The stunning Kira Voelker with her mother Terra Strohm and sons Adam (4) and Ries (3).
Terra is mother to three, her biological children Kira (29) and Dennis (26) and bonus daughter Desiree (20).
Terra always had big plans for herself and she was on her way to accomplishing them. She finished high school at 16 and by age 17 was ready to begin nursing school with a full scholarship and become a Ford model. It was then that she learned her severe endometriosis was threatening her ability to ever bear children. Her doctors told her that if she ever wanted to have kids she should do so soon. Motherhood still wasn't fully on her radar when she unexpectedly conceived Kira at 18 while on birth control. Her life shifted gears quite dramatically as she prepared for motherhood.
Terra's pregnancy with Kira was challenging and she wasn't growing well. She carried to 44+ weeks before they finally induced and Kira was born only weighing 5lbs. She lost a full pound in her first day of life and the doctors told Terra that her baby wasn't going to make it. Thankfully, she pulled through and continued to grow and thrive. Terra's second pregnancy was tumultuous as well but Dennis was born with out complication. While some women find that pregnancy alleviates their endometriosis symptoms, Terra's caused hers to spread and by time she was able to have surgery it had spread from her uterus to her intestines, kidneys and liver. She had a full hysterectomy at age 21 as a result.
Unfortunately, Terra's experience didn't stop there. She recently became ill with pneumonia that would not go away. She spent months very sick and 17 days in hospital. They ultimately realized that her endometriosis had spread to her lungs. While pulmonary endometriosis is quite rare, it does happen and there isn't much they can do for treatment short of a lung transplant that she is not a candidate for. While she felt like she was just getting sicker for quite some time this past year has been amazing. She lost 52 pounds, is living with her daughter and grandchildren now and says she feels better than she has since she was in her 30's.
Kira's story of motherhood coincides with her mothers and brings things full circle. She too was diagnosed with endometrois in her teens and cervical cancer in her early twenties. She had to have 90% of her cervix removed because of cancer and wasn't certain she would be able to carry and give birth to biological children. Her pregnancy with Adam was healthy but after three days of labor she was not dilating at all. Her doctor tried to remove some of the scar tissue that had formed in hopes of allowing her to dilate and they pushed pitocin but it wasn't working and she ultimately needed to deliver via cesarean. With Ries, Kira decided to have a scheduled cesarean knowing she likely wouldn't be able to dilate again.
Due to the unexpected complications with her pregnancies and deliveries, Kira chose to have a tubal ligation to prevent future pregnancies. She had always wanted a larger family but has found herself happy with the two beautiful boys she has. And her heart is open to adoption if she gets the tug to add another child to the fold. Kira was able to breastfeed both boys for 8 months when she went back to work as a flight attendant and chose to wean due to her intense schedule and time away.
Kira believes strongly in the need to share our stories and form communities to support one another. In the years since she's had her boys she's found herself questioning her decisions. She's confident she made the best choices at the time but has still found that self doubt sneaking in. This is where our villages and communities are needed she says. "We're all doing the best we can". Kira wanted to share in this experience with her boys and her mother because of their strong connections and influences on one another's lives. "She made me, I am who I am because of what she's taught me. We both have stories to tell, individually and together".