An unplanned pregnancy sparked fear and anxiety
as my wife and I wondered what to do with our fifth child.
Just over three years ago, my wife and I waved goodbye to three of our four children as they boarded the bus for school. It was a few weeks before Christmas and there was a lot to do. We didn’t do anything but sit on the sofa in silence. After the kids left, my wife Krista took a pregnancy test and it was positive – again. She cried and we sat there wringing our hands and our souls for a long time. I never want to say this child was unwanted, but our lives were so thoroughly set in another direction, we had no idea what to do.
To understand our reaction, it might help to know that we had been infertile for three-and-a-half years at the beginning of our marriage. Ours wasn’t a soul-searching, fist-shaking-at-God sort of time. My wife’s family has a history of infertility, so we were prepared for challenges and setbacks. We waited patiently for a time and then worked through several steps to determine if there were diagnosable problems in our reproductive systems.
As it happened, one rainy March day, we went to the hospital to check for blockages in the fallopian tubes. The technician told us that he didn’t see anything, but that many couples conceived within three months of the test. And, so it was for us. Just before Independence Day, we found out Krista was pregnant. Eight months later, we had a healthy baby girl. Fifteen months after she was born, another strapping lass came along. Within 14 months of the birth of Number 2, our third daughter was born. When our fourth daughter was born, our eldest was a little more than three-and-a-half years old.
We were flush with children, delighted and overwhelmed, filled with joy and trepidation at every step. We were definitely parents now and experienced all the parenting emotions new parents have. We felt full and complete and, yet, it took everything we had to get to the end of a day.
Just prior to that cold December morning when we found out Krista was pregnant with our fifth child, we had begun to actually breathe again. Each time we added a child to the family, I felt as if I had been rolled by a wave in the ocean. Before I had time to come up for air, another birth would roll me again. To breathe finally felt like a freedom we scarcely remembered and here was an unexpected tsunami bearing down on us again.
Like many couples and single women facing an unexpected pregnancy, we froze, terrified. As Krista shared the news with me, I could see the physical and emotional burdens of her previous pregnancies overwhelming her. I felt like a helpless boy. She was suffocating before my eyes, and I was unable to make it right for her.
Krista and I have always been pro-life without question. We were raised with a respect for life and had never fully understood what would cause a person to end the life of his or her own child. Yet, now we understood. Panic, fear, loss of control, an inability to see beyond the crushing burdens to come—these are what drive a person to despairing situations. There are certainly some out there who don’t give abortion a second-thought. But I suspect far more people feel an intense struggle before making such a decision.
Krista and I let in a few trusted friends who faithfully walked with us as we sorted through the panic and stress. For us, there truly was only one right choice, to bear and keep our child. But knowing that didn’t make the choice easier. Mostly, our prayers were for God to bring us into His will. We knew what it was, but we didn’t want to choose it. Truth is, the pregnancy was difficult. Adding a fifth child was difficult. Bearing a fifth child as we neared forty was difficult. Much of life is difficult, but sometimes choosing life can be the hardest thing a person does.
Our own experience with an unplanned pregnancy has caused us to see others in this situation differently. If we who were firmly pro-life had such difficulty with an unplanned pregnancy, how much more so do those who don’t have such a firm foundation in life?
To be truly pro-life, I have discovered that I need to encounter others in all their fears, anxieties, and feelings of being trapped. Because they are here, I need to be here with them. This is the place where God met us on our journey and where He hopes to meet others in this situation, as well.
More than three years after being rolled by the news of our fifth child, Krista and I are still underwater. Of all our poor-sleeping children, our son is the worst. I feel like we haven’t slept for a decade and then I realize that my eldest daughter is about to turn ten.
There is a lot I wish were different about our family, but not having our son isn’t among them. God knew—although we didn’t—what unplanned blessings He had in store for us. We feel immeasurably blessed by the addition of another child. To meet our son is to know joy and happiness. His smile and laughter, his little grin, his knowing jokes, his way of settling in my lap for prayers just before bed each night—these are gifts I would never have known if he weren’t here. Looking forward I know that throughout his life, he will bless others simply by being himself around them.
Our son is already a living testimony that God can turn the darkest and most broken parts of our lives into lamp stands of gold.
Daniel Weiss is the founder and president of The Brushfires Foundation and director of Pray Love Heal. He lives with his family in Wisconsin on a cattle farm.