During Advent my thoughts always turn to ultimate things — waiting, longing, begging, pining for answers to ultimate questions, to redemption — and I always think about pregnancy. Like many women, I do not even know how many children I have that did not live to birth because I used contraception for many years before converting. There are seven I gratefully have the privilege of raising.
When I first understood that being open to life meant being open to the gift of children, it was an easy acceptance, even though pregnancy is hard. Then the darkness of miscarriage left me confused. As I made friends, I realized that I was not alone in this darkness of hidden loss. I met women who had suffered even more, women who graciously accepted that if God wanted them to suffer, then they would suffer. I met women who had lost born children, adopted children, grown children. One of my greatest fears is that I will see one of the children I have raised die. Miscarriage left me empty, imagining the dead body of a child I have raised for two, ten, or twenty years fills me with terror. Motherhood can be a curse and a blessing.
But I am starting to see it, especially during this quiet time of anticipation, as only a blessing, suffering and all. Christ the Savior was born into this hurting world to save us. We are united with Christ at every celebration of the Eucharist, and we remain united through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Our children, all of them, are still our children, still objects of our love, and love is never a curse. The darkness I felt is only my blurred vision of the fullness of truth, but when I sit still and let the love of Christ illuminate my soul, I glimpse that my work as the mother of all my children is ongoing.
I have to pray for the ones who are living to get to Heaven, and I have to pray for the ones who are dead. I can even pray to the little ones who died and ask them to pray for the growing ones on earth. We pray for all of our family, the entire human family, to be together in Heaven. God unites the spiritual and material worlds, and when I think of motherhood in that way, I realize that I am not just open to life, I am open to miscarriage, to death, to love for all eternity.