“We don’t care what it is, so long as it’s healthy.”
I heard this response when parents were asked, “Do you hope it’s a boy or a girl?” A mother did not want to say she hoped the child was a girl if it implied she would be disappointed when a boy was born.
Then I heard pro-life advocates say, “Well, what if it isn’t unhealthy?”
What would you do then?
I had a child who was unhealthy. He carried a rare and life-threatening genetic condition. He lives and thrives, but it did not come easily. When I was pregnant again, what I did I hope for?
“Please don’t let her have that condition.”
She did not have that condition, we learned at her twenty-week ultrasound. She had anencephaly instead, a condition considered incompatible with life because the child develops in the womb without a brain. Our daughter died during birth.
What Matters to Me
We find ourselves with the unlooked-for blessing of another child. My eldest questions about hair color, eye color, gender, everything she can think of to form her expectations of what we will discover when this little one comes into the light.
Exasperated with the questions and tired of considering these elements I said, “None of that matters to me, as long as it’s healthy, that is the only thing I want.”
Today I attended the Rosary of a child who died the week before. He was almost 6 months old. He was not born healthy.
My son and this mother’s son were not born healthy. But my son is three and a half, and she is living through one of the worst days of her life, the day she buries her child.
There was a moment when overcome by fear early in the pregnancy I went to a crisis pregnancy center to get an early ultrasound. I needed to know if my baby was alive if it could survive that pregnancy without miscarriage. After the revelation of a jelly bean jumping on the screen a whisper in my thoughts said, “If there had been something wrong, we would have faced it.”
Later ultrasounds revealed the son I would know, whose life my life would revolve around.
I’ll Take It All
I will take the medical gloves, the dressing changes, the medical pumps that beep in the night, the emergency room visits, the hospital stays, the commute to monthly clinic visits.
I will take the tears, the desolation, the act of clinging to a God unseen who walks with us unseen as we carry a child unseen or may or may not survive this pregnancy and childbirth.
I will take the strain of navigating a health crisis while awkwardly navigating my pregnant body around the hospital room.
I will face the possibility of delivering this baby while a caregiver delivers my son to the emergency room.
I will take what God gives us.
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This is what it means to be pro-life in the face of health risks and unexpected pregnancies. We accept the most frightening, the most challenging, the most isolating events in our life knowing that even in these things, God will work all things for good for those who love Him and trust him.
And so we entrust ourselves, our son, and our unborn child into His Hands, knowing we cannot know the mind of God or be His counselor and that we cannot fathom the riches and the wisdom of what He has planned for us.
Let Him take us as we are, in our doubts, in our uncertainty, in our fears as we tread lightly a path untrod before. There are many who have tasted it, but each path of childrearing and child-grieving is unique and must be cut through as one navigates alone, alone by oneself, alone with one’s spouse, alone with one’s children, alone with one’s family, alone with one’s community.
Except that God said we are never alone. “I will send an advocate, a comforter, who will show you the way to go.”
Oh the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How did I get to this point? Through prayer, therapy and tears.
Are you walking a similar path or know someone who has a high-risk pregnancy or received a prenatal diagnosis? Please consider sharing this devotional with them, Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers after Prenatal Diagnosis, published by Our Sunday Visitor, available in print and as a free downloadable ebook.A Mother's Prayer When Baby Isn't Healthy #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Kathryn Anne Casey is a graduate of Divine Mercy University, freelance writer, housewife and mother of four children. Her weekly newspaper column “Here’s to the Good Life!” and blog, www.KathrynAnneCasey.com, focus on art, psychology, consumerism and the importance of local community. Her book, Journey in Love: A Catholic Mother’s Prayers After Prenatal Diagnosis, published by Our Sunday Visitor is available now.