The following is a re-edited version of a Catholic Mom column I wrote last year:
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” This quote by George Iles could well have been the catalyst for my first novel, Emily’s Hope, which is based on my own spiritual trials in the journey towards motherhood.
Our first pregnancy 26 years ago resulted in the conception of twins. A first-time mother, I never expected anything but a child (or two) in my arms. Sadly, we lost those babies early on. Two healthy pregnancies, resulting in the births of our oldest two sons, were soon followed by two very difficult miscarriages. After that, I was hesitant to become pregnant again because I wanted to avoid the emotional and physical roller coaster of another loss. I became filled with despair, then fear, both of which can rob a soul of hope and trust.
This reaction is not unusual. Several years ago, an acquaintance of mine tragically lost her first baby at birth. Within days, she asked her doctor to perform a tubal ligation because she “didn’t want to go through that again.” I didn’t agree with her decision to become sterilized, but I understood her reaction, which was devoid of hope and designed to shield her from future heartache. I have experienced those same feelings, although I did not resort to such extreme measures.
Despite our previous pregnancy losses, my husband and I felt that God was calling us to be open to more children. It was only through prayer that I was able to muster up any hope. Eventually, hope became dependent upon trust that God knew what He was doing.
We were later blessed with three healthy pregnancies and we joyfully welcomed our three youngest sons to our family. (Photo is of our oldest and youngest 12 years ago).
We have, however, also had to endure three more pregnancy losses. During one particularly heartbreaking miscarriage, I cried out to my spiritual director and shared with him that I was torn between saying, “God, Your will be done,” and “Please, God, don’t make me go through this again.” My spiritual director’s hope-filled response was, “Perhaps God is asking you to sacrifice the joy of holding this child in your arms so that He may quickly hold your child for all eternity in heaven.” His comment helped me to realize how important it is to accept God’s will, whether it’s a healthy full-term infant or a cherished unborn baby He gives us for a short time. It means trusting that whatever God plans, He does so out of love for us and for the good of our souls.
Today, I am the proud mother of five sons ages 12 to 24. I am also the mother of seven precious souls in heaven, children I did not get to hold in my arms, but continue to hold in my heart.
Photo and Text Copyright 2011
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I think I have learned to trust more through my own suffering. Acceptance is hard but it is something I try to do more and more each day. And hope is so important isn’t it? Sometimes it is all we have.
Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. God bless.
Unfortunately I think most of us tend to find God more in sorrow than in joy.
Ruth, you’re right about that. Joy has its moments, too, but it’s like that “Footprints” story–you really have to have your feet knocked from under you sometimes. I thank God that miscarriage is one reproductive pain He has *not* asked of me.
RAnn, I agree with you that most of us tend to find God more in sorrow than in joy…I recall back in the days after 9/11 that most churches were filled to capacity.
Colleen, thanks so much for commenting. Acceptance is hard, but hope is indeed important. It was only with hope and trust that my husband and I were able to be open to more children.
Kate, you’re right that sometimes you have to have your feet knocked from under you. It was difficult going through the miscarriages — I still feel sorrow — but I also feel joy in knowing that I have seven little ones waiting for me in heaven.
I’m sure God is blessing you by having you bring your real life story of hope in times of loss to many others who have gone or will go through what you have. I have a dear friend who miscarried two babies but had six healthy children. I think only in heaven will we know why God allows this.
On the doctor who sterilized your friend: I am appalled that he went and did it because your friend was deeply depressed and was not in the right place to make an informed decision. Her possibility of ever having kids was taken from her in a moment of despair. Doctors should advise grief counseling and ask the patient to wait awhile before such a loss before making what for most will be an irreversible decision.
I agree, Barb. This physician should never have agreed to the sterilization and should have recommended grief counseling.
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