Don't Miss our hilarious blog "Half-True Biographies: The Tales That AI Wrote"
July 18, 2022

From a Childhood of Abuse, Addiction, and Poverty to Mom of 18 and Role-model to hundreds more

Jenn's story is about a young girl growing up surrounded by and experiencing abuse, poverty, and addiction, and later as a woman, struggling through traumatic losses including infertility, miscarriage, the loss of her adult son as well as some family members as she stepped out to share her testimony.

Jenn's story is about a young girl growing up surrounded by and experiencing abuse, poverty, and addiction, and later as a woman, struggling through traumatic losses including infertility, miscarriage, the loss of her adult son as well as some family members as she stepped out to share her testimony.

Jenn's journey goes from being an innocent child caught in the middle of a storm she could not escape to a strong mother of 18 and hope-filled guiding voice to many parents through her social media presence and passion to help grieving moms as a Bereavement Doula.

This is Jenn's story.

"I spent 12 years as a birth assistant, lactation consultant, and CBE trainer in The Bradley Method and Birthing From Within, and ran LaLeche League meetings with a passion for supporting women who have become Moms. 

Currently, I'm a Certified Birth Doula for all "happy" births regardless of where and how you deliver. I'm also a Bereavement Doula® helping families struggling with grief and loss, as well as an Adoption & Surrogacy Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor. 

I am Mom Of 18 (yes - 18 kids!). I've written the blog - Mom’s Running It since 2011, am a published author of a self-help memoir in 2016, and host of Becoming Parents Podcast since May of 2017. 

I am a Speaker and have 15+ years of experience in the foster care sector as both a parent and a trainer. I am licensed as a Transformational Coach and NLP Practitioner through the ABNLP as well as Hypnosis through the American Board of Hypnotherapy. 

I have received targeted training on topics such as crisis intervention, drug & alcohol addiction, surviving trauma, and suicide prevention, which has equipped me with a solid understanding of how to serve others experiencing trauma.

I’m also married to an amazing man in Reno, NV, and am a runner, minimalist, and healthy lifestyle enthusiast."



We've landed hundreds of interviews using PodMatch!



















All right, I'm very excited for my guests today.

Actually, there's probably never a time.

I'm not excited for my guest but, you know, maybe I'm extra excited because I've had the privilege of being a guest on your old show and your new show.

And so, now it's and you've been a guest on one of my shows previously, Wellness, unfiltered, but now it's time to explore you and your incredible life story which spans a lot of things.

So, rather than me trying to give a snippet of your life story, let you share a little A bit about maybe actually start with kind of where you're at right now and what you're doing.

And they're going to rewind the clock and go back through how you got to this place because you've overcome a lot in life.

So, Anna, pass the mic over to you.

Thank you.

It's so interesting to this question because I had just watching your intro, like, oh my gosh, I can't imagine overcome me that, right?
Just the people stories on the intro or your story because we're super familiar with our own and I think sometimes we think it's not a big deal, it's just my story and Yeah, people story are a big deal.

They are a big deal and they're just unique to us.

So I am in Reno, Nevada.

I, we live full-time in an RV.

We are full-time stationary for people.


So we've been here for, just over two months.

We knew for the last few years, we want to renovate an RV and move into it.

And then when covid happened, it was like, oh, we really want to do that.

We were waiting until we got down to one child at home and that Happened about a year or so ago.

And so for the last we bought this RV about 16 months ago but for the last two years we've been looking we were looking more deliberately I guess.

So I we live full-time stationary.

My husband works in normal job so we don't travel full-time.

Although it has a motor, all we have to do is jump in the driver's seat and take off.

So it's pretty cool, which is pretty cool.

So we've been minimalist for over seven years and that, That felt so free to downsize our house and to continue that Journey with our kids and I'll get to that.

But you know that I usually throw that in last with our kids at home, it just created, we had so much less stress and so much freedom in the minimalism Journey that living in an RV was kind of like a culmination of that.

So that's an interesting thing and I'm back in school, which Yeah.

Something, I never thought I would do.

I never thought I would do it because I didn't think I'd have an opportunity.

That's the first thing and about 45 months ago, my husband just said, look, you're never unhappy, you're like the happiest person, I know, but I feel like you're unsettled and I think that's because you're not really doing what you're passionate about and you have it for a very long time.

I was divorced 17 years ago and price.

Her to that divorce for 12 years.

I was a birth assistant to do, Le a lactation consultant.

I was Apprentice thing to become a midwife, so my whole life was surrounding pregnancy and child birth and breastfeeding and I loved it.

I did it for 12 years and I loved it.

And when I got divorced, it wasn't bringing in enough money and we had moved to a different state.

So there was relicensing and the situation I was in, I had full custody.

Custody at that time of my kids and no support financially, and I needed to go back to work and it was urgent.

It was the lowest point in my life.

One of the lowest point my adult life, let's say that.


So we can dive into that at if you want to, and I worked up to four jobs to support my family support, my kids, and I gave all of that up because it wasn't making enough money.

And once I realized that, One of my certifications had laps and I would they wouldn't let me recertify like there was no, like you messed up.

Your life is stressful and will give you an exemption and let you maintain your license.

I had to start over.

I just let the dream die.

I let I let everything laps and I stopped being a lactation consultant, and I stopped being a doula and I stopped apprenticing in the hopes of becoming a midwife.

And when my husband, I had this conversation for five years ago.

He's like, why?
Why don't you do it?
Again, and I said, well, I mean, I couldn't work anymore and I've worked for the last 17 years and and, you know, contributed half is to our finances.

Sometimes more than half sometimes left blessed.

But so I would no longer work and bring in money and I need like five grand to do the Doula and lactation and twenty Grand.

If I if I continue on to become a midwife and he said, I want to do everything in our power.

Our everything possible for that to happen and so I am back.

Thanks, he's pretty outstanding.


No kidding.

I don't like ridiculously crazy about this, dude.

So it's good.

I married to him.


So it's why I have I really looked into the Midwifery route and the reason that that's daunting is because it's like twenty two thousand dollars and it's not like a semester or get a student loan.

It's not like that.

I would be doing home births and so not, I would not be doing nurse.

Midwifery I would be doing direct entry.

Midwifery, and I thought, well, I could go back to doing what I did for 12 years that I already know that, I love it, costs closer to 3 Grand, so definitely less than five, and it's about 10% of the cost.

It's also faster.

So I could be up and running faster like 6 to 12 months instead of three years and all of the my hours and all of my training and every basically everything I'm doing, Right now would count towards my Midwifery Jeffrey, if I decide in the future, do that.

So, that is where I am at right now.

And here's another interesting thing within that for the last, you know, I've been licensed as in hypnotherapy and as an NLP, practitioner and Coach have a lot of training in the coaching realm, and I point that out only because there are no regulations in coaching, anybody can be a coach slap a sign on their door and go forward.

It's a very saturated Market.

It and there are unfortunately a lot of scams and spams and it was a really difficult space for me to navigate because it feels like an uphill battle in coaching just in coaching.

I can still use all of that training, I love all my training, I have amazing training and it will help me but just being like I want to coach you through this tough truck.

Time was really difficult space to navigate.

For me like are you a life coach or you a trauma coach?
What does that mean?
What does that look like?
And you're waiting through thousands of people who are also coaches.

So I am also excited because I can use everything.

I actually had a lot of pretty in-depth coaching training and an LP practitioner training that I can use in this.

And one of the things that I kind of, I don't want to say specialized in but really felt called to Was helping people with grief and loss and my stepmom committed suicide.

My neighbor committed suicide, and I found him.

He shot himself in the head and I was first on scene, I've had three miscarriages.

One was twins at 19 weeks and my adult son died.

So because I've had the ability to get through a lot of grief and loss.

I've real Philly, I feel very gravitated.

So I'm at the And of a specialty certification.

As a bereavement Doula for parents who have had a loss.

So that's where I'm at right now.

Like wow there's like a lot there to dive into it's like holy cow.

You just dropped a few just a few bombs.

There's that move on.

Yeah, just a few bombs you've kind of encountered in life, but I think it's helpful to understand them because this is how you got to this place and you're right in kind of like the coaching space.

A lot of people can say, hey, I'm a coach.

And while you were sharing that in the back, Of my head, I was trying to think, what kind of Coach could I call myself, you know.

Like right right.

I mean, I am in the process.

Now, thankfully the certification that I have and the process payment board certified, which means I'm entering a regulatory body because now it's available to us, which is really cool.

It wasn't available before, all right.

But you're but I think what your life experience to which has been unbelievable.

Like remarkable, you know?
And you go by Mom of 18.

That's probably how he don't say.

It's your claim to fame but Like, let's say that that's going on going, you know, that's pretty incredible, how you've been that.

So, let's rewind the clock a little bit here, because we here Mom of 18, probably the first thing people wonder, okay?
Like, did you know, have 18 children, you yourself, biologic gave birth to, or how do we get to that place?
And actually, maybe we'll even one step further and go, like, what was child?
Number one for you?
Oh wow.

So yes, I have 18 children that I call my children.



I was told at just before my 16th birthday, I went to an OBGYN appointment because I had not gotten my period and that's old for a girl.

Yes, 60.

So my mom was concerned.


It was like a month or two before, my 16th birthday.

I was a virgin this OBGYN was this.

Very tall attractive, man.

And the first person that touched me below the belt and it was a great experience.

So I want to I'm pointing a few things out here, right?

I want a frame that to say like that can be a really tense uncomfortable and I have no I don't think I've ever really had self-esteem or confidence issues that wasn't my struggle definitely issues with trauma.

And one of my traumas, our childhood is sexual abuse and rape.

So especially coming from Where I had, although the rape didn't happen till later but I had been molested as a kid growing up, so this could have been a really awful experience.

It was an incredibly positive experience which I think was super helpful in my trauma.

Healing Journey.

But also he looked at me and still, I'm 51 right now and I don't know what he saw or why he said this.

But it was very pivotal he said, I'm not sure what the issue is.

You will probably have trouble having children and you should expect to go through infertility.

Interesting, like I'm a kid whose own just about to turn 16 who hasn't a period?
I've never had sex.

Like that's that was a very interesting comment like but even now what did he see in that vaginal exam that would have ever let him?
Like I didn't have an ultrasound.

I didn't have laparoscopic surgery.

I didn't like the interesting thing is that it we get these little like drops in the bucket Little like Droppin things, I call him, God shots things that are said or done little experiences that we don't really think anything of at the moment that later are significant and that was one of them.

I did go through infertility and I did expect it.

And I did expect to have trouble getting pregnant and in my infertility Journey.

He said, you know, if if you get pregnant you will you have a higher chance of miscarriage.

So that was another Little one of those little God shots like, okay, expect miscarriage to be part of your journey if you get pregnant.

So I did go through infertility.

I went through seven surgeries everything up to in vitro fertilization.

And those surgeries are day surgeries there, like, you know, a biopsy of your cervix, a biopsy of the inner lining of your uterus flushing of the Fallopian tubes laparoscopic surgery to see if you have endometriosis, which wasn't a big issue in my case.

Vaginal Sound but these were like you know you're under like a general anesthesia you go home the same day, I was also maxed out for anybody, that's gone through and fertilizers maxed out on Clomid and Provera I was on the highest doses.

I felt like someone had put me in a different body.

Did not like the body felt like an exorcism needed to be done.

And when we hit the point where he was like, okay next step is IVF, I was like not happening.

This is not part of my journey and I was married at 19 and this happened when I was 20.

So Singing is, I think that is having my own kids.

Nobody seemed to think at the time that that was a big deal where now I think if that were one of my kids I'd be like, take a timeout man.

And just wait and no.

Don't I would not encourage anybody.

Get married at 19, we were together.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

For a short time and so and a huge part of the strain on that relationship.

One was being Air Force and him being gone, half of the year and the other was infertility.

Like nine.

This The infertility process, these surgeries were about nine or ten months.

I told him I want to be weaned off the medication.

As he was, weaning me off, he came into the exam room one day.

He was like, I'm like 58 259.

I'm over 5 foot eight, right?
He was a short Asian guy, super quiet, very introverted.

He walked into the exam room and he hugged me which was super out of character like incredibly out of character and he said we've continued run your blood work as we've wean you off the medication.

You're pregnant.

You're pregnant off of the cycle that we put you on.

You must have spontaneously releasing an egg.

I don't know how it's physically possible.

This is your miracle from God.

Those were his words.

And he's, and he told me expect to have a tough pregnancy and expect it in the future.

If you get pregnant, you have a high chance of miscarriage.

And again what did they see?
I think it's such an imperfect science.

They're kind of like preparing you for the worst and hoping for the best it's there, you know.

No, infertility.

Is kind of like well see, that's it.

That's like a tricky thing.

They're right.

Because you in the one hand maybe you do want to prepare people to try to prepare people.

But then the question being a know, you're certified in NLP, and a few other things.

So question that pops up into my mind is when somebody plants a thought like that, maybe we can't scientifically validate this.

But when somebody plants thought like that would, that is there any possibility that could increase the likelihood of this happening?
You know, that you might have a miscarriage?
I don't know.

I mean, great question.

It's like the nature versus nurture question.

Like I would there's there's so much science and so much unknown for me.

I like to plan things and I like to have all my information.

And I probably have kind of a prepper mindset, which is more of a prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Like I think you should always have a will and get your trust done and have life insurance and then you don't need to worry about anything anymore because you're good, right?
And it was very helpful to me.

Because I think when I was expecting it, what it didn't create, Stress and Anxiety when I got pregnant or that.

I was pregnant.

That oh my gosh.

What if I miss Carrie?
It was more like when that occurred, it was easier for me to process that loss.

So I but I'm a very Silver Lining person to.

So in my mind that situation created the silver lining of potential outcome that could be traumatic or - that I was already prepared for.

So it wasn't that big of a deal for me.

I gave birth to that daughter.

When I was supposed to be in a birth center, I ended up my, I had a very intuitive Midwife who just looked at me and said, something's not right?
And I want you to transport to the hospital and I did, I transported the hospital, I was in pre-labor, I was 37 weeks.

They did like she is now 30.

So let me preface this by saying she is she's 30.

She just turned 30.

They did all these ultrasounds and I Declined amniocentesis, and they let me have her.

And they just kind of told me it was a teaching facility.

It was the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, incredible facility.

And they let me know that when she was born, they would do a bedside.

They would hit the hot button.

A lot of people would come in.

They asked me if students were allowed to come in.

I said yes.

And they said that they would when she was born, they would immediately put her in an isolate right next to me and evaluate her.

And one of two things would happen if she was critically ill, they would hand her back to me and let her die in my arms.

If they felt like they could save her, they would leave the room with her so that I was again, I like being prepared.

So that I was prepared.

So they did the bedside evaluation.

First of all, I started to push and I know they hit the hot button because someone said, so, I remember somebody saying something and they're saying her body is starting to push and I, you know, I was like down I was leaned over and I sat up and then we're 21 or 23 people in the room and I was like a holy, holy cow.

I mean, this is a teachings.

Welcome to the show.

No kidding.

It was, it was a little but if you don't care that At Point a woman does not care and I wouldn't have anyway.

I was just very unexpected that there were that many people in my room so I give birth and they do the bedside evaluation.

I can see that she's having a lot of difficulty breathing and they whisk her away.

Nobody comes and talks to me for 9 hours and the headline hours that's a tough nine hours.

The head neonatologist came in to talk to me which I didn't know was unusual and she said had we known how?
How sick your daughter is, we would have handed her back to you.

She is on every life support there is.

There are 29 babies in the NICU.

She is the most critical.

And she's considered term because she's 37 weeks gestation.

There are babies that have been born at, like, 24 or 26 weeks that are pound, and she is more critical.

We do not expect her to survive her for 72 hours.

And you will hold her for the first time.

After she's passed away.

You can't touch her.

You can go and sit there, but you can't touch her because she needs to use every ounce of strength towards getting better.

And, you know, there's this whole kangaroo care is what you should do and touching them and letting them smell you and all that stuff and at the same time it they they burn calories when they're being touched.

So there was this really critical balance for her.

She turned the corner at day.


She was born with a lung disease, called severe hyaline membrane disease.

She was also born with PDA, which is the valve between the heart and lungs that during the birth shuts and hers did not shut.

She couldn't go through that surgery because she wouldn't have survived it because the lung disease, they gave her surfactant for her lungs.

And then they use a medication called Edison to shut the PDA, and they told me we can only give it three times and it shut after time to.

And like, if they give Three times and it doesn't shut, we cannot do the surgery like your baby's gonna die.

There are all these things wrong with her and here's what we can try to do through that experience.

I realized, I mean, I'd realized prior to this experience but like I was done with any kind of infertility.

I was done before when I found out, I was pregnant with her.

I was done when before I knew, I was pregnant with her.

IVF was not my route and if I couldn't get pregnant on my own, that was it so incredibly long story much Shorter.

I got pregnant seven times.

Okay, I lost that.

This was your first one.

This was my first one chili miscarriage.

3-pack of experience.



I miscarried three and I gave birth three more times at home with midwife two of them were water.

Births, my focus though, changed after that delivery between between the infertility and her birth experience.

And the fact that this guy at when I was Most 16 Tony I probably wouldn't be able to give birth to kids.

I was content with the fact that I might not be able to give birth to kids.

It was hard, it's hard.

It's hard for women to process that, but I had given birth once and I felt okay with that.

And also because my most the most pivotal person in my life, was my third grade teacher.

And I knew I knew from her, you could make an enormous difference in the life of a child even in passing just by being yourself.

Perhaps, without even knowing that you made a difference because that was my teacher.

And so, I really wanted you foster care.


And I did foster care.

And so I gave birth four times, I adopted for, and I had two kids that were long term in my house.

And then I was divorced again.

So, that's when I moved to Reno, Nevada, and I had sole custody of my kids How many kids at that time?
There were ten kids total in eight at home, but I and I was working at the for jobs.

I mean, it was really, really tough, but I kept doing foster care, I adopted one more and I took in three more, I call them extras.

They were the kids that I would have adopted if I could have, but the opportunity of Representatives itself, but they stayed long term in my home.

So I so that leaves us two.

I was up to 14 at that point at that point, but having said that, That I have never had more than 12 in my house at one time.

So kids kind of came in and out kids, you know, you know I had that 8 and then I had up to 11 then one would leave for whatever reason and another would come in, I had 10 to 12 kids in my home for years.

Okay, here Seth, I mean, I like I've got one right?
And like one feels like a challenge.

Maybe the first one is the most challenging, but that's the biggest change.

It's the biggest life change.


After you get past that, you know, and I'm like clearly, you know in this episode We're not gonna be able to dive into every aspect of your story because there's so much there.

By the way.

Did you write a book or anything?
I did I did write a book about my life growing up so it went up to me finding out.

I was pregnant.

I was 21.

So it was 02:21.

That's the book, right?
Because there's things about that the first 21 years your life that I'd want to dive into but you know maybe maybe it's helpful to determine turn people towards a book and say you know, What, What's the title of that book?
It's called My hello.

My name is warrior princess and I email the PDF, I'll email the PDF to you, okay?
So that you have it and then you can email it to anyone who wants it.

So I, you can buy it on Amazon, but I just send it to people.

So that highlights and I mean, basically, the highlights from that are I was born in 1970.

The 70s were pretty rough as a general rule.

I had to addict parents.

My dad was a raging.

An alcoholic.

That I'm really thankful, I didn't have to spend a lot of time with my mom was more food and abusive relationships and that was she herself wasn't really abusive.

It was more that I feel like she was caught up in her own personal cycle of trauma and abuse.

And, you know, as a child in that situation, I got that spillover.

I saw her being abused.

We were subsequently abused by people.

So I was definitely it was a rough upbringing.

I am not minimizing.

It was rough.


Like in this case, almost like abuse was normalized in your mind because it was what you knew and not to say this is a good thing at all.

But that's, you know, I think about how like, patterns are laid down a special is developmental years and that was, that was your quote, unquote, normal in a sense.

Yes, it was.

And interestingly, a lot of the times because having I've had 15 years in foster care.

I spent 12 years as a parent and then I actually was hired by an I've had so much experience, I was hired by a non-profit to recruit and train foster parents.

So, actually, a lot of my training from the past about suicide, awareness, and Trauma getting through.

Trauma my initial training, all came from, I had to become a trainer of trainers in all of these really like Crisis Intervention, and Trauma, reduction and suicide prevention, and all this awareness.

I was training people in those areas.

So, so, Yeah.


It's something kind of kind of, I guess, fascinating in a sense.

And I wasn't going to bring it in the conversation, but I was like, so I've interviewed the author of this book here, men fight for me.

I'm not sure if you've heard about Ellen Smith and Jessica Midkiff his co-author, she was caught in, I think, for maybe 10 years in sex trafficking.

So this book is about like the role of authentic masculinity in ending, sexual exploitation, and trafficking.

And why I bring this up is because I think in very, very, very high percentage of, first of all, very high percentage of traffic ticket, Female.

Yeah, over 80 might even be over 90% very high percentage of traffickers and purchasers are male.

But on top of that, the majority of them come from the Foster Care Systems that come from a place of Brokenness, which leads them into this into this life.

And so, I feel like you and Alan would have a really fascinating conversation as well.

Yeah, so I might have to make that connection, but just this idea, you know, how foster care and Trauma in childhood, trauma can lead people down these paths.

They might not otherwise, Guys choose, you know, how did you so thinking about it?
Because I mean, we don't have time to go into the details necessarily.

But like you said, you've experienced Amala station as a child and rape as a teenager and then, you know, all kinds of trauma.

How did you, how did you get past that?
How do you work through something like that?
I was terrified of becoming part of the problem.

So, one thing about kids is that, usually, they defend their parents because they love them and their parents should be their parents.

It's a very normal thing.

Even in a terrible situation, I don't feel like I was in that category.

I wasn't defending my parents.

I knew that it was wrong, CPS came to our house when I was probably around 10.

And when she drove away, I didn't know why.

I wasn't in that car with her.

I knew innately that the life I was experiencing wasn't, right?
Although I had nothing to compare it to, so I didn't know what that meant as a kid.

I just knew that it was wrong and I had really positive examples of what my third grade.

Teacher was the first one, but then I had others and after the, after I was raped, it was between my Junior and senior of high school, I was 16.

So it was the summer after that OBGYN appointment and I didn't report him and I didn't, I mean, I fought him.

So I stood up for myself in the aspect that I fought him, but after it happened, I didn't report it.

And I would be the first person to strongly strongly encourage a girl to report it and to add that to his list like he was going to jail for lots of things.

The guy that raped me, but that should have been added to that list.

You know, he should have been listed as a sexual predator and I didn't do that.

In that sense, I didn't stand up for myself and once that happened in my mind as a sixteen-year-old, you know, I was, I wanted to wait to have sex and it Wasn't on my radar and I had boyfriends and I was kissing and, you know, fooling around a little bit.

But I did not want to do that.

And once that was taken from me, I kind of thought, like, what's the point?
And so, I mean, at the time, I thought I was promiscuous.

I, that that's probably an exaggeration.

But in that, next couple years, I had several partners and I set it up.

I set it up to fail, and I was creating my own dysfunctional Loop of like, yeah, I know this is something you.

That you want and it's not something that I want.

And if you push it and it ends up, not push it in the, in the sense that they're forcing.

But like, you know, push the envelope, a little push, a lot.

Like, coerce me, I'll eventually say yes, like I knew in my mind of it like, what's why not, what am I, what am I saving at this point, right?
And if we have sex, I will lose all respect for you and that will be it on.

Never talk to you again and I like that's an easy pattern to get into and I hit the point my first year of college and I think I was exposed to Hopefully some like the Myers-Briggs test and some really good syrupy options.

And I lived with a distant cousin who is like my mother's age who did Reiki and I didn't, I didn't have any idea.

I knew she could do massage.

That's it.

And I was just exposed to different situations and I said, yes, yes, the therapy.

Yes to Reiki and massage yet.

Like, yes.

I said yes to experiencing these things and through me being just kind of a young kid 17, Or 18, you know, saying, yes, to those things, it started a healing journey and I realize that and I graduate high school at 17.

I was in college at 17.

I was very young, and in that process, I realized that I was creating my own pattern of dysfunction.

And if I did not want to perpetuate this function, even if it wasn't the same, as my parents might, like I wasn't an alcoholic.

Like my dad, I was still creating my own and I was so repulsed by the thought of creating Some sort of dysfunctional Loop that I started to heal that trauma, don't get me wrong, we all create our own dysfunctional loops and since then I am you know it's like one of those things you want to be this great parent and you can be and you're also going to screw them up a lot even when you're a great parent.


Okay so I have definitely contributed to my own dysfunctional Loops that a lot of which stem from that childhood trauma and I have been a great mom.

Mom, who is screwed up my kids.

We're all human.

So I mean, I think maybe we could reframe that a little bit and say like because of course you know this is that looking at from the perspective of a perfect parent, wouldn't screw up the kids at all, but it's like there's none of us can ever really trust everything, right?
And so no childlike gets out of childhood unscathed, no matter how good our intentions are.

But, you know, if we can take a lesson from that, Isis idea that human beings are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for him.

Look, you you emerge from like, in a Sleep difficult childhood like one that you, you know, and then immensely difficult teen years like going through the trauma that you went through, you know, and then, you know, hearing these sorts of things for like, for a young mind, prepare yourself for suffering and loss and Death at a very, very early age in your life.

I mean, it speaks to just having this incredible resilience and strength of character.

I didn't acity for sure and I think as far as parenting because I was so aware that You know, we're not perfect.

And it's not possible to not one way or another, create our own and maybe just functions isn't the right word, but our own issues.

We are living our own story as parents while we're creating the the beginnings of our child's story and is a very tough balance to keep living that story with our own traumas and healing.

At the same time, we're trying to help these kids create a positive story.

So, one thing that I did through that is, I owned my mistakes and I said, I was sorry.

I also never emotionally, or physically abused or neglected my children.

I didn't do any of the, I never drank.

They've never seen me drunk.

I like, I didn't do a lot of things that could contribute to the possibility of negative things happen or me being a worse version of myself.

And I knew it was possible to break a cycle, and I wanted to I was so geared towards Breaking that cycle that I did and in that knowing that all I can do is apologize and own.

The fact that I'm a very imperfect human, trying to do the best job and within that, I could be a really fantastic parent.

That owned my mistakes.

So yeah, I so I had 14 kids when we left off.

And then my daughter who is now 30 about 10 years ago, she was just turning 21.

She and a friend of mine started fixing me up on dates.

And I humid them.

I was not I was I was I was a yeah II was cool being single at that point and right, so it was fun, it was really fun because I'm thinking like my perspective, your daughter.

How do you?
How do you describe you?
You know, hey there's this, you should yeah.

You know, she was like, Mom, don't talk about how many kids you have.

Don't say, you have 14.

Kids, don't send them to your website, don't Like I had all these like, please just let them get to know you first like talk about running and talk about work and talk about anyway.

But how cool that she thought that I was a good person that deserved to have a healthy relationship and that my picker was off is what she said which was hundred percent.

True and yeah, she started fixing me up on dates.

So these two started fix me up a day so they would meet the person.

They would ban this whole system.

Was fantastic.

And basically once they got to sit and yeah well everyday kind of like if you want to date my mom you have to go through this process and shockingly people signed up like several.

So, Dane was one of the people.

He was actually the first person that contacted them.

But not the first person that I met.

And I didn't know, at the time that from the first text that I sent because once they got through that screening process, my daughter and, and our friend would give me their number, and I would send a text, and I would meet them for coffee from that first text, we have been together ever since and Dana had four kids and his wife died.

So that is how we got 18.

So definitely death and loss and grief having full custody of my kids for the over half of the last you know 16 years and just yeah there's been a lot and and I had eight kids living at home shortly after we met.

And when we moved in together, it was back up to 12 again.

And so we're down to one there, they're all adults except for one now.

So the grocery bill must have been off the chart.

When he got, was more than a mortgage, yeah.

The groceries groceries were definitely more than our rent and mortgage or mortgage payment.

Yeah, yeah, for sure it was crazy.

I mean people for Thanksgiving like yeah I'm not in 15 people over for Thanksgiving.

And that's my everyday life.

That was my everyday life.


I'm like, no, like, four days of prep, but the, like I ran a volume business, right?
Everything I did was volume.

So, and in that, that was part of our overwhelming.

We combine families, and combine stuff.

And he moved into my house and we had 12 kids at home, it was so overwhelming.

You know, he just came to me at one point and said, I don't know how Help clean.

We just have so much stuff and that's that stress, is what triggered us to start getting rid of things and that was like pre.

I don't know anything about minimalism it was pre, Marie kondo.

It was pretty all of this stuff but somehow I was doing online searches on how to reduce stress through downsizing, your belongings and stumbled across this world of minimalism that I didn't know existed and thought well like we'll see but it was great.

Tips to moving in the right direction.

And within six months, we had gotten rid of 85%.

What we owned, which sounds impossible, when you think about your own house and I'm telling you, when you start pulling things out of attics basements closets and garages it is outstanding.

How much stuff like we're all set up?
We're all hoarding.

We're all orders on some.

We see that show and we're disgusted.


Until you go through the minimalism process you're like I could be on that shy.

I'm almost on that show right now, right?

And so I'm chuckling because because my wife has managed to accumulate quite a few possessions over the 16 years or so that we've been together, then it's a challenge because it's every one of those maybe has a memory or an emotion attached to it and parting with it can feel like potentially parting with a memory and emotion or things like that.

So I know in her case, it's a concern of, if I get rid of this, will I lose the memory that was associated with this thing?
You know.


No, you don't get rid of the memory ever and I took pictures of several things.

I mean, there's a process to help your brain go through that.

And one is you take a picture of everything that you own that you're getting rid of so that you can look because honestly like it's like hearing a song, you know, that song Strawberry Wine comes on in Walmart and I'm like takes me right back to high school you know what I mean?
Right right or a smell.

There are a pictures do the same thing.

They take you back to that.


And so I think it's important to document them in some way and then let them go.

If you don't, if you don't use them or love them, they need to go having said that, I think there are three things that I've gotten rid of that.

I wish I hadn't gotten rid of, but one of those categories happen, 17 years ago, when I realized that my licenses had laps and I wasn't going to be a doula and a lactation consultant anymore and I was working for jobs and I was overwhelmed and kind of emotionally in my adult life.

Definitely hit my rock bottom.

I got rid of all of my books, I got rid of these, these handmade quilts that someone had and Alaska had made for me.

And, you know, now 17 years later, I I can't even tell you how sad it makes me that.

I don't have.

I can't pull those things out to start this part of my life.

Life to basically it's a continuation of what I did before and I can't get that back and that was pre minimalism though.

So sometimes we let go of things that we do regret, or that we do is we hadn't and then it's two pairs of shoes.

So like it's really not a big shoes aren't so much.


Yeah, yeah.

So, what's like, I think, you know, I like the, what's next question, kind of pops up, but, I mean, because we know like, in one sense you are obviously, we're working towards this bereavement Doula certification.

Which I think is incredible because you've been through so much loss yourself, and I mean, there's a whole episode can be recorded just around how you navigate all the different losses you've experienced in your life, you know, encountering your neighbor, who had committed suicide, things like that.

Like just the shock of seeing that and how do you how do you even like process that?
But you know you've built up so much valuable experience you know?
And so kind of actually one step back what's a family reunions like for you?
Yeah, we don't have Have them.

But, you know, I have very little contact with my family.

It's a really large very disconnected dysfunctional, family, my mom was jealous of eight kids and I am in touch with two of them and my grandmother.

And I was close to my great-grandmother before she passed away.

So in a huge family I have very little I have very little relationship with my mother, no relationship with my younger sister and that's not how I want it.

However, part of that, To keep myself emotionally healthy, right?
And part of that was when I wrote the book, which was 2016, it made my mom.

And my sister basically, it was the icing on the cake, it was the last drop for them to feel comfortable being emotionally abusive and hurt or discuss it or what they're allowed to feel whatever.

They feel although They hadn't read the whole book, they just read the very beginning, but it gave them kind of a license or a go.

The go light to become very emotionally abusive, in which I said, I'm glad that you're.

You are entitled to your feelings, you should write your own book on it.

Your perspective is not wrong and I am not going to have contact with you anymore.

I have a zero-tolerance policy on anyone who is Ashley abusive or really -?
And I think it's important to like, if you're healing from your own trauma, which generally, most of us are one thing.

I would recommend is to cut out anything in your life, that's - and that's anyone who pops up on your social media stream, like, just cut it out.

It doesn't mean you have to have only people with the same perspective.

I have people that have really differing perspectives, politically or religiously and I think that can make great Ation when it creates confrontation is when it's not acceptable.

So, you know, our family reunions Dane has two brothers and a sister they all live here locally.

So we see them.

He has really very little extended family outside of that.


He and his siblings have not been in contact with extended family.

In a really long time.

Most people have passed away including his parents and it's just our kids and 13 of them live here in Reno So we I thought we're going to get this RV in like traveled the nation in like visit kids for a couple months here and like they won't leave.

So we just keep thing here.

Yeah, so I've won or laska one and Africa, one in Arizona and one in Georgia, okay.

And then once passed away.

So of 1813 live here locally.

So that like we're hanging out and so family, reunions are We have really, really fantastic relationships with most of the kids, I would say, I don't have a good relationship with three out of the 17 and one is a different situation.

She's actually not quite 18.

I can't say anything about her situation but because of it I stay more peripheral intentionally.

So I mean that brings us like I've got really Really great relationships with 13 out of a possible 17 kids.

And I think that that's really fantastic.

And again, I'd have great relationships with all of them, but adult kids need to process their own stuff and they go in and out of how close they are and how much contact we have.

And when we have it and I would love it to be different, but I'm also totally fine, respecting.

The fact that That some of them have different boundaries, right?

And and are struggling.

Yeah, so with an RV, there's not a lot of room to pack 13 other.

He we took more adult kids, visit us now that we've moved in.

So we moved in, we had a house.

We were normal people in the house and two months ago, we moved into the RV.

I think part of it is that we are home Jane and I are home right ever you.

So it doesn't matter where we are or where we meet or even if I go to their house.

Like we are Um, and the other thing is that, I think we have downsized to 250 square feet.

Of our most prized possessions, the things that we love and treasure the most.

So it's really a representation of that home that we really tried to give our kids growing up and they visit us more here II looked at day, natural, like the first month on Mike.

We need to set some boundaries on adult kids coming and we have that eight people in here and it's not that I don't want them here or we can't fit them here.

We have a way to do all that.

It's just Like like I want some space every once in a while.

So we had to tell you you cannot stay till 11 p.m.

and you know you have to leave by 9 and you have to please call us before you come over and yes we'd love to do game nights and but definitely we have really outstanding relationship.

So family reunions it's like a constant thing but we rarely have more than like eight kids together at the same time.

So getting more than eight kids together once is hard but we have right up to eight all the time.

So yeah.

Well you you just have one heck of a story and we've barely scratched the surface and I think there's so many things we could have dive into.

But you know, if you were to just just from all that you've been through, you want to share just one thing that people could kind of take away from hearing about your story, that would maybe encourage someone who might be going through a difficult period in life.

What would you share with people?
You have 100% success rate of making it through bad days and this too shall pass.

And the other thing is that whether you I'd to do work to get yourself through your own trauma, or you take it a step further, like you.

And I have done, and you want to help others even just by sharing your story, even getting through your trauma and not turning it into a business or creating creating some way to help other people where it's a monetary gain, just by sharing your story.

When we get to a certain point that we make it through that tough day and we've processed some of our trauma.

The goal becomes to make it faster easier and more supported to the Person in my experience, a hundred percent of people that I have talked to you, once they get to a certain point in their trauma, they want to turn around and offer their hand.

The leg up the hand, out to the next person to make their Journey.

Just that much easier because you understand what they've gone through and just like, in call it college, professor will tell you.

You just have to be a chapter ahead of the class.



You don't have to be.

I mean like I know I've worked through a tremendous Amount of trauma and grief, and I'm way on the other side of it, but you only need to be a chapter ahead to start helping the person behind you.

Yeah, that's amazing.

You know, I really super appreciate.

Appreciate your, openness your vulnerability, sharing your story.

This is, this is not the last conversation.

We're going to have definitely enough to have you back some time to share more of it.

So I really appreciate your time being here today.

I love it.

Thanks so much.

I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for tuning in to between the before and after, if you've enjoyed this episode, please like share, subscribe or leave a review because that helps us podcast to reach and Inspire more people.


Jonathan McLernonProfile Photo

Jonathan McLernon


Coach Jon is a weight loss coach and emotional eating expert who has lost 100lbs. From nanotechnology researcher, to Navy marine engineer, to globetrotting nomad, Coach Jon spent most of his life running from his true calling, until one question changed his life. Now he's on a mission to help others lose weight for good and leave BS diets in the rearview mirror.

With Freedom Nutrition Coaching he marries the Science of Metabolism with the Psychology of Behavior Change and the Compassion of Human Connection to create life-changing transformations with his clients.

Jenn Taylor CampbellProfile Photo

Jenn Taylor Campbell

Mom of 18, Doula

Jenn spent 12 years as a birth assistant, lactation consultant, and CBE trainer in The Bradley Method and Birthing From Within, and ran LaLeche League meetings with a passion for supporting women who have become Moms.

She's now a Certified Birth Doula for all "happy" births regardless of where and how you deliver. She's also a Bereavement Doula® helping families struggling with grief and loss, as well as an Adoption & Surrogacy Doula and Breastfeeding Counselor. She was the first doula to license with Medicaid in the state of Nevada, giving low-income and minority demographics an opportunity to have a doula.

In addition to Doula training, she has 30+ years in the trenches on her own journey as a Mama. She is Mom Of 18 (yes - 18 kids!). Jenn has written the blog - Mom’s Running It since 2011, is a published author of a self-help memoir in 2016, and host of the Becoming Parents Podcast since May of 2017.

Jenn is a Speaker and has 15+ years of experience in the foster care sector as both a parent and a trainer. She has received targeted training on topics such as crisis intervention, drug & alcohol addiction, surviving trauma, and suicide prevention, which has equipped me with a solid understanding of how to serve others experiencing trauma.