Some people may wonder why a mother might choose to continue to carry a child who is given a fatal diagnosis in utero. When the doctors tell you that your baby will die as a result of her condition, and that you have the "choice" to terminate the pregnancy, why would you allow the pregnancy to continue?
I would begin by saying that it has to do with valuing life from the moment of conception to natural death. That is, respecting a person, valuing the life he or she is given (even if it is brief), hoping for a miracle cure in some cases, and in all of this, following God's law and will. It requires an openness to life (even in the face of death), trust in God, and living out God's Truth.
As I sit back and think about carrying Mary Grace until her natural death, all the while I was hoping that God would provide us with a miracle cure and that we would bring our baby home safe and healthy...alive. And thinking about how it all played out, I don't have my baby here; things didn't turn out how I had hoped. But I know that we made the right decision in continuing to carry her. Aborting our baby was never an option in our mind. Even aborting a baby who we knew would not make it. We take great peace and joy in knowing for a fact that the decision we made to carry her was the right one. Not the right one "for me", but the right moral decision. Period.
There are so many uncertainties in life. How do I know what is God's will? Even praying and delving into God's word sometimes leaves you unsure about what God's plan is for your life (in a day to day sort of way; surely God's plan is for you to love and know Him and join Him in heaven one day). But I have two decisions that I have made which I am 100% certain are God's will.
The first was choosing life for Mary Grace and carrying her until God chose to take her to heaven.
The second is mine and Robert's decision to use Natural Family Planning. Natural Family Planning is an effective, natural and moral way of spacing your children. It works both to postpone pregnancy and when trying to achieve pregnancy. It is morally acceptable, not in it's naturalness, but because it allows God to participate in every marital act and because it respects the dignity of your spouse.
When you get married, you are committing yourself to the highest level of intimacy with your spouse. And in the marital union, you are giving all of your self; your whole person to your spouse. Contraception is morally wrong in that it excludes God and His plan for fruitfulness from the marital act. When a person is contracepting, they are telling their spouse, "I want to give you all that I am...except for my fertility...except for the possibility of creating new life with you. And I want to have all of you, except for that which God has made us as his creation to do- help create new life." The marital union is for bonding as well as for creation...and we are co-creators with God in that act. Contraception intentionally thwarts God's part in our martial union, as well as treats our spouse with less respect in not receiving the whole person. With Natural Family Planning, every marital act is open both physically and emotionally to the possibility of creating new life. Talk about being pro-life!
Once I began to understand that God has a design for sex...not just that sex should be within the context of marriage...but that His design was even bigger than that, I was convicted that this was clearly God's truth as revealed by scripture and the teaching of my church since the first century.
And what has come from Rob and I using Natural Family Planning in our marriage? Are there "fruits" to trusting God with being open to life? Surely we have a deeper respect and acceptance of each other. I respect Robert even more for wanting to live out God's plan for us, for respecting me by appreciating my fertility, for accepting all of me by accepting my fertility. For the times we are trying to avoid pregnancy, I respect both of us when we have to abstain from marital relations. It has given us a new respect for life. For our daughter Isabel's life, and for our precious Mary Grace's short life...respect and appreciation for each pregnancy and joy in anticipating the next! And somehow it has opened us to the possibility of having more than our "quota" (as in the number we initially had "planned" to have) of children. Because NFP has opened our hearts to a deeper realization of what a blessing a new life is, and what it means to co-create a life with The Creator.
I'm stepping out of my "comfort box" a little with this post, but I have been feeling very strongly for the last month that I needed to write about why we use NFP and what it means to us. God's plan for marriage is truly masterful and when you participate in it, you come to realize the truth and joy in His design. When we first got married and began using NFP, I thought I would be fearful to trust God with this part of our life, but instead it became freeing. It makes me ever grateful that I have an almighty and loving Father in heaven who is looking out for His children here on earth with such a beautiful plan for the most intimate part of our life.