to do the ultrasound would be a week and a half later. On pins and needles we waited and then headed off to the ultrasound.

"My husband is praying for twins," my wife said to the ultra sound technician with a little laugh. Jacki wasn't bold enough to proclaim to a total stranger that God had told her it was twins. Do they run in his family, the tech asked in a voice laced with incredulity? My wife lay there, bladder to the point of bursting, jelly smeared all over her belly and the ultrasound wand circling in a searching motion. A slight pause from the technician, "It looks like he's going to get his wish. The babies are fine." Jacki was so glad she was lying down. Thank God all is well. What a relief. Then reality hit home for both of us. What a blessing; instant family. Thank you Lord. As we celebrated over lunch, Jacki confessed in awe that she felt so honored to have been told that she was carrying twins. She felt like Mary when Our Lady heard she was carrying Jesus the Messiah in her womb.

Seven months rolled around and like so many others we attended birthing classes. We couldn't contain our excitement as we anticipated the perfect birth and bonding that we were going to share. We could hardly wait for our shinning jewels to make their appearance.

Then the bubble burst. Bang! Jacki woke up at about 6:30 one early November morning with her heart racing. This isn't right. I rushed her to the hospital. The nurse recorded 240+ beats per minute. Nothing the doctors did could bring it down. The medicine that would decrease her heart rate could bring on early delivery. The medicine to stop early delivery could make her heart race even more. The doctors could do nothing and I felt so helpless. We just knew that this was not good for Jacki or the babies. Please God; I fervently prayed, help her out. Almost two hours later the arrhythmia broke by itself. Thank you Lord. I never fully understood how serious this was until years later. Okay, we got through this I told myself; now things will work out and be perfect, I still naively thought.

Several weeks later, Jacki's Mom came to visit on Thanksgiving Day. This was divine providence because we were both still in denial. Even though Jacki was obviously puffed up like a balloon and her doctor had been watching her carefully, we were both still in our cloud anticipating a clockwork delivery. Jacki's mother, however, quickly recognized the symptoms of toxemia. "We are going to get you to the hospital right away" she said. Thank you Lord for Moms. As we arrived once again at the hospital it became crystal clear to both of us that things were very serious. Now we just awaited the doctor's decision and tried to pray and reassure each other. We called all our prayer warriors to let them know to pray--like crazy. After two days in the hospital, the doctors decided it was time to deliver the babies via caesarian section. Jacki was leaking amniotic fluid, protein had been detected in her urine, and her blood pressure was very high. No time to waste. No time to inject a steroid to try to develop the babies' lungs to give them a better shot of survival after delivery. Jacki's and the babies' lives were in too much jeopardy. We both felt our perfect delivery ebb away as real fear set in. Everything seemed to be unraveling about us. It is not supposed to be this way! All those films about childbirth never prepared us for this and what was going to happen next.

The twins were delivered at thirty-six weeks gestation by caesarian section on Saturday. The first, Jennifer, was born--tiny and cute but a bit bluish. She weighed in at 5 pounds 2 ounces, which was actually quite good for a preemie twin. So short-lived was our joy though. Jessica was delivered next. She was not breathing. She weighed just 4 pounds and 9 ounces. All was still and quiet except for the doctors rushing to intubate her and get her lungs going. It was all too surreal. Could this really be happening? Jacki lay there on the table not even able to see Jessica and only having had a brief glimpse of Jennifer as they whisked her by. Twenty minutes later they had Jessica stabilized. We breathed a sigh of relief. We thought, "Now we are out of the woods."

The seriousness of the situation was once again quickly brought home to us that evening as Jessica was shipped from St. Joseph Hospital in Lowell Massachusetts, to the NICU at the Floating Hospital in Boston Massachusetts. The Floating Hospital had better facilities to care for sick premature babies. We both felt so helpless as they wheeled her into the room for Jacki to see for the first time and to give us a chance to say what might be goodbye. She had tubes going everywhere and looked so helpless. We felt so helpless.

The next morning brought us more anxiety as Jennifer followed Jessica to the NICU in Boston. Jennifer was not as healthy as we initially thought and they felt Jessica might do better if her identical twin was right there with her (this has been documented to be true of preemie twins).

What torment this was to Jacki. Her new family was immediately torn away from her and brought to a place where she could not hold or touch her new babies. The newfound joy of motherhood was stolen like losing a job or your life's savings; only this was life itself. It was not fair. God, how could you let this happen? It is not supposed to be like this. We were going to have a good delivery and a wonderful start to our new family. As people came to visit and offer their congratulations, Jacki just couldn't bring herself to share their excitement and optimism. Despair and depression started to fill her as she stared sadly at the teddy bears and pictures that the NICU nurses had sent up to us to help us feel closer to the twins.

Jacki was released on Thursday and went that evening to visit the twins. She wondered though if she would really be able to really bond with them. Already she felt like a failure as a mother. They were so little, so fragile it seemed. Dare we even touch them? Jacki felt incapable of doing even the basic things for her new babies.

The next month consisted of exhausting trips back and forth to Boston every day to see the babies. They miraculously survived a series of ups and downs at the floating hospital. Because of much prayer and God's mercy, they both finally made it home just in time for Christmas. Finally, I thought, our family life was going to begin. We had made it through thick and thin and now we had reached the real beginning. Right? Wrong! What I did not realize was just how low Jacki was about to sink into depression and how unprepared she was to deal with the realities of motherhood. I also was about to learn how unprepared I was to deal with the changes in Jacki.

It started slowly at first. Jacki could not adequately breast feed due to her medical situation. Some subsidized breast pumping was all that could be mustered up. This was the first set back. Eventually this failed and all the feedings had to be done by bottle with formula. Jacki felt like more of a failure. Then the sleepless nights started to take their toll. The depression deepened. I was home for two weeks and went back to work. Jacki's mom stayed for a week. Then my mom stayed for another week and then went home. Jacki was now alone and trapped at home with two little babies that required constant feeding and changing around the clock. The caesarian section, the feedings, the lack of sleep, the hormones going up and down finally took their toll. The twins developed reflux. This meant that more often than not, they would projectile vomit almost all of what we feed them. The doctor suggested we feed them 1 ounce of formula every hour around the clock. Right we thought--and just how could we possibly manage that in our already exhausted state. Thank God for the many friends who jumped to our aid during this incredibly stressful time. In addition to the problems the babies had, Jacki developed a back problem and could not walk without severe pain. I could clearly see the strain in her eyes. Gone was all joy and peace. Jacki's eyes were always glassy and half closed. Her eyes looked heavy and weary.

Resentment, bitterness and anger crept in for both of us. Finally, Jacki wanted out. She did not want to be a mother any more. She wanted away--anywhere, anywhere from the two balls and chains that had so uprooted her life. "Why can't it be like it was before when it was just us?" she thought. And then she would feel so incredibly guilty.

I was ill prepared to deal with the changes in Jacki. I didn't understand why she couldn't just adjust to the changes. The family we had dreamed of had finally arrived. We were so blessed to have twins. I just couldn't grasp the toll all the changes had exacted on Jacki. Here I still remained quite naive.

Then the fights ensued. There were endless late night arguments. Why can't she adjust? What is wrong? I was starting to despair myself. The arguments and fights went on and on; over and over. I was desperate. I cried out to God. Please help me Lord. Every day I prayed. God, if anything is to come of this, you are my only hope. I went to men's prayer groups and received prayer. I opened up and asked for help. I cried out, Lord, please help me. Please help Jacki.

I seriously considered walking out. After all, I'd tell myself, who could blame me? I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. Then I prayed and prayed some more and then some more. God, please help me!

The month after the twins were born, my mother gave me a newspaper article written by Wayne Wieble about an obscure little village in Yugoslavia called Medjugorje. The article explained how the Virgin Mary was appearing to six children there and talked about conversion and turning to her son Jesus. I was so intrigued and awestruck by what I read about what was happening there. Little did I know at the time how this was to change the course of our lives.

Some time in February, Jacki and I went to listen to a nun speak about Medjugorje in the basement of St. Rita's Parish in Lowell Massachusetts. Some Medjugorje Holy water was passed out and I made the sign of the cross with it. This was curious because I was not Catholic at the time; it is the first time I ever remember making the sign of the cross in my life and it was with Medjugorje Holy Water. Well let me tell you. At that very moment, God gave me a very special gift. He placed in my spirit the sure faith that Jacki was going to be OK with the difficulties she was going through at the time that were so taxing to me. This gave me a supernatural grace from God to endure the trials. Things were not great between us, but I had God sustaining me. I was no longer going it alone. How could I leave? I couldn't. It would be wrong. And besides, I had the freedom. The situation did not change, but the big difference was who was in control of me. Well, I now had all the grace and strength I needed to endure (no more trying to do it on my own strength).

It was two to three months later at a prayer breakfast that the beginning of Jacki's healing started. The speaker talked of letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment. Jacki felt a strong prompting and nudge (not by me) to forgive a close friend she was angry against. Jacki gave that up as well as anger towards God and years of anger she had held against her biological family for abandoning her. The spiritual healing had begun. Talk about generational healing! Wow!

That wasn't the only thing that happened that day though! The speaker claimed she had received a special gift from God to pray for healing of backs and legs. Jacki allowed herself to be prayed over and her leg grew on the spot and her back snapped into place. Pain she had felt for months was gone in an instant. Wow! How awesome! Our God brought fourth the miracle that he promised me! What a new beginning!

With new hearts within us we were blessed to go to Medjugorje in 1989. After major surgery (that is another story for another day) Jacki was privledged to return there in 1990, this time with some close friends of hers. In 1991 I returned there just after the war broke out. I made this pilgrimage to offer to God thanksgiving for all the ways he had delivered us through the trials of becoming parents. This is why Medjugorje continues to be special and important to me--indeed to both of us. Because of Medjugorje, we are still together. God has not stopped there either. Today Jacki and I are both thriving in all ways.

I can honestly say from my heart today that if I didn't have Jacki, there would be this tremendous void in my life. I wouldn't care about my job or house or life. Along with Jesus, she is my whole purpose and reason for existence. We have so much in common. She is my best friend, my companion, my confidant, my lover, my joy, my pride, and my soulmate. What would I ever do without her? Together, we have become the holy family we had dreamed of--Jacki, Jennifer, Jessica, our son David who is ten, and I. On her recent trip back to Medjugorje in September 2002, God told Jacki to purchase a plaque of the Holy Family she had seen in a store because "OUR FAMILY IS A HOLY FAMILY". She was blown away by this and quickly complied with God's request. The portrait hangs over the fireplace in our home, which has become our family altar

Fourteen years after the beginning of this marvelous journey we have taken together, I wrote a tribute to Jacki that I was privileged to read to her on Mother's Day last May before our entire parish. She unabashedly cried before the entire gathering--tears of great joy and humility to be so honored. EVERY single word in it is true. How can it get better than it already is? I honestly get sad sometimes when I think of Jacki because I know our life together will come to an end at some point. The great solace I have though is that our life together WILL continue after this one is complete. Thank you God! Boy, what would we do without our faith? Our life would be completely meaningless. It wouldn't matter what we do. When I look at Jacki, I'm looking at God too because he is so alive in her.

My love for Jacki runs deeper than the depths of the ocean. My love for her is thicker than the densest forests. The fragrance of our love is sweeter than all the flowers in the world.

Wow! What an honor it is to be married to Jacki!

Jacki, I love you so very very much!

Thank you God for the Miracle of Medjugorje.
Doug, October 16, 2002

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