Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it was my privilege to honor the two mothers in my life: my mom, and my wife. My kids and I treated their mom to a Twins game, and my mom to pizza (and a fancy ring with the birthstones of all of her grandchildren).
This Mother’s Day has a special significance for my wife and I, as we thank God for our five children. Now, to readers who are familiar with the demographics of my immediate family, you may be questioning my counting skills, as you’re only aware of my nine year old daughter and eleven year old son. But my wife and I have three other children of which most are unaware.
When Betsy and I first considered having children, we were told by doctors that we may have some issues with fertility because of some underlying medical conditions. It was recommended that we undergo fertility testing to explore our options. But before we could even make the appointments for such tests, it was discovered that we were expecting our first child - a boy. He gave us a bit of a fright by coming six weeks early, but he went on to grow and overcome the physical challenges of being one who was early born.
Less than two years later we were blessed by God to be new parents again, this time of a daughter (who arrived right on time). We were the happy parents of two, and wanted more.
But none came. For seven years. We began to think that the warnings about fertility issues that we received early on in our marriage had come to fruition. But even in light of this suspicion, we believed (and still do) that God determines the course of these things (1 Samuel 1.6, 19), and so we trusted in him and his wisdom regarding having more children.
Then, about two years ago, my wife discovered that she was expecting again. But problems with the pregnancy quickly followed, and the child was lost early on. We grieved and mourned, as this kind of pain was fresh to us, having never experienced it before.
Last August, we were expecting again. Still somewhat fresh off the loss of our third child, we timidly went to the doctor for an ultrasound appointment where we learned that the child my wife was carrying measured at six weeks and two days gestation. We were told not to worry, as it’s not typical to be able to discern a heartbeat before seven weeks, and that we should come back in two weeks for another ultrasound. We did, and at that second ultrasound we were told that the baby measured at…six weeks and two days gestation. There had been no growth since previous checkup. This meant that the child my wife carried was not alive, and sooner or later, nature would take its course.
During the time of this second miscarriage, Betsy and I clung to the truths in the lyrics of the song “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective. The pertinent lyrics are as follows:
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Show me in this season you are good to me
You were there in the valley of shadows
You were there in the depth of my sorrows
You’re my strength, my hope for tomorrow
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure
By this time, Betsy and I had two children who were with us on earth, and two who are waiting for us in heaven. Although we were saddened by the loss of those two babies, we took great comfort in the Bible’s teaching that infants who die (including those who are never born) are among God’s elect and have joined him in heaven. What a comfort it is to know that someday we will meet them and rejoice with them.
Earlier I noted that my wife and I have five children, but as yet I’ve only given an accounting for four of them. This is because the fifth is yet to be revealed, and is why this Mother’s Day has a special significance for us. Betsy is expecting yet again and is at this time more than nine weeks into the pregnancy, and so far things are looking good. Because of our fresh experiences with miscarriage, we are still trepidatious, but remain confident in the sovereign goodness of our God, and we trust his will completely, regardless of what is to come. We know that God is good, and that each of this child’s days were written in God’s book before there was yet one (Psalm 139.13-16), even if he or she never sees the light of day.
Don’t get me wrong: there is still much that we are concerned about. There are the obvious physical and biological challenges, considering our history of miscarriage. But there are other challenges, such as having older children, the least of which will be 10 years older than this one at the time of this child’s birth (!), and the prospect of being “older” parents to this child (I’ll be almost 60 when this child graduates from high school!). But again, we trust not in the metrics of man, but in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20.7), and we anticipate his sovereign goodness to us in the coming weeks and months.
So this Mother’s Day is special, because on it my wife and I remember that we are now the parents of five children, two that are a delight to us on earth, two that will be a delight to us in heaven, and one that will be a delight to us, Lord willing, sometime in early December. But this, too, is why Mother’s Day can be such a confounding and difficult holiday to celebrate. On the one hand, all of us “owe” our mothers at least some measure of gratitude, for without them we would not have life. On the other hand, motherhood is fraught with so many joys and sorrows that we need to acknowledge its complexity. We must understand Mother’s Day and motherhood in light of God’s sovereign will. This is something that Betsy and I have been trying to do ever since we got the news about potential fertility issues many years ago, and as we have gone through the ups and downs ever since. But throughout that process I think it’s safe to say that our trust has grown, and we have learned to, as the song says, count every blessing, and to let go and trust God in every season, for he is indeed good to us.