God’s Surprise Gift


Today is the day of the U.S. annual March for Life in Washington D.C. (and I hope it doesn’t get cancelled due to the winter storm coming to the East Coast!). I’d like to share the following article I wrote entitled “God’s Surprise Gift” which was published in God Moments III: True Love Leads to Life, released in 2012 by Joseph Karl Publishing.

For several days after my mom shared the news, I remained shocked and surprised but very, very happy. My 47-year-old mother was going to have a baby.

One thing was certain: I had never seen my mom so joy-filled. She became a widow at age 44. A short time later, she met and married my stepfather. Although my stepfather had four daughters from his first marriage and my mother had four children from her marriage to my father, neither imagined there would be any children from their union.

The challenges became apparent as soon as she began to tell people. My mom’s obstetrician/gynecologist (the same doctor who delivered me 22 years previous) scowled when my mom asked for an “official” pregnancy test, explaining that she had taken an “at home” test and it was positive.

“You’re not thinking of having it, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“You can’t have it! You have a one in ten risk of having a child with Down Syndrome, not to mention all the abnormalities that come with increased maternal age.”

“I want to have this baby.”

According to my mom, the doctor continued pressuring her — urging her — to have an abortion. However, my mom had always had a strong and stubborn personality. She didn’t back down nor did she acquiesce to his wishes.

Finally, she said, “I’m having this baby.”

The doctor replied, “Then you’ll have to find another doctor. I won’t be delivering it.”

When she arrived home, my mom was angry. She spent the next ten minutes yelling and pacing the floor. She was frustrated with the irony of the words “pro choice.” She wasn’t given any choice but to abort. She eventually found a Catholic pro-life doctor to deliver her baby. Since it had been 20 years since her last pregnancy, there were some concerns and challenges. However, this doctor took very good care of her.

Of course, her previous doctor wasn’t the only one who reacted negatively. Some friends and relatives thought my mother and stepfather were crazy to be happy about an “unplanned pregnancy.”

“This is obviously an accident,” one person commented. My mother’s response: “This isn’t an accident. It’s a surprise. Those are two different things.” Another person said, “It was obviously unplanned.” My mom would shake her head and say, “Not unplanned, just a surprise.”

The day came for my mom to deliver. It was a rainy Tuesday evening. My siblings and I waited outside the delivery room. Finally, we heard a baby crying. We were soon given the news that my mother had given birth to a baby girl. We were thrilled! We had a new baby sister to love, and my mom continued to call her “God’s surprise gift.”

“God’s surprise gift,” my youngest sister, is now 34 years old. She volunteered, then worked for years at a crisis pregnancy center and spent many Saturday mornings praying in front of abortion clinics. She now works as a director of religious education at a parish in New Jersey.

My mother passed away in 2007. However, our entire family remains grateful that she and my stepfather chose life for my sister. I can’t imagine the world without her.

Photo and Text copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach

St. Agnes,Virgin and Martyr

stagnesTomorrow is the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr. I knew little of this saint until I read about her during research for my novel, A Subtle Grace. I have dedicated my book to her.

It’s no surprise that St. Agnes’ feast day is so close to the U.S. March for Life. Agnes’ name in Greek means “chaste, pure or sacred,” and in Latin, it means “lamb.” She is the patron saint of young girls, chastity, engaged couples, rape victims (and others). In past centuries, young girls would recite the prayer/poem to St. Agnes on the Eve of the feast day (today) in the hopes that they would dream of their future husband.

The following is a link to an excerpt of A Subtle Grace which includes the prayer/poem to St. Agnes:

Excerpt from A Subtle Grace

St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us!

New Year’s Resolutions and NFP

The beginning of a new year often prompts many to make resolutions regarding lifestyle. Some will decide to exercise more or to eat better or to get more sleep.

Nowadays healthier lifestyle choices are encouraged: a diet rich in whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, low in saturated fat. Unhealthy habits are discouraged: poor diet, inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking.

Part of a healthy lifestyle also includes making good choices regarding birth regulation.

Moral considerations aside, NFP, or Natural Family Planning, is very healthy. It is not only an effective method of birth regulation, it also has no physical side effects and, in my experience, helps a woman to understand and know her body better. There are no pills or chemicals which go into the woman’s delicate system. There are no devices or operations for either man or woman.

Other methods, however, are not so healthy-inducing.

Each oral contraceptive pill or patch prescription includes a lengthy insert outlining the many physical side effects: an increased risk of blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, headaches, breast cancer, mood swings, weight gain. Vasectomy comes with an increased risk of prostate cancer and dementia. Women who undergo a tubal ligation have increased risk of pain and hysterectomy.

For those who are especially concerned with the environment, the Pill is a likely culprit in contributing to the feminization of male fish.

http://www.aboutmyplanet.com/environment/study-us-fish-increasingly-feminized/

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/86/8608cover.html

For more information on NFP, this is a great, informative video:

http://www.phxnfp.org/

My husband, James, and I are certified NFP teachers and we also teach NFP online. If you have any questions regarding NFP or the classes we teach, email me at fullquiverpublishing (at) gmail (dot) (com)

Copyright 2016 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Photo copyright Josh Hrkach Used with permission