I don’t think I will ever forget the day I found out I was pregnant with Leo. I recall the overwhelming feeling of joy and fear mixed so thoroughly together. To know that I was pregnant so soon after almost losing my life with Jake and after being counseled to never have another child again, was terrifying. But, as I stood there, shaking and crying, I knew there was never any other option but to choose life for the little one who was already growing inside of me and whom I already loved with every fiber of my being.
During my pregnancy I would be counseled to abort my baby. I refused. There were people who were intimately close to me that suggested the same. My heart would break a million times during my pregnancy at the thought of these people suggesting I kill my child so that I would be “assured” life. People would say to me, “Don’t you realize you can die and leave all your children without a mother? Don’t you care about them?” To which I would reply, “But don’t you realize that I would risk my life for any one of them if I happened to be in a situation where I could save them, even knowing that I could die and leave them all without a mother? This child is no different.” Back and forth people would argue with me that a child living outside of me was different than the one living within. It was exhausting. It was draining. It was depressing. It was lonely.
I don’t think that people understood that the way they chose to respond to us and their criticism of my choice for life only added to the stress that I was already feeling. I didn’t deliberately get pregnant and yet there I was, expecting a baby. Being pregnant when everyone thinks you shouldn’t be is hard enough (as well as it can be hard when everyone is happy!) but each day of this pregnancy I wonder if that day might be the day I would die. Would my uterus rupture? Could I get to the hospital on time? Would my baby die too? Would my family be ok? I planned my funeral, I planned my baby’s funeral, and wrote letters to those who meant the most to me. I tried not to focus on these thoughts and instead tried my hardest to enjoy my pregnancy, but it was hard. How do you not think about dying? I did my best though because after all, I never thought I would ever get to feel another child growing within me again and yet here I was, blessed to once again be full of life. I held tightly to those thoughts when others would start to crowd my mind. Tears would often slip down my cheeks throughout the day, both in joy and in fear.
When Leo was born and the doctors who performed my c-section told me that I was completely healed and that they would follow me through another pregnancy if I chose to get pregnant, I was crying again. I couldn’t believe that after so much worry and so much heartache we were not only ok, but I was healed. The sheer magnitude of it all was almost incomprehensible. Here I was holding a child in my arms that, according to others, never should have been born; a child whose life was not worth risking my own. I looked down on him and saw Christ’s face looking back at me. I saw love. I saw peace. I saw hope.
I share my story again today to give hope to those who may be in a situation that is similar to my own- facing a pregnancy that can cause you tremendous risk, including your life. I want to give you reassurance that you won’t regret your choice for life. The tiny person who grows inside of you is worth it all. He or she is worth the pain, the worry, the despair, and the loneliness. You have been given this child because God knew that you are the perfect mother for him. He needs you. I know you are scared. I know you are worried. But you are not alone. God is there and I am here, praying for you and praying for your child. I know you don’t know me, but I love you and I love that you are willing to give everything for your child just as Christ did for you.
But my story isn’t just for those who may be at risk while being pregnant. It is also for those who feel alone and scared that you can’t do it. You worry what people will say. You worry what a child will do to your life. You worry that you can’t afford another child and yet here you are expecting another child. There are so many reasons you may be overwhelmed by being pregnant. I want you to know that it is going to be ok. The life you have growing inside of you is a precious gift. While you didn’t expect it or maybe even want to be pregnant, the child that is now a part of you will bring you joy that you cannot even imagine! God has chosen you to be the mother of this little one. You are so special to Him that He wants you to take care of this beautiful baby who is made in His image and likeness. Please, accept His gift and know that your life will be changed forever by the love, the joy, and the happiness that this tiny person can bring into your life.
Thank you for choosing life. I love you and am praying for you and for your little one.
5 thoughts on “For the Love of Leo”
Beautiful post, Michelle. Thank you for writing this! Your love is so courageous and your faith is so inspiring. ❤
I still remember all of this. I remember my shock and awe that you were pregnant, and the bitterness and anger I felt toward the people close to you–most of whom were Christians–pressuring you to abort. I remember the powerlessness I felt when you felt the most withering judgment come from your own fellow parishioners…judgment from people whose very salvation depended on a miraculous, unplanned pregnancy that very well could have resulted in death for the mother! (through stoning) I remember the panic of being shunned by doctors, who added to your anxiety through their own abandonment, who seemed determined to punish you for your foolishness at refusing sterilization in the first place. Where was the compassion and support, where were the brothers and sisters stepping up and assuring you that even if the worst did happen, your babies (all of them) would be showered with all the support they needed to get through the loss? I was thousands of miles away, and though you hid your worst suffering from me, the little you did share evoked the worst feeling of utter powerlessness to help you.
But then I shared your joy, too, when Leo was born, reveling in the vindication of his safe entrance into this world, along with your miraculous healing. Even today, my family still tells the story of a woman who was told that having a child would kill her, but who fought her fears and the abandonment of those who ought to have supported her…who daily picked up the cross–and was the recipient not only of a healthy, beautiful baby, but of life for herself and unexplained healing that confounded even the doctors! Leo is living proof that no person is an accident, that every soul is important regardless of the circumstances of his conception. Your response about being willing to give your life for any one of your children was spot on. But as I’ve discovered, far too many Christians–even self professed prolife ones–have internalized the culture’s utilitarian view of life. I praise that your family did not succumb to the culture of death in that most frightening moment. Not just for Leo’s sake, but for all of us who need reminders that the Lord, not us, is the true Author of Life.
Michelle, that was a miraculous journey. Thank you for sharing something so personal…sacred. God Bless you, Leo and your whole family.
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Thank you so much, Cathy. ❤