This post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.
The fog of despair was just beginning to thin after my second consecutive miscarriage when I became pregnant again. Just a month and a half after my last D&C. My feelings were mixed but chief among them was joy. I needed some good news. I wanted to believe I was still capable of growing and nurturing life inside me as I did in my first four “successful” pregnancies. I wanted to hope again and excitedly expect the miracles of pregnancy and birth. And I wanted to bless our new home with the sacred spirit that only comes with the arrival of new life; that moment when heaven kisses the earth. That spot of earth will never be the same.
At the same time, my ability to hope was fading. My belief in my body to nurture that kind of miracle was weak. I was afraid to face another physically traumatic loss and/or surgery. Even worse, it felt like a lie.
Our tradition of waiting to share the news until the second trimester went out the window. My two recent losses were preceded by terrible pain, unnerving bleeding and uncertainty, lessened only by sonographic peeks and doppler checks of my babies to see and hear their sweet little hearts beating away… until they weren’t.
But even as we shared the news with a few loved ones the words felt cold on my tongue. I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm to share. Those few thought I was probably just gun-shy after the last couple of pregnancies ended too early. I hoped they were right but I suspected not.
Mercifully, this third in a row ended early rather than later. I was spared weeks or months of what-ifs and pain. Physically, it was a much easier experience. And I expect, if I hadn’t already clung to this new pregnancy as a healing tool, it might have been emotionally easier too. It should have been. But it wasn’t.
Again I was flung headfirst into the pit of anguish I’d been digging for the last year. I hid in my home, in my room. I ate. Mostly chocolate. And I cried. All day and all night.
I am so grateful for my four beautiful children. So grateful for my family. So grateful for my faith and for the scriptures that have served as my lifeline. So grateful for two midwives who held my hand through it all.
But still I felt stuck in a never-ending first trimester with no payoff at the end. Nothing to hold. No sweet baby smell. No cuddly bundle to make up for my disappointment. No redemptive nursing relationship to resolve the disappointment I still carried after being physically unable to nurse my last child who was born with a cleft palate.
More than anything, it felt like the death of all of my hopes and expectations of welcoming any more children into our home. Expectations that had grown stronger and more firmly attached with each positive pregnancy test. The darkness followed me everywhere. I had visions of myself running down our street, looking over my shoulder as a dark, rolling cloud raced to overtake me. I never outran it.
Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot in a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)
Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.
What I rediscovered was the truth from which I was hiding: Motherhood is a tremendous threat to Satan’s plan. This divine gift, I believe is given to all women (mothers or not) and when developed and used has the potential to impact the world in a most profound way. Satan knows this. It doesn’t take powerful skills of deduction to see that he is targeting mothers, fathers and families with all the ammunition he has.
He knows what I’m capable of, what my children are capable of if they are raised in light and truth and he knows how to get me. He is vicious and cruel and will take your family down if you let him. And I let him… for a while.
But he doesn’t win this one.
As the stories about my Heavenly Mother, my amazing pioneer forbears and the beautiful women in this book poured into my heart, the wall around it cracked and more messages waiting for me from above streamed in.
I am a daughter of God. I have Heavenly Parents who love me and prepared me for this life with all the tools I need to live it. I have a great work to do, the most important part of which is as a mother and They are there to help me do it. Satan might have the power knock me down when I’m feeling weak but with my Savior I am strong.
The lies fell away, the truth filled my heart and I began to heal.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. Some days I’m more fragile than others. But I’m working once again on trading my will for the Lord’s. I’m trying to shed the attachments to expectations that are holding me back and be more open to the possibilities of what is in store for my family and me. And I’m trying refocus on being a better mother to my four amazing sons and losing myself in service to them and others.
No matter your phase of motherhood, this book will change your life. I’ve given away more copies than I can afford and now have a loaner copy so I have my personal copy on hand always. I refer back to some of these passages again and again. I am so grateful to the inspired women who put this book together even if I didn’t understand it at the time. I do now.
Be sure to visit the Gift of Giving Life Virtual Book Tour page for a chance to win some great pregnancy/birth/baby-related prizes!