I'm sorry to say that this is one of the most horrible things I have ever written. Why has it taken me so long to write? Well, for one I was pregnant and pregnancy always kicks my butt. Being pregnant and having three kids to care for is exhausting. Even so, I was very happy.
But let me go back a ways. This past spring (a very good friend of mine remembers better when we had a conversation about this- strange that I don't remember it as well) I was praying in the Adoration Chapel at church. I felt that God was asking me to have another child for His greater glory but that I would suffer. What an honor. But of course I said no. Who wants to hear "baby" and "suffering" in the same sentence? A joyful birth is difficult enough, thank you! (When I told my friend, Cheryl, that I said no she nearly fell out of her chair - I do remember that.)
And so it went. Every once in a while I felt that I was asked the same thing and I always said no. Then in July I was praying the rosary at home when I had a vision. In it a teenage girl was standing in front of an abortion clinic. Suddenly great evil fled the building in horror. What could make such horrible entities flee? It occurred to me that what terrified them most was a teenage girl refusing to have an abortion. This girl did not even enter the building. She said nothing. She just stood there. Then it came to me that the girl was Mary and the child was Jesus. The I was asked again: "Will you have a child for My glory, even though you will suffer?"
Okay, even I know that there are only so many times you can say no to God without being an absolute jerk. So I said, "I would love a baby but the transition is always so difficult. I'm prone to post partum depression. Pregnancy makes me so ill. Give me a healthy baby who is good natured and an excellent sleeper and we'll talk." Can you tell I've been through this before? So I gave God a list. Then I 'heard': " I will take care of Every Little Thing."
(As an aside, less than two weeks after my 'vision' of Mary standing in front on an abortion clinic, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing undercover videos condemning Planned Parenthood for selling fetal organs for profit. Many people refuse to watch the videos or investigate it. As always, I say research for yourself. Always question.)
As you can guess a few weeks later I was pregnant with my fourth child. I wasn't worried about my impending suffering - I was overjoyed at being pregnant. We made it through the first trimester. My kids were kissing my growing tummy and praying for "mommy and the baby" during morning prayers at school. Suffering seemed a long way off. And what did a healthy, wanted baby have to do with an abortion clinic? I can guess but have no real answers.
In my 15th week I felt a bit weird. Nothing to run to the Emergency Room for but enough that I went to my doctor. After a few tests everything checked out. I especially remember hearing the strong, beautiful heartbeat. I joked that it was worth the visit just to hear that sweet thump thump thump, even if I was a paranoid mommy. A few days later my child died. I didn't know it until my 18 week check up. I just didn't feel as well as I had and had a sense of unease. But then there was no heartbeat. A rush to the ultrasound showed clearly - no heartbeat, no movement. Only a little body floating in amniotic fluid. The next 24 hours were the worst in my life. I remember driving home on my own. I remember telling my husband - then my kids. I remember holding my sobbing 5 year old daughter while I tried to explain to my dad who has dementia what had happened to his youngest grandchild. I remember my 8 year old son sobbing uncontrollably for over a half hour while I consoled him. Motherhood does not stop with tragedy. I remember sobbing all night on the couch.
The next morning my husband and I dropped off our older children at school ("please pray for my mommy and the dead baby...") and then off to the hospital to have labor induced. My husband took our youngest home (she didn't really understand) and I was left in the compassionate care of amazing nurses. You might think that it would be horrible to be away from my family but honestly, it was So Nice not to have to worry about taking care of others. Of course the news spread. My husband, unable and anyway unsuited to sit around a hospital, took care of the kids. He also told my friends not to bother asking me if they should visit - I would tell them that I was fine and not to worry. So after they picked up their kids from school and got them settled at home they began to visit. What a blessing!
I was supposed to be in the hospital for 2-3 days but my body was not about to give up a child. I entered the hospital on a Tuesday and after days of pills, creams placed on the cervix and finally pills placed on my cervix, I delivered my son at 9:40am on Saturday, Halloween day. Then the placenta would not be delivered. I remember the doctor and nurses frantically trying to deliver the placenta so that I would not hemorrhage. They were already prepping the OR for an emergency D&C but less than a half hour after my son was born I began to bleed. A lot. I remember my whole bed being rushed to the OR and the doctors already preparing. And I remember waking up feeling like crap. What was I thinking during this time?? "Fucking fantastic. Sure, why not? After days of labor and now this. Okay, God. You're in charge."
It sounds much more frightening here than it was at the time. Honestly. I had the best of care. I had my kids cared for by someone who loves them as much as I do. (And yes, my husband did bring the kids to visit.) I had amazing friends who practically held vigil with me. The worst part was willingly taking the abortifications. And they made me so sick!
In the end the question is do you trust God or not? I mean, Do You Really Trust God?????
The kids named their brother Michael Nicholas. He is the patron saint of our family. We will celebrate his feast day every Halloween. They visited us in the hospital. The nurse took family pictures. The cemetery gave us a tiny casket that the kids decorated with hearts and drawings of the family and messages (We love you Michael Nicholas! We miss you! Don't forget us! Pray for us! We'll see you in heaven!!!). Michael Nicholas was buried in the local Catholic cemetery on November 6, complete with prayers and white roses.
It has never been so easy to get a child to heaven. And I miss Michael with my entire being.
Now we are living a 'new normal'.
March is going to suck. He was supposed to be born on the 23rd.
We have no idea why Michael died. Or way he died in the second trimester and not the first. But I do know this: It was not God's will that Michael should die. We were created to be in the Garden of Eden where we could encounter God face to face and never die. That was God's plan for us. I have no idea why God did not heal Michael Nicholas. I can only suspect that God is more concerned about our eternal salvation than fleeting earthly pleasure. Am I angry at God? Not at all. Michael is my son. I would do anything for him. And really, he had a Good Life. He didn't know pain or suffering. He only knew love. Do I suffer? Oh, yes! Immensely. My suffering for Michael is as great as my love for him. I do not know why. I do not understand. But I am grateful - so profoundly grateful for the gift of motherhood that God has bestowed on my four times.
During my follow up appointment the doctor asked, "Your fertility will be returning soon. How do you feel about that?" How do I feel? I feel that life is a great gift and mystery that is far beyond my comprehension. Michael was not an accident. He is not a statistic. He is my son. He had his own fingerprints. There is no way you could have looked at him as a clump of cells or anything but a little boy. He wanted to live and he had the best life imaginable. It just happened to be short. I am not a victim. Nobody has wronged me. When I held him in my hand after waking up from emergency surgery I knew that I had done everything that I could for him. When I helped seal him in his little casket, with a holy medal of St. Therese the Little Flower in his hands and a rosary at his feet, I knew that I would do it again if God asked. I would not give up the casket easily though. My husband had to take him from me to place in the ground. The ground was blessed. His siblings and cousins and my friends children placed white roses over the casket. His cousin placed a blessed medal of St. Michael the Archangel, for whom Michael was named, in the ground with him. What more can a mother do??
Well, ladies, that is my story. I hardly remember the month of November. I had lost so much blood. And healing takes time. One day I will lay down my burdens at His feet. Until then I will carry my cross. I don't have to have all the answers. But even after all of it, if God were to ask me to be a mother again I would not hesitate to say yes.
Even so, please pray for me!!!!