For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted children.
And I’m ashamed to admit how judgmental I was toward women who didn’t want them; and how blind I was to the pain of women who desperately wanted them, but couldn’t.
Until the day I stood in both of their places...
After getting married and having three babies in our first three years marriage, my husband and I decided to push the pause button on our growing little family. But my daughter didn’t. At two years old, she was already begging for another baby, requesting a sister if possible. (poor girl was sandwiched between two boys)
She’d pray every night, “God, please plant a seed in mommy’s tummy.” (Which is what I’d told her had to happen.)
Her prayer was (partly) answered a few years later when her baby brother made his debut into our family. And though quite smitten with him, she was still intent on getting that baby sister. So she begged again. She prayed and prayed. A few years later, she got to hold the desire of her heart when her little sister was born.
By then I figured we were good. I thought, mission accomplished. Heart’s desire granted. Family complete. But nope… that little girl kept on praying and asking for another sibling. This time, mom and dad declared our nest was plenty full.
Surprisingly in the years that followed, I found myself at times sharing her longing - deep down - for baby #6. But my husband and I thought, We’re too old. The time is too late. That ship has long sailed.
And then there came a shift when my secret hope became a dreaded fear. I didn’t long for a baby; I absolutely feared a baby! Any time my cycle was late, I was in a total panic. Please no, I cannot have another baby NOW!
Oh, yes I could.
In the spring of 2017, my cycle was late. I couldn’t handle the possibility of being pregnant, so I kept playing the song Called Me Higher over and over. The words brought me so much comfort and strength. After two weeks of resisting, my husband finally convinced me to take a pregnancy test. I could barely open the packaging. I had to psyche myself up just to sit down on the toilet. While I peed on that stick, I made my husband (no joke) play the song “Called Me Higher”.
As I watched two red lines appear, my eyes grew wide, my heart raced, my body shook, and the tears flowed. I was pregnant! I would have a baby at forty five-years-old.
My husband and I were in total and complete shock. No way. Not me. Not us. Not now.
My oldest is 18. My youngest is 9. I’ll be big and pregnant when I take my firstborn son to COLLEGE!!!! We’ll be the Klement freak show. This cannot be happening.
It’s hard for me share this, but I did not want this pregnancy or this child. Everything in me wanted this “unwanted pregnancy” to go away - like a bad dream.
But wait, I believe that every life is precious and sacred. If new life is a blessing, why does this feel like a burden? If new life is a gift to receive, why do I want to reject it?
These emotions were completely foreign to me. For the first time in my life, I was feeling the very emotions I had always judged other women for feeling themselves.
And that little girl who had long prayed for baby #6 was now 17-years-old. When she accidentally found out about the pregnancy, she was happier than I had ever seen her. She literally cried tears of joy, while I cried tears of pain.
She walked around in sheer bliss, beaming with delight at this dream come true. All the while I kept thinking of the scripture “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Neh. 8:10)
Her joy became my strength. Through my daughter, God gave me the sweetest consolation - to feel strengthened by another’s joy, and for that joy to seep into the cracks of my own calloused heart and soften it.
I became more open; more accepting. I even felt little tinges of excitement. I can do this - I DO want this child!
“You have called me higher; You have called me deeper, and I’ll go where You will lead me, Lord.”
That chorus became a lullaby for me, as I began to make a place in my heart and in my world for this new life.
But no sooner had I prepared my heart to welcome this new baby, the Lord called me even higher… to let this baby go.
I had never before experienced a miscarriage, and the pain was unlike any labor pain I’d ever felt. The anguish was so much more than physical. As my body agonized with cramping, physically releasing my tiny little baby from my womb, my heart agonized with grief, as I was forced to let go of the place I had made in it for this new life.
When I walked into the doctor’s office, I still carried the hope that maybe, just maybe, I hadn’t miscarried after all. As the doctor performed the sonogram, I gripped my husband’s hand. I couldn’t believe how much I wanted this child. I prayed he would find a heartbeat, but when his face fell, I knew he found nothing.
I had entered that office filled with the hope of life in my womb, but I had to walk out with the finality of emptiness.
We drove home in silence, I knew the roller coaster ride of emotions was far from over. We still had to tell our daughter the devastating news. She cried for days, enveloped in her own grief and the loss of a dream. Her heartbreak was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness.
But our story wouldn’t end here.
“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Psalm 126:5
As God continues to write this story, it’s amazing for me to see the journey my heart has taken - from not wanting a child, to hoping against hope for that child, to losing that child. I’ve even experienced healing from the guilt and shame of feeling so against life.
And after weeks of wrestling with my own emotions, there came a moment of indescribable awe and joy - when I realized that -
the child I didn’t want on earth – God gave me for all of eternity.
The child I had lost I had gained.
I rejoiced knowing that my child lives - my children’s sibling LIVES! And how healing it was for my daughter and I to name our baby. Because this precious baby remains alive in our hearts, and there is such comfort in knowing he/she is alive in heaven praising God and praying for US!
Perhaps as you read this, it’s unfamiliar to you. You have never felt the pain of an unwanted pregnancy, the desperation of infertility, or the loss of of a child - if this is you, I humbly ask you to pause today and pray for those of us who have.
And to you who find yourself on the other side of loss, or currently navigating through loss, let me remind you this doesn’t have to be where your (or your child’s) story ends! The Lord offers you and me this healing hope: what we have lost here on earth, we have gained for all eternity!
So let us hold on to the promise of heaven and the power of our very own little prayer warrior, who is spending their heaven praying for us. Let the truth of this reality turn our tears into rejoicing!
Sweet baby Charlie, pray for us. ✝
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.