The Battle for Motherhood and for Life, and the Savior Who Holds On Tight
By Shirley Robinson
This is the latest post in a series where guest bloggers share how God has shown up in the stories they never expected to live. May these stories stir you toward hope and give you a glimpse of God’s goodness. Read previously published stories here.
According to science, the path to motherhood is a straightforward line.
Although I had known other women who struggled and had heard of many fertility obstacles, I mostly thought that science’s cute little timeline was a good standard for how it looks for a woman to become a parent. Science, and my body, decided to prove me wrong. They double crossed me and made my timeline resemble something more like a horror story.
When I was a child, I had a fondness for telling people that God had called me to singleness like the apostle Paul. But at seventeen, I met my husband, and fell head over heels in love. Even more surprising was the switch that flipped inside me. A genuine desire for motherhood supernaturally replaced my idea of singleness. My husband and I were married a little over a year later, and started trying to grow our family.
Though friends and family enjoyed more than a few chuckles on my behalf, I knew, deep and thoroughly, that God was calling me to become a mother. He was awakening that beautiful instinct within me.
Two years followed by nine months of a not-so-pretty pregnancy passed before my husband and I welcomed our chubby firstborn into the world. Our son was a prize, a treasure. The pregnancy, I later found out categorized as “hyperemesis gravidarum,” was an ugly memory.
Four years passed while God slowly stirred my heart once more. This time, I knew pregnancy would be difficult. My husband and I had two existing infertility conditions to overcome, but I longed for another baby.
With help from modern medicine, we became pregnant once again. Three weeks after conception, my health began to deteriorate. The complication that had made my first pregnancy unpleasant was filling this one with torment. I went from happy and expecting to extremely sick to unable to stay out of the hospital. Doctors, home-health nurses, and even pharmaceutical experts worked together just to help my daughter and I survive.
During one traumatic hospital stay, my doctor stood at the foot of the hospital bed with tears running down his face—genuinely terrified my unborn daughter and I wouldn’t make it—and plainly told me to never conceive again. Barely able to raise my head, I agreed. I was too sick to mourn that my ability to bear children was being taken from me. After my daughter was born, I understood, and I grieved even as I nursed my little girl. She was a tiny beauty, and now at six years old, still is.
But science wasn’t done with me. The close-call pregnancy wreaked havoc on my body and woke up a dormant genetic disease in the form of Acute Intermittent Porphyria attacks. While learning to be a mother to two, I watched my health plummet. The disease left me debilitated to the point that I sometimes could not care for myself, or my children, and I could not be left alone. Coupled with my grief, I was swallowed up in despair.
I fought for my health, but won very few battles. I fought for my mind, but battled depression. I fought for my faith, but felt God was too far away, or worse, less capable than I had thought.
During my pregnancy and the following attacks, I struggled to spend time with the Lord. Occasionally becoming too sick to read, the inability to experience God’s Word became a spiritual crisis for me. I turned to my husband to read the Psalms to me and often asked for the AudioBible as a quiet background hum. I was clinging to the Lord, holding on for life.
Slowly, and painfully, I learned there are quiet times in one’s faith—the kind that fill us with doubt when the Lord’s voice is muffled by life. It became transparent that my lifelong love of the Lord had been offered to Him conditionally. I loved the Lord, but I didn’t recall signing up for such intense, sorrowful suffering.
But heartbreak is fertile ground. A false faith, a shallow faith, a broken faith—no such faith could save someone drowning in so much pain and suffering. But a sincere faith, one tempered in the fires of loss, could see me through.
I have spent six long years bravely reaching towards health, wellness, and hope. In that time, the Lord has stirred a deeper faith within. He alone has held me fast in the torrent.
I needed that faith desperately then, as I still do now. In June, my husband and I endured our greatest loss—a loss I would never have survived without the deeply rooted love of the Father.
Despite what the doctors said, despite what science had dished out to my body, we found out earlier this spring I was expecting a baby—our miracle. How we loved that little baby! Even more miraculous was the lack of hyperemesis gravidarum that had threatened my life in earlier pregnancies.
But a few weeks later, we landed in the ER and shortly after the OR. Our baby was gone, lost through ectopic pregnancy.
Once again, doctors worked to save my life, but this time, they couldn’t save the little one within me. No pain has ever hurt more than the empty ache that replaced our sweet miracle. But, oh how the Father held me fast, once more.
I have no immunity to suffering. I have no immunity to loss. But I have a Savior who will not let it swallow me. Hard days come. Tears flow, but this I know: God’s care can mend and soothe me until I too walk through Heaven’s gates—if I let Him, if I choose to hold on to that fire-refined faith.
The battle for motherhood and for life has left me scarred, but it has not been able to sever the tie that binds me to the heart of my Savior.
About the Author
Shirley Robinson is a Christian author who wrote the Advent devotional, Messiah Resounding, and the Biblical fiction novel The One Who Told the Desert Stories. When not writing, Shirley and her husband Paul spend as much time as possible together with their two mini-me’s. Their third child lives forevermore in Heaven. As a family, they love enjoying nature, collecting puzzles, and challenging one another in board games. Among other hobbies, Shirley enjoys passing her time by encouraging and supporting others (and talking about books!) which she does through Instagram, @srobinsonauthor.
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