It was couples night at a friend’s house. Lasagna, cabbage salad, green beans, garlic bread, and two choices of Edward’s pie for dessert graced the table for our menu. Besides food, we feasted on conversation and a challenging game. I laughed so hard and smiled so much that my cheeks hurt. I had a curiosity, though. Our friends that hosted our gathering have six kids. That’s a lot of kids by today’s standard.
I leaned over and asked the wife, “Before you were married, did you discuss how many kids you wanted?” Yeah, if you’re my friend you may get some pointed questions — not that you’re required to answer them, but they’ll come just the same. Besides that, I’ve been tutoring the girls on topics that need to be discussed before commitments are made.
“Actually, I didn’t want any kids, but Jason did. So I agreed to have two, mostly for his sake. But after one look at Rochelle, I was in love. It was love at first sight. I wanted more.”
My friend’s experience was a deep contrast to that of a former classmate that I chanced to meet at the grocery store years ago. This classmate and I weren’t close, but I liked her and we shared some interesting conversations in school. In that brief meeting, we caught up on the highlights of each other’s lives. I was married with children, she married a divorcee and had no children of her own.
“He has two sons that we get every other weekend. That’s enough for me! We spoil them then send them home. I don’t want any kids. I’m selfish.”
I’m selfish. She saw her choice for what it was — selfish. I never forgot that brief exchange with her. It was her choice, but I felt sad for her.
Being a parent is a huge responsibility. It takes a lot of sacrifice. A baby changes everything. I’ll never forget this quotation from one of my sister in laws:
“My kids bring out the best in me and the worst in me.”
They do. I’ve gone to lengths I never thought I was capable of going. I found energy and strength from stores I never knew I had. And I have loved in ways I never imagined possible. The flip side to that is that I sometimes catch glimpses of the ugly parts of me reflecting in their veneer. But I would never, ever change having my children. My life is enriched beyond measure by them. Out of all of the things I could list to regret, their being part of my life will not be named among them.
Not everyone is blessed to feel wanted. Mum and I have a friend who was unwanted by her mother, to the extreme that she wouldn’t name her, a nurse did. Our friend did the proverbial somersaults to gain her mother’s acceptance but she never received it. Her whole miserable life long, our friend’s mother made sure she knew that she was not wanted. Why? I don’t know. But hear this: Her mother’s opinion did not diminish the value of our friend’s life. We loved her and our lives were enriched because of her. Unplanned, unwanted, those words aren’t part of God’s vocabulary. When He looks at life He sees potential and beauty.
If you have suffered abuse the way our friend did, it’s important that you know that your parents’ opinion hasn’t changed God’s opinion. He never has nor ever will look at you and say, “Oops!” It can be difficult at times, but I think it’s imperative that all of us move from the realm of basing our value on the opinions of others and ask God to let us see ourselves the way that He does.
Perhaps I am speaking today to someone who is pregnant and you are at the place of indecision. You are afraid, unprepared, and have no support; abortion seems to be the most logical option. Please carry to term the life that is growing inside of you. Science has proven it is a life and according to God’s Word (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139-18, and Isaiah 44:24), God knew your child before you did. Children are especially handcrafted, they are a delight to Him, and they were created to be a delight to you.
Men, you have a voice and you have a responsibility in this. Women get pregnant with assistance. According to Psalm 127:4-5, children are arrows in your hand and there is a blessing pronounced upon the man whose quiver is full of them. Be faithful to the family that you helped create.
Perhaps you’ve experienced abortion and you can’t shake the agony of the nightmare following that choice. No one knows the guilt you’re carrying around with you. I can speak into that. Maybe you’re thinking, Christi, your life is so good and blessed. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You would be right in the fact that my life is good and blessed, but you would be wrong in thinking that it is perfect and without scars.
The delivery of my twins was a traumatic one. I’m not going to go into all the detail of that day or what followed, at least not in today’s post. Suffice it to say, I was still reeling a bit when I discovered that I was pregnant with Rachel. People would smile and ask, “Twins again?” And I’d smile and say, “God forbid.” Having twins was wonderful, but I wasn’t ready for that, at least not yet.
My pregnancy with Rachel was great, I only threw up the first trimester instead of all three. I had half a dose of pain relief so I was fully coherent and cooperative when her birthday came. It was something like three pushes and she arrived, healthy and raring to go. The pain for me came after the delivery. There was a surprise placenta in the afterbirth. Our doctor announced, “I’ll be, there was two of them!” I was devastated. “God forbid” played in my head like a broken recording. I blamed myself.
I still vividly recall the day the girls were riding their bikes in the driveway, the twins on their two wheelers and Rachel on her plastic three wheeler. She was frustrated because she couldn’t keep up. She came to me, tears trailing her dirt-stained face, and crawled up onto my lap. “Mummy, why don’t I have a twin?” Then I cried. God forbid.
I carried the guilt for years, literally. Then one afternoon, while we were camping, Mum says, “Chris, you have to quit blaming yourself. The doctor said sometimes the stronger absorbs the weaker. We don’t know but that if that twin had tried to develop, we may have lost Rachel, or you, or both of you. You’re just going to have to let go and trust God.”
She was right. We’re not meant to carry past regrets or sins.
What I’m dealing with now, now that my baby factory is beginning to shut down, is how I brow-beat Bob into ending reproduction in our family. I was afraid. While still in the hospital, recovering after Rachel’s delivery, the doctor sent a surgeon down to see me. He pointed out what looked like gravel under my skin in my mid-section. It was my intestines. The sheath covering them was thinned and torn by my pregnancies and I’d eventually need surgery. The fear of another pregnancy tipped the wagon of the grief and guilt I felt over losing Rachel’s twin. No, I didn’t have a baby in my womb ripped out, but I prevented another from coming when in my heart I wanted at least one more.
Selfishness is a terrible thing. I was so absorbed in fear of the future and guilt over the past that I put an end to Bob’s and my dream of having another child. *sigh*
I get it. The pregnancy may have come as a shock to you. It isn’t what you want, ending it will be the easiest thing to do . . . or will it? Will you, like me, cave to selfishness? Or will you take the time to pray and study all of your options before choosing which path to take?
Maybe you walked down that road called “choice” and found the end of it to be a brutal taskmaster. You can’t take it back, much like the choices I made, but you wish you could. Everyday you feel the darkness of the nightmare. You ended a life. Where do you go from here?
Join me in taking Mum’s advice: We’re going to have to let go and trust God. There is forgiveness and redemption for the choices we have made. Beyond that, let our voices be heard. Let’s face the fear, refuse the guilt, and share our stories. Someone needs to hear that they are not alone, they are loved and wanted, and they are not beyond forgiveness.
And please, as a postscript, during times of election, speak for life by voting for representatives who will support and defend the waiting to be born. Dare we trust leaders who don’t value the lives of those most vulnerable among us to value our lives?