Written by Elizabeth Marbach, Director of Communications for Ohio Right to Life
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
Embracing a culture of life is difficult at times and forces us to relinquish any forms of selfishness and control within us. Choosing life necessarily demands that we look outside ourselves and become vulnerable to tremendous pain and heartbreak. When you welcome a culture of life, it is undoubtedly true that you experience an unspeakable joy that surpasses all understanding. Indeed, the depth of love you feel grows exponentially compared to only living a life unto yourself. However, you also face the stark reality of how fragile life can be and how little you can do to control that fragility.
It was around one in the morning on January 14th when my husband, Peter, and I exclaimed joyfully as we glanced at a positive pregnancy test. This was a gleeful and wonderful shock for both of us, as we had just married on December 3rd. However, that glee and wonder quickly grew into fear and trembling. I remembered the many stories from my peers and reading the painful social media posts announcing a pregnancy loss. I remembered the grief felt when my aunt lost her baby. I knew that the protocol for celebrating a pregnancy is typically reserved for after twelve weeks. I knew that 1 in 4 women miscarry within the first trimester.
My first moments of motherhood were filled with all-encompassing love and joy, alongside an intense desire to protect my little one at all costs. Knowing the likelihood of miscarriage, nothing could ease my mind despite frantically googling all the information I could find. I felt utterly powerless as a new parent, knowing I could only eat healthily, avoid harmful foods and drinks, and pray to God, trusting that He would do the rest.
The irony of this fear of miscarriage is that it did not disappear after the first trimester. I am 17 weeks now and still struggle with fearing the worst. As I'm sure many more experienced mothers and grandmothers can tell me, the uncomfortable feeling of being unable to prevent my child from encountering pain or harm will follow me for the rest of their lives.
I believe that one of the reasons miscarriages and the fear of miscarriage are rarely spoken about is that we do not view it as an actual loss. Instead, we think of miscarriage as a loss of potential life. Even many pro-lifers speak in this way. We discuss pregnancy as a "waiting period" where we're not yet parents but are instead "parents-to-be." We discuss it as an "in-between" stage to prepare for parenting, but that is not the case. The moment a woman becomes pregnant, she is a mother and has already begun to nurture her child. God has placed a new life inside her that depends on her for nourishment, care, and love every moment of the day—even if she does not realize it. We begin loving and nurturing our children from conception, weeks before we even consciously know they are there. The fear of miscarriage and grief from experiencing miscarriage further validates that truth. Life inside the womb is real, which makes losing them real too.
However, the very beginning of motherhood has been a stark reminder that no matter how many apps I download or articles I read about things to avoid, I am still not in control. My newly created child's life rests entirely in their Creator's hands, and this truth will continue long after birth. Despite my attempts to control the outcome, God is the author of life and death. Most importantly, I must remember that no matter the outcome of my pregnancy, every moment spent carrying my child is a blessing beyond what I deserve, and God is still good.
I used to be confused when reading Paul's writing in 1 Timothy 2:15, where he writes that women "will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." I knew obviously he wasn't saying women can get to heaven by having children. Our eternal salvation comes by faith through grace in Jesus Christ alone, not by any work—including being a mother. However, it is clear now that he is speaking of a woman's earthly experience. The amount of faith and trust in God gained through experiencing the selfless love of being a mother thus far has been immeasurable, and I have not even met my little one yet. Motherhood forces us to lean not on our own understanding and demands that we look to God in our uncertainty.
This dependence on God brings a broader richness to Paul's words in Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Understanding that even if I were to lose my child, the short time I had with him or her in my womb is a blessing to be thankful for, even if I do not understand why. God has placed this fragile little being inside me to grow! The same all-powerful God that spoke the universe into existence and breathed life into Adams's nostrils has now used my husband and me to create a new life, trusting us to nourish and love him or her for however many days they spend on this earth.
I know this can be difficult to hear for those who have not only experienced the fear of miscarriage but also have experience miscarriage itself. I have lost many lives close to me, namely my father at age 21, and losing him shattered my entire world. However, even being pregnant today, I cannot imagine the pain of losing your child whom you have never been able to hold or see. Please know that you're not alone and that your pain was not in vain. God is still working all things together for good. Furthermore, know that your little one is thankful for you and has felt firsthand the love you felt for them. Their time here on earth was met with deep love & care nestled inside the warm womb of their mama.
As I stated before, the fear and grief over losing your preborn baby is only a testament to what we know is true—new human life is a blessing from God worth cherishing, and losing a life—regardless of age or experience—is always a travesty. Experiencing firsthand the creation of a new life here on earth reminds us that life is vulnerable and can come with great joy and immense pain. However, through all the pain, turmoil, and suffering, embracing life and all that comes with it is what fulfills us. It is what makes life worth living to begin with.