Hello Virtuous Planet readers! I am so excited to be blogging here with such a wonderful community of faith-filled writers. I hope that the time you spend here reading our stuff will serve as a means of support and inspiration in your daily walk with Christ.
I want to introduce myself to you and explain why I might not write as frequently as I would like to right now. I am a 30-year-old wife and a mother to 4 young children. My husband and I are both currently graduate students and have recently decided to also take on the education of our children as homeschoolers. I also am working very hard on a project called The Guiding Star Project which focuses on Culture of Life issues and is aiming for nothing short of radical cultural change nationwide. Now all that in itself would seem like good enough reasons for being a little slow with keeping up on blogging, but I have even a stronger case for being a bit of a bum lately. I am also expecting my fifth child and once again this pregnancy is being graced by the presence of hyperemesis gravidarum.
For those of you who never heard of hyperemesis gravidarum, it is your normal morning sickness gone psycho. It is not limited to mornings or evenings or even the first two trimesters of pregnancy. It is non-stop nausea and vomiting and can result in serious dehydration and even hospitalization for some women. Most women who experience hyperemesis, like me, are prescribed antiemetics to control the vomiting and keep the symptoms at a manageable level. But even with medications the baseline level for women struggling with this condition is extreme fatigue and the feeling that you might lose your lunch at any moment. Nice.
Now the reason I share this with you is not to drum up pity for myself the first time we are meeting one another. I swear I am not one of those people who tells you their life story within the first ten minutes of meeting you and then continues on for the next half hour telling you about how they are a victim of circumstances and injustice……ok, maybe it seems like it that, but I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.
I share this about my own struggles because the sicknesses I have endured to become a mother have taught me a lot about women seeking abortions. Before becoming pregnant, and thus very sick for the first time, I could not understand how a woman could ever feel so threatened by a growing baby as to want to “terminate” it. Just a few short weeks after my first positive pregnancy test, I remember feeling terrible about myself because the only thing I could think about and wanted was for things to go back to normal. I just wanted to feel good again and be free of this sickness. At the height of this pregnancy sickness and already 20 pounds down in less than 5 weeks, I remember thinking that I could actually understand a woman wanting an abortion. I got it. In my weakness I understood the temptation towards abortion for the first time ever in my life.
Being a first-time mother, I didn’t have any concept that the child growing within me was going to turn out to be a handsome little boy with brown eyes and the sweetest smile. He didn’t yet have a name or his father’s sense of humor and that great twinkle in his eye. “It” just felt like an invader holding my body and my life hostage. If I had not been raised in a home that was very pro-life and had not received education on the sanctity and dignity of all human life, I could have easily convinced myself that I was not really pregnant with a unique, unrepeatable person; but rather a parasite of sorts that was obviously not meant to be because of the way my body was reacting to it. I could have been convinced without much prodding that I would be better off having an abortion. Thank goodness no one with that agenda ever had the chance to talk to me at this point. God protected me from great despair and temptation during this time of great weakness.
I’d like to be able to say that after I gave birth to my first child and fell completely in love with him that I would never again have wished away the life of my child in the face of sickness. But that is not how it happened. With each new pregnancy and the mounting responsibilities and stresses of older children to care for, the hyperemesis seemed like the ultimate insult upon injury as I struggled to accept mis-timed pregnancies and the struggles we were experiencing with NFP. I remember questioning God’s wisdom and love for me as I was asked over and over again to accept lovingly the gift of children in the face of sickness and trials. I grew upset with God and finally under the advisement of a wonderful priest, I “had it out” with God. I yelled at God and let Him “have it” for asking so much of me. I told Him I couldn’t do it and that I didn’t want to. Did He know my limits better than anyone? Couldn’t He see I was drowning?!?? A strange resignation finally settled over my heart and over time my stubborn dedication to prayer and the Sacraments paid off with a new wisdom that I never could have gained any other way.
Yes, I now “get” why some women have abortions. I can understand how easy it is to dehumanize someone who is causing great discomfort and inconvenience. I can hear the world’s lies about “my body, my choice” and I can understand how comforting those lies seem when the alternative is hard work and sacrifice. I have a tremendous amount of empathy for women in such desperate situations. I have dedicated my life and my gifts to create a Culture where the temptation towards abortion is lessened and ultimately removed by building up authentic support and appreciation for pregnancy and childbearing. I believe we can build a world where struggles like hyperemesis are seen as opportunities to grow in sacrificial love for our children and where the mothers giving so selflessly of their bodies will be honored and upheld. As a precursor to a world that embraces a true Culture of Life, I ask you now for your patience and understanding as I once again give my body over to the miracle of co-creation of life with our God. I’ll be back and better than ever pretty soon. Until then, prayers please for me and all expectant mothers who need help seeing their unborn children’s amazing beauty and potential.
Mother Mary, we pray for all expectant mothers and ask for your beautiful guidance as we learn how to sacrificially love our children through the gift of our bodies to the development of their live in the womb and their character and faith here in this world. Amen.