I sat outdoors under Monterey cypress trees on a bench less than ten feet from the drop, looking over the sandy surf of Monterey Bay in California. With my laptop open and a baby in my belly, I struggled to find the words to support the title “Peace in Pregnancy.”
You see, I was pregnant and experienced anything but peace as my heart felt tied up in knots, all its strings pulled taut, waiting for the day when I could have the twenty-week anatomy scan that I hoped would settle all my fears and tell me everything would be all right.
In the two pregnancies before this one, everything was not all right.
Peter was diagnosed with a midline cleft lip and palate, which we later learned was caused by a genetic condition called SPINT2 that led to all kinds of complications. I was so afraid my next child would have the same condition.
Celeste was diagnosed with something much worse because instead of navigating and supporting her life with medical supplies, we would never get to meet her. Celeste had anencephaly, she grew in my womb without a brain and died during birth at 37 weeks.
So now, now, with Stella, what would we face?
Will This Settle My Anxiety?
I shared the reflections that kept me afloat during our days with Peter and Celeste in Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers after Prenatal Diagnosis.
I shared our story in and out of the hospital with those two in What God Had Emptied: How I Found Hope in My Children’s Diagnoses.
But how would I get through these days?
Stella’s anatomy scan was normal. I wish I could say that quelled the anxiety, but it did not.
Because peace is not something based on external circumstances. Rather, “the universal path to peace is the radical acceptance of God’s will.” That doesn’t mean that everything is okay, but that, “we choose to see in our experiences the hand of God, guiding us according to his will, for our benefit, just as we see the changes of pregnancy occurring in their own time, to guide the child in its development” (Peace in Pregnancy.
That is the universal path to peace. Our personal, particular path to peace is more complicated as we must address our history, our personality, and our circumstances and consider how these impact our ability, strengths, and weaknesses when it comes to that radical acceptance of God’s will. “Whenever we turn to the Lord to guide us, he wants to gently pull back the layers of our heart that hold the wounds we’ve carried. He wants to heal us. He will use these opportunities to do so if we allow him and ask him to walk with us” (Peace in Pregnancy).
A Continual Decision
With each change in the pregnancy, the decision to accept this place in my life had to be renewed. None of it happened magically or simply, and I only really began to feel at ease when Stella was two months old and past the many trauma points of my history.
Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It is more than being at ease. It is seeing in the middle of the storm, someone to anchor us, someone to trust, to know that somehow, someway, it will be okay, maybe not in this life, maybe not for years, or maybe tomorrow. We do not know and we do have to know. We want to know. We desperately want to know, but it actually will be okay if all we can do is "wait and see."
He remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. // 2 Timothy 2:13
The words I wrote that day, ultimately had to be rewritten. When I sat down to write them, not to myself in my brokenness, but to a friend in sisterly affection, as an older woman with more children and more years of marriage, the words came freely. “You have been entrusted with the greatest gift imaginable…”
Are you being asked to trust the Lord during a difficult pregnancy right now? How can we pray for you?
Kathryn Anne Casey is a writer with a focus on faith, art, psychology, and the importance of local community. She blogs at KathrynAnneCasey.com and is a regular reporter and columnist for The Hughson Chronicle and Denair Dispatch. She studied gender complementarity and psychology at the University of St. Thomas and clinical psychology at Divine Mercy University. Kathryn lives in Hughson, California, with her husband and children.
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