If life has taught me one thing, it’s that you can’t judge the story by what’s in front of you.
I get it a lot: “Only girls?! You poor thing!”
“Just wait till they are teenagers! You won’t be so fond of them then!”
“Your husband needs some sons.”
The last one stings particularly much.
Life has thrown us a lot the last six years. Six years ago, almost to the day, I stood on the altar in a Church, promising my life to a man who is the most incredible man I’ve met. Full of dreams of happiness and joy, we promised our lives to one another. I promised to serve him, obey him. Because I love him and trust him. And our life together has taken some crazy turns.
We’ve weathered two deployments, one that took him away for a year. The second one, I struggled to keep things together at the seams as constant illness and major house issues left me on my knees, praying. We’ve moved four times. Both of us have worked towards our Masters degrees. The pregnancy of our third little one was tough, and at times I would wonder if she was going to be able to hang on till delivery. But she did. And her first year she practically lived at Pediatrics and was hospitalized three times, two of which while my husband was deployed.
And we lost two babies.
People see three children. People see three girls.
I am staunchly pro-life. I’ve come to dislike that label, though. People become critical before they even understand what it means. I have rallied and prayed four times at the March for Life in DC. I have stood outside abortion clinics, praying hard for the women entering. I have attended Marches for Life in Birmingham, Alabama and Austin, Texas, praying for people to understand the personhood present even in the womb.
For awhile I did it because my Faith said I had to be prolife. I understood that Christians define life as beginning at conception and ending at a natural death. So, I stood with my fellow Christians, defending life. Because that was part of my faith. And I love my faith.
And then I held my first son. He opened his eyes to God first, and the Blessed Mother holds him until I get to him. He was tiny. He was sweet. And he rocked my world. I know now why I’m prolife. I know why I believe in life from conception. Because I’ve seen firsthand the humanity in these beautiful creatures so fresh from God and taken back too soon.
I have been pregnant five times. My body has held and nourished five children. Only three would see the light of day. Only three, all girls, would join me this side of eternity. Their brothers celebrate in Heaven.
I’ve lost two sons.
Despite five pregnancies, I have only three living children to show for my openness to life. Three living, beautiful girls and two cold, stone markers. Two burial services. Two moments of holding my precious sons born sleeping. Only two weeks ago, I buried my second son. He was eighteen weeks. And God wanted him home.
We march for the unborn. We rally for the unborn. We pray for the unborn. We will stand outside abortion clinics, attempting to counsel women to choose life. My Christian family hopes for the end to abortion. Yet sometimes there is still a pressure to stay quiet about these precious souls that go home too soon through natural pregnancy loss.
We told our girls about the baby coming. He was to be our fourth earthly child. We were so excited. We talked to him, planned for him, prayed for him. We told family and friends. We announced it on Facebook. I started a sweater for him. When I noticed the bump and changed over to maternity clothes, I was thrilled. Because this is life. And life is precious.
And sometimes life is fleeting.
I will never forget both times that I sat in an OB office, praying that the Doppler was broken. Praying that a heartbeat would break the terrible silence. Grabbing at my husband, begging him to make it change. I’ll never forget the “I’m so sorry, ma’am…” and the awful noise that came from somewhere inside me. I will never forget losing my sons.
I cherished the inward joy of all five of my pregnancies. I will treasure all five positive tests. I will value the moments of standing in the mirror, watching that bump grow. I will never forget the kicks I have felt from all five of my children. And I would go through all five journeys, as varied as they were, just to nourish those lives again. As a family, we’ve celebrated beautiful life and we’ve mourned beautiful life. Because life is a gift.
I will not stay silent about all the lives with which I’ve been blessed. I will not pretend like my sons never existed. Because they did. I have ultrasound pictures to prove it. I felt their flutters and kicks. I felt their life.
I have five children. I have three girls. I have two saints.
Their names are James and John. I am so proud of them.