My story was published today on Design Mom- you can read it here. Last year I sent her my story in an effort to raise awareness for hopeforaccreta.org when I was running for the Face of Accreta.
Gaby told me my story was too long and I never sent her a revised draft. A few weeks ago she sent me a note saying her editor had cut it down and that it was in queue.
I flipped over to her blog tonight after watching the Republican debate and was surprised at the amount of comments that has been deleted or edited to remove rudeness. It seems that my birth story has turned into a bit of a pro-life/pro-choice debate.
I felt myself defending my choice to keep Ben to a group of strangers. As I was typing, I KNEW that all I would need to do was invite these women to my house for one afternoon to feel how alive and beautiful and beloved this child is in our home. Not one person who has met Ben would think I should have aborted him.
Having eight children is not for everyone. Choosing not to abort a life-threatening pregnancy is not for everyone. Being a stay-at-home mother is not for everyone. Having cows, chickens, and a horse is not for everyone. Not everyone feels the same passion for speaking out, blogging, or being involved in the community that I do.
We waste too much time in life trying to live like other people.
This is MY life. This is our story. Todd and I made many choices in life that brought us to the decision to bring Ben into this world. And we feel BLESSED to have him. We feel BLESSED to have all of our eight children. (God grant us the patience to deal with our blessings- ha!)
Yes, physically Ben's birth was VERY hard. It was hard mentally. It impacted me, my husband, and our children. My extended family and friends suffered as I suffered. Ben is almost three and his difficult birth still affects my life daily. We moved across the country months after Ben's birth and that is still hard.
It is hard to have a large family.
Sometimes I would give anything to have my health and strength back, anything except my little boy. He is worth the sacrifices I have made to give him life.
I believe you can't give God a crust without getting a loaf. I've given God my crusts and He has given me eight of the happiest, kindest, smartest, most helpful, sassy little kids ever. And, I'm ridiculously in love with my Mary Poppins practically perfect husband.
I REALLY LOVE MY CRAZY LIFE.
I AM HAPPY AND so, so GRATEFUL.
I'm not sure I would choose health trials, but they have taught me so much.
No, I'm not a perfect mother. I'm sure my kids will need therapy later because I'm weird. They might grow up to have eight kids or they might grow up not wanting children at all.
They will have to choose.
You will have to choose.
And, I chose.
I'm choosing every single day.
Today, I had two little girls home sick, one with the flu and the other with strep. I had a potty training little boy who agreed with me that it was time for new carpet in the family room. I had two middle school daughters who were in the High School Musical and two sons who cooked dinner, cleaned up, and carried on a lively dialogue as we watched the Republican debate. My husband worked late teaching a night class and made me laugh as he barely choked down one sip of the black pepper tea a friend of mine told me to drink.
I spent too much time and money online and too little time mopping my kitchen floor.
Tomorrow a carpet cleaner is coming and I'm ridiculously excited. I also agreed to dog sit my friend's giant Doberman puppy (she's up to my waist). I'm a little nervous. I feel 80% physically healthy and 80% mentally healthy, and I'm ok with that. I have great friends and a great family.
Honestly, if I could change anything about my life, I would be healthier, have a little more money and hire a housekeeper (just until Ben hits kindergarten). But, I wouldn't wish away one of my children. I wouldn't wish away the trials of my life. Because, my greatest gifts came well packaged.
Thank you for reading my story even as you are writing yours.
Here is a poem I love that I read again tonight...
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
(Corrie ten Boom)
Here is the comment that my sweet and eloquent Aunt Sandra wrote on the article. I'm just copying it here because I want to remember it.
One of the great joys of my life is to be Jenifer’s aunt. The openness with which she has used her experiences to educate others on this condition has touched tens of thousands of lives on continents around the world. She has shared her story through her writing and on tv. She and Ben have led blood drives to celebrate this birthday to ‘pay back’ & honor the hundreds of people who saved her life that day. She has done more than our society could ask to help others learn about the risks and the need for early detection of this condition. No one enjoys putting their lives out there in this sort of public forum, least of all a mother who is herself still dealing with intense medical issues while raising 8 ‘sassy’ kids (as she describes them). I am a lefty-liberal pro-choice feminist (whatever any of that means). And I can tell you this vibrant, loving woman embodies the very best of our human instincts for survival. I have had the privilege of hugging young Ben and seeing the sparkle in his eyes. Whatever some of your readers think they might know about Jen and her faith, they can’t come close to understanding how down-to-earth, grounded, and loving an act bringing Ben into this world was, decisions that had to be made and reinforced time and again over months and months. Even as we in her extended family watched her body struggle to regain blood flow and oxygen, we were comforted in the knowledge that she was fighting for her family with every ounce of strength she had. And on those days, I envied her faith, because lacking a religious background myself, I was struggling to find the hope she relied upon. Even if the worst had happened, I would never have second guessed her. Jen’s choice was as legitimate as any other option out there, and she put her life literally on the line for it. Her story tests us so-called feminists. Are you really ‘pro-choice’ or just ‘pro-your-choice’?