This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever done, and it’s forever. It’s the only thing we take with us is family, and I love and appreciate my mother every day more and more. —Julie Grygla
When Julie and David Grygla leave their St. George home, they prepare to be met with stares and questions. As the parents of 14-month-old triplet boys and 1-month-old twin girls, David and Julie understand that their family is unusual. But with all the attention they attract, it is hard not to feel like a "freak show," Julie says.
"That's how I feel whenever I go out in public," she told the Deseret News. "It's not great to have to be exposed to all the negative vibes every time you leave the house. But I agreed to do this (interview) because we just feel like we've been so blessed, and it's really our obligation to testify of the importance of families and the beauty of families and just that hard work and sacrifice is worth it."
After marrying and struggling with infertility for a year and a half, the Gryglas were surprised to learn that, through the help of artificial insemination, Julie was pregnant with triplets. But the real surprise came when the couple's triplets were 5 months old and Julie found out she was expecting twins.
Now with a family of seven, the Gryglas enjoy envisioning what it will be like to have five children in high school or to take them on family vacations. Although the couple's one-on-one time is limited, and leaving the house is challenging, they said there is nothing else they would rather do than raise their family.
"I married so late in life that I never thought that this would be open to me," said David Gryglas, who was 41 when he met Julie. "We both came from big families, and we always imagined ourselves with a large family, and by the time I got to my age, I thought, 'Well, maybe that’s not for me,' and now it is. It feels like Christmas all the time."
Although the Gryglas are completely happy with their family, just like other parents of young children, the couple has difficult days. During challenging times, they turn to their beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I rely on my faith when the days are hard and when we’re tired, like, ‘Is this really the smartest thing for us to do?’ ” Julie Grygla said. "And the Spirit just rushes in: family. What else is this life about except family? And we keep saying to each other, we’ll keep having as many children as Heavenly Father wants to send us, even if it’s difficult. This is where the true joy of life is, which is not something I was converted to three or four years ago."
Before the Gryglas' twin girls, Emily and Eliza, were born in April, Julie Grygla found her belief in the importance of families tested. Throughout her pregnancy with the twins, she experienced many physical discomforts. Toward the end of her pregnancy, Julie caught two severe viruses that caused her to cough to the point of throwing up. Her coughing eventually led to a separated rib.
"The last week of my pregnancy was, it was a lot of soul-searching of what is Heavenly Father trying to teach me through this experience," she said. "I just sat down and I just cried and I thought, 'Why can't I catch a break? Isn't it enough that I am carrying twins?’ It was really hard for me."
After the twins were born, the Gryglas saw "Freetown," a film about LDS missionaries serving in war-torn Liberia, and Julie began to realize that her situation was not as traumatic as she had once thought.
"I sobbed. I cried through a lot of that movie because I thought, 'You know, I could have done better. I could have had more faith at the end of my pregnancy. I could have relied on the Lord even more,’ ” she said. "Those missionaries were so confident that the Lord was going to deliver them, even though things were difficult, that they were going to be OK and he was going to provide a way, and I realized that that was something that I needed to work on in the future when things get hard."
The Gryglas continue to rely on their relationship with God as they raise their children.
For David Grygla, having three boys and two girls has not only fulfilled a lifelong dream, but it has also helped him understand the importance of fatherhood.
"I think it’s probably the most profound thing a person can do, becoming a co-creator with God, giving a physical body to our spiritual brothers and sisters and raising them up to know the truth," he said. "It’s a profoundly spiritual and meaningful experience, and it’s also a really physical experience with all the fevers and snotty noses and sleepless nights. So it’s like this marvelous combination of all of the great things of existing."
As for Julie Grygla, becoming a mother was not on the list of things she daydreamed about. Before marrying David, she wondered whether she even wanted a family. As one of 11 children, Julie had questioned her mother's choice to focus on family, rather than other endeavors. But her mother's response to her criticism led to a change of heart.
"She got really hurt one day when we were having one of these conversations,” Julie Grygla told the Deseret News in a 2014 interview. “And she said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life, and to hear you talk so negatively about it really hurts my feelings.' ”
Although her mother is no longer living, Julie is trying to follow her mother's example as she raises her own children.
"A mother is the only one who can grow these little babies," she said. "I mean, I had a career. I had a couple careers before I became a mother, and they’ve just faded. They’re not even, at least at this time in my life, they’re not even remotely appealing to me because being a mother, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s the most beautiful thing that I’ve ever done, and it’s forever. It’s the only thing we take with us is family, and I love and appreciate my mother every day more and more."
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