No Greater Love Than This


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.

This picture was taken at 13 weeks. Today our baby is almost 14 weeks old. Please keep us in your prayers!

43 Replies to “No Greater Love Than This”

  1. Michelle, I am in awe. God bless you and your family. You continue to be in my prayers always. You are what God had in mind when He created mothers. Thank you for your inspiration. God bless, Charla

  2. Michelle, you are in my prayers. Thank you for being a true apostle! Thank you for your beautiful example of faith and hope! Thank you for living for the glory of God alone. You are an inspiration to all women. I’m praying for you with the intercession of St. Gabriel and the Blessed Mother. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

  3. Praying for you and the baby. This made me cry as I’m pregnant with my 5th (4th to term), and have been told by my doctor that I shouldn’t be having any more because of the complications I’ve had. You said exactly how I feel, and how I would feel if I was in the same situation (which might eventually happen). The idea of not being with my children is heartbreaking to me, but I also know I could never end a pregnancy just to save myself. I could never live with such a decision. Best wishes to you, and may God be with you both!

  4. Michelle, god is love and so are you. There are no doubts of your faith and beliefs…thank you for not only sharing them with us but also being a great facilitator of and for life. I won’t lie, like most, my initial reactin was confusion and to be afraid for you, Mike, your children and family. Many will say this was a huge decision to come to and as you pointed out, “selfish”. I don’t wish to lose another nephew or niece and most definitely my sister. However, I trust in your faith and I trust in God. And as my faith rings the same tune as yours, I understand this new baby is a miracle from God and your reasons for chosing life. Psalm 127:3. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” You all will continue to be in my prayers. May God Bless you and keep you!

  5. Michelle, I want you to know that everyday I ask for a miraculous healing of your uterus for the cause of canonization of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Therese the Little Flower. You will continue to be in my prayers. I look forward to the joyful announcement of this little one’s arrival!

  6. Michelle! You are such a beautiful example to all of us! Thank you. Thank you for choosing life for your child in a world that so easily discards children in the name of choice. Thank you for trusting in God’s amazing grace and charity. If God sent you this child, He knows why…and the trust that you demonstrate by this act amazes me! I am so fortunate to count you as one of my sisters in Christ and a friend. I wish I was more like you! A wonderful wife and mother to all your children! The world is full of negativity and naysayers, negativity is all around us because of the despicable culture of death we live in, even among those who process to call themselves Catholic! It must sicken Christ that we lack so much…to suffer for another person is the greatest act of love…..sadly, this world doesn’t realize or want this….we need more love in the world, we need more Michelle’s! I love you!

  7. Thank you all so very much! Your words of encouragement and your prayers mean more than I can say.

    Victoria, I knew you would understand. Thank you for having faith with me. You are a wonderful sister, both biologically and spiritually. I am so lucky you are my earthly sister and my sister in Christ. I love you so very much.

  8. Oh the tears! Michelle, you are simply amazing. A mirror that reflects Christ love so fully and brightly. Thank you for showing us what sainthood looks like. I am praying for you and little baby daily- God is good, all the time.

    All my love!

  9. Thank you for such beautiful words. For a long time I was conflicted about birth control and decided that those rules didn’t apply to me. I’ve been growing in my faith over the last couple of years, but really done a lot of thinking and praying over the last six months. As I struggled in my heart my daughter said out of the blue when talking about another family, that God only gives us the babies we are supposed to have. That was like a lightening bolt to my heart.

    I don’t know that I am ready for another baby, but I am ready to trust that God will take care of our family no matter the size. Your post is such a beautiful reminder of this. It also encourages me because I see how much farther I have to go on my journey with the Lord and how beautiful it will be.

    Thank you.

  10. Thank you, Michelle. I am the mother of 8 living and one in Heaven. I am edified by your witness, as my apprehension about being open to more pregnancies has been selfish. I forget St. Teresa of Avila’s advice, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing trouble you… God alone suffices.”
    @ Hannah: I am an Discalced Carmelite Secular, and love Louis and Zelie Martin too. I will join you in prayer for their intercession for Michelle and her baby!

  11. We are praying for you and baby and the family. Can’t wait to read the beautiful birth story in the spring for this little one that is already serving as an apostle!

  12. Your story is so very touching, I feel the same way as you do about God giving us women the gift to bear children. And it is through child birth that we repent for our sins. Even though I’m in a lot of pain in this pregnancy I just think of all the pain Christ went through for me and smile. You are in my prayers. I wish you and your new child the best of wishes for a healthy pregnancy and safe birth. May God bless you and your family.

  13. I can’t help but wonder why you did not choose to abstain totally? Laying down your life sounds romantic, but what about just having separate bedrooms? Maybe life to bring up your children and see your grandchildren would be worth abstaining? Once you die, your husband will be forced to abstain totally, but you will not be here to raise your children. Sometimes God asks us to abstain totally for the life of the mother. Choosing life is sometimes giving up sex. I am sorry you are in this position. As the mother of ten children,and almost losing my life with my last child, I know exactly what you are going through.

  14. Prayers for you and your family Michelle, you are an amazing example of a Catholic woman. Thank you for showing me Jesus’ face.

  15. Thank you all for your lovely comments and prayers. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate it.

    Teresa, you are right, perhaps completely abstaining would have been prudent. I know that you are not privvy to what goes on in our bedroom (nor should you be) but the agressive natural family planning we were practicing was actually bording on abstaining, to the point it was negatively affecting our marriage. Likewise, because of the aggressiveness of our practice there actually should have been no way to get pregnant. This is why we are certain that this can only come from God’s will. And please, don’t misread my post to think that I believe there is anything romantic about laying down my life for anyone, this is not the case. In fact, it terrifies me, however, I will gladly do that if I am asked to, just as if I was asked to for one of my other children, for my husband, or for you. I never intended to be in this position but because I am here I am going to rely on my faith and know that regardless of what happens that it will be His will.

    I have no regrets that we did not abstain. I know that our intentions were not to challenge God but to connect with each other after a series of very stressful and emotional events in our life. We used our marital bed in the way that God intended… to bind us together, to connect through the perfectness of the marital embrace and because we are ultimately open to God’s will in our life, that meant opening ourselves to the possibility of pregnancy even when we believe there was absolutely no way for that to occur. Thank you for your prayers, they are much appreciated.

    If you would like to read about how we’ve come to be on this journey you may do so here…

  16. You and your baby will be held in my family’s hearts and prayers until you both successfully make it through delivery.

  17. Thank you Michelle for responding charitably to my response. I have some anger issues over this subject because I was in the same position and my life wasn’t even worth the effort to use NFP. I too have ten children, nine live and one in heaven. God finally took matters out of my hands once I gave over my will to Him. My soul has been ripped in two because of what happened to me. May God spare your life and take the choice out of your hands and give you peace.

    1. You can’t imagine how I needed this today. I found out I’m expecting our 5th last night. I’m 40 and hubby is 46. He has sensed I might be expecting. I didn’t know how to tell him. I couldn’t sleep last night mourning yet another many years of my “life” gone. May God’s will be done.

  18. Praise the Lord for the beautiful little baby growing inside you, and God bless you for your trusting obedience to His Will. I will be praying for you all.

  19. Michelle,
    Thank you for posting this. Your story is a testimony to the sacredness of life and the openness that you have to life that clearly only came from God. I will most certainly be praying for you, your husband, your baby & your children as well as your family & friends who most certainly are concerned. I will pray peace surpasses all understanding of the ‘whys’ and that they and you can rest in the knowledge that God is bigger than all of their/your fears and that you can enjoy this pregnancy and this life inside of you (what a miracle!!). I hope you can draw close to Mary during this time knowing she had not the same questions and fears, but questions and fears, nonetheless. May God bless you and your baby, and allow you to both live to testify this story. And if God does not permit this, Michelle, like I said above, it is still a testimony to all. But I ask our Lord to please spare you & your baby’s life. Love and blessings.

  20. This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you for being “counter-cultural” and focusing on what is right. I want to be like you. We just found out that I am pregnant with our first child and are a little nervous about the whole thing (lots of big changes), but we are THRILLED because we have been open to life since our wedding almost a year ago. I will keep you in my prayers. Please keep me in yours 🙂

  21. I am so happy for you.
    After many losses, I bore one child at the age of 40.
    I ended up having a C-section at 47.
    But I can tell you this – if I thought for one moment I could get pregnant again, I’d go to the ends of the earth.

    I guess you are about 28 weeks now, if that post was written in September. I hope and pray all is well.
    God is good. He is the miracle-worker.

    I applaud you and I hope you will update us all now that I feel invested in prayer and hope for you.

    God bless you all.

  22. I pray for you, but I am so sure you all are under God’s loving care, I just wish we all could see the world (not only this one, but the everlasting) with the same eyes of yours. God bless you.

  23. May the Lord keep His Hands on you, your unborn child, your children and your husband. He is your source of strength, but you already know that. God is in control.

  24. Teresa, I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through. You will be in our prayers as well. I pray for peace for you and for your family.

    Emily, I’m actually only about 14 weeks as the picture at the bottom shows. This post was written when I very first found out I was pregnant. I needed an outlet for my worries, my fears, and my hopes and so I decided to write this. I held on to it until we felt sure that our little one had a chance to make it. It seems, based on what we’ve seen so far that this baby is a fighter and is fighting right along with us for life!

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments, for your stories of hope and faith, and for your prayers. I feel so uplifted! I am so happy that I decided to share our story. We know that God is watching over us and that this pregnancy, regardless of the outcome, is so important… not only to us but to so many other. ♥

  25. Michelle, thanks for sharing. I also went through a pregnancy that doctors predicted I had a 50/50% chance of surviving. I also had the feelings of sadness, joy and fear, but I also chose life and God granted life to both me and my baby. I will be following you during this pregnancy and joining you with the other women in prayer–so in awe of your courage!

  26. Michelle, all I keep thinking is that 22, now 23 souls having been created through you and Mike, that God’s plans for your soul manufacturing marriage is not over :). St. Gianna, please pray for Michelle!

  27. I am also praying for the intercession of Louis and Zelie Martin, that you and your child will come through this pregnancy safely.

    Thank you for your powerful witness.

  28. I am so, so blessed to know you and call you my friend. You are such an inspiration to me. You are always in my fervent prayers and I eagerly anticipate a joyful birth story and pictures of you snuggling your sweet baby. <3

  29. Oh Michele!!

    I can totally relate… as I have also been given the “do not get pregnant ever again” – like 4 times since I’ve had all c-sections! But, especially after the last pregnancy where my uterus had slowly ruptured on its own. Like you, my husband and I used NFP very prudently and were very shocked that I had even got pregnant again, that we knew this baby was part of God’s plan even though we were abstaining and trying to play it safe. Our little girl (7th child) was born a week and a half ago…. using NFP allowed us to be successful at making a larger space between babies, and my uterus was in much better shape. But, because of all the scar tissue from having 7 c-sections, my bleeding wouldn’t stop. Getting me back together was very difficult and they had to continue regardless of the bleeding. I developed a large hematoma because of the areas that continued bleeding. It’s slowly absorbing and things are looking good for my healing. And, even though we have 7 beautiful children and extremely high risk pregnancies, we will continue to use NFP and trust in God’s plan for our lives.

    May God bless you for your “fiat” and trusting in Him, despite the risk of your own life and baby’s. You are a shining example of FAITH in this darkened world where the gift life is not respected.

    I will be praying for you, dear!!

  30. Michelle, Thank you for sharing this post and for being a true picture of Christ’s love for all of us. God bless you, your husband and your family. We will be praying for you and your little one! Congratulations on your sweet new baby!

  31. Thank you so much for your beautiful witness, Michelle! I’m so not a crier, and you had me bawling. I feel so blessed to know you. We’re still praying! <3

  32. Michelle~ thank you for sharing your story… I cannot imagine what you and your family are going through. I will keep you and your family in my prayers!

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