Hey y’all! Emily here. I’m one of the Resident Coaches at Metanoia Catholic, and I’m hopping on the blog today to share with you how my vision of motherhood completely wrecked me (this was a good thing) and offer you a special invitation.
Before I was married, I heard this quote by Saint Teresa of Avila,“God walks among the pots and pans.” Immediately, I imagined this beautiful pregnancy, nursing a sweet baby with little ones playing all around me, jelly-smudged faces, dirty handprints on the glass windows, and a messy well lived-in home. I am not naive, so it did also include sitting with my children, engaged in tough conversations about life during the various seasons of their lives. Marriage and parenting would not be easy. I knew this, but I was confident that God would provide all the graces needed to face every challenge head on. It would be my path to sanctity and holiness and that was exciting. I was always ready for a challenge, so bring it on. This was my image of motherhood.
I was so excited when I saw those two little lines on that stick for the first time. I knew right then and there that my life had changed forever, and I immediately started to plan. I began to imagine all the different milestones we would get to experience with this sweet little one. The vision was finally becoming true, and my husband and I could not wait!
A few short weeks later the plans, the dream, the beautiful imagery in my mind of motherhood came crashing down. Around 8 weeks, I began to feel that something was wrong. One day at work I started bleeding and quickly called my doctor to be seen. The image of my womb on that ultrasound screen showed evidence of this precious life, but there was no heartbeat. I was miscarrying. My heart shattered.
Everything I had imagined for this sweet baby was no longer possible. The innocence of those beautiful images around motherhood quickly shattered, and I was left holding all of the pieces. This was my first pregnancy. This was my first taste of motherhood, and it was not anything like I imagined.
Our imagination is powerful. So powerful in fact, that the Enemy uses it often to take us down. He places those scenes at the most convenient times as evidence to distort the truth. And that’s exactly what happened. He took truths about my grief and presented them in a way that led to despair, anger, shame, and fear. I could not shake the images that I now associated with motherhood, because of multiple losses.
My womb, an empty tomb.
Empty arms with no baby to snuggle.
Breast milk with no baby to drink.
Empty chairs around the dinner table with missing little ones.
A quiet house with a lack of laughter and pitter-patter running up and down the halls.
Over the years, these were the new images of motherhood that took residency in my mind, and what I looked to as we discerned about expanding family size. Being open to life no longer was about being open to a living baby. That was not a guarantee. Instead, the question my husband and I asked ourselves was, “Are we open to death? Are we open to more pain, grief, and sorrow?”
I would like to piously say that it was an easy yes, but it wasn’t. I didn’t want to do it. It didn’t feel good at all. Losing a baby comes with extremely raw and vulnerable emotion, and because there are so many, it can feel like you are drowning. So each time we faced this discernment, weighing whether we were ready for that again was very intimidating. This image of becoming pregnant again and losing another baby was often dark and included chaotic thinking, but there in the corner of this picture was this tiny sliver of light. It was subtle, but the longer I stared at it, the more drawn to it I was. So I said yes. Again and again and again.
Six of my 10 pregnancies include entrusting my little ones back to the Lord, and my last living birth included me placing the conclusion of my fertility years at His feet. Each yes required me to just sit in the uncomfortable darkness of my emotions, and look at them one by one.
Believe me when I say I was completely resistant for many years. Pride told me so many times I could just rise above them by myself and in time they would go away. I shouldn’t bother anyone, especially God, with my silly feelings and desires. I was being ridiculous for feeling so deeply this emptiness of not having these babies here with me. But that glimmer of light kept me hoping that maybe there was a different way.
Finally, someone took my hand and sat with me in the dark and showed me that it didn’t have to be scary. Every time that tiny bit of light, the Lord’s light, became a little stronger and stronger and shed understanding and grace. I realized that I wasn’t sitting alone in this dark room, but He was with me. He had been there the whole time. With each encounter, I discovered He was inviting me to share with Him each emotion. He didn’t just want me to share though, He asked me to give it to Him. He wanted to take each one and transform it into something beautiful that I couldn’t see.
Each time I handed to Him another piece (even the real ugly ones like jealousy), I became untethered from the distorted images that surrounded my grief. I began to see myself and my motherhood not from a place of despair any longer, but with HOPE.
Hope looked radically different than what I imagined to be. Hope showed me that death did not define my story. Hope allowed joy and excitement alongside my grief, not to replace it. Hope restored beautiful images of motherhood. Images that include sorrow. All night candlelit holy hours and endless rosaries during my labors. Church hymns. Cemeteries visits. And strangers bringing meals. It includes them all. But now I am able to see where Jesus was in each image.
So yes, my vision of motherhood completely wrecked me. I praise God everyday for it. It needed to be totally and completely wrecked. Without it, I wouldn’t have ever seen that light. I needed the dark and stark contrast in order to see more clearly a beatific vision of what motherhood could actually entail.
And let me just share…you can too. Our Lord is waiting for you to invite Him into those dark places so He can share His vision for you.
Will you let Him?
This Saturday, May 13, 2023, I’m holding a LIVE virtual retreat for bereaved Catholic mothers called Encounter. During our LIVE time together, I will guide you prayerfully through how to process your emotions with the Lord.
You will also gain access to…
The replay of our live session from Saturday morning,
A companion ebook that includes guided prayers and journal reflection questions,
A Litany for a Loss Mom,
A Memorial Keepsake printable,
And a bonus video!
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I know it can feel extremely painful with the many reminders that we won’t get to experience the fullness of this day with ALL of our little ones.
But, what if you didn’t have to feel anxious this mothers day? What if you could look at your baby loss with hope? Are you ready to quit resisting your emotions?
It’s possible, and I would be honored to show you how. Can you imagine what the Lord might be inviting you to see? I can, and it might just be something truly beautiful.
For more information about Encounter and to register, click here!
About the Author
About the Author
Hello! My name is Emily. I live in Nashville, TN with my husband, Dave. I am a unique mother of 10 — four living children here on earth, and 6 little souls in heaven. Our little saints keep us striving for heaven and help us to see more clearly just how thin and beautiful the veil is between heaven and earth.
I’m on a mission to help Catholic women discover hope and find purpose within their pain after baby loss. I help my clients learn how to embrace their story, process their emotions with integrity, and become open to understanding God’s unique call to sanctity in sorrow.
If you’d like to work with me in coaching or speaking please email me at: email@example.com, or find me on Instagram @thelittlesouls.