Today we anxiously await the birth of our first grand-daughter, and second grandchild. It is a wonderful part of getting older, to witness your family grow with your children becoming spouses, and then parents. It is a God-given thing to share with them, welcoming new life into the world, and sharing in creation with Our Creator.
When my husband and I married, I was hearing my biological clock tick very loudly and so we opted to welcome children as soon as the Lord blessed us with them. Our oldest son was baptized on our one-year wedding anniversary! That year, it happened to fall on the Feast of the Holy Family on the western calendar. Each of our sons has been baptized on that same date, as we felt so blessed to be a family and wanted to share that feast day, and our Wedding Anniversary, with our sons each year. We lost many children along the way and we mourned each miscarriage. Sad to say our oldest son knew what miscarriages were by the tender age of 4 years old, having sat with me in emergency rooms while I lost yet another child; more than four by that time. I have lost seven children to miscarriage and I believe that my love of this miracle of life comes from experiencing these losses. Many women I am now close friends with became my friend over our shared losses. We have held each other up through this loss of life and through each subsequent gift of life. I have never felt so close to God as when I was pregnant, experiencing the emerging life within me. It is a feeling I will never forget. As I lost each baby I did lose, I could also imagine the grief God felt over the loss of even one life He created, but most especially the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son. And I admired all the doctors and nurses who tried to save our babies, working medical miracle after miracle on our behalf, and on behalf of our unborn children.
I have a family member who lost a child due to the side effect of a medical procedure. As she lay there, loosing her baby, there was a woman brought in who was screaming at the botched abortion she had gone through and the immense pain she was suffering. They had to try and save her life after she had killed her baby, who happened to be the same gestational age as the baby of this family member. A nurse commented to her how hard it was to have the two of them as patients at the same time. With my family member, they were working so hard to save her child, while the woman next to her had just killed her child and may now forfeit her own life over it. As it turned out, my family member did lose her baby; it was a daughter and they were able to hold her, name her, and then bury her. The woman next to them was saved but she was never able to have children after her botched abortion.
Our Lord has gifted us with this amazing ability to give life. I never, ever take a single life for granted. Each pregnancy I had was a blessing in and of itself. My two biological sons have 7 siblings surrounding the Throne of God, praying for them, and their children. My adopted son is with us because he was saved from an abortion attempt. God is good and never gives us more than we can handle, and He blesses us abundantly.
Today, our family is increasing by one. We believe it is a girl and we are all so very thrilled. Our other daughter-in-law is also pregnant, and we are going to find out the baby’s gender in the next month or so. We will be blessed regardless of the gender, because it is another life being added to our growing family. That baby is due in the Fall and we are thrilled to be able to share this journey with them, as we now live nearby. Today I am reflective of the process of giving life, in all of its glories and pains. The only way giving birth is truly painless is through medication; it is a fact of life. But it is a pain that is accompanied by great rejoicing…the pain that gives life.
In our culture, we are pretty hedonistic. We want what we want, when we want it. We don’t want to wait, nor do we want to sweat overmuch for it. It is the era of instant everything – certainly instant communication. And we have raised a generation that is not used to sticking to something unto completion. They want it done – now. Sometimes childbirth can literally take days! Not to mention lengthy pregnancies. And then there is the process called “parenting.” If anyone tells you that your responsibility ends at 18, when your child becomes legal, they are lying to you. And if you think being a parent gets easier as your children get older, that is another misconception. Life only gets more and more complicated and intricate as we all grow older, bringing the next generation along with us. I pray for my children every day. I pray for my grandchildren every day.
My grandmother, in her late 90s, apologized to me for the world she left to me and to my children. She said they had gotten it wrong. She told me a story of how she and my grandpa put all their belongings into and onto their Model T and drove to Canada, in search of work, during the Great Depression. There were no hotels, no mini-marts, and very few gas stations along their way. They made tents nightly off their car and my grandma, who had brought some sourdough starter with her, managed to bake bread every couple of days, over an open fire. My father, born in 1926, was a small baby at the time. They made it to Canada and made a life for themselves. Along came WWII and my grandparents, living in New Zealand by then, suffered deprivation yet again. They vowed to not allow my dad to feel the pinch, as they called it. And they continued to support him through much of his adult life. They continued in their support of me, paying for my college tuition (as long as I maintained at least a “B” average) and parts of my expenses, always willing to give me $20 when I needed it. Grandma apologized, saying to me that unless people really work for it, they do not appreciate what they have, and constantly look for more. And they do not know how to sacrifice for something or someone; they have no work ethic. She believed her generation had brought us troubled times ahead because of their generosity; I think she was right on many things.
I tried to instill a strong work-ethic in my sons, through demonstrating my work at home as well as when I did work outside the home. My husband has been an incredible example of a Christian man, struggling for his family. His sons adore him for that and much more. My prayer today, in light of the birth of our grand daughter, is that our children and grandchildren will be proud to work and proud of their accomplishments. That they will not mind sweating to get what they need to provide for their families. That they will appreciate intellectual, as well as physical, labor. That they will reach out and help those in need, keeping an eye on family members and their neighbors, too. That they will not mind sacrificing to save another person, another life, and to assist in protecting the lives we are blessed to have. But first and foremost among these things I pray for, is that my children and grandchildren will live a life ordered on love of God above all else. If their love of God is not celebrated formally, but is quiet and not obvious, I am okay with that, as long as they cling to their core beliefs. I believe that if we love and honor God first and foremost, the qualities of a believing Christian will spill into all the other aspects of our lives.
And today becomes a special day for us; the birth of our first grand daughter. It is a day to celebrate with God the gift of life. Praise be to God….another miracle!