The Children We Never Got to Hold

This teeny tiny blurry spot is the only picture Lane and I will ever have of our 4th child. There are no pictures at all of our 3rd child. She passed away too early for us to even catch a glimpse of her. This 4th child, though, we were blessed to get this beautiful picture. We were blessed to hear her heartbeat.

Anna's Ultrasound Pic

In this picture she measured 7 weeks, 3 days. A week later when we found her heart had stopped beating, she only measured one more day of growth. She had passed away just one day after we were able to “see” her for the first time.

So tiny, but at 7 weeks she already had a beating heart. She wasn’t what many would consider “fully formed,” but she already had a little nose, ears, eyes, arms, and legs.

gestation 7-12 weeks

I would have been 37 weeks pregnant with her yesterday. Our third child would have been about to turn 1 year old. As I look around my home at my first two healthy children playing, I often feel like something/someone is missing. I imagine our third baby chasing these two active boys around. She probably would have been walking by now. I look down at my belly and am very aware that there is no one inside me. None of those giant kicks in the ribs that I experienced from my boys. Or those giant roll-overs where you can see your entire stomach move. I mourn the loss of these two children, and I am so much ever more grateful for the two I am able to raise, cuddle, and laugh with during my days.

On days like today, I mourn so much more. Life is sacred, and I’m angered to live in a culture that murders these precious little ones. I think of the babies who have beating hearts today, but whose mommies will have no one inside them tomorrow. I wonder what those mommies are thinking as they near the due-dates of their babies. Do they feel the same way I do today? Do they have the added pain of guilt? Or are they still happy that they aren’t having to “deal” with that? It simply breaks my heart, both for the babies and for these women. We would LOVE to take one of these “unwanted” babies and raise him or her as our own, and we’d also love the opportunity to help these women make the right choice, and then care for and raise her child.

May we as Christians never forget to #Stand4Life. May we never fail to step in and be a life-line to that struggling single mom. May we always be willing to care for the fatherless. May we be the voice for those who have no way to be heard.
May we always speak and act as though every life is a life worth living–that every life is a life that was ordained by God Himself.


Baby: Blessing or Inconvenience?

Note: This was originally posted on my former blog, “One True Wife,” on May 7, 2013.  In honor of Sanctity of Human Life Day & the upcoming anniversary of Roe V. Wade, I decided to re-post it.  I have updated it and edited it for grammar.

The debate on abortion can get pretty heated.  Pro-choicers say that it isn’t right to force a woman to have a baby.  They claim that a woman has a right to choose whether this baby is coming at a convenient time for her, and to make a decision about whether or not to “keep” the baby.  They say that it isn’t our place to punish her sin of promiscuity with a baby, and that the baby isn’t a baby at all–but only a blob of cells.  And because that baby is not yet viable, it’s not a life worth saving.sanctity-of-human-life-post-02

Pro-lifers argue that the “blob of cells” is already a human being.  It is life, and it deserves the opportunity to live.  They argue that a baby is not punishment, and that it is not inconvenient at all.  Instead, a baby is a blessing.

At the #Stand4Life Rally at the Texas State Capitol.    July 2013.

When my husband and I were engaged, he told me that he had a heart for adoption someday.  He believed that being pro-life had to go beyond holding picket signs (although we’ve done that), participating in the “Walk for Life”, and wearing a ribbon on “Sanctity of Life Sunday”.  He believed that if we were pro-life, we needed to be willing to step up to the plate and walk with the mothers who are “inconvenienced” with a baby.  For him, this meant that we should be open to adopt those “unwanted” babies.  It was at that conversation that my heart began to be pulled in the same direction.  And I began to be confronted by many contradictions in my own life.

“A baby is a BLESSING!  Not an inconvenience!”  I’ve heard this phrase many times, and have even used it myself.  “A baby is a blessing…”  It’s hard to argue with, and so it’s become our trump card.  Maybe we use the “blessing” card because we know that no one can honestly say it’s not true.  But do I truly BELIEVE that babies are not inconvenient?  And does that belief carry out into every aspect of my life?

Many people have thrown the “blessing-card” at a Pro-choice friend, in an effort to stump them.  We’re trying to win an argument, and this is just the card to help us win.  We say they shouldn’t abort a baby because it’s a blessing!  But then many of us will contradict ourselves as we go through our day-to-day life.

For example:

  • When someone gets married young, or during college, we may advise them to wait a few years to have children.  Why?  Because a baby might get in the way of them finishing college.  It COULD hinder their plans.
  • Even if someone doesn’t get married young, we may advise them to wait 2-4 years to have kids, so that they can ENJOY their first few years of married life.  As if children bring an end to that enjoyment.
  • When a couple already has two children (especially if they have one boy and one girl), they’re told “Now you have one of each, so you don’t have to have any more!”  Because apparently having a third child would just be torture…
  • When someone wants more than two children, they’re asked a myriad of questions:
    • “Aren’t you happy with your two?”
    • “Don’t you think two kids is enough?”
    • “Aren’t you satisfied with what God’s already given you?”
    • “You know what causes that, right?”  Is this a suggestion that they should abstain from married intimacy?
    • “If you’re bored for entertainment, you could just get a television.”
  • When a mother of one who has had a few miscarriages wants to try again for a second child, she’s told that she’s selfish for wanting another child.
  • When a woman is pregnant, we feel the need to remind her of all the sleepless nights ahead and of the sassy teen that she’ll have to deal with after her baby grows up.  After all, we wouldn’t want her to be TOO EXCITED about this baby…

We’ve failed to even notice these inconsistencies.  When a baby’s life is in danger, we call the baby a blessing.  When the child has already been conceived, it’s a blessing.  But when someone actually wants a baby, we want to make sure they’re prepared for the huge inconvenience they’re going to face.

So which is it?  Do we REALLY believe that a baby is a blessing?  Or do we believe it’s inconvenient?

Copyright: marysmn / 123RF Stock PhotoWell, truth be told–it’s both.  It may sound like a great paradox, but a baby is an inconvenient blessing.  Having a child WILL change your life forever.  You MIGHT need to give up a degree that you’re seeking, or a promotion you might have earned in your job.  You MAY end up quitting your job altogether to stay home with this little one.  Your life will no longer be just about you, or just about you & your husband.  Now, every decision will be affected by this child.  You will sacrifice for this child.  You will pour yourself out in love, and be exhausted on a pretty regular basis.  You will feel unappreciated at times.

I don’t think it really serves our case to say your child will never be inconvenient.  In fact, our “blessing” card does little more for our argument, than to make stressed mothers feel a little less valuable.  Yes, a baby is a blessing.  But it’s also one of the biggest responsibilities you can take on.  Of course, according to most moms I know, the inconvenience of a child is GREATLY outweighed by the blessings you can experience as a mother.

With all of this in mind, we need to realize that while our pro-life stances seek to save the life of a child (as we should), they can also cause much grief to the pregnant woman who doesn’t feel ready for a child.  To brashly throw in her face, “A baby is NOT an inconvenience!!” will leave her feeling like a bad woman.  Even if she wasn’t considering abortion, she’ll feel guilty for her fear.  And so we should offer her HOPE rather than guilt.

We should be willing to walk alongside her to support her on this journey.  We should tell her, “This is going to be hard, but you can do it.”  We should love her.  If she doesn’t feel she can keep the child, we should help her on the road to adoption.  We should be willing to step up and adopt ourselves!  If she doesn’t have the funds to provide for her baby, we should–as Christians–join together to give her whatever help we can.  We can babysit.  We can help her find baby clothes, a crib, a car seat and blankets.  We can simply be her friend.  Her support system.

And finally, we can choose to see the JOY that comes through having a child.  We can choose to believe that the blessing greatly outweighs the inconvenience.  And we can rejoice at the thought of a new baby, while we offer our help when it gets hard.  Our enthusiasm just may translate to her life in a way that ushers in the hope and joy that she didn’t seem to feel about this child before.  And our friendship and selfless service will let her know that she’ll be okay.

Practical Application:

  1. If you’re Pro-Life, be willing to help other Moms who struggle.
  2. When a woman miscarries, choose to view her loss as the loss of a child, no matter how early the miscarriage occurred.  Allow her to grieve in whatever way she needs–whether that’s private or open.
  3. If you challenge women to choose adoption over abortion, be open to adopting a child into your family.  If you are open to adoption but don’t have the funds for it, look into the many inexpensive options that are out there!  (They exist!)
  4. If you believe a baby is a blessing, then don’t dwell on the inconveniences that come along with children.  Don’t act as if people are unwise for trying to have a child.  Even if they are young, even if they’re in school, and even if they already have several children.  Remember, Child #8 is just as much of a blessing as Child #1!


Rachel & Boys