Through the birth of my son, God reminded me that death and sorrow are not His final plan for us.
by Antonella Pedley
“The best treatment for your condition is getting pregnant.” The consultant’s words fell on my unbelieving ears. “But the same condition may prevent you from having a baby. It may take a year of trying, but who knows, you may get lucky.”
I did “get lucky”; rather, I was blessed. I was at the prime of life, bordering thirty, but still twenty-something. After marriage, my husband and I had nested on a beautiful island near France. Our jobs were interesting and challenging.
And now, amazingly, I was pregnant! It was early October 2002, and we decided to wait two months before telling our loved ones and friends the great news. I almost had to tape my mouth shut. Every day at work I felt like shouting the news. Finally, we broke it to our two sets of prospective grandparents. They had been dreaming about this moment, and the tidings sent them orbiting with joy and anticipation.
“That’s your baby!”
The pregnancy was going well, but to reassure me, my doctor sent me for a scan. As I was staring at the little screen, after a few seconds, a small blob appeared, sending my pulse rate skyrocketing.
“What’s that?” I exclaimed.
“What do you mean?” blurted the nurse. “That’s your baby!”
Tears streamed down my checks, as I realized, for the first time, that this little mass, nestled in my womb, was a new life—a tiny person, our son or daughter. At that moment, not even a million doctors, scientists, or psychologists could have convinced me that this was just an impersonal blob of tissue. God had given life to this fetus—and it was my child!
The weeks rolled by, and I was blooming marvelously. Yet, something disturbing started happening. At every turn, I was confronted with the idea of death—how to cope with the loss of a loved one, counseling and advice on mourning. Was God trying to tell me something?
I didn’t want any dissonance to ruin my happiness.
A few weeks later, just before Christmas, I received news that my mother was ill. In the short space of a couple of weeks, she was totally bedridden. I sensed that my parents, trying to shelter my emotions, were downplaying the seriousness of her situation.
By late March, I found out that her cancer would leave her only days, perhaps weeks, to live. We flew home. At her side, I asked God, Why? Why is this happening to me now, when I am expecting a child, when I should be happy and optimistic, balanced in my emotions, and channeling my energy into my pregnancy?
I did not understand.
SWEET AND SOUR
My mother’s condition improved somewhat, and we went home to prepare for the birth. Every day was a mixed bag of utter happiness and mounting despair—feeling my baby’s little heel, his sweet hiccups waking me at night, shopping for doll-size clothes and a zillion other things that I was told are indispensable. But my mother’s condition was going downhill again.
Finally, the day for my delivery came. It was the longest day and night of my life, and then it happened on a June morning. With only his little head peeking out, the baby opened his eyes wide and took a long look around at the midwife and at his father. Three minutes later, I was holding a healthy baby boy in my arms, trembling from exhaustion but incredibly satisfied. With bowed heads, we dedicated him to his Heavenly Father.
We called him Elliot Stephan. If the baby had been a girl, we would have called her Anna, after my mother.
Although she was in the hospital undergoing tests, my mother’s fervent wish was to hold her grandchild in her arms. God graciously granted her that wish, and she spent the last month of her life with her new grandson at her side. Her life had extended seven months beyond the doctor’s prognosis. She died peacefully on a Friday night in September.
In the weeks leading up to her passing away, I prayed for a miracle. I did not know whether I could cope with my mother’s death in a way that would not prove detrimental to my baby’s health and my ability to care for him.
As we flew home for the funeral, something extraordinary happened. I can only call it “heavenly anesthesia.” I received emotional strength from above, special grace for my time of need. I went through the valley of the shadow of death, but I did not go alone. God was there, my Doctor, applying His soothing balm to my bleeding soul.
As I looked at my baby, I gained new strength—a new will to live, function, and perform. Then I finally understood what I had not before. This child was born especially for me, and for my family—to give comfort, joy, and peace when we needed it most. One life had ended, but a new life had begun.
Now I am preparing for our reunion with my mother in the resurrection. To be there together, with my child, is my highest goal.
I still pray daily for Heaven’s medicine, and I am receiving it in small, steady doses.
“I WANT TO BE A MOM.”
Not too long ago, I met a little girl in the park. She offered to play with my then 15-month-old son. I watched as she carefully pushed him in the swing and down the slide. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up—a teacher, perhaps? She shook her head.
“I want to be a mom.”
Good on you, I thought.
And why not? Since Elliot’s birth, I observe people’s reactions when they find out I am an old-fashioned, stay-at-home mom. At first they seem surprised, then they say they envy me. After all, it is the most rewarding career in the world. To watch my son grow and develop brings immeasurable joy to my heart. To see him take his first steps, fold his hands for prayer, recognize people and objects, stroke and kiss my cheeks, laugh at a good joke, obey me and his father, and much more, are the best job benefits one can dream of.
A bit boring, some may say.
Yet, if I take my job—indeed my mission—seriously, I have to read a score of topics, ranging from child health to spiritual training. I have to constantly strive to improve my techniques and mothering skills. I have to set goals for my child’s education, and with God’s help, do my best to achieve them.
I have to learn to stimulate my child but not overstimulate him, to teach him independence but not self-trust, to mold his will but not break it. Holding the eternal destiny of my child in my hands is more daunting than handling millions of dollars. More than ever, I feel my total dependence on God day by day.
Taken from Last Generation, Vol. 26, No. 2. Last Generation is a vibrant 32-page soul-winning magazine published six times a year. To subscribe, call (540) 672-1996, Ext. 283.