This post was written on September 19, 2012.
As I sit here typing my house is quiet. My children are all in bed. I can hear the soft whirling of the fan overhead and my husband gently snores beside me. I’ve been staring at the screen wondering what I want to say, what I need to say. You see, I can form the words in my head but to put them on paper makes them seem real… too real.
Just days ago I stood in my bathroom, my hands trembling as I held a pregnancy test. I watched intently as the test worked its magic and the line moved across. Slowly I could see the control line become clear and yet the test line still remained elusive. I held my breath. The seconds ticked away, seeming to last far longer than they truly did. Finally the results of the test became clear. Before me I saw two lines in the window. I am pregnant. I let out my breath and began to cry.
I can’t tell you how many pregnancy tests I’ve taken in my life. You can imagine with 10 living children and 12 babies lost I have had my fair share of tests. This one would be the most joyful and the most painful I have ever taken. The tears I began crying were both tears of delight and tears of sorrow. It is hard to reconcile feeling both emotions at the same time. I never thought I would see another positive pregnancy test again and to be honest, that had been a hard cross to bear. Tears of joy streamed down my cheeks in happy anticipation of a new baby. Yes, I have 10 amazing children but our lives have always revolved around being open to God’s will and after Jacob’s birth we were told that I should never get pregnant again. To be holding that test in my hand announcing that we were expecting a baby was a joy I never thought I would experience again. It was overwhelming.
At the same moment I heard the doctor’s voice in the back of my head repeating over and over again, “You must never get pregnant again. You could die if you do. You will risk your life and the life of your baby. More than likely your baby will die. Your uterus is so badly damaged that it will never hold a child again.” After my failed attempt at a breech birth for our last son, my uterus and bladder had both ruptured. It would take 2 doctors 3 hours to put me back together. They would impress on me many times in the hospital how dangerous it would be to me and to my child should I ever become pregnant again. I was told I had barely survived Jake’s birth. When asked why they didn’t perform a hysterectomy then they told us that there had been no way I would have survived another surgery at that time. One doctor even went as far as to suggest to Mike that he have a vasectomy so that my life wouldn’t be at risk. Both Mike and I knew that would not happen and we told the doctor this. He would reply that it was Mike’s duty as I had already done mine to have more than enough children already.
As I stood in the bathroom his words flooded my mind. I cried tears of sorrow and uncertainty. What would happen to my baby? What would happen to me? Would we live through this pregnancy? I looked down at the test in my hand, still trembling and I knew the answer… somehow, someway, this was for God’s greater purpose. If despite all our aggressive Natural Family Planning God still wanted us to bring a child into the world, then we would try our hardest to do just that. Never was there a thought that perhaps we shouldn’t have this baby. My only thought was “how will I make it through?”
I kept my secret to myself for a couple days. Not only did I want to revel in the life that was growing inside of me, a secret all my own, but I wasn’t sure how to tell Mike. Normally I do something fun to announce a pregnancy but this seemed too serious of a situation to be silly. We sat in bed together just a couple days later and I told him we needed to talk. As I explained to him his face clouded with worry. How? Why? He wanted answers to questions I didn’t know the answers to. I cried. We talked about the dangers of having another baby. We talked about how happy we were to have another child but that the risks were so frightening. He told me he didn’t want to lose me. I cried and told him I didn’t want to die. We agreed that neither of us wanted to ever go through burying another child again. We held each other’s hands and were quiet.
We discussed all the possibilities we were facing. What if we lost the baby early on? What if I got far enough in the pregnancy and we lost the baby anyhow? What if I died because of a complication? What if we both died? It’s disconcerting to talk about your possible death and yet know it is a reality. We had heard the warnings, we had done the research, and we knew that any one of these situations could arise. Still, hearts filled with love and doubt and fear, we confirmed our decision that we must try at least to bring this baby into the world.
I feel so much happiness knowing that there is a tiny life living inside of me. Even after having so many children, I am still in awe over the entire life process. What a miracle! To know that such a miracle is growing nestled deep in my womb, well, it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I still have many, many fears but I’m trying to focus on the joy that new life brings. To know that God trusted me to be a part of something so holy, so grand, is just unimaginable.
It was hard telling my children that I am pregnant. Their excitement was contagious as was the fear once they realized what this may mean. Still, not once did any of them suggest that we not have this baby. They knew immediately that there was only one choice for our family. Life.
I am writing this piece to tell the world that I have no regrets in choosing life. I know that many will call me selfish for not just giving up this pregnancy and staying “safe” for the children I already have. I know in my heart that I could never be the mother they need if I were to choose myself over my baby. How could I? I have taught them that all life is a precious gift from God. It should not be our decision to take that life, even if it might mean we have to sacrifice our own. I can tell you that I am afraid to die. I don’t want to die. My heart beats so fast at the thought of it and yet, if it means that I gave my child, the gift given to me from God, a chance at life, then I most certainly am willing to give up my own. I look at my other children and know that without hesitation I would lay down my life for them, this little one growing inside of me is no different. I know some will argue that there is a difference but for me there is none. I think back to William and Joseph, how I held their tiny bodies and willed life back into them. How could I take life from one given to me? I’ve known the pain that goes along with burying a child. I’ve held their hands, I’ve cried tears of sorrow, I’ve pleaded with God to just let them live. I’ve begged God, please, just take me instead. There isn’t a single situation that I can think of where I would sacrifice one of my children for myself.
I wish I had words that were beautiful and eloquent and would be quoted for years to come about the sanctity of life, but I don’t. I only have what is in my heart. God has given me the beautiful gift of life and I am forever thankful. If I do not make it through this pregnancy please know that I don’t regret giving my life for my child. I pray that my child does indeed make it through but if he/she doesn’t then I know that is also God’s plans as well. I don’t pretend to know God’s plans but I know that they are always much better than my own. I have to trust that this is also God’s will for our family. Should the worst happen, I hope that our community will rally around our family and help take care of my children. My husband and children may struggle but I pray they understand how very important it was to respect the life God blessed us with by trying to bring this precious baby into the world.
I want my husband and my children to know that I love them all so very much that I would give my life for any one of them. As Christ said, “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I am willing to lay down my life for my husband, for my children, for my friends, for a stranger, for my unborn child. Christ laid down his life for me; I am willing to do the same. We are called to love others as Christ loved us. I can see no greater way to show my love for my child and my family than to be willing to give my life as Christ did. I pray that they always feel that great love I have for each of them.
Michelle Fritz is a daughter of God, a cradle Catholic, a Georgia peach, a devoted wife of almost 30 years to amazing husband Mike, and an eclectic homeschooling mother to eleven living children. She has experienced the loss of 16 babies in her call to be open to life, but knows that God is always loving and always gracious. She and her husband know that they have an army of Saints already in heaven!
In addition to her vocation as wife, mom, and homeschool teacher she also holds a Masters in Theology and has recently taken on the role of Youth Minister for both the middle school and high school groups at her parish.