For this Inspiring mom interview, Anna and I sat down in front of our computers. She lives in Texas and I am in Ohio. I wanted to interview her as an Inspiring mom because I have watched her story from a distance. I knew she was a young mom who tragically lost a child and then made a difference in the community and in the lives of others as an activist bringing awareness to drowning prevention.
When we started the video chat the first thing Anna said was “Are you sure you want to hear this? Are you sure this is something you want me to share because I have been through some really, really dark stuff. It’s ugly. I’m serious.” I could detect the years of pain and struggle in her voice as she spoke. I told her that I believed God ordained this interview. I know that the truth and light of her story absolutely has to be shared, even if some of it is difficult to hear. This is real life pain that Anna went through and it could be you or me or any of us. So please read this with grace and compassion knowing that God had a plan for Anna and she is using her heartbreak to show the work of the redeemer at hand.
Anna got married and became pregnant when she was only 19 years old. Then she dove right into nursing school when her first baby was 5 months old. Shortly after graduating with her nursing degree she became pregnant with her second baby. She loved both her children, but it wasn’t until the third baby (Gavin) who came when she was 25 years old, that it felt like motherhood was really beginning to click. From the time she was pregnant she felt different about this bond.
She was finally ready to start acting like a mom and do all the mom things like cuddle and spend time gazing at him in awe. Even though Gavin had a cleft pallet she nurtured him throughout the surgery and was even able to breastfeed him despite this obstacle. Motherhood was becoming second nature to Anna and it felt like their family was complete.
Just as Anna began to feel comfortable in this role the image of family shattered when she discovered that her husband was battling a serious drug addiction. The two of them separated and he was admitted to rehab. When he got out Anna explained “Things seemed better. He had found the Lord and was himself again. I just wanted my family back and was tired of living as a single mom.”
So that summer they gave it another shot. They went on a cruise together and all the broken pieces seemed to come back together. Anna then got the exciting news that she was moving into a management position at the ER. This led to the decision to invest in a house! When Anna’s husband wanted to go back to school she thought, Why not?. Everything else was moving forward and the future looked bright so Anna took out all of her retirement to support his dream. It was as if they had been given a fresh start, a second chance at love, and the hope of a happy home.
Unfortunately, as is the case with many addicts, it wasn’t that simple. Her husband had relapsed and Anna found herself alone and hurting just as she was before, except this time she humbly admits to making some poor decisions in that season. Rather than looking to God and allowing Him to be her savior and rescuer she turned to another man, one who was not her husband. It wasn’t that she went out looking to have an affair. Anna says that she didn’t have healthy boundaries in place and in the midst of the anger and pain she allowed things to go too far. It was as if by retaliating against her husband she would be able to gain control. She was tired of being the victim.
That December the truth came out about Anna’s affair and she and her husband got into a huge fight, one that actually ended up getting violent. They decided they needed to separate. The holidays that year were hard, but they were trying to handle the whole divorce in a mature manner. They wanted to do what was best for their three young children and they were finding a rhythm that worked for them.
Then on New Year’s Day 2017, Anna got a call while at work. It was the most devastating call any mother could receive.
Anna was informed that her precious 2 year old baby boy had drowned in a pool. She raced out of the hospital she was working at straight to the hospital where her son Gavin was. As an ER nurse, she had faced situations like this but this time was different. This time as she stood under the dim hospital lights in her scrubs looking down at the child on life support listening to the machine steadily beeping she wasn’t the nurse, she was the mom. It was by far the most difficult experience she has ever had to go through.
It’s been almost three years since Gavin passed away. The Lord has been covering Anna every step of the way. He has given her the hope and the courage to keep going even when she felt like giving up. Anna has done a tremendous amount of work with the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance. You can read more of hers and Gavin’s story here.
So much healing and restoration has taken place since the loss of her marriage and her son. A miracle that only God could do.
Anna has since remarried and her husband is an amazing christian man who supports her and loves her unconditionally.
He also introduced her to a program called Celebrate Recovery which she has been an active participant for 18 months now. She will actually be sharing her testimony at her local celebrate Recovery this coming week and Anna informed me that September is national recovery month!
Here is what Anna has to say about what she has learned through Celebrate Recovery
“I have been able to identify where my struggles truly lie and what I continue to pick up. I have to stop looking at the past. It is damaging to my spirit and my soul to keep analyzing all the reasons why my life is ‘not what I expected’. There are things that I have no choice but to accept. I cannot change what others do with their life despite when I wish they would choose differently. I have absolutely no choice but to accept that my youngest son died, and there wasn’t a thing I could have done to change it. I have to accept that because of what happened and choices that I made, I am now in a new phase of my life. Instead of clinging to the past or trying to figure out how I got here, it is time to embrace where I am. Accept the life that God has blessed me with, and continue to find the best version of myself that I can BECAUSE of my story.
As hard as this journey has been, Anna has taken all of her pain and used it to help others. That is her passion and her calling. She is currently going back to school to continue her education as a nurse. She said this would be the year Gavin would have started school so she has started school too. “My path is my memory of him. I am trying to be proactive in his honor.” Anna says.
Anna encourages anyone dealing with hurt, pain, or addiction to find a local Celebrate Recovery to be a part of.
On Anna’s shoulder she has a tattoo with the scripture reference Isaiah 40:31 and I will end with that verse because it’s so perfect for Anna, and for you, and for me, and all of us.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
If you would like to connect with Anna or see more of her journey you can follow her on Instagram at @AnnaSlaytonRN