I had complete control and no control over my family planning. With PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which makes it difficult to conceive and after several losses, including an Ectopic pregnancy in which I lost a fallopian tube, I felt completely out of control of my body. Yet, these challenges also led us to a fertility clinic where in theory, with the help of a talented physician, fertility medication and an ultrasound machine, we had total control over when and how we conceived a child.
This control yet lack of control left me feeling confused and helpless. All I wanted was a child – something that is supposed to happen naturally. Why would God allow so many obstacles and so much confusion within a process he designed so beautifully perfect?
There are some that believe “playing God” through intervention in family planning and conception is against his natural way of bringing life into this world. But with a world that is tainted by sin and suffering, I believe he graces our minds and releases our hands to the task of supporting women in the beautiful process of building a family.
After my daughter was born, we waited a few years to try for another child. Knowing what it took to conceive despite our challenges, we went into the process confident it could happen – and perhaps more naturally this time around. We decided to try on our own, without the extensive medical intervention we used to conceive Hope. A few weeks later I was pregnant but I miscarried within days. I admit I felt ashamed for trying to take matters into my own hands. If only I had submitted to the process with doctors and monitoring, maybe I wouldn’t have lost this baby. But that loss wasn’t the end of the process. Four weeks later I was rushed to the emergency room to find I had conceived twins. One miscarried weeks earlier and one began to grow in my right fallopian tube, which had ruptured, threatening my life and future ability to conceive.
At that point, I dealt with deep guilt that I could have prevented these horrible losses if only I had been under closer care of a physician. My circumstances were not the same as many women who conceive and birth babies with the natural effort God originally intended. My story was different. I needed help.
My redeeming God replaced my guilt with his love as he led us on a journey to conceive our son 7 months later. It did not happen the way I had thought it would but when we became pregnant with our boy, against all odds . . .when doctors (who had been assisting us) said it couldn’t happen, it was the perfect picture of the way God redeems our broken circumstances for his glory.
My story isn’t all that different than the stories of women all around the world who could benefit from assisted family planning. Women with circumstances that are far different from those that lead to natural, effortless pregnancies and family building. Culture, financial hardship, health and vocational needs are just a few conditions that affect a woman’s ability to thrive in pregnancy and motherhood. Much like I could have prevented a life-threatening Ectopic pregnancy with closer monitoring, many women around the world can prevent premature conception and at-risk pregnancies and births with healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy.
In Africa alone, 1 in 39 women do not survive childbirth. This is a staggering, heartbreaking statistic. And newborns whose mothers have died in childbirth are ten times more likely to die than those who have not lost their mothers. The reasons for such high maternal and infant mortality rates are many and complex, but there is a good solution that is working to save the lives of moms around the world.
By simply being engaged in conversation and counseling that helps women take ownership of their family planning, lives can be enriched and ultimately saved. Hope Through Healing Hands, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, has launched a Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide. Their mom and child initiative can change the landscape of families in developing nations. They know that healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy empowers a girl to postpone her first pregnancy until at least age eighteen, which is a life-saving opportunity for millions of child brides around the world. They know that a mother’s ability to space births 2-3 years apart means that her baby is twice as likely to survive the newborn stage. 222 million women and girls around the world want the resources to be able to space the births of their children, but they have no access to contraception or education. The project offers help and hope to women and their current and future children.
Visit HopeThroughHealingHands.org to learn more about the facts of maternal and child health in developing regions, and to get involved as an advocate for these women and children who need access to the resources we have so widely in the US. You’ll be hearing about this outreach regularly here at Grace for Moms. As opportunities to get involved come about, we’ll be sure to let you know how you can join us in this effort.
I get it, because I’ve been there. I personally needed intervention to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy for my children and me. Whether you’ve had a similar need or you’ve effortlessly brought life into this world, take a moment to thank God for those lives and thank him for the ability to help others experience joy-filled pregnancies and births.
Does your heart resonate with this effort to help mothers and babies worldwide get the counsel and resources they need to plan safe pregnancies? Will you join us in spreading the word through your sphere?