My child was prayed for. He is currently prayed for and will continue to be prayed for. 

I prayed for him. To be blessed to carry him in my womb. For his health, safety and salvation. For his dedication to a life in Christ. 

Unfortunately, not all children can say the same.

My Conception Story

Not as overly informative as one might fear. My husband and I tried for a few months to conceive. I grew anxious that something was wrong, as I have had problems with ovarian cysts. Like anyone, I discussed this anxiety and self-will with my priest.

His response?

"Oh, why didn't you tell me sooner?" He anointed me with oil from the myrrh-streaming icon of St. Anna (mother of the Theotokos, feast day around the time I conceived) and told me to say the akathist for Sts. Joachim and Anna. 

Within the month, I was pregnant. My priest, overjoyed, told me to share this story. And here it is. A short, heartwarming story about faith, prayer and pregnancy. 

But there is another story I haven't shared as often, or with the same amount of joy. One that I feel is more important for mothers and potential mothers to hear. 

I found out I was pregnant Christmas morning; the best gift I have ever received. My husband and I discussed whether to tell family at our holiday get-togethers. 

"Don't we want to wait? What if something happens?" he asked.

"I'd rather put my trust in God. This is something that should be celebrated; I don't want to think about the "what ifs". If something does happen at least we will have a lot of support."

Had it announced at church that morning.

A few weeks later, my husband and I were preparing for a youth group event when, out of the blue, I started bleeding. We quickly canceled the event and went to the ER. While in the waiting room, I had an internal speed run of the five stages of grief. I couldn't help but second guess my decision to tell everyone. I doubted my faith. After a grueling 4 hours, I finally had an ultrasound. 

I couldn't look. I could not bear to think that my child was gone.

The ultrasound technician turned the screen towards me.

"As you can see right here, your baby's heart is beating. Very strong for just being seven weeks along."

A wash of relief came over me. But the guilt nagged me. How could I have been so doubtful when God has blessed me so greatly? 

This story could have been tragic and, through the grace of God, had a joyous resolution. But there is a more poignant reason I shared it, and that is this:

My baby's heart was beating at seven weeks. There are many arguments as to when life begins, but I am baffled as to how there could be when simple proofs like this exist. If scientists discovered a single-celled organism on Mars, we would be in awe that they had found life there.

So why does a "clump of cells" not register as life? It is far more impressive to house a multicellular organism, than just a single-celled one. Then is the problem the fact that one is found within a woman? Does the woman somehow cheapen the life of her child? 

On top of that, the "clump of cells" develops a beating heart by six weeks, though it can sometimes be difficult to detect. By 20 weeks, the child has almost completely formed, and spends the rest of their energy growing. When I worked in the NICU, I saw a child born at 22 weeks and 6 days (one day shy of their cut-off for "resuscitation"). Though severely premature, and unlikely to live, her parents insisted that they still try and save her. She survived.

But apparently, this isn't as impressive as the existence of an amoeba on Mars. Simply because some turn a blind eye towards the true nature of life for their own selfish purposes. 

When did bearing children dampen ones feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment? It is a large undertaking that men cannot even begin to fathom. It's what makes women so powerful; they are able to birth and raise generations to come. We control the future.

So why do women feel otherwise? When did this shift happen?

Let's look at the past few generations. Roe v. Wade was enacted in 1973. Third wave feminism started in the early 90's. There have been roughly 2.5 generations that have grown up with the ideals pushed by these political and social movements. And it's no surprise that these decisions have affected younger generations. 

Around the time that more than fifty percent of mothers had entered the workforce and Roe v. Wade was set forth (around the 70's), late Gen X and Millennials were being born. This means that all Millennials, as well as Gen Z, have grown up with very easy access to abortion and more than likely had a mother who had a job outside the home.

What impact must that have on a young child's mind? To think that you are a hindrance to your mothers career? Believing that a child could be a stumbling block in your life, if you should happen to get pregnant? To know that your parents could have considered ending your life in the womb? Maybe even being told these things. These children (who are more than likely adults now), grew up being force-fed the lie that they do not matter. And it is apparent.

As shown in the figure above, we see that both depression and anxiety have increased steadily with each generation. In the figure below, it is further broken down to show that severe depression is at an all time high in the youngest of our populace. Thirty-six percent of children are severely depressed. Severe depression is classified as "debilitating" and includes thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

These children feel as if they don't matter. And why would they? With the world growing more and more secular by the day, moving away from God, and doing everything in its power to degrade the icon of Christ that resides in us, it would be very difficult to see your true worth. Though correlation does not equal causation, it's not hard to understand why these societal shifts generate such widespread depression and anxiety. When you're told that children are nothing but a burden by everyone around you, you start to believe it. You pass those same ideas on to your children, should you have them, and the process repeats itself. 

Parents are unhappy, children are unhappy, and everyone believes they're better off if they cease to exist. It's heartbreaking to know that some mothers and fathers believe that their children are less than gifts from God. And the heartbreak grows exponentially when the father abandons the mother and child. It’s no wonder everyone feels alone in the world. It is always assumed that people can be forgotten, discarded and replaced. We live in a world where life is treated as an inconvenience.

March is Women’s Month. But what are we really celebrating? Just a biological fact or a statement we make about ourselves that we expect everyone to agree with. Not the celebration of what women’s bodies can do, our natural instincts as caregivers, or any other thing that makes us different from men. Just “being” is worthy of celebration in this instance. Which is completely the opposite view some have when a child is “being” formed in its mothers womb.

One thing that many celebrate about being a woman is a “woman’s choice” or “a woman’s right to choose”. They say that if a woman's body is involved in a decision, it is a woman's choice to make. However, with the constant advertising for abortions, the lack of accountability for fathers, and the idea that women need to work, it starts to seem as if women are left without much choice at all. Women have been fed this narrative for over 50 years now, and the world hasn't gotten any better for it. 

So what choice to women truly have? They have the choice to intend to create life. They choose their partners. They choose their acts. They choose to be humble or selfish. They choose to take responsibility. Choices like these are ones we should celebrate. We should celebrate women who intend to have children. We should celebrate women who make difficult decisions when they don’t intend to have children. We should celebrate the fact that women create life and care for it, regardless of their own wants. 

So this month, instead of celebrating women, I believe we ought to celebrate every woman who intends to do what women do best: create, nurture and care. Because, whether they tend to the needs of their own children or the children of others, we know that this is what women do best.