>Meet Tera: Wife, Momma, Homemaker extraordinaire (!)
I am married to a wonderful man, David Merrill Nelson. Just recently within this last year, I left the workforce to become a stay at home mother to my five beautiful children – Autumn (7), Joy (6), Virginia aka Gini (4), Kaitlynn aka Kaity (4), and Jackson. I love life and the career change! This is definitely a brief introduction. It is hard to briefly introduce me and my family, without telling our story of how we came to be…
The story –
My name is Tera Nelson. I got married at the young age of 20 in the Mesa Arizona temple. I was faced with many hardships almost immediately – my father was diagnosed with cancer, my father-in-law was killed in a car accident, my husband and myself were in a car accident, my husband fell into deep depression and fell away from the church, my husband became unmotivated in life beginning and quitting school and work, I suffered 4 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which almost took my life, I had to undergo several female surgeries ultimately leading to the removal of ½ my female parts, and for the kicker my husband became verbally and physically abusive. These hardships led to a divorce ending my marriage of 4 ½ years and I found myself re-entering the world of SINGLES.
Early in my first marriage, we lived at BYU-ID where we met a couple by the name of Dave and Jessica. We became the closest of couple friends. We did everything together! We were even there when they had their first child – a little girl, Autumn Lynn. It wasn’t until after we started experiencing hardships in our life and marriage that we moved away and lost contact with our best friends. Little did I know that we would meet again.
After my divorce, I had a few relationships here and there. But after awhile, a friend suggested that I join Facebook. So I did. It checked all my email contacts for friends who had Facebook accounts. Out of all my contacts only one did – Jessica. I immediately added her as a friend and shot an email out to her asking what she and Dave and their little family were up to. She told me that she and Dave had another little girl shortly after Autumn and then waited a few years and had twin girls. She also told me that shortly after the birth of her twins she left the church, left Dave, and at that time, was getting ready to have her internet-found boyfriend move in with her. I WAS SHOCKED! Never did I expect that this could happen. She explained that she and Dave were good friends now and suggested that I add Dave as a friend too. So I did.
As fate would have it, Dave just happened to be coming to Arizona, where I lived at the time, for a business trip. We thought it might be nice to get together and catch up on our lives and what had changed from the 5 years we last left each other as friends. We had no idea what was about to happen – we instantly fell in LOVE! After dating for about 2 months, Dave proposed and we began the clearance process to get married in the temple. Our clearance came through after 4 months and we were married August 16th 2008 in the California Oakland Temple. It was wonderful! I married the most remarkable and loving man and gained four beautiful daughters – Autumn (5), Joy (4), Gini (2) and Kaity (2).
Shortly after our marriage we were blessed with a career change for me that helped move us from Oregon to California where are daughters primarily resided with their mother. Because of this, Dave was able to request a relocation transfer within Intel moving him to Folsom, CA. Then, also to our surprise, we found out we were pregnant! Something which doctors had told me would be nearly impossible due to my previous complications and surgeries. 9 months later, Jackson Merrill Nelson was born.
During our first year of marriage we battled custody with our girls. Shortly after our first anniversary we were awarded primary custody. Soon after, I quit my job and became a stay at home mother to our 5 children.
Very many people will say they are lucky to have found their sweetheart. Me, on the other hand, I would tell you that luck doesn't even begin to describe ALL that I have found. Not only did I find my sweetheart, my most wonderful, loving eternal partner, I found 4 of the most wonderful daughters that a mother could ever ask for. My life has been blessed beyond anything that I could have possibly imagined since Dave and my girls entered into my life. And of course, I could not leave out the unexpected JOY to have Jackson join our little family.
Tell me about when you knew you were going to be a mother to Dave's children.
A: When Dave and I first met up, we just thoroughly enjoyed being with one another. He was working and living in Oregon at the time and the girls were in Jessica’s primary care in California. So, for the first part of our dating, I hadn’t met the girls. When Dave and I knew we wanted to marry one another, Dave told me that he wouldn’t propose until I met the girls and rightfully so. The girls were going to visit Dave in Oregon for his birthday, so I flew up and we all celebrated! I instantly fell in love with the girls and had no reservations at all about becoming their mother!
Was it a hard adjustment coming into a "premade" family? What were some of the adjustments and what came naturally?
A: It wasn’t a hard adjustment at all. Dave and I have always been on the same page. In regards to the raising of our girls, it has never been HIS children; it has always been OUR children. Dave and the girls welcomed me into their lives willingly and instantly we were family.
Dave had the girls for 6 weeks in the summer before we were married. I took off some work to help take care of the girls. This was my chance to really get a feel for what my life would be like when I married Dave. It was wonderful. Regardless, to any kind of change there are lots adjustments of which I had to learn to deal with. I had to learn that we had to split our time with Jessica; that they weren’t always going to be with us. Also, I had to adjust to the fact that we can’t control what goes on when they are away. I had to learn to discipline and not feel guilty. I had to learn to balance everything at home with 4 children! I would say that with a few exceptions, my adjustments were like most mothers – you learn as you go and that is just what I’ve done.
Mostly, becoming an instant mother came quite natural to me. I never thought – what am I getting into? Or man, what I am thinking marrying someone with 4 kids? Or, how do I take care of this many kids?! I have always loved children and always wanted to have a big family. Since I had so many complications in my previous marriage, it was nice to know that I was finally going to be able to experience motherhood.
When you found out you were pregnant and would be adding baby number 5 how did you feel initially? How did Dave feel?
A: I was shocked! I had so many complications before and was told that it was nearly impossible to bare children. I immediately felt concerned for the health of my baby. I had just accepted a promotion that was going to move us to Sacramento. I had to find a home in Sacramento, while Dave worked out his transfer with Intel which was expected to take several months. I was concerned that while we were apart that I would miscarry and he wouldn’t be there to help me get through it. Dave immediately offered to give me a blessing. He blessed me that I would feel peace with whatever was going to happen and that even though we will be apart, it won’t be for as long as you think. Shortly after that my OBGYN had me come in and confirmed that it was a healthy pregnancy. And within a few weeks as well, Dave’s transfer came through and we moved to Sacramento together.
Initially Dave didn’t feel much of anything because he thought that I might possibly miscarry. He didn’t want to get excited until we were sure. When the 12 weeks came and I finally entered safely into my 2nd trimester, Dave realized it was real and became really stoked! Then of course after finding out it was boy ~ Dave was even more excited to finally have another male figure in our predominately female family.
Tell me about sharing mommy duties with another mom. Is there jealousy on either end?
A: For the most part, everything is kept separate. What happens in their home is different from what happens in our home. Before hand, we just had the girls 2 weekends a month and then several weeks in the summer. It was hard because Jessica didn’t share much of what was going on in their lives. However, things changed when we were awarded primary custody of the girls. Since I knew what it was like to be in the dark, I have felt strongly to make sure she feels as little of that as possible. I email everything of importance, I save drawings that the girls make for her and give it to her when we do the exchange, I send pictures, I have the girls call when something big has happened, etc. I just constantly think about what I would want to know about if my kids were in the care of another individual and I do those things for her.
As far as jealousy, I don’t feel any on my end. Although, she hasn’t openly expressed any towards me, some of her actions would prove otherwise.
Do you have a routine with the girls? Tell me about their adjustment to you.
A: We have many routines. We get up, have family prayer and have breakfast. Once the girls are done they wash up, brush their teeth, make their beds and get dressed for the day. Then they come to me to get their hair done. I love doing fun things in their hair and making cute bows to match their outfits! Autumn and Joy are mostly at school, so on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do Momma School with the twins. I am teaching them letters, sounds, and how to write. When my older girls come home from school we all have snack before working on homework together. Autumn practices piano and then once a week I teach her piano lessons. When it comes time for dinner we have Family Hour. It starts when we all sit down for dinner as a family and it ends after we do an activity together. Then it’s time for showers! Autumn showers on her own now (sniff, sniff – she is so grown up!) while I shower the rest of the girls. Once everyone is ready for bed, we have family scriptures and prayer and then it’s off to bed. Many nights, depending on the time, I will tell the girls stories before they go to bed. The twins go to bed first, but Autumn and Joy have ‘Late Night with Momma’ until 8:00.
The girls adjusted really fast to me. They were very quick to open their hearts and allow me into their lives. Kaity and Gini started calling me Momma instantly. It was so cute. And by the time we were married all of our girls called me Momma. (This is very fitting because Jessica is called Mommy.)
Tell me about your own struggle to carry children with your first marriage. Were you worried at any point that it would just never happen?
A: As I briefly told in my story, I suffered 4 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which almost took my life. Due to many complications, I also had to undergo several female surgeries ultimately leading to the removal of ½ my female parts. At one point in time, my OBGYN told me that he did not foresee me having success in getting pregnant again. This was mostly due to all my complications and scar tissue from all my surgeries.
I was never really worried. I strongly felt that I would become a mother one way or another, either through the bearing of children myself or through adoption.
What is the best part about being a mom?
A: What I love most about being a mother is that I work hard and tirelessly all day long to take care of my house and family. Just when I think that nothing I do matters, I am proved otherwise through big hugs, I-love-you’s, and little acts of thoughtfulness. That is the best part; getting those little acts of love each and every day.
Initially you were going to be a working mom and changed your mind after Jackson was born. What changed your mind and how are you feeling about being a stay at home mom?
A: It was interesting. I always thought that I would be a working mom. After returning to work from maternity leave, a series of acts just took a toll on me. Work seemed less appreciative and made unrealistic demands on me, daycare fell through, and I found myself completely miserable. After a few months of that, Dave and I came to the decision that I needed to quit. So I did! Shortly after making the decision, we were awarded primary custody. My mother-in-law came to help out for a week, while I finished my last week of work. And then, it was done. No more a career woman; now, a stay at home mother!
It really was a blessing that I had already made that choice because I was ready when things changed. It was all meant to be. I love life and I love being home to take care of my children. For me, there is no greater joy!